Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clearance Puppy

Joy saw the movie “Marley and Me” and wanted a puppy. Well, let me back up, she had been wanting a pet for about a year. And this is why…

I was born in Arkansas, but was so little when we moved to SoCal that I have no memories of it. (Actually I do have memories, but everyone tells me I was too little to remember it, so I just say I don’t. But I do. I have a really good memory—just not for anything useful.) I have basically lived in SoCal my whole life. OK, so about 10 years ago I started a graduate school program up in Fresno. That was the first time (of the times I am allowed to say that I remember) that I haven’t lived in SoCal. It was culture shock. It was awful. I didn’t know anyone. It was not fun. So one day when a little gray cat showed up on my doorstep and didn’t leave, I invited her in. She accepted and stayed for a meal and a little conversation. The next day she came back. I was desperate for company so I invited her to be my roommate. She accepted—on her own terms, of course, she was a cat after all! I was going to school for forensic psychology so I named her Psyche because she never did tell me what her name was before that.

She was a good cat. She didn’t get up on the furniture unless invited. She loved to be petted—except right in front of her tail. She wasn’t picky about food, but she was picky about her friends. She loved soft blankets but did not particularly like dogs. She didn’t mind riding in the car unless you put her in a cat-carrier. That was a problem. She was also tolerant of going to be groomed, but was humiliated if you put her in a dryer. She was sweet. She moved with me six times. She never played in the street, she never stayed out over night. She was a good cat.

Hubs, however, is not a cat person. He never fully appreciated all of her good qualities. He was tolerant, usually, but when she got older and started to barf all over the place on our carpet, he got less tolerant. Once morning when she barfed in front of our bedroom door and he stepped in it, he decided (Hubs v Psyche, 2008) that she needed to retire to cat quarters in the garage. I tried to reverse this decision as much as I could, but with a 3 year old and a newborn, he seemed to win that battle most days.

In December of 2008 I had to run to Target for something. When I got home Hubs was waiting outside for us. Because I needed to get Joy out of her car seat and get Marlo’s infant seat out of the car before it was parked in the garage, he offered to pull it in for me. Joy was almost in the family room and I had just stepped inside the house with the infant seat when I hear a strange ‘popping’ noise. Hubs got out of the car and said, “I think I ran over something.” He got down on his hands and knees and immediately got upset. He punched the ground and said a few choice words and said, “I hit Psyche.” The world started to go gray and to move very slowly. I set the infant seat down inside the house. Hubs told me to go inside because Psyche was still moving, but asked me what to do. I knew from the noise it was bad, but I thought it would have instantly killed her. I told him to take care of it but he said he didn’t know how. So I told him to get the next door neighbor to help him but to hurry up because I didn’t want her suffering. They were outside in the garage for about an hour, “taking care of it”, cleaning up, and putting my little friend in a box.

My heart was broken. My little friend who had been with me through thick and thin for the past 10 years was gone in an instant. I didn’t even have the courage to go out to say good-bye. I should have been the last person she saw before she left this world, but I was too much of a chicken. Instead, the last person she saw was Hubs, who never really liked her.

As I sat there crying, Joy wanted to know what was going on. I tried to keep it from her, but she is VERY persistent. So I explained, as best as I could, that Daddy had accidentally run over Psyche with the car and that she died and went to Heaven to be with God. Somehow, in her 3 year old mind, this is what she heard: Daddy squished our cat with the car and killed her so she flew up to Heaven in a space ship. This became a very juicy bit of news for her and she told anyone and everyone within earshot this story, over and over and over. So not only was I broken-hearted about the whole incident, but I had to have the wound raked with the sharp prongs of the story 25 times a day, every day. I was not able to go into the garage for about a month. I had to park my car outside in the driveway, and any items needed from the garage had to be handled by Hubs. (Later Hubs told me that she wasn’t really moving, it was just reflexes…a bit of information I would have found useful earlier in my grief and guilt over not being able to say goodbye to my friend in her final moments.) After a few months, the novelty of telling the story wore off and Joy moved on to something new, and the hole in my heart started to heal a little. We buried Psyche, that great little cat, under a tree in our front yard.

In 2009, around June, Joy started mentioning that she wanted a pet. Specifically, she wanted a kitten. Her requests would ebb and flow, but in August, on the way home from Jennifer’s baby shower (see the shower mea culpa for further), we saw a mobile pet grooming truck. Joy asked if it was the ice cream truck. I had to explain to her what it was—a truck that comes to your house to groom your pet so you don’t have to take them anywhere. Joy found it fascinating. But then she pointed out the obvious. “Mom, they can’t come to our house because we don’t have a pet. Dad squished Psyche.” (Ouch—it still hurts.) Then she asked if she could call Daddy on my cell phone. So we called him and asked if we could get a pet to replace Psyche (who he squished). He said we could talk about it when we all got home that night. So, as luck would have it, we went to the park when we got home (me, Joy, and Marlo) and when we got there, the most adorable little black kitten with beautiful green eyes was wandering around. Joy thought it was fate. And so the requests began in earnest…and then we saw “Marley and Me.”

Joy fell in love with what she passionately referred to as ‘Clearance Puppy.’ She wanted a puppy or a kitten, but probably a kitten because a kitten could stay inside with her and sleep on her bed. (That was her rationale.) The marathon that is my life began to speed up and suddenly it was December and Hubs and I decided that we would get the girls a kitten for Christmas. So we went down to the county animal shelter on December 17.

The cat section comes first in the shelter. There were several adorable 2 month old kittens. Joy was willing to take any one of them—or all of them, whichever we wanted. (Yeah, right.) I thought we were home free…but just beyond the cats was the dog section…and Joy heard the barking and said, “Let’s just go look at them.” So we went, and when we got to the end condo, she saw five little shepherd-mix puppies. There were four little, roly poly, fluffy boy puppies and one little teeny-tiny girl. Joy said, “That’s our Clearance Puppy.” And that was it. Kittens were forgotten. Joy wanted this puppy.
And indeed, she was a clearance puppy—they were having a Christmas special…all adoptions were 75% off. We got a new puppy, spayed, equipped with a micro-chip, to be picked up 2 days before Christmas.

We picked her up on December 22—a day early. The girls were ecstatic. The puppy was playful. She was excited, too. We decided that it was too cold for her to be outside, so we kept her in the laundry room. (I still don’t think the floors have recovered from the shock.) She was a little rambunctious to just run around indoors, so when we weren’t able to devote our attention to her 100%, she stayed on a blanket in her room. (The girls stayed on their tummies on the floor in front of the laundry room, looking under the door just to see the new puppy.) Joy named her Rosha. That night, Hubs, the pet police, thought she was too little and lonely to stay in the laundry room and let her sleep on a pillow in our bed. Excuse me? We ironed out that kink real quick. We try to minimize kid visits to our bed, we do not need a puppy there instead!

After a couple of days, we thought we hit our stride with Rosha. We enjoyed Christmas with a new “family member.” Things were going well.

On Monday, December 28, we found out that a dear friend that we used to work with at the police department had passed away on Christmas Eve. His funeral was on Wednesday, December 30. We arranged child care for that morning, but on our way out we noticed that Rosha was a little out of it. She was just lying in her little bed in the laundry room, not moving, not eating, not really doing anything. We left for the funeral, obviously concerned about our new little pet. When we got home, she was a little better, but not much, so we decided to keep an eye on her. That night, after the kids went to bed, she was seemingly her normal self.

The next day, New Year’s Eve, she was lethargic again. She did not want to go for a walk and she vomited. So I called the vet at the shelter. They told me to bring her in after 2 pm. So, we put Marlo down for a nap, and then Joy and I took Rosha back to the animal shelter. The vet seemed annoyed (it was past our contingency period to bring her back in for any reason), but when I started describing her symptoms, he went to check the computer. Bad news. The other four puppies that had been in her litter (all found in the river bed) had been brought back in and had tested positive for Parvo. I had never heard of this puppy disease before, but apparently it is very contagious and is usually fatal, if not caught early enough. Even if you catch it early, there is only a 75% success rate for recovery. So I asked the vet what our options were. This is what he told me—in a flat, monotone voice: you can leave her here and we will euthanize her within 30 minutes, or you can find your own vet to treat her. Treatment can cost upwards of 2500 dollars. If you are like me, you are still stuck on the word ‘euthanize’ back there.

I had to call Hubs. He talked to the vet on the phone. We took Rosha home. We found an emergency pet hospital that would take her. They just failed to mention that they didn’t open until 6 pm. (It was 3.) We didn’t find out this information until Hubs had driven the 2 counties over to get there. So then he called me to find somewhere open earlier that would take her. I finally found a place (15 minutes from our house) that said to bring her in. Hubs spent several hours at the vet. I spent several hours home alone with 3 heart-heavy little girls. (Hubs’ daughter was with us for the week.) When Hubs got home it was bedtime for the girls. And then the more affordable, do-it-yourself Parvo at-home treatments began.

We had to administer an IV twice a day, oral medication three times a day, and give her a special diet 6 times a day. It’s a good thing we’re not busy or anything.

The good news is that Rosha has pulled through and survived the Parvo. The bad news is that, in celebration of her clean bill of health, Joy accidentally shut her paw in the laundry room/garage door, which landed us back in the vet’s office for x-rays.

The moral of the story is: screen your children’s movie selections very carefully! They can end up costing you (financially and emotionally) more than you can even imagine!

Posted by The Editor for busy, busy Busy Body

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