No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich. ~ Louis Sabin
As most Tucker fans are aware, he was born with a cleft palate that made it difficult for him to eat and drink without getting stuff up his nose. Once this defect was discovered, all who knew him were amazed that he had grown and thrived despite of it. But the fact remained that he needed to have it repaired, or he would likely have continuing problems throughout his life.
The breeder advised us to just bring him back and exchange him for another puppy, but we declined, mostly because we knew they would just euthanize him, and we already loved our very sweet, smart little fellow, who had already learned two tricks (sit and shake).
His first surgery came at age three months. He weighed all of 8 pounds, and had only been with us for a few days. It was quite an extensive procedure, and he came home to us with a feeding tube that required me to squirt a vial full of liquid nourishment down it several times a day.
The doctors gave his palate another tweak when he was neutered in November, and then just last week, he had his final surgery. We were expecting it to be minor with no unpleasant after effects, but it turned out to be more intrusive than we thought, mostly because there was just not enough soft tissue to sew together to close that last little spot.
So they got creative, and came up with a way to do it from underneath, but it involved a very intricate process with many, many stitches. They kept him overnight for observation, and then he came home the next day, once again with a feeding tube.
It’s one thing to squirt a vial of liquid into the tiny tummy of a three month old puppy. It’s quite another to do it into the much larger tummy of an eight month old puppy who weighs 20 pounds. That vial is pretty darn small, so the feeding process requires multiple re-loads, all the while hanging onto the feeding tube with one hand. Oh, and did I mention that this time, I had to puree canned food (cut with water) and pour it into a bowl prior to filling the vial over and over again?
Of course, the bowl had to remain on the counter, because if I put it on the floor, I knew that Tucker would try to drink it. My thought was that it probably wouldn’t have been the end of the world if he did, but I was just obeying instructions!
It was a long three days, mostly because our rhythm of life had been totally disrupted, and it took awhile to settle into a new one. Not being sure how often Tucker would need to go outside with all this liquid in him, I took him often. And not being sure when he would get hungry again, I just had to guess every 4 hours or so?
And then there were the middle of the night bathroom runs. All that liquid meant he needed to go, so he would come to my side of the bed and politely tap me with his paw when the time came (our bed is very tall, and he can barely reach it while standing on his back paws).
It was just like having a little baby puppy all over again! He woke me up at 2:30 that first night, but the next night wasn’t so bad. I just wore my running clothes to sleep in, so I could quickly take him out without having to find a robe or whatever. Not that I expected to see anyone outside at 2:30 in the morning, but you just never know!
Saturday morning dawned with the realization that Tucker had somehow managed to pull out his feeding tube to the point that it was not wise to use it, fearing that the liquid would go down the wrong pipe into his lungs. So just as soon as the vet’s office opened, I called, and we headed that way.
My hope was that they would tell me that his stitches looked fine and that they would remove his tube. Happily, that was the case! So Tucker really did himself a favor… finally, he could enjoy eating again, albeit a liquid diet until his final check up this week.
It was a very happy day when we got a green light to return to our normal routine with his usual food and treats. And we are all celebrating the fact that he will never more have to endure any ordeals like this. EVER.
Oh, I mentioned above what a very special dog Tucker is. In spite of all the grueling surgical procedures he has endured over the past five months, he remains the sweetest, happiest dog! All the folks at the veterinarian’s office just love him. Dr. Young said he had another dog with a similar problem, but he said that that little dog was just plain mean.
Tucker, on the other hand, was and is a little trouper, with happy dances for all. He marches in, wagging his tail for each and every person and/or dog he encounters there (as opposed to Shadow and Bailey who would always tremble with fear when it was their turn to go). I could hear the vet tech talking to Tucker in the back hallway, “Just look at you strutting along!”
We are so grateful for the excellent care he has received at Sunset Blvd. Animal Clinic, and are so relieved that Tucker is now healed and can look forward to many more happy days of good health.
Now if he would just quickly grow the fur on the left side of his ruff back, so he doesn’t look like he has a modified mohawk, that would be nice!