Thanks to Patricia Yager Delagrange for her contribution!
Our chocolate lab, Annabella, was pregnant and two weeks before she was to give birth I found her hiding on our bed in the dark in the middle of the afternoon. Something was wrong. I called the vet who told me to take her temperature. It was already 105. She had to have x-rays to see what was going on.
I went to a specialized vet hospital about 40 minutes from home that had fifteen or more veterinarians, one who specialized in pregnant dogs and puppies. She called me at 11 p.m. that evening and said one of the pups was dead and was poisoning Annabella. Did I want to pay for exploratory surgery and a c-section, and if so, did I want to save the pups or save Annabella. My instant answer was save mom and do the best you can with the puppies.
Two hours later Annabella had had a hysterectomy and given birth to five live pups out of eight - all premature, needing to be fed every two hours except during the wee hours of the night when they slept.
So began my (since no one else in the family could figure it out) journey of feeding five hand-size pups every two hours throughout the day. By the time I was finished feeding the five of them, I'd have a half-hour reprieve before I had to start all over again. And so it went for several weeks. I had to weigh them every morning to make sure none was losing weight.
Several weeks later and all the pups seemed to be thriving. Until one of them (they were not named, but each had a different colored string around its neck) started acting funny, lethargic, not eating, one of his eyes started drooping, the top of his head seemed to be expanding and contracting. This was not good.
Thousands of dollars later - still no diagnosis and my husband was talking about maybe putting him down.
No way. Until we had a diagnosis, Jack (we’d named him Jack after One-Eyed Jack because of his drooping eye) was staying alive.
Days later, the vet called and said the radiologist had studied this condition in vet school but never seen it manifested in a real dog. Jack had cranial mandibular osteopathy - a rare condition wherein his jawbone grew a golfball-sized lump under his chin.
Good news - it was a self-limiting condition, not life-threatening, and should stop soon. Until that time we administered pain meds here at home.
Jack made it through and is a happy puppy STILL at five years old. And the love of my life. He weighs 100 pounds and loves to sit in my lap and nibble on my ears.
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