July 1, 2012

Don’t Let Appearances Fool You

There are so many things I want to say right now I’m stumbling over myself trying to get them all out. Maybe it’s the medications. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through the wringer these past 48 hours. Maybe it’s because it’s already July and still the weather in our neck of the woods is cool, gray, and wet. Who knows all the reasons, but I’m having a tough time starting at a beginning if there is a beginning to be found.

You see, I could start way back at my birth where, unbeknownst to my moms who would eventually bring me home, I was given crappy genetics. That’s the best way I can describe it. My “breeder” bamboozled everyone involved claiming my breeding was top notch. There’s a part of me that wants to write that breeder a very angry letter, but everyone keeps telling me that it wouldn’t do any good because she obviously didn’t care then so why would she care now.

It’s hard for me to believe, but I guess there are quite a few people out there who don’t take the breeding of dogs seriously enough.

Or I could start with the beginning of the week when I set out on my dog walking schedule and felt a little under the weather. Nothing horrible, just a bit tired. The hills were a bit harder to climb and even though I went swimming on Wednesday with my pals, it just didn’t feel right.

Or I could start with the 6:30 in the morning visit to the ER yesterday morning when my moms grew very concerned because I was drooling excessively and unable to lay my head down. I spent 15 hours at the ER — pumped with fluids and meds, poked and prodded by doctors and technicians, and offered really awful food to see if I would eat something, anything. I’ll eat, but not that stuff they were trying to feed me.

Or I could start right here and right now — at home, my left leg shaved like a show Poodle, my head spinning from medication, my stomach gurgling, and this incredible urge to sleep — and just try to tell the story as it comes out.

Of course, when I start to think of everything — all mushed up together — the past week makes me realize that things aren’t always what they appear to be and sometimes you just have to list them out and see if they make sense. So here it goes:

1) My moms got me from a breeder who passed herself off as knowledgeable and concerned. They should have suspected something when I came with a missing bottom canine and my smile was more of a smirk than a straight smile. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with jaw dysplasia and resulting degenerative arthritis in my jaw. And from my jaw all else flows — a bad left shoulder, a weak right knee, and lower back problems. Oh and my anxiety. Call it a ripple effect, but I was not the cute and adorable curly guy I was billed as (okay, I’m still cute and adorable, but I have issues).

2) My aches and pains sometimes bother me and Gretchen notices that sometimes I don’t like to walk up hills (don’t have very strong back legs) or sometimes I just want to rest on the couch and not go for a walk. She thought it was because Momma Ann was home sick and that lying on the couch playing nurse was my top priority. Not that it wasn’t, but I had no way to explain that I just wasn’t feeling 100% like normal.

3) A few weeks ago I had a cough — a dry hacking thing but it only lasted a few days and my moms thought it was because, while swimming, I inhaled some water. When the coughing passed, they thought I was fine. Trust me, they watched me like a hawk to make sure I didn’t get pneumonia, but when the cough went away, we all thought I was on the mend.

4) It was a beautiful day on Wednesday and since I seemed to be back up to “normal” — good energy, no coughing — and the weather was warm, we headed to lake for a swim with Monty and Woobie. It was great! I played fetch, Monty chased waves, and Woobie did what Woobie always does, she floated and then sat and watched from shore. Who knew what was coming!

5) Then on Wednesday night, while watching a movie, I lounged between my moms while they ate popcorn. I’m not a big popcorn fan, but when a few kernels were presented (covered in butter) I ate them. Apparently one of those kernels got stuck at the back of my throat because I started to tilt my head every now and then and do some licking. They picked stuff out of my teeth, checked my mouth, much to my dismay, but it all looked good.

6) Until Friday night when I started to drool excessively and kept stretching my neck out. “Something’s really wrong,” Gretchen said so they went back on their constant vigil and when the morning came and I was lying in a pool of drool my neck extended and unable to move, they rushed me to the ER.

Do you see the pattern here? Everything seemed normal. There were no signs of illness or potential illness. I was eating, I was swimming, I was working, I was hanging with my friends — all was good. But as I’ve said, nothing is at it appears and that’s when we found out more from the vet than we expected.

7) Pumped with fluids because after all that drooling I was dehydrated. Once stabilized, they ran tests and saw that my white blood cell count was up. They examined me and my throat was swollen and very red. They did x-rays. Diagnosis? Bronchitis, pharyngitis (like tonsillitis but since dogs don’t have tonsils, it’s call pharyngitis) caused by some irritant to my pharynx (probably the popcorn), and severe jaw dysplasia with subsequent degenerative arthritis.

8) Which sends me back to #1 — that breeder. She was not what she claimed to be. I was not what she claimed me to be. Thousands of dollars later and a future of pain meds, anti-inflammatories, appointments with the vet acupuncturist and osteopath for the rest of my life – I am a flawed dog.

See why finding a beginning was so hard? Yet despite the roller coaster week, I have learned something very very powerful — I have an amazing pack of friends and family who love and support me, who are what they say they are (not a lick of bamboozling), and I am a very lucky boy to have landed in the home where I now am recuperating. Thank you Tyson, Monty, Woobie, Roux, Paige, Quillette and all their human families as well as my own (including Uncles, Aunts, and Grandparents) and all those folks who read my words or hear my stories who sent me healing woofs from far away. It makes a little guy like me feel pretty darn special.

Of course, that doesn’t make me any more amenable to taking my medication. Blech! That stuff is nasty. It’s supposed to make me feel better, which it does, but it tastes like acid (not that I’ve ever eaten acid but you get the point…after all, I’m a dog that finds cat poo appealing). Talk about something at appears to be something it’s not! Seems like they should be able to make medication taste a bit more like ham or chicken, don’t you think?

The upcoming week will be a slow one for me. We went for a walk today — normally a 20 minute loop around the park — but it took me about 40 today. I was bushed when we got home and so I am sentenced to short walks a couple times a day for the next week until I’m feeling more energetic and recovered. I will continue to write and comb through the photos Gretchen takes so watch for more updates as the week progresses.

Until then…


2 Replies to “July 1, 2012”

  1. Rubin you are NOT a flawed dog! You are a very special one with very special Moms. You are the sum of all your parts and all your family and all your friends. None of us was born perfect – although many try to pass themselves off as so. Flawed? Never. We are all one-of-a-kind. And on July 5th, the sun shines! Hopefully you will have enough energy back to enjoy it as a dog should!

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