Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update About Pterodactyl The Hemophiliac Puppy & A Call For Help

Last month I introduced you to Pterodactyl, the little Shepherd/Pit Bull puppy who survived a life-threatening hemorrhage after his neuter surgery at the shelter where I work. In the weeks since, "Pterry" has become a regular among the Rebound Hounds pack; in fact, he's happily napping beneath my chair this very moment!

It turns out that Pterodactyl has a severe form of hemophilia. He suffers from Factor VIII deficiency (hemophilia type A), which is an x-linked recessive disorder, and one of the few sex-linked traits found in dogs. It occurs in many different breeds, but German Shepherds are most commonly affected. Many animals (and humans) with more mild types of hemophilia experience few symptoms. Pterry, however, is severely affected. He may experience prolonged bleeding once his baby teeth begin to fall out. The slightest trauma could induce a massive hemorrhage. He's also prone to lameness caused by internal bleeding into his joints and muscles. There is no cure for hemophilia - transfusions are the only treatment.

Despite this grim prognosis, we strongly believe that Pterry deserves a chance. He will have another bleeding episode some day, although it's impossible to predict when it might happen. It could be tomorrow or not for a number of years. In the meantime, Michael and I are determined to provide this sweet boy with a decent puppyhood. Pterry has been bunking at our house for the last few days and he's giving us a real run for our money! Since we're accustomed to senior dogs, it has been a true revelation to have a puppy underfoot. His urge to play is irrepressible, and nothing is off-limits: toilet paper, notebooks, cushions, computer cords. He still hasn't given up on Greta and Dewey as playmates even though they have met his attempts with more contempt than enthusiasm. Every time one of the elder hounds issues a grumble of complaint about his pouncing and frolicking, Pterry just takes it as encouragement! One thing they can all agree on is a good rawhide, and we have been placating the dogs with many of them lately. Long walks have also helped to keep everyone happy. Last night we hiked in the redwoods for several miles; Greta roughed it in her stroller and Dewey and Pterry trotted along happily, eager to smell every interesting tree trunk and patch of moss in their path.

Several days ago we put a call out to our friends and family with the hope of finding an adopter for Pterodactyl. Although many folks are interested in helping him find a permanent home, no one has been able to make a definitive commitment yet. Now it's time to make the appeal here: If you know of anyone near the San Francisco Bay Area who would like to adopt this special needs puppy, please let me know ASAP!

Meanwhile, as we wait to find Pterry's forever family, it's immensely gratifying to watch him relish the most mundane aspects of daily life, whether it's charging up a set of stairs or flopping down for a spontaneous nap. He is as precious as they come, and it's a joyful experience to see the world through his eyes.

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