Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pupdate #2

Hello, friends and fans of the Mighty Linus! I'm writing to you from my parents' house in Practically Pennsylvania (aka Jarrettsville), Maryland, where the menagerie and I are spending Christmas Week. And YES, thank GOODNESS, they have high-speed internet. I have two weeks of Cute Overload, Go Fug Yourself, Smart Bitches, Manolo, and Beth to catch up with.

So here's the big news: I'm keeping Linus! Half the credit goes to Linus himself, who in his unspeakable sweetness, astonishing intelligence, and goshdarn cuteness made it increasingly impossible to consider giving him up; the other half goes to my upstairs neighbor, Soccer Coach Guy. Mr. Coach Guy, who is Linus's biggest fan (after me, of course), said to me at a party, "You have to keep this puppy. I'll do whatever it takes to help you. It'll be okay. We can make this work." And with that, Soccer Coach Guy was promoted from Uncle to Godfather. I have yet to call in that promise, but once I get back to Winston-Salem I will be asking Soccer Coach Guy, Film School Guy, and Munchkin Girl (Linus's godmother) for rides to the vet's and lunchtime puppy-sitting shifts.

I am so, so happy to be keeping Linus! The preemptive grief and jealousy were becoming so acute that I couldn't even visit the Cute Overload website because it reminded me of him. I did indeed put posters up in local vets' offices and in the grocery store where I work (incidentally making Linus a storewide celebrity). One person called and I found myself telling her that Linus was a pit bull (which is probably true), that he would grow to be very big (which is probably not true, given his bad start), and that he wouldn't get along with her other dogs (definitely not true). When I hung up the phone, I thought, "I can't keep doing this."

So, Linus stays. We will work out challenges with school, work, and peripatetic career choice as they arise.

And how is Linus? Well, here is a picture of us a week after we came home from the vet:

We are going back to the vet because it turned out that poor Linus had a urinary tract infection, on top of everything else. Naturally, this was the weekend I got food poisoning and had to spend all Sunday in bed. With me randomly vomiting and him randomly peeing--sometimes simultaneously--it was quite the lesson in single parenthood. Anyway. You will notice in the picture that he is kind of pink and blotchy--at this point, he is still bald except for a fine down on his face and some long, wiry hairs down his spine that were probably his body's desperate attempt to keep warm.

This next picture shows him bigger and healthier, but still pink:

You can't really see it, but Linus is laying on his beloved Wilson, source of many happy cuddle-and-chew hours. The hair around his face is thicker and an undercoat has started to grow in pea-sized patches under his sweater.

Today, Linus has almost a full coat of hair all over his body; he finally looks like a normal puppy, albeit a skinny one! He has tough little leg muscles and his hipbones are fully covered. You can still see his ribs when he breathes in, but his weight is about triple what it was when I first found him.

There is still one problem that worries me: his front legs are terribly crooked. They started to bend forward and sideways at the wrist/knee/carapace/whatever joint after his first week home. At first, I thought it was a cute bulldog-type pigeon-toed quirk, but it quickly became obvious that his walking was impaired. The vet told me that malnutrition had weakened his ligaments and that he would recover with time and proper nutrition. It has now been a month, however, and his legs are getting worse. He hobbles around the house on the outsides of his front toes like a crab. When he is tired, his legs bend so much that the joint practically touches the ground, and I've become worried about permanent damage to his soft baby bones. I called the vet again this week--we're old friends now!--and she admitted that she'd never heard of such a severe case. She is calling some orthopedic vets to see what they can tell her.

Luckily, my whole family is behind us. My grandmother became especially fond of Linus during her Christmas visit and is extremely upset about his feet. She added him to her prayer list and wrote his name in the prayer book at Church (I'd love to know how many dogs have appeared there!).

True to his good nature, Linus doesn't seem to realize that anything is wrong. He cavorts around the house with his four-footed cousins in spite of everyone's attempts to keep him quiet. He also behaved amazingly well during the eight-hour drive North. Here is a picture of his typical pose:
(See? He's finally white!!)

By the way, Linus is not only impossibly sweet, he is also incredibly smart. He learned how to "sit" in TWO DAYS. Now he sits before going outside and coming in, while getting his leash on and off, and before meals. Genius puppy! He has also told me in no uncertain terms that he will not wear the sweater anymore. I came home from work one day to find him sitting up naked in his crate, the sweater in a heap next to him. Worried about the colder weather, I tried putting the sweater on him when we got to Maryland. He wore it for a few hours, but I woke up from a mutual nap to find that he'd managed to remove the sweater without even waking me. Clever little nut.

I will continue to post with news about Linus's physical and intellectual development. Happy Holidays to you and all your loved ones from Megan and the Menagerie!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pupdate #1

The puppy came home from the vet that Friday (over two weeks ago now, sorry! My neighbor left for Winter Break and took my pirated wireless with him, the bastard!), accompanied by a battery of medications of the squirt-down-the-throat and hide-in-the-food variety. The animal hospital's "Buddy Fund" to help me pay his bills. He was quite a favorite there, with the receptionists taking turns holding him on their laps during lunch and the entire office staff turning out to say goodbye. I told them I was trying to choose between the names "Possum" (because that's what he first resembled) and "Linus." The latter won unanimously.

Here is a picture of him a few days after coming home:

Linus has a crate (borrowed from a classmate), a puppy bed, his own Nylabone (thanks, Mom and Dad!), and a little blue sweater to keep him warm until his hair grows back. He also has his own Wilson (thanks to honorary aunt Beth), which he cuddles with when it's warm from the microwave and tries to "kill" when it has cooled. Thanks to friends, family, and the amazing staff at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, this puppy's salvation has been a real team effort.

For about the first week, I possessed delusions of dog ownership. He was so cute and helpless and astonishingly well-behaved for a puppy. I even cried on the phone with the vet when discussing how to start finding a home for him.

Fortunately for me, he peed on the floor. A lot.

It turned out that the potty-every-fifteen-minutes thing was due to yet another infection, requiring yet another antibiotic. But while that was curable, it also delivered the "Hello! You are a starving, overworked grad student!" wake-up call that was necessary under the circumstances. Lucky for me, or I would have been in real danger.

Such is the Power of the Puppy, you see.