Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What a dog.

I have alot to say today, so get yourself a nice hot cup of coffee and have a seat.
Yesterday, we had to take Bailey to the vet because he had what is called a "hot spot". An area of skin that he has just irritated by scratching and working at it until the skin is raw and matted. It could have started as a mosquito bite or something like that, but now is just a open sore area about the size of a CD, maybe a little smaller. He started scratching there last week, and by the weekend he was miserably sore. Jerry put a sock on his back foot to keep his toes from breaking the skin, because Bailey just kept working at it. Now, if you remember when Bailey first came to us, he was shy and skittish and neurotic. Our perfect dog. After a few weeks, and really even months, he has turned into a confident, fun and well behaved sweetheart. He is a gem. But in three short days, because this sore was driving him crazy, he became stifled all over again. We'd find him sleeping in the closet or under the bed. He was completely looking to be alone so he could scratch his back without being told "no". Also, because he punishes himself before we do. I always say Bailey is probably Irish like Jake, because they both take on everyone's guilt. Ha ha. We put hydrocortisone creme on him , because we had a vet appointment first thing Tuesday morning, but this didn't really help alot. He needed antibiotics and serious meds. By Tuesday morning he was ready. He jumped in the car and he looked like someone who had won the lottery. "We're going somewhere! Yippee!" We got to the vets office (which is a new location and building) and Bailey proceeded to "talk" to the staff there. Let me tell you about Bailey - he doesn't "talk". This is the dog who didn't bark for the first three or four months we had him. He just didn't bark. There were obviously two other dogs here who had that under control. If someone came to the door, he was up and at it with everyone else, but not barking. Just taking it all in. After about four months he barked at Jake when Jake was attempting to get a little friendly. I guess that was worth speaking up for, and he was finally comfortable enough here to say something. After that, he would occasionally speak up for one thing or another, but not a barky kind of guy. Just quiet. Well, he let loose a mouthful to the girl at the counter. He jumped up and put his paws upon the desk there, and started mouthing and whining and clearly trying to communicate "I am in pain here, get someone out here and help me out!" It went on for quite some time. he would begin a whole new diatribe every time someone new walked into the reception area. "Yo, whoa, did you hear me? Is someone coming out for us? Do you see this thing on my neck area? Can we get right on it?" It was very very cute, and very pitiful. He was breaking my heart. When it was finally our turn, he jumped up and practically ran into the examination room. "Yes! A Solution!" Jerry took the leash off once we were inside the exam room, and Jen the assistant came in to meet Bailey face to face for the first time. She too fell in love, and had quite a lengthy conversation with him. He had become very vocal in this visit to the new vet. We got all his records and vaccination information into the computer, all the while Bailey was polite and friendly and just a real good boy. Jen and another assistant came in to shave the affected area. Well. This dog has my heart forever. What he endured can only be described as brutal. They were able to get to the area on his back which was matted and infected and bleeding and oozing and had to be cleaned up so it could be treated. But there were a few spots that had crusted over (sorry, having breakfast? You might want to skip this next paragraph) and had to be got at with a little pressure. With Jerry holding him around his body, and the assistant holding his head steady, and me holding whatever I could get my hands on (because my eyes were closed) and massaging, all of us tried to help Bailey get through this painful necessary process. Once the matted hair was gone, they could clean the wound and apply ointment that would make him feel 100% (1000%?) better. But you can't verbalize this to a dog, and he looked and sounded terrified. I have never heard a dog "scream" like this, but that is what he did, all while everyone was holding him and the clipper was shaving his neck. He pushed and fought so hard that he pooped on the table. Right there. That just added to his upsetment and humiliation, and broke my heart. After that was all done, they cleaned up the area and him, and he just trembled underneath the bench. It took a few moments for the chaos to wear off, and he was clearly traumatized, as was I. The Doctor, the Assistant, Jerry and I all felt terrible. It was not a good day in the life of Bailey. After he had a shot of prednisone type medication (great-now a dog on steroids, this should be fun) he calmed down and clearly felt better. He was sweet and trying to apologize to everyone in the room "I lost it, just lost it, sorry." And we were all feeling his pain. As the vet was explaining the meds I asked if there was a script he could write for me because I was traumatized. I am not good with body fluids that don't belong to me, whether dog, child, or anyone else. Jerry asked me how I was able to have three children and change diapers and blow noses and my answer is this: If it is a natural body function I can get through it. But things that have gone "awry" are a problem for me. I have tremendous respect for Doctors and nurses and emergency technicians and anyone who handles those problems on a regular basis. You have my complete respect. Anything "gone awry" is not something I can handle. I was shot. Jerry was, as always, a total asset to the Doctor and his assistant. A pair of capable hands where needed. I fell apart. If I could have climbed under the bench with Bailey I would have been cowering there too. But he has my complete love and affection. What a dog. What a dog.
So that was our day. A traumatic and emotional end to a wonderful weekend. Bailey spent the rest of the day finally resting and getting some quality zzzz's on his bed. He will probably never know how much he has changed in my eyes. Seeing him under that type of trauma and pain, and and observing how he did not turn vicious or snap at us is a feat that I am in awe of. I got more vicious during childbirth, and I could fully understand what was happening. I am now convinced that our heart-to-heart communication is remarkably adequate when it comes to our pets. They know we're not hurting them, we're trying to help them. They do the best they can for us. And us for them. I knew all this in my head, but yesterday my heart was won. What a dog.
On a side note, I did not get the meds I was looking for. I just had to buck up. Poor Jerry.

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