Friday, January 21, 2011

Poor Butterfly

Yesterday was not the best for Archibald McDog, my greyhound-German Shepherd mix. He’s the dog with the WORST characteristics of both those breeds – the Nazi assertiveness of a herder that WILL move that 1,500 lb cow combined with the laser-focuses “eye” of the greyhound that locks on the target, shutting out anything else. So, sharp commands, “No kitty! No kitty!” falls on – literally – deaf ears.

In short, he’s the household’s butthead with two speeds; sound asleep or 1,000 rpm hyper-reactive, head-swiveling, hyper vigilance – BALL! SQUIRREL! KITTY!

A couple of years ago, a type of cancerous tumor appeared on the back of his thigh. Luckily, it was the type that doesn’t spread, can usually be easily removed, but unfortunately, tends to grow back. So, with crossed fingers, I took him in to remove the lump. All went well until Saturday night when I returned home from work to find he had pulled out the stitches and there he was with a gaping wound in the back of his leg.

In a panic, I headed up for the after-hours emergency clinic in Atascadero ($$ Ching! $$Ching!) where they put in more staples. Which he pulled out by Sunday night. By that point, I just draped the back leg with a jury-rigged pant-leg to keep it loosely covered and got him back into Dr. Truax on Monday morning. But by that time, the skin edges had dried, the muscle underneath had dried and Dr. Truax just said, no use fooling with this. Keep it clean, the skin will re-grow. And sure enough it did.

And through it all, Archie didn’t blink an eye. Gaping skin wound on his back leg? NO PROBLEM! He reacted like the Black Knight in “Monty Python’s Holy Grail” movie, the one who, with all his limbs hacked off, kept bouncing around threatening to continue the fight. I have not doubt that if you whacked his legs off, Archie would still roll down the breezeway at full speed, eyes bright, tongue lolling, racing Finn and Zuri, looking for BALL! SQUIRRELL! KITTY! And if you told him, “Hey, slow down, you don’t have any legs,” he look at me and say, “Ech, who needs legs. Let’s roll!”

Well, fast forward two years, and true to the tumor’s behavior, the lump had grown back so it was a toss up: remove or leave it in place. Given Archie’s age, it was a coin toss: leave it and hope it won’t die and suppurate and have to be removed when the dog is even older and more vulnerable to surgery, or take it off and gain a couple of more years. So, while the lump on his leg wasn’t bothering him, he had suddenly started limping and fussing with something between his front toes, which turned out to be another cancerous lump. But this one was open and hurting him. So, since the largest real cost and danger in surgery is anesthesia, especially in older dogs, we figured, in for a penny; in for a pound and had both removed while he was conked out.

Only this time, I had bought a large soft Elizabethan collar and had Archie wearing it for a few days to get used to it, hoping that would prevent him from reaching his stitches on both his leg and foot. It was a woeful Archie in his ridiculous Cone of Shame, but with praise and treats, he settled in and made the best of it. And I got busy whacking up bits of old clothes to make a sort of cobbled together pant-leg covering that would keep the wound area covered and, hopefully, inaccessible in case he was able to get past the soft cone.

As I knew would happen, when I picked him up at the vet’s office, he was raring to go, tail flashing, tongue out, revving up for a run. But after I got him home, gave him a dose of Medicam pain meds, rigged him up, it finally hit home: He hurt. He was very very tired. And after eating a bit, he crashed, down for the count all night.

Poor baby. Now, we’ll see how long all my preparations will last and whether he’ll go roaring off into creating a stitch/staple pulling big mess, which will likely not bother him in the least.

Free Basenji

A friend called last night to alert me to the fact that there was a tri-colored Basenji (black, brown, white, vs the more usual tan and white ) named Frodo and he’s looking for a good home on Craiglist (click on pets). He had been boarded at Creekside Kennels in Arroyo Grande when his owner died so with the help of the owner’s relatives, he’s staying there for now. The Creekside # is (805) 481-7711. He’s a 1 year old neutered, vaccinated male. Really cute. I alerted Basenji Rescue of Southern California, so if no one locally adopts him, he can always head south for re-homing. And I emailed Creekside to let them know if somebody locally adopts him and they’re not familiar with the breed, I’d be happy to meet with them and get them information and resources/advice on the breed. But, if you’re familiar with the breed and ever wanted to own a Basenji, here’s a good chance. He’s a really cute little guy.

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