Thursday, 6 September 2012
The Big Boy
Lestat started out the early part of his life living in a house full of French bakers and pastry chefs, in a suburban housing estate with a small back garden. It was the staff house for the bakery and there was a big turnover of staff. As a result Lest was very well-socialised.
When the bakery was going through financial difficulties, the decision was taken to do away with the staff house so Lestat was homeless. I was asked to take him in. He was brought here late one evening, and as I had chickens and ducks running loose and the large garden was not as secure as he was used to, the decision was taken to put him in the stable over night. Next morning the Frenchman went to give him his breakfast and let him out to get to know the garden and to socialise with all the other animals, but Lestat was gone.
He had disappeared without trace. We searched for days walking all the fields and roads around about. We phoned the dog warden and the police with no luck. We asked all the neighbours to keep a look out for him, but no one was really familiar with the breed so it was difficult to describe him.
He was missing for 10 days. Then out of the blue, my daughter at home from school, sick and lying on the couch, saw something white flash by the window. It was Lestat. He was very thin and very happy to be home. To this day we have no idea where he was but suspect he was so shocked from living all his life in a garden, when he escaped from the stable, he panicked and hid out somewhere. He sadly developed pneumonia and had to be taken to the vet (the first of very many trips to come).
Lestat recovered and settled into life with the other animals. He had a couple of chicken dinners to start, but when it was drummed into him that this was not acceptable, he then allowed the chickens to eat his dinner. He accepted kittens, puppies, chickens, ducks and children. He loved everyone and everything. Sadly other people did not love him.
When I walked him cars slowed down to stare; if people were on the same side of the road they crossed over away from him. On the beach mothers scooped up their children when they saw him coming. He on the other hand was oblivious and tried to make friends with animals and humans alike. After a good long time we realised we had never once heard him growl. We never did.
He was a good guard dog in that he barked when he heard anyone at the gate or in the yard. However if the intruder or visitor made an attempt to scratch his belly, he rolled over. He looked the part so he was a good deterrent.
He developed lots of health problems including skin complaints, eye infections, ulcers in between his toes, sore pads with subsequent difficulties walking on the gravel in the driveway. He then started having seizures. A lot of his health problems were improved by changing his diet and giving him steroids when his skin got bad. He got lots of fresh air, exercise and he had company all the time.
The seizures gradually got more severe and more frequent and finally, I found him floating face down in the river he loved to swim in, when we went to feed the pigs. He had run off in front of me so I was only seconds behind him. I panicked when I realised I couldn't see him as the river was flowing very fast. I could see his tail from high up but not the rest of him. I had to climb down a steep bank to get to him. I hauled him out unconsious and he took ages to come to.
He didn't recover as he normally did and then he started vomiting blood. I took him to the vet who said she suspected a tumour or something sinister in his brain causing the seizures. She thought the fact he was vomiting blood, it was likely that the possible tumour in his brain may have metastasized into his lungs and or stomach. However without in-depth investigation in a dedicated veterinary hospital this was only conjecture.
With a very heavy heart the decision has been taken not to do further investigation but to put him to sleep, if necessary. I am sitting here on the floor in the kitchen beside him as he breaths heavily. The sun is shining in the window and Piaf, the small Jack Russell is lying beside him. He was very distressed last night and all morning, but now I am here beside him he is calmer. Ironically whenever I used to lie on a rug in the sun, he insisted on lying on top of me or at least a part of him in contact with a part of me.
Lestat born with a pedigree as long as the Queen on 25th December 2005. I hope he lives to see another Christmas but I'm realistic.
Lestat was put to sleep today 7th September 2012. Rest in Peace Big Boy.
Labels: English Bull Terrier, Lestat, Lethal Acrodermatitis