Tofu, 7 Week Old Husky Puppy, photo by Becky
Last Friday, April 17, 2015, the Gentle Doctor team waited anxiously for Jackie Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue.
Someone had bought a husky puppy off Craig’s List, saw that he was very sick and relinguished him to the rescue group.
When Jackie arrived, Becky and I rushed in to see her and meet baby Tofu, who had been named in a vote of rescue supporters while Jackie was on the way to Gentle Doctor with him.
He was the sweetest, scrawniest, thinnest little thing we had ever seen. Jackie set him on the floor to show Becky how compromised he was, and he collaped front feet first and was unable to rise. Jackie later told us that on the ride to the hospital, she was unsure he would arrive alive.
Tofu When He Was Rescued, photo by Jackie
Oh dear. We were, once again, totally, completely 100% in love with a pet with a questionable medical future whom we had met moments before.
Tofu, Starting Treatment at Gentle Doctor, photo by Becky
Tofu had no ability to use his front legs. He was unable to stand, even just on his hind legs. He had a head tremor and did not have the ability to eat or drink on his own or stand to potty. Apparently, no one had noticed in a very long time, and he was emaciated, dehydrated and filthy.
We were going to do the opposite of not notice and, as far as it depended on us, bring him back to the healthy, happy seven week old puppy he should have been.
Tofu with Becky
Fearing abuse, we x-rayed all of Tofu’s long bones, his chest and his abdomen. No broken bones! We were estatic! But perplexed. Why could he not walk? What was causing the head tremors?
Never mind that now! He had pottied on himself and was howling in frustration because he wanted to stand and could not.
Becky and Renee bathed him, and we learned he is a stunning, gorgeous, bright white puppy with brilliant blue eyes, the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen – and I have seen a lot of huskies and Siamese cats!
Baby Blue Eyes! Photo by Shonda
For the rest of the afternoon, we held him as much as we could, and when we could not, surrounded him with pillows and blankets so he could comfortably rest.
Creating an 80 Pound Lap Dog!
You are welcome, future adoptive family!
The pain medication we had given him fearing trauma made him sleepy, which was ideal for that first night in the hospital. On IV fluids and with a tummy full of hand fed puppy food, he cuddled up to his pillow and fell fast asleep.
Amanda met him. Jordan met him. That night my husband Russ and my daughter Abby met him.
We were recklessly breaking hearts left and right, and we were okay with it. So was everyone who was charging in with us for a chance to fall in love with Tofu and get a broken heart too.
Russ, Abby and I spent that evening with him. He had…become in need of another bath…and had a hungry puppy tummy again. He wanted desperately to play, so Abby held him in such a way he could play almost like a normal puppy. When he fell over, finally exhausted, she snuggled him for a bit and gently placed him back in his bed.
My Daughter Abby with Tofu
Friday night, I talked with Russ on the way home. I could not wrap my head around Tofu’s symptoms. Russ was confident I would figure this out, but I had never seen anything like it. What would make him non-ambulatory? What would cause his head tremor? He seemed in every other way like a normal puppy. He was alert and sweet and wanted so badly to walk and eat on his own.
I looked up “head tremors” “non-ambulatory” “front limbs” on VIN – Veterinary Information Network. Thank goodness for the HUGE group of specialists and general practioners smarter than I! And thank goodness for the Veterinary Information Network team for having the wisdom to organize and catalog all of that smart!
The differential diagnosis that came up most often was neospora, a parasite that causes abortion in cattle and neurological disease in dogs. Weird! I remember the parasite from vet school, but had never suspected or diagnosed it before.
Saturday was a crazy busy (good crazy busy) day, so Becky, Shonda, Jan, Renee and I made sure to schedule in important things (blood work analysis – anemia and low protein levels, fecal test – roundworms! parvo test – negative!) and very important things (holding the puppy, feeding the puppy, loving the puppy, photographing the puppy, updating Jackie!) and sent in a neospora titer test. Thank you to Angie for “creating” a lab form for it – apparrently I was not the only one who has never needed to test for it before!
It’s a long shot, but if this is the diagnosis, it is very treatable. We started treatment just in case.
Tofu with a Teddy Bear and Homemade Pillow from Abby
I asked Jen who was on kennel duty and on call over the weekend. Every weekend, there is a team to take care of the boarding cats and dogs and a doctor on call in case one of the boarders needs medical care. Shonda and Renee were on for the weekend – the best possible case! I offered to help or do all of the care for Tofu, and they said NO – they were all in on taking on the tiny puppy and his special needs for the weekend. I went home exhausted, relieved and so very happy he was in wonderful, loving hands.
The weekend went by. I practically taped my fingers together so I would not harass Shonda and Renee about updates, and even so I got this from Renee…
And that from Renee…
And then while shopping at Target with Russ and Amanda and Abby, I got this from Shonda, and I sat down in the lawn department and cried.
Video of Tofu’s First Steps!
TOFU WAS WALKING! He took his first steps, and Shonda got it on video!
That was the moment I knew for sure he was going to survive and thrive.
Jackie and Mike Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue Visiting
Becky’s Daughter Hailey Disguises Physical Therapy as Play!
Jackie was allowing us to keep him for the following week. He still needed help eating and drinking, and would often tip forward into his water dish when he tried to take a drink. The foster network of Taysia Blue is amazing – the best of the best – but we did not want a little high maintenence potential water bowl drowner on their hands if we could help it.
Tofu with Dr. Bashara
Every day he walked a little farther and a little better.
His progress was so slow that I had to ask vet tech Trey if he was actually getting better every day or if I was just seeing what I wanted to see. “He is getting better every day,” he said.
Dr. Stephanie Jones offered to do acupuncture on Tofu to help him with his mobility. Acupuncture started Wednesday (two days ago) and continued yesterday and today.
Acupuncture Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones
Laser Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones
Thank You Dr. Jones!
Ashley and Renee were his “puppy railroad” out to the 153rd location and back every day. The team at the 153rd location fell as hard for Tofu as we all had.
Mary with Tofu
He walked and walked after his first acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jones! I could not believe the difference!
Becky and I played with him for an hour over lunch right after his first acupuncture appointment, and just enjoyed watching him walk around like a newborn horse. Ok, not like a puppy yet, but that is coming!
Tofu with Shonda
Now he is in the loving hands of the Gentle Doctor team at 89th and 153rd and 89th again and I am at home writing his story. Dr. Thomassen is directing his care for the end of the week – He could not be in better hands. Becky is going to be his foster Mom – He could not be in better hands.
Tofu with Jan
Sometimes I look back on a case and think, “Was the potential heartbreak worth the joy now?” First of all, that is a stupid question. We do not have a choice. Second of all, it is much too early to “look back.” Tofu is in the middle of struggling to learn to walk and recover from a still unconfirmed cause of his many severe issues. Third of all, YES. 100% absolutely YES.
Were I to go back to a week before today and decide (had we a choice) knowing what we know now (not much more than we knew then) I – we – would charge in for a potential broken heart just as swiftly as a rescuer charging in to rush a dirty, neglected broken puppy to a vet hospital.
Tofu, thank you for not breaking our hearts. Thank you for blessing us and filling us with joy as only a beautiful, sweet, goofy, naughty lovable fluffy puppy can. We love you so very much.
To learn more about Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue, click HERE.
To be continued…
Tofu with Whitney’s Daughter, Harper