Split paw

Jelly has Bear pretty much trained.

Jelly has Bear pretty much trained.

It was three days ago, just finishing our second week of being tethered together, when Bear went completely berserk. He’s done this before, running in circles, jumping on furniture, racing across the house, jumping on more furniture, racing out to a couch to leap onto and to the bedroom, doing laps around the room, which includes jumping up onto the bed and back down again. He hasn’t done this for a few months. He moved the couch three feet, jamming it up against the door, the last time he did this.

Panting from the burst of exercise, Bear settled down onto his bed. Jelly was allowing him to spend some time on his bed for good behavior. He had a spot of blood on his right paw. It was a weird spot to have blood, right on the top. I thought maybe a bobby-pin punctured the skin. There was also a fair amount of blood on the edge of the bed. Inspecting his right paw, I couldn’t find anything, but when I checked out his left paw, his pads underneath had big splits in them. You know in the summer when you spend a lot of time in the pool and your skin cracks under your toes? That’s what it looked like.

One of the pads had a huge gash in it. The other had a smaller slit. The big gash continued to bleed. Not sure what to do, I searched for advice on the internets. One site said to get to the vet so they could clean it out, make sure it isn’t infected, and wrap it up so it stays clean. And they mentioned something about the Elizabethan collar (cone of shame) to keep the bandage on. Another site gave directions on how to rinse the paw in Epsom salt, apply some ointment, and wrap it up to keep clean. Having just paid our Visa balance, I chose to go with the home treatment.

For about eight dollars I had all the supplies. I cleaned the paw, dried it, and applied the ointment before wrapping it. And Bear’s limp disappeared. Getting the dirt out of the open wound was a good thing. The problem was he didn’t like the wrap on his foot. After walking around without a limp, Bear settled down and made quick work of the wrap, pulling it off after wearing it for ten minutes.

Getting rid of the bandage.

Getting rid of the bandage.

I went through the process again, this time applying the Yuck-spray to the tape. This time it stayed on for about an hour mainly because he was in his crate for about 45 of the 60 minutes. After a day and a half of this I was restocking the medical supplies. Luckily I ran into a friend that told me to use Crazy glue. She claimed that it is the exact same thing as Second skin. It might burn real bad initially, but it is the best way to keep the wound clean.

The Crazy glue cost $4.99 and it is doing the job.

Live Alerts

Bear has been getting a bit better at alerting. He has alerted Grandma Kitty twice now. Both times she has stopped by after spin class. He has alerted Dec a few times, but he remains silent with Maggie. In fact, this morning she was low. She woke up at 62, but didn’t come upstairs for another 30 minutes. I didn’t know she was low. Welcome to having a teenager. She told me she was low as she was getting a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. Bear came over and stretched and looked for some crumbs on the floor.

Instead of presenting an arm or leg for Bear to paw, I just watched him to see if he might pick up the scent. He didn’t notice anything and I’m beginning to trust him. Maggie checked her blood sugar again. She was 78, on the rise. And the meter tends to lag a bit, so maybe she was even higher.

I am coming around to Bear taking some of the burden off of us.

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Lack of hormones or shame?

Veterinarians will tell you that neuter your male dog calms them down.  They say that the hormones associated with being intact makes them more aggressive.  Now that Bear is back from surgery, I believe there is an alternate theory.  I believe that having to prance around in the “cone of shame” for two weeks significantly destroys the confidence of the “detached” dog to simply make the intact dogs aggressive only in comparison.

Cone of shame

It’d be interesting to put the cone on an intact dog for two weeks and see the result.  It is “purchased” for the price of an xBox wireless controller, but is useless after the two-week period taps confidence and all sense of pride from your dog.  The original cone, the one Bear wore when we picked him up, the one he was wearing as he walked past a pit bull mix (probably intact) in the waiting room, jutted out four inches past his snout.  He banged into everything.  I expected him to be skittish after banging into things, but he just kept at it, pushing through the waiting area, past the door, and eventually into the car.

Declan consoling Bear.

At home Bear kept running into things and began whining.  I couldn’t take the enormity of the cone any longer, so with Dec standing guard making sure Bear wouldn’t rip the staples out of his belly, I took the cone off and cut it back three inches.  With the condensed dish, unable to receive dish-network channels, Bear can navigate through the house a bit better.

Feeling free without the cone.

Bear gets two pain pills a day.  He is already eating and drinking normally.

Questions

  • How will this affect his scent training?
  • How will we survive two weeks of low activity?
  • How much training will he be able to withstand?

    Scar from hernia repair stapled shut.

Last day of completeness

Bear snoring in the kitchen near the end of the long day.

Bear went in this morning.  Yesterday was his last day of being intact, of having a pair swinging.  So we made the most of it.  It might have been due to the experience at the Holiday Inn (see previous post), or it could have been just trying to get the most out of cyber Monday.  Whatever the reason, Bear had a busy day.

The day begin with the now usual ride to school with Sam, Dec, and Emma.  He is getting better, but still needs some training.  I am also getting a bit better at sensing when he MUST take a poop, when he is yanking to get to some grass.  I’ve learned to simply let go of the leash and get a bag out.

After getting back home, Bear’s usual three-hour morning nap was cut short to sign papers for our refinance (have you seen how low rates are?).  At this point I realized that I could have easily left Bear at home.  The decision to bring Bear was a combination of the Holiday Inn experience and Bear’s increasing maturity.  He is much calmer and able to hold it together for longer periods of time.  At the same time I am more aware of how people react when they see the “Service Dog” vest.

We rode the elevator up to the 14th floor.  Bear laid on the floor while we signed.  He was very still with the help of my foot on his leash, but he didn’t struggle.  We visited the Men’s room.  There was someone else in the restroom.  Luckily the stall was vacant.  At this point I realized that Bear hadn’t drunk any water and was likely very thirsty.  I waited for the other occupant to exit before letting Bear drink from the commode.  (It’s a well-known fact that the water from a toilet is cleaner than the water in the washing machine.)

After the Title company, there were some errands to do.  In particular, we had some stores to visit.  Before shopping, though, I needed some food.  So we went to one of the best places: Chipotle’s.  Bear got to practice his Army crawl while we inched forward in line.  Then he got to lay quietly below the table while Heather and I ate.

Then it was off to Nordstrom, then to Costco, and finally to Wal-Mart.  In general, people ignore the fact that I am walking around with a dog.  I suppose that this occurs when Bear is really behaving himself.  It may be that comments are more common when I have to correct him, put him in a sit, or redirect him.  People say how cute he is, or the fact that I am training him, or ask if it is difficult to give the dog up when they are grown.  I used to respond to these comments, but now I usually smile and nod.

Once home Bear plopped down in the kitchen where dinner was being made, but he quickly fell fast asleep, snoring on his side.  Again his nap was cut short to ride to Sam’s and pickup Dec.  On our ride home we stopped at a field for Bear to run off leash, and then back home.

He slept soundly.    This morning it was another ride to school before being dropped off at the vet’s for the chopping block.

Questions

  • How much will this surgery set Bear back in scent training.
  • How much do we want Bear to be with us when we are not at home?
  • How many Hanukkah presents will Bear destroy?

Chewing

  • Lord of the Flies from Fiona’s English class.

    Dec demonstrating the consumption of Lord of the Flies.

  • Another set of earphones.
  • Dec’s slipper.
  • A plastic Army soldier.
  • Dec’s walkie-talkie (I hope it still works).

 

Updates

Before leaving for San Diego, we visited Bear at Dove-Lewis pet hospital.  He didn’t look that good.  We now get twice or thrice daily updates from Dove-Lewis, my mom (yes, she is on the call list), and Kristin (the trainer).

As we left our visit with Bear, after we took off the gowns, rubber gloves, footy slippers, and dipped our feet in some toxic solution to kill any remaining Parvovirus, the technician warned us that dogs with parvo often don’t make it.  She told us that we should be realistic but still be hopeful.  She had told us that he was doing better in the morning, but then tailed off as the day wore on, which is often how I feel on any given day.

Most of the updates about Bear are stagnant.  They don’t change much.  He really hasn’t eaten anything aside from 16 kibbles of food.  He had really bad diarrhea, but that has since diminished, along with the blood in the diarrhea.  His blood work has remained decent for a dog with parvo.  Other communications I’ve had with Dove-Lewis is with their accountant giving more permissions to charge our Visa.

It is worth noting that they knew exactly how many kibbles Bear ate.  This and the other list of things they know about Bear (white blood cell count, protein levels, and others I can neither pronounce nor spell) is an indication of the bill accumulating.

Legoland

We are in San Diego and enjoying the environs, including Legoland.  Just before Maggie, Declan, and I loaded into the car I gave consent to use the feeding tube to get some much needed nutrients to Bear.

Legoland sucks.  I would get much more bang for my buck playing Lotto or PowerBall.  The buildup is similar.  There is great expectation about the fun to be had.  You fantasize about what would be your first move.  With the lottery you wonder where you would live and what you would do everyday.  With Legoland you wonder about which ride to go on, which models to build, and how much fun the kids will have.

Then reality hits.  With the lottery it is over pretty quick.  The last lotto ticket I had, which was given to me as a birthday present, I did not have even one matching number.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of “total loser” prize for not getting even one number matched?  Like they’d give you the price of the ticket back, or half the price of the ticket?

At Legoland reality creeps up to you slowly.  It starts with parking.  You drive into this giant expanse of a parking lot.  There is nothing around.  No one would drive out to this place and park and not shell out the $89 to get into the park, yet they charge you $12 to park.  And that is the economy lot.  You can pay $20 for the privilege of parking closer in.

At the airport there is short-term, long-term, long-long-term, and then there is economy parking.  This is the economy parking; at the airport it is one or two exits before the airport with a 15 minute shuttle ride to departures.  For $12 we found a spot that was a 15 minute walk to the entrance.

Once in the park there are the lines, and the heat, and more lines to get food, and then paying for food.  The bill for lunch, which I abstained from, was $25.  Dec had a grilled cheese kids meal, and Maggie had a roast beef sandwich and a drink.  The drink was $3.50, which I had high hopes for until seeing the “Sorry no refills” sign at the fountain (I learned my lesson trying to dupe food service at a ski area cafeteria in high school).

I got more bitter as the day progressed with more incidental fees being tacked on (you have to pay $5 to dry yourself outside the squirt gun zone).  Not sure it was worth the couple of pictures captured.  I’m hoping there will be more lasting memories for the kids than the relief felt as we entered the “Build it…Test it” room that was both “free” AND air-conditioned.

Aside from the AC, the highlight for me was getting a text from Kristin.  She had just spoken to the vet, who told Kristin that she expects Bear to make it.  She said that he’ll likely be able to go home after another two to four days.  Kristin also said that the pharmaceutical company that we got the vaccinations from might pay for part or all of Bear’s bill.

My immediate thought was relief.  Then I quickly wondered if Kristin had any idea how much the bill was currently, let alone what it will be after another four days.  I am also considering, somewhat seriously, putting our “project” on Kickstarter.com for funding.  I just need to come up with a catch name.  I already have plenty of cute pictures to reel people in after they have clicked on the catchy name for our project.

San Diego

Aside from Legoland, San Diego has been awesome.  We went to the beach the first day.  The day turned to evening.  We made a run to Roberto’s for fish tacos and had dinner at the beach while the sun set.  One of my favorite things to do.

And then

We could go back pretty far to find the root of all the events which occurred in the past 18 hours or so.  Could be last March when we decided to dive in and get a service dog.  It could go back to when we were finishing our basement and we decided to go with the pump to get the waste water up to the main stack.  We could go back to when we started having kids, which would then have us digging out the basement (with 5-gallon buckets) to make room for our growing children.

After winning the first game of the tournament, Maggie’s soccer team had just lost six to nil in the second game.  It was a triple digit degree day, and still hot driving home at 830.  I looked forward to a cold beer and an early bedtime.

And then (1)

Walking in the door at nine, I was happy to find leftover burritos in the fridge.  Normally not one to be an audience of boys playing Xbox, I quickly learned why Heather was in the TV room with Declan and two of his friends.  “Declan has lice!”  Have you seen Declan’s hair recently?  The lice had hit the Trifecta, the Club Med for Lice.  Vacation for the lice is over and just in time for our vacation to begin; we are set to fly to visit family in San Diego in just over a day.  Note to self: call and tell sis that we are traveling with some unwanted baggage.

And if you are one of those people who gets grossed out by the mention of lice, then you are probably in the group that either has young kids or no kids.  Just wait.  And don’t freak out when it comes.

Heather was toiling over Dec’s scalp after the treatment, nit-picking, literally (that is where the term originated).  I was trying to enjoy my luke-warm, half-eaten, chicken burritos, trying not to overheat as the heat of the day did not relent to any evening cool breeze.  It was as if we were back in Arlington, VA.

I noticed Bear was conspicuously absent from the scene.  It being so hot, he might be down in the basement where it is slightly more inhabitable.  What garbage was he finding?  What shoe was being torn apart as he played unsupervised in the cool of the basement?

Finishing the burritos, I search for Bear in the basement and actually felt a slight chill in the cool air of the basement.  Bear was nowhere to be found, however.  He was not in his crate that he has begun heading to on his own for his incessant naps.  He was not in Maggie’s room, a favorite of his with hidden snacks all over the place.  He was not in Declan or Fiona’s room.  Turns out he was upstairs sleeping in our room.  And he had a little throw up on the carpet earlier that Heather didn’t have time to clean up.

And then (2)

Bear was clearly not feeling well.  He turned his head away when offered food and water.  After witnessing Bear dry-heaving, bringing back memories of college, I tried to feed a Pepto-Bismol to settle things.  It worked for me back in the day.  However, he doesn’t even take the cheese wrapped Pepto-Bismol that he normally dances for.  Could it be that he’d moved up to larger Lego pieces and the 2×4 piece was now somewhere stuck?  More memories of retching to get every last drop from the evening help me empathize with Bear attempting to expunge something from his body.

Bear does settle down a bit, goes to the bathroom outside, and is ready for a good night’s rest.  Nit-picking is complete, Bear settled on his bed, and we are ready to call it a night, finally.

Bear dry-heaves again and I decide to call the veterinarian.  After being told that things can go downhill pretty quick with a dehydrated puppy, I pack up and take him across town to Dove Lewis pet-hospital.  They tell me that we should go in the side entrance as there could be potentially dangerous germs to keep Bear away from.  This is what I heard, but on reflection I realize they wanted us going in the side door to protect all the other dogs that might be in the main lobby.

After a quick physical, the vet says there may be something blocking his intestine.  He was in a lot of pain in one particular spot in his lower intestine.  “Is there anything that he could have eaten recently?”  she asks.  Legos and Nerf bullets run aplenty in our home and are available like food at a Las Vegas buffet.  Damn it, he got into the Indiana Jones set and was able to force a figurine down.

Bear being 14 weeks old and having already received three of the four Parvo vaccinations, it is unlikely that it is Parvo, but the vet needs to rule this out.  So a swab of stool is tested.

A mere twenty minutes later, slightly longer than a pregnancy test, but looking just like a store-bought pregnancy test, the Parvo test is positive.  This is when I realize that we were brought in the side entrance for just this situation.  Parvo is an extremely resilient, deadly virus.  High and low estimates are presented for Bear’s stay in the isolation ICU.  I ask if this will keep him from going to Kristin’s to be boarded while we are away in San Diego.

The enormity of Parvo has not hit me, and I wonder if I’ll be able to pick him up before Maggie’s 1030 am game.  The timing and location of her game was perfect.  We’d take Bear to the game, which was way out in Hillsboro, but very close to Forest Grove, where Kristin lives.  The vet very gently lets me know that it is unlikely he’ll be released later in the day (it being 130 in the morning by this time, game time is a mere nine hours away).

After nearly maxing out my credit card, Bear is taken to isolation ICU.  Before leaving I have to dip my feet in some solution to shed the Parvo, if any remained on me.

As the reality of Parvo sinks in, and the explanation of the danger of it and how it is transmitted, I manage to send an email to Kristin to let her know that Bear is Parvo positive.  It’s possible that other puppies he has played with have Parvo.  Bear could have gotten it from them, or he could have given it to them.

And then (3)

After each training session with Kristin, Bear goes on recess with his litter-mates and other dogs that she is training.  The favorite by far was Calvin.  Super mellow, Calvin would saunter up and lean up against you, nosing your hand to give him a pet.  He was the Mr. McGoo of the group.

Kristin’s message back at 730 the next morning is concern for Bear, hoping that he will pull through, and that Calvin was in a drug-induced coma, and that she might have to put him down.  She did have to put him down, and a large brain tumor is believed to be the cause.

Big bummer.

And then (4)

Declan and his friends are up, having breakfast and getting set for a day of Xbox and swimming.  Heather and I are trying to pick up the pieces before heading to Maggie’s game, then to visit Bear, then back to another game, and then back home to pack and get ready for our 630 am flight.  Still unsettled is where Bear will be when released from the hospital.

I send the boys down to brush teeth, hoping that Declan will find the tooth fairy’s gift.  He lost a tooth while I was at Dove Lewis. As I’m packing Bear’s pen and bed up, I hear the boys screaming that the bathroom is covered in water. F***!!

This goes back to digging the basement out and having the pump eject waste-water up to the main stack.  Intermittently, the pump will be on but not pumping anything out.  This causes water to back up out of the floor drain in the laundry room, and in this case the toilet never switched off after a flush.  The turn off valve never switched off, so the water just kept flowing, and with nowhere to go, it flowed over onto the tile in the bathroom and out into the hallway.  The good news is that the water flowing in the basement is clean, straight from the tap, almost.

Not sure why this gets the pump to work, but I merely have to unplug it and plug it back in and then it is able to work.  Every towel in the house is down soaking up a small portion of the water.  Did I mention that we are going to San Diego the next morning?

After several times wringing out towels in the bath and reapplying to the floor I have the stroke of genius to borrow Aaron’s steam cleaner to suck up the water.

It’s 1015 and we have to leave to catch some of Maggie’s game, which happens to be a mere five miles from Kristin’s house, where  Bear was supposed to stay.

On our way home we visited Bear.  He is not doing that well.  A cone around his head and an IV in his leg, he struggles to keep his head up.  The tech said that he was better in the morning, and even ate a bit, but after a giant diarrhea, he was clearly feeling worse.  He has not hit bottom.  We are hoping a bottom occurs that he climbs out of.  At this point they can only support him, providing hydration and nutrition.  He is also on some pain killers.

We are hopeful that he rebounds and is able to be picked up by friends who will care for him until we return.