Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pivotal Parvo

There is nothing more heart breaking in veterinary medicine than parvovirus.

Parvo is the reason I am in veterinary medicine. It is the disease that has tested my sense of purpose and conviction. I hate this disease, and I hate the path of death it leaves. I have made it my personal mission to never ever give up on a pup with parvo, and to try to educate the rest of the world about the death, destruction, and devastation this killer deals.

I was working as a second mate on a cable ship in Baltimore Maryland. It was the late 1990's. I was so crazy bored on the ship that I happily agreed to house sit for a friend for a few days. Her row home was completely rehabbed, and decked out. It was a girls pad and I was giddy to have a few days away from the ship full of men I lived with 24/7 for four months at a time.

I spent the early evenings and nights at her house lounging and basking in the quiet, and I got up to drive the few blocks away to the ship docked in her home port of Baltimore MD each morning. One spring morning I got up, headed out the door and was shocked to see a small round puppy marching down the sidewalk. I grabbed that little brindled 6 week old pit bull puppy before I could look around to see if anyone was attached to him. Not the smartest move for downtown Baltimore. I was so sure that his owner would come running around the corner screaming in despair, sick with worry, and professing their gratitude for my rescue.
I waited...
I waited..
I realized I was going to be late for work.
But still I waited...

After about 45 minutes I made an executive decision to hide him in the bathroom. I left food, (Yeah, it wasn't dog food, I was improvising) and water, and I went to work.
I rushed home at four o'clock. That little love missed me!

We went for a walk, and debated how to notify the public of our status. This was a rough neighborhood and lord only knew what was going to come knocking at my friends house if I posted signs all over the block. To be safe, for the both of us, of course. I decided to notify the shelter. "Small approximately 6 week old male brindle colored pit bull puppy found in Canton area of Baltimore." The staff at the shelter snickered at me as I left. But I had hopes of finding this puppies loving parents and needed to be a responsible good citizen.

On day three the diarrhea arrived. It started as a few small piles over a six hour period. Twelve hours later it was 4am and I was at the ER. A very nice veterinarian broke the news to me. My little pit bull puppy had parvo.

I was so upset that I had to have her remind me how bad this might be.

Twenty minutes later I left the ER without him. To this day it remains the single deepest regret of my life.

I had given up on him and I had not even tried to save him.

Those twenty minutes were spent trying to figure out how I could take care of a puppy when I was assigned to a ship on 12 hour call out. How I could care for him when I lived 300 miles away and didn't know when I would be home again? How I could pay for a $1000 to $2000 vet bill to save him? I had no way to take care of him.

I left the ER that day determined to never walk away from a pet that needed me, and never to be at the mercy of anyone or anything else. To this day I stand by my word.

I have saved a few puppies in the process and found myself in the cross hairs of a country and a state that define a pet as property and expect that I will put those pieces of property to their death if their owner requests it.

My first dog, Ambrose. I will always have a brindled pit bull. 
Charleston. My second generation of brindled pit.

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