Friday, July 29, 2011

A Whole New Dog

You guys, I am a TERRIBLE dog mom. Seriously. Awful. And it's all because I'm stubborn. And, you know... always have to be right.

But in this case, I can admit it. I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

See, Casey has allergies. I've fought with these allergies ever since she was over 2 years old. Summertime comes and she gets all red and itchy. And it's been getting progressively worse, as allergies tend to do. The first year it was just itchy paws and red eyes. The second year it was more itchy, chewed upon paws, and some red splotches on her stomach. The THIRD year, it was all of that PLUS hives that then caused her to lose hair in patches all over her body.

I would like to say that I didn't let it get to the point where I called Casey "leprosy dog" but I would be lying. The thing is, the cheapest and fastest remedy for an allergic reaction is a cortisone shot. And when Casey gets a cortisone shot, she turns into MONSTER DOG. I do not like monster dog. I do not like her at all. So last year, I tried a WHOLE SLEW of at-home remedies. I tried Benedryl. (fail) I tried fish oil pills. (somewhat fail, somewhat success) I tried bathing Casey every other day. (fail.) I tried a new shampoo and bathing every day (more fail.) The one thing I DID NOT DO that was suggested to me over and over was changing her food. I stubbornly would not change Casey's diet. Why, I reasoned, would that make a difference when Casey eats the same food all year round, but only has allergies in the spring/summer? I mean, I know my dog, and she definitely is not allergic to her food.

Finally, at my wits end, I took her to another veterinarian with a different perspective on antihistamines. Namely, this take was that the antihistamines (paired with an antibiotic to heal the already apparent hives all over my dog) would help. This vet said that they had taken a skin scraping and found that my dog was "yeasty" and had also found staph. (Which is always present, but apparently her "lowered immune system" due to allergies was causing the staph to make the hives infected. Hence leprosy dog.)

And lo, all was well.

As an added bonus, I got ZOMBIE DOG instead of MONSTER DOG. A trade I was more than willing to make.

So this year, we started the antihistamines early. Like, April 1st early. And there's been more success in staving off the allergies this year than at any time in the past. However, as the summer progressed, the hives did appear on Casey's stomach even if they didn't appear all over her body. And her nose, paws and eyes were pretty red from being scratched/chewed/rubbed from the itching.

I still counted this as a success. Seriously. If you had seen leprosy dog, you would understand.

But last spring, I took a course in microbiology. And this summer? A course in animal nutrition. And then came a suggestion from a friend whose dog has similar skin problems to Casey. And it seemed that everything at once clicked. Like, my dog is yeasty. And what does yeast eat? Sugar. And what is the second ingredient in most dog foods? Potatoes or Corn. Which are starch. And what is starch made of? Sugar.


Of course, this food that Casey has been eating for the first six years of her life is either free (yay!) or very very low cost. So it's the best food I could get for the lowest price. Which is, of course, why she's been on it for so long. And why I was so reluctant to change it. But I love my dog. And she's allergic. And, well, why not try this change?

So a friend recommended a dog food to me that had tapioca instead of a starch as the second ingredient. A dog food that is $41.99 for a 25lb bag. O-U-C-H.

But four days on this food, and Casey looks like an entirely new dog. More pink, less red. Sores disappearing. Overall just... healthier.

And BOY does she love this food. If Tyson even gets NEAR it, she gets ANGRY.

But still. $41.99/bag. Sigh. And me entering vet school where they give you dog food for free each month. Double sigh. Something tells me that they food they'll be giving me won't have tapioca in it.

I swear. This dog.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


The boy and his dog moved in on July 1st. Not-so-coincidentally, I left on July 1st for a long weekend with an old high school friend. I had a ball and came back on the 4th relaxed and refreshed. I came back to a house full of three dogs and a boy and boxes everywhere. But in the spirit of "it's only for a month" I decided to just accept the situation for what it is, and relax. The boy, apparently, didn't get that memo.

And part of me doesn't blame him. Even though it's "our" house for now, it really is "his" house moving forward. He's excited to move his stuff in and make it "homey." No matter how many times I tell him there is no way for this tiny house to look neat and tidy with two people's-worth of stuff in it, he keeps "tidying." And so I sigh, box up another area of my stuff and lug it downstairs.

It's only for a month.

The dogs have adjusted admirably. It helps that after years of resisting* Tyson is now on doggie prozac. Whole. New. Dog. We can leave and he just curls up and sleeps until we get home. No freaking out, no whining... I tell you, it's a miracle. We haven't tried crating him, but without the cat around (who's living the life of luxury in my office right now) there really is no need. He's almost the perfect dog.** Casey is obviously the top of the hierarchy, and the only problem that Blue and Tyson have is that Blue doesn't realize he's temporary and thus isn't really second on the list of command (even though he's lived there longer than Tyson.) So Blue tends to get snippy when Tyson takes the place that he usually lies. It's a fleeting disagreement, but still a sign that for everyone's sanity, I must purge a dog from my house soon. Also a sign? Fitting two pit bulls and the boy in bed with me is just short of comfortable. Especially since Blue will just jump on the bed and literally sleep wherever he lands. No matter what is beneath him. Yay.

Speaking of Blue, he's absolutely shredded the mattress he had in his crate. I think he's protesting the loss of his home where he was free to roam all day long and go outside whenever he pleased. I've told him he's going home soon, but bless his vacant brown eyes, I'm not sure he understands.

Blue goes home July 15th.

My parents seem anxious to be reunited with their dog, even though they're sad to be losing their free, built-in babysitter. When I begin school, it just won't be feasible to pick up Blue and keep him for long periods of time. So in preparation for that, my parents have been doing research on kennels in the city where they live.

They've visited five so far.

And they must visit in person. My mother (who is not a dog person, let us all remember this) wants to see the places herself to deem them worthy of keeping her dog for extended periods of time. One was rejected because it didn't have air conditioning. One is a concern because they have a doggie day care during the day (my mother is concerned that Blue will be picked on because he's so "mild-mannered.) My mom jokes that she and my dad didn't even put this much legwork into selecting colleges for my brother and I. She's not kidding. And even though I'm amused, I'm glad Blue is so loved. What a match made in heaven.

*"Society is over-medicated, Emily," "I am not medicating my dog, Emily," "He doesn't need medication, he's fine."

**It did hurt me to type that. Indeed it did.