Sunday, May 15, 2005

Yay, me!...not

Today I saved a dog from extreme neglect. Wait, hold your applause. It's my dog.

Here's the thing. All her life, Perla had a problem with itching. (Yes, Perla died in February. Bear with me for a minute.) We tried different things and some of them seemed to help, but at times she would scratch so much her hair would fall out, especially on her back, down near her tail. We improved her diet, bathed her with different things, and got some magic pills from the vet. It sometimes seemed to help and sometimes didn't.

Tina would occasionally get a bit of whatever it was, but it was usually not that much of a problem. But lately she's been having it again, at least as bad as Perla ever did. Her whole back end is pretty much bare, and she's scratching herself raw. She's even getting bare spots on her face now. I started giving her the pills a week or two ago, and it seemed to help some.

BTW I know that, when an animal is itchy, fleas are the first thing you'd think of, but all the animals have 10-month flea collars on. Tina's collar is the oldest one, but it was still only bought six or seven months ago and we haven't had a flea problem for ages.

So anyway when I was feeding the herd this morning, Tina slipped into the house. That was good because it would let me give her the pill without the other dogs getting in the way. I figured maybe I'd even bring her dish in for a few minutes so she could eat in peace. And when I got down to her level to give her the pill (wrapped in cream cheese), suddenly it all became clear. She does too have fleas. She shouldn't, but she does. Her hair is so thin in places that I actually saw one out for a stroll. Apparently they're eating her alive.

I felt terrible that she could be so miserable that I was actually considering having her put to sleep, and it's really just a bunch of stupid fleas. (I guess it would have been worse if I actually had put her to sleep...) Of course it's possible that the fleas aren't the only problem, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens from here.

I bathed her with flea soap, then cut all her (remaining) hair short so it will be easier to see if she has any more. (I thought I was sacrificing fashion for comfort, but she actually looks way better after the haircut.)

She was trembling when I cut her hair and I wasn't sure if it was because of discomfort, fear or cold. I think, though, it was cold. It's kind of a chilly day, but that bath just could not wait. And a few times while I was trimming her she got up and walked away, then came right back and lay down in front of me again. So I don't think it was unpleasant for her, or even if there were some parts she didnt like, I think she was beginning to feel a lot better. I found three or four live fleas after the bath, and a few dead ones still stuck in her fur. I don't know how many went down the drain, but it doesn't seem like she was completely overrun. Maybe she's just more sensitive to them than other animals.

One problem she's always had is that her fur gets matted, and I can only imagine what it must be like to have a flea crawling around under a dreadlock... Fortunately, I had cut her hair recently enough that she wasn't too badly off in that sense - a few incipient knots and one or two clumps on her feet, but nothing too extreme. And it's all gone now, and too short to knot up again any time soon.

This poor dog is so old. All she really wants in life is a cardboard box to lie in, and to be able to eat her dinner in peace. I think I'm going to let her be an indoor dog from now on...if we can come to an understanding about bathroom habits. How often do dogs need to go out? I don't even remember, it's been so long. Actually I don't think my dogs have ever been complete indoor animals, even back in Barva. I think they always slept outside. We'll have to see how she handles this, but I hope we can make it work because she deserves it. Poor baby.

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