My youngest daughter Melissa has a dog named Kuru, which of itself, literally means ‘a very rare disease. It is caused by an infectious protein found in contaminated human brain tissue.’
Beyond Melissa’s dark, trying-to-be-cute humor, the dog Kuru is one of the sweetest, smartest canines I’ve ever encountered — and just finished treatment for one of the most-insidious dog-diseases, heartworm.
One part of that regimen was passivity, which is where I enter the program.
While Melissa worked out of town this past summer, I was Kuru‘s caretaker — what better than a quiet, nearly-introverted old guy? We bonded fairly-rapidly and for nearly three months I was her most-constant companion, taking walks and potty runs, administering pills — maybe just making a dog’s life a little easier.
And way-enjoyable for an old guy, too.
First time in 17 years I’d been around any dog in such fashion. On a short visit right now, she spent last night and today at my apartment.
Just a bit more than a year old, Kuru was originally a stray, and in pretty-bad shape, malnourished and scrawny, when Melissa got her earlier this year while living in Kansas City, MO. Yet my daughter quickly transformed a battered animal into a wonderful pet, getting the necessary shots, feeding the right foods, whatever was needed. During a visit to a veterinarian, tests showed she had heartworms, but fortunately due to Kuru‘s young age, was considered way-treatable.
And heartworm is a bitch — although the disease can be found in cats and ferrets, along with other mammals like wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and — in rare instances — humans, the vast majority of infestations happen to dogs.
Via the American Heartworm Society:
The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring.
If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies.
Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone.
For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.
Some background on heartworm, scientific name, Dirofilaria immitisfrom, from Sheldon Rubin, past president of the American Heartworm Society (per WebMD):
Only by the bite of an infected mosquito.
There’s no other way dogs get heartworms.
And there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected.
That’s why prevention is so important.
Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states.
And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease.
Heartworm disease has not only spread throughout the United States, but it’s also now found in areas where veterinarians used to say “Oh, we don’t have heartworm disease.”
Areas like Oregon, California, Arizona, and desert areas — where irrigation and building are allowing mosquitoes to survive.
And if you have mosquitoes and you have animals, you’re going to have heartworms.
It’s just that simple.
It takes about seven months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.
They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing.
Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.
The treatment, though, is really expensive. On a trip out here, Melissa discovered the process is cheaper in California than in Kansas, and sought local help — treatment was at McKinleyville Animal Care Center, and were/are most-excellent, not only on the medical aspect, but also with concerned advise on proper care for Kuru during and after the three-month procedure. Easier on Melissa’s wallet, too.
Kuru is a Corgi, and lives up to the breed:
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are very affectionate, love to be involved in the family, and tend to follow wherever their owners go.
They have a great desire to please their owners, thus making them eager to learn and train.
The dogs are easy to train and are ranked as the eleventh smartest dog in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.
And writer Stephen King has a Corgi: ‘Her real name is Molly, but he likes to refer to her as the “Thing of Evil.”
The Corgi is also the most-favorite dog of Queen Elizabeth of England, and has been for decades.
“My corgis are family,” the Queen has said.
(Illustration: Young Bess with her Corgi, found here).
In following the trait, Kuru is way-intelligent, and really obedient, which makes day-to-day living so much easier.
Maybe due to origins, though, she does always carry a face of perplexity, always seeming to need a reaffirmation of why shit happens, and what’s she to do next. Or WTF is going on now?
Endearing, and a bit sad — yet seemingly a product of the times.