Fern and Thistle
The St. Louis Senior Dog Project is a not-for-profit dog rescue organization specializing in older dogs but taking in and finding homes for dogs of all ages...even puppies. Meet your new best friend 11 to 3 Saturday,March 28, and noon to 3 Sunday, March 29, in the Kirkwood Petco. To see which dogs will be there plus other available dogs, go Here.
We call them the synchronized beagles: Fern and Thistle. If Fern turns left, so does Thistle. If Thistle curls up for a nap, so does Fern. Side by side or following one after the other, they are always together. Should one of them notice that the other has stepped too far away, she will catch up and set things right. They are what we call “bonded.” They need to stay together.
I wonder about their history. A rural shelter called us about them. They’d been picked up together as strays and were 8 to 10 years old. No one wanted to adopt them because of their age. After a short transport, they came to safety with us. What sweethearts! Imagine two beagles trying to climb into your lap at the same time. Imagine two side-by-side beagle heads resting on their paws at the side of your bed, begging for a lift. Adorable. Someone must have loved them.
But as every dog lady learns, love is not enough when it comes to dog care. We soon learned that both Fern and Thistle had advanced cases of heartworm disease. The vet who saw them said Thistle especially had one of the worst cases she’d ever seen. She could see the worms on the chest x-rays. The footlong worms live in the heart, lungs and associated vessels.
Heartworm disease is usually fatal if untreated. The worms stretch out the arteries and damage the heart and lungs. The disease is preventable if the owner keeps the dog on monthly heartworm pills. Their owner might have loved Fern and Thistle but also failed to give them the care they needed.
Now we wait. The vet wanted Fern and Thistle on antibiotics and steroids for a month prior to treatment. Then they will receive an injection of an arsenic-based solution that will start killing the worms. The treatment itself can be dangerous if the worms die off too quickly and form clots. That’s why caregivers must make sure the dogs stay calm so that their hearts don’t overwork.
We’re worried about Fern and Thistle, but they’re little troopers for sure. In a couple weeks they’ll go to the veterinary hospital for their first treatment. A month later, they’ll return for more treatment.
At Bose Rescue, we’ve treated a lot of heartworm dogs, but we’ve never taken on cases quite this serious. We worry that they may not survive treatment. Sometimes Thistle coughs and wheezes. She has trouble breathing at times. Fern, although healthier, tires easily.
The future is uncertain for our synchronized beagles. Please keep them in your thoughts. Here they are in a synchronized performance.
St. Louis Senior Dog Project