I worked hard at being a bitch today...and I mean that in the most positive of ways.
The puppies didn't make it. None of them. I fed them all at around 9 last night and planned to feed them again around 11, but I heard squeaking around 10 and found Ozzie squirming around, so I got him up to feed him again. By now, deciding they were getting very little from the bottle, I had switched to an eye dropper. He took about 2 ml of formula, spilling some out of his mouth, and then didn't want any more.
I decided to feed the other two at that time too. First I picked up Star, who was warm, but floppy. I realized he was dead. Then I picked up Red and found out that he was dead too. I wrapped both puppies up in a washcloth and put them in a box and sent a message--the first of many--to Ashley: 2 gone, dammit!
But it was late and I knew she wouldn't see the message until morning. Given how quickly his siblings had died, I wasn't sure Ozzie would be there in the morning.
I fed Ozzie three times more during the night and was pleased that he did seem to be taking something in, though he was obviously very weak.
I decided that I would devote the day to giving him skin stimulation, and having him sleep on my chest, near my heart. I sent this to Ashley:
I'm giving Ozzie heartbeat therapy. Sitting with him on my chest, over my heart. Good excuse to do nothing.
I settled in with a movie and a cup of coffee and just stroked him while he slept up against my heart. It's the therapy they use for human preemies and I had hope it might work for Ozzie.
Polly overcame her initial leeriness and was VERY interested in the puppy, smelling him repeatedly.
When I fed him the next time, I weighed him and he had lost 1/2 to 1 oz. I sent Ashley a note:
Ozzie has lost half an ounce. Eating about 1-2 ml of formula, but reluctantly. Going to start feeding him every hour. I think body contact helps. He's pooping.
Ozzie had been the only one of the puppies who eliminated anything and I took it as a good sign. At first it was very black, which I figured was meconium, which forms in a baby's intestines during gestation (and I assumed probably in a dog's as well). But it was getting lighter in color, which made me think he was getting some nutrition from the formula, though it still wasn't the normal yellow you expect from a puppy. He also was eating less and less and it was more of a struggle to get anything into him. Instead of feeding him a dropper full, I was dropping one or two drops on his tongue, so as not to have him choke and get it into his lungs.
I was very discouraged when I left to take Walt to the airport (going to see his Mom again), wondering if Ozzie would even be alive when I got home.
I got home and he was alive, but weaker. I sent a note to Ashley:
Watching Ozzie breathe, I know he's not going to make it. Just trying to make him feel loved while he's here.
I tried feeding him and it was pretty much useless. I realized that I was now on a death watch. I sent Ashley another note:
Not dead yet, but close. Body cold, even with heat pad. Won't swallow. Just going to hold him till the end.
I settled in the recliner with Ozzie and Polly, covered Ozzie up and sat there with my hand on his back, trying to get as much warmth into that cool body as I could, and to let him know that he wasn't alone.
Then something strange happened. It was more than a muscle twitch. It was as if something rolled from his shoulder, down the length of his body, and ended at the rump. If I had to describe it, I would say it was round, and about the size of a small marble. I could feel it much like you feel a baby moving in utero. I figured that the end was very near.
I opened up the blanket that was covering him and watched myself pet him. He opened his mouth and moved his paws and then went limp. He was gone.
Watching an animal die makes me believe in "something" about living things. It makes me believe there is a soul. I remember being with Toby when we had to put him to sleep. The vet gave him a shot and he rested, but was still breathing. Then the vet gave him the fateful injection and he stopped breathing. But in that moment between sleeping and death "something" left his body. You couldn't see it, his body appearance didn't change, but he was just different. Whatever had made him Toby was gone.
That's how it was with Ozzie. I think that "rolling" motion I felt was his "something" leaving his body. It was more than just intestinal organs relaxing because it started in the bone of his shoulder.
Maybe doing this so many times I am starting to be more philosophical about puppy deaths. Though I was physically closer and worked harder with these three little guys, I haven't cried at their deaths. I feel that I did all I could. When Megan handed them to me at the shelter, she had that look in her eye that said "I'm really not sure they have a chance." I knew that I had my work cut out for me, but it just wasn't meant to be. But they didn't die in the shelter, they didn't die alone, and at least Ozzie died in the arms of someone who really cared about them.
Even if I was a bitch. :)
BTW, this is my "journalversary." I started my original journal, Funny the World (of which this is a mirror copy) on March 20, 2000.