Sickness, Sadness and Stress

As I write this my attention wanders to a running mass of fur and teeth. A new puppy has entered the household. Before I go on, I’ll review the past week or two, which will clearly explain the title.

1 month ago A girl who lives a couple doors down in my sister’s dorm buys a little pug puppy, Boris, to keep her company. A Therapy Pug of sorts.

Three Weeks Ago She decides that managing a crazy puppy and school work isn’t possible. She meets my mother, an extreme lover of pugs, and sees how much she adores the puppy.

Two and a Half Weeks Ago… My sister texts my mother, asking if it would be okay to adopt the puppy into our home. My mother, against her better judgement, agrees.

Two Weeks Ago Wendell, our nine year old pug, gets sick. When I’m home alone, he leaps off of where he was sleeping on me, and runs in circles. He is clearly in pain, his tail is down, and he’s so very exhausted. I panic, and my neighbor brings Wendell and I to the animal hospital, where they decided that Wendell might have a slipped disc in his neck. They give him intense pain pills, and he is completely disoriented. A sadness hangs over our house, and dread creeps in as we remember we agreed to get another dog.

Two Days After Wendell visits his regular vet, who says it might be an inner ear infection. He gets antibiotics and continues to improve

That Thursday My mother and I drive three hours to my sister’s college to pick up Boris and my sister. He sleeps on the way home. Wendell and Boris meet outside our house in the dark. Both of them seemed submissive, and they hesitantly sniff each other’s butts, tails wagging all the while. When they go inside, chaos ensues, and Boris proceeds to complete several laps around the house. Wendell isn’t very pleased, and lets Boris know it by snapping at him when he overstepped his limits.

Thursday Night… The whole house awakens to mournful howling from Boris in his crate. This continues for all the nights following.

Wednesday I walk outside to my chickens and notice Mary has a strange bubbly discharge coming from an eye. Her breathing is rattling, and she sneezes several times as I watch in horror. Respiratory problems can sometimes be a death sentence for entire flocks. I grab Mary from where she sleeps that night and put her in a warm dog crate in the basement. I feed her bits of scrambled eggs. Meanwhile Wendell throws up a new antibiotic he was taking, and appears to be in pain. I feel so stressed that I might have a mental breakdown. Sadness once again covers the house

Thursday NightMy dad buys Duramycin 10, an antibiotic that goes in the chicken waterer for respiratory diseases in poultry. I make sure Mary drinks some. Yesterday was her first full day on it- No improvements yet.

So far I haven’t noticed any symptoms in my flock, but it is extremely likely that they will come down with the same illness.

The sickness Mary has is probably a form of a virus, in which case antibiotics will not help. What the Duramycin 10 does, is attempt to prevent any infections that might stem from the virus, which would be a very serious problem.

This Morning.. My mother woke me up, in tears, saying Wendell was not doing well. I went downstairs and he was lying down next to the fire, shaking with every breath in and out. He’s at the vet as I write this, and I can only hope and pray that he will have a few more happy, healthy years with us.

The relationships I have with my animals are strong. It might seem strange, but I look at Wendell like a sibling. He’s been around for much of my life, we have so many memories together. But when my animals get sick, my whole world seems to turn sour. Everything seems to darken, and I desperately want to be happy again. I cling to whatever shred of joy I have, I laugh too loudly at things I wouldn’t normally find funny. But the dread and terror of living without that sick animal is still within the pit of my stomach. Its like I’m sick as well. When Mary got sick, I regretted getting chickens for the first time. I asked myself, “How did you think you could do this? Can’t you see you’re doing a horrible job?” And I have no answers. Am I doing a horrible job? If you look at what has happened since May, the answer is yes. Two of my chicks died within a week, two turned out to be roosters. Mary swallowed my hair tie, Mabel ran away, Edith nearly ripped off Mary’s ear lobe, and now Mary is sick.

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