Posted by: Mark | April 27, 2009

Our sick dog

A quick warning before you delve into this blog post. I think actually more like 3 warnings. 1) this is relatively long, as there has been a lot going on. 2) this is a sad post about a puppy in pain with pictures that may make you cry. I’ve cried like 20 times in the last few days. It ends with an optimistic note, but it’s still sad. 3) there are also some relatively descriptive elements in this that may gross some people out.

My goal in this is not to freak people out. It’s to keep people updated, as I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Augustus. But more importantly, it’s to potentially inform other dog owners. We’ve been scouring the internet to figure out what has been up over the last week, and so hopefully someone might stumble on this article to get some info that may help diagnose their dog earlier than we were able to.

Ok, you’ve been warned.

Meet Augustus.


He’s not a good boy; he’s the best boy. Calling Augustus a “good boy” would be like calling Michael Jordan a “good” basketball player. The dude is adorable and everyone who meets him loves him, and the sentiment is returned.

So if you haven’t gotten the sense yet, I pretty much adore my dog. He’s my little man and my buddy. He’s a 7 month old English bulldog puppy and a champion amongst dogs.

On Wednesday April 15, Augustus got neutered. He was operated on by probably one of the most well-known and respected bulldog experts in the entire Bay Area. We knew we were in good hands, and the operation went swimmingly.

On Saturday, a few days after the operation, a heat wave hit. The temperature in the Outer Sunset skyrocketed to 85 degrees and hovered there for 4 days. Bulldogs do not do well in heat, but with his recent surgery, there was not much we could do to cool him down in terms of applying cool water, ice, etc. The site of surgery needed to stay dry. We were feeding him ice and trying to keep the house cool, but no one has AC in this neighborhood and it got pretty steamy in here.

By Sunday, the dude had developed diarrhea. It started manageable, but got worse, and by Tuesday it was also including vomiting, and he was losing control of himself. In other words, we woke up on Wednesday and he had puked and sprayed diarrhea in his bed. This is clearly not something that he had wanted to do, so we set up a vet appointment.

My wife took him in that morning and the first thing they did was inject him with sub-Q fluids. This is basically like a gatorade type mixture, lots of water and electrolytes, injected behind the shoulder blades under the skin to be absorbed into the body and re-hydrate the dog. We were told he’d get really hyper as all those good nutrients went into his body. In fact, the exact opposite happened. His energy tanked, and the liquid lump on his back shifted and started to hang out on his belly, near his left armpit. We took him back in on Thursday when I woke him up and he a) wouldn’t leave his bed, and b) had peed in his bed. Usually, our morning routine is a) I wake up to my alarm. He hears it and perks up. b) I walk into the kitchen where he’s sitting in his bed, stretching. c) I open the door and we both got absolutely ape-shit saying hi to each other. Tail wagging, grunting, the whole deal, with me squealing like a little baby. Obviously Thursday morning was a major disruption to this routine, so I knew something was up.

We took him back in and were told that the liquid by his belly was just a slow absorbtion, and gravity had dragged it down there. His temperature was up but nothing really to worry about. He should get better, and the liquid bulge should go away.

Friday morning and he’s worse. The bulge has not only not gone away, it has become more solid, and has become extremely sensitive to touch. His peeing is totally out of control at this point. He seemed to have lost all control of himself: peed while standing up by his food, peed in his bed, basically peed everywhere. So we went back to the vet. This time we finally got our usual doctor, Dr. Anderson of the Avenues Pet Hospital. Dr. Anderson is the man. He takes great care of us, and showed immediate concern to what was going on with Augustus. He was worried about the high temperature, and took a sample from the bulge in his side. He was able to draw some blood out of him, but most of it was clotted, which led him to believe that he had a hematoma (aka internal bleeding) that had clotted, and would eventually dissolve and take care of itself. Meanwhile, with the high temperature and through looking at x-rays, it was concluded that he had a mild form of pneumonia. Puppies don’t exactly know how to vomit effectively, and often-times breath some of their vomit back in, which goes into their lungs and gets all messy. So presumably, that had happened too. We got put on an antibiotic and were told to monitor him closely. Uh, duh, we were definitely already doing that.

I took this picture on Friday. It definitely reveals how much pain Goose was in. He was sleeping this way to avoid having to lay down on his side. It was really sad to see him sleep like this: yes, it's a bit funny, but knowing that he was doing it to avoid pain was not very funny at all.

I took this picture on Friday. It definitely reveals how much pain Goose was in. He was sleeping this way to avoid having to lay down on his side. It was really sad to see him sleep like this: yes, it's a bit funny, but knowing that he was doing it to avoid pain was not very funny at all.

Saturday morning, and Dr. Anderson met us EARLY, before hours, to check on Goose. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we call him Goose. Which indicates that his name Augustus is not pronounced like the Roman emperor, but like Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka…his namesake.) The temperature was down. Good news. The bulge was once again become liquidy. Also good news: the hematoma seemed to be resolving itself. We went home feeling better.

Saturday night, and things were once again looking bad. He was again much more tender to the pain. Let me describe this tenderness. When I would go to scoop him up and carry him outside (forget about actually walking there, he was basically immobile because of the pain) he would wince and groan the whole time that I carried him. It was heart-breaking every time I had to pick him up.

So Sunday we wake up, and he was definitely in the lowest state we had seen him in. Again he had peed the bed. He would hardly open his eyes to look at us, and when they did they were just blank and vacant. He was having trouble breathing. We freaked out.

We rushed him to an emergency hospital that is open deliberately around the hours of regular vets. So Sunday morning was prime time to go there for a visit. We had amazing service there, I have to say. We paid an arm and a leg, but they really took care of us. The doctor took some fluid out from a soft spot on his bulge, and it wasn’t blood anymore. It was a creamy red mixture: in other words, whatever the hell this thing was, it was now very much infected. He hadn’t eaten anything in almost a day. And his fever was through the roof. So they hooked him up to an IV and started blasting him with IV fluids. We had to leave him there for 24 hours…basically, until just before our regular vet opened up on Monday morning. Sunday afternoon was probably the lowest moment for my wife and me in this ordeal: lots of tears, lots of sadness and pits in the bottoms of our stomaches that wouldn’t go away.

At this point I gotta interrupt myself. Yes, we’re talking about a dog. He doesn’t talk to me, he doesn’t have the highest form of intelligence when compared to man. I get it. But this guy is totally a part of our family, just a non-human part. And who the hell says that non-human family members don’t feel pain, and don’t give you joy? So while I know that all this fretting might at first appear a bit over-done, I say that when you have a living thing that you adore as much as we do, any pain they feel will unquestionably wreak havoc on you emotionally. And it sure did.

We put our weary selves to bed early Sunday night, and woke up Monday to pick him up to transfer him to the hospital. We called the doctor before going to bed, and his fever had broken, so we could sleep a bit easier. We got to the hospital, got some instructions, they faxed our file over to our regular vet, and then the little guy walked out to see us. He was still groggy, but doing better. The bulge was now diagnosed as an abscess (go ahead, google image search “abscess.” I dare you.) which is basically a lot of puss, and Goose was going back to our vet to get it drained all day.

Here's the little dude in the car ride from the emergency hospital. He's got his IV stuff covered up with tape, and if you look closely, you can see the bulge on his right side.

Here's the little dude in the car ride from the emergency hospital. He's got his IV stuff covered up with tape, and if you look closely, you can see the bulge on his right side.

We headed back to the vet and were greeted by our normal doctor, Dr. Anderson. It was the guy’s day off. We had emailed him that we took him to the emergency hospital on Sunday, and as soon as he got up that morning he called into the hospital to talk through what the night had been like. He met us there to help get Goose set up, and to make sure that the bulldog expert that was going to take care of us was fully de-briefed. I repeat: it was his day off. What a good guy. I have yet to post my review on for this guy, but it’s going to be so full of praise that I’ll be red in the face writing like, like confessing I have a crush on someone.

So we check in and are told with a lot of optimism that Augustus was going to improve. I scuttled off to work, anxiously awaiting the call I knew I would get around 10am when the bulldog doctor would get to see him.

The call was again optimistic. They were going to drain the fluids out of him, and were continuing the IV with the antibiotics. He was on the slow road to recovery.

I rushed home this evening to pick him up, ASAP. We got there at 5:45 and were fully de-briefed on how we would have to take care of him. This is where things get a bit dicey. Basically they had cut two holes in his belly on his abscess. These holes are attached to a tube within a tube, and basically the abscess is going to drip its way out of these two tubes. It should take through Saturday morning, when they’re going to remove them. Therefore, we have a puppy on our hands who is going to drip a gooey pinkish substance out of his belly wherever he walks for the next 4 days. Three times a day we gotta warm it up with a warm, wet towel, because those things are going to want to scab up. We gotta prevent the scabbing and encourage the free flow. In fact, I’ve been warned that in the morning, after laying on it all night, there will be a pretty substantial build-up, and so after I moisten the tubes I gotta squeeze the build-up through his tubes. Apparently, the goo will be enough to fill up a coffee cup. Oh, and I should point out that this stuff smells like death. In many ways, it is death. It is infected liquid that has been trying to kill my dog, so I guess it’s appropriate it smells awful.

Of course, he has to wear a cone on his head so he doesn’t go poking into the stuff in his belly. This is awful too. We’re trying to be positive by calling him our little sunflower, but the truth is that he knows he looks ridiculous in it, and these things are known for making dogs depressed. We’ve re-stocked on training pads that you give to young puppies to let them pee on, and basically are constantly putting them under Augustus for him to drip on. He’s still in a bit of pain from the surgery, and so we’ll be giving him pain meds too in addition to continuing the antibiotics.

But the big thing is that he’s on the road to improvement. His fever is gone. He’s actually got a bit of life back in him. When he came home today, he walked up to me and gave me a kiss on the face, and that in many ways made it all worth it. Right now I’m sitting in front of his crate and going back and forth between writing and petting him while cooing to him. He’s dozing in and out of sleep and seems comfortable enough.

We’ve been told that the progression that I just outlined is pretty unique, and that we may have a dog with a weak immune system on our hands. I am undaunted by that. Our dog is a fighter and I’m going to do everything I can to get him healthy, and keep him there. He brings me an incredible amount of happiness, and should not have to lead a life regularly peppered with pain.

So that’s our update for now. I warned you: long, sad, and graphic. I’ve been tweeting about him a lot lately, and thought a bit of clarification was necessary of what exactly has happened. And in that vein, we’ve gotten a lot of support from people about Augustus being sick. Nice emails, voicemails, a ton of twitter messages, and I want to say thanks to everyone for that. Augustus is our little guy, and the sympathy you all are giving us means an incredible amount.

I’ll keep you updated. I end this post torn between being optimistic, and totally bummed out for how awful this road has been. We still got a lot left before he’ll be healthy again. With that, here’s two final pictures.

Here's a gross close-up on the drain site. That penis-looking thing is actually the tube within a tube, and you can see some of the drainage below. Yucky.

Here's a gross close-up on the drain site. That penis-looking thing is actually the tube within a tube, and you can see some of the drainage below. Yucky

Here's our sad little sunflower. You should see it when he sleeps. The cone basically folds in half around his head, so it's not just a sad sunflower, it's a sad, wilting sunflower.

Here's our sad little sunflower. You should see it when he sleeps. The cone basically folds in half around his head, so it's not just a sad sunflower, it's a sad, wilting sunflower.



  1. Awwww Augustus. I’m glad to know what’s going on and that he is in the best hands possibly equipped to deal with such a predicament. Shower him with love for me, and Augustus shower the carpet with pus-filled yuck for me.

  2. Having had my share of long, sad, drawn out, dog-related medical issues (though not quite as gross), I totally empathize with you. Especially on the part about how much an “owner” can care about their “pet” and also about the value of a truly dedicated vet. Best of luck.

  3. Keeping you and “Goose” in my prayers. Thanks for letting us know.

  4. I just cried reading your story…but I am lifted by your incredible, powerful bond between Goose and you both…no matter what you have had to go through to help this beautiful soul, loving his people with a simple kiss when he could, is pure devotion…I have been there with you, rush in the middle of the night to emergency vet, cried in the waiting room, slept next to his bed, paid hundreds of dollars to vets and medicines..and would I do it all again..without a second thought…for the love of our precious dogs who give back tenfold, it is the very least we can do and will do…your story so well speaks to the love of Goose, I am tenderly moved. I pray for you both and for your beloved Goose..

    I read an article about a guy who fed his dog primarily salmon his whole life, the dog being 13 now and no history of medical problems…so I am giving my Teddy Salmon at least two or three times a week..maybe it would help build gorgeous Goose’s immune system….please give Goose a big hug and kiss from me, Ellen and a wag from Teddy… in Rhode Island.

  5. Thanks for the update. I know he is a tough little guy and he will def pull through. I totally feel your pain with the connection a dog has with its owner and vice versa. Chester and I are praying for you and Goose. Keep us posted and please let me know if there is anything I can do or if you just need to talk.

  6. Unless people have raised a dog themselves, and built the kind of bond Mark and Goose have – they just won’t understand. We consider our little bulldog our child, and treat her as such. Could we be called “crazy pet owners”? Sure. But would I care? No. Having gone through something similar with her (pneumonia for the first month we had her as a tiny puppy) I can say that bond will only get stronger.

    Thoughts are with you, your wife and especially Mr. Goose. He’ll get better!

  7. Goose,

    The jordans love you so much! We have been thinking about you and keeping a close eye on your updates. Get well soon little buddy!

    (and hand in there Mark and Giulia, please let us know if we can do anything to help!)


  8. my gf and i read this post and we both teared up. we just got a new puppy too and we of course just had to run over to it and hug it to death when we were done reading…

    our hearts are going out to your fam…good luck.

    – @whatupwilly

  9. Poor, sweet muffin baby. I am sorry that he is in so much pain. Stay stong and even though he is suffering your strength and love will help him heal. As for people thinking you are overboard…those people should all go live on a island together and never get to experience any of the joy that animals bring to our lives He’s a lucky man to have such caring parents. Ya’ll are in my thoughts and prayers. Much love.

  10. He is such a special boy and he is lucky to have such great parents looking after him while he is sick. We’re all sending you and G positive vibes knowing he is going to be absolutely back to his silly adorable self in no time at all!!

    Scotty, Natasha, and Mooka

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