I had such high hopes for the USASA Nationals at Purina Farms, partly to see my dogs show, partly to see my friends and do a bit of husband shopping for my girls, but mostly to get a photo with most of the dogs I own or co-own from my kennel. My dear friend and canine photographer extrordinaire Amber was coming and I am a regular. I used Amber before she was Amber is what I like to say.
The photo in my head was not what it turned out to be, my obedience titled dog refused to sit or stand, Every one was looking the wrong way. We were all hot, Amber had a huge group of people waiting for their photos. I was just irritated that the one photo I wanted and no one would cooperate. Was it that hard?
Hard to believe that within three days every dog in that photo was fighting for their lives along with their other family dogs. My pets, my show dogs, my everything was in the balance. This so so photo of my bratty dogs was a moment frozen in time when my world was exploding and I did not yet know it.
People that know me would tell you I try to do right by my dogs. I put my dogs on extra immune boost the weeks before heading out. I am always cautious any ways and was surrounded in the grooming area by friends who are equally as cautious – we were just going to have FUN.
One of my co-owners Alex, was sharing a room with a friend who she sometimes helped with at shows. Her puppy Ali is her first show dog and her constant companion. On Thursday the dogs were in their crates while we were at the banquet and when we got back Ali was breathing weird, we all looked at each other and went “Kennel Cough.” A nearby handler had some robittussin and we dose her and headed out. The friend Alex had been rooming with had left the day before as her dogs had started exhibiting signs of kennel cough, so it made sense. Ali got it from her dogs, my dogs as well as those of my other co-owner Lorraine were possibly going to get it. I told everyone around us we had a cougher just so they could watch out – again not thinking ANYTHING more then that.
We made the decision to skip Best of Breed and leave, figuring that no one but our dogs would get Kennel Cough. I told all my friends around me and we took off. On the way home my matriarch Bummy started this reverse sneeze. Lovely. Just lovely. I called my vet office on Saturday as my puppy Bacon needed his rabies booster and made an appointment for him and Bummy to be seen. She is 11 so instead of just doctoring her kennel cough at home, I figured might as well have her seen. Appointment scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30 pm, no reason to hurry, it was “just” kennel cough.
I was busy working, trying to catch up on email when Alex called Monday morning. Her puppy had a 106 temp and was very ill – her vet said Canine Influenza. I stopped and thought “No way! This vet is over reacting, it has to be kennel cough.” I opened up Facebook and I saw a post on The Dog Show Forum from a competitor, who is also a vet, who said he was pretty sure his dogs got canine influenza from Perry, GA dog show.
My life literally stopped as the fragments put together a puzzle I never wanted. Ali was in a room with coughing dogs that had been at Perry. My reality shattered. I took Bummy’s temp – 103.3!!! I called my vets office, they said drive in. Like something from a bad sci-fi movie I took Bumble Bee in my Prius to the vet, they had me park in a corner and my vet came out. He was rolling his eyes. I mean it always happens to ME, do everything right, dogs still get into some mischief.
He examined Bummy and as he said all we can do is treat the symptoms and gave me antibiotics and cough meds. At this point neither of us really believed it was Influenza. It was so out in left field. We even talked about the fact I may be able to show in the next few weeks. I drove home feeling like I had this under control.
I look back and have to laugh. The nightmare rollercoaster had just begun.