Learn from diagnostic reality and the aftermath shared by a top French Bulldog breeder after weeks of intensive care for Timmy, a very special hydrocephalic puppy.
Being A Dog Breeder
Carol Hawke © TheDogPlace.org
Having a normal litter of French Bulldogs means you can let up on the 24/7 vigil after a couple weeks of intensive care but this was so different. Taking care of Timmy... For almost three weeks I was absorbed, engaged and fighting for Timmy's life.
The first week he was a normal pup (except) his mother kept trying to carry him around in her mouth from the moment she came home from her C-section. I worried but he seemed utterly normal at that point. In the second week everything changed, her milk began to dissipate - I assumed to accommodate a litter of one. But then nothing but his head got larger. Even as we held April down for him to nurse his tummy would become instantly round and hard. It was like it had nowhere to go!
I tried doing the probiotics and the vet put him on naxcell because they could hear some crackling in the lungs but heart was good, he had an open anus and could technically, poop. Yet, he rarely did and he struggled horribly to do so. It was like squeezing paste out of a dried up tube! He hated the injections and squirmed even at the tiny insulin needles. He refused to drink out of a bottle, refused to nurse from another bitch and while I could dropper down tiny amounts of Pedialyte (or inject it subq) he was not improving substantially.
He was in misery when he ate and chronically thin and dehydrated when he did not.
Yet he bore it all with a typically sweet nature, in peacefulness, he never made a peep. We would watch him stumble about with his full belly in misery, head turning side to side looking for comfort and we prayed for healing, over and over.
Neither antibiotics nor probiotics resolved anything and he was just subsisting. The vet could not tube him because he went into respiratory distress. Now I realize he could not have handled tubing anyway because whenever his stomach was full, unlike most pups, he was absolutely miserable. The other five stretched out with their bloated bellies, soft, loose skin and lolled into twitching puppy slumber after gorging on warm milk. Not Timmy, Timmy only ate when he absolutely had to and I understood why.
His mother looked on in deep concern and agitation at her only child while her instincts demanded she do what canines have done since the dawn of time, help him die as quickly as possible by drying up. But I and veterinary medicine in our endless vigil kept her eating, drinking and feeding a dying puppy.
By the third week I realized that Timmy needed to stop being an experiment in survival and instead be treated as a canine being with dignity.
I threw the needle and syringes away and let nature take its course with the exception of allowing him to starve. Timmy would not fill up his tummy and he began stumbling around (he could walk from week one literally) making this adorable yodeling sound. When he heard my voice and I called him, "Timmy the toitle" he twitched his ears and smiled his little, blue eyed puppy smile but in his eyes I saw reflected that deep pain of acceptance when you know it's never going to get better. I saw that; the resignation and the acceptance that is the innate wisdom God built into canines but I fought that, too.
My hope was dying with Timmy, revived at each instance of possible improvement and sinking into a hollow abyss of despair when it disappeared.
He began sleeping deeper and deeper and stirring less but he did not suffer chronic dehydration even at the end. We knew that end was coming but closed our eyes because the fight for Timmy was stronger than the reality of the endless, exhaustive vigil of fruitlessness. Then I sat back one day in my chair to breathe... to think and to pray and finally, to accept.
Timmy was hydrocephalic. When I got up check the dogs, there was Timmy, gasping for breath. Mike came down and I said, “Timmy is not doing well. It’s time.” He wrapped the tiny pup in a towel and placed him in his shirt.
An hour later he returned with a receipt and no Timmy. Timmy’s struggle was finally over and he had peace from his pain.
"God, could you not have revealed this sooner and saved us this awful nightmare?" I demanded angrily from the safety of my armchair. The same, familiar, gentle voice replied, "Then you would never have gotten to know him and he never would have known what it was to have been loved."
p.s. This is the final part of Timmy's story. Each day as I bent over the puppy pens I would invariably have one of my older matrons try to push past me to see into the puppy pen. I don't know if dogs compare their children but it seemed like it. One day this happened as usual and I turned to push the dog away but there was no dog there. In fact, the dogs were crated!
I sat there a moment on my knees contemplating this mystery. It happened again, a couple days later as I was fretting over Timmy. In fact, I think it nearly always happened as I fretted over tiny Tim.
I was sitting down to dinner when the realization that we had a dog angel among us prompted me to tell Mike. I asked him, “Tell me, has this happened to you?" as I related my experiences. He looked at me in shock, then nodded his head and replied, "I didn't know what it was." Then it dawned upon him also and as I stated the simple fact, "God has sent an angel to help us and it must be a dog."
I guess we will never know because the dog angel left when Timmy did. "May the love of God fill you richly, deeply, abundantly today!!!"
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