I have been watching a monthly book club where authors read and critique books. In one episode an author admitted that she always reads the ending of a book first. When another author asked, "even a mystery book?" the reply is yes. She said that she likes to do that to help her follow the storyline.
It should come as no surprise then as with life, there is death in the end. A book starts with an idea or person, things happen along the way and some type of resolution occurs; whether the death of a person or the resolution of the conflict. If that doesn't happen we feel slighted somehow. What then is the reason to read a book if there is no ending? How can we measure a life if there is no death?
So in this story there is a little puppy who was born The birth was no accident. It was planned and mapped out and conceived. Some puppy litters are accidental where a male or female roams the neighborhood and the other dog finds the first. Othertimes there is a decision to mate dogs and the litter is carefully planned. With purebred dogs the litters are planned carefully, looking at the long line of sires and dams and their awards and confirmation.
In this litter, I was there for the mating and 9 weeks later, the birthing. I held the puppy in my hands and helped clean it up before Mom took over. I caused the mating. I attended the birthing. I allowed this pup to be born.
Many a child has been told "You did not choose to be born. However, your life is what you make of it". We hopefully guide and nurture a child along, making decisions for it until it can decide for its self its lot in life. With a puppy, breeders also have a guiding hand in the life of a dog.
So like the story of the author, you know the ending of this story. The dog will die. As with a book, there is a beginning, a middle and an end. The story also has a who and that is a chocolate male labrador I call "Lil Pup". It might have been a better name had the pup been female, but that is his lot in life, to be called "Lil Pup". His life does not get much better, much as the reader might hope. Not all stories can have a happy ending. Not all lives have a happy ending.
He was the runt of the litter, weighing less than the others but not excessively so. Still of the 10 healthy pups, he was small and it appears not that healthy. He was not the first nor the last in the birthing order. As the pups delivered quickly, I was more worried that they be cleaned up and passed to Mom to nurse as that first breath of air and first nurse of milk are important milestones in a pups life. Although halping with others, this was my own first litter and I was very worried. As the pups delivered in quick succession, his birth was not noteworthy and passed without much fanfare.
Like any good protagonist, he struggled to make his way. As the brothers and sisters gained weight, he, not so much. After a week his brothers and sisters weighed a pound and a half and he was struggling to make a pound. They all opened their eyes at the end of the first week and all began to walk at the end of the second. He lagged behind.
At four weeks they all began to eat meat; a mixture of ground beef, ground beef heart, yogurt and egg. The hope was that although they were still nursing, getting on a diet of meat would help him overcome his weight problem. Some runts of the litter appear to go on and be the largest of the bunch. Perhaps this would happen to Lil Pup and when adopted to his owners, he new name would better suit his stature and disposition.
However it soon became evident that although his brothers and sisters accepted him in their little pack they were forming, they did not always respect him. As they started to crawl and walk, he would be underneath a sibling. As they crawled and later ran to nurse, he was left behind. He was pushed aside so others could thrive. "The survival of the fittest" they call it. The strong push the weak aside. His lot in life looked bleak.
In an attempt to ensure his survival I ensured he was nursed by himself. Mom didn't mind this at first, in fact it may have been a welcome relief to not be attacked by a horde of hungry pups. Still with the special attention he was not thriving. Although he was eating and nursing, he had a day when he started a slight frothing at the mouth. It might have been gas or indegestion, so he got a bit of Pepto Bismol and some sugar. The sugar to ensure that he does not go into shock and the Pepto, well that should be obvious. He also looks a bit bloated and that bloating does not really go away.
He suffered the indignity of having a lubricated digital thermometer shoved up his rear. He and I were not thrilled with that idea, but thankfully, his temperature was not high and did not indicate any type of illness at the time.
His stomach is very extended. He is given some things and finally a bit of canned pumpkin. This is not the pie filling type, just pumpkin. It looks like mashed sweet potato and is very watery and has lots of fiber. He poops and looses a lot of that bloating.
Over the next few eeks he is pulled aside often and cared for. He continues to be roughoused by his siblings as they grow bigger and stronger than he. Still he fights to be part of the pack and fit in. It is not his fault he is small and certianly he did not ask to be small. It just happened.
As photos of his siblings appear online in a mugshot-like format, his stands out as different. His photo looks as if taken a week or two earlier. He looks like he might have been from a previous litter. He is small. This is the type of thing you hope to eliviete by carefull breeding. This is the type of condition you try to avoid. It is not an effect of the breeding, it is probably a gene that activated. I don't know.
Lil Pup appears happy enough at times, yet other times he enjoys being by himself where he can sleep without being chewed upon or slobbered on. I handle him and he plays and chews on me and licks me and I have hope, hope that he will get a growth spurt and join is littermates.
In the back of my mind I am constantly reminding myself that this problem of his size may not be fixed. He may continue to be a runt. Rather than a twist in an intestine or inability to process food correctly, hi problem may be permanent and fatal.
The weeks go by without a resolution. The pumpkin ensures he is eliminating and he gets his share and then some of mothers milk. He also gets real food and it is doled out to him more often during the day rather than in one big meal.
I decided to remove him from the website and not offer him for sale as it became obvious that the growth spurt was not happening. The Vet is scheduled to see him on Friday. There will be a defining point in that examination, but it probably will not be a surprise ending to the story.
I have been playing with Lil Pup alot lately. His has had his toenails trimmed. Mom likes that idea because as he nurses he pushes his paws against her breast in a neading type movement. Suck, suck, push. Suck, suck, push. Having nails press into her breast can stop a nursing instantly and at this age, puppies don't associate the accidental pain they inflict with the abrupt end to a nursing event.
The whole time the littermates are learning to get along, most seem oblivious to the struggle taking place amongst them. Lil Pup gets bitten on and sat on and pushed and pulled. For bigger siblings it is not a problem. They chew on each other and when the one pup yelps, they stop and learn a limit on the amount and type of play they engaged in. That is not to sayy that all litter activity is roughousing. Some of his sibling will lick him and nudge him in a caring way. Do they know he is in pain? I don't know.
What I do know is that he starts having problems walking. He still looks bloated and unlike his siblings. He has too much weight for his size I'm sure and there is not much I can do about that. The Vet may have a solution, but I'm afraid. In my mind I know the most obvious solution is to put him down. Perhaps with much more experience in raising litters it would not be such as hard decision. This is my first litter and I have only had to put one pet down before.
Goldie was a golden retriever-collie mix. The name was a bit better than her given name of Lassie. She was not a planned birth. She was not a purebred and she had hip displaysia nd was going deaf and blind. I had her for 15 years or more and had plenty of time to prepare myself for her passing. Still it was a most difficult time for me. When she went t othe vet for the last time, a woman noted her youngish klook and said "What a cute puppy". A puppy she was not.
As with a family member who is on in years, you know that they will pass at some point. You prepare yourself for that eventuality and yet it still may come too soon. With a puppy just weeks old, you do not expect that to be an issue. Sometimes it is.
As the owner and breeder I have to weigh the decisions I make, however difficult. I caused the pup to be born. I cared for it as best as I can. It would be possible to spend much money to x-ray and operate and probe and poke and the puppy may still die. There may very well be a digestive issue with Lil Pup that can be corrected. What can't be fixed is the fact that he is less than half the size of his littermates and considerably lighter than they are. Even without a genetics background it appears obvious that there is a problem. Although he can bite my finger and lick my face, even though he sneezes and blinks and does all the things other dogs do, he is too small. He is too sick. He is having problems standing to pee or poop or to get to his water and food dish.
He has no ability to control his life and relies upon his master to make decisions for him. An older dog gets to explore his world and decide if he wants to play ball or swim of chase birds or the like. Lil Pup doesn't have that ability. He did not choose to be born, he could only make the best with the hand he was delt. He has done that to the best of his ability.
I don't consider this story of Lil Pups' life to be a mystery. It is better classified as non-fiction, reality, a slice of life story. I wish it could be a comedy but there have not been many playful events I could report. There have really been no adventures where Lil Pup was on his own, playing and romping. His siblings will get to do that. His siblings will go off to families and become part of their world. Some may have a litter and carry on the line.
I think what might have become of Lil Pup if things were different. One of his brothers is headed to another island. His new onner is thrilled to accept a companion and you could see the bond starting. A sister will be going a bit further to a nice family.
In a different story Lil Pup would have gotten a new name and had great adventures. In this story he will stay with me for a while; a very short while. At some time way too soon he will pass on and I will have a few photos and memories of a Lil Pup who did no wrong and had so few opportunities. He is a fighter and has survived longer than some may have. He has a personality and it is very endearing. He looks at me as we play and I cry. He doesn't undertand this thing his master does.
At the moment it is 4:43am and I can't sleep. In about 45 minutes I expect Lil Pups' littermates outside to awaken and need to be fed and cared for. Lil Pup is here with me in the house, sharing some quality alone time.
In my life I have written a few things, however there has never been anything of importance that has come out of me. This story of Lil Pup is not meant to be anything more than a way for me to selfishly release some of the sorrow I feel and to help me understand a bit more about life and death. I think life is the way we interact with others. It is how we treat others. It is how we treat and conduct ourselves.
If life is a book, we could turn it sideways to see how many pages are left. That tells us whether the story is about done. Sometimes you read a book and are so interested in the story that the end creeps up on you and you find that you are at the last chapter and wish the book could go on for many more chapters. I wish Lil Pups' could be a longer story, but life is not always like that.