Our little prize winning boy, Phoenix, whom the judge at the last show alerted us to the fact that he was SO skinny has just gotten home from a week in the hospital. He is 8 months old and just tiny. He's only been at our ranch since August so we haven't known him for long and I suspect that he came with whatever he has. So we never saw a change in personality. But he's always seemed so calm, laid back.. un-alpaca like.
Three weeks after he got here I found him lying in the corral. I thought he was dead. When I walked up to him he turned his head but that was it, so I rushed him and his Mama in my Honda to the vet. The vet could not find anything wrong with him so we got some antibiotics and headed home. Once he was up he seemed fine again, and we just kept a close eye on him, but no other odd behavior and the next couple months seemed fine.
We went to the show. He got a first and the judge just raved about him ("If there is one alpaca you look at this weekend, stop and see him" :-) Two weeks later we went to another show. He got a 3rd out of 3. The judge touched him and exclaimed "Oh my God! Have you noticed his weight? He's starving to death." Once she saw that, she dismissed him as a serious competitor. I had realized he was losing weight and thought I ought to address that, but hadn't realized how much, with their abundance of fleece it is not obvious. When we weaned him he weighed 63 pounds. Now two months later he weighed 50 pounds.
After that we started separating him for eating in case it was an assertiveness issue. That's when we realized he was just nibbling on hay (alfalfa now) and not eating pellets at all. That was REALLY concerning.
We took him in for bloodwork to be done. Everything we could think of. Two days later CSU called us and said, bring him in now! His liver was not functioning right and once an alpaca starts that, it is almost impossible to snap them out of it and make their stomachs work again, especially without hospitalization. So we loaded him up and took him in. It felt like a death sentence. I was sure when I walked out that door that I would never see him alive again.
But, on Saturday we brought him home. They had been feeding him intravenously for a week, gave him two plasma transfusions, giving him daily ultrasounds and blood tests and drugs for anything we can think of. They did find a deadly coccidia called E-mac. This coccidia does not explain the whole story and they still do not know what the catalyst was, which is the main concern. We hope when we stop supporting him, he will not just start downhill again because they have not treated the cause. Anyhow, they sent us home with BAGS of medications and notes that basically say, "Well, we don't know what's wrong with him, so, give him drugs, weigh him a lot, and if you have any ideas, Go for it!" So I am supplementing his feed and encouraging him to eat, and giving him drugs and more drugs. The more nutrition I can get in him the better. This morning he's up 0.6 pounds.. not much, but the right direction.
We have put him in with his Mom, and I'm glad I did that cause those two are latched at the hip. So perhaps that will also relieve stress for him. I also stuck in one of the boys he's been in with for the past two months, so if there is any bonding there, that connection can continue to grow.
The drive up and back Saturday, was fairly horrendous! The biggest snowstorm of the year (so far) and Denver traffic are a bad combination. We left home after the hospital called at 10am with the status update and didn't get home until Midnight, what should have been 8 hours round trip. Then of course Sunday was Gorgeous, sparkley snow and all! Oh well. No major incidents, no major complaints.
So, things are still touch and go with Phoenix, but he is alive. Keep us in your thoughts as we nurse this guy back to health!