De Le Rose Danes
(Leysa & Freyr's Second Litter 08-04-07)
Rajah was from Leysa and Freyr's second litter. A couple who purchased Rajah's older brother Rueger from Leysa's first litter, wanted a companion for Rueger and fell in love with this young lady. The litter was perfectly healthy, and Rajah went home right after her shots and worming. About two months later, she picked up the Parvovirus from who knows where, and nearly died as a result. Her determined owners decided to fight as hard as they could, and after a bunch of sleepless nights, hard work and a bit of help from God, sweet Rajah pulled through and was saved. Her owner wrote a very nice piece for a contest about the whole affair, and with her permission, I share it with you here in hopes that it helps someone else that may be going through the same thing. Following the written piece, I will have several pages of nice photos as well!
"I woke up one chilly December morning in 2007 to find our new edition pawing at the back door. This was no surprise, as puppies need to go out frequently, even in the wee hours of the morning. I slipped out of bed and opened the door as the brisk air hit my feet. Rajah climbed off the porch and into the grass. She started heaving and then a brown, gooey liquid came out of her mouth. I watched as her little back arched and you could see the energy drain from her perfect little face. With her head sunk down and her ears hung low, she slowly made her way back into the house and collapsed on the cold, hardwood floor. Every thirty minutes, she would need to go back outside to either vomit or, well; we won't get in to those details.
I later found out that Rajah only had a 50/50 chance of surviving this virus. Despite the fact that she had all of her vaccinations, she was diagnosed with Parvo.
About three months before, my husband and I decided that our Great Dane, Rueger, needed a sister. Actually, I decided we needed another pup. (You know how husbands are.) We had purchased him in 2006 and thought he needed a playmate. Rueger was the perfect puppy and we figured that his parents would produce another perfect one just like him. We never had any problems with him. In August, of 2007, Rueger's parents had Rajah. In October, we drove to Kansas City to pick her up and, boy, we were in for a surprise.
You see, it had always been a desire of mine to get a Great Dane. I always had dogs growing up as a child but they lived outside. Since my mom wasn't an animal lover the dogs had to stay outside. My husband and I had only been married for a couple of years and weren't quite ready for babies. He agreed to get a dog on one condition; it had to live outside. So I prayed that God would send me the perfect dogs and I couldn't have done better if I had created them myself. They weren't perfect, but they were perfect for us. (By the way, they both stay inside.)
Rueger didn't take too well to his little sister at first. He would stick her entire head in his mouth. He wanted nothing to do with her and ignored her most of the time. We'd be outside and he would run straight at her at full speed just to scare her. She’d lie down beside him and he’d put his paws on top of her so that she couldn't move. He wanted to send a message that he was boss and would not be persuaded by her cuteness, like the rest of us were. However, she wasn't like Rueger. Rajah was never timid or scared of anything. She never backed down from Rueger and kept persisting that he give her some positive attention. Like a little sister, she followed Rueger wherever he went. Rajah was ornery and did mostly what she wanted. My hubby thinks she has more of my personality. I just think she has a free spirit.
Everything was perfect. Both dogs were potty-trained easily and as the weeks went by, they became inseparable. Where one would go, the other would follow. Caleb and I would take them on walks, to parades, and football games. The kids loved those dogs and the dogs loved people. We were so proud as people came and asked to pet the horses or when toddlers would come up and ask for a ride.
All of that changed in December. Rajah was only four months old and it was only two weeks until Christmas. On that cold winter night, I sat up with Rajah until the sun rose. She would go out to puke and I would hold her. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
The next morning, I could not bring myself to go to work. Somehow I knew that I needed to be right by her side. After all, when I'm sick I want someone to take care of me. She continued vomiting and then came the diarrhea. She would not eat or drink anything. I knew the she was losing a lot of fluid and that I needed to keep her hydrated, but she wouldn't have it. I knew something was horribly wrong.
I called the vet first thing in the morning. They calmly told me that she probably had gotten into something she shouldn't have and that everything would be fine. Since she was current on all of her vaccinations, there was no need for panic. I was told to give Rajah Pepto-Bismol to help with the vomiting and diarrhea. They also said to get some Pedialyte to help keep her hydrated. If that didn't help, I was advised to call back in the next couple of days.
Rajah was a little fighter, even when she was sick. I would have to force the Pepto into the back of her throat and then she'd spit most of it out. She wouldn't even try the Pedialyte. When I was successful with the Pepto, she seemed to do okay.
However, the next day Rajah got worse. She became so lethargic. Her usually bright eyes became dim. There wasn't any light left in them at all. It was almost as if someone took out her soul and I was left with her body. It was the scariest and hardest thing I have ever been through in my life. My Rajah was gone and replaced with something that was dark and cold.
At this point I was angry. We could've got a jump start on whatever this was if the vet's office would have gone ahead and made an appointment. I was scared and upset because I had no idea what was wrong. I couldn't fix this. My husband couldn't fix this. I just hoped for the best.
Frantically, I called the vet again. We were scheduled for an emergency appointment that day at 10:00pm. So I prayed and prayed again. All I had left was faith? a small glimmer of hope that everything would be okay.
We get to the vet's office and she is late. My poor puppy has the flu and here the vet is late. I was in a horrible mood and the wait was killing me. I thought every possible scenario through, or so I thought.
As the vet finally gets to the office, she starts to examine Rajah. She said that though it's a long shot, Rajah could have Parvo. She then goes on to explain that Rajah has had all of her vaccinations and that we should go ahead and do the test so that we can rule that out. She took a stool sample and we waited eight minutes for one light blue dot to appear on the stick. What we saw was not what we expected.
It was confirmed; Rajah contracted Parvo. Whether it was a faulty vaccination or some other fluke accident, we'll never know. What we did know was that the virus likes to grow in rapidly dividing cells. The intestinal lining has the biggest concentration of rapidly dividing cells in a puppy’s body. The virus attacks and kills these cells, causing diarrhea (often bloody), depression and suppression of white blood cells — which come from another group of rapidly dividing cells. In very young puppies it can infect the heart muscle and lead to “sudden” death.
SUDDEN DEATH, what? That hit me like a ton of bricks and I was devastated. Those two words shattered my world. I had to keep it in control, you know, for Rajah. What happened to the flu? What happened to the theory that she had gotten into something? I slowly felt like my world was collapsing just as Rajah did that first morning. Because I'm a fighter I wanted to know what we could do. I didn't want Rajah to be stuck in a hospital. I knew she needed to be home with people who loved her more than anything. I knew that God wouldn't have given her to me just to take her away so quickly!
The Vet explained that we'd have to be aggressive with treatment. It's not the virus that kills, but the side effect of dehydration that shuts the immune system down and keeps it from fighting. Not only that, Rajah had to fight to live as well. In that current state, I wasn't sure she could. We were told that we had to be committed and that her life was in our hands. But I knew it wasn't. It wasn't up to me if she lived. I could only do my best and I had to believe that God would take care of the rest.
I'm not sure if I have driven this point home yet. Rajah would not move. It was a struggle for her to even blink her eyes. She had no desire for food or water and I'm not sure she even had the strength to eat if she wanted to. I could have put her in the middle of a busy highway and she would have lain still and let the cars pass by. She looked as if she was already dead. Even her breathing had slowed to a point where I would have to check her pulse to make sure that she was still breathing. To this day, I remember these details. I have these images instilled in my memory.
I had to learn to give Rajah daily shots of medicine that would keep her from throwing up. Every time I gave her that shot, it would sting her skin. I am also terrified of needles, so injecting her was just as hard on me. She had to stay on the doses Pepto-Bismol which she hated more than anything else. The vet taught me how to administer an IV and this, for me, was the worst part. I stayed up all night with Rajah trying to keep the IV in her arm. She would bite at it or roll over and the needle would slip out allowing saline solution to seep onto everything. The vet also explained that even with treatment Rajah only had a 50/50 chance and that she probably wouldn't make it and IF she did make it, she would have neurological problems. The Rajah we knew would never be the same. Hundreds of dollars later, we were on our way home with supplies and a faint sliver of hope.
Because Parvo is so contagious, we had to quarantine Rueger. He didn't understand why he was being shut out and this was another very difficult process. He would be stuck by himself for the first half of the day. He started to misbehave and was getting depressed. I would have to sit with Rajah almost twenty-four hours a day for three entire days. Caleb would get home from work, give me a break to take a shower and do all of the "normal routine" stuff. Then he'd go play with Rueger a little while. We had to change clothes and shoes before we could switch rooms. The virus sticks to clothes, shoes, and everything else. We would have to spray a diluted bleach mixture on everything. The virus can even remain infectious in ground contaminated with fecal material for nine-twelve months or more if conditions are favorable.
At one point, we had to keep Rajah in the crate. She usually didn't like being in there, but she didn't move. We left the door open and she didn't even bat an eye. I would talk to her and it was like she was looking straight through me. It was frightening. There were points in the middle of the night that the IV would come lose and I would have to fiddle with it for hours to get it to work. Frustrated and exhausted, I would cry and cry. I would question God and ask why this had to happen. I also had to remind God that he gave her to me for a reason and that she couldn't die when she was only four months old. Great Danes are supposed to live for at least seven years! I wanted my seven years!
The vet gave us high protein canned food to give to Rajah along with some supplements. Rajah would not eat the canned food and I knew she was still not getting enough nutrients. I decided to try and get her to eat some chicken and rice. She did eat tiny little portions but I still had to force her to eat the rest. She finally started drinking a little more.
Six days before Christmas, one week after she started showing symptoms, Rajah got a little spring to her step. She climbed out of the crate and wanted to lie next to me on the bed. Each day after that she continued to get a little better until finally she was walking and playing and being an ornery little puppy.
We had to decontaminate our entire house with bleach. We had to throw away most of the things she slept on. We had to clean the entire house from top to bottom to keep this horrible virus from spreading. But it was worth it, Rajah was recovering.
I know now that Rajah was given that hint of defiance in her spirit for a reason and I'm so thankful! She defied every single thing the vet and others said that she would or would not do. Today, you would never have known Rajah was ever sick. She's got more spunk than any dog I've ever seen. She's healthy and is exactly the weight she should be for her age. Not only that, Rajah has amazing reflexes. She follows bugs and butterflies. She loves to chase flies, too. I can point to something in the distance and she knows what I'm pointing to. God knew that I needed her. He knew that I needed to see that wrinkly little chin and the little curls of hair on each side of her tail. God knew that Rueger needed this little sister to clean out his ears and to make sure he's always looking his best. (Sounds gross, but is hilarious!)
Most people who would read this story would think I'm a crazy lady who loves my dogs a little too much. While they might be right, I was one of those people. I couldn't imagine having an animal in the house and having hair all over your clothes. I couldn't believe the things people do for their dogs until I got two of my own that lived inside with me. They are like kids. They have funny facial expressions and different personalities. They do the funniest things and bring so much joy to my life. While, I probably won't leave any money or my house to them in my will, I do know that they will be spoiled while I'm blessed enough to have them in my life.
I thank God everyday for my little miracle. When Rajah has to be right in the middle of what I'm doing, I remember that I am blessed. When she escapes her leash and has a hay day with the neighbors? pets, I remember that I am blessed. When she gets jealous of me petting, playing, or giving extra attention to Rueger, I remember that I am blessed. While I'm sitting here typing in my black fleece pullover covered in white hair, I remember that I am blessed! What Rajah, Rueger, Caleb and I overcame has made us stronger. It has made me realize that life is short for all of us and that we need to make the most of it. Material possessions don't matter in the end; it's the relationships you form, both with people and pets. When I look at the chewed corner of the coffee table, I remember that I am blessed!
Terry D. Janes
7628 East 52nd Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64129
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