Sili and Cashew

i’ve been putting off writing about Sili and Cashew’s illness because it is still very raw. I began transitioning them back onto dry food last night and they’ve only been allowed outside for four days now. They’ve been off the coconut oil and pumpkin for two days. In my mind i don’t think i’ve yet let myself believe we made it and are out of the woods for fear of jinxing the situation. Instead i just try not to give voice to it or focus too much on it and count the passing days with no or lessening symptoms and live in fear of the resurgence or appearance of new ones. Every eye booger, every sneeze….i’ve become over paranoid and obsessed and im constantly looking for the beginning of the backslide and waiting ready with coconut in hand to treat, treat, and treat again until this evil thing is beaten into oblivion. Its been a traumatic beginning to the year. I refer everyone back to my experience based theory that black eyed peas do not stave off bad luck.

I will start at the beginning. My dogs are unvaccinated. They never leave my property. Therefore i dont worry about illnesses they could catch at doggy daycare or if i were to board them. I worry about illnesses they are likely to catch on my property from the wildlife we have. Thats why they are always vaccinated for rabies. I keep up with rabies, heartworm, and flea prevention but have never been super concerned about other shots because where would they be getting these illnesses from and also i was not rolling in the dough when they wanted upwards of a thousand dollars for both dogs’ annual vet visits, mandatory tests, and flea and heart-worm prevention. If i had gotten the shots i didnt we wouldnt have been able to pay the bills. At the time the vet matter of factly asked me if i didnt care about my dogs, if i thought i should have my dogs if i couldnt afford to give them every shot recommended, and if i would like their help in finding a person to rehome them with by putting a description and picture of them on their bulletin board. When you have a family who cant afford to give their kids shots at the doctor’s office do you suggest a payment plan or do you hand them adoption forms and call a social worker to take the kids to a group home? Its just ridiculous to me that their first go to notion when i say im strapped for cash so id like to focus on the bare essentials rather than all the bells and whistles money can afford is “lets take your dogs away”. I havent had a great history with vets and so i dont trust them. Once a year i buy heartworm and flea preventative in bulk and so they must be vaccinated then or the vet will not give me the medication, so they get a shot, but i am aware some of these are rendered useless if you dont come back for shot two or shot three, which i dont because again, the little cash register gremlins want money. Everything is an arm and a leg. You can’t walk out of that place without having spent over a month’s budget for gasoline. Hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands. Every little thing costs money. If you want them to check the waxy buildup in your dog’s ear that’s an extra fee because you requested it examined. It seems to me like it should be included in the “annual physical examination” part of the visit. They ask you all sorts of questions like “do you want your dog’s anal glands expressed” or “do you want their toe nails clipped” and if you say yes that’s an extra fee too. It does not feel like they are on the same team as i am and i maintain that has everything to do with their “expense sheet breakdown” and the way they speak to me. So no, when they tell me its imperative that my dog have this and that i dont believe them because they have a history of convincing me the dogs need pointless things so they can follow their protocols and charge me. Like, when i tell them i give the dogs heartworm preventative every month on the same day and make them take it and then sit in their crates for four hours afterwards while i keep an eye on them so i know nobody threw it up….and i tell them there’s no way they have heartworms, and they test them anyways, and come back and tell me there’s good news and they’ve discovered the dogs have no heartworms and then want 25 bucks per dog for that fascinating revelation. No, them and i are not friends. But if you had shown me a video of what was to come i would have ordered all the vaccinations regardless of cost or exam room manner. Some things are just not worth the money saved to witness.

My boss told me of a low cost clinic day where a vet in fredericksburg gives out rabies shots once a year at a county building. Everyone comes and stands in line. You pay cash and for ten dollars your dog can get a rabies shot. No exam fee. No extras. No argument about whether i really watched my dogs take the pill and made sure they didnt throw it up for four hours every month. It sounded good. I took 20 dollars cash, two leashes, poop bags, and both dogs. We got there early, stood in line with what began as 10 dogs and ended up probably 100 by the time we left. While i was waiting one dog pooped on the floor and another dog threw up on the floor. The owner cleaned up the poop with one of my poop bags and the vet staff cleaned and sanitized the throw up. The dog who threw up was pulled out of the line and taken to the side. He was given a shot immediately and hurried out the door. I didnt think anything of it. I thought maybe he had an upset stomach. The girls were amazingly well behaved. They got their shot pretty quickly and we went to the car and drove home. Around three days later Cashew came over to my rocking chair and sneezed maybe 12 to 15 times. It was excessive and i didnt know what to do to help her so i stood up but ultimately just watched until it subsided. Then i petted her. She seemed fine after that. So, i didnt think anything of it. The following night i was wiping the chicken shit from the bottom of my shoes on the side of the stairs before entering the house when Cashew grabbed a big piece and chewed it. I was screaming at her to drop it but she did no such thing. She swallowed and i thought, “oh here we go again. You learn nothing, nothing!” Sure enough. Vomiting and diarrhea, vomiting and diarrhea. I broke out the old raw organic coconut oil and tried to keep it to myself when i was at work that my nights were spent going through it with this dog who was messing all over the floor of my one room house and we were now out of paper towels and i was using toilet paper and plastic gloves to mop it up and i was almost out of spray and there was just shit and puke everywhere and i hadnt slept in 3 days. It occurred to me that the coconut oil should have worked by now on day 3. There must have been some kind of super bug in that chicken shit because she was really letting this thing lick her and usually 24 hours of coconut oil should have done the trick and taken care of it pretty much. On day 4 i was in tears. I was at a loss about what to do and i was considering taking her in to the vet for antibiotics. I came home, took her out, she pooped, and it was solid. From then on cashew’s poops were solid and she didnt vomit for a week and a half afterwards. I praised the Lord it was over because i was beginning to lose my mind from sleep deprivation and worry. Just as the one dog seemed to get well, my other dog Sili fell sick. Now, sili hadnt eaten any chicken shit so when she fell sick i started to realize that i may have gone about this whole thing the wrong way. What if this was infectious…viral? What if this had nothing to do with the chicken shit, which im sure didnt help, but now in all likelihood was not the original culprit? Im going to note that a day before Sili fell sick she sneezed about 7 times standing next to the rocking chair, and then never again. Because the dogs only sneezed on one occasion each, when the vet asks me later if the dogs have been sneezing i say no. It didnt stick in my memory and i didnt recall it until i had gone back through the details. When i did realize they had initially had a sneezing fit i called the vet and updated them. The vet did not take this info into account and seemed rather unbothered by the absent information i was providing.

When Sili’s symptoms were called to my attention i was awoken from a dead sleep by the sounds of vomiting and when i opened my eyes i saw sili’s face swollen to high heaven and her squinty eyes peeking out from swollen skin folds. Her head was enormous. She was making a huff noise when breathing. She was puking everywhere. She had diarrhea like Cashew had. There were so many things going on at once. I immediately gave her a childrens chewable benadryl, unsure what was causing the swelling of her face. I gave it to her with coconut water, hoping it would settle her stomach and keep her from chucking it up. Sili now had a thick green glob of mucus coming from her right eye. I put cashew in the crate to get her away from a probably infectious mess. I then cleaned the mess while googling her symptoms. I typed in all her symptoms and google gave me the word “distemper”. I did not spend hours scouring the internet for things to imagine my dog had. I typed in her symptoms and google gave me the word distemper. Before that day i had no idea what distemper was. The more i read about it, the more it seemed consistent with what i was observing in my dogs. I didnt like the written trajectory or progression of the thing and there was no known treatment, just symptom management. I wondered how the heck Cashew had gotten through it but i reminded myself that Cashew is a working breed dog and she doesnt say boo about pain. She may still have been rather uncomfortable and i wouldnt have known it since with her i can only observe visible and not behavioral symptoms because her breed inherently hides pain to throw off predators when they are weak or injured and in charge of a flock of sheep. I threw sili in the trunk and drove her an hour to the nearest all night emergency vet.

When i arrived i called ahead and asked them how they wanted me to bring her in…through the back door, carried in a towel, what? They said, “just walk her in.” I said, “but she’s showing signs of distemper, i mean she’s probably infectious.” The receptionist became concerned and went to get a vet. The vet laughed and told the receptionist that she probably didnt have distemper and told her to instruct me to just bring the dog in normal. So i did. Nobody was there at 3:30 am. i brought the dog in and they took her. I had to fill out a ton of paperwork, including if i wanted my dog given cpr in the event of sudden unexpected death. I did.

They called me back to sit in an exam room with her and wait for the vet. They had weighed her and took her temperature and probably other stuff. I told the receptionists and the vet tech everything i could think of to mention and they wrote it all down in the file. I imitated the noise she was making when breathing. I told them about the facial swelling, the squinted eyes, the green thick goo in her right eye… i told them about the vomiting and diarrhea. I told them i had taken them to a low cost vaccination event with hundreds of other dogs. I told them both my dogs were unvaccinated beyond rabies and i told them a dog had thrown up and been pulled from the line while we were there. I told them about Cashew and how i had attributed it to the eating of chicken poop but that sili now had every one of cashew’s symptoms plus a couple new ones…i told them i was unsure about face swelling with cashew because her fur was long…would i have noted it? I wasnt looking for it…at that time i didnt know i needed to be looking for anything. I told them her sister had symptoms first and that they were too similar to be unrelated. I told them everything except the sneezing, because at that point i didnt remember it. They seemed upset i kept referring to cashew as sili’s sister as they were not biologically related nor were they litter mates. I reminded them that the dog in question was 7. It was not as if i had made them believe they were drinking the same breast milk in implying they were related. I was their mother, they were both my children. Therefore, they were sisters. Its called adoption.

the first thing the vet did was assure me i was being ridiculous and paranoid. As i heard the beginning of their speech i remember thinking, “okay, they’re stupid, they’re not taking this seriously at all, i need to go and pay for yet another vet now, explain this all again, and get them some real help.” As she spoke she started listing the reasons it couldnt be distemper. She seemed very sure and given the prognosis with distemper i wanted to believe her. I relented and was persuaded that i was wrong. She said if they had been vaccinated at all they couldnt get it and they had been vaccinated when they needed heartworm meds and when i had to board them to go to a wedding three years ago. She said they werent puppies so they couldnt get it because this really only ailed puppies. I later learned it only ails puppies because they havent had their vaccinations yet. Its not as if adults cant get it, its just theyre usually fully vaccinated against it by adulthood. Understand me, i went into that vet owning it. I f*cked up. Help me. Their response to me was “you’re being ridiculous and here’s why.” They said they scraped her eyeball and there was no mucus present and i told them i knew that because she wiped it in the trunk of the car. They said she would have mucus all over her eyes and nostrils if she had distemper. They said she would be sneezing and coughing. I made the coughing noise they were doing for her. She shrugged. She said, “i didnt see her doing that here.” I said, “she was doing that in the house before i threw her in the trunk and drove her here.” The vet didnt seem to believe me. She didnt see it with her eyes so she didnt write it down. The receptionist told me she was surprised i came here as most people read the reviews and then dont come. I thought that a strange thing to say to a potential customer in the waiting room while they filled out paperwork. It was just the nearest emergency vet and we lived far away. I didnt have much choice about the place with her head all swelled up like that did i? The vet said she was going to give her a steroid shot and prescribe 9 doses of chewable Benadryl 8 hours apart and if the steroid worked it was an allergic reaction heading in the direction of anaphylaxis. And if it didnt help we would reconsider things like distemper. I was supposed to take the day off work and monitor any change in symptoms. I did so. I also got the specific kind of benadryl that the vet wanted her to have…unflavored. They refused to keep her while i ran to get the benadryl and they implied i could have my car broken into and my dog removed from my care if i left her in the car (it was 46 degrees outside and overcast and windy) because with her head swollen up passersby might conclude she was suffocating in a hot car and call the cops and break my window to rescue her. I already told them in my small town in the one store we had there was only flavored chewable benadryl. They again implied that maybe i shouldnt own a dog if i couldnt figure out how to take care of it and meet its needs and i told them, “okay well im just going to make a decision and leave her in the car for 4 minutes while i run in and grab the kind of benadryl ive already told you i have to pick up here because we dont have it at home in my town flavorless, and you swear she has to have flavorless, and its 46 degrees and overcast outside, and ive already told you i live over an hour away.” The vet told me if i was truly taking the day off work that was plenty of time to drive her home and drive back to the city to buy benadryl and drive home again. It is this sort of thing that makes veterinarians just straight villains in my eyes. Its like they think of how vicious and inhuman they can be, and then do that with a smirk on their face. I quieted my voice and then carefully worded the phrase, “did you not just tell me i had to monitor her closely for change in symptoms all day and bring her in immediately if symptoms worsen because then we know it was not anaphylaxis?” She responded with a shrug. I asked how it could be anaphylaxis when she survived the half hour of cleaning and googling and the hour long drive to the city. I told her that in the past my other dog had been bitten by a rattlesnake and her face swelled up and it was a race to get her to the vet in thirty minutes before her airway closed. Wouldnt she have suffocated long before we arrived? The vet said, “i didnt say it was anaphylaxis. I said it was going towards anaphylaxis, but not quite.” They tested her liver. They tested her eye. They took her temperature. They told me i was wrong. They told me the other dog’s symptoms were unrelated and i was being paranoid. I asked how they could be unrelated when so close in time and so identical with a few additions. They shrugged and told me i was paranoid. Every dog mom thinks their dog is deathly sick. I was upset. They were not listening to me. I was not every dog mom. I knew they were sick because i had natural medicine and it wasnt working. This was over my head and i was reaching out for help and i was getting made fun of and smirked at and charged $600 for a steroid and a recommendation of benadryl. Oh, they gave her an anti nausea med and fluids as well. Im sure that part was actually helpful.

The steroid helped. Her swelling went down. But i stopped the benadryl at 7 doses instead of nine and here’s why. I knew something was wrong with them. The emergency vet disagreed with me. They had their own opinion and this opinion was the one we were all going by because they were the professionals. But i had to bring sili to work with me on saturday so i could give her benadryl every 8 hours which means i took her where other dogs go. I felt like i shouldnt be doing this. I felt in my heart of hearts that she had not been stung by a bee in the house at 2 am. No insect “got her” as the vet put it. I knew something big had a hold of them and i just couldnt yet make the vet see this. There was a part of me that wanted to believe the vet because distemper has a 50 percent survival rate which meant if i was right i would likely be losing one of my dogs and sili was much worse off than cashew. It looked like it would be her if one was going. I began noticing a new symptom on sunday and i made the decision that benadryl would be stopped early so sili wouldnt have to come to work with me on monday. I smelled open wound. It wasnt their bottoms. It wasnt their paws, their bodies, their ears…. their breath smelled like rancid, putrid, warm, moist, open wound. I had worked in healthcare nearly a decade. I knew the smell. They smelled exactly like it. GI infection was a secondary symptom in distemper. It was coming from their gut and it was so unbearable i couldnt have them in my bed. I laid them on a towel on the floor in front of the heater. Sili’s ears swelled up and became puffy and stiff and unbearably painful to touch. They were so swollen they didnt even crease and hang down anymore. They stuck out from her head. Her skin was hot to the touch. She had a raging fever for a few days and winced every time i touched her. She developed these pussy blisters in her ears. They oozed orange puss and blood. They were sticky and mucusy when they crusted and i pulled them off, the skin beneath had green mucus on it. Both dogs poops began like liquid. Cashew was given four days of intense amounts of raw organic coconut oil and her poops became solid. Sili’s were mummified, encased in a thick cocoon of green and gray mucus. Cashew’s vomiting was over but sili continued to vomit foam and obnoxiously yellow sticky slimy liquid.

All throughout this first week i reported symptoms back to the emergency vet and they shrugged. I told them facial swelling started again when i cut off the benadryl and they said it was because i ended at 7 instead of 9 doses and i said, “would you listen to yourselves? its not a bee sting or a scorpion…they live out here theyve been exposed to all that…those things wouldnt be lingering three or four days later. Jesus, they werent this sick when dealing with snake bite or ingestion if chicken waste. Would you listen to me? Its not an allergy. Whatever it is still has ahold of her after the steroid and all that benadryl. She has stopped eating and stopped drinking and she has dug a hole and laid down in it. Tell me the f*ck again that she is dealing with a bee sting. She’s waiting to die. She’s outside in a hole right now waiting to die. Im looking to you for help. Why wont you help me?” The receptionist said that i should just keep her comfortable and pet her a bunch and once the stress of the ordeal passed she would eat again. I forcefed that dog every kernel for a week. I put it in her mouth two kernels at a time and refused to let her leave until she chewed and swallowed. I poured spoonfuls of liquid in her mouth and held her snout closed until she swallowed. The vet abandoned me with the life of my dog and it was up to me to keep her here with us because they werent going to acknowledge she had dug herself a place to die and was waiting for the reaper. When i was home i fed her two spoonfuls of food and a quarter cup of coconut water every four hours. It was the ultimate challenge…put in more than was coming back out. I wasnt winning. She began to lose weight and look somewhat skeletal. I called other vets but they all said they wouldnt give advice on a dog they hadnt personally seen. Given how helpful vets have been in the past and how helpful this one was being for 600 bucks, i was in no hurry to hand them more money to tell me i was crazy. But i will rewind a bit here, i have skipped a part. In the emergency vet exam room the vet stopped what she was doing before administering the steroid to take the time to interview me on if there was a reason my dog was on a gluten free diet. I said, “because i chose to have her on one.” She then proceeded to tell me that studies have shown gluten free diets cause heart disease in dogs and she would just really hate for me to leave her office without knowing that i was giving my dog heart disease and that she recommended i switch her to purina right away because it was imperitive all dogs have wheat in their diets. I didnt appreciate the detour in life saving care or the biased lecture and i challenged her that if she was legit in what she was saying, why was purina the only brand dogs could eat and not have heart disease….plenty of brands have wheat in them? Was she perhaps getting some kind of perk or payment from purina? She declined to answer the question and stated that obviously if i wanted to contribute to the early demise of my dog it was my right to keep her on the gluten free food. Then she left the room. I did my research later. The article she is speaking of suggests that some type of grain is needed to prevent heart disease. Whether the article is fact or huey, it lists rice as an acceptable grain and my girls are on a salmon and rice kibble, all natural, probably with much more transparent ingredients than in purina. No “by-product” or “meal”. She couldnt even differentiate between grain free and gluten free which shows me how much that vet knows about the study she quotes and the food she speaks of so authoritatively.

Here’s where i knew i was right. Sili was fighting her fight in the gi phase of this beast. I was singularly focused on getting her well and then i noticed Cashew doing some strange things. Her leg would either hike up or stretch out involuntarily while she was trying to walk or run and she would be forced to make a go of ambulation on three limbs. She kept turning around to look at the leg, as if she were surprised by what it was doing. She also began facial ticks at this time. At first i thought she was wincing but i noticed it went on and on and she didnt seem to have control over it. Her eye would squint or her cheek would pull and she didnt seem to be doing it on purpose. After a while she would paw at her face with both arms. Both dogs began chewing their limbs incessantly. Joint pain is another symptom along with neurological symptoms that could explain cashew’s muscle spasms and facial ticks. The dogs legs were always raw and wet from chewing and cashew’s muscle spasms and ticks continued to the point where i worried about her ability to go head first and 100 percent into anything and everything is she survived this. She was such a specimen of muscle, will, ability, speed…would she be fragile and broken hopping around on three legs when this was over? Had i ruined her? But with sili on death’s door and cashew in the neurological symptom phase…the last phase before seizures and then death…i didn’t have too much time to think about the future. I kind of had to focus on the present. Whatever symptoms they experienced would be permanent if they survived. They could lessen in severity over time but if i let cashew progress to seizures, i was advised i’d be better off humanely euthanizing her than making her suffer. I couldnt let Cashew progress any further. I could live with muscle spasms and facial ticks. I couldnt live with her constantly seizing. It was like we had been canoeing and the canoe had flipped. We were in the water with no paddle and no boat headed towards niagara falls and it was imperative that i get us out before we went over. I knew i was right about it not being an allergic reaction because cashew developed neurological symptoms. I called the emergency vet one more time. This time i had listed on paper all the things i was going to tell them. I outlined each of the dogs symptoms and what phase each dog was in. Now i reported this to a fresh vet on the phone and challenged him, if it was not distemper, to tell me what it was, to tell me what it was so i could get on treating it. His response was, “yeah, i mean, that sounds like distemper.” I was not at this moment being sarcastic and mean. I meant what i said. If he had told me “that sounds like disease x84z i would have googled it and if the thing existed and the symptoms fit, proceeded accordingly. I was being genuine when i asked him to tell me what it was if he didnt think it was distemper. He spoke to me for a long time and was very helpful until he read his colleagues notes. It must have said something in the file about me being paranoid or delusional because he then took the stance that maybe they just have a stomach virus and its probably not distemper based on whatever his colleague had written in the file, but before that moment he gave me a lot of helpful information on what to expect if it was distemper. He said that the stages of distemper were listed on google as if no intervention was being provided, as if the distemper was going untreated. So it was not necessarily a given that cashew seize and die. He said the main thing to focus on was the bacterial infection in the gi system because the dogs wouldnt be able to heal or do anything until their gut was repaired. That would be the hardest thing to do, because intestinal death was a possibility with distemper and when tissues became necrotic then i would really have a problem on my hands beyond the vomiting and diarrhea. He said to keep them warm, calm, and pet them a lot, not to let them run or spend any amount of time outside, and not to let them catch a chill. He said it was important that i separate them because if one started to get better the other could reinfect her. I explained that i lived in a one room 384 square foot house. How was i to separate them? He was right. Cashew kicked her gi infection and was doing a world better so she went and did that thing she does where she french kisses her sister to the point where you think she must be cleaning her d*mn gums. And of course cashew for reinfected and i had to start all over from square one on treating cashew again. Daily she french kissed her sister which irked me to no end. Here i am trying to get them better and she insists upon swapping putrid wound breath and infected saliva. Oh yeah, for a month i wasnt allowed to yell at the dogs because i had to keep them unstressed. Before taking them to potty i had to clear the area of birds, lizards, and deer so as to not excite them. I had to refrain from yelling and keep them not running, which i had to do without any yelling. The vet did not give me a booklet on how exactly to execute this. What am i suppose to do when they run, whisper them into submission? Grandma had an idea on how to get sili to drink when she wasnt so ice chips were purchased and while i was there i picked up wet food. The ice chips were a hit, especially with cashew who loves eating ice in the winter so i should have figured. Later the semi helpful vet told me that giving two spoonfuls of canned food and a quarter cup of liquid every four hours was exactly the thing to do because their fragile gi system wouldnt be able to handle dry kibble at this point and giving them small but multiple increments of food would allow me to get some in and if they upchucked one feeding session i still had others that stayed down. He was so helpful and comforting until he read his colleague’s notes about me. I’ll never know what they said but he changed his whole tone and assessment of the dogs and decided they probably just have a stomach virus and im paranoid. He told me if they were eating and drinking they were fine. I said, “so is it normal for them to still be throwing up over two weeks after initial infection with a “stomach virus”? He said, “no, i mean, she needs to stop that.” He said to give it another week and if she was still vomiting bring her in then for an antibiotic. I told him, “okay, well, im not going to just do nothing for a week. I want to treat now. If you’re not willing to give her an antibiotic until a week then i’ll just give her raw organic coconut oil. Its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. The man got very upset with me over the phone and said i cant give my dog coconut oil because we dont know how that affects dogs and it could kill her. I said, “we’re killing her now. She needs help, and you’re telling me to just watch her suffer a week and give her antibiotics later? Why later? If you’re not going to help her i will. I gave the other dog coconut oil when i thought she had a bacterial infection from chicken poop. She got better. Just cuz you dont know what coconut oil does to dogs doesnt mean i dont…ive used this their whole lives. It will kill bacteria.”

I just want to take a second to note that i realize some of this is out of order or repeated but this last month has all been a jumble in my brain as i worked by day and functioned as a dog nurse by night and slept near to never. I cried at the drop of a hat because that amount of sleep deprivation will make you emotional and unable to cope, and i am still even now having trouble putting the memories all in chronological order.

Anyways, the vet said absolutely not to coconut oil as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent. He also said no to coconut water to settle their stomachs. In fact, when he learned i was giving them coconut water he came up with a new theory. He said this whole thing was an allergy to coconut water. I rubbed my temples and tried to refrain from shouting, “they are not having an allergic reaction to the thing i gave them their whole lives without issue and the thing i gave them in response to symptoms that arose independent of and before the administration of any coconut water in this particular instance. How could coconut water be the culprit if i didnt give it to them until after symptoms arose?!” God these people are stupid! He said, “okay, well, any case, you cant give dogs coconut water. Its for humans, not for dogs. Its imperative that you go immediately to the store and get pedialyte. Give that to them.” I told him that coconut water has natural electrolytes that its like nature’s gatorade and that it is not made by nature specifically for humans, its made by nature for any animals that figures out how to open a coconut. I told him the drama about the childrens chewable benadryl and how id been chided for giving them a flavored chewable benadryl because it was either flavored with sugar which would lower their immune system while they fought off illness or with artificial chemical sweetener which was toxic to dogs. I asked him if he thought pedialyte would be any different. Why had they scolded me so severely for the flavored benadryl and now they would like me to purchase flavored pedialyte which i pointed out was much more manufactured for humans than the water of a coconut. Pedialyte wasn’t out there growing on palms, falling to the ground, and being consumed by monkeys and bears. Lastly i told him i’d get them some canned pumpkin and mix it in their food to firm up the diarrhea or smushy poop. He said absolutely not. He said there is no research on what pumpkin does for dogs, we dont know how it affects them, and this is people food and you cant give people food to dogs. Now i knew he was just a straight idiot because pumpkin is in dog treats. Its no more a human only food than beef or chicken. What is it that he thinks dogs eat? Is he aware that round brown kibble is not its own ingredient but actually the result of a bunch of human food ingredients mixed together…you know, various meats, grains, and vegetables…. Sometimes also blueberry and carrots for eyesight? He became very angry with me and said, “you cant do this. You’re going to kill your dogs.” I shouted at him, “no you’re going to kill my dogs with your wait and see do nothing attitude and your inability to recognize a problem if it jumped up and bit you in the face! If you’re not going to do jack shit to help them im going to handle it the way i know how, with natural medicine!” I hung up the phone. I looked at the dogs, “right. Mommy’s going shopping for supplies. You stay here.”

I had a conversation with a dear friend about how it was going and she kind of just gave the knife in my heart that final turn by listening and then saying, “i know you like natural medicine and all but is now really the time for that? It seems like you should probably just do what the vet says in this circumstance.” I could hear the pity in her voice. She too thought i was nuts. Everyone and their dog had an opinion about the way i was handling this but not one person in my life volunteered to come take a shift so i could catch two hours of consecutive sleep. Not one. I felt they shouldnt be able to offer suggestions unless they were willing to take a shift cleaning puke and poop and puss and holding and rocking feverish twitching dogs who were scared and uncomfortable and smelled like death.

I had a teary dejected phone conversation in the car with my sister who had recently become a dog mom and a friend who had a toddler and a new baby. They both said everyone and their distant cousin is going to have an opinion about what you do. You have to know in your gut as the momma what you instinctually think is best and go with that regardless of what anybody thinks because everyone everywhere is going to have a theory, and you’re right. They’re all just spectators. Nobody is in the trench with you here so your opinion is the one that counts. You see them the most, you know whats going on with them better than distant spectators, you’re the momma. Go with your gut and dont talk to the spectators for a while. It was needed soothing advice. I took it. I went hard with the natural medicine approach. I gave them wet food, coconut water, coconut oil, and pumpkin. I rubbed coconut oil on sili’s ear blisters and it killed the infection that was causing green puss. The orange puss scabbed over, turned brown, and eventually i was able to pull the crusty bits off of her ear hairs they were cemented to one by one once they had loosened. I kept them warm and calm. I fed them little bits often. I piled on the coconut oil daily until one day i smelled their breath and it didnt smell like putrid open wound. The day the last ear blister came off was a good one. Cashew’s facial ticks lessened a lot and her muscle spasms are much less pronounced now. It looks like she’s skipping versus holding a leg to her belly. Sili never developed neurological symptoms. They went through over one whole jar of coconut oil between them before they were through treating the gi infection. So many cans of pumpkin. So many cans of wet food. Countless cans and cartons of coconut water. My refrigerator was a treatment station full of medicinal jars and cans and i attempted to keep each dog’s station separate so as not to swap germs in different phases of recovery. Cashew didnt get this memo.

Nobody has thrown up in over a week. Everybody’s poops are solid. They dont smell awful. They spent the last four days outside while i was at work in the revamped dog run i made them right before and during them being sick. They are currently eating half wet dog food and half kibble. They are off the coconut oil and pumpkin for two days now and off the coconut water as of this morning. It seems they have been making a recovery. I am standing by vigilant, looking for signs that further treatment is needed, and will probably continue to do so until im sure we’re done with this. But if i had to attribute their recovery to something i would say they turned around when simultaneously i begged everyone i knew for prayer and when i dumped the vet altogether and began treating them with natural medicine. God and the coconut are responsible for both my dogs being here after battling something with a 50 percent survival rate. All the aforementioned vets and veterinary staff can kiss my *ss. I’ve got nothing constructive to say to them and with a history between us like this, probably never will.

Sili’s poop after pumpkin but before coconut oil
Cashew’s poop after a week of coconut oil and pumpkin
Cashew’s poop after reinfection due to french kissing -_-
Cashew 2 days into recovering from reinfection
Cashew 1 week into recovery from reinfection
Cashew’s most recent turd
Well, there it is, the setback i’ve been watching so vigilantly for. Sili is back on the coconut oil and pumpkin regiment this morning. Sigh. I keep wishing we were done.

Thank you sincerely to everyone who prayed for my babies.

Update: cashew has made what looks like a good recovery and is back on half dry and half canned food for now. Sili has taken a turn and is now making bloody poops. I found a different emergency vet to talk to and we’re stopping everything and putting her on chicken and rice only for three weeks and going to see if she can make a recovery. prayer appreciated.

Drove one town over at 9:30 at night because i only had brown rice and her tummy needed white the dollar general only had cheesy rice. Boiled chicken and rice porridge for sili at 10 pm, hope it works.

Sili is moving in the right direction with the chicken and rice.

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