Sunday, January 13, 2013

Piper's Tail-Can A Good Deed Go Unpunished?

It's Sunday afternoon.  We've been through a lot in the past week or so.

My wife and I were having dinner in Hillcrest last Friday.  We went into the dessert restaurant where our daughter works after dinner to say hello.  When we came out of the place we found ourselves standing on the corner next to a homeless man.  He was wearing a camoflauge jacket and a wool hat.  Nestled in his arm was the cutest little terrier puppy wrapped in a white towel.  I said to him, "cute puppy".  He came back with, "you want her?".  I told him no thanks and we crossed the street.

About a half of a block away, we looked at each other.  Kyle saw the look in my eyes and told me it was my call.  So we did an about turn and caught up with the guy.  I asked him if he really wanted to get rid of the puppy.  "Not for free...."  was his response.  We have a dog.  We love her.  We are happy with her.  We don't want or need another dog....but we just thought that we really needed to get this dog to a good home and she would have a better chance with us than with the homeless man.

Piper On Kyle's lap
I asked him how much he wanted for her.  He said $50.  No thank you.  I started to walk away.  I'm a terrible negotiator. But I wasn't negotiating.  I didn't want this puppy.  I was walking away.  He shot back with, "ok, you can have her for $30".  I gave him two $20 bills and took the little cutie in the white blanket he had her wrapped in.  I know, I'm a sucker...I was feeling charitable and did not yet realize this was a scam.

First picture in the car on the way home from  rescuing her
So we had a puppy....cute little thing. Not a lot of energy, shaking like a leaf.  But a little love.  We took her home and introduced her to our Golden Retriever, Roo.  Roo is six years old.  She was curious but not all that interested.  Puppy was "listless".  We have a neighbor who is a veterinarian.  She took a look at her and said she had worms but appeared in ok health.  

We started thinking about what to name her.  The first name Kyle came up with was Addie, then Piper.  We went back and forth.  My family had a Siamese cat named Addie, when I was a kid.  I liked the name and argued for that.  We named her Piper.

We put Piper in Roo's crate and she slept through the night without a peep.  The next morning, Saturday, I took her to the vet's at noon. They examined her, determined that she had worms.  Gave her a shot and a pill for it.  She got her 1st set of vaccines.  I was now out $200.

For the rest of the day, I told everyone I saw about Piper.  It was time to find her a home.  I posted pictures on Facebook.  When I ran into people with little terrier type dogs at the dog park, I told them the story and showed Piper's pictures.

Roo showing some interest in this little thing
All afternoon and Saturday evening, Piper showed energy, playfullness, appetite.  She had a couple of healthy poops.  That was a great sign.  It looked like the worm medicine was working just fine.  Again, she slept in Roo's crate through the night.

Sunday morning we got up and decided to head to one of our favorite breakfast spots in town, Village 631 in the East Village area of San Diego.  They are dog friendly and have great coffee.  We packed up Piper in a little basket with a blanket.  Roo hopped in the car and off we went.  When we got to the restaurant, people went gaga over Piper.  Everyone came and oohed and ahhed at what an adorable puppy she was.  We told everyone the story of how we rescued(bought) her from a homeless man on the corner of 5th and University in Hillcrest.

Anastasia & Scott meet Piper
One of the couples showed more than casual interest in Piper.  A cute couple fell head and heels in immediate love with her.  Just like that Piper had huge fans...more than fans..owners, parents, a forever home.  They had been talking about getting a puppy for a year and we were thinking, mission accomplished.  We did our intended good deed.  We rescued this little puppy from an uncertain life on the streets and got her into a loving forever home. Their names are Anastasia and Scott.  They are saints. They even paid me back for some of the cash I'd paid for the vet's visit.

Later on Sunday evening we were settling in for some fresh Downton Abbey. I texted Anastasia to see how the little pup was doing.  I received a reply that changed everything.   What had been up to this moment a happily ever after puppy tale, in an instant turned into a nightmare. 

The text said that Piper had been throwing up constantly and she was struggling.   It asked if I had gotten her tested for Parvo.  Parvo, the deadliest,  most frightening word any pet owner or pet lover will ever hear other than perhaps missing or hit by a car.  

Parvo, instant death.  Parvo, hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the drain.  Parvo, oh crap.  

I immediately felt grief for the puppy and just terribly that this nice couple we'd just met and was so happy to have Piper were now having to deal with this awful situation.   I know what they were feeling and worse, I knew what they would be going through.   We've lost two wonderful 
Pets to parvo.  One of the pets was a four month old kitten who contracted the feline version of the disease.   Three days and $3000 later with no relief but plenty of expense in sight we decided to have her put to sleep. 

I was certain this was Pipers and her owners fate, a quick painful death along with a pile of bills and an unbearable amount of heartache.  

Sharing germs?
Suddenly my sadness shifted to pure dread.  This disease riddled puppy, who we 'd rescued from this horrible man had spent two full days in our home. Roo's home. The Parvo virus is not only deadly,  and extremely contagious, it is also amazingly resilient.  The only way to get rid of it is to either throw away or bleach everything Piper came in contact with.  She was nestled on our laps and on our chests.  She slept for two nights in Roo's crate on her bedding. 

Roo is six years old and fully vaccinated.  She has been since we got her as a puppy.  But my fear took over and I was consumed with visions of her getting the disease and us having to deal with it.  I was petrified. Downton Abbey was on tv but I was frantically googling to find out the chances of my vaccinated, adult dog contracting parvo from a puppy. 

So there were two simultaneous worst case scenarios racing through my imagination.  I went online and scheduled appointments for both Piper and Roo at my vets for 9am

I took Roo in at 9 o'clock but Piper's mom couldn't make it at that time.  She, herself was sick and couldn't get there.  She was going to see how Piper was doing and bring her in later. 

So $271 later Roo was all tested and up to date with her shots.  It was only three days since she came in contact with Piper and we didn't even know for sure if the puppy even had Parvo.  It's possible this was all due to the worms.  It was all conjecture based on her behavior and symptoms at this point.   The vet assured me Roo was at very low risk of getting sick. 

Vet's Estimate for one night's treatment
I felt a bit better about Roo and I was hoping I'd hear from Piper's owners that she was doing better.  I was at Costco later that day shopping for new bedding for Roo's crate when I received this text. 

It was an estimate from the vet.  They took Piper to my vet where she'd gotten her shots on Saturday.  The vet tested her for parvo and determined she did have it.  The estimate, for the first night of treatment was nearly $1100.   It would be about $500-$800 for each subsequent night of treatment. 

I immediately called Anastasia.  She was so sad. She had fallen so deeply in love with Piper and now this.  They didn't know what to do.  They were quite amazing.  They had every right to be angry with me.  To put all of this back on me. But they didn't.  They took complete ownership of this entire mess. Piper was their baby and they were going to deal with it. 

All I could see was the bills piling up into the thousands to be followed by a not quick enough death.  There would be heartache, anger and debt. 

Piper, now Named Pumpkin resting at her new home
It's bad enough the disease is so horrible.  But to be compounded by the expense is just tragic.  I called the humane society and found out about an organization that will help out with the medical costs of pets. But it would take time to complete the forms.  Time we didn't have.  I immediately drove back to the vets office hoping to catch Anastasia or Scott.  I had offered to help with the expense. And the first thing I could do was to return the money they had given me to help cover Piper's original vaccines. 

When I got to the pet clinic they weren't there.  The clerk at the desk thought they had skipped town.  Great!  But this wasn't even close to the case.  Piper's new parents would never abandon her.  Scott had simply left to go get Anastasia at work.   I put the cash in an envelope and left it at the desk for them. 

They returned to the vets still not knowing what to do. They took Piper home. We were in touch all night by phone and text.  

Parvo home care kit: $200.  Mispelled Pumpkin
The next morning, Tuesday I got a text telling me they took her in to their vet last night and got an estimate that was about half of what mine had presented.  But later they took Piper to the most expensive animal treatment option on the planet, the 24 hour emergency animal hospital.  

Lo and behold, the vet there asked them if they would consider treating her with a parvo home care kit.  $200.   Wait, what?  That exists?   Hell yeah!   

Anastasia treating and loving Pumpkin
So they got her hooked up and have been treating her at home all week and she's been responding like a champ.  Suddenly this shifted back to hope and joy and love and caring.   It's now Sunday morning, a full week since the nightmare started and we are full of joy that this little critter is making it.   I've been getting texts and pictures since Wednesday that have each been happier and more optimistic than the previous.  

Healthy Puppy! Happy Parents!!
By the way they renamed her Pumpkin Waffles, Pumpkin for short.  That's what they had for breakfast the day they met her.  Pumpkin. Cute. 

So for now this has returned to being a happy story.  We aren't completely out of the woods, but Pumpkin is getting better, stronger and healthier each day.  

I heard a number of times when this turned south, that no good deed goes unpunished.  I refuse to accept that. 

Update:  It is May of 2016, over three years since this story first happened.  Pumpkin, Anastasia and Scott are all happily living in the Carribbean.  Pumpkin made a full recovery and has been a bundle of love and joy since day 1.  Happy ending!