This afternoon, I took Ty out to throw a ball for her. She loves to chase the ball, although frankly I think she could use a sports bra - it looks painful. She doesn't complain.
We got back into the house and I opened the pen and she trotted happily in, to be greeted by a bunch of hungry mouths ... Desdemona was first (as always, the lil porker), followed by Caesar and Romeo, Othello and Puck, and Antony and Ophelia. I noticed that lil Juliet wasn't too interested - she just stayed in a corner, not quite sleeping but not moving much. I jotted a note for Allison to have a glance at her, make sure she was OK.
Later in the afternoon, the puppies were getting rambunctious - wrestling and growling at one another, tumbling in a pile. I took Ty out again, just for a quick whiz, and then let her back into the pen and once again they all crowded towards her, each latching on for supper.
I looked at her a little more closely, and noticed that she was thinner than the rest. She was listless, uninterested in eating. I put her right to her mom's body and she just turned away.
I called Allison in. Allie picked Juliet up, looked her over, then motioned for the phone. She punched in the number for the Humane Society and the veterinarian who runs it, Els Cawthorne. Els led her through some simple tests, then asked us to bundle the lil girl up and bring her in.
On the drive in, Juliet seemed to gain a little bit of life, but it was clear there was something wrong. Once we got there, Els looked her over and felt pretty sure there was something wrong with the puppy's breathing - it was laboured and shallow. But, like most Animal Shelters, there wasn't much in the way of diagnostic equipment there, so Els picked up the phone.
She called the Atlantic Veterinary College, part of the University of Prince Edward Island, and explained to the lead intern (it was evening by now, and a skeleton staff on duty) what the problem was. After a couple of minutes, Els said "We'll bring her over. I trust your judgement on this. If we can help her, we should help her, but ..." - she glanced at us apologetically - "... nothing heroic."
I get that. I mean, there's a reason puppies come in eights. Mother Nature (the bitch) expects some attrition. And if the puppy's health will be compromised in the long term, that makes her unadoptable, and leads to all sorts of other problems. So, if there is a serious problem ... well ... we don't have to talk about it, but we all know what has to happen.
We took the lil darlin' in, and they were very kind. Took her and put her in an oxygen tent to help her breathe better and they'll run a bunch of tests tonight. It's quite possible it's pneumonia, probably "aspirated pneumonia", meaning some food went down the wrong way and caused infection. And if that's the case, it could be treatable with antibiotics, although a three week old puppy doesn't have many resources in the way of an immune system. So even that will be tough.
If it's something more - like, say, an underdeveloped esophagus or congestive heart issues ... well, that's a less hopeful scenario.
I hope things turn out, I really do. And hey, if you have some spare good vibes, fire 'em along. It's just a teeny puppy, one of eight.
But ... she's sweet. Be a shame. So ... let's hope.
Update! Late Friday Afternoon:
The vet, a lovely woman named Melanie, called this morning to tell me she's quite happy with how Juliet is doing. They put her in an oxygen tent in Intensive Care and her breathing eased almost immediately. They put a mist into the tent and that helped, too.
The diagnosis is what they expected: aspirated pneumonia (see above). So, with luck, a careful program of appropriate antibiotics can sort everything out. She's not out of the woods yet, but things are looking much better.
You're all a bunch of sweeties for sending kind thoughts and good vibes. Thanks, kids.