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I’m writing this to tell Jax’s story so that others don’t have to learn this lesson the same way I did … the worst way imaginable.
Jax was a happy and rambunctious puppy like most but like most owners would say, he was far from common. Just ask all the people he would meet on his 2 daily walks where he marched proudly down Broadway and Medford St wagging his tail wildly the entire time and he would pull with all his might to meet everybody like he was running for Mayor. He would go from bouncing off the walls and tearing up shoes to crawling up on your lap for a nice cuddle and nap. Like all crazy pups he would get into things he shouldn’t … like the dead rat in the bushes that resembled his toy squirrel. When he emerged from the bushes with his new plaything I did what anybody would do, I yelled for him to drop it, which he did after his getaway attempt was quickly thwarted. I was grossed out and carried him inside to brush his teeth because he certainly wasn’t kissing me with that tongue anytime soon. It’s too bad toothpaste was least of my worries.
A couple days later Jax was not acting like himself. The dog who once ate every meal twice a day like a pie-eating contest at a fair was no longer eating or drinking. The dog who once would sprint end to end in my house showing off his favorite toy was lethargic and just wanted to cuddle on the couch. I was sure the rat he had in his mouth was poisoned and somehow some had got into Jax. It turns out I wish it were a case of relay poisoning because there is an antidote and treatment for most poisons.
After I noticed his skin yellowing I knew it was serious so I rushed him to Mass Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn where my worst nightmares came true, Jax had contracted Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that has many symptoms and ultimately causes liver and kidney failure. It is spread through rodents urine and fluids. Dogs will typically come into contact with the leptospira bacteria in infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, passing through, or drinking contaminated water, or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal. Scariest of all the infection is zoonotic, meaning humans are susceptible too!
As everyone in Somerville knows, rats are an epidemic here with all the recent construction. I was aware rats carried diseases but had no idea my puppy was in danger. I got the call from the Vet that there was no improvement and Jax was no longer urinating so he couldn’t pass all the fluids he was being administered. I made the difficult but logical decision and drove up to say goodbye to my sweet baby boy with my family.
I hope nobody has to experience what my family and I endured so please keep your pets safe when outside your house. I certainly wish I knew about this sooner.
— Mike Arnold