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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I have to break away from the surgery saga for a bit (the final installment will be soon to come) due to yet another doggie medical visit today.  Actually, the problems started last night, but we didn’t get to the vet until today.   We sat down last night to dinner and about halfway through, Duchess decided to let us all see what she had eaten for lunch. Oh, and I need to mention that she decided to start this little escapade at 6:01 – one minute after the vet clinic closes.  She has impeccable timing.

There wasn’t much warning either.  One minute she’s laying at my feet at the table, and the next minute – BLOOOOOOORRRRRCHHHH!!!  Luckily, her head was positioned in the kitchen where there’s no carpet.  As I got up, she decided to take a little barf-o-riffic tour around the kitchen making sure to cover the entire floor with it. It was quite impressive – the Old Masters would’ve been jealous of her painting technique.

I threw away what was left of my bbq sandwich (just didn’t seem that appetizing anymore) and started the cleanup process.  The rest of the night was pretty uneventful until she went outside before bed.  That’s when she was stricken with the dreaded explodabutt as we like to call it.

She seemed to sleep pretty well until EARLY this morning when I was awakened by her getting sick again.  Gotta love mornings – the smell of dew on the grass, the birds chirping outside the window, and a giant dog beside your bed sounding like an ox giving birth.  Beautiful stuff… the things eloquent poetry is made of methinks.

I got up to let her out and the explodabutt was now about a zillion times worse, so we got ready to hit the clinic the moment they opened.  The doc checked her out and gave her a shot, some pills, and some special food to eat through the weekend.  Yet more things to go in our doggie pharmacy…

Whatever is in that shot makes her DRUNK obviously.  Once we got home, she began to act all goofy, get in the way more than usual, and try to hug me every time I turned around.  Hey, at least she’s a lovey dovey drunk I guess.

Cleaning out her crate was quite a chore with all this lovey dovey-ness going on.  There I am, halfway in the crate, scrubbing away with her hugging me, sticking her big shnoz in my face as if to say in an inebriated manner, “Joooo know how mush I nuuuv you!  Joooor da mossht beshtet owner I’ve eber had.”

Once the crate was clean it was off to wash her bed and the 40952835 towels she has in her crate.  Here’s the completely smashed Duchess helping me with the laundry in the utility room.  I think she’s ashamed and feeling no pain all at the same time.

After the drama had subsided and the lush finally had enough partying and passed out, I got to thinking – I haven’t seen Oliver in a long, long time.  Where in the world was that dog?  Jake was sticking around to monitor the situation, but the anti-social Corgi hadn’t been seen for quite some time.

I went searching for him and finally found him at the back of the house.  He was completely horrified by all of the barfiness and unladylike behavior of his younger sister.  He was under the bed, trying his hardest to block out the recent events – I can’t really blame him.

So now here I am, blogging about vomit and poop – listening to the dryer toil away at the plethora of wet towels and Duchess sleepily groaning on her bed.  Oliver the anti-social has rejoined us in the living room finally, and we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that the worst of this is behind us.  If not, maybe the vet could give me and the vampire wife some of those happy shots as well?

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Again, we had another sleepless night since Duchess absolutely refused to leave her dew claw bandages alone (both the professionally done and the Bubba-fied ghetto triage method one that Dad and I had done).  However, my lovely vampire wife got up early as always on Christmas morning to fix brunch for the family… another tradition we have.

I got up a little later, and let the dogs out for their morning potty break.  That’s when I noticed something was terribly, terribly wrong with Duchess.  The paw just below my electrical tape/Ace bandage job was GIGANTOMUNGOUS!  At the end of her long, gangly leg was what seemed to be a 1 lb burger roughly in the shape of my dog’s paw.  It was like looking at a three legged dog that had a tennis racket bolted on where the fourth leg should be.

Dad arrived a few minutes later and we assessed the situation about as well as two bleary eyed men can do who didn’t sleep much the night before.  It was decided that her butt explosion got the paw infected due to her swollen paw being hot to the touch.  She was already on antibiotics, so I didn’t know what to do.  My future obedience star was going to be severely disfigured because I had to go all Larry the Cable Guy on her leg.  Bleh.

I spent most of Christmas day right by her side, monitoring her every breath.  About mid-afternoon I felt like this couldn’t wait any longer and that I needed to call the emergency vet line… again.  I called and apologized profusely for having to call on the holiday, but that I couldn’t help it – Duchess’ paw was in bad, bad shape.

They advised me to cut off the bandage and put a band-aid over the wound and to bring her in first thing in the morning.  I cut off my southern engineered bandage and did as they said.  Nothing happened.

I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for hours.  Nothing.  Then all of a sudden it was like a switch flipped and her paw started to recede back to normal.  We had obviously just wrapped her bandage too tight.  Like, way too tight.  She didn’t have some wicked poop infection in her paw and gangrene wasn’t setting in (have I mentioned I tend to overreact when there’s a sick dog?).

We went to the vet the next morning and they re-wrapped both of her legs just for good measure.  This time we left with a special post-Christmas present though – the Cone of Shame!

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We always open our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve.  It’s a family tradition that we have and one that we’ve done as long as I can remember.  Maybe my family wasn’t big on delayed gratification – I dunno.  So anyway, the Christmas Eve of ’09 we sat down to a lovely dinner that my vampire wife fixed for us and proceeded to open presents.

We had a great time with dad, and he spoiled us with way too many gifts as always.  Afterward, we were cleaning up the pile of discarded papers and boxes when I noticed Duchess was laying on her bed (her Christmas present), chomping away on her dew claw bandage like Kirstie Alley at a Vegas buffet.

Pandalerium ensued (and yes I’m quite aware that’s not a real word).  Blood was going everywhere.  She had pulled her bandage down and chewed the stitches off of one of her wrists leaving a big, open, seeping wound.  I thought, “I’m the biggest idiot in the world for scheduling a surgery for one of MY dogs before a holiday.” (By the way I don’t need any comments from readers affirming this.)

My dad and I wrangled Duchess into the utility room and shut the door (the only room in the house that doesn’t have carpet) and I started screaming for a first-aid kit.  I might as well been screaming for a boat anchor because we don’t really have much of a first-aid kit I found out.  Luckily, my wife found a basket that had various band-aids, bandages, gauze, etc. in it.

Oh wait, I need to back up.  I’ve left out the part where the stress and medication caused Duchess’ butt to EXPLODE in her crate earlier that day.  Yeah.  Good times.  She’d stepped in her mess several times, so I’m sure she was covered in all sorts of wonderful bacteria – including her bandages and the now open wound she has on her wrist… not to mention the stitched/stapled belly.

Because of the aforementioned nastiness, we made sure to clean her latest handiwork with some alcohol before trying to wrap her up again.  We got her sanitized, put some Neosporin on the wound, applied gauze, then began wrapping with an Ace bandage.  Only problem – no tape.  The only tape we could find was some black electrical tape.  Any shelter in a storm I suppose.

Got her wrapped and taped up – looking like a (really cute) version of Frankenstein’s monster.  Crisis averted – again!  Until of course the next day – biggest holiday in the United States – Christmas Day.

***Sorry there are no pics with this post – there was too much chaos at the time to get any pictures.  I promise there will be some tomorrow!***

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Where were we?  Oh yes (strokes his beard, lights his pipe, and leans back in the rocking chair to spin a yarn white whittling on a stick).  The belly had been filleted open by some eager chewing and licking by Duchess.

So there we were late at night, looking at a fresh surgery wound.  This wound I might add – went from her hoo hoo to her ribcage.  That’s not very far on say, a chihuahua, but on a Great Dane that’s quite a substantial gash.  I kept waiting for her insides to fall out at any moment… because I’m paranoid.  It’s not like she didn’t look bad enough already with her front legs wrapped in bandages and stitches on her belly that went for miles and miles, but now she looked like an extra from Kill Bill.

Please, no one be shocked that my vampire wife is out and about during daylight hours.  As you’ll notice, she’s obviously weakened by the sunlight and can’t even walk.

So, I begrudgingly make the call to the emergency line at my vet’s office.  I was told to bring her in first thing in the morning.  We didn’t sleep much that night.  Every little move she would make resulted in a “DUCHESS!!!  NOOOOO!” from us to try to keep her from doing further damage.

I awoke that morning, loaded my dog with the gaping wound into the truck, and headed for the clinic.  They took her in the back and she came back out with staples in the area that she had used as a chew toy.  Crisis averted!  Until… Christmas Eve.  That’s when things got a little hairy.

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I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while now, but things just kept coming up, photo opportunities presented themselves, etc.  Plus, this is such a looong drawn out story that I was afraid I might lose interest (especially since it’s not something currently going on that I can get pictures of).

So how do I recount the drama of the Christmas season of ’09 and not lose my few (but faithful) readers?  The only solution I could come up with was to chop it up into bits (no pun intended).  Maybe I can do a soap opera-esque cliffhanger with music at the end… you know,  like DUMMMMM DUMMM DUUUUUUUUMMMM with a picture of Duchess looking off into nothing with one eyebrow raised (like they do).

So off we go with The Great Surgery as I like to refer to it as… Part I.

Before I even got Duchess, I knew there were two procedures that would need to be done on her.  One being to have her spayed, the second being a gastropexy.  The gastropexy is performed in dogs that are prone to bloat.  Unfortunately, Great Danes are very prone to this deadly condition – the stats floating around the interwebz (so they must be true) are that 45% of Danes will bloat at least once in their life.

The pexy is supposed to keep the stomach from flipping over, preventing torsion on the stomach, which gives the owner more time to get to the vet for the dog to be tubed or have surgery done on them to release the gas.

What I didn’t expect was for Duchess to still have her dew claws, but she did.  After having her slice and dice us up repeatedly, it was decided those things had to go as well.  After discussing it with my vet, it was decided to do all three procedures at the same time – well… because horrible things come in threes of course.

The first attempt was postponed due to her possibly having doggie ebola (which you can read about a few posts down), but she got the green flag the second go-around.  She was dropped off the morning of December 21st, and later that day I got a call that everything went fine and that I could pick her up the next day.

The next day I picked her up and she hopped right into the truck like nothing had ever happened.  I should’ve known right away that this was going too smoothly.  You see, our rat terrier Dottie was spayed and then we had about 3 months of complications to follow (the procedure was done by another vet – not the one we use now).  There were reactions to the sutures, reactions to medications where she almost died, a fall off the vet’s exam table during follow-ups that resulted in a concussion… the list goes on and on.

I’d sworn off owning female dogs at that point.  Oh how quickly we forget.

Everything went fine for Duchess that day.  She rested peacefully, ate a little bit of food… all pretty routine.  Of course things changed after the vet’s office closed.  That’s when I looked down at her and noticed that she’d torn her stitches open and her belly was laying open like a butterflied shrimp.

I looked at my wife, sighed, and muttered – “Here we go again…”

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If you followed my Twitter today (it’s on the sidebar on the right, or you can follow it directly at http://twitter.com/lifewithduchess ) then you know that Jake had to go to the vet today.  What’s a week without a vet visit anyway?  It’s kinda cool being the “Norm from Cheers” to the vet office anyway… not having to use your full name when you call, everyone there knows you – even the techs that work in the back, and you get a fancy VIP badge that you get to wear around the office and flash in the faces of the everyday Joe’s that are hanging out in the waiting room.

Those suckers.  Lackeys, slackers, ne’er do wells.  They’ll never know the glorious perks of the VIP backroom at the veterinarian’s office. The flowing champagne, the paparazzi… it’s a little much but I have to say I enjoy it.

Actually, I think it’s more like, “Oh, it’s THAT guy again.  The one with the crazy dogs that ALWAYS have something going on.”  Nevertheless, they always take excellent care of our pets and are wonderful people – every single person that works there.

So I know this post isn’t about Duchess – and it’s not about Great Danes, but it’s about the Golden Retriever that lives with her, so it kinda counts.  Kinda.

Last night Jake started scratching his ear and groaning a little bit.  This isn’t unusual.  Jake seems to get quite the enjoyment out of it.  Much like a scruffy guy getting out of bed likes to stretch, scratch around, and do his own bit of groaning as he greets the new day.  We didn’t think much of it.  Jake has taken up groaning ever since we brought Duchess home (she’s famous for groaning).  It’s kind of his new hobby… a new thing he’s trying out.

Well, I looked in his ear at bedtime and it was… gross.  I’m not posting a picture of it here because – well – it’s gross.  You might have just eaten or something, and then I’d be sued for Overabundance of Grossness, or something else lawyers come up with.  Just trust me, it was nasty.  All goopy and brown and junk.

It was decided he was going to the vet today.  I made the call this morning, just using my first name (thankyouverymuch) and his appointment was set for 3:00.  By the time I got home at lunch around 1:00 he was walking with his head all cockeyed like he was giving you the skunk eye, or the facial expression of, “Oh really?”.  I knew it was pretty serious by then.

A friend of ours has a cat that has permanent damage to her ear from a bad ear infection and now walks permanently with her head cocked like that.  It’s uber cute and she needs a home actually, so post here if you’re interested in giving her a loving home.  Let me rephrase – it’s uber cute on that cat… but not a new look that I’m going for with the dog.

I came to pick Jake up a little before his appointment and he knew something was up.  He’s old enough to know that when I call for just him and him alone, that there’s a bad moon on the rise.  He played coy.  “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you call my name because I have 5 pounds of gunk in my ear.  I’ll just lay here on my bed.  The vet you say?  Oh no no no… no thank you, I’m fine.”

I finally got him out of the bedroom and he quickly ran for the dog bed in the living room where he planted and was quickly regretting ever leaving the confines of the bedroom.  Here he is in full-on denial mode.

Notice the complete lack of eye contact?  Yeah, he’s trying to figure out every way possible to not get the leash on.  After much consoling and prodding, I finally got the leash on him and loaded him into the truck (to which he had to have “help” getting into… it’s funny how he doesn’t need any “help” when leaving the vet).

Here he is in the truck, looking out into the driveway plotting his escape.

Still no eye contact.  This is the last stage right before locking down and going into the complete shivers.  The “Oh my goodness they’retaking me to the vet and I’m gonna get poked and prodded or even worse LEFT behind NOOOOOOO!!!!!” stage.

You see, he has separation anxiety and being left at the vet is much akin to going “in the box” like in Cool Hand Luke (one of the greatest movies of all time by the way).  I really don’t see what the big deal is – maybe I should leave my VIP badge with him next time.

We got unloaded at the vet and here’s where he turns into the biggest. chicken. ever.  He puts his belly on the ground and starts flailing his legs trying to move in any direction (preferably towards the door) and acts like a general idiot.  (sorry there are no pics of this… trying to handle an inconsolable thrashing Golden Retriever is a little much)  Once he gets over his little tizzy, he then tries to crawl in your lap for protection.

Here he is trying to get in my lap, and me trying to keep him off of me since I’m wearing pretty much all black today.  Why oh why did I choose to wear black on the day I take Captain Insane-o to the vet?  *sigh*  I bet Johnny Cash didn’t have Goldens.  Oh, and notice the bald spot on the left side of his face?  That’s from his last visit a few weeks ago when he got a hotspot from us leaving him in the house while I got on the roof to take down Christmas lights.  Yeah.  Did I mention he’s INSANE?

The doc checked him out, cleaned up his ear, and checked the goop for bacteria.  Luckily no bacteria was found, just a yeast infection.  He said they get yeast infections from moisture getting in the ear or allergies.  We figure he must’ve gotten some snow in there from his romp a few days ago.

We got sent home with some medicine and cleanser for his ear that we need to do everyday – more medicine to add to the giant stockpile that we have for all sorts of doggie maladies.

At least he doesn’t fight it.  Apparently some dogs have big issues with you messing with their ears.  The doc said, “Man, he’s a great dog.  He’ll just sit there and let you do whatever you need to.”  I agree… Jake’s one of the best.

He also checked Jake’s eyes since they’re getting a little cloudy.  He said they weren’t cataracts (thank goodness) but just some natural aging, so that was a big relief.

So thanks doc for taking care of our dog (again) and here’s hoping we can go a few weeks without seeing you again.  If I could make one suggestion though – how bout some bacon wrapped shrimp for the VIP room?  I never get to eat enough bacon.

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Von What?

We have a very long history of weird stuff happening to our dogs and family members.  It’s something in the genes I think.  Or perhaps one of our ancestors built something on top of an Indian burial ground.  Whatever it is, the cosmos, fate, karma… it’s usually stacked against us.

Whether it’s purchasing a flawed item, a home repair project gone awry, or a medical situation – we usually hear “Out of a million times this will only happen once.  You just have bad luck.” from someone involved in the fiasco.

So of course when Duchess got old enough to be spayed, it was time to research all the possible things that could go wrong… because that’s usually what happens when it comes to us.  Giant breeds such as the Great Dane have special requirements when it comes to surgeries, and there is a fantastic post on the DOL forum that outlines the things to discuss with your vet before scheduling the surgery.  Actually, it’s a great idea to discuss any potential problems with your vet prior to any surgery for all dogs.  You’d be surprised – if your vet is a good one like ours, they really enjoy conversing with owners that take the health of their pets seriously.

You’ll notice on the post I linked on the forum, that number 4 states:

Ensure that you elect to have the pre-surgical blood work done (CBC and serum chemistry panel) and ask them to also include a CLOTTING PROFILE.

So that’s just what we did.  I dropped Duchess off early that morning before work so that they could get the blood work done.  About an hour later I got a phone call on my cell – it was the vet’s office.  I couldn’t answer the call immediately so I let it go to voicemail as my heart began to pound faster with each passing minute.  Many people have lost their Danes on the spay table due to bleeding issues so of course my mind went to the worst possible scenario – because as mentioned above, that’s just the way it goes in our house.

When I got the voicemail a little later, it was my vet saying, “Don’t worry, nothing is wrong… I just need to discuss Duchess’ blood work with you.”  *sigh*  Of course we need to discuss the blood work.  We’ve obviously purchased one of the only 2 Great Danes known in the written history of the entire world to have the uber rare form of Doggie Ebola.

I called the clinic and they patched me right through to the doc.  Having known us over the past 15 years or so (and the many nights I’ve called and awakened him because our dogs refuse to have emergencies during normal business hours) he knew I’d be thinking the worst.  If I remember correctly, the first words out of his mouth weren’t hello – they were “Everything’s fine, don’t worry, we haven’t even done anything yet.”

Mmm k.  So then what’s the phone call about eh?  I was told that her blood was not clotting well, which had been my fear all along leading up to the surgery.  He said that he had taken some blood and sent it off to the hospital to have a full workup done.  Wait a minute – did I hear that right?  My dog’s blood was going to the hospital for a workup?  Maybe I didn’t hear that right, but in my adrenaline rushed, panic stricken state that’s what I understood – so I’m sticking with it.  Can you imagine if the samples had gotten mixed up with some patient there?  I’m sorry Ms. Smith, but it looks like your child doesn’t have H1N1 as we thought… we need to talk.

The vet also said that he wanted to rule out Von Willebrand’s disease.  Von who?  Van Helsing?  My dog has a disease that turns her into a vampire killer?  That doesn’t sound bad at all – kinda cool actually.  The late nights would eventually wear us down, but maybe I could take a different job to work around her schedule… all in the name of making the world a safer place of course.

He explained this disease several times, but I still couldn’t get my head around it, so I had to google it.  Von Willebrand’s is a form of inherited hemophilia in dogs I found out.

Here’s the kicker.  The only place in the U.S. that tests for Von Willebrand’s is Cornell in New York.  So we had to ship her blood across the nation and wait for the results.  I was told we needed to postpone her surgery until we got the results back and that I could come pick her up.

I went to pick Duchess up, who was thoroughly confused as to why I felt like the vet’s office was an appropriate place for morning doggie daycare and the receptionist informed me that I could pay later because, “I have no idea what to charge for that blood test, we’ve never had to do that before.”

There it is!  That line we always hear no matter what we’re doing.  Of course you’ve never had to do that before – because we’ve never owned a giant breed before.  If we’d had giant dogs this entire time, it would be a routine procedure for our local clinic by now because we’re cursed obviously.

A couple weeks went by with us sitting on pins and needles.  What if she tore off a claw and bled to death? (Our dogs have torn claws off several times – we’re quite adept at the ghetto triage method of packing the paw in flour now.)  What if she got a scrape while playing with the other dogs?  What if she happened to bust out the door, run away, and join up with some bad dogs and get in a gang fight?

Things were pretty tense around the house for a while.  Luckily, after a couple weeks the test came back negative which was a huge relief.  We rescheduled the surgery for another time (which is a whooooole separate ordeal unto itself).  She’s completely recovered now as you can tell by the snow pics taken the other day, but it was a rocky road there for a while.

So she’s evidently free and clear from Von Willebrand’s (and Van Helsing’s as well), which is all good.  However, I’m just waiting for the next thing to happen where we have to send off a fur sample, mouth scraping, and a piece of her ear to test for something else that’s potentially life threatening.  Let’s hope Cornell has a test for that.

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