I just wanted to send you an “official” account of Basher’s story for your website! We feel that you provide a life saving resource and both my husband and myself are eternally grateful for the resources you provide.
So without further ado, here is Basher’s story. It’s long, so feel free to abridge it as you see fit.
My husband and I first fell in love with our Lab/Dachshund mix on March 20th, after seeing his photo on the shelter website the Tuesday before. He was a “special needs” pet, and ended up being featured as the Friday Pet of the Week on a local TV station, because his heartworm test had come up positive upon impound.
As we interacted him in the outdoor kennel, it became apparent that he was the dog for us: a perfect gentleman with both us and our 11 month old daughter. As we leashed him to walk him back to the holding kennel, he had a slight cough. “Kennel cough!”, I told my husband. It’s common in shelter pets and nothing to be alarmed at. We were told by shelter staff we could take our dog, now named Basher, home on Tuesday after his scheduled neutering. However, Tuesday morning came and the shelter called, letting us know they would not be neutering him because of his cough and his positive heartworm test. We were welcome to take him home, and they would provide us with a basic antitbiotic to help his cough and to clear his nasal discharge which was crusting over his nostrils. When my husband picked Basher up after work, a clinic employee explained it might be distemper and they’d been having signs of it in the shelter. They handed him a pamphlet about distemper and sent him and Basher on their way.
The second night was the night we suspected something more than kennel cough. His breathing became labored, and he was not eating. He was only holding water down for 20 minutes before coughing so heavily it was just white and foamy. We took him to our family vet on Thursday who prescribed a different antibiotic, an anti-nausea pill, and a pill to calm his stomach. He was also pumped full of IV fluids and had bloodwork done. Thursday night was an improvement, with him eating, but still coughing. He seemed to have a little more energy, but this was not to last, for Friday evening it was back to a lack of appetite, which made is impossible to medicate him, and now his nose was also completely crusted over with greenish-brown phlegm.
I talked with my co-worker on Saturday at the library where I work and she agreed with my worst fears that it might be distemper, but she said there was a forum on her Houston hometown newspaper that said there was an experimental serum that could cure dogs of distemper. A cure? I had to know more! An internet search led me to the Save Distemper Dogs website and I emailed a shot in the dark hoping for a cure for Bash. Within 30 minutes, I received an email back! Serum had just been made in Orlando! The moment I was off work, the whole family piled into the car to speed Basher towards a hopeful recovery.
When we arrived at the vet’s office, Basher was coughing white foamish liquid every 20-40 seconds and his nose was entirely crusted over with phlegm. Fortunately, he did not have any neurological signs, so he was eligible for the serum treatment. We were told we could pick him up in 24 hours, after the 3rd injection would be made.
24 hours later, we went to pick Basher up from the vet’s office. His coat was much shinier, and he was not coughing. The biggest difference came when we went to lift Basher into the SUV for the ride home. As we went to lift him in, he jumped right in! This would have been impossible for him 24 hours earlier!
The next week was a 180 turnaround for Bash. He stopped coughing entirely by day 5, and his appetite was ravenous since the day we brought him home, happily gobbling up the remainder of his antibiotics and medications that we had lovingly laced in the food!
It’s been 2 and a half weeks since his treatment and we have gotten to see the dog that Basher truly is – an energetic happy member of our family who lets my daughter pat him (as gently as a toddler can pat!) and loves to go for car rides to anywhere the family goes. 2 days ago, we took him to the dog park for the first time where he outran a 5 month old Staffordshire Terrier puppy, with nary a cough to be seen or heard!
Coming from what my husband and I felt sure was a death sentence of distemper, to the happy energetic dog he is now, we feel so blessed to have a long future with our wonderful family dog, Basher.
I’ve attached photos and a link to a YouTube video (that is grainy, stupid cell phone cameras!) of Basher’s progress. The only before photo is him lying down in the car with his nose crusties. That was the day we brought him home from the shelter. The other two are from April 6th, 10 days after his treatment. The video is also from the 6th.
– Eden Smith