Monday, June 21, 2004

Wait and See

I haven't posted in a while. About three weeks ago, we thought for sure that our 15 year old husky Nova was about to die. Prior to that time, he had been healthy, good appetite, but showing some signs of doggie alzheimers, so we took him to the vet for some tests to make sure everything was ok, and to put him on a brain food diet.

The bloodwork came back normal, but his urine was a bit diluted. Our vet suggested an x-ray, which revealed that he had gallbladder stones, a rarety in dogs. She wanted to put him on some gallbladder medication, but recommended an ultrasound to rule out a blockage first. The ultrasound revealed that he was undergoing liver failure. Wait a minute... we came in for doggie alzheimers food and now he's got gallbladder stones and liver failure? This is just more proof that doctors and hospitals make people sick.

So... he got some medication, one of which we had to fill at a regular drugstore, and the woman behind the counter wouldn't believe that it was for our child "Nova" and we took him to a vet because it's cheaper than an HMO. So, that wasn't covered under our co-pay (80 bucks for 30 little pills). Gave him all the pills that first night and he was yacking up the pills and his dinner within an hour's time. Then he refused to eat after that (don't really blame him, he probably thought we were out to poison him).

After a variety of dog foods, then homecooked people foods, we finally got him to eat and he was fine for a week. Sunday came and it was like he had a stroke. Almost no function in his back legs, whining, pacing, listless, and frankly we thought for sure that if he didn't die in his sleep, we'd have to help him along and give him some peace. We only wanted to spend some more time with him before taking him in, so we took some time from work... and the next day he was almost back to his old self, except that he refused to eat. How embarrassing to go crying to your boss that your dog was on its last legs and it was just a matter of time, only to see him bounding down the stairs first thing in the morning.

Since we had the time off, and since we were convinced that he would relapse and go when we weren't there, we stayed home and tried every concoction known to man to get him to eat.

A holistic dog book had the fantastic idea (for sadists) to boil liver, puree it in a blender and force feed him with a turkey baster. As we gagged and heaved while making this noxious mixture, wearing rubber gloves and sterilizing everything the liver touched, we force fed the poor guy this nasty liver "soup". The other dogs (Meeshka, Sam, and Loki) by this time were thoroughly peeved that the old guy was getting all these "tasty" foods, AND going for a ride in the truck (we decided to treat him with trips to Petsmart and Starbucks), that they decided to hold a revolt, so we started feeding them bits of the things that Nova wouldn't eat.

After a few days of the liver "soup", Nova decided that it was in his best interest to eat something. A friend had sent us a recipe for "satin balls", which is mainly raw hamburger, molasses, total cereal, oatmeal and eggs, which we dutifully made and lumped into bite-sized balls, which he ate (thankfully, because now everything we touched smelled like liver).

Our life was on hold for about two weeks, watching him to make sure he was breathing, holding celebrations outside when he took a normal poop (the new neighbors luckily have three dogs of their own and don't look at us too strangely), and feeding him. He's now gotten extremely picky about what he'll eat and when. He'll eat chicken if it's on our plate and we hand it to him, but he won't eat it if we cut it up and put it in a bowl. He'll eat the satin balls if we hold it in our hands, not out of a bowl. He's playing us like a fiddle at this point.

He's not out of the woods at this point. He goes in for follow-up bloodwork to see if the liver meds are helping, because at the last blood test his liver levels are astronomically high. If they're lower, we have to put him on the expensive gallbladder pills too.

Just tonight I was able to spend some time outside with the other dogs, watching them chase and maul each other. They only play if there's an audience. We're starting to get some routine back in our lives, and feel a little better about going to work in the morning and not worrying about what we'll find when we get home.

Some people think we're nuts, "they're only dogs", they say. But to us they're our kids, because we don't have any, don't want any, and frankly don't like them. We don't dress them up and pretend they're kids, they are our dogs, but we've learned more from them than any human, and would rather spend time with them than most people in the world. After dealing with petty people, demanding people, ignorant people, selfish people, and just plain assholes, it's refreshing to come home and get such happiness and love out of one ear scratch. They don't ridicule our clothes, tell us we're fat and need to exercise, want something impossible in 5 minutes (unless it's their dinner), and cuddle up next to you and look at you with such trust and love for so little in return.

I wear my husky fur to work with pride, knowing that they'll be there for me when I come home and not want anything more than just to be with me.

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