S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
Moses died today at our house. Probably one of the most devastating losses we’ve experienced in this Shih Tzu thing. He was born 25 days ago, a seemingly healthy puppy about the same size as all the others in the litter. The second day brought changes in him. He wasn’t gaining like his littermates. Out came the bottles, formula and lots of TLC. He nursed heartily, drinking 5 ml at first but working up to 15-20 ml as he grew. He refused to nurse from mama, Shugz, but cuddled up to her allowing her to care for him. The vet pronounced him healthy and said, “Keep feeding him.”

At two weeks, and after he was big enough to observe carefully, I noticed that his front legs looked deformed. When he tried to move or begin to stand on them, his feet turned out at right angles to his legs and then, under as he moved. He looked like a little seal with flippers trying to walk on his wrists.

So, we were off to an orthopedic specialist who gave me no encouragement. He thought this condition was from a birth trauma, and at his small size, nothing could be done medically. He suggested that I put him down. An appointment was made with our regular vet for that very purpose two days later. After examining him, she really didn’t want to do it. My wonderful vet wanted to give him a chance. She said he was very strong, healthy and feisty and would adjust to his legs and feet and be able to maneuver and get around. Some wonderful family would love him in spite of his problems. That was all my husband, Dick, needed to hear. Moses came home.

I called my friend, Joyce DeVoll. She was and always has been there to offer words of wisdom whenever I need them. Between the two of us, we decided that I should massage his feet, turning them toward his body several times a day to stretch the outside tendons and see what would happen. If it worked, the next step would be to splint those little legs and feet with a Popsicle stick to help the bones grow straighter. It works with children, why not puppies?

Week two was spent feeding, massaging and watching. Were those little feet getting straighter? I thought so. Was he standing a little better with the feet staying out in front instead of turning under? Yes, he was. A miracle seemed to be happening. He gained 10 ounces, and the feet were improving.

Then, it happened. Pneumonia, probably from aspirating some formula, hit our little Moses. Day 25, he was fine at 4 P.M. for feeding. I took pictures of his feet at 5 P.M.-still fine. He was fed at 8 P.M.-still fine, but when I went to get him for his 10 P.M. feeding, he was gasping for breath. We tried everything, nothing worked. We were up with him all night. Early the next morning, a mad dash to the vet ended his suffering, although, he was almost gone anyway. How did this happen when things seemed to be going so well? We were devastated!!

We had hand raised our second litter of five (from day 4 to maturity) with very few problems. We expected to do the same for Moses. Guess it was just novice luck or plain stupidity the first time. We didn’t know that it sometimes doesn’t work.

And, so, the heartbreak of breeding raised its ugly head at our house today; the heartbreak of working so hard, loving so much and still losing a little life. It doesn’t get easier. Tears flow readily. Even Dick said he teared all the way home from the vet. This one seemed harder. Harder because we’d been holding, feeding and caring for over three weeks.

As always, things like this make me reevaluate my goals and objectives. Why am I doing this? What do I want to accomplish? Why do I set myself up for this pain? I began to think…

I’d like to be known as a breeder of good puppies that can be competitive in the ring. A place. where people will know who S’Dandi/AmaDandi Shih Tzu really is. I want to be a place where people can get a good puppy and have the help and support they need as the puppy grows and enjoys its life, a place where new people in the breed can come for advice and friendship, a place where the dogs are of utmost importance-loved and cared for in the best way I know and not treated as commodities (each animal related to according to their personality while getting complete physical and health care,) a place that strives to keep up and learn the latest issues and health concerns, a place of joy, happiness and laughter.

It’s good to think and evaluate once again. We can reach goals that are planned and thought out carefully. The goals themselves are what are important. They direct our lives. The goals are the bait we keep striving to attain.

As for little Moses, he taught us something new in his fight for life. “The only way to see a rainbow is to look through the rain.” So, I’d do it all over again if this situation ever presents itself in the future. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be lucky enough to keep the next puppy alive.
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