Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Sometimes they give up, and there's nothing you can do
We have a dog in rescue right now, a very hard case. The original foster parent gave him up to another foster parent that takes the hard cases. Ms. E is does of a lot of stuff in the rescue and has a really hard job. Her heart is totally in all of the dogs and the hard cases, the really sick ones especially. Puppies that have incurable heart problems, old ones so cranky they can't stop biting people or other dogs. In this case the dog has inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD). His tummy gets so upset he can't hold anything inside him long enough to absorb any nutrients. I've had a dog like this in the past. He wasn't such a bad case though. This poor guy got to his present foster home already emaciated, we don't know how long he'd been like this and ultimately, it doesn't really matter.
His present foster mommy hand makes his food and make sure he eats at least 3 times a day. I asked the all important question, that is, Does he want to live? Her answer was 'sometimes'. Not exactly what I wanted to hear but it isn't always. That was last week. Today she had even harder news, we don't think he's going to make it. He has once again stopped eating, he's anemic, and his intestines are filled with fluid. She says he smells awful. I think it's because he's dying on the inside. Kind of like what happens with parvo virus only in slow motion. Really, can you blame the guy for not wanting to live? He's in pain and the only thing that will save him (eating) is causing him more pain. And really there's no cure for IBD, it is one of those things where you find something they can eat, give them steroids long term to help with the inflammation, and hope for the best. We think this guy is just too far gone and his system will not stabilize.
We didn't want to see this prognosis. We were hoping we could get some weight on him and get him on to making him more stable. His foster mom right now is devastated. She just lost her own dog not too long ago and it's just too raw a time for her. But this is why we are in rescue and this is why she gets the hard cases. She is close enough to them to know when it's time to let go. No one wants to make the decision to put a dog down but we also don't want to keep it alive if all it is doing is suffering. This is why the first thing I asked her was if he wanted to live and why I was not thrilled with the 'sometimes' answer. Not all of the volunteers in rescue are experienced enough to know when it's time, that is why she gets the hard cases. It takes its toll though and one person can only handle so much. I wish this one had enough fight in him for the long haul but it seems as though he's too far gone.
These are the trials and tribulations of rescue and why the people you see in it are all crazy. Big hearts but really, we're not all up there you know?