Sunday, December 02, 2007

Xabi got Parvo........

There I was in the middle of reminiscing about Vienna.....Winter coming on......Conall in Vienna with the new old Vienna buddy getting imprisoned for multiple counts of fraud, tax evasion, contempt of federal court, money laundering........

Monday night was slow enough at the Store that I actually got to talk to customers, the staff laughed and joked, and we were home by 11pm....instead of 1:30.

Tuesday morning I took Xabi for a walk and got to thrill to the way he rips through the woods like a ghost. I watched him scale a 20 foot vertical cliff and then glide back down like it was nothing. I talked to his breeder about our plans to get together Sunday at a big field trial in Marysville that Xabi's mom and sister were competing in.....

Then Puppy got sick.

Really sick.

Enough so that I bundled him up at 1:00 am and rushed to Monterey to the emergency vet hospital. We stayed for hours; they gave him fluids.....and could not tell what the problem was. At 7:30 am we were waiting at our regular vet's office, worried sick.

Hours later came the verdict.


For none-dog people.....this is like hearing: "AIDS."

Or "Bird Flu".

Or "Stage 4 brain cancer".

Or "Ebola", more aptly.

Parvo is a virus that kills half the dogs it infects in a horrible week of puking and shitting blood. It destroys the villae in the intestines that absorb nutrients, rots them and sloughs them off in sheets and fires them out the ass. The bleeding and damage causes infections that can jump to the heart and brain.

Parvo is prevented by vaccine....which is 90 percent effective.

Ten percent is a small number...... until it applies to you. And, of course Cachagua has its own virulent strain we have developed from the joyous mix of foxes and dogs in the woods.

There is no cure for parvo, and no treatment beyond "Give them fluids and hope they don't die."

On top of the physical effects....the victims get depressed, and lose the will to live, and just die anyway like chickens.

The disease lasts a week. If they are strong enough to make it....they live. If not......

The way these things go, the Carmel Dog Calendar just came out with Xabi as Mr. August. We bought dozens to hand out to our dogged all week we had pictures of Xabi and the other cute local dogs laying around to amplify our misery, and remind us of what we were losing.

Our vet, Jimmy Holt, pulled out all the stops. We have known Jimmy for 32 years....since he first started out, I think. He hails back to the Wild West of vet work in Carmel Valley. His original boss at the Carmel Valley Veterinary Hospital eventually went down hard on federal weapons charges....called down on him by a disgruntled ex-wife or ex-employee....or maybe she was both. No...absolutely she was both. And she was very hot in her time......

The vets were magic healers and great doctors...but this was the 70's: doggie downers and puppy uppers were the order of the day. Patients, the gorgeous staff, pet owners....we were all in that bag. My ex-brother in law worked for us for a time and claimed a magic ability to walk into a new kitchen in Pebble Beach and go unerringly to the cabinet that contained the veterinary pharmaceuticals and the cabinet that contained the Nestle's chocolate chips. A true catering professional.

The Carmel Valley vets where Jimmy trained were exceptional. They did house calls. Jimmy's original boss would come to your house to help you put down your beloved pet. He would help you dig the grave, do the sad work, and then cry with you over a glass of good whiskey before going back down the hill to work. He would give you that awful long cardiac needle and the green goo to do the job yourself.....and there never seemed to be a bill for these final services.

One time my beloved original dog, Lucia the Giant Fat Irish Setter actually got torsion like a horse (the entire insides flip around inside the body cavity). It requires a stem-to-stern slashing and vast, gore-soaked emergency surgery for hours and hours if the creature is to be saved at all. Mostly they just write them off nowadays. Not in Carmel Valley, though. The boys took Lucia in and started to work long after hours. I hung out just outside the OR, crying and praying.

At one point the doc came out.....probably around midnight.

"Is there anything I can do to help? Can I get some food .....or drinks....or anything?"

"No...this is gonna be a bitch. We are gonna be here all night if we can save her. Why don't you get us an 8 ball?"

No fucking problem. The porch light was on at Gordon's on Holman Road, and I was back in a flash.

Lucia lived another eight years.....and they helped me dig her grave at the house when she finally passed.

I love the Carmel Valley Veterinary Hospital. Real healers who love animals....and don't care about the bullshit.

Meanwhile....the poor veterinarians and their staff. There were some studies that came out last month about job satisfaction, and depression vs. job statistics. Cooks and bartenders came out on top of every study. The existence of this blog....or at least the usual vicious tone of it..... is testimony to the fact that we in the business have to get our joy from our own craft......very rarely from our customers. The work is done under intense pressure and is judged subjectively by people who bring their deepest psychological weirdness along in their Coach bags to my table.

We always joke that restaurant guys are just like hookers: people's strangest perversions are devoted to food and sex. I mean......has anyone interviewed Senator Larry Craig's chef? How about Larry Craig's SHEEP out there in Idaho.

Talk about "wide stance".......

Restaurant work is nothing compared to veterinarian world. Nothing.

I spent an hour or so each day last week at Jimmy Holt's place....mostly dealing with the staff and the other customers. The other customers were mostly people too weird and too fucked up to ever cross the threshold of a restaurant.

There was the lady in the BMW convertible with the little fluff ball. Divorced, widowed, whatever.....way too much failed plastic surgery, and clearly alone in the giant house with the fluff ball with the unfortunate humping problem. She was put out that I wedged her out at 7:30 am with my dying dog.

Then there was the lady with the fat, sleek old bug-eyed Chihuahua.....sitting next to the poor receptionist.....NEXT to the receptionist, as in sharing space at her computer. The lady wielded a giant plastic doggie iron-lung device. It turns out that she thinks the dog has trouble breathing, and is there every morning for a new kind of inhaler, or a new device to get the drugs into the dog's lungs.

After the first hour of listening to her rant, I suggested talking to a teenaged skater....or one of the kids that hang around the Ace Hardware.

"No....they just squirt the stuff into a plastic bag and put the bag over their nose.....or they stick their head in the bag....or something. Lady, you gotta talk to a teenager....not a vet."

She was there every morning......and every night when I came to pick up Xabi. In Cachagua she would have lasted 14 seconds and she would have been on the street with plastic bag and a can of computer cleaner. At the CV Vet Hospital, everyone was nice as pie, and dealt with her shit.

Clearly all her misplaced dreams and hope....and her moral, social, physical, spiritual and political frustrations had been poured into the poor dog....No bartender in the world would deal with this without whiskey. For him and for her.

Well, maybe Jimmy should bring back the doggie-downer, puppy-upper thing.......

Anyway....Jimmy gave Xabi the requisite fluids, and ulcer medication, and anti-nausea pills, and antibiotics in case the virus triggered secondary stuff. Jimmy also badgered a human ER doc friend for his stash of Tamiflu. (Tamiflu is one of the few drugs that attack viruses, and all the local rich folk and the local docs have a stash against that imminent threat of bird flu, right next to the Cipro for the anthrax attack. I think Tamiflu is good against global warming, too).

Xabi had stopped eating on Monday night. He stopped drinking as well. We kept him with Jimmy all day every day, and brought him home every night. We stayed up all night, keeping the woodstove going for warmth and giving him meds and little squirts of Ensure. The subcutaneous injections of fluids was fun as well. The fat and muscle stripped off the dog until he was literally all skin and bones and could not get up or wag his tail.

Ensure is what they give old folks and cancer people who have given up eating. It is fat and sugar. We could get it into the puppy 3ml at a time. By Friday morning we had managed about 60ml......60 calories in three days of no sleep......we were exhausted and Puppy was no better.

Along with the Tamiflu Hail Mary pass....I did the real Hail Mary pass. I lit up every candle at the Church up the street.

I traded Puppy for Gruet!

BossBuddhaJesusYahwehLRonHubbardDudeEarthMamaBlessedOliverPlunkett.....I will never touch another drop of champagne if you give me my dog back. Hey!! You listening?

Pamela Anderson could tell you about the difference between people people and animal people.....bird people. Whenever you give your heart to a human or to an animal, you risk disappointment, heartbreak....and ridicule and embarrassment. Ask Ellen DeGeneres.

Xabi brought out in all his friends a sense of humor, a sense of appreciation for his pure energy.....he got us off our asses to climb around the mountains and beaches and appreciate this beautiful environment we move about in and usually ignore.

Xabi raised our T-cell count and made us laugh.

Xabi reminded us how simple love really is.

Appreciate something. Love it. It loves you back. Get over it.

Brendan and I went off to do a party on Friday night and said our goodbyes to Xabi before we left. We were wrecked. When Brendan went into Whole Foods to buy our stuff for the party, I sneaked to the Bird Store and bought a stuffed quail with a squeaker.

The people at the party were awful....beyond awful. Aggressively Stupid Fuckheads who need to be drowned in a washtub for the safety of the Nation. We finally escaped late and came home to who knew what.

Xabi was still alive and lying on his bed in front of the fire when we got back. I gave him his stuffed quail and squeaked it for him. He tried to sit up, and nibbled at the little could see him struggling to remember.....Squeak. Bird. Must bite.......

He bit down on the bird and it squeaked. Xabi's ears shot up, and he struggled to stand up. He staggered over to his bowl. I got some roast chicken out of the fridge and started hand feeding him little scraps.

He ate a whole chicken, one gram at a time.

Thank you, BossBuddhaJesusYahwehLRonHubbardDudeEarthMamaBlessedOliverPlunkett.

Saturday, we had parties all day. We decided to leave the weakened little puppy inside by the fire with a selection of foods. He was not happy.

When we returned six hours later we found our house destroyed. The trash everywhere. The dog food bags ripped open. All the bamboo window coverings on the French doors ripped down and ripped to pieces.

Like we didn't need to redecorate anyway......

Xabi lived.

Xabi beat Parvo.

I didn't really like Champagne anyway.........


Blogger Brian said...

Never met Xabi but I remember Lucia the wonder dog, maybe the smartest dog I ever met. Would follow me to an English class on the Quad, sit quietly appreciating Yeats and then head back downhill to Casa El Jones on her own. You seem to have better luck with dogs than women Mike. But as the Reader wrote to Ann Landers "You can always get a new wife Ann but a good hunting dog is hard to find."

10:51 PM  

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