23 November 2008

Written with a broken heart

I don't really know how to talk about it, how to write about it, but it's something that you all will ask about at some point, so it's best for me to answer your question before you even ask.

Three weeks ago today, we adopted two young puppies, Sonic and Milo. They had been strays, but they'd had their first round of vaccinations, and we were seeing the vet regularly. After about a week and a half, Sonic started to lose his appetite, and got a pretty severe cough. We brought him into the vet, who told us that Sonic had canine distemper and would likely die.

Canine distemper is a disease uncommon in the US because most dogs have been vaccinated against it and vaccinated mothers provide their puppies with enough immunization to get them through the early months. Taiwan, however, has a high population of stray dogs, and many Taiwanese don't follow the vaccination protocol for the dogs they do choose to raise. Thus, these highly preventable, highly fatal diseases still have a high occurrence in the population.

We contacted the woman from whom we'd adopted the boys right away, and a week ago she picked Sonic up to stay at a veterinary hospital for treatment. I visited him every day, but after the first few days, he began to quickly deteriorate. And this morning, three weeks after we adopted him, Sonic was unable to stand, eat, or control his own muscles. With incredible sadness but full knowledge that it was the right thing to do, we had to let him go.

I'll always remember Sonic. He was paper-trained within a week (Milo still hasn't figured it out). He liked to chew on anything; if our shoes weren't around, he went for the kitchen wall. His eyes were always bright, unlike any other dog I've seen before-- we fondly called him "Asian eyes." He was a handsome dog who had a lot of energy, but until the day he lost muscle control, he would climb into my lap and fall asleep in minutes. I'll always remember Sonic.

There is nothing we could have done about the canine distemper, and in fact it's still likely that Milo will start showing symptoms any day now. All we can do is hope for Milo, and be glad that Sonic at least knew some love, comfort, and a sense of home before he died.

I will always remember Sonic.