Babu Fights For His Life

26 April 2012 was a happy day for me, as we managed to take Babu Boy to the vet and save his leg. Saving dogs is always a happy moment for me.

Slightly more than a month and two leg surgeries later, Babu Boy is lying in the vet, fighting for his life again. He has canine distemper.

Babu, with muscus dripping from his nose

How did this happen? I have been asking myself this all day, ever since I found out around noon today. Did he contract it from the hospital where he had been warded for the past week? Was it already in him and only recently surfaced because his immunity is low? I don’t have the answer. Images of him have been running repeatedly through my mind. I recall how the workers carried him out from hiding, into my van to go to the vet. I recall how he wagged his tail and greeted me each time I visited him at the vet or at the foster home. I miss his brown eyes looking at me and asking when he can run in the open fields again.

I visited him this evening after work. He didn’t even know I was there... He was struggling to survive.

This morning our friend, Veronique, helped us discharge Babu Boy from the hospital, to transfer him to another vet. Volunteers Rina, Johnathan and Cherlyn were also at the hospital to help carry Babu. They sat at the back of the pet transport to monitor his condition and constantly reassured him.

Babu not wanting to sit, even though he was very weak and tired

Babu Boy was warded at the hospital for a week, as the stitch on his leg wound had opened. Little did we expect the turn of events over the next few days. We were told one afternoon that he had thrown up a few times and there were actually strains of blood in the last vomitus. The vets then treated him for gastrointestinal problems. They also told us that he was not eating and thus had to be put on a drip and syringe-fed. When we visited him, he was down in the dumps and struggled to stand up to greet us.

The following day, we called the hospital for an update on his condition. It turned out that he had contracted pneumonia and they were treating him for that. They said this could be due to an infection, but were uncertain of the source; antibiotics was prescribed for his infection.

A day later, we were told his blood count had dropped and he was anemic. They then treated him for tick fever (even though his results showed he had been tested negative for tick fever) because his symptoms were similar to that of tick fever. I asked if they needed to conduct more tests to find out the underlying cause so that this problem can be treated before his condition further deteriorates, but was told that we should see results in 3 days’ time.

Just arrived at the vet, testing for distemper outside the clinic premises as distemper is highly contagious

Blood dripping from Babu's nose

Nose swab test for distemper (Babu didn't like it, so he kept fidgeting)

Poor Babu has lost a lot of weight

Exhausted after the journey

After discussing with volunteers Veronique and Joanne, we decided to quickly discharge Babu Boy and take him to another vet where we could hopefully obtain a more accurate prognosis. Unfortunately, that’s when we were hit hard with the news that he has canine distemper. In fact, we were in disbelief and the vet actually conducted the test twice to confirm that he is indeed suffering from this life-threatening disease. Distemper is highly contagious and chances of survival are slim.

This afternoon Babu Boy was given a plasma transfusion to boost his platelet count. When we visited him this evening, he was halfway through the second bag.

Preparing to start on the plasma transfusion

Looking at how the vet techs are attired, you can judge how highly contagious canine distemper is

The workers came to visit Babu again after work and I could see sadness in their eyes. They kept asking me, "Why? How can happen like that? Why can like that?" I really wish I had answers for them. All I know is that his family has been patiently waiting for his joyous return after his leg had recovered, not to hear me tell them that he is now left with only 10% chance of survival.

I hate to say that we have done all we can for him and now he has to fight this battle on his own, because the fact is, I feel we didn’t do all that we could have. Throwing up, the blood strains in his vomitus, being diagnosed for gastrointestinal problems and then pneumonia - all these were signs of canine distemper and yet no one thought about running a test on that. I don’t blame myself for the state he is in now, but I do blame myself for not acting faster, resulting in the spreading of virus within his body for almost a week before we transferred him to another vet for treatment.

(taken from outside)
In strict isolation, thus we were not allowed to enter

This is where he fights for his life

I pray that he will survive. I pray that come tomorrow morning, the vet will call and tell me that a miracle happened overnight and that Babu is strong and eating again. He has not eaten in 6 days and has lost so much weight.

The workers tell me that Babu used to play soccer with them in the evenings. They tell me, "in India, dog eat grass, vomit and then better already. No medicine". I wish it was that simple; I really do.

To the reckless driver who slammed your car into poor Babu, you have shattered more than just the bone in his leg.

Babu's family waiting for his return
I have not been this sad in a long time, although I know I have to be strong for Babu. I have promised him that if he eats just a few pieces of chicken, I will take him back to visit his family and he can be with them again. I hope he heard me.

I hope the angels heard me too, for I have asked them to give him the strength and will to pull through this.  

I thank Veronique for putting the initial deposit to check Babu into the vet, and the volunteers for going down to help at such short notice. Thank you.

*Note: Beano has also been tested for canine distemper and the results reflect NEGATIVE. We are appealing for a foster for Beano so he can be discharged from the hospital very soon.