The Last 24 Hours

It’s been almost exactly 24 hours since bringing Lady home and it’s been both eventful and wonderfully normal.

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Night one

SNORT arranged for me to meet the volunteer who got Lady out of shelter around 6 p.m. last night in Aberdeen, Md. Lady and I were on the road home around 6:15. Lady did not make a single peep when I loaded her into the car, buckled her seatbelt harness and began the 75-minute drive home. In fact, she immediately curled up in a ball on the seat and did not move for the entire drive. Seriously. At least four times during the drive home I turned my overhead lights on to make sure she was alive. She was that quiet and that still.

She wasted no time in pottying inside (#1 and #2, although I caught her mid-#2 and carried her to the door with poop nuggets leaving a trail behind us) but ate well for the most part which was a relief because she needed her meds. She was super itchy, though, so I chopped up 1/3 of a Zyrtec and put it on a spoon with peanut butter. She looked at me like I had two heads. Finally, I just placed the spoon on the ground to see what she’d do. She slowly walked over, took one lick then realized that shit was good and went back for more, finishing the PB and the Zyrtec!

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As we approached bedtime, I wanted to take her out but she wouldn’t actually go outside, so I broke out the bag of treats. I held a treat out for her but yet again, she looked at me like I was crazy. So, I put the treat on the floor and she slowly walked over, tasted it and then GOBBLED IT UP. Holy moly, I swear her eyes lit up. It was like she’d tasted doggy crack. Seriously. I reached out to clip on her leash and she searched my hands for more treats.

Fortunately, she largely slept through the night. She had several coughing fits but I checked on her midway through the night and she was fine. Not anxious, panting or circling – just curled up in a ball in her crate.

Day One

I woke up to a clean cage, she pottied (outside!) and got more magic treats. The rest of the morning was routine. I went to CrossFit, came back, fed her and took her out before work. She still takes some prompting to go outside but once I wave the Magic Treat Bag, she’s ready to go out. In fact, she did her first Happy Pug Dance when I broke out the treat bag! Melted my heart.

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She uses the food mat as a bed 😦

The big downer from today? I think Lady whined the entire time I was gone. Which was most of the day, minus when I went home for lunch. At lunchtime when I opened the outside door to my apartment building hallway, I thought I heard some noises but my neighbors have two very yappy dogs, so I thought it was them. But as I got closer to my apartment, the noises sounded different than the yappy dogs so I put my ear to my door – and I was 99% sure I heard Lady with the most gut-wrenching whining. At first I thought she might be hurt so I quickly opened the door but she wasn’t hurt – just scared, lonely or pissed. Or all three.

To be sure it was Lady I heard, when I left after lunch I stood outside my apartment door to listen. Thirty seconds later and the sad whining began. No doubt it’s her. I went back inside and put the radio on for her. It wasn’t stopping her whining when I left again for good, but I’m hopeful.

This whole thing just about killed me. She wasn’t super loud and it’s not that I’m worried about my neighbors so much (like I said, their dogs do nothing but yap all damn day). I just felt badly for her! She was fine in her crate last night by herself so either she was too tired to care last night or doesn’t like being alone. Once I’m sure she’s housetrained, I’ll try leaving her out of the crate for short periods and see if that helps. And if Lucy isn’t an ass, she may be the best solution we have – a constant companion for Lady during the day.

Lady has a vet appointment Friday evening. She came with meds for kennel cough and Lyme disease but definitely needs a good check-up. She only has 3-4 more nights of meds and her cough is still pretty bad. Her skin is also in rough shape; it’s not mange, but it’s more than just a case of the itchies as she has several patches of missing fur. I’m also curious to see how much weight the vet thinks she should gain; I’m guessing at least five pounds. She isn’t spayed and I know she’ll need to put on some serious weight before she can undergo surgery if that’s the route we ultimately take.

I can tell she’s getting a bit more comfortable but for the most part she just sits on one of our two dog mats and shakes. Probably a combination of scared and cold (I’m telling you, she’s scary skinny!). I also think she might be part Chihuahua. She’s definitely mixed with something that has a smaller frame than a pug and I know Chihuahuas are known to shake/shiver. But it breaks my heart. She looks so tiny and scared. But if we already got one happy pug dance out of her in just 12 hours, I know there’s more to come!

Tis the Season

Lucy has always been an itchy dog. It’s why, for three of her three-and-a-half years of life, she’s been on a regimen of Zyrtec and fish oil, no matter the season.

Over the past week, though, her itching has gotten out of control – she was clearly miserable. She was constantly shaking her head, rubbing her ears and scratching her arm pits (do dogs have arm pits? I don’t know, that’s the general area she was itching). She itched so hard she was rubbing the skin behind her ears raw, so off we went to the vet.

Lucy LOVES the vet. No, really. It might be her favorite place.

Lucy LOVES the vet. No, really. It might be her favorite place.

Bad news #1: She’s still fat. Despite slightly smaller dinner portions and more outside play time (with a few walks thrown in!), she weighs exactly what she weighed the last time we were at the vet in March. Sigh.

Bad news #2: I came home $125 poorer and with several medications, the biggie being prednisone. Lucy will be on steroids and ear drops for roughly the next 2-3 weeks to get the itchies under control. From all the dog owners in the area I’ve spoken to, almost everyone’s dog is suffering a bit more than usual right now so we just have to ride it out.

Harley was in for a visit because she was suffering from worse allergies than Lucy.

Harley was in for a visit because she was suffering from worse allergies than Lucy.

At least it’s not preventing her from fun stuff like attending football practice with me!
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No More Paw Problems

One of the most common search terms used to find my blog is something along the lines of “bulldog itchy red paws.” Nine times out of 10 it directs them to this post. It’s (thankfully) been a very long time since I’ve had to write about paw problems but I thought I’d do a follow-up post of what’s worked for us for those dog owners – bulldog or otherwise – who are struggling with red, itchy paws.

A lovely shade of red/maroon

A lovely shade of red/maroon

For most of her puppyhood and into her second year of life, Lucy literally ate her paws. She was constantly gnawing on them, licking them, etc. And they turned into the lovely picture above; they were dark red and even her toenails were starting to turn red from her saliva (the vet told me that was a common reaction).

I tried all the home remedies I could; I switched food, gave her only filtered water, wiped down her feet every time we came in. I even tried apple cider vinegar spray as that was said to kill the bacteria in her paws. I tried the bitter apple spray meant to keep dogs from chewing on objects they shouldn’t; in this case the object just happened to be her paws.

Absolutely nothing worked.

Embarrassed by her red paws.

Embarrassed by her red paws.


The first time we went to the vet for this specific problem, they gave me anti-fungal wash and steroids to quickly get the itching under control. And it worked…until the steroid dosage ran out and Lucy was right back to where she started – eating her feet and making a mess of our couch in the process, I might.

Back to the vet we went because I couldn’t take her constant licking and gnawing anymore.

The solution we landed on was one I’d been really, really hoping to avoid: allergy meds in the form of Zyrtec. We were also instructed to give her a high dose of fish oil, which I was definitely comfortable with.

So now Lucy gets 10mg of Zyrtec twice a day. Sometimes in the winter I’ll wean her to one and sometimes even none but the minute her symptoms reoccur, she’s right back on the meds.

This was not the route I wanted to go; I didn’t want Lucy on chemicals for the majority of the year. However, my vet said something that really struck home. My vet is highly allergic to dogs and cats…and yet she’s a vet? She takes daily allergy meds because she said that there was something on the market that was safe and could allow her to do what she wants, why wouldn’t she take it? In the case of Lucy, if there was a vet-approved medicine that would alleviate Lucy’s itchies, why wouldn’t I give it to her?

"Yeah, why not?"

“Yeah, why not?”

So today we stick with quality food, fish oil and Zyrtec to keep Lucy itch free.

Hopefully this is helpful for other owners struggling with itchy doggies!

Two-Year Checkup and Other Stuff

Lucy had her two-year checkup today and everything went well!

"Of course it went well, mom. I'm perfect."

“Of course it went well, mom. I’m perfect.”

The vet’s office was relatively empty which meant we didn’t have an incredibly long wait and Lucy got plenty of attention. No less than three vet techs (in addition to our own) stopped by our room to say hi to Lucy and she just ate it up. I don’t think her butt stopped wiggling the entire time we were there!

She definitely almost followed a women into the bathroom.

She definitely almost followed a women into the bathroom.

Health-wise everything is pretty good. She put on a little over a pound since the last time we were there which was probably sometime early in the winter (I could check but I’m lazy). I honestly expected that. This winter was so brutally cold and snowy that we definitely didn’t get in as many walks as we should have. The weather has to get warmer at some point soon, though, so I anticipate being able to work that winter weight gain right off of her!

"I look skinny from this angle, though."

“I look skinny from this angle, though.”

She got all her vaccinations and booster shots, her teeth look good and I just have to stay on top of her allergies. Lucy even got a cute bandana for having her Lyme/heartworm screening done!

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Of course, all that meant I walked out $313 poorer but that did include just about a year’s worth of lyme/flea/tick/heartworm medications so it’s about what I expected.

Which brings me to another topic. I actually have a blog post coming up later in the week about how I’m trying to get my budget in order. It’s not that I’m doing badly; at least, I don’t think so. I just know I could be doing better. There are certain things I can’t or won’t eliminate (food and Lucy fall under those categories, for instance), so I’ll be working with Ashley from How to Save Money in Your Twenties (a category into which I’ll only fit for a few more months, ugh) to help identify possible areas I might be able to save some money.

I would love to have a second dog but it’s financially irresponsible to do so; because of grad school and the fact I’m paying for it without loans, I’m just barely breaking even. Which is honestly okay because I’ll be done with grad school in a few months and not in debt because of it, but I know there are areas of my spending in which I can do better and hopefully do more than just break even.

It’s not easy to plunk down $300+ for one vet visit but that makes me motivated to start saving in other areas and working with Ashley will mark the first time I’ve made a concerted effort to do so!

One Picky Dog

I took Snow White to my vet yesterday to get a good, thorough exam. Beyond the vet files she came with, I really didn’t know much about her. Her eyes were still a goopy, oozing mess and her skin was clearly bothering her despite supposedly having been given medicated baths twice a week.

My primary concern, though, was the fact that she just would not eat. Due to her allergies I knew she had to be on grain-free food which is what I feed Lucy anyway but no matter what I tried – soaking the food in water, dry food, in a bowl, in a dish – nada.

So as we apparently like to do around here, we went back to the vet!

Waiting

Waiting

Snow White was a bit scared and timid; I had to physically lift her onto the scale (55.2 pounds!) and it took a while to coerce her into the exam room. Fortunately she is too cute for her own good and had plenty of attention from all the staff 🙂

Oh, and she got some attention from a (large) fellow patient:

He was a whopping 160 pounds!

He was a whopping 160 pounds!

The vet kept her for a few hours so I could go back to work while they ran a few tests. The most notable thing they found out? Snow White is one picky, stubborn girl! Apparently she just didn’t like the food I have here because she ate the canned food they fed her! Lucy would eat dirt if I served it to her in a bowl – same with Cindy – so I just assumed the food I have at home tasted good to all dogs. I guess not good enough for Snow White!

She does have to be on grain-free food, even if it’s canned, which was the one negative because canned food is expensive! So what I tried last night was mixing a small bit of canned food with a scoop of dry food, adding a bit of water and mixing it all together – so far, so good!

Snow White also has a whopping four eye meds/products I have to put in every day in addition to an antibiotic (her white blood cell count was a teeny, tiny bit high) and a steroid to get her itchy skin under control.

As I always say, good thing she’s cute!!

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Bathing Beauty

Snow White came to us with a few issues, most notably her eyes and skin. I was told that she had been prescribed by her previous foster home’s vet to take a bath twice a week with medicated/anti-allergy shampoo. When I picked her up yesterday, one of the first things I noticed was that she smelled! I don’t know if it was from her eye goop (of which there is a lot) or her skin, but I figured she was probably due for a bath.

This evening I came home from work a bit later than I had hoped so I quickly let the dogs out, fed Lucy, gave up hope that Snow White would eat (another post for another time) and quickly ran upstairs (key word: upstairs) to change into clothes more appropriate for bath-giving.

Because the collar Snow White was forced to wear at the puppy mill caused some irritation and hair loss, I keep her new, fancy collar off except when I take her outside; the point is she is a very quiet dog without her collar on because while I was in the midst of changing, I thought I heard heavy breathing (keep your jokes to yourself). Yes, it was Snow White.

Well, who is that in my bedroom?

Well, who is that in my bedroom?

Well, at least that solved my problem of lugging a 55-pound lump of dead weight upstairs to the bath!

She resisted the bath, as a lot of dogs do, and more than once tried to make a run for it but in the end she was all fresh and clean!

She wanted to preserve some modesty.

She wanted to preserve some modesty.

It’s a Good Thing She’s Cute

…because it’s always something with this dog!

"What do you mean I'm a lot of work, Mom?"

“What do you mean I’m a lot of work, Mom?”

Lucy’s been on allergy meds for probably just under a month now. For a while I thought it was lessening the amount of time she spent chewing her paws and while it may still be slightly better, she’s definitely still a paw eater. Of course, according to the weather channel, pollen counts have been quite high in this area for a while now, so that could be why she still attacks her feet from time to time.

However, we now have a new problem:

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It was next to impossible to get a good picture of Lucy’s leg – the above photo was the best I could do. About four days ago I noticed small bumps on her leg (I know the picture makes it look more like hives, but when you look at her skin they’re definitely small red bumps) so I obviously freaked out. However, Lucy didn’t actually seem to notice them at all! I pressed on them and when she didn’t have a reaction pressed a little harder – still nothing. They don’t seem to itch as she continues to just eat/lick her paws, not her leg.

I gave her a few doses of benadryl which had no affect on her bumps, so I’m kind of at a loss. Every morning I wake up and hope the mysterious bumps are gone, but no such luck, which means we may have to make a trip to the vet yet again. Unfortunately, I have to unexpectedly make a trip to N.J. tomorrow through Monday so I can’t make an appointment for Monday and this week things really get busy at work with seven home games in two days.

Luckily Lucy doesn’t appear to be in any discomfort and everything else is normal – appetite, etc., so hopefully she’ll be okay until I can carve out some time to get to the vet.

Any dog owners out there have any idea what these bumps may be??

An Early Morning Wake-Up Call

For whatever reason, I woke up at 2:30 last night to go to the bathroom and thought I saw a shape at the bottom of the stairs. Lucy sleeps on the couch at night – and never moves – so I flipped the hall light on to see what was at the bottom of the stairs. It was Lucy.

Since this was not the norm, I went downstairs to check on her and immediately noticed something was off, even though I couldn’t immediately tell what. Then I looked at her legs and thought I saw some small hives. And then it clicked – her face was slightly puffy, which was what was “off” when I first came downstairs.

I took her outside and she immediately had some…intestinal distress. And once we got back inside I could see that she did have hives on her legs, although they were way smaller than the infamous bee sting incident. I gave her a dose of benadryl and then since it was 3 a.m. and I had to get up at 5 a.m., Marty spent a few hours on the couch with her then I relieved him when I got up at 5 a.m. to work out.

By the time I came back downstairs at 5 a.m. her hives seemed about the same, if not slightly better, but her right eye was definitely still puffy. So, late this morning I called the vet to ask if they felt I should bring her in and they said yes (shocking, more money I was about to shell out!).

You can't really tell, but her right eye was still swollen

You can’t really tell, but her right eye was still swollen

So off to the vet we went. Again.

Puffy but cute in her pink harness

Puffy but cute in her pink harness

The diagnosis? Essentially she is a “highly allergic” dog. Most likely something bit her last night and caused the hives, which were and are treatable with benadryl. But, the vet also noticed her red, puffy paws, which led to her diagnosis of a “highly allergic” dog.

So, get this – Lucy is now on: a probiotic (for one week), benadryl (until tomorrow morning), Zyrtec and one other liquid allergy medicine that goes into her food. Yes, that’s four medications for a simple case of the hives that were just about gone by the time we saw the vet.

However, I know the vet is right. Lucy’s foot problem is clearly due to an allergy of some kind; the hives were just a random occurrence but the paws are not random – they’re constant! I was glad to get a vet who not only wanted to treat the immediate problem (hives) but also Lucy’s chronic problem (irritated paws). Do I want Lucy to be on allergy meds forever? Of course not. But as the vet pointed out, plenty of adults are on allergy meds either part of the year or even full-time in the case of allergies to dust, dog, cats, etc.

So for now we’ll be on the two allergy meds for 14 days before trying to wean her off one of them. After that, we’ll see if she does need them year-round or if it’s going to be a seasonal thing.

It’s never dull around here!