Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doggles and Dewclaws




As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Sebastian, my soon to be six year old German Shepherd, was diagnosed with Pannus. Many sites concerning Pannus suggesting getting the dog some sort of protective eyewear to guard his eyes from extended exposure ultraviolet light so I did.

I managed to score a pair of Doggles for him. Our trainers, Linda and Carl, had a pair needing a good home kicking around the kennel and since they were Sebastian's size, I took them. They're bright blue, which is not the color I would've ordered for Sebastian, but hey, they were free. The dog is colorblind. He'll get over it.

Carl said to train the doggles like you would a muzzle. I know how to train a dog to wear a muzzle. I know this because part of the ring sport test is the "heel with muzzle" exercise where the dog walks beside you in heel position while wearing a muzzle. Hmmm... that may have been self explanatory. Anyway, you do it slowly, putting the strange and offending object on the dog for just a short while at first. Make it a short, happy, positive, successful experience. Offer treats and such afterwards. And every day, increase the time the object is worn by a little bit. Eventually, the dog will have no trouble wearing the object.

So I brought the doggles home. Joe immediately started making all sort of rude comments. I got irritated, though not overly. I mean, I know they're silly looking and I know I may be overreacting but I'm not dressing the dog in some pink fluffy sweater. I'm not getting his nails done. I training him to wear a pair of sunglasses that may help keep his incurable degenerative eye disease at bay.

Sebastian is, of course, thrilled.

I can't explain to him how he's being tortured like this for his own good. I can't explain to him that there's some other purpose to it other than me putting them on him and taking pictures. Although I did do that and I did laugh a lot while doing it. But I had the very best intentions. Like taking adorable pictures to post on my blog and on my social networking pages. I mean, protecting his eyes from the incurable degenerative disease that has taken up residence there. Just to be fair, I put the doggles on Mischa and took pictures of her too. This, I suspect, did not make Sebastian feel better.

So that was Friday. Saturday, I took Mischa to obedience class. It went marginally well. Before class even started, Mischa went charging across the room to tag a German Shepherd whom Mischa suspected of giving her the hairy eyeball. I was less than pleased. Carl assured me (or tried to anyway, because when it comes to this kind of thing, I am often impossible to assure.) that the German Shepherd in question likely was giving Mischa the hairy eyeball because that's what that dog did. Whatever. We went on to lose the Simon Says game when I, in a total moment of ignorance, put my dog biscuit down on the floor at Mischa's feet, which Simon did not say to do. I did make it to the final three though and eventually, Simon got everyone out, so I didn't feel so bad. We went to my parents' house afterwards so I could visit and Mischa could run with Piper. We'd just pulled into the driveway when my cell phone rang. It was Joe. I answered it.

"Sebastiantorehisdewclawandhe'sbleedingeverywhere," Joe said.

"What?" I said.

Joe repeated what he had said. Then he added, "Who do I call?"

It took me a minute to respond. Mostly, I think, because I had stopped breathing after Joe said "he's bleeding everywhere." Then I had the realization that Joe has no idea who our vet is or where our vet is and that the vet also has no idea who Joe is.

When I went to Russia back in May 2005, I happened to think of this and asked our then vet (not our vet any longer...) about it. I had to write a note impowering Joe to be able to seek medical treatment for our then menagerie in my absence. I added Heather to the list too, just to be safe.

But no such note exists now. Besides, it was a Saturday and our then (not our vet any longer...yes, I have a new vet between Saturday and today.) vet was closed. The then vet did not offer emergency services (the now vet doesn't either, as far as I know.) so I told Joe to call the North Country Animal Hospital. This was the hospital that looked at Max last year when he had his unfortunate run-in with our storm door (Interesting note: Jake and Alison have not left their dog with me since. We are not only allowed supervised meetings.). Since I knew they offered emergency services, I told Joe to call them. I didn't know if they would look at Sebastian or not, but I figured it was worth a call.

By this time, Mischa and I had made it into the house. I hung up the phone and waited for a call back. I'd barely gotten out a "Hi" and a "Here's what happened..." when the phone rang again.

"I got a recording telling me to page the doctor on call if it's an emergency," Joe said. "Is it an emergency?"

Well, to me, it was an emergency because my dog was bleeding all over the place. My dog. But it was a dewclaw and those, I understand, bleed like crazy. Must like when a dog tears his ear. Those bleed like crazy too. I know that. I've seen that first hand. Sebastian accidently tore Piper's ear once. Damn house looked like a damn multiple chainsaw murder crime scene. And I hate to be the crazy overreactive dog mom. Joe and I discussed the condition of the injury. The dewclaw was still attached, hanging on by a very thin thread, apparently, and Joe assumed it would have to come off.

"I think I could just pull it off," Joe said. "But I think that would hurt him."

"Well, yes, hon," I said. "That would hurt him. If we pulled your toenails off, it would hurt you too."

"What do we do?" Joe asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Let me call Carl and ask for some perspective."

So I did. God bless Carl. If you live in the Southern Maine area and you have a dog you think is out of control or untrainable or whatever, call Carl. If you need his number, I'll give it to you. The man's fantastic. Anyway, I talked to him. While I did so, Mischa was in the middle of the dining room systematically dismantling her Squirrel and I didn't care that she was doing it. Squirrel bones (the plastic inside supports) were being torn out and left all over the place and I didn't care. Fortunately, my mother was good enough not to care either.

Carl told me to have Joe wrap the foot but if we couldn't get the bleeding to stop, or at least slow down, then do the emergency vet thing. There are two emergency vet clinics in our area that I know about. Each is an hour away, in different directions. And I really didn't want to have to pay for an emergency vet clinic appointment, on a weekend, no less, but, if I had to, then of course I would.

So I called Joe back and relayed the instructions to him.

"I've been trying to wrap his foot! He won't let me!" Joe exclaimed.

"Do your best. Mischa and I are on our way."

And we left, taking with us as many squirrel bones and other remanents as I could find.I hate it when my dogs are hurt. It always makes this huge pit in my stomach and I do noting but worry and then worry some more. Which is really saying something because I spend a lot of time as it is worrying about something. God help me should I actually ever have a human child. I'll never survive it.

Mischa and I drove home, me swearing at everyone who had the audacity to be in front of me, or do something outlandish like drive the speed limit. We made it home eventually though and I left Mischa in the car. I went inside and out from the living room comes my poor sweet baby boy, limping, and looking so very happy to see his mommy. That's my big brave German Shepherd.

"Look at that!" I said. "Mom leaves you home with dad just once and look what happens. He breaks you."

This is a very untrue statement. I have left the dogs in Joe's care more than once. When I went to Russia, Joe had Sebastian in his care an entire month and no harm came to the dog, but how could I resist the opportunity to tease the hell out of my significant other.

"I did not break him!" Joe cried from the living room.

Here's what happened: Joe had taken Sebastian outside for a walk around the yard. We don't tend to take him for walks around the neighborhood anymore as too many of our neighbors have dogs they let out off leash and without supervision. These dogs then have a tendancy to charge any dogs they see walking the neighborhood. Sebastian, as you can imagine, does not do well with dogs charging him. So we walk around the yard instead. Sebastian doesn't mind this as it is (a) shorter and (b) an opportunity to pee on all the trees that Dowa and Barney (two of the neighborhood dogs we see in our yard on a regular basis.). On their way back up the driveway, however, Sebastian hit a patch of ice (not hard as most of the driveway is currently ice) and lost his footing. He did this ungainly spread eagle thing and ended up removing his dewclaw in the process. Well, mostly removing his dewclaw. His dewclaw was the Nearly Headless Nick of dewclaws.

Or so we thought.

We unwrapped the bandage and discovered that the claw was now offically all the way off. It was still, by the way, bleeding like freaking crazy. So we rewrapped it. Sebastian did not enjoy this exercise. He didn't enjoy it anymore the other times we had to do it either. By Monday, I was exhausted of telling him to leave it alone and stop licking the bandage. Joe was exhausted of hearing me tell Sebastian to leave it alone and was probably equally tired of hearing me say things like "Dad broke you" and "I can't believe you broke my dog". He went to work. I called the vet. The dewclaw (or the stub that remained) was still bleeding, not a whole lot, certainly not when compared to Saturday, but still, I wanted it looked at.

We now go to Compassionate Care Veterinary Hopsital. We've moved here because our vet moved here to open his own practice. He's the vet who figured out Sebastian's allergy problem and who then figured out Sebastian had Pannus and not chronic conjunctivitis. He's good with the dogs and gives me lots of information. He talks a lot. But if you can deal with it, he's the best damn vet around.

I took Sebastian down a couple hours after talking to him and explaining what had happened. He said Sebastian had removed the entire nail, leaving the entire quick exposed. He put some sort of sealant (nexaband) on the injury to help it stop bleeding and oozing and hurting quite so much. We're now at the point where we have to wait and see what happens next. The nail will grow back, but it's a question of whether the nail will grow back properly or deformed. If it's door number two, he'll have to have the dewclaw removed entirely. Sounds like fun. If Sebastian seems like he's in pain, we're to give him one tylenol (500 mg) up to three times a day. The vet was going to give me something else for it, but the something else had a theoretic possibility of worsening Sebastian's Pannus and he didn't want to risk it. This is why I love my vet. He keeps apologizing for being paranoid but I love him for it. No one is more paranoid than me. I appreciate the fact that my vet cares so damn much.

At the end of the appointment, he was putting Sebastian into the system and asked if we'd taken a weight on him that day. I told him Sebastian was 130 pounds. Which is what the scale showed when Sebastian sat on it after our arrival. The vet looked at Sebastian anew and said, "Whoa. I thought he was like ninety."

This made me laugh because Sebastian hasn't been ninety pounds for years now.

"In that case," the vet said. "Give him two tylenol."

So that's the Saga of the Dewclaw. Sebastian is resting currently. We have to keep his foot dry and wrapped through the week. I will be glad when the weekend comes because that will mean I can stop harassing him about licking the damn bandage. Sebastian will also be glad when the weekend comes because that will mean he stops getting harassed. I can't blame. I know it hurts. I know it sucks.

I'm going to leave you today with my five year old niece's comment on the situation. She asked about Sebastian's bandage so I explained to her what had happened. Afterwards, she looked at the bandage and then back at me.

"Well," she said. "That sounds like it would be uncomfortable."

You have no idea.

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