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Little Duke Battles For His Life

Only a day or so after bringing 9-week old Duke home, he began to get sick. I took him to the vet and not long after dropping him off received a phone call from the doctor. He was suffering from Coccidiosis, a parasitic disease that he’d picked up from his mother at birth. After a day’s worth of antibiotics, we picked him up the next day and in just a short time, he was wreaking puppy havoc. Perry, the boys and I quickly fell in love with him. His short life had been unkind after being left abandoned in the tall grass near Riverwalk in Northport. We made quick work of spoiling him rotten. Being shuffled from one new home to another new home, then a visit to the vet put him under an extreme amount of stress.

Wednesday afternoon, Perry called me into the den and after witnessing his lethargy and feeling his hot little head, suggested we carry him back to the vet pronto. Perry packed him up and off they went. He returned home without him.

Thursday morning, I called to check on him and received the good news that his fever had come down, but the doctor was concerned with his lack of interest in food. He’d started Little Duke on an IV and was administering fluids so we would need to call back after lunch. That afternoon we were told they needed to keep him another night.

On Friday, they called and asked if we could come to the vet and encourage him to eat for us. He wouldn’t. Here’s a video of Perry holding him:

Duke would have to stay longer and the doctor wanted to do some additional tests. They searched for an obstruction, but found nothing indicated on the x-ray.

On Saturday morning at 7:30, we received the phone call I’d pray wouldn’t come. Duke had been found that morning in his cage with obvious signs that he was suffering from Parvo. The doctor couldn’t make any promises on the prognosis either way. He’d seen enough of the virus to know it was aggressive and unpredictable. I shared with the boys how sick he was, but I don’t think they understand how serious Duke’s condition is.

Around 11:00 that same morning, I went to the vet just to pet him and let him know we hadn’t abandoned him at that scary place. He was so weak and his eyes told me how much he was suffering. I scooped him off the cold, metal table, wrapped him in his towel and moved over to a chair. He placed his head in the crook of my neck and I held him a little tighter.

‘You’re gonna get better and chase the kitties and play with your raccoon and your ball and your sock and sleep in the bed if you want to…’, I assured him along with a slew of other promises.

Late Sunday afternoon, I was thankful the doctor hadn’t called me. In this case, no news really was good news, but I was also tormented by not knowing with certainty that he’d made it through the night.

Coming back from Father’s Day lunch, I saw a truck in the veterinary parking lot. I told Perry to pull in and I knocked on the door closest to the parked truck. Through the glass, I could see a shadowy figure peering before the door opened a crack.

‘They’ll be open-’, a bearded man began before I interrupted him.

‘I just need to know if my puppy’s alive,’ I pleaded. Another head popped around the corner and I continued, ‘He’s brown. About 9-weeks old and he’s got Parvo.’

‘Little Duke,’ the younger man asked, surprising me with his use of ‘little’. We called him the same thing. The first gentleman looked at him before turning back to me. His features softened and he opened the door wider.

‘Yes, he’s still alive. He’s being giving IV fluids and antibiotics right now, but he’s alive. Call back at 7:30 and one of the doctors will update you.’

I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked them both as I bounded back toward my waiting family. They were excited by the news.

This morning at 7:30, I’m going to call and get my update. If Little Duke made it through the night, I’ll allow myself to feel hopeful that he just might pull through this. I hope you’ll say a quick prayer for this baby. I know God’s got bigger things to worry about, but this puppy’s short, unkind life, haunts me. The thought of him dying with only a few short days of feeling safe and loved is just too much to bear at times.

He’s tough and he’s a fighter. I think we’ve named him well.

6/17 UPDATE: Spoke to the vet and Duke made it through the night! He’s still obviously sick and refuses to eat but he was in high spirits and wagging his tail!

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