The past couple of weeks have been very tough on our little Rupert. Last week he’d been diagnosed with a parasite, which in and of itself was scary, but at least it was treatable. The poor guy was sick as could be and pretty unimpressed with us for replacing his yummy usual food with a crappy bland diet of boiled chicken and rice. We let the medication do it’s work to fight off what was ailing him and almost immediately he seemed to be on the mend. The vet gave us the OK to start switching him back to his usual food and he was a thrilled little puppy!
Fast forward a day or two and all of a sudden he’s getting sick again. Severely. Assuming we jumped the gun on the food switch, it was back to the bland diet, but he couldn’t keep that down either. We called the vet, who suggested fasting him to give his tummy a chance to settle. Ever want to see a pug throw a tantrum? Feed his little sister but don’t feed him. It wasn’t pretty.
Despite the fasting, he continued to get sick on and off all day on Monday and he just wasn’t himself. I was able to stay home from work to sit with him and he just laid still for most of the day with his little head in my lap. He perked up for a couple of hours after we went outside, but by the evening he was back to being sick and he seemed visibly thinner to both of us. We figured it must have something to do with the parasite and we were finally able to get him into the vet Tuesday afternoon. When we put him on the scale after we arrived, my heart sank. He’d lost six pounds in a matter of days.
Several blood tests and x-rays later confirmed that this had absolutely nothing to do with the parasite. Quite characteristically, our little troublemaker had eaten something he shouldn’t have and it was causing a blockage. The only way to remove it was to perform emergency surgery.
On the one hand, there was relief in knowing exactly what was wrong with him, but on the other, as I listened to the vet describe the possible surgical complications, and with no one knowing exactly what he’d gotten into or when, I was terrified we might lose our little guy. My mind was racing with all the darkest possibilities as I stroked his little ears and signed and initialed what felt like a mountain of paperwork before they took him away for the procedure.
Eric left work early and came to meet me. Together we waited impatiently for updates and wondered what on Earth he could have gotten into! The thing with pugs, and our pug in particular, is that they love to eat. Even things that aren’t technically edible. Over the past couple years, we’ve caught him sampling a plethora of objects on daily walks, assorted articles of clothing and other household finds. Sour apple spray will usually deter him from most things, but then there are the others you would never think to spritz. Truthfully, looking back, it’s amazing something like this didn’t happen sooner.
After what felt like forever, the surgeon finally came to let us know that they were finished and that Ru was just waking up from anesthesia. “Would you like to see what was in his stomach?” she asked. We followed her into an exam room where she produced a container filled with an assortment of inedible objects. Among them: a McDonald’s wrapper, stuffing from his dog bed (now in the garbage), a small (and thankfully very dull) chicken bone, and a whole pair of underwear. What.The.Hell.
Apparently, in true Rupert fashion, he was so bored with his bland diet that he decided to supplement himself on whatever he could find around the house and outside. “He’s a very bad dog,” the vet said, somewhat amused. Yes. Yes, he is.
We were able to take Ru home that evening for the night, though he was completely out of it from the morphine. We bundled him inside his crate so he wouldn’t be able to walk around and hurt himself. In the entire time he’s been with us we’d never seen him so helpless and quiet, and it broke our hearts to hear his little whimpers all night. Lola was very concerned for her big brother, and she kept pacing around him, sniffing at the crate and looking at us like, “Why aren’t you doing anything useful?” We felt pretty lame. And exhausted. And wondered out loud how people do this sick business with regular human babies because fur babies are hard enough!
Rupert’s in recovery now, with new war wounds we’re sure he won’t learn a thing from. We, however, most certainly have, and we’ve started investigating solutions to his risky eating behavior. If you have any ideas for us, and know of any chew-proof dog beds, I’m all ears!
A huge thank you and shout out to Portage Park Animal Hospital! We’ve loved the staff here and this incident has endeared them to us ten-fold. Thanks for taking care of our little guy!