That pup? That’s my Shih Tzu Grace. Also known as Grapie. Grapeface. Grapaccino.
Grape is sick. Grape is still sick, I should say as, as we’re nearly a month into this. Through multiple vet visits, emergency vet visits, ultrasounds, xrays, endoscopes and biopsies we found that she has been sick for a very long time and I had no idea – she was asymptomatic. Fortunately, she can live with this IBD diagnosis. This flare up is very severe and long lasting, but we just need to get her through to the other side where she may be able to eat again.
What I want to tell you about today is her story. Her beginnings and how I came to be her dog mom.
I’ve known Grace since she was 3-4 years old. Her owners bought her from a breeder after Grace was done breeding puppies for them at the age of 3. She became a regular at the boarding facility I used to work at. We called her, “Crazy eyed Grace,” due to her large eyes that bugged when she got excited and barked and played with us. All that crazy and spark slowly started to seep out of her. At the age of 6 her owners let us know that if anyone wanted her they could have her.
They kept her vet care up, they brought her to us to watch when they went out of town, but all the joy was slowly leaking out of Grapie. They didn’t want her and they didn’t love her. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t get her to respond to us anymore.
This went on for two years. Just over four years ago she came for a stay. I walked into the back to discover she had peed in her kennel and was laying in it. No matter what I said or did, she would not get up. She would not wag her tail. She would not engage. She would not look at me. She would not move from the pee. She had given up.
My manager found me sobbing in the aisle in front of her kennel and asked me what was wrong. “They broke my dog!” I wailed while cleaning her kennel. I’ll never forget that moment. The decision had been made – she was my dog.
When they came to pick her up I told them I would adopt her. They walked out with her and I panicked. What did I do?! Oh, god. I have another dog now.
Two days later I went to pick her up and sign a contract. Please, please, please, if you adopt a dog from an individual do a brief sales contract and you MUST (in my state at least) exchange money. They will wave you off, but you MUST give them $1 for it to be a legal transaction or you do not own the dog. Working in a kennel I have seen horrible custody disputes over animals. Many times because the children got upset, and now the parents want the dog back.
I understood more about why Grapes was so shut down after I picked her up. They took wonderful care of her physically and they generously gave me everything they had for her, but the tension in that house was incredible. I felt like walking right back out the door after the first step.
Our first year was full of relearning for Grapes. I’d put her on the couch and she would jump off. I’d set her on the bed, and she’d jump off. Three months later she’d stay on the couch, but she wouldn’t lay near me.
At six months she would lay next to me, but did not want to be fawned over or loved. At nine months, she started demanding hands on.
One day, about a year after I’d adopted her, she hopped up her stairs onto the couch and walked up the length of my body. She plopped down on my chest, reached her face forward, and gave me a kiss before falling asleep.
Again, I was sobbing. Yep Grapes. You are my dog.
She now barks at me all the time. She tells me what to do, and I have no shame about it. She lost years of her life. She can yell at me whenever she wants, because I remember when she had no voice.
My journey with this girl has taught me so much about loving animals and continues to teach me every day. She’s worth every bit of effort I can gather.
At this point, after three weeks and a rotation of three meds, she can keep down liquids only. Shes lived on Clinicare – which is a discontinued product and I can’t find locally. She’s on Ensure for short term only, while we wait for the ordered PetAg DogSure to show up. She’s lost nearly 3lbs and is very bony. I carry her around inside my hoodie pressed against my chest.
Shih tzu’s live long lives. Grapes is 12, and could easily make it to 18. She just needs some support to get through this. I have no doubt, that the damage to her stomach and guts – extensive scarring – is at least partially due to the chronic stress she used to endure.
The support from my friends has been amazing. The care giving she has required is tough, but it’s getting better. I’m not feeding her every 60 minutes, 5 pea size bites, only to watch her struggle to keep it down. We’re 5 days without vomiting on this glorious liquid diet, but the the cost is high. While the pet insurance is terrific and I expect all but about $150 will be reimbursed from the $6,000 in vet bills, food and supplements are not covered – even prescription.
If you find it in your heart to support Grapes for a day or two here is her Amazon wish list. It contains just three items: her liquid food, a high calorie booster, and some pee cleaning spray because the steroids are really causing her to go without warning on occasion.
Thank you for the support I’ve received on social media and the kind words and love. That has helped more than you can ever imagine. 2019 is a rough year. I’ve had sincerely down moments, but every time you take a moment to say a kind thing you hold me up so I have it in me to hold Grapes up. Thank you.