Monday, August 30, 2010

All Closed Up

I've had nightly chats with K&A about the dogs since leaving them Friday afternoon—which was very, very hard, by the way, stupid dogs—and I'm pleased to report that Spackle's wound has been comporting itself well if he and Hoover haven't been—quite—model dogs. As of today the drain hole left in Spackle's hip wound is completely sealed, and nothing seems to be infected. Hoover's ear is, I'm sure, perfectly fine—it didn't even get a mention in tonight's call.

Spackle hasn't been an evil dog in any way—he's just been himself, rolling in fresh horseshit when he can't be bathed (A. used a deodorizing spray on a towel that she rubbed over him until he stank less), and getting all four paws in the pond when he's not allowed to swim—and only at the last minute, when A. was preparing herself to go in after him, heeding her commands and reluctantly retreating.

Hoover hasn't been an evil dog either—he's just been HIMself—which means he's decided he likes the Jerome Creek place and it could only be better if he were Top Dog. He's not going to be; everyone else, humans and dogs alike, are banded together against him taking on that role. Nevertheless, he's trying for it, which is trying the patience of Sadie at least, who is top dog.

Things here in Seattle are lovely and calm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Hoover of course never showed any signs of needing rest, and is well on the mend, only yelping once yesterday when someone briefly caught his stitched ear. As for Spackle, he obviously has much farther to go, but is also showing signs of being well on the mend, and quite relieved to have the lumps off of him. He even, much AGAINST doctor's orders as well as my own, JUMPED INTO THE BACK OF THE 4-RUNNER last night as we were heading out for a picnic dinner, leaving the other dogs behind. BAD DOG. YOU NEED TO LET YOUR SUTURES REST.

For all you people who've had pets or children or partners recovering from surgeries and know some of the signs to watch for, I'm pleased to report that he's eating well (wet food, mixed with a little dry), drinking water and piddling normally, and pooping normally as well. And he is showing all signs of enjoying his exalted invalid status.

Good dogs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sheesh. You Dogs.

I'm in Jerome Creek right now for 5 nights—which has turned into 6—while K&A are present. This was going to simply be a visit where I helped out a little with things that were specifically needed (there's only so much I can anticipate when I'm here on my own, outside of taking care of animals), rode some horses, and played with my dogs in the countryside before leaving them here for six weeks for K&A to take care of.

Yes, the shoe's on the other foot now, as it were, and they have kindly agreed to watch Spackle and Hoover while Ian and I go to our weddings/trips to see friends/chemotherapy for our pasture over the next several weeks.

Last fall when I was here for a length of time, of course, was when Spackle developed his serious, inexplicable illness and spent nights in the clinic and the WSU Vet School hospital. We ultimately gave him Prednisone for his ailments and that seems to have done the trick—for the past almost-year he's been quite well and happy. Years ago during our first visit here, Spackle caught a stick in the back of his throat and needed a vet in an emergency—he had not pierced his brain, however. Sometime in the middle past he tore an ACL out here but, not knowing what was going on, I didn't take him to a vet for that . . . but I should've.

His recent issues have been apparently minor—just a couple of benign cysts—one on his left hip and one just next to his spine. Our vet has been checking on these; indeed, checked them a week before I brought the dogs here, and the cysts were stable.

Well, the night before we came, last Friday, the cyst on Spackle's hip was larger. Instead of being the size of a marble, it was the size of two marbles. I squeezed it and some fluid came out, but it was like blood serum—not stinky, and mostly clear. Saturday, once arriving here, I squeezed it again, and again some clearish, non-smelly fluid came out . . . but by Sunday morning it was a large puffy patch the size of half a bagel, and Spackle didn't eat any breakfast. Uh-oh.

Sometime during the day it ruptured, and then Spackle started licking at it, and it was obvious by Sunday afternoon that a vet would have to be consulted. Thank you, Spackle, for making it all the harder for me to want to leave you for six weeks—not only because now I'll worry about you, but because you have left extra work for your hosts.

Hoover, apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun, managed to rip a 1cm slash in one of his ear flaps, in a flamboyant cavort away from chasing cows and under a barbed wire fence. I'd like to think this has larned him a lesson, but he doesn't seem to be that sensitive of his injury, and certainly didn't make a sound when it happened. I found out about it by reaching down to grab him so he wouldn't head back at the cows, and coming away with my hands covered in blood. He's mostly black, and so stains of any sort are pretty invisible. At any rate, he doesn't keep his head still, and so the ear would stop dripping, and then he'd shake his head, and fresh spots of crimson would appear wherever he'd been standing. It looked, as K said coming into his white-painted farmhouse, as if someone had been butchering chickens there.

I had a relatively sleepless night Sunday night (read a good article in Harper's about concealed weapons) while dogs licked and snored, and got a call into the vet yesterday morning early. They called back soon after 8am, by 9am I had the dogs in the Potlatch examining room, and they both had surgeries.

Spackle's was major—at least the cyst that had erupted. It had turned from nothing to a huge, infected, spidering mass of tendrils growing through his subcutaneous fat, attaching to blood sources, and generally showing beginning signs of world (or at least dog) domination—all of which needed to be cut out. The cyst on his spine, on the other hand, was completely contained and easy. But still left a sizeable, Frankensteinian bald patch.

Hoover's was minor, and the few stitches seem to be holding back the tides of blood. He's slightly more klutzy because of his round of anesthesia, but seems none the worse for the experience, and quite a bit the better. This was interesting, too: when I left the dogs yesterday morning, they were put into the same cage, because there was only one left and it was the big one. Someone came in and gave Spackle some drugs, because his surgery was going to be first, and he started to fall asleep. This evidently alarmed Hoover, who, much to my surprise and gratitude, became very protective of his older brother when they came back to get him for his procedure. Evidently, Hoover stood over Spackle and did some serious GRRRing at the people coming to get him. No one was hurt, and Hoover's worry was of course misplaced. But wasn't that sweet? Who knew he even cared???

Dogs are now back, and Hoover is a little subdued, and Spackle is more subdued, but in happy, healthy dog ways. Spackle didn't wait for a lift from the back of the car and leapt out, but managed not to faceplant in the driveway, so I think he's going to be fine.

And I will say this for them: Well done, The Dogs, having these procedures in rural north Idaho. The entire cost of the experience, including Spackle's two surgeries and Hoover's stitches, anesthesia for both, a night in the clinic for both, suppers and breakfasts, pills, a 12-pack of wet food in case Spackle's not interested in dry at the moment, and a lampshade collar in case Spackle licks: $406.99. Probably no more than a third of what it would've been in Seattle.