Unfortunately his appetite was suppressed because of illness. The fact that he couldn't smell his food properly due to his stuffed nose didn't help either. He was put on antibiotics but didn't respond that well. They were keeping him alive, but he wasn't getting much better. Cappy went through several courses of antibiotics, but his condition didn't improve.
There was one bit of good news. In January most of the dogs we had rescued from the pound in December tested positive for Canine Distemper Virus, but Cappy tested negative.
However, he wasn't able to shake his infections, and his breathing became rapid even when at rest. This is a bad sign. It meant that his red blood cell count was too low. At this point the patient is normally put on oxygen, in the hope that the oxygen can help keep the system going until the body can generate enough new blood cells, which takes a few weeks. We considered oxygen, but oxygen masks are uncomfortable for animals, and animals that are unable to conquer their infection inevitably get progressively weaker once their breathing becomes labored, with or without oxygen. Eventually, once the body simply can't supply itself with enough oxygen to keep going, the patient dies of respiratory failure.
Cappy had also ceased eating. He'd take one bit of dog food, or maybe just lick it, but that was it. He wouldn't even eat any Cesar, the yummiest dog food available. His rapid breathing was draining his energy supply, and he wasn't replenishing his energy by eating.
Clearly Cappy's days were numbered. We decided to focus on making Cappy's remaining time on Earth as enjoyable for him as we could. Ken wanted to spend as much time with Cappy as possible.
On January 15, we were keeping Cappy company at the Happy Animals Club office, and noticed that Cappy showed interest in a tuna sandwich. He seemed to enjoy nibbling at the cheese.
We got him more tuna sandwiches, and array of human food. Cappy, it turns out, has a predilection for human food, especially fish and dairy products. He always drank a lot of milk. You're not supposed to give dogs bovine milk, but clearly it made Cappy happy, and it seemed to have no adverse affect on his digestive system.
Ken wanted someone to be with Cappy at all times, so that he wouldn't die alone.
Cappy would be taken home from the shelter at night, spend the night at home, and ride in the car on the way to school in the mornings. At the school gate, Ken would give Cappy a hug and tell him that he'd see him after school. Practically every day we expected Cappy to pass away, but he always was in the passenger seat when Ken got out of school, wagging his stubby little tail.
This routine continued for three weeks. We'd buried Cappy's best friend Bear, and three dogs who died of distemper, but Cappy kept on surviving. His breathing was rapid, and he wasn't eating much, but somehow he held on.
While living with us, he carved out a place of his own in our hearts. Cappy was essentially bed-ridden, and only got up to do his business a few feet away from the towel which he slept on, and maybe to drink a little water or milk. Most of the time he'd be sleeping quietly.
But when a family argument would break out, Cappy would immediately put an end to it by complaining loudly with a series of loud yelps. We'd instantly stop arguing and run to his spot and hug him and apologize for the ruckus. And no matter how weak he was, he'd always wag his stubby little tail when we went to pet him.
Then a miracle happened. Cappy's breathing slowed down. He was no longer huffing for breath even when at rest. We realized that Cappy had, against all odds, started winning the war against his infection. He'd get stronger, healthier, and go back to the club!
But the world we live in is a cruel one. It turns out, one miracle wasn't enough. After a few days we noticed that Cappy's front paws were trembling slightly. The trembling became more pronounced, and we knew that Cappy, too, now had Canine Distemper Virus. The blood test at the veterinary clinic merely confirmed what we already knew.
Dogs can beat distemper, but once they show neurological symptoms (seizures) the chances of recovery are basically nil.
Cappy had already surprised us with one miracle. We waited for another, hoping and waiting, waiting and hoping... We gave Cappy phenytoin, antibiotics, and fed him with a syringe. But the symptoms only became more and more pronounced. Cappy started vomiting his food, and he became cranky all the time. Having learned, thanks to Nice Guy, that at this stage the dog is in great suffering, Ken made the decision to put him to sleep.
On February 16, exactly one month after his best friend Bear died, Cappy was relieved of his suffering while being held in Ken's arms at the clinic. We buried him as close as possible to Bear.