Written by Alita D’souza (Buddy’s mother) & Richa Vaidya (Buddy’s lover)
My husband and I have always been fond of pets. Originally from Mumbai, my husband and I moved to Goa for his new job. So, after a few months of marriage and the stress of settling down in a new city receded, we decided it was the right time to get ourselves a puppy. Apart from the unconditional love and heartwarming cuteness, we didn't have the slightest clue of what we're in for the long run.
We got Buddy home when he was 50 days old from a good home. We always knew we didn’t want to go the breeder route and Sugar’s (Buddy’s birth mom) pawrents happened to be people we got connected through mutual friends. Buddy lived with us in Goa till he turned 3 months, post which we had to travel to Mumbai for a family emergency. Buddy was too young to be left alone and we had nobody we could leave him with. After a thorough consultation with his vet, we decided to make the best out of the situation and take a road trip. The vet mentioned that Buddy was done with his first two vaccinations, the third one which is for rabies, could be done once we got back home. We started our journey on June 2nd at 6 AM. As per the vet’s instructions, we were to stop every two hours for Buddy to pee and poop. After 8 hours of driving through bumpy roads and stopping every two hours, we decided to spend the night at a friends place in Pune. Our friend has a German ShepherdRetriever, Coco and we were very excited for Buddy to make a new friend.
That morning, Buddy threw up the carrot he’d eaten the previous evening. We assumed it was due to the motion sickness. Buddy had a blast running and playing with Coco, he made new friends, he had his first outing in the rain and ran like a crazy puppy all across the huge terrace. The next day, he threw up once more on the way to Bombay. Once we were home, we tried feeding him, but he didn’t eat anything and looked visibly upset. We thought it was because he was missing Coco, his first fur friend. My husband and I were concerned when he didn’t eat all day and took him to the vet (June 4th) where the doctor gave him some meds to stop the vomiting. We even changed his food, since he might have got bored with his own food. He didn’t eat anything for two days straight. We tried giving him his favourite food – Carrots, Cucumbers and boiled egg, but he refused to eat and would even run away after looking at food. On Tuesday night, he threw up and had a bout of really bad loose motions which smelled really bad and his vomit was simply the water he drank. Buddy is our first puppy and we were really worried. We took him to the doctor on Wednesday morning and the doctor immediately put him on saline as by then it had been three days straight he hadn’t eaten. By evening, the vet said we may have to do a Parvo test the next day as the symptoms do suggest it.
The first thought we had was ‘Parvo? Wha? What is that?’ Thanks to some really nasty habits, we googled it. With every sentence, every search, every word, my heart kept sinking and I couldn’t stop the fearful thoughts. We were shocked and scared. That night was a sleepless one for us while Buddy’s vomiting and loose motions kept getting worse. On 7th June, Thursday, Buddy’s Parvovirus results were positive. The vet very clearly told us that the survival rates for puppies with Parvovirus are next to nil. Only 4-5% of puppies survive this deadly virus. It does not affect puppies over 1 year. If Buddy didn’t show any improvement in the next two-three days, we might have to put him to sleep. That night, I couldn’t stop my tears. My once happy, carefree puppy who wouldn’t stop wagging his tail and smiled every time he saw me, couldn’t even lift his head up. He was drenched with his own blood, poop and vomit and no matter how much I cleaned, I couldn’t make him feel fresh enough because the flow was steady. The first thought we got was of guilt. What had we done to our puppy? Was this happening because of the travel? We couldn’t digest what we’d done and we couldn’t stop blaming ourselves in the midst of all the upheaval that we were already going through. It was a very tough time for us. Apparently, when you get a puppy you need to give them the first three important shots, which are to safeguard them from Parvovirus, Rabies and other dangerous diseases for canines. It usually takes 20 days to a month for the puppy’s immunity system to build up and fight these viruses. But there we were, completely unaware of this particular fact. We’d started taking Buddy down for short walks after his second vaccination was done. It also takes 15-20 days for a puppy to reflect signs of Parvo, which meant he’d already contracted the disease while we were in Goa.
Buddy was on saline twice a day, for 9 days. Through those days, we had to force feed him his medicines, egg white and keep him as clean as possible, which proved difficult because his motions would not stop. Thanks to amazing doctors, Buddy now began to look a little better. On Sunday, 8th June, Buddy took a few steps on his own. All these days, he was so weak, we had to carry him back and forth from the doctor to home. And slowly but steadily, he began to show signs of improvement. He began to wag his tail when any of us came from outside, he began opening his eyes and lifting his head, he even began to keep the food down for a while. Unfortunately, we had to change his doctor since we had to shift houses within Mumbai and his vet was too far for Buddy to travel every day and we opted for a closer vet. But Buddy’s struggle wasn’t over. With the travelling, he contracted a secondary infection. By now, his motions and vomit were red in colour. We were very close to a breakdown and assumed correctly that he’d started vomiting blood.
Thank God for amazing veterinarians in the city who took care of Buddy tirelessly. I cannot thank them enough. He was slowly getting better and from being force fed to finally eating food on his own, there was a slow but sure improvement. We gave him small quantities of food every 2 hours and eventually increased the quantity and time gap as well. By 16th June, Buddy was fit to travel short distances but had to be kept under full-time observation at home for 20 days. As I’d mentioned, we were in the middle of moving cities and houses and till we found a house, Buddy and I moved to our friend’s house in Pune for almost a month till he was fit and fine.
With Coco’s company and with people who loved him to pieces, Buddy regained his fitness and the weight that he’d lost. Once we moved back to Mumbai, he had to take all of his vaccinations again. We were super careful with Buddy and avoided taking him anywhere due to the rains till the doctor finally told us that he’s fine. He wasn’t too happy with being under house arrest, but it was necessary. Even till date, we are very particular about his diet. Due to Parvo, his intestines had become very weak and despite being a foodie (like most dogs) he had stopped eating and it truly affected us a great deal.
That one week at the hospital between constant vet calls, cleaning and taking care of Buddy, I realised that there is nothing that love can’t heal. We are very lucky to have people who went out of their way to support us. From the doctors who were there at every whine, to our friends and family who were there for Buddy at every step. People play a huge role in helping a dog recover from any kind of disease and ours helped us get our baby back to his tail wagging self. By the end of his treatment, the doctor gave our baby a new title ‘Super Dog’ because he’s now immune to Parvo and his blood can now save other dogs.
We’re beyond blessed that Buddy survived this dreadful disease and came out stronger like all of us knew in our hearts that he would.
In conclusion, I leave you with a line that my husband said, and it’s stuck with me - ‘Medicines work. Human touch heals.’ <3
Follow Buddy's journey on Instagram at @thebuddyshenanigans
Pictures Courtesy: Buddy and his parents