On The Loss of Bubba
I have been asked by several people to write up what happened to Bubba, in hope of saving others from going through a similar
nightmare. We lost our precious boy Bubba on September 12, almost 1 week before his 3rd birthday. It’s been unbelievably
devastating as I’ve never lost a dog this young, nor lost one to illness.
It all started on September 4, the Saturday before Memorial Day. Bubba started throwing up. It was pretty unusual in that he
would occasionally throw up in the morning if I overslept and he was hungry. This time he started around 10:00 PM Saturday night.
I put him outside around 4:00 AM when my girl Shadow woke me up. Shadow had already thrown up in the bed 3 times; the 3rd
time she actually threw up on herself. Shadow is the one who wakes me up if she’s sick, but she didn’t even try that night. I have
no idea how many times Bubba threw up, but since Shadow was also throwing up, I figured it obviously was a bug.
We spent most of the next day cleaning up vomit. Bubba spent most of that day outside under the deck or in the kennel on the
concrete floor looking like he was miserable. Shadow wasn’t as bad.
Bubba drooled a lot, not a usual thing when they are sick. He seemed to get better the next day, and by Tuesday was eating.
Apparently he was getting over it, but that would mean the others would get it passed along to them. Sure enough, Tuesday I came
home to a house covered in vomit and diarrhea. This time it was Frosty. Must definitely be a bug. Frosty went out and spent the next
24 hours outside looking like he was just as miserable. Again, a lot of drooling.
Bubba did seem to have gotten better, but then Thursday night he started throwing up again. I talked to the vet, and they figured he
was getting into something since he seemed to get better and then sick again. Friday night he threw up again. He started looking like
he was feeling bad. Frosty seemed better but was having diarrhea. Saturday we went out for a while and put everyone in kennels. We
came home to find quite a bit of blood in Bubba’s kennel. Clearly he had passed blood, not so much blood in his stool, just blood. I
called the vet and we rushed him and the puppy in (the puppy now had diarrhea).
The vomit and diarrhea had a horrible and unique smell. Not as bad as the parvo smell, but extremely bad. My vet said they,
especially Bubba, were very sick, but Bubba wasn’t going to die. He just felt like blazes, and we had no reason to think otherwise. Bubba did not have a fever and the puppy had a small one, both were acting pretty normal, if a bit subdued. My vet gave them shots of antibiotics, pills of the same. He sent them both home and instructed us to see if Bubba was holding anything down in the morning, particularly water, because he figured he’d have to be hospitalized if he could not do so to rehydrate. We took him and puppy home. Bubba was thirsty and drank some, a good sign we thought. We went outside with him and gave him water. When we went back in we found a lot of drops of watery blood around the house. We checked the puppy and she had it dripping from her bottom. We took her out and put her in a kennel so we could clean the house and monitor her as well. After cleaning the house we went out to put Bubba in a kennel so we could monitor him. Bubba wouldn’t raise his head at first, but Mike finally got him to get up and I walked him to the kennel. Part way there he just opened his mouth and a bucketful of water came out. He never missed a step. Sadly I put him in a kennel without calling the vet, but thinking we would likely be bring them both in in the morning.
The next morning I got up at 6 am and went to check on him. A more shocking and horrible moment I have never had. His body was already stiff. My poor baby had died in the night, probably around 3-4 AM, and had also first passed a considerable amount of blood again. Our puppy was also obviously very sick and actually went into shock a little later. Mike rushed her (and Bubba’s body) to the vet
while I remained home, in mourning and more than a little shocked. The puppy was basically non-responsive, limp with eyes dilated. Due to the fast action of my vet, he was able to saveher. He took cultures from her and Bubba, and found aa virulent strain of E. coli. Poor Bubba had died of endotoxic shock from the E. coli, and the puppy was a short time away from death.
Luckily, the rest of the dogs were saved, but I miss my Bubba to an unimagined degree. I regret he had to die before we knew enough to save the others. I have had virus’s before, sick dogs, and this did not appear any different until too near the end. This really did not appear to be anything different that the usual bug. That’s what is so scary about it. You are not likely to treat such an event any different from all such past bouts of dogs finding ways to get a germ or getting into something distasteful and making themselves sick. From the first day that Bubba was sick to his death it was just 7 days, and his seemingly getting better after the first 2 days is the usual pattern of a simple stomach bug. In fact, it was quite possible from the visible clues that he may have gotten into something, got over it, and then immediately got into something else. The only thing that was really unusual was the first day where they throw up many times (Shadow only threw up 3 times, but Bubba threw up more than 10 times), and the serious amount of blood passed at the very end.
Rehashing it does nothing to make me feel better or to bring Bubba back. And hindsight is certainly no comfort. With 6 dogs in the house, the number of times dogs manage to get something to upset their stomachs, or to pick up a stomach bug is substantial. We are definitely frequent flyers at the vet’s office. Even so, if we had not been out and put them in the kennel during the afternoon, we would not have known of the first passed blood. If we had not put them in the kennel that night, we would not have seen the second such instance. Bubba would have died with not even the notice and cause for concern we did have. He would have just been a dog who got sick, seemed to get better, then got sick again, and likely wanted to sleep outside. We don’t know what they got into to cause it. The vet assumes that they got hold of some dead animal on the property. We wondered about our compost pile but have been assured that the only way that could have
been the cause was if some animal got into it and died. We’ll likely never know the source, I think that makes it that much harder to bear.
Bubba was a wonder; a large, goofy puppy, scaring us constantly by twisting his body into threatening-looking contortions to catch balls; a show dog with a goofy grin across his face constantly; a therapy dog; a pestering bundle of “let’s play” to the older dogs; and an obvious role model for the puppy. Now he will never complete his championship or his therapy certification. It does not matter. He was the best, and the best do not need pieces of paper to prove it. For a while at least, we will likely overreact to every instance of eating grass we see, and spend lots of time and money at the vets. E. coli is very common, and rarely represents a danger in cases of particularly virulent strains. When it does strike home, there is often nothing to distinguish it from all-too-commonplace upset stomachs.
The world does have its dangers, witness the number of animals killed by traffic, and there is nothing we can ultimately do but hope the probabilities work to our advantage. Having said that, there is no comfort in knowing that, small likelihood or not, lightning can, does, and did strike here. When it does, all you are left with is a hole, an emptiness in your home, routine, life. Perhaps it is a compliment of sorts to just how wonderful a dog Bubba was that this hole is so overpoweringly huge and raw. He will be missed, and although he will be superceded as time goes on, he can never be replaced. Bubba's Tribute
Bubba and his best friend Taz
Bubba and his Mom, Brandy