Posts tagged ‘Dog’
Princess Celestia has a dog named Vito that she adopted from the animal shelter. He’s a large dog, probably a shepherd, maybe even purebred. When she took him home it didn’t take long for him to start losing weight at an alarming rate. He was also constantly having little “accidents.” He ate ravenously but suffered from chronic diarrhea, and, worse yet, seemed to be starving to death.
Many of you may read this and assume the dog is diabetic (as would be my first guess) or that the dog has pancreatic cancer. Both are good guesses. But you would be wrong. Vito’s problem is caused by the failure of his pancreas to produce necessary enzymes to digest food efficiently. His disease is serious and life threatening, but it is easily treatable.
Princess Celestia had to pay for many rounds of expensive testing for Vito before he was finally diagnosed. However, once Vito was properly diagnosed she had already found an internet forum for owners of dogs with EPI. EPI is Vito’s disease, and it is an acronym for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.
The people on the EPI forum were able to put Princess Celestia in touch with other dog owners in the same situation, and they were able to help her with recommendations on medicine and enzymes and how to properly deliver enzymes to Vito. So, working in cooperation with her veterinarian and her friends on the EPI Forum, Princess Celestia was able to get poor Vito back into fighting shape.
EPI is a disease that is often fatally misdiagnosed or looked over. The people on the EPI forum are working to spread the word about EPI so no more dogs are put down or made to needlessly waste away. They are trying to raise awareness among veterinarians and to raise money towards research to combat the disease.
And now I’ve done my part by calling your attention to this website. If you’re an animal lover, then you should go check it out. You never know. You might save the life of a dog or cat one day…simply by knowing the symptoms of a rare but fatal disease.
Usually, I write something glib, flippant, sarcastic, satirical, or otherwise just plain old damn un-serious, even if I am writing about a serious matter. Not this time. It wouldn’t do the subject justice to treat it with humor. I am in mourning. I had to put my dog down.
Many of you (well, okay five or six of you) have faithfully read this blog for about a year and a half now. Some of you have come to the table only recently. How could you know how important that damn silly dog was to me? Well, I’ll just say I loved her more than most humans I know.
I think I might miss her more than I miss drinking, although with her recent death, those two loves seem to get increasingly mixed up in my head. Miss my dog, need a drink. Miss my dog, need a drink. I try to hold myself at bay with the rational thought that it is just the latest of a series of excuses that I’ve used over the better part of a decade to drink alone.
If you have been keeping up with things recently, my last post, Weiner Dog Blues, described my dilemma. My dog was a faithful and loyal and loving companion for seven years. I fed her and watered her, often threw a Kong ball for her amusement (after we figured out that those tennis balls wouldn’t last a day). I took her for walks where she was the neighborhood celebrity weiner dog, a hit with children everywhere.
I took her to the vet’s. She always actually liked going to the vet’s. She would get excited, and her little tail would wag, and she’d be beside herself with all those new butts to sniff and new humans to love on her and give her doggie treats. What was a little anal probing and needles compared to the delights of the less unseemly side of the vet’s office?
I did the usual requisite responsible pet ownership stuff: shots and city license, outdoor dog house, kennel, collar and leash and flea and worm prevention and obedience class. To tell you the truth, the obedience class never really worked like it should have, not because she wasn’t a smart dog. She was plenty smart. She just didn’t give a hoot about doing what I wanted her to do most of the time. She learned how to sit and lay down on command and how to ignore me about 33% of the time when I called.
Up until approximately the last year of her life, she was a very active dog. For most of, well, okay, you got me, ALL of that time, I was under the influence of my moderately functioning alcoholism. Read that as: I could maintain the status quo at a Dilbert desk job that was well beneath my capabilities (How else could I afford my drug of choice?)). I think that it’s safe to say that I didn’t really do her justice. She never ever complained, though. She was always happy to see me. She loved to snuggle and to play, and if something was lacking in our relationship or the quality of her care, she certainly never let on about it.
That might be because she couldn’t talk. How I wish she could have talked those last few days so that I could have asked her what she would like for me to do. I read an article by a physician in The New Yorker that addressed issues of terminal illness, living wills, and hospice programs, etc. The thing that struck me from that article was an exchange that an elderly man had with his daughter about his wishes before an operation for terminal cancer. He told her that he wanted the doctors to resuscitate him as long as he could sit up to watch television and he could still eat chocolate ice cream. Many of us might assume that our loved ones would wish for more.
After I talked with the vet on Monday morning, we agreed that my dog should be brought back in for evaluation on Wednesday. I told her that I wanted to leave her off the medication all day Tuesday and see how things go. She did okay, except that again she couldn’t stand to be held or to sleep with me in the bed, as she always had before she went blind, every night. I put her in the spare bedroom because I figured that room had the least chance for injury with her bumping into things.
At approximately 1:00 in the morning Wednesday I awoke to blood curdling scream barks, and I had thankfully stockpiled some medication. I gave her two pills like she was prescribed. She became mellow and sleepy, and we got to have a right nice slumber before I took her to the vet’s Wednesday morning.
I dropped her off at the vet’s at about 6:30, and I thought that she had jumped clear of the car, but I accidentally shut one of her back paws in the car door and came across like Cruella de Vil again in front of the vet tech in the parking lot. I tried to tell her that my dog had gone blind very recently and that I was still getting used to the situation. I think she was probably less hard on me than I was on myself.
Later that morning, after observation, and after the other vets in the practice had been consulted, the vet called me again. This time the news was that they had done another blood screen and that the Tylenol had not permanently damaged her kidneys and liver and that they could give her stronger pain meds! This didn’t sound very optimistic to me.
So, I said to her, “I don’t care if she’s blind or not. I love her, and I can accommodate, but if the only way to keep her from screaming and crying and being scared and possibly in pain is to keep her doped all the time, what kind of quality of life is that?” It occurs to me that in some ways it’s not too far off from the quality of life I had when I was drinking myself silly on a nightly basis.
She told me that was something I would have to take under consideration. And I get, really, that they can’t tell you what the hell to do. How I wish someone would have, though, for the convenience of being able to finger point later.
I said, “Is this something that can ever be fixed? Can you make her better?”
She said no, and she told me that the “neurological disorder” could not actually be diagnosed without an expensive MRI but that my dog was exhibiting many of the classic symptoms of a brain tumor and that was what she thought the diagnosis probably would be. Even if I paid for the MRI they would not be able to do anything more than give her meds to make her “comfortable.” Even if it was not a brain tumor they still could not fix her or treat her or improve her condition in any way.
So, for me, really, there was no choice. I didn’t want to do it; trust me, I didn’t. But I could not live with her continuing to suffer for no good reason. I could have picked up the dog and my pain meds and had someone to cuddle with, a nice little bed warmer for perhaps a few months more. The pain pills would have cost less than the euthanasia. Don’t think the thought didn’t occur to me.
I opted to end her suffering. I called my friend Lubbock who came up to the vet’s office and met me. When they brought her in, I knew that I had made the right decision because they had already given her something, and she still whined continually like a siren in pain or anxiety (probably both) until just after the vet made the first shot through the IV tube.
Even the vet said that I was making the right decision. I held her and stroked her and whispered in her ear what a good, good dog she was and how much I loved her until her heart stopped beating and her head lolled. Even the last twitch was done, and her little barrel body was fully limp before I stepped away. I bawled like a baby, and so did Lubbock.
Afterward, I went to Lubbock’s. I meant to just hang out and watch Boardwalk Empire and eat pizza. I didn’t want to go home. Lubbock talked me into showering and putting on a pair of her ex husband’s jammies and staying the night. It wasn’t that hard to talk me into it. I didn’t want to go back to the empty house. Last night I went straight to the Mr. Brewsters after work and hung out there.
When I got home last night I practically went straight to bed and yet there must have been at least three or four separate instances where I thought of my dead dog as if she were still living and still here, wondering where she was lying around, wanting to make sure she wasn’t under foot. I didn’t actually call for her. The brain doesn’t go that far. The thought is a nanosecond of impulse, and then you stop yourself and think, oh, yeah, she’s gone. She won’t be back.
The vet’s office called yesterday. I called them back and then drove home on my lunch hour to check on my dog. She doesn’t seem to fuss when she doesn’t think anyone’s around to hear it. All was quiet. I had her with her food and water in the spare bedroom. When I opened the door she was sitting, staring aimlessly. Her food is scattered. Her water bowl, that I change daily, is murky because she’s stepped in it and gotten food in it. I change it again.
I want to see what she’s like for a day without pain meds which should be easy because she fights me so when I try to give her pills (even when I trick her with peanut butter) that I am afraid that I am going to lose a finger. She doesn’t like to be confined (not even to be held or cuddled). She does fuss when I try to put her in the bed with me to sleep for the night. I put her in the spare bedroom again. I wonder if she hates me for giving her the Tylenol. Maybe she knows that I am the Joan Crawford of dog owners.
“No more peanut butter!”
This morning when I open the door of the spare bedroom she’s in the same spot as yesterday noon, sitting, staring aimlessly, but this time in the opposite direction. I speak to her in a soothing voice and bend down to pet her. She flinches like I’m going to hit her. I’ve never hit her in my life. Cuffed her under the chin perhaps, for discipline, but even that was exceedingly rare and not done forcefully but just for shock value. It’s like you might slap a toddler on the behind to keep him away from the stove. She’s never flinched when I’ve touched her before.
After a few minutes she comes out of the spare bedroom and starts bumping around the entire house. Minimal fussing and whining, thankfully. I don’t know. I really don’t know what to do. This doesn’t seem like much of a life for her. She’s frightened and doesn’t like to be touched. I have to make sure that she gets food and water since I’m afraid that she can’t find the bowls, though they are in the same spot they’ve always been.
I am supposed to take her in to the vet’s first thing on Wednesday so they can examine her again. They will keep her while I’m at work, and then I’ll come pick her up or whatever after I’m done. Or whatever is what I think will happen at this point. But I wonder if I am being fair to her. Maybe she likes stepping into her water bowl and bumping into things and soiling herself. Maybe she hates me. Maybe I am getting rid of her not to put her out of her misery but to put me out of mine since she’s no longer the affectionate animal she once was only a few days ago. I don’t know, and I am so sad.
This post is about my longest lasting significant adult relationship…with my dog. I met my dog about five years ago after a particularly bitter break up with an ex that I usually like to call The Rat Bastard. I was living with a friend of the Rat Bastard’s. She had a kitty cat. The kitty cat was affectionate, but it was clear that both the kitty and I knew that she was not mine.
One day I was temping for a company where one of my co-workers was someone I knew from a previous job. This co-worker was a hard core animal lover who practically ran an animal shelter out of his own home. He lived in a trailer park in Hutto and had several large dogs that he had rescued over the years. One of his neighbors was a very irresponsible pet owner, and one of the mutts they owned was a female blue heeler and rottweiller mix. She had a litter of five puppies that were all sired by a pure bred miniature dachshund. (Yes, I would have liked to have seen that also.)
The puppies were born in the winter and were not allowed inside these people’s home. The mother eventually weaned the puppies, and the family that owned them failed to feed them. Two of the puppies died, either from starvation or exposure, and this is when my friend the animal lover intervened to feed the two remaining puppies and find them decent homes. And so I was approached about taking a girl puppy home.
At this point in my life I was thrilled to have a living, breathing tiny being that I was required to care for. Being both infuriated beyond imagination (translate psycho) and profoundly sad following aforementioned break up, I was thrilled to have a reason to get up out of bed in the morning that didn’t involve working to pay bills that I would never get caught up on even if I had more lifetimes to work on it.
I went to pick her up at the trailer park in Hutto. I brought one of those dog travel carriers. She was only eight pounds and already larger than her father. Mostly she looked like a standard weiner dog puppy. She was shy, and she wouldn’t let me pick her up. My co-worker had to hand her to me. I was about to take her home when one of her owners who hadn’t seen fit to feed her tried to hit me up for money, and the co-worker told him I could take the puppy for free unless the owner wanted to pay him for the food that had kept the puppy alive so far. This guy was a real piece of work. He was asking my friend if he thought he should cover his pit bull in motor oil to cure a case of mange.
Later, in the car, the puppy cried in her carrier. She shivered, whether from fear, shock or cold I’m not sure. She was very ill and had a horrible case of hookworm. She threw up worms in the carrier. I was glad I had thought to line it with newspaper. I wrapped her in some old towels that friends gave me to keep her warm — because I had to go show off my new puppy. When it came time to go to sleep that night she would not settle down to sleep and cried constantly instead. So, to keep my roommate from spending the night sleepless (or so I told myself) I let the puppy sleep with me in my bed. One night I remember in particular from her puppyhood, I awoke to find her nestled against my back with one of her paws laying on my shoulder and her head beside and behind mine on the pillow! Just like she thought she was a little person.
The day after I picked her up she went to the vet, and we got her worm free and bought preventative and got her shots and took care of the flea medicine. We went to the pet store and got her leash and collar and tags and basic grooming needs. Later there were obedience courses. She never did learn to heel or not to jump up when she was excited. But she did eventually learn how to come consistently, sit, and lay down and even play fetch…although she thinks this game is called, “Bring the ball to Mommy.”
It may seem silly to call a dog one’s significant other, but it really is no small thing. She kind of saved my life until life was really worth living again. And I know that she’s not actually a person, but sometimes I feel like she’s just as important as one. And she’s probably the only creature apart from God who truly loves me unconditionally. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.