On June 6, 2020 the world was blessed with another special puppy – Forrest (as in Gump) and his brother and sister – Bubba and Jenny! Just as Tom Hank’s character was “special”, our new little baby was “special” also.
It all started when Forrest’s Mama, Ivy, went into labor about 2 days too early. She was carrying 4 puppies and one placenta had separated causing an infection. We had no choice but to take the remaining 3 puppies early. The one that had separated was still born. They were all small but Forrest was all of 2.9 oz.! That’s a very tiny pup! Forrest and Jenny’s sucking reflex wasn’t mature so I had to put them on Mama Ivy about 4 times every hour for the first day or two to make sure they were getting all of that valuable colostrum – that’s where they get all of Mama’s immunity and special nutrients! All of the pups were fighters but little Forrest needed a little assistance. I tube fed him two times to get him over the hump. He jumped over that hump very quickly! On day 3 I woke up to tube feed him, picked him up and his tummy was huge! He was ready to feed on Mama all by himself! He had a huge will to live!
From then on it was off to the races! Bubba and Jenny were off to the races also! Bubba definitely had a head start though!
The puppies continued to develop, open their eyes and push up on all fours! Then they started “toddling”. That’s when I noticed that Forrest’s fontanel was still a little bit open and he only turned to the right. We started joking that he was the opposite of Zoolander – who could only turn to the left! All joking aside, I started worrying and also noticed that his head was cocked to the right. I immediately started Googling all the horrible things that could be causing these things – vestibular problems (inner ear), torticollis (shortened muscles on one side), neurological problems – there were a ton of them… Then I came to my senses and made an appointment for Forrest and Ivy with my NRT (Nutritional Response Testing) Vet, Dr. Elizabeth Cutright. Dr. Cutright examined Forrest thoroughly and ended up pointing to the left top of his skull and said “he’s got parasites right here”. What? Parasites were making his head tilt? I was skeptical and at the same time consumed with guilt – being a more natural rearing breeder, I do not routinely deworm my Moms or puppies – instead I do fecal tests. That’s all fine and dandy until you have a small, possibly immune suppressed puppy who may not have the means to fight off parasites normally like Bubba and Jenny. Dr. Cutright added some nutritional supplements to Ivy’s diet (we had to use her to get to Forrest through her milk supply). All of this happened on a Tuesday. On Friday, a light bulb went off in my head and I texted Dr. Cutright and said “what if I just deworm Ivy now”? She gave me the go ahead and told me that if it was going to work, it would work quickly. I gave Ivy the dewormer on Friday and by Monday, Forrest’s head was level! It was amazing!
Still, he was small and I worried about hydrocephalus just like “Tiny” – from my first litter. Tiny was a fighter and taught me so much about raising puppies naturally. Two puppies with hydrocephalus in 10 litters – should I worry about my health testing? No, these pups were from different Mom’s and years apart – no matter what health testing is performed – Mother Nature is still ultimately in charge. As one of my friends say – “that’s why dogs have litters” – not all survive or are perfect. I arranged for Forrest to have an ultrasound of his brain while his fontanel was still open. Sadly, it confirmed my suspicions – Forrest had a mild case of hydrocephalus but less than Tiny which gave me even more hope.
We continued to watch Forrest grow and act mostly like a normal puppy. We celebrated every milestone. I remember my husband and I standing by our glass sliding door and watching this tiny pup pull himself inside the door for the first time! We were cheering and jumping up and down! This little act was so much to celebrate! Forrest was the cutest puppy ever!
As Forrest grew and progressed I had to turn my attention to finding the absolute perfect home for him. My husband and I were heartbroken that we could not keep him ourselves but our town does not allow more than 3 dogs. My brain started churning thinking about possible homes. As a devout Dr. Judy Morgan follower, I was listening to one of her morning Facebook Live videos and heard that she had just lost her beloved Cavalier Shayna. I was so sad for her. Dr. Morgan adopts some of the sickest Cavaliers, takes care of them, feeds them an appropriate diet and has had great success in letting them live their longest and happiest lives. Shayna was one of these lucky dogs. I called up my friend, Linda, and said “did you hear that Dr. Judy’s Shayna died – she needs a new puppy”! That was a light bulb moment – She needs a new puppy!!!! My friend Linda was currently in contact with Dr. Judy and I asked if she would ask Dr. Judy if she might take Forrest! I knew it was a one in a million chance of her saying yes. My friend asked me to give her all of the details even going as far as saying “how would Forrest get to her in North Caroline”? Thinking it would NEVER happen, I said “I’ll deliver him”! And that’s the last I thought of it.
Within 24 hours, Linda texted me and said “she said yes”. I said “who said yes to what”? Linda said “Dr. Judy said she would take Forrest”! WHAT???? I couldn’t believe it!!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited! I went around all day pinching myself and telling everyone I knew that Dr. Judy Morgan was taking Forrest. Many people I told didn’t know who Dr. Judy was – I explained “just imagine Forrest going to live in the White House”! I still can’t fully express the excitement I felt!
I got in touch with Dr. Judy to arrange when we could deliver my sweet baby. We decided on September 20th. My good friend, Beth, decided to come along. Dr. Judy had just moved into her brand-new house and we would be their first official guests – I still couldn’t believe my good fortune.
Well, as they say, the rest is history! Forrest is now the 4th Cavalier in the family along with George, Gaby and Stewart and a barn and pasture full of animals – all his friends. I can’t think of a luckier puppy in the world!