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The Usurper

Originally published February 16, 2016

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

One of the great things about being a dog is our social order. We do not have to guess about who is in charge, we always know. In our pack (home) HairyFace is the pack leader because he provides us with food. That earns him the right to boss us around (he calls it ‘training’) and we comply because there is generally food in it for us. And because we love him, but mostly because of the food.

I am Hairy’s second in command. He calls me his Sergeant at Arms because keeping the pack secure is my primary job. I also mentor the fosters, and make sure the snuggle beds don’t escape (I suppose that too falls under security). It’s not that I’m a vicious dog.

When the Peoples take me out in public, I’m very friendly: encouraging people to scratch my head and pet me. For those who are truly deserving of such an honor I will even flop over and present my belly for a good rubbing. HairyFace calls me “a big moosh-baby”. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure it indicates non-violence.

Out there.

Here at home, I am Guardian of the Realm. It is my job to keep my pack safe from horrible threats like murderers, robbers, school buses (they eat children you know: I’ve seen them do it), loud cars, marauding stray cats, garden munching bunny rabbits, and the wind. Here at home, I am … intimidating (eye-brow waggle). And I do it well.

That’s why I was just aghast when I went off to deal with a heinous threat and upon my return I found this:

Would not you agree that this was totally unfair and demeaning? Imagine, sending me off to sleep in Volt’s bed so Volt could take my favorite place. SO unfair.

But, Hairy is the Leader, so … I hear and obey, because I’m a good dog. And I will be wanting dinner this evening (sigh).


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Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Originally published May 10, 2016

The Dogtor is in

How dogs deal with heartworm treatment aftermath varies considerably, depending on several factors.

  • Severity of worm infestation. A low-count infestation will have less effect on the dog as the worms die and potentially cause problems.  A high-count means more dead worm tissue in the blood stream and a higher likelihood that the heart has sustained damage from the worms chewing on it.
  • The dog’s temperament. Dogs, like people, deal with sickness or pain differently: some are wimps and will cry and moan over every little thing, others are stalwart and seemingly ignore discomfort. Most are somewhere in between.
  • How well the treatment went. If a dog jumps or lurches during the injection, it leaves a bruise in the muscle that is very painful – and it requires that the injection be repeated in a slightly different location because the bruise will allow too rapid absorption of the Immiticide. The injection must be done intramuscular to slow the absorption rate.
dolly cochise nursemaid, heartworm treatment aftermath
Dolly was Cochise’s nursemaid during heartworm treatment

Some dogs we’ve cared for were hardly slowed down at all, while others (like Cochise) were hit hard. It took him a week or more to get over the nausea and pain. Most are stiff and sore in their lower back and hips for one to three days, then bounce back quickly.

This is actually more dangerous than one who convalesces for a while because it is vital to keep the dog on crate rest for a minimum of two weeks. High levels of activity cause increased heart rate which causes an increased chance of dead worm matter breaking loose from the heart, lodging in the capillaries of the lungs and causing a lesion or embolism in the lung. This can be fatal. The dog must be given time for his body to absorb the dead tissue before they become active again.

Volt’s Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Because Volt was underweight, Dr. Conklin decided to use an extended-kill method with him. This takes longer and is more expensive, but is easier on the dog. Volt went in for his final treatments yesterday and today. Yesterday went well and he experienced little discomfort. He felt a little yucky this morning, but that was all. Today (we suspect) did not go so well.

He’s got a visible lump on his back where the injection would have been given, so we suspect he twitched and tore a bruise in the muscle. He’s also quite uncomfortable:

And here we are, out of Tramadol. I gave him a baby aspirin. At 71 pounds, Volt could probably have two, but we’ll try one. Maybe we’ll do two at bed time so he gets a good nights rest. He should feel better in the morning.

A low dose of aspirin is safe for large dogs for short term use (like a day or two) for pain, when advised by your veterinarian. Do not use if the dog is taking Prednisone. Generally, a dog 50 to 100 pounds can have one regular aspirin tablet twice a day — SHORT term. Aspirin causes gastric bleeding if over-used. Baby aspirin is straight aspirin but in a lower (81 mg) dose. Tramadol is a better option, but it requires a prescription and is pricey. Do not use Tylenol.

Tylenol is Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, which is not an NSAID, is poisonous to dogs. Typical symptoms of pain killer poisoning include difficulty breathing, vomiting (can be a good thing), change in coloration of the gums, jaundice (a sign of liver damage), and a change in body temperature, among others. Do not use Tylenol on your dog!

heartworm treatment aftermathAn hour after I gave Volt the baby aspirin he was able to rest. He was not sleeping, but could lie still and rest without whimpering and shifting around. I tried to make him comfortable in the den with the rest of us, but he preferred to suffer in solitude and went to the bedroom. He did appreciate an occasional belly rub.

After another hour he came and got me to tell me that he needed to go outside. I took him out (without a leash this time: the last thing he wants to do right now is run) and he went as far as the very first patch of grass to take care of all his business. I cleaned up after him (since this was in a major traffic pattern) and he was waiting for me at the back door.

The First Night

When I dish up kibbles, Volt always comes to supervise. At first he was hoping I would drop some (or he could grab some) and I had to close the door to keep him from raiding the kibble buckets as I opened them. When he learned to control himself, I started giving him a kibble or two as a treat for his improved behavior.

That evening, Volt did not come to the door of the Kibble Treasury when I began scooping kibbles into dishes. He was dozing just across the hallway, and that was more important to him than a snack.

As dinner preparation was about concluded and ready to serve, Volt did come out of the den (it did smell good). We decided to try letting him eat on a blanket beside the table like Cochise and Blondie do. Volt has been getting fed in his crate because he will wolf down his own food then try to push Blondie out of her bowl as well. And she is mild tempered enough to let him do it. She will give him a “How rude!” look, but not fight him over it. Tonight, he’s not feeling all that pushy, because of the heartworm treatment aftermath.

He did well. He ate much slower than normal, then went and sat behind my chair and waited. When Blondie and Cochise finished their dinners, all three wandered off to lie down and let the meal settle.

I woke him from his nap to take him outside so he would sleep through the night. He wasn’t thrilled with that, but he complied, squatting like a girl-dog because raising a leg hurt too much.

When bed time arrived, Volt was crashed in the den. I asked him if he wanted to join us in the bedroom, but the only response I got was a brief, groggy, one-eyed, glance.

Normally we insist on it because it’s easier to track his whereabouts. He has tried at least one Midnight Caper while we slept. But I didn’t think he’d be up to any mischief this time.

Nurse Blondie monitors Heartworm treatment aftermathVolt woke Marie at 12:30 am when he got up to wander restlessly. He was in pain again. Marie gave him another baby aspirin and he settled into his bed in the bedroom. Blondie moved from her bed to the floor next to him to be nursemaid. She stayed there all night.

At 6:00 most of us got up again. Volt seemed comatose – and caused me some concern – but it turned out he was just unwilling to leave the Nirvana of slumber. We can all understand that!

Dealing well with heartworm treatment aftermathCochise stood in for Volt as kibble inspector when I dished up doggie breakfast. Once I got the bacon and eggs going, Volt was up and sitting in the living room watching. He was more animated this morning. Enough so that he was served breakfast in his crate again.

After breakfast we went outside and he again squatted to pee. Then he settled in with us in the den and went to sleep. He is still sore, but not so sore as to need pain meds to sleep. That’s good. He’s bouncing back already. I’ll let him sleep as much as he wants, that’s the best way to heal.

The Outlook

Volt is a laid-back hound dog. Keeping him calm for the next few weeks will not be the challenge that it is in a high-energy dog. Still, I’ll use a leash to take him out for potty breaks, once he’s not suffering so.

Once he’s feeling better, we will have to take him on another trip to Tractor Supply just to be sure he does not come to associate truck rides with bad things happening to him.

Volt is a sweet, good-natured dog, he will be fine. It’s just going to take a few days to get past the rough part of heartworm treatment aftermath.


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Volt Rides Out

Cochise, on
Cochise tells the tale

Last night we had a party with special treats and we all talked about what a good boy Volt is. Blondie and I knew what was going on, we’ve seen this several dozen times now. Often it’s no big deal, at least not to me. I’m stoic. But once in a while saying “good-bye” is hard … even for me.

Volt, of course had no clue. He was just happy to get special treats and have so much attention paid to him. I explained it to him after everyone went to bed.

When we got up this morning, Volt went into the den for some morning lovies from HairyFace. Nothing unusual about that. But when Volt reached way up and licked Hairy’s face and neck, that was unusual: Volt’s not a real kissy-guy. Hairy thought he was saying good-bye, but I knew he was saying, “Don’t send me away; this is my home. I like it here.” So I had another chat with him.

It’s harder for him to understand because he’s been here so long. He’s gotten settled.

Volt’s Farewell Party

Cochise, on
Cochise tells the tale

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 was our final evening to spend with our buddy Volt. He’s been with us since January, and has become a regular member of the family. And it’s been a pleasure to get to know him: he is a true Southern Gentleman … err, dog. In the morning HairyFace will take him to The Shelter for his physical and preparations to ride the Rolling Rescue van.

He’s headed for Fur Friends in Need, a rescue in Pennsylvania. Or Staten Island, or both … I’m still a little confused by all that. But it is our understanding that he will go directly into another foster home situation while they find him a forever home. That’s good: it would just crush Volt to be put back into a kennel.

But for this evening, NiceLady bought is a package of toasted beef trachea. They were crunchy, all natural, and quite tasty. Everyone got to join in, too. In their own way.


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Blondie Has Surgery

Thunder comforterOn Monday, Blondie Bear spent the day at the doggie hospital to have two small growths removed from her skin. Neither were cancerous, but one was on the edge of her eye lid and was impairing her vision. As long as she was to be sedated to remove that, we decided to have a skin tag on her shoulder removed as well.

While waiting for the veterinarian staff to bring Blondie out after surgery and recovery, the surgical assistant told me a funny story about Blondie. Blondie is a big, sturdy girl, but gentle as can be. They gave her the pre-surgical anesthesia to relax her. After a few minutes they moved her to the surgical table, but when they tried to get Blondie Bear to lay down, she braced her legs out wide and stiffened up, “I will NOT lie down, and you can’t make me.” there was no aggression at all, just stalwart resistance. They could not budge her, so they waited.

Volt’s Ticket to Ride

Cochise,
Cochise tells the tale

We received word last night that Volt has his ticket to ride the Rolling Rescue bus on Friday June 24th. Now we begin that bittersweet process of saying goodbye and congratulating him on moving to the next step toward finding a forever home of his own.

Volt has been with us since January, six months is a longer time than normal. He has come to think of this as his home and us as his family. But we know that Meryl will welcome him into hers and ease his transition. Hopefully he will find a permanent home quickly. He’s a really good boy and deserves that.

When I told him he was going to Pennsylvania on The Bus, he said, “WHAT!? I don’t want to go there … I saw a movie and that’s where vampires live! I don’t want to live with vampires, they’re even worse than mosquitoes.”

“Vampires? No, no, no: that’s TRANSylvania. That’s a whole different place. You’re headed for Pennsylvania — that’s where they make pencils, not vampires.”

“Oh! That’s different then. Will I like it there?”

“You’ll love it. It’s just like here except different. You will be living in a house and will have other dogs to hang with and Meryl will treat you well and help you find a forever family of your very own.”

“Thinking about leaving you and Blondie and Doug and Marie makes me sad.”

“Yeah … it makes us sad too. But you deserve to have a forever home of your very own. We can’t adopt every dog we fall in love with. We just can’t.”

Then we lay down and took a nap together so we wouldn’t cry. It isn’t becoming for Guardians of the Realm to cry.


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When Dogs Welcome Us Home

Doug
The dogtor is in

One of the great things about dogs is the way the dogs welcome us home. It’s always a celebration. It makes us feel great to know someone is so happy to see us again — even though we may have been gone only an hour.

I cannot speak about goats, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, lemurs, guinea pigs, rabbits, or ducks – I’ve never had those as pets. I had cats once, and for the most part their reaction to our return was, “Oh, were you gone? When are you going to feed me?”

When the dogs welcome us home, it is always with enthusiastic glee.

Volt Earns a Table Manners Gold Star

We’ve been teaching Volt that table manners are important for any dog who doesn’t want to eat every meal in his crate. Last night at dinner Volt was again allowed to dine with the rest of us (he’s learning this bit REALLY fast).

table manners
I’ve finished my kibbles, I’ve licked out my bowl, licked my blanket, licked the floor, licked my bowl again (just to be sure I didn’t miss any) … what’s next? Why, HairyFace: you’ve barely even started on yours!
table manners
That looks really tasty, Hairy, I’d be happy to help you with that. But since you did not offer it I will just sit here and be a good boy … if you think you need to eat ALL that food all by yourself.

When he finished his bowl he sat and watched for a bit (hoping the Peoples would share their food with him) then wandered off to find a cozy place to nap. GOLD STAR!


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Yard Work Crew

Cochise tells the tale

It’s Tuesday. That’s yard work day. Not that it’s some sort of law or anything, we could do yard work any day. Saturday, for instance tends to be another day that is often consumed by yard work. But Tuesdays, somehow, generally do end up being yard work days.

It’s a nice day. It hasn’t rained for a couple of days, but there is a little overcast to break up the sun, it’s not too hot, and a breeze is blowing. A good day to be outside.

Cochise & Volt monitor progressVolt and I took up station inside one of the garden bed blocks. We were safe here from string trimmers, mowers and the cuttings these things toss around. We could see what’s going on, and enjoy being outdoors for a while.

Blondie in Equipment BarnBlondie Bear was pretending to be the Equipment Manager. She prefers the cool of the barn (she has a much heavier coat than Volt or I do). But she can still see and is safe from flying plant bits. She also likes to be more directly involved, so being where HairyFace goes to trade out (or refuel) pieces of equipment keeps her central to the operation.

Jasper watchingJasper was out on his tether early in the process, while Hairy was string trimming around things, but when the mowers started to roll, HairyFace insisted he go back inside his pen – for safety’s sake.

When HairyFace first went to get Jasper out, and had the tether in his hand, Jasper ducked his head and looked up through his eyebrows at Hairy saying, “I don’t need that: I’m a GOOD boy now.” When Hairy goes out to give Jasper a play session and will be giving all his attention to Jasper, he gets to run free (no tether). But while HairyFace has to focus on cleaning up the pen and changing out his water, Jasper gets tethered to a tree, giving him a 20 foot radius to play in while Hairy works. Previously, Hairy would then unhook the tether from the tree and let Jasper drag it around the yard. That was like tying him to the ground and he never made any attempt to climb the play yard fence.

HairyFace spent most of the day mowing and trimming. He took a break now and then to go in, rest up and get a drink. We have water bowls outside and can drink any time we want. Hairy could use them if he wanted, we wouldn’t mind, but he refuses. Well, that’s his choice.

We don’t mind going inside though: it’s usually cooler in the house – unless Hairy has done a bad job of window management and allowed hot air to be sucked inside. In our house, if you allow it to get hot, it just stays hot until evening when everything cools off.

So the yards are mowed – except for the High Yard (aka Copperhead County): he didn’t do that one this time – everything looks nice, and we’re ready to settle in for an evening of rest. It sure is tiring watching our friend work all day! But the results are nice.


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Triple Dog Trash Run

Cochise, trash run
Cochise tells the tale

Every Saturday morning, Blondie and I accompany HairyFace on the weekly trash run to the Convenience Center to dispose of recyclables and household rubbish. It’s something we always look forward to and get excited about. Volt has not been able to go with us because there is only so much room inside the little extended cab S10 pickup that Hairy uses to haul trash (and dogs). NiceLady tries to distract him with a treat and attention as we load up and pull out, but Volt often cries and bays his disappointment. When we get back, he meets Hairy at the door and prances around, “My turn, my turn, take me for a ride now.” Sometimes Hairy has business in town and will take Volt with him as he heads that direction.