Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It could be worse, I suppose.

This is a picture of what my dog does not look like. She used to look like this, before she scratching her fur out. She is now down to bare skin everywhere she can reach, and she's scratching her skin until she's bloody. Even a verbal description of the situation is gross. I've gotten used to the way she looks, but people in the street stop and stare. The vet was shocked. And it's all my fault. Somehow, it must be. I'm her owner; I'm responsible.

I finally got the results back from the vet today. I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad. It's one of those situations where each time you add up the score you get a different answer.

The good news: the antibiotics and steroids have stopped the dog's constant miserable scratching.

The bad news: something in the medication is making her so tired she can barely lift her head to eat a treat from my hand.

The good news: the dog does not have Lupus (which, according to the Internet sources, has a "poor" prognosis).

The bad news: nobody knows what the heck is wrong with the poor suffering dog. All everyone can agree on is that she's allergic to my home.

The good news: I have a place to send her where she's not going to have an environmental allergy.

The bad news: it's 658 miles away and she's going to feel abandoned. Again. No dog should have to feel abandoned by someone it loves, but it's even worse to do this to a rescue dog.

I don't have any positive reflections with which to wrap this up. I just wanted to post a status report on the poor dog.


soapbox girl said...

Oh, Mary. How hard this must be for you. My black tri Aussie has skin allergies,too, and was pulling all of her fur out a year ago. I switched her food (she needs a fish based diet- no treats, nothing but the fish based dog food). However, I learned that there are vets who specialize in skin allergies. I'm guessing that's where you took your puppy? If not, try to see a specialist. Giving her up would be incredibly painful. I'm hoping there's another way to solve this problem (?).

Good luck and keep us up to date. ((Hugs)) to you and the puppy.

The Merry said...

The specialist was the one who determined that she was allergic to my apartment. I moved her down to the garage, which means I've been practically living in my garage as well. I set up the exercise bike and a TV so I could get some exercise at the same time.

She did get a lot better, but now she's getting worse again. And it's getting too cold for her to stay down there, especially without a fur coat. In California, she'll be with people she loves. She'll still feel rejected all the same.

In a few more months my lease will be up and I can find another place to live. One without any carpets. And fewer stairs. But how do you explain the concept of "a few months" to a dog?

The Merry said...

I meant to say, thanks Soap Box Girl! You know what it's like. I'm glad your Aussie is doing better. Both your dogs look marvelously healthy.

BCB said...

We had a black lab who developed this problem with allergies. Instead of being merely irritated by flea/mosquito bites, he became allergic. Chewed off huge patches of fur until he looked like a reverse dalmation. We gave him medication to quell the itching and after a while he was fine. By "a while" I mean that extensive period of time when you feel the weight and condemnation of the entire animal loving world pushing you down into the depths of guilt and self-recrimination that accrues to the criminally negligent pet owner who should have known better, really, just should have.

Well, to hell with that. Alleviate the symptoms and give your baby the love he needs. That means keeping him with you where he is happy and well adjusted and can recover. And remember that where there is no logical understanding, there is only emotion and love. Do not underestimate it.

Hugs and love to both of you.

BCB said...

Sigh. Okay, her. Not him.

Sorry, it's late over here on the right coast and I'm tired. Details involving gender are sometimes irrelevant at this time of night. [big grin]

soapbox girl said...

Luckily, my pup's allergies were easily fixed. Your situation is a lot more difficult. Thank goodness your pup has you for an owner. I used to work for a vet (many years ago!) and it was common to see pet owners abandon their dogs to the back yard and let them die a slow painful death (because their skin smells bad in that condition). Or put them to sleep after years of neglect when the poor animal was beyond repair. So, please stop punishing yourself with thoughts that it's your fault. Clearly, it's not your fault and you're doing everything within your ability to help her. Take care.

C said...

Oh, Mary. My thoughts are with you. One of my cats was just recently diagnosed with diabetes. A few years ago she weighed in at a hefty 22 pounds and just about 6-8 weeks ago, she was only 9 lbs. That's way to low for the size cat she is. I felt like complete crap for abandoning her all these years I've been at school and my mom felt bad because she thinks it's her fault for the cat's condition.
But as pet owners (more like parents really), we do what we can for our furry family members. We love them, give them TLC and try our damnedest to right any wrongs. You are doing everything you can for your pup, so please don't be hard on yourself. The situation will right itself soon. Sadly, it just needs more time.

Take care.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Poor pup, and poor Mary!

Jody said...

That is so sad. i have 2 German Sheppards and my older one Dryfuss who is now 11 had allergies when I got him when he was 1.5 I found that by giving him more outside time his allergies are gone. During the day Dryfuss and Selah are in the garage but when we're home they have the run of their fenced in backyard. They both seem quite content with it and really don't enjoy being in the house at all anymore.

Good luck!

Keziah Fenton said...

(((Tanji))) and (((Mary)))
Do what you think is best, don't second-guess yourself and know that BCB is right, love counts for a hell of a lot when it comes to pets. Do they know what specifically is the culprit? Silly question, if you knew, you'd get rid of it. Maybe there's something that can neutralize it.

The Merry said...

BCB, hon, you should ALWAYS say what you think. Honesty is always welcome.
Dogs are always honest. And they couldn't care let what gender you are, so long as you smell right.

Soap Box, I know, the skin problems are terrible. I've got two new fancy shampoos from the vet this week that I can try. Poor shepherd gets bathed more than a show poodle :(

ct, I'm sorry to hear about your cat. My mother's going to take care of Tanji until I can find a new place. She's rather excited about it; they get along very well. But if anything happens to my dog, oh dear. That would be a guilt trip. Hmmmn.

Katharine, thanks! I appreciate the support.

Jody, your shepherds sound happy. That's rather the setup at my mother's house, where I'm sending my dog. And at least I know there's nothing there she's allergic to.

Sheryl, thanks for the hugs. (I passed Tanji's hug on to her.) I suppose I could rip up the carpets in the apartment, but the landlord might be cheesed off. I kept hoping for a warm autumn so I could keep her in the garage, but it doesn't look very likely. It's snowing in the Cascades already :(

BCB said...

Well, Mary, you know me, I always do say what I think. But I don't always complete the entire thought and I realized after the fact that I didn't sound very supportive. Which is not the case at all. And I was so tired last night I didn't realize you were talking about a temporary stay elsewhere. Now I feel like Gilda Radner's character, "Oh. That's different. Never mind."

If it makes you feel any better, I really don't think your baby will feel any worse about the separation on day 80 than she will on day three. I just don't think dogs process time the way we do. She'll miss you the same every day, not feel worse and worse as times goes on. That will be YOU who does that.

Let go of your guilt about this. It is not your fault. You're going to worry yourself into not eating and then your hair will fall out and you'll start to lose weight-- never mind. Start over. You'll start to eat MORE as a comfort and GAIN WEIGHT. Yeah, that's it. So stop with the guilt.

And under no circumstances are you allowed to call your mother and ask to "talk" to your baby on the phone. Trust me. This is not attractive behaviour. Just. Say. No.

You can call me instead. I'll even answer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, just hugs to you both.

I had a golden retriever who used to chew his hair off down to the blood. for him the problem seemed to be a confluence of bug bites, hypersensitivity, and oh, just hyper, period. It took at lot of attention and specific salves and discipline, but he did get over it. It came back from time to time.

Your problem sounds different, though. I sure hope she feels better with your mom & you get yourself a place she can come back to. Lots of folks prefer homes without so much textiles. Best wishes for a full recovery.

Anonymous said...

Mary, Poor babies and hugs to both you and Tanji. You are a GOOD pet mom! You are doing everything you can possibly think of! Just remind yourself that Tanji really will be ok.

McB said...

Mary, poor baby. Are you sure it's environmental? Have you tried switching food? I ask because Kelly, my cat, went through the whole scratching until raw thing some years ago and the vet wanted to schedule all sorts of tests. So I said "before we jump into the big bucks, are there some simple things I can try at home first, if only to eliminate possibilities?" Vet said, well you can try changing her food. So I did. And it worked. No more scratching, no more infection. I special order her food, specially formulated to contain nothing to which she might have an allergic reaction. And it doesn't even cost much more than the store brands. And she likes it.

Oh wait, I see you did consult specialists. Well damn. But listen, BCB is right. The lethargy might seem sad, but Tangi is no doubt feeling much relieved and that's what matters to her.