Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garage inspector Dozer

"Violation: no treats or toys on work table."
"Now performing 'ball test' to determine whether workers are properly trained."
"Subject neither picks up nor throws the ball."
"Second violation: Worker ignores Inspector."
"Gah, he's stepping on the ball! Third violation: Unsafe work place!"
"Fourth violation: Multiple workers clearly untrained to perform simple task. Shut it down!!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nail trimming time!

Star needs her nails cut today. The hardest part is finding her.

Do you see her hiding in the living room?

Now do you see her?

She's a bit bigger than the table...

I think Star is part ostrich.

"Argh! I can't fit my big butt under the end table!"
I'll have to trim her nails later. I can't convince her to come out.

On to an unsuspecting victim!

"So... uh... where's that treat you promised?"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Grey Ghost

Star and I went to the pet store the other day to buy some dog food.

Star loves the outings, but she'd been cooped up at home for too long, and was on her worst behavior at the store. She couldn't hold a "sit," she dragged me up and down the aisles, she put the brakes on at the rawhide buckets, and she saw something in a pile of dog beds that she felt needed a good barking about.

We finally made it to the cash register with the heavy bag of food. For reasons I don't understand, when people comment about Star, they admire her coat color. And today was no exception. The sales clerk was a very nice lady, very chatty, and she almost immediately started talking about Star's coat color.

"Why, your dog has the most lovely color. That's just amazing! It's so unusual," the clerk exclaimed. "It's such a soft color. And, oh, her eyes are gorgeous. Just stunning, matches perfectly with her coat."

Star knows praise when she hears it, and she popped out of the sit in order to better waggle her behind. She whipped my legs with her tail, then turned to whip the store clerk. I didn't know what to say, so I just said, "Thank you. We also think it's a nice color."

"Oh yes," said the clerk, "I don't see many of this breed with this kind of coloring. It's exquisite."

"You don't...?" I puzzled about this for a few seconds. "I thought it was quite common. When we went to adopt her at the shelter, there were several other dogs that looked just like her, color and all." Star started to bark obnoxiously at the shelf of dog beds again.

"Well," says the clerk, "she's quite a catch, I think. You know, this breed, their nickname is... they call it..." A long pause, while Star strained on the lead to sniff a suspicious stain on a lower shelf. "Ah, they call it the 'Grey Ghost.' Because most of them have a sort of grey coat, you know."

The clerk thought Star was a Weimaraner.

I didn't say anything to contradict the clerk, because Star is a mutt we adopted from the shelter, so who knows what she really is. Besides, Star was being quite naughty, and I felt Weimaraners could take the rap this time around.

Addendum: So you understand my surprise more fully, I must say that this store clerk was not your average kid running a register at a national chain pet store. This was a long-time employee at a small local pet store—a pet store that promotes "bully breed" adoption, no less, so it's not like she'd never seen a pit bull type dog before. This nice lady cheerfully went on to tell me some interesting facts about Weimaraners, since the surprise on my face told her that I clearly didn't know what I'd adopted!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Urticarial Vasculitis

Thank you very much for your well wishes sent to Dozer!

He is doing much better today, and today we have a fancy name for his crazy allergic reaction: urticarial vasculitis.

"Rhymes with treat!"
We went in today and the dermatology vet got her first look at Dozer after his hive attack.

The hives themselves are pretty much gone. Dozer looks totally normal when he's standing around.

Clearly feeling fine today.
The derm vet glanced him over and noticed the smaller bumps on his rear leg and said "Okay, so these are the hives?" Translation: "I don't get it. Why are you here?"

I said, "Those are some leftover hives, but you really should look at his stomach." We got Big D to lie down and stretch out, and I spread his rear legs for the full effect.

Day 3. Now looking rather like poison ivy or ringworm.
The redness is not quite as purple today, but it has spread so that you can see it all the way down his legs, even through his fur.

For the first time ever, I heard a vet say "Jesus Christ!" Followed by a lot of "Oh wow... Wow... Wow... This is so red... wow...."

I said, "This is day three. It looks different every day. I have photos of the last two days on my flash drive."

"I... wow... Oh my gosh..." It went on like this for a while as she and her assistant stared at the train wreck that was my dog.

After she had gotten past the shock and awe, the vet asked if she could take Dozer in the back and show him to the interns. She also took my flash drive and copied the photos, evidently wanting to use them in her lectures.

Which was all fine and good, but I really wanted to know what the heck my dog was suffering from.

Other than goofy-adorable syndrome, of course.
Anyway, after she brought Dozer and my flash drive back, and after consulting with interns and a few other vets, the derm vet said that Dozer had an episode of urticarial vasculitis.

Basically, urticaria is a serious case of hives, and vasculitis is when the blood vessels get inflamed and leak blood and fluid into the skin. In other words: Dozer's hives were so massive that they caused extensive bruising. Vasculitis also explains why the redness expands and turns interesting shades of purple, green, and brown over a period of days--the same way a bruise does.

Why and what to do about it are the harder questions to answer. The derm vet said that it could have been caused by a bug bite, a drug (like the cephalexin), or food allergy. Since D is on the rabbit-based food only, we don't think it's food. It could be a reaction to cephalexin, so we've decided to stop giving that.

But the most likely culprit is a bug sting, of any kind, from tiny fire ant to big red wasp. A bug sting would explain all of the previous hive outbreaks that Dozer has had, because he has always developed the hives after going outside for a potty break.

No matter what caused it, the vet has recommended that we try giving Dozer a daily antihistamine. That should put a damper on his daily allergies, and also stop these hives before they have the chance to go nuclear.

Most dogs would get Benadryl, but we are going to try hydroxyzine. You would not like Dozer on Benadryl. Nobody likes Dozer on Benadryl.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hives(?) Photos, Day 2

Today I touched base with Dozer's regular vet over the phone, to update him on Dozer's progress after yesterday's hive outbreak: less itching, but the rash is spreading out and darkening.

Much to my dismay, our seasoned vet admitted that he has really not seen any dog with hives that present quite like this. He told me that he definitely wanted Dozer's dermatology vet to see this particular reaction. Perhaps it really won't impress the dermatology vet, he said, but it definitely left an impression on him.

Not quite what I wanted to hear from a very experienced guy that rarely seems fazed by anything.

The dermatology vet has never seen Big D's hives, or the aftermath. She has always told us to go to the regular vet. And after talking to the regular vet today, I realized the derm vet was probably passing us off because I keep calling this event "hives"—normal, boring, highly treatable, common old hives—which is a little different from "freakish burning red-purple lumpy rash covering his entire body," thus leaving her with the wrong impression about this event.

Anyway, here is day 2 of the "hives" (or whatever this is)—12 hours after Benadryl and cortisone injections. Note the worst areas, where the skin has turned a disturbing green-gray. Do any of you know why it would turn that color? I'm very curious about what is happening under the skin to make it such a sickly color.

Doesn't he look downright contagious? My mom came over and she was scared to touch him because she thought he had a communicable disease.

I'm sure it's an allergic reaction; I'm just not sure why it's so... gross.