Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Wichita Chronicles



On August 18th a gray-brown stray dog was brought to the Missouri City Animal Shelter by animal control. On August 22nd, that dog came off of stray hold and needed a name to help him get adopted. Valerie, the volunteer manager, had just gotten back from watching the total solar eclipse in Wichita, Kansas, so she named him Wichita. On Friday, August 26th, Hurricane Harvey hit, and shortly after, it began raining and flooding in Houston (Missouri City is a southern suburb of Houston and was particularly hard hit with the flooding, but luckily the Missouri City Animal Shelter did not flood). The Missouri City Animal Shelter, along with most shelters in the Houston area, needed to clear out its adoptable dogs to make space for owned dogs, whose owners needed to evacuate but couldn’t take their animals with them. Austin Pets Alive! (APA) stepped in and took hundreds of dogs and cats from Houston shelters (including Missouri City) to a temporary shelter (actually an old furniture store) on Burnet Road. Wichita was one of those dogs. He arrived at APA on September 1st

I met Wichita on Friday September 1st, the first day I went to the APA temp shelter. He seemed really sweet and was wearing a red paper collar that said “Wichita Missouri City” At first I thought that meant he had an owner and would be claimed soon.
The Missouri City shelter put red collars like this on all their dogs before they left
I continued walking Wichita and tons of other dogs the next week. I took a toy out one day while walking Wichita and he had no idea what to do with it. Even when I squeaked it or threw it, he watched it fall on the ground and then looked up at me. I took treats most days, and I was able to teach Wichita to sit in just one day. Wichita had a couple of scrapes on his nose, which I found out were from trying to escape from his crate, they had to put a clip on the crate door to keep him from escaping.
Walking Wichita at the Burnet Rd APA temp shelter
On Thursday, APA announced that volunteers would have first choice to adopt any of the dogs at the temp shelter who had been confirmed to not have owners. Wichita was available for adoption. Jeff came over to APA to meet him and on Friday I brought him home to meet Roo. They seemed to like each other, but Wichita played a little rougher with Roo than I think is ideal.

Bringing a second dog into our household is a HUGE deal. As I told Serena, “we want to make sure we don’t make a mistake and ruin our perfect little life…but we have the potential to make our perfect little life a little bigger”. Jeff has said all along that he sees us having 2 dogs, and that I should “find another Roo”. If you know Roo, you know that’s a very tall order. I thought Wichita might be the right dog, but we were extremely hesitant to spend just one day with him and then commit forever. We ended up taking him back to APA for the Saturday public adoption event, hoping he would find the perfect home. But then we spent the entire day thinking about him…we finally decided that if he was still there at the end of the one day adoption event, it was meant to be and he would be our dog. Of course, when I went back, he was still there, and man, was he happy to see me!
New Tags!
We knew Wichita had been through a lot in a short amount of time. By then I had been talking with the people from the Missouri City Animal Shelter, so I knew he had had 3 very different homes in 3 weeks. We knew he was highly stressed and would need some time to recuperate and get used to us. A few friends had told us their newly adopted shelter dogs just wanted to sleep for the first week or so, then their personalities started to come out. So we weren’t worried when Wichita just wanted to sleep all the time.
"I'm just going to lean on this guy while I sleep"
We weren’t really worried that he seemed picky about food either. We figured he’d eat when he started to get used to us and our house. But after a week, he was sleeping even more, eating even less, coughing some, and just looked pitiful. I had made a vet appointment for Thursday when my vet would be back in town. But Monday, I called and moved the appointment up to Tuesday with one of the other doctors at the clinic.
"She makes a good pillow"
I weighed Wichita at the vet’s and saw that he had lost 4 pounds since we had adopted him, I knew he had lost weight, but I didn’t realize it was that much! He also had a fever of 104.9 (normal for dogs is 101-102). They did blood work and chest x-rays and determined that he had severe pneumonia in both lungs. They gave him IV fluids and antibiotics for a few hours, then sent us home with 2 types of antibiotics and instructions for coupage (aka beating on his chest and sides to help him cough the crud out of his lungs). They were very concerned that if he didn’t improve soon, he would need to go to an emergency clinic for more fluids, and tests for fungal pneumonia. The antibiotics would help cure bacterial pneumonia, but they wouldn’t help if it was fungal or viral. It was a very scary and sad day.
Pitiful Wichita
That night Wichita ate some chicken and oatmeal, more than he had eaten in a few days. But the next morning he wouldn’t eat again. Jeff went home at lunchtime and I got a text saying “he’s an Arby’s dog” he ate an Arby’s roast beef sandwich in about 2 seconds!
"I guess I'll eat some cheeseburger"
At dinner, I tried everything- kibble-no, chicken-no, canned salmon-no, hot dog-no, peanut butter-nope….so I got him a Sonic cheeseburger, he ate about half of it. On Thursday it was more of the same. I made bone broth and Wichita seemed to like that. I think we hand fed him every bite he ate. I took his temperature on Thursday night, it was 102.0, down 2.9 degrees from Tuesday…improvement, but it still felt like a huge uphill battle.

On Friday after work, I went over to Lofty Dog and asked Zoe and Erin to help me find anything that he might eat. They loaded me up with a variety of samples to try and some treats most dogs really love. Wichita was no exception, he loved the bacon treats and the Primal freeze dried food. He ate the most I’d ever seen him eat at once!
"These Gibson's bacon treats are yummy! Thanks Zoe & Erin!"
On Saturday night, for the first time ever, I set a bowl of food in front of Wichita and he ate it all and licked the bowl clean! On Sunday Wichita had more energy, he chased a squirrel in the yard and actually picked up a toy for the first time!
"This kitty is so ugly! But I like it!!"
Last week was sad, stressful, and exhausting for all of us. But this week is starting off much better. We still have a long road to full recovery. 3-5 more weeks of antibiotics and coupage and then follow up x-rays to be sure the pneumonia is gone. But Wichita is clearly feeling better. He enjoyed going for a walk last night and again this morning. He seems alert and happy now. And he loves to cuddle.
"I feel so much better!"

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