Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

A Stitch In Time Costs Two Eighty Nine

January 21, 2009


It all started out when Stella got a big chase on with a small black dog yesterday. When she was done, she was mellowing out a top a hill with another dog. The little black dog, however, wanted more. We believe his way of communicating this was to nip her in the leg. We heard a very quick yelp but nothing too dramatic. A few minutes later we saw she was bitten.

So we left the park, Stella limping and bleeding. It was hard to tell exactly how bad it was. It looked kind of deep and wide. When in doubt, I figured, call Poopie.

Poopie is a good friend and a vet tech extraordinaire. She was off work and was gracious enough to take a look at Stella. It took Poopie about twelve seconds to declare that Stella needed a stitch. “Can we do it later–tomorrrow maybe? Next week?” I asked.

Poopie then talked to us about the Six Hour Golden Period. This is the amount of time you have before the wound starts to do things on its own that would make stitching it just a bit harder. Stitch during the Golden Period and you’re stitching nice fresh edges. Nice fresh edges. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

So off we go to the ER. I’m not too concerned as Stella seems not to be too concerned. I’ve got a few numbers in my brain though: $250. Can we get out for under $250. And two hours. Can we get out in under two hours.

Fortunately, we get seen by a vet relatively quickly–within a half hour. We are given options. And we are again told of the Golden Period. Speaking of Golden, we are given the Gold Cadillac treatment option. This option includes sedation so the vet can clip a piece of deadish skin, flush, clean, staple. This option includes an IV set-up in case she goes into some sort of cardiac arrest–the vet can get to a vein quickly. This option costs $500.

I’m not poor. I’m not rich. I’m average. I’m like most people: I’m worth a lot less today than I was a year ago. And as festive as Obamamania was yesterday, the market could have cared less. Like three hundred points less. But mostly, truly, more than the fact that this Gold Cadillac option was double the amount jingling in my brain on the ride over, was the fact that I simply did not want to put my dog through all this sedation/iv drama for what the vet herself described a “pretty minor” wound.

The vet let P. and I talk amongst ourselves. One option was to do nothing. She’d already cleaned the wound out, just go home with some antibiotics and keep an eye on it. That was the $200 option–yup, we’d already spent $200 by being seen and having the thing cleaned.

I called Poopie again. She pushed for us to ask for a local shot where she would then clip the wound and staple her up. The vet had not suggested that–she felt that she needed sedation for that–but sure enough, when the vet re-entered, we asked and she said sure. That option would cost $20 for local. Muuuuuch better.

Two hours, four staples, a cone, some Clavamox and $289 later we were out the door.


Stella has already enjoyed a couple benefits from the injury: 1. She gets a big fat antibiotic cheese ball twice a day and 2. She can’t be crated with the cone so she got to sleep perched atop P’s high bed, Mt. Bedrest.

I’ve yet to consider the benefits we’ve derived from this injury except to say that this isn’t so bad. It’s nothing real serious, nothing real complicated and nothing a few days of leash walking versus taking her to the park can’t cure.

2/2/09: Update! Stella is cone and staple free and the wound looks, well, it doesn’t. It’s gone! The owner of the other dog, in a totally stand-up move, connected with me and sent a check for, drumroll…$289.


Stella’s Got Her Groove Back

June 3, 2008

Stella woke this morning completely limp free. 

My friend Sari said that Sundance, the Sacrificial Pit Bull, and most other pit bulls are so stoic that they’ll take a bullet for their owner and keep on going. Stella wouldn’t take a sliver for me. What’s the opposite of stoic?  Sensitive, emotional and demonstative?

The challenge now will be to still rest her–to make sure whatever it was is healed and to keep the house from being destroyed.

Stay tuned…

Stella’s Got Her Limp On

June 2, 2008

Finally, I stop poisoning the dog and life seems pretty good–at least for the next 72 hours.

But last night, when we came back from a party, she emerged from her crate with something new: a limp.  She was 100% when I put her in and out she comes, a few hours later, gimpy.

Today–same thing. Limping.

I take her into the cheapo vets–the “clinic” and they say she’s sprained her carpus (wrist) and it’s likely she twisted it in the crate.

This dog is fine to run like a maniac on cliffs but decides to twist up in her crate. The best laid plans, as they say…

This means no exercise for two weeks–nada. Only a brief jaunt to close some deals and that’s IT. I don’t know who this is going to be harder on–her, me or P.





Doggie Munchausen Syndrome (AKA I’m Poisoning My Dog)

June 1, 2008

So I write this whole post about Stella’s aloof behavior. And yes, she can be aloof. But really, I think this may have been influenced by the fact that I’ve been poisoning her for the past couple of weeks.

Not intentionally of course. But Id’ been giving her fish oil to help with her coat and her nails and, well, if three squirts (the recommended dose) are good, aren’t six better? And ten even better than that?

As Stella lapped up the oil, each day she became more aloof. I was stumped.  First you cry. Then you blog. And then you go to the cheap clinic ($14 to chat with a vet) to see if this all might not be in her head–and mine.

“She’s just not herself. I mean she’s not a licky dog, she’s no Lab, but she seems depressed” I told the vet.

The vet checked her head to toe, stuck a thermom up her butt, listened to her heart and declared her in perfect health. “Anything new you’re feeding her?”

I told her of the fish oil.

Turns out some dogs can get gastritis–very painful. And Greyhounds in particular can have a very hard time with too much oil and fat. Little did I know I was on my way to killing Stella in search of a better coat and nails. The price we pay for beauty.

One week later, no fish oil at all, and she’s back to her old/young self. 

Lesson learned: more is not better–in fact, even any at all may not be.


Broken Nails and Puppy Dog Tales

May 1, 2008

Stella has broken two nails in a month. I told Dee and she said that Greyhounds can get SLO (symmetrical lupoid onchodystrophy) also known as phemfigus. It’s an autoimmune disorder that funkifies their nails. Lovely.

Or maybe she just tears around on the beach like a maniac on toenails that have not been clipped since birth, I wondered. Since Greyhounds can get this nail problem, I took her in. Dee was right: don’t mess around with the hound.

Forty five dollars later, it appears to be the latter of the two right now: the vet said her nails looked perfect. Perfect except they were Howard Hughes long and the quicks had grown out.

I was told I need to cut her nails nearly daily to train the quicks back. Oh joy. I was feeling like I had too much time left in my day so I’m glad for this. Truly. Really, I’m glad.

So while at the pet store today buying nail clippers, a frisbee because she’s constantly ripping everyone else’s off at the beach, two fifteen dollar, eight foot long bully sticks and a new kong because although I know it’s somewhere in the house I can’t seem to locate the one she had, I glanced over and saw…

The Cat Section.

And I thought about Llew. How little Llew cost me. How little he required. How he manages to not only entertain himself but feed himself as well by chasing, killing and swallowing his own little baby rats.

I thought back to the blood stains on my zebra rug from Stella’s now broken toe nail. And then back to the Cat Section with a few toys here and there. I thought about the Knox gelatin I needed to buy to strengthen Stella’s nails. And then back to Llew whom I left for three weeks while in South Africa and who had no issues having a friend stop in to feed him once a day no charge. Stella stayed at a dreamy dog bakery and spa for three weeks and $750.

I thought about how P. and I went out to dinner last night and took Stella so that she could sit in the car vs. being crated. When we arrived back, the radio was on (this is for real, folks), the station had been changed and the windshield wipers turned on full blast. Oh, and the gear shift on P’s car had been demolished.

Meanwhile, Llew was at home destroying nothing except maybe the hopes and dreams of a few dozen rats.

So as I glanced at that Cat Section, for a moment I envied my previous dog-free existence. I thought lovingly about my once clean rug and tidy life with more disposable income. I thought about how much I worry about Stella. And how much she is a part of me and I don’t want to see her hurt, injured or sick. I thought about how much I can’t stand that I care so much.

But you see, that’s the problem. You can’t go back. Because worse than any regret I might have getting her, I can’t imagine not having her. Once your heart’s been busted wide open, there’s just no turning back. So as much as I hate to admit it, I’d move heaven and earth for this radio station changing, gear shift eating, nail breaking cow print pup.

In Sickness And In Health

February 6, 2008


We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog because I’m sick. But through my haze of illness I’ve had a revelation.

Before bed last night I’d read a post on the Greytalk ( message boards about a woman’s sadness as she watched, nearly overnight, her beloved pooch get old. One day you look over, she remarked, and your pet has aged–dramatically. Maybe it’s weight loss that finally sinks in. Or they way they walk. One woman talked about finding her dog, fallen, and unable to get up.

So last night, while I couldn’t sleep, as I lay awake with my chest tight with congestion, my head pounding and my stomach churning, I began thinking about death, dying and illness. My mind drifted back to those posts and then to my illness that had me laid up with fever, aches and chills. I wondered what life would be like if I was told my misery would be permanent, that there was no chance for improvement. And what if, while I lay here miserable and, like a dog or cat, I remained unable to communicate and articulate my suffering? This question is not new but having put down two cats and presently in possession of a brand new puppy, I thought it was time to revisit. 

The flu feels lousy. But we know there’s an end in sight. But what if, just what if, there were no end? And what if we could do something about this situation to stop the suffering. I could hear Stella sleeping in her crate and this question pushed me want to get out of bed and write a manifesto–a note to myself–so that when the time comes, I’ll do the right thing.

Dear Stella, 

As your owner, caretaker and friend, I promise to give you the best beginning, middle, end and everything in between in your sweet life.  For my end, I will make you a part of my life, will let you open up my heart and anyone’s else’s with your charm. I will do my best to help you become the best dog you can be. I will give you training, expose you to people, animals and situations that will allow you to sail through life calmly and happily.  I will keep a close  eye on your health.  I will exercise you as much as I can and as much as you need it.  I will try not to leave you alone too much. You’re a dog and you’re social. You especially, you are very social. Remember: You’re Miss Congeniality.  

I will not, as you get older, allow you to suffer if I feel you are getting sick. I will try, as hard as I can, to recognize the signals that life is painful for you. If you lose your appetite, can’t walk right, struggle to get up in the morning or at all, I will try, as hard as it will be, to make your being, your well being, your life and your pain a priority. Keeping you around so that I don’t have to ride those waves of grief is not acceptable.  

Stella, you are only now eight months old and I’m thinking about your death. But death is the dark shadow that life casts on all of us. And it’s your dumb luck that you have an owner that thinks about these things. Or maybe not. As you sleep in your crate right now, you’re in the moment. As I type out here, I’m in the future—far into it—wanting to take care of you as you breathe your last breaths.

I finished my letter and closed the document and saved it.

I crawled back into bed. I felt better. I could feel that the congestion had eased off in my chest. I felt thankful for my good health, for an immune system that could whack back a pesky virus pretty quickly.

And I felt thankful, at this very moment, that I had rescued a puppy because I would have her—hopefully—for a long, long time.

I forced myself to think about the positive—about the idea that it would not be out of the question that I could have ten years—one hundred twenty months—to spend with this wonderful black and white creature.

As I drifted back to sleep I imagined those hundred wonderful months. I thought about the sun soaking the planet each day and the moon pulling at the oceans’ tides. I saw waves lapping up onto the sandy beaches and then retreating. In my mind I could hear the waves come in and out, in and out, in and out with the same steady, wonderful rhythm, the soothing, wonderful rhythm of life.