The Pak Chronicles
“Not eating for eleven days, means death.”
That was what the Veterinary Assistant told us when we consulted with him about our dog Pak.
“After that time,” he continued, “Not even the Vet can help him.”
When we heard what he said, we became extremely worried, because it was the 7th of April, and Pak had not eaten for seven days.
In October 2011, we got a male puppy; he was a mongrel, with Labrador Retriever blood in him. We all liked him, and my brother called him Pak.
As he grew, we knew him to be a chewer . . . chewing almost everything, including the splash guards on the cars. He loved to bury his food, his bones, his toys.
Pak did not run into the kennel when it rained, he “toughed it out” through each downpour – crying, whimpering, moaning. He grew to be a tall dog, and seemed to love life, love fun, love people. His bark was loud and deep, and he was cross. Pak made it his duty to escort us to and from our walk around our yard, rain or shine; and when he walked with us, he sniffed at everything . . . our bags, our shoes, our bottoms.
One day, when Pak was about seven months old, he barely ate his food. Was it worms? No. Was he sick? No. Was he depressed? Yes.
Pak wanted to be free from his kennel, and he seemed to promise that he would not go through the gate and into the road. Pak wanted to be outside the confines of his area, and he wanted to be with us. So we released him; and when he was set free, the yard became his, we became his friends, and he was happy and eating once more.
Pak was a caring dog. When we got another puppy, he became her parent, her companion, and her friend. They slept together and romped around together until she died, leaving Pak sort-of-a feeling very sad.
Pak was always the “life of the yard”, so on April 1st this year, when he stopped eating, we became a little worried. He always ate approx. two times more than the other dogs, and when he refused to eat, we thought he just didn’t have the appetite for his dinner. But this April’s Fool concern was the first day of his illness . . . whatever it was.
Saturday April 2nd
Pak only pinched at his food; and when we gave him a lovely, juicy chunk of meat, he only went and buried it.
Sunday April 3rd
Pak did not eat at all. We gave him bissy (grounded kola nuts) which induced vomiting if you were poisoned. Pak did not vomit.
Monday April 4th
Again, Pak did not eat; but we observed that his nose was very dusty, and that was a good sign. It meant he dug up the food he buried and was eating (hopefully). We gave him a little of my mum’s rum infused with herbs, hoping to stimulate his appetite. It did, but in a very little way.
Tuesday April 5th
We attempted to feed Pak all day. He seemed hungry and came eagerly to eat. He even growled at the other dogs that wanted to snatch his food from him, but he only stared into his food pan, then weakly strolled away.
Wednesday April 6th
Pak had become so weak, but we observed that he really wanted to eat. For example, whenever we opened the door, he gathered his strength to leap toward us, in search of food; but he didn’t eat. He couldn’t eat.
Would you believe it? We actually prayed over him.
Later, when he resorted to resting in his spot under my brother’s van, we thought he had died.
“Oh no!” we cried. “Pak are you okay?”
On hearing our emotion-filled voices, Pak would lift his head and wink at us. One wink, two winks . . . we guess that means you’re alive!
However, Pak still did not eat; and when we were at our wits’ end, my brother decided to give him some of his prized roots tonic called ‘Bissy-Vera’. We took some and forced it down his throat, and hoped that it would work.
Thursday April 7th
We spoke with the Vet and got the 11-day ultimatum from the Veterinary Assistant. Later that day, the mobile Veterinarian visited our home and determined that Pak had a temperature. He gave all our dogs their worm shots and worm medicine, and he also left antibiotic tablets for Pak. We gave Pak his first tablet that evening.
Friday April 8th
We began bottle feeding Pak, giving him milk which he gobbled down. Yeah! Pak was eating again.
We cleansed the build-up of discharge from around his eyes, and during the day we observed that Pak seemed to be improving. When we opened the door, he weakly came and escorted us around the yard. When the other dogs barked at strangers, he picked himself up and went with them to the gate; but he was too weak to bark.
Saturday April 9th
Pak was eating again. This was day 9 of Pak’s illness, and our worries about day 11 coming upon us, and his impending death were fading away. While walking up to the house, I saw him resting at our front door and was surprised and happy to see such an improvement in his countenance.
We bottle fed Pak with milk once more, and he drank it. We also began giving him chicken broth, and we bought juicy canned dog food – specially for him, which we will puree for him tomorrow.
In the evening, Pak stopped eating.
Sunday April 10th
Pak ignored us and the food we tried to bottle feed him with. When we tried to force it down his throat, our fingers left an imprint in his gums, and that scared us. He was staring past us and into space, and he had very little body heat. We found brownish-yellow vomit around our yard, and there were no more growling sounds coming from his stomach. He wasn’t breathing normally again either. Oh . . . tears, tears, tears. Pak was dying.
“No Pak, you can’t die!” we cried.
We grabbed him (gently), and tried to push the bottle down his throat; he weakly ran away, but we cornered him.
“You’ve got to eat this Pak, you’re going to live, live, live!” we said.
We pried his mouth opened and was about to feed him, when he ran away to the foot of our lime tree and vomited.
Pak vomited, and vomited, and vomited. What was he vomiting? It could not be the food we bottle fed him with, the quantity of vomit was much, much more than what he ate. It had to be the water he was drinking. Every morning the water pans were empty, Pak was drinking gallons of water from the water pans, and from all surfaces where water settled in every nook and cranny around our yard.
Monday April 11th
In the morning we found Pak at the edge of our yard, he had rested his head on a plank of board to support it. Dew from the overhead roof dripped intermittently upon him, a few flies buzzed around, and we feared that Pak was dead. But he wasn’t dead yet.
Is it not true that when the darkness of death comes, an animal will resort to a dark place as it becomes fearful? I don’t know, but that is what I’ve observed with our dying pets over the years; and it seemed Pak was headed toward a dark corner in our yard . . . to die. But alas, he awoke and was happy to see us. As we turned to leave, Pak followed us toward the house; he was weak, and deathly cold. Then we realized it, Pak only followed us to drink some water; we refilled the water pans.
We tried to feed him, but he only looked at us and seemed to say “Don’t be bothered to feed me anymore.” Our hearts broke. He looked at us again and seemed to say “I’ve accepted my death. I know I won’t make it, this is the end of the road.”
So this is day 11, and the Vet was right. My brother was also right . . . it was not worms, it was not poison, Pak was probably sick from a long time ago.
During the day, Pak moved from one resting place to another under my brother’s van until he finally became too weak to live. At 2:00 p.m., we saw him trying to control his bodily functions, but couldn’t; urine flowed from beneath him and he seemed ashamed to wet himself. It was not like him to be so messy, but that’s what happens when you’re dying.
At 2:45 p.m., we saw him struggling to breathe, and then he breathed his last breath. That other dog in the photo above, is his offspring . . . Paxon; but no other canine can ever replace Pak, none!
Written in memory of our family dog – Pak.
(October 1, 2011 – April 11, 2016)
On June 1st, Paxon stopped eating too and died on June 11th. The other dogs seem healthy.