Monday, 2 February 2009

Gaelan, the Siberian Husky's story.

You have to ask whether or not what you are writing about in a blog is actually worth reading. And by whom.

I'm no great philosopher, political genius or social commentator. I'm just a wee Glasgow wifie who has done and seen some interesting things in my Time on this planet. However, this blog will probably only feature myself, my husband (Bill), our pets... one Siberian Husky who goes by the name Gaelan and one Blue Fronted Amazon Parrot known to us as Calli... short for Caledonia. I'll maybe also include assorted stories from the rest of my family, who inhabit various parts of this small rock we call Planet Earth.

I've thought about keeping a blog before... and very quickly lost the will to live, as it became a bit of a rant about this or that. And life is too short for perma-rant. So I'm going to try stay on a happier mode, and talking about pets will help keep me on track.

So, a Siberian Husky. He's 3 years old - born on the 14th December 2005, and 55lbs (last time weighed). He is the most handsome soppy lump you could ever wish to meet. Gaelan came to us at 14 weeks of age a very sickly pup. Tom, who bred him, had tried all he knew with his vet to resolve this pups problems. But after repeated courses of antibiotics, the spurious diarrhoea would not go away. By 9 weeks it was obvious this puppy was failing to thrive and fading away in front of their eyes. Tom mentioned his concerns to Bill, and half joked that maybe I would like free puppy.

Bill had realised that for some time since coming to the States, I was indeed missing not having any animals around. So he mentioned - in passing- that Tom's vet had run out of ideas and was starting to suggest the One Way Trip. That was me suckered straight away. Put a 9 week old pup to sleep? There surely had to be a solution.

Bill arranged with Tom to bring the ailing mite over for a visit. I won't say it was love at first sight, but it was certainly pity for a poor wee bag of bones that just wanted loved and hugged. I took him in my arms... and at 14lbs, that was no easy task when they wriggle.

He was friendly, affectionate and yet there was a hesitencey in his demeanour. It was not openly obvious how sick he was, just a feeling, and the fact he had a lot of loose skin over not a lot of flesh. I sat with him on the couch while Bill and Tom nattered about non puppy stuff, and I looked him all over. Most pups love their tums being rubbed, so he kind of half rolled onto his back and let me gently rub his belly. 
As he relaxed more, he exposed more of his stomach.... and there it was, a fairly large umbilical (belly-button) hernia. Either the mother had been a bit rough when it came to chewing off the cord, or the abdominal wall hadn't healed post birth the way it was supposed to. I was alittle surprised that Tom's veteranarian hadn't noticed it, but maybe it was a more recent occurence than his last visit. I offered to take the sickly dog off his hands and see what I could do with him. 

When he was bout 12/13 weeks old, he came to stay. He really was a little unsure about the new home, however we'd already decided we'd call him Gaelan - a Celtic/Gaelic word meaning small wind or little storm- he has lived up to both definitions!

He did the usual puppy thing and cried a whole lot the first night, but we allowed him up on the bed, in the hope he would feel more secure.

The first night went well, he got very frantic in the early hours.. so I took him out to the yard in the hope that was what he needed. And sure enough, it was.... projectile diahhroea! I'm so glad the wee soul manged to alert us to his predicament, otherwise it would have been fairly ugly.
This used to be one of his favourite pass-times.
You can see the hernia - it was huge.
I started him on a strict diet of organic chicken and rice to help with the symptoms, and it would work for a few days and then the runs would come back with avengence. 
I took him to a veteranarian local to us, hoping he would come up with ideas. But he never even noticed the hernia until I pointed it out to him. He offered further antibiotic courses. I took the meds home, but didn't give them to Gaelan. I felt it was just more chemical load on his already overloaded system. I did, however, arrange to have the hernia repaired and his manly bits removed when he got to nearer to twenty weeks old.

The next few weeks were frought with scary moments involving house training. Thankfully, he only had 2 or 3 accidents in the house... and yet again THANKFULLY it happened when his faeces was slightly better formed and easier to deal with.

As the day loomed closer for his ops, I began to wonder if I'd taken on more than I could deal with. We're talking about runs, under pressure 3 or 4 times a day.. if not more. But I'm a stubborn woman, if nothing else.
We got ourselves into a nice routine of toileting at 6am, 10 am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm.... and fingers crossed for the rest of the night. But it seemed to be a functional routine for Gaelan, and accidents were becoming a thing of the past.
I was under no illusion that what I had was one very sick dog, and no-one willing to go out on a limb for a diagnosis. I'd done some internet research and discovered that Siberian Huskies were "prone to runny bottoms"! Well, to me, there are "runny bottoms" and then there's rough casting the walls. And Gaelan's projectile bottom habits did just that!
Before long it was the morning of the op. I wasn't so sure that he'd survive the anaesthetic. He had hardly gained much weight, despite my cooking efforts. But he was a happy dog, with no behavioural problems, and loved people lots, and I'm all for giving a pup a chance when possible.

I took him in at 8 am, and was a bit upset, as I wasn't so certain I'd be seeing him again. But home I went for the "Long Wait". It was a long morning. I got the call at 12.30pm. Come and get him, he's ready for home!

What a huge relief that was.

After paying all the bills etc, I very carefully helped him up into the back seat. Not a whine, not a whimper. He just looked vaguely dazed. His neutering was routine, and they'd repaired the hernia. He had 12 sutures down his stomach, and half a belly button. His hernia had been under a circular patch of black skin.... now he had a semi circle!
Returning the favour of care after I'd had
a small procedure in hospital.
The drive home was only 5 minutes. I parked in front of the house, opened the back door and helped the poor puppy out. I thought I'd let him try and wee, before taking him in and pampering him.

He not only wee'd, but he poo'd too. The first ever solid, normal one I'd seen him do. Then he decided it was bouncy time. This Gaelan I brought home from the vet was a very different one I took in earlier. He was so full of life and wanting to bound around, it took me all my time to keep him quiet. It was as if a huge burden had been lifted from the animal.

From that hour to this, he has been a cheeky, bouncy, happy dog. I honestly think the hernia had an area of inflammation in his bowel and a perpetual pocket of pus that just continually being absorbed and poisoning his system, giving him the runs and weakening his constitution. Removing the hernia eliminated the pus and inflammation... and sorted his immediate discomfort.

I do think however, that due to the amount of inflammation that must have been present he has been left with some sort of legacy. Every now and then, he goes off his food for a few days and the tail end productions become squishy. I'm hoping it won't interfere with the quality, or the quantity of his life.

But we will just have to wait and see.

Oh, and incidentally.... There Is No Such Thing As A Free Puppy.

UPDATE: I have been since reassured by a vet back home that the hernia should not have left any lasting problems. I am now looking down different avenues, primarily food allergies.