Butterfly refused to take pills. The veterinary technicians at the animal shelter couldn’t get her to take her de-wormer pills before sending her home with us in November and she wouldn’t even chew the new de-worming medicine that comes in a tiny meatloaf shape. We tried wrapping it in turkey, crumbling it into chicken soup, spreading it with peanut butter. Nothing worked. She ate the turkey and spit out even the smallest crumb of the medicine, which Cricket made every attempt to steal, because she loves the stuff.
We finally found these Pill Pocket treats the other day. They look like gummies and stretch to fit the medicine. It took four treats, but for the first time in three months, Butterfly got her whole dose of medicine down. I could finally stop imagining the slithering little worms crawling around and sucking the life out of her from the inside.
My fear isn’t completely unwarranted. Butterfly’s heart is already fragile. She was diagnosed with a level four Mitral Valve Insufficiency, which the vet told us could develop into congestive heart failure at any time, requiring daily medication. If she continued to spit out even the easy medicine, no telling what she’d do with actual pills. The fear of her developing serious heart problems, or any other health problems for that matter, has been hanging over me from the first day we brought her home. I watch her anxiously every time she sneezes or coughs or seems to sleep too deeply.
The anxiety blossomed about a week after she came home, She was shivering in the doorway of the living room and I picked her up to comfort her and saw this lump protruding from her lower belly. I pressed on it and it moved around under her skin. Mom thought it could be a hernia, or just constipation pushing forward. Butterfly was coughing and shaking and I was worried, because the vet had warned us that coughing could be a sign of congestive heart failure. We called the clinic attached to the shelter she came from, but couldn’t get an appointment for another two days. The clinic had her records and was inexpensive and had just seen her a week before, but I was starting to panic. I was afraid we’d have to rush Butterfly to a doggy emergency room first thing in the morning.
I brought Butterfly upstairs and put her on my bed. She fell asleep and then, finally, I did too, but I woke up when she vomited, and then stayed up with her as she vomited three more times. I was getting ready to look up numbers in the phone book, wishing for a doggy ambulance because I was too freaked out to drive, when she started to walk around. Then she ate her breakfast as if everything was fine. I kept checking her protrusion as the day went on, and gradually, it disappeared. Coincidentally, she pooped five times that day. Really big pooping.
We cancelled the vet appointment, because I didn’t want to stress her out with more doctor visits than necessary. But, also, I was afraid they would dismiss me as a hysterical dog mommy imagining problems that weren’t really there, now that the evidence was gone.
And for a month, Butterfly was fine. Then, one night, I noticed she was licking her lips obsessively and having trouble sitting and lying down. She was having muscle spasms around her waist that were rippling down her back. I worried next to her overnight, feeling incompetent and in over my head. But the protrusion and the spasms disappeared by the morning and haven’t reappeared since.
In fact, after all of the awfulness, wherein I felt suicidal for clearly failing my dog, Butterfly was back to smiling and being happy and ready to play. If all of that vomiting and coughing and spasming had happened to me, I would still be moping and cursing God months later, but Butterfly just shook it off and went back to being a dog.
I worry that I should have taken her to the vet anyway, even though there was nothing left to see. I worry that she needs a special doggy nurse, and a doggy psychiatrist too. I keep worrying that I’ve taken on a situation that is too big for me, and the after effects of her life in a puppy mill will pose too much of a challenge, and I will fail her. But then she makes me think it over again.
The other night we had a lot of wind and rain, and my bedroom, the attic, is like a wind tunnel, so the sound was exaggerated, and Butterfly was frightened. She woke me up at three o’clock in the morning trying to stuff her head into my armpit. I used to do that with my Mommy when I was little too. She crawled over me and around me and curled against me, but she couldn’t find any position that worked for more than ten seconds at a time.
Finally, by five a.m., she sat down by my chest and stayed there for the rest of the night. She seems to think I’m trustworthy, and I’d like to believe her judgment is sound.