Every job seems to have a story of a situation, or event that took place that stands out in a persons mind and is so incredible or unusual it remains in their memory forever. We’ve all heard it before. When someone says “THAT REMINDS ME OF THE TIME” you know that they experienced something that you’re about to hear that was so unique it imbedded itself in their brain. My unusual experience was about a puppy, and the situation came about because I worked in a Veterinary Clinic.
I was exposed to all sorts of great, and not so great, animal related situations from different types of surgeries, to routine exams and vaccinations. The animals that came in were of different types, and nature as well as the people who owned them. You had to be able to adapt to the different personalities of both in order to do your job properly, because everything was hands on. If you didn’t treat the animal correctly to meet the approval of the owner then you lost a client. If you did not treat the owner correctly than you lost right there no matter how good you treated their pet. Sometimes it was a real challenge but I like challenges.
We had a surgery scheduled one day to spay a dog that was going to be placed in a new home. The procedure was going to be a little more involved, and take a little longer because the dog was pregnant. The new owners were only looking to adopt one dog and in order to place this particular dog the decision to spay her was decided by the current owners. This was one of those not so great situations that I had no control over.
The dog was prepped, and the procedure was carried out for a spay, not a C-Section. With a C-Section you want to make sure that the owner has the days correct on the term of
the pregnancy because you don’t want to bring pups into the world earlier than they are suppose to be here. They need to be as old and as strong as possible in order to beat the
odds of survival.The mother is not the only one receiving the anesthesia, so are the puppies, and they need to be delivered and worked with as quickly as possible .
This particular surgery took quite a while. After what seemed like an hour had passed my assistance was not needed so I started cleaning some of the instruments. But, my curriousity got the best of me. I started wondering what a puppy looked like at this stage of its growth.
My next decision was to expand my exposure to the world of Veterinary Science and look. I even decided to take it home to show my family what a pup looked like at this stage of a pregnancy. Not everyone gets to witness something like this and I felt my kids be interested in seeing it.
The Dr. determined that the puppy could be about 2 weeks away from full term due to the hair length. I was preparing to get the pup ready to take home for my family to see, and all of a sudden he moved. Well, there was only one thing I could do, and that was try to save him. I knew this was going to be quite a big job but I had to do this. I already saw him, held him, and knew he did exist.
I was told it was a waste of time because he was approximately 2 weeks premature. The mother had received full anesthesia for a spay not the minimum that would be used to perform a C-Section, and due to the length of time it took from start to finish to complete the surgery. The organ, itself, had been clamped off, and removed from the mother way to long to expect even full term puppies to have any chance of survival. All I knew was I had to try.
I knew with the puppy being a premy I was going to have to be very careful with him because he was so small and fragle. He proved that he was too small, and weak to nurse
from a bottle so I had to tube feed him. I worked with this puppy around the clock every 2-3 hours for about the first 2 weeks of his life until he became strong enough to nurse from a bottle. With each feeding he also had to be pottied. This being what the mother dog does when she licks them had to be modified due to this unusual situation. Diaper wipes work for puppies as well as for human babies. This little guy went everywhere with me simply because he had to eat so often. Clients at work came to know him, and everyone was quite amazed at the story behind him.
He was enjoying his bottle so much that I had to start monitoring how much he was eating at a time because he was turning into quite the little porker. Due to how aggressively he ate from his bottle he seemed to suck in a lot of air. As with a little human baby he also needed to be burped. As I was patting him on the back after one of his feedings a client asked what I was doing, and at that instant they received their answer. Their response was that they didn’t know puppies could burp. I explained that they’re just like little human babies when they nurse on a bottle . They ingest a certain amount of air and if you don’t help them get rid of it the air causes them to get colic which is another experience I encountered with this little guy. I even went through a bout or 2 of diaper rash due to the fact that he was laying on cloth and his mom wasn’t there to sense when he needed to be cleaned up. We both were able to survive all of this and it was turning into quite an adventure.
Finally one day when he was approximately 2 1/2- 3 weeks old, his eyes started to open. It took a few days for them to open all the way but when they did I knew he was well on his way to beating the odds. My next decision was to name him, and I decided to call him “BANDIT”. His color was tannish brown, and he had markings around his eyes that reminded me of what a bandit looked like. I didn’t know if his color would change as he grew or not but this little guy needed a name so Bandit it was.
Weeks went by. Bandit was moving around enough on his own, and was up on his feet enough that I stopped having to burp him and our diaper rash situations came to an end. I
started mixing regular baby cereal in his milk because at the rate he was growing the milk just wasn’t keeping him satisfied. It just seemed like everytime I turned around he was
crying for his bottle, and beleive you me he knew what his bolltle looked like. When he saw me fixing it he went nuts, and when he saw me coming toward him he just went full blown crazy. I must say he was spoiled because no matter what I was doing when he wanted his bottle he definitely let me know.
All he did was whine and cry up to this point but he could really get your attention because the volume seemed to be turned up full blast on his voice. People even started to
take bets that he was going to say MAMA before he actually barked. I was actually beginning to wonder about this myself because some of the times when he was crying for his bottle, it almost sounded like he was yelling MAMA. Who knows!!! He heard it enough.
Finally, after mixing baby cereal in his milk for a couple of weeks he was doing really great on this mixture, I decided to grind puppy food, and gradually replace the cereal with it. He did fine so I started to thicken the formula in hopes of getting him to start eating some of the dry food. I had the consistancy of his formula thick enough that I had to cut a big X in the end of the nipple, and boy did go to town on his new food. As far as Bandit showing any interest in the solid food he showed me he had none. At least not yet.
He was definitely spoiled, and he was proving he was not going to give up his bottle until he was ready. Bandit would get so aggravated during feedings because the food wasn’t coming out fast enough to suit him that he would get a hold of the nipple with his front teeth and pull it. It was almost as if he was trying to pull it off of the bottle so he could get to the food more quickly. I had no idea a nipple could stretch as fas as he would pull it sometimes.
He was so determined to not give up his bottle that I had to cut the end off of the nipple just to get him to settle down and eat half way normally. This little guy was special, and I have myself to blame for this bottle issue. All I had to do was ignore his cries for his bottle during some of his feedings and give him some time to decide to eat some of the hard food but I always gave in so the only thing I could do was pray he would soon realize he was a dog.
Finally that day came. I heard him finally bark. It seemed to startle him because he looked around as if to see where that sound came from. Realizing it came out of his
mouth he decided he liked the sound of it so when he wanted his bottle that’s how he let me know. Well, I decided if he could bark like a dog he could eat like one, also. After all, he had been drinking water out of a bowl for several weeks now. He was around 8-9 weeks old and it was time he learned to eat on his own. I got up and left the room during one of his barking episodes. After a short time, when he realized I wasn’t coming back, I started hearing crunching sounds. As I peeked around the corner I realized my prayers were answered. My little barking Bandit was now eating like a dog. From that moment on his bottle was history.
He objected to the fact of not getting it, but I was able to stand my ground now that I knew he could eat hard food. After several days Bandit forgot all about his bottle. It was as if it never existed.
I monitored him for the next couple of weeks to make sure he was getting enough to eat, and he continued do fine. He was growing like a weed, and was one happy little spoiled puppy. It was really great to see how well he was doing considering everything was against him in the beginning.
Time was passing, and little Bandit was growing, and doing very well on his own. But, he did not want to be left at home alone. Since I worked I decided to find a home for him with someone who could be with him all the time. This is what I had planned when I realized he had beaten the odds of survival. I just didn’t realize the decision was going to be this tough. The person who adopted this little guy had to want him for the puppy that he was, and not for the story about his existence. The right person had to take up where I left off with him. He had already gone through enough just coming into this world, and I had no intentions of letting him continue his journey through life with anymore unpleasant situations
Finally, a client came who was retired. Mrs. H was pretty much a stay at home type person who was looking for a dog as a companion. She didn’t want one too young, nor too old, and Bandit seemed to be that puppy. The next step was to have her over to my house so she, and Bandit could meet each other. I had to see that the two of them would bond. Mrs. H. did not hesitate but to get right down on the floor, and start cuddling Bandit.
Bandit had no objections to this meeting at all. As a matter of fact he was a very happy puppy, and was definitely enjoying the attention this woman was giving him. That was it. That’s what I needed to see. She definitely wanted Bandit, and he showed he definitely accepted her.
After instructions were given her on his care, and food type she left with him. She stated to me as she was leaving that he was lucky his mom was brought into our clinic that day. I
knew as they left that I had made the right decision. She kept me posted for quite a while after she took him home on his progress and he was doing great. She was home with him most of the time, and when she had to out she took Bandit with her when she could. Both were very happy.
This little dog, that had the odds of survival against him from the first day of his existence, showed everyone that he was a survivor. He had such a strong will to live, he
beat all odds that were against him, and went on to live a long, happy life.
Now I realize that this was a very unusual situation that does not happen all the time. It does prove, though, that all people are not the same with choices they make. A lot of people would not have made the decision I made, nor been willing to dedicate the hours it took to complete this challenge of survival for this little dog. But Bandit proved to me from the start he was a survivor. He couldn’t have done it on his own, nor could I have helped him along against his will. The two of us working together made one woman very happy with her beloved new companion. Bandit filled an empty space in her life with many years of happiness and joy.
This particular situation proves that THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON, and I can honestly say that I am very grateful to have been a part of this one.