This is the story of Chloe and her 10 babies, 7 days old when this story begins.
Chloe had been turned into us a week earlier, due to give birth any minute. She had been found by a very nice man who had been taking care of her for a couple of weeks and wanted to make sure she and her family were kept safe. Her babies were born her first night with us. That same day, we had a 1 year old named Chia go to the vet for her spay surgery. Chia had a rough recovery and seemed to be in some pain. She was in a completely different part of the building from Chloe and was given some extra pain meds that night. She seemed better in the morning, but had a little bit of bloody diarrhea later that day. I didn't think too much of it; I was concentrating more on the new family.
By Monday morning, things were not good. Poor Chia had died overnight. Sad as we were to lose her, we knew we had to act fast. We quickly bundled up the mom and babies and moved them into my laundry room at home. We confirmed posthumously that Chia died of parvovirus, a highly contagious and often fatal disease that especially strikes young dogs. Chloe and her babies seemed to be doing well, but what if a volunteer had transferred the virus on their shoes or pants as can happen with this devastating disease? And why is this strain of parvo attacking healthy young adults who have started vaccinations?
All was well with Chloe and her brood until Friday morning, when Chloe seemed lethargic and had vomited overnight. She would not eat any canned food. Her babies continued their cycle of nursing, sleeping and pooping and mom continued to care for them. The family was hurriedly bundled up again and rushed to the vet. A few hours later, my worst fears were confirmed. Mom had a bad case of parvo and 10 7 day old pups. As Doc said, "we're in unchartered territory here. I don't expect good outcomes for the babies, but maybe we can save mom". The family was sent home with a long list of instructions and a large assortment of meds and iv fluids.
That night I loved on the babies for a long time. I figured it might be the only human contact they got in their lives. They kept eating, sleeping and seemed oblivious to their peril. Chloe enjoyed the attention although she was clearly not feeling well. Late in the night, I offered her another bite of canned food. She ate it, wagged her tail and went to sleep. She kept it down.
Next morning, I was almost scared to open the door to the laundry room. When I did, there was Chloe, looking more alert. All babies were nursing like linebackers. Mom ate some more canned food and continued nursing and caring for her babies. Later that morning I hooked up her iv and started the drip. She tolerated it well for a few hours, when she stood up, moved the babies off of her and walked across the room to start eating her dry food. Too early for the all clear, but I cried when I saw her eating.
Things continued to improve until Christmas morning. Chloe had thrown up again and did not look as good as she had. Her condition worsened and by early afternoon, the family was on their way to emergency at the UF Small Animal Hospital. Fortunately, the doctor was able to provide some different medications and fluids to stabilize her until morning. The babies kept doing fine. The family was back at our vet again the next morning. Her care was continued throughout the day there and they all came back home late that afternoon. Doc was pretty optimistic that she would improve after this last bout with the awful disease.
And she did improve! Chloe is back to running and playing and supervising her 10 babies, now 9 weeks old! Chloe needs to have her milk dry up before she can get spayed, but her babies will be spayed this week and will be at the Petsmart adoptathon this Saturday and Sunday, Feb 15-16.
So, how did all these babies survive their mom's illness, which can kill much older, stronger pups? Some may say that they got enough antibodies from mom's colostrum. Some might say that we were just lucky. But I'm thinking that just maybe, just maybe, we got a Christmas miracle .I'm not sure there wasn't some guidance from above that intervened to help these tiny babies. Whatever the reason, come and meet them this weekend and maybe adopt one of them.
And if you want to help pay for their medical expenses, please make a donation of any amount, no matter how small. Thanks, and God Bless.
Chloe and the pups on New Year's Eve.