Penelope

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I was irritable and particularly flustered that @Penelope_the_minipit wasn't acting like her usual self. Nine months ago I started feeling maternal. Something inside me said I needed to take care of another being. It was a foreign feeling since I grew up saying I wouldn’t have kids or ever get married. But I swooned at babies and their nannies on the way to the park, and found myself fantasizing of holding my own child, I even dreamed of babies. I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time so I found the idea of conceiving near impossible. Since I knew I wasn’t entirely emotionally prepared or financially stable enough to care for a baby I started wondering what else I could do to relieve these maternal desires. I began to divert my attention from babies to dogs. The idea of raising a puppy was much more manageable than raising a human child. A few weeks before my 26th birthday I adopted Penelope a bluenose pitbull. I had given myself the gift of motherhood and responsibility. 

She weighed ten pounds when I got her and on the very night I took her home, I cried myself to sleep. I was overcome with emotion. I was thankful I could rescue her from the horrific things humans do to unwanted puppies. I was happy that I was given the opportunity to raise her. I was sad that she had been separated from her real mother. I was terrified of letting anything bad happen to her. I was excited to see her learn and grow. 

Penelope Puppy


So my heart dropped to the bottomless pit of my gut when I woke up to the sound of her stomach churning out its contents. I thought it was all over when she brought back up a broken twig and some of her dinner from the night before, but I was wrong. Half an hour later she started vomiting again bringing up whatever was undigested from the day before. I stroked her back and tried to reassure her I wasn’t upset she had ruined our carpet. 

Just when I thought her stomach had settled she started vomiting uncontrollably for the next few hours. It was heartbreaking to realize she couldn’t even retain water. I monitored her closely the entire day hoping it would pass. I tried to schedule an appointment with the vet for the same day. I learned my lesson paying for a “walk in fee” in addition to the standard consultation fee on my last visit to the vet without an appointment. Even though I managed to land an appointment for the afternoon, my boyfriend wasn’t able to make it so I decided to push back the appointment till next morning. 

She continued to vomit through the night into the next day. I was so grateful I had scheduled the appointment and rushed to get there on time. The vet called us in and started to examine Penelope. He couldn’t tell what was wrong with Penelope because he wasn’t able to take X -rays. He made us go to another vet a mile or two up in the West Village. I should have gone there to begin with but I had been nervous how Penelope would react to being transported. Luckily she was calm throughout the drive over. Poor thing I started to notice her sad puppy dog eyes staring at me in pain. While in the lobby of the second vet, Penelope got sick again. I was growing more and more nervous. I also hadn’t eaten which did not help the situation. 

Upon arrival, I confirmed with the receptionist we were there for X-rays. The technician asked me if I was sure it was needed as it was a costly ($285). I couldn’t believe a Dr. had just requested X-rays and now I was being asked to reaffirm the reason for my visit. My response was a reactive and defensive “YES.” We were then called in by the Vet to a private room. They had examined the x -rays but never showed us a copy. The vet was unable to diagnose without a sonogram. It was hard enough seeing Penelope aching but to have to deal with the incompetence of people at that point was driving me mad. 

On top of that I was verbally wrestling with my boyfriend on what to do. His biggest concern was not getting robbed by the Vet as was happening before our very eyes. He communicated uncannily with the Vet, letting her know he wouldn’t be up sold. I argued we were at the medical mercy of the animal hospital, and needed to be more strategic in how we approached the situation, but he wouldn’t listen. He was supportive but we didn’t see eye -to-eye.

Since the Vet could not diagnose Penelope she simply suggested hydrating her and giving her anti-vomit medication. We opted for that and took Penelope home with a hump like pouch filled with liquids on her back. It's an incredible process, the liquids are introduced through the skin since the body isn’t receptive to  ingest the liquids and medicine. We were warned this would be a last resort, if she continued to vomit, we would have to take her to the ER. Our worst nightmare came true after a few hours when the medical hump disappeared from her back and she started vomiting again. At this point she was vomiting bile. My flight or fight mode kicked in and I realized I couldn’t wait for my boyfriend or another vets predicament. I called my sister to pick me up so we could head to Long Island to get Penelope the care she needed. 

Penelope Surgery

@Penelope_the_minipit ended up getting emergency surgery at the Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center of Westbury where Dr. Laurie Donovan, found an obstruction in @Penelope_the_MiniPit's small intestine. She thoroughly examined her and conducted additional X - rays. Dr. Laurie warned me she had to get the obstruction removed immediately as there was severe concerns @Penelope_the_MiniPit's intestine would rupture. There was a real fear @Penelope_the_MiniPit condition was fatal.

Thankfully Dr. Farrah Horowitz was on call and was able to complete the surgery the same night!  @Penelope_the_minipit went under anesthesia and they began the surgery. I wept in the waiting rooms holding my best friends hand, Nick. He was an incredible support throughout the process. As an aspiring medic, he knew what questions to ask and how to explain the technical medical procedures to me. It had been challenging to think clearly throughout the situation because I was so overpowered by the fear of losing @Penelope_the_minipit. After an hour and a half of waiting in prayer, Dr. Farrah Horowitz confirmed the procedure was a success!  

My prayers were answered! @Penelope_the_minipit spent the next  four days in intensive care recovering on fluids and medication and then four weeks at home to regain her full strength. Dr. Farrah Horowitz said @Penelope_the_minipit was a sweet girl throughout the procedure and that she would have a slow but healthy recovery. Nick and I went home that night exhausted. I crashed onto my bed and only woke up 14 hours later only because my sister called.  

The horrific events of that week taught me a few things but most  importantly, I learned that my maternal instincts are very accurate and I that I need to act on them, regardless if I’m the adoptive mother of a pitbull or the biological one of a human babe.