Thank you guys for the tons and tons of well wishes sent to our little puppy.
Sorry for the lack of update. The few weeks after the last post was very painful, and I just couldn't bring myself to blog about it.
This is what happened :
First we took puppy to our regular vet. He gave us a very grim prognosis, and referred us to a vet in Jalan Ampang to get an x-ray done as he did not have an x-ray machine at his practice. The ride home from this vet visit was very dour.
Next we took puppy to the Jalan Ampang vet for the x-ray. We had to leave her overnight, as she had to be anesthetized for the x-ray and that must be done on an empty stomach, to avoid the puppy throwing up while unconscious and choking on the puke. We were pleased at how both the vet and his assistant handled the pup, carrying her correctly and very very gently - we knew we were leaving her in good hands.
The next day we had our answer - the x-ray confirmed that puppy has hip dysplasia, and quite severe for her age. She also has a loose kneecap on her right hind leg, adding to her walking difficulty. Hip dysplasia is not curable, but it can be helped along. The pain is from her hip condition, and it will be something that will come along on and off. As she grows bigger, the extra weight on her hips might only make the condition worse.
So what do we do? This was the vet's advice - 'I don't advice you to keep her, but I don't advice you to put her down either. It's up to you and the quality of life you can provide for her.'
He told us there is a surgery we can do (if we can afford to) to help her hip, which must be done before puppy is a year old. The surgery might help for a year, or it might help for 9 years, or it might not help at all - no guarantee.
Puppy was not moving much, and eating and drinking badly. She still wails in pain at the slightest move. Togo and Tagar could not understand why puppy will not play like before, and their curios nosing and attempts to play only distressed her more.
We had a choice to make. What do we do about puppy? We did not plan on having more than 2 fur-kids. Especially not at a time when we could afford neither the time nor money (a baby very soon, plus a 20% cut in our household income from the current economic times) to take another puppy, much less a special puppy with special needs throughout her life.
Let's rephrase the question : If we had a special needs baby born, would we snuff his life just because he's an inconvenience? OF COURSE NOT.
Puppy was still very poorly at that time. We gave ourselves two weeks to decide again - if she does not improve and is suffering too much, the kindest thing to do was maybe to let go. I set two personal indications to judge - if puppy's tail wags come back, and if she starts walking about with her tail curled up (they do that when they're happy).
The next two weeks the household adjusted. We stopped puppy's daily painkillers dose. We set her on a routine to get her to walk and use her legs, on the rough surface outside which is better for her condition that the smooth floors inside. I started toilet training her (we never did because she was meant to leave, and then she got too sick to). Puppy started eating and drinking better with a routine. We carried her up and down stairs, as stairs were bad for her. Slowly we got rewarded with more and more tail wags.
Puppy was still yelping in pain, though. She's constantly running away to hide from everyone. After a week or so, we realised she might be yelping more from the fear of pain than actual pain, when we or the big ones touch her. We tried out our theory and it's true - she yelps when she's knows she's going to be touched, a reaction to fear. Getting her to overcome this fear was a slow process that taught us a lot of patience. We had to re-gain her trust that we are not going to hurt her, and slowly she got more confidence to come out of hiding and amble around at her own pace.
We kept and eye on Togo and Tagar, to avoid them harassing her so much. We're amazed at how well they adjusted to puppy's limitations. They stopped calling her to play rough games with them. After learning that puppy will yelp only if they touched her back legs, they learnt to sit down and play-bite with puppy, head and front legs only. They take turns playing with her like this, keeping puppy entertained for hours (and giving us more tail wags). When Togo and Tagar play zoomies, puppy learnt to stay out of the way, and in turn the two big ones learnt not to run into her. These little adjustments are so heart-warming to see.
And this is puppy now, chewing up our floor
We've named her Gamby, for gamboling around so much. She's much better now, and has gained a lot of strength in her back legs. She will walk funny all her life, but she's a happy puppy, and that's all that matters to us.
And yes, we get a lot of tail wags daily, and Gamby does walk around with her tail up now =)