Lucy had to go to the vet today. Her desire for more food was getting greater and greater, to the point that she was leaving her babies crying to come sit at the gate and stare down the hall to the kitchen, but my attempts to ease her back onto puppy food over the past three or four feedings resulted in liquid poop again and lots of it. I swear she has a rusty old garden faucet tucked under that tail and opens it full force. Poor girl – her tush has gotta be getting pretty sore.
The crisis began at four this morning. I awoke to the touch of a cold nose gently nudging my hand – Charley. (Charley does this only to tell me that one of the other critters needs me. If she needs out herself, she scratches at the door instead). Groggily, I got up and went to check Lucy. Sure enough, Lucy was sitting up in her box and came running to the gate of the x-pen. As soon as I opened the gate she raced for the door to go out, and ran around the yard in a frantic search for the exact right place to open the faucet.
There I am trotting around the long damp grass in my pj’s and slippers trying to keep up with her. C’mon Lucy, this isn’t some outdoor open-air concert where you have to check a mile long row of porta-potties to find one that is vacant AND clean .... just go, for heaven’s sake. Preferably before someone calls the police thinking a prowler is in my yard, given the small flashlight in my hand.
Ten minutes later she finally found the right place to do her business and trotted back to the house....and straight through to the kitchen. Food, I need food, her body language screamed. So at four in the morning (okay, 4:15) I am fixing chicken breast and rice and warm chicken broth for my poor starved fosterdog with the leaky hindquarters. Fortunately, Charley and Sadie seemed to realize it was waaay to early to get up and pretty much ignored me after settling for a blueberry pumpkin dog treat each. And, kindly, after Lucy's very early morning meal, all the dogs let me sleep until nearly 7:30.
This morning the diarrhea became even worse and more urgent, and I also noticed some hard lumps in her two rear teats – a possibly indicator of mastitis – so called the SPCA and got the okay to take her to the vet.
Sue sat on the back bench seat in my van, the pups in a fleece-lined laundry hamper on the floor at her feet, Lucy by their side. The highlight of the trip was when Lucy decided to jump into the hamper on top of all the pups. Lucy, we found out today, weighs 45 pounds! Despite that skinny frame, she obviously has some hefty muscle and bone in there.
I stopped the van, and lifted her out of the hamper and onto the comforter on the floor, where she cooperatively accepted the situation and lay down for a sleep even though her pups were yipping and yapping and squealing.
Everything went well at the vets – Lucy was most cooperative and didn’t mind the vet poking and prodding her while her babies cried in the hamper up on the counter. She is running a temperature and does have the beginnings of mastitis, so is now on antibiotics for that. The mastitis may be the cause of her diarrhea, or she could just have an inflammed gut which has difficulty with rich puppy food.
The vet gave me the choice of feeding her a prescription kibble designed for upset tummies, or homecooking – I chose home cooking as the prescription food is far too full of crap (first ingredient listed is corn!). I fail to understand why vets, who receive VERY little nutritional education (often just a short lecture by a representative of a mediocre dog food company)continue to push poor quality products. It doesn't take much to check out some of the excellent websites by independent animal nutritionists (for example, The Dogfood Project), or by independent breed-specific groups such as The Dogfood Analysis) to compare content and learn what makes a good dogfood.
So now Ms Lucy not only has a chambermaid to clean her boudoir, a housemaid to deliver her meals and scoop up her poops, a lady’s maid to make sure her collar is clean and appropriately fitted, a laundress to do the tons and tons and tons of towels and blankets she and her babes soil, but also a personal chef to prepare fine meals of freshly cooked chicken, boiled hamburger, rice, oatmeal, scrambled eggs (though not too many – 76% of their calories are fat), sweet potatoes, boiled white potatoes.... sheesh, and I’ve been living on peanut butter sandwiches lately because I’m too tired to cook at the end of the day!
Ohhh Lucy, if you thought Charley and Sadie were jealous before, wait till they see your new diet!
She is the queen of the castle - even if she does have a rusty garden faucet for a back end. And I am the maid-of-all-work.