Yesterday was sort of strange - I hadn't expected such a warm response to a Bastas blog. While I find every last detail of his day enthralling, I honestly believed that probably no one else cared to hear about him, so it came as a happy surprise. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do even though I've only had him 5 months. Every day is another adventure for us, and while they aren't all as outrageous as a spontaneous roadtrip across the state to adopt a strange wolfdog, our days are always filled.
I left off yesterday with a happy but exhausted puppy asleep on the couch. It seemed like a good place to stop after remembering how horrible he looked the first day - I got a little tight in the throat writing that out yesterday, if you want to know. It's only been 5 months, so I can still think back and remember the feel of his emaciated ribs under my hands. While bathing him that night, my best friend Cait and I discovered several scabs from old wounds on him, presumably where his previous owner's other dogs has been attacking him. It was kind of a miracle that I was even able to adopt him - the pound told me that he had been dropped off twice.
The first time, they told me, the owner surrendered him because of a landlord dispute. I found out later this wasn't true, but that's another story. Owner surrenders are usually only given 72 hours before they are put down, but he was adopted out to the people who would eventually post about him on Craigslist. As I understand, they had him for about a month before bringing him back.
So there he was on strike two of an owner surrender. Because of what he was, and that he was a repeat surrender, it was shocking that they gave him another chance to be adopted out instead of destroying him immediately. The shelter workers were sad to see him again, though, and wanted to give him another shot. I'm extremely grateful that they did - I still keep in sporadic touch with them about his welfare, as they were concerned I would bring him back, too, or dump him off if he was too much to handle. Joke's on them, though; I'm good and hooked.
The shelter workers weren't unjustified in doubting my abilities, though - I had next to no knowledge of how to care for his particular breed of dog. Some Google investigation indicated that he would need higher protein food, though, so I picked up a bag of Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy chow and got all excited to start trying to put weight on my skinny little boy.
Even with a higher protein food, though, Bastas would not stop vomiting. I mean, like, pints of barf. The poor guy seemed to be made of upchuck. He would heave up every last bit of kibble he ate, continue retching until he had only bile left, and then when the bile was gone, he lay curled on the floor, dry heaving into the carpet.
Hour by hour, it became a guessing game of desperation: Okay well, how about another kind of food? No, all right... How about sensitive stomach food? Oh my God, no, now it's coming out both ends.
It only took a day of scrubbing bile and diarrhea stains from my carpet for me to realize that my Bissell Green Machine would never return to its cabinet again.
At this point, watching his skinny sides heave up everything I tried to feed him, I began to wonder if I'd rescued this dog to watch him die in front of me.
People have many different ways of dealing with desperate problems. Some turn to God, others to vices like alcohol or drugs. Me, I turn to Google, and it was to Google that I sent prayers in the form of searches.
Omniscient Google had answers for me. In the course of trying to prepare for Bast's arrival, I remembered reading that some wolfdogs require a raw diet. I hadn't the foggiest idea how to handle that, aside from buying some meat and tossing it out to him, but my little prince was fading and I needed to do something. I bookmarked some blogs on raw feeding, took some notes, and made a plan of action.
Off I went to buy meat, and lots of it. I ended up going to Market Street and asking the butchers of they had any sort of scraps. They delivered in a big way - 10 pounds of awesome cuts of beef trimmed off their steaks and roasts. Normally, they said, they turn these cuts into the ground chuck, so they had plenty to sell me at a slightly discounted rate.
Not sure how much to give him, I grabbed a slimy handful of beef cuts and offered them to Bast, who stumbled into the kitchen to see what was up. I half expected him to turn his nose up at it, but he tested out a piece and, finding it satisfactory, laid down on the tile to finish the bowl.
I'd never fed a dog nothing but raw meat. My older shepherd mix, Grendel, often has problems with too much protein in her diet and ends up with the green apple trots from it. That's just from food that's too rich; from a dog that was eating nothing but a handful of uncooked meat, I expected some serious brown fireworks. But, pragmatically, what was the point of worrying about it? I was already scrubbing so much barf and diarrhea out of the carpet, I figured if it didn't work, I wouldn't be in a worse position if it came to "bombs away".
You can imagine, then, how shocked I was when hours later, there was no sign of vomiting or diarrhea. Keep in mind, his ventures with dog kibble had produced significant amounts of both, sometimes within 15 minutes of him eating. I cautiously fed him a little more meat, which he bolted down, so I stopped in fear of feeding him too much too quickly.
Over the next few days, we worked out a feeding schedule as he continued to keep all of the meat down and his diarrhea stopped. His nose still ran like a faucet, and he coughed like he'd been chain smoking since the womb, but now he had energy and spunk to get up and play.
I've since learned that raw feeding is much, much more complicated than just schlepping out handfuls of meat every so often, but for the first time, my Bastas was acting like a puppy instead of a miserable, furry puddle of bodily functions. It got us past the fear of him dying from neglect and hunger so we could tackle his behavioral problems.
But that's going to be yet another long, long post.