Monday, March 19, 2012

Hangin in there...

Well, Lilly is still hanging in there.  I hadn't gotten a chance to check on her this morning cause I was running late for work, but when I got home, she was still breathing and alive.  Not much of an improvement (if any) over last night.  If forced to move, she wobbles and shakes badly.  The shakes are like shivers that go through her entire body.  If she's just left to sit, she will move now and then... but mostly just sits in one spot with her eyes closed.  Her breathing is normal, so she's not struggling in that area.  I doubt she ate or drank anything over the course  of the night (though she did move to a different spot in the cage), so when I got home I injected her with sub-q fluids with electrolytes added.  This should help keep her hydrated in case she's not drinking right now.  It was sad to give her the injection - most chins will squeal or move away when you get them with the needle, but she just sat there.  I didn't even have to use my other hand (or another person - which is usually necessary) to hold her steady for the shot, I just lifted the fur pocket and gave her the shot with her sitting quietly on the table.  The poor girl. 

Still changing out the chin-chillers, but I think after tonight's change, we're good.  I'm still going to keep them in the cage, but she's definitely cooled off by now, and the damage is done.  It's looking like she's got neurological damage as a result of the heatstroke.  If she lives through the next few days, time will tell if the neurological damage is permanent or not.  Some chins can live through heatstroke, even with neuro-damage, and just need to be kept in a one-level cage for the rest of their lives.  But... she has to eat and drink on her own for that to occur.  I can give her more sub-q shots of fluid and I can feed her CC if needed... but if she's going to stay this bad off and not eat/drink on her own, we'd do a disservice to her to keep her here and keep her suffering.  But... time will tell how things go.  I wish I was more hopeful, but it's sad to put her back in her cage and pet her a few times and watch her close her eyes and just sit there.  You get used to chins hopping off your hands to get back in their cages as quick as they can, and to have one that you can just place down and have it stay there... it's sad.  And I remember these girls bouncing around like little fuzzballs. 

They were only 6 months old when they came to the rescue with Shiloh (our now-resident prairie dog).  One of the owner's children had developed some sort of seizure disorder (not epilepsy) that was puzzling the doctors.  It had nothing to do with the pets, but because of the time spent on the kids, they needed to rehome the pets.  So we got two chins (Tic and Tac - now Lulu and Lilly) and a prairie dog (Shiloh).  Initially, Tic and Tac were adopted out to a family in Indy.  When we adopted them out was right around the time we first had our adoption form, and the family swindled their way out of filling it out, and we realized too late that they never had actually given us a completed form.  They seemed like a good home, but I guess hard times came upon them, because I saw the chins on craigslist later on.  Now, had they filled out our adoption form, they would have signed that the chins had to be returned to us... but since they didn't, they refused to talk to me and said that only if I paid them could I get the chins back to the rescue.  Well, through the help of some friends, we drove down to Indy (about 2.5-3 hours from here) one weekend to pick them up.  I did pay for them, because it was important to me that they come back to the rescue and not be sold to the first person out there with some cash.  They were at the rescue about four months before they were adopted by their most recent adoptive home.  Great adoptive home, great family.  Unfortunately, the chins kept her up at night and with starting college, she needed her sleep, so she told us that she would be bringing them back to us... this was about 6 months after they were adopted.  And so she did, on an uncharacteristically hot day (86 degrees - Indiana weather, go figure) in March -- a day or so ago.  Lulu passed shortly after being dropped off (she'll always be "Tic" to us), and Lilly ("Tac") isn't faring much better, though she is still hanging on.       

They're so much bigger than I remember them.  I suppose I still think of them as the little 6-month-olds I got in while living in Indy.  They're grown up, and I'm sad to say that I have down that they were born in March 2010 - barely 2 years old.  The sad part is that this was preventable.  No one thought it would be that hot the other day - heck, most years it's still snowing here in March - it's no one's fault.  But I remember when we adopted out Whisky - her adoptive mom (who's an angel, btw - and has always shown up with treats for our dog, or something for the chins) wanted to come on a day that was about 85 degrees out.  She wanted to come late at night, like 9 pm, but the low for the day was around 80, and it still hadn't even cooled down to that temperature by 8 pm.  I remember her saying something about how her car didn't have air conditioning, and I told her, as nicely as I could, that I couldn't be responsible for what might happen to the chin if she took Whisky out in the 80+ degree heat for the 45+ minute drive to Valpo.  Thank god, she was able to beg/borrow a suv which had air.  Whisky's in her new home doing fine.  But this just goes to show what can happen if the air stops working... and it doesn't even take long for a chin to get heatstroke.  That fur holds in a lot of heat and can toast them up pretty quickly.  All our cars have working air conditioning, thankfully, but I can't imagine what I'd do if they didn't and we needed to take them to the vet or something.  This is horrible to watch, and it makes me glad that I have the question "do you have air conditioning" as one of the questions on the adoption form.  We have had people before that have never had air in their homes in their lives go out and buy an air conditioning unit because we have denied their applications (I think that's the only thing we've ever denied applications for).  This is why.  Without air... well, depending on the actual temp, the chin may simply be uncomfortable rather than get heatstroke, but with high enough temps, they can get heatstroke and die.  Even if they don't die, the effects of heatstroke are usually neurological damage, with the damage being more severe if the heatstroke is more severe.  Some chins don't recover.  Some chins recover enough to live in a one-level cage for the rest of their lives.  But the sad fact is, heatstroke is almost always preventable - just make sure there's working air and you're safe.

We'll see how Lilly is tomorrow. 

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