Our most recent large litter of puppies through the rescue was our litter we named after the planets. If you follow Harley’s Haven, then you know that devastatingly, they all became sick with parvovirus shortly after their arrival. This virus is just so contagious, and the stress of travel made them break with illness within 2-3 days of arrival. All 9 of them became sick, and it was a short 2 weeks after we had just struggled through this same virus with our plant puppies. Through great personal struggle and sacrifice of the team at PRAH, we treated 8 of the 9 puppies around the clock, and lost only one. Poor Saturn succumbed to this terrible disease, but thankfully all of the other babies pulled through.
Of them all, the one we were most worried about losing the whole time was Earth. She just looked terrible for days, and I honestly shed many tears over her, begging her to make it for me. It felt really symbolic that Earth needed to make it – what would we do without mother Earth?? After a few tense days, lots of medical care and even a protein transfusion, she finally turned a corner and started feeling better! Thank goodness!!
Over the next 2 weeks she got better and better, and we got to the point where we put them all up for adoption! A wonderful family applied and was actually interested in both Earth and one of her sisters, Jupiter! They have 2 kids, and a big yard, and lots of LOVE to share. As I watched Earth head out, I felt confident that her little life was headed in the right direction.
That should be the end of this story, right? Oh I wish it was….fast forward to one week later. We get an urgent call at Pennridge with Earth’s new very worried dad – something is wrong with Earth. She’s not walking well, she seems out of sorts, she’s drooling – I’m really worried about her! They rushed her in and dropped her off so I could try to figure out what was going on now. I mean…come on, really?? This poor baby JUST recovered from parvo…another illness?
Once she arrived, she looked terrible – very out of it, trembling, running a fever, and totally unable to stand up. I immediately thought toxin and sprung into action with bloodwork, xrays, and starting her on fluids and supportive care. Her bloodwork was normal, her xrays of her stomach and abdomen were normal. She responded a little to fluids and her fever came down but she still was just not able to stand up! What. The. Hell. It was the craziest thing – she had function in all of her legs, and wasn’t acting painful, but you would try to stand her up and she would just plunk down – like she was so weak that she couldn’t support herself. I tested her for tick borne diseases – negative. Started her on antibiotics for them anyway and to cover for other weird infections – maybe she picked something up that was affecting her systemically even though we couldn’t find it? No response to treatment. I took her home that first night and just stared at her…what is wrong? Why aren’t you getting better? I asked every other doctor at Pennridge to look at her – we were all stumped.
The next day with minimal improvement I took xrays of EVERYTHING. I figured if I kept searching, eventually I would find the answer for poor Earth. And sure enough, I found it! After taking xrays of all of her legs, I noticed that her growth plates looked abnormal to me and very inflamed. I submitted it to the radiologist to be sure, and they confirmed – she had hypertrophic osteodystrophy.
Ok so, let’s talk about what this is for a second. I’ve been in the vet field for 15 years, and have seen this ONE time. It was in a great Dane puppy like 10 years ago – so yeah, not common, and a tiny little hound mix puppy Earth doesn’t exactly fit the criteria. This is a growth plate inflammatory condition where the body basically attacks the growth plates and causes inflammation and discomfort in all of their long bones (the big bones in their legs), and is typically VERY painful. It typically also only occurs in large breed, growing puppies. So Earth was definitely NOT your classic candidate – but there we were!
I had actually already switch her to steroids, worrying there was some sort of inflammatory condition going on, so I added some pain management, and sure enough, she slowly started improving….she spent 3 days with me, and by the third day the little girl who couldn’t walk, met me at my back door after letting herself out because she was feeling better. I am so thankful that we figured it out, and that she responded so quickly to treatment! And I would really really like it, if she could go maybe NOT get sick again…that would be greatttttt.
Ok Earth – now Pearl – this is it now, ok? I refuse to have to save you again….please just be happy and healthy and live out your days with your loving family, ok?? That’s all I want for you – a happy, healthy, Mother Earth. 😊