Category Archives: Vet Visit

Chloë Goes on “Bed Rest”

Therapeutic massage.

Turned out all that slow walking I was doing the past couple of months might have been more than my natural dachshund stubbornness. Heather and Mike increasingly observed my back legs shaking when I was standing still, and sometimes limping during and after a rousing game of fetch. When Schatzi stayed at my house back in August, my discomfort boiled over. I tried to ignore her, but I had to nip at her a few times to let her know in no uncertain terms there would be no unbridled wrassling on this particular visit. I needed to take it easy.

Bed rest.

Heather called the veterinary  about an examination, but since my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, was not available until the middle of September, Heather put me on “bed rest” for a five days. That meant no hijinks with Schatzi, no chasing my ball, no knocking Wiffie under the furniture, no tug of war with Lamby, no jumping in or out of my camp chair, no going downstairs and, most importantly, no long walks. Every day, just a few brief excursions outside for a pee and a 10-minute (tops) afternoon stroll just to get some fresh air and take care of business. When I finally saw Dr. Kimmel, she endorsed Heather’s prescription and extended it for another month. If this were baseball, that’s like being moved from the 10-day to 60-day IL (injured list). That’s a long time.

Rest in another bed.

Despite my relative lack of activity, so far my treatment hasn’t included special hospital rations – that is, portion reduction in my meals or snacks. Heather has been holding steady in that department, thankfully, although I will approach my next weigh-in at the vet with some trepidation. Other aspects of the plan aren’t so bad. For instance, since I’m not allowed to go downstairs, Heather moved my downstairs crate into the living room, so I can still get inside it for my morning biscuit. I immediately liked running up and down the short ramp they put over the steps by the front door. And, while I have missed the long walks and especially playing fetch, I do have to admit that these short afternoon walks are surprisingly to my liking. Every day, I have been prancing along enthusiastically, eliciting many smiles and comments on my gait from admiring passersby, and more-than-happy to be getting home for dinner that much quicker.

Wiffie under-furniture baffles in storage.

Rest and medication seem to be working, too. Heather noted just yesterday that I am showing more energy and more power in my stride. Sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to be taking it easy, and I jump out of a chair to the floor without help or coax Mike into having a brief tug  of war with me and Lamby. Heather has kept a watchful eye on me, and she scolds us before things can get out of hand, shutting me down but deflecting the responsibility: “No throwing!” she yells. “Dr. Kimmel says NO!” Doctor’s orders! End of story.

Chloë Gets a Clean Bill of Health

Early wakeup call.

I knew something was up one morning when the alarm on Heather’s phone awakened me, and it was still dark outside. Normally, I’m the alarm clock around here, and I’m not stirring before the sun comes up. When she served me breakfast right away, before we even went outside, I figured it out: On annual physical day, there’s no feeding within two hours of my imminent blood work and examination.

This made me nervous right away, and my anxiety escalated while I was sitting in Heather’s car in the vet’s parking lot, awaiting an assistant to snatch me up and take me into the inner sanctum, where virus protocols still forbid Heather to enter. I needn’t have bothered with all the shaking, however. My nervousness abated as soon as the vet’s assistant read the results of my weigh-in on the digital scale in the lobby. Rather than the bad news I expected, I had actually shed a whopping .12 pounds since my previous visit! With that result, I could finally be confident that Heather’s liberal dispersal of my personal stimulus treats will continue. That was a load off my mind.

Hidden camera captures previous examination with the renowned Dr. Kimmel.

And that was just the start of the good news coming post-examination from my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel. Unlike those of former President Trump’s doctors, here’s a medical report you can trust. The noted dachshund veterinarian  wrote: “Chloë was 20.88 lbs today, which is stable and a great weight. Her teeth look great, and her crown/root canal appears stable.”

Moreover, after my visit she came out to the car to personally tell Heather that I am just a “mass of muscle.” There had been some concern recently about my rear right leg shaking after exercise, but Dr. Kimmel found nothing wrong back there. “There may be a bit of pain, but could also be some muscle overexertion, ” she wrote. “She did not show obvious pain, weakness or neurologic deficits on exam. If it seems to be more prominent, we could try a nerve pain medication after heavy activity.”

After reviewing my blood and stool tests, she added, “I am very happy to report that Chloë’s lab results were all excellent, which included thyroid level, kidney and liver function, electrolytes, proteins, and red/white blood cell counts. There are also no obvious reasons for her hindlimb shaking that I see on her labs. Keep up the great work on her teeth and weight! You’d never guess she’s 11!”

Chloë on the hunt.

I celebrated the good news later that afternoon by ditching Mike and Heather  to pursue rabbits and other spring rodents around the pond adjacent to one of my favorite fetch locations. After about 20 minutes or so, I let Heather catch up to me. Chasing rabbits is fun, but I knew it was almost time for the extra cheese treats and dinner. I was about to receive. Brains as well as brawn!

Chloë Diets

At Shilshole Marina near Erikson statue.

The week started out on such a high note. The pack and I went on a long walk  with my Juneau pals Debbie and George, who had just gotten good news about his response to treatment. We walked next to the Sound through Golden Gardens Park and Shilshole Marina, but we stayed far enough away from the water that waves weren’t an issue for me. Before we left, I got a chance to relax under a bench near the statue of  the Norse explorer Leif Erikson, a big idol around these parts. If protesters decide to pull it down because of some sordid indiscretions in his past (I’ve heard he beat his dogs), I was able to get one more look.

Just two days later, however, my world came crashing down. What started out as an innocent trip to the vet to get my nails clipped and glands drained (you don’t want to know any more about this, trust me) finished as my worst nightmare. Heather had to wait in her car per the vet’s pandemic protocols, the technician who ushered me back to the car unfortunately divulged that they weighed me on the way through the lobby. He really didn’t need to do that! He could have just updated my information on the computer and not told Heather, because as soon as she got home, she told Mike. Uh-oh.

22 pounds! Less than 17 months ago, Mike, Heather and Dr. Kimmel, my personal physician, determined that my ideal weight would be 20 pounds. Unfortunately,  I blew past that point some time ago.  In this case, at least, the statistics don’t lie.

4/1/19 20.13
6/13/19 19.1
10/31/19 20.1
12/13/19 19.5
2/26/20 20.2 (high)
4/13/20 21.0 (higher)
7/14/20 22.0 (highest!)

Top selling point for Charlee Bear dog treat.

I’m sure Mike will want to put an immediate stop to this disturbing trend. He’ll no doubt institute a diet plan, and I will hate it. Regardless of the details, I already know it will mean fewer treats, less peanut butter in my Frozen PBBs and less food in my bowl at meal time.  Sure enough, the very next day I saw him use a Sharpie to draw a new line in the small blue plastic scoop he uses to dole out my kibble. Filling to that new line will barely fill a thimble. I see no way around it, either. Even if I manage to behave exceptionally well, the only rewards I’ll get will be those tiny Charlee Bears, which are OK treats but only three calories each. Mike will  starve me.

Actual size!

This will be quite a turnaround for me. During the past three summers, the pack and I drove to Syracuse and back, and I was living high on the hog each time. I had a perch in the back seat of the car where I could see everything and stick my head out the window whenever we slowed down. Wherever we stopped, there were exciting new places to sniff and every person and every dog I met doted on me. There were plenty of extra treats from family, friends and even strangers. Sometimes we stopped for ice cream, and Heather gave me a lot of hers (Mike gave me a little). This summer, I’m stuck here in COVID quarantine and on a diet. It will be a long, hot summer indeed.

Chloë Perfects Her Inside Game

Our heroine

It’s harder to get enough exercise in these days of quarantine. My games of fetch have been at a minimum; it’s hard to find a space without people, big dogs, little kids, runners or bikes whizzing by. Over Easter weekend, the mayor closed the park entirely. We were forced to walk along Magnolia Boulevard and around the neighborhood, and  fetch opportunities shrank  faster than Trump’s approval rating. Don’t get me started down that road.

Luckily, I  can always entice Mike into indoor playtime. Heather not so much, but Mike is easy. Whenever I get tired of sleeping, throttling Lamby in the living room or mining for crumbs on the dining room rug, I  sit in front of  Mike and make little whining noises until he succumbs and follows me into the kitchen, where he sits on the floor and tosses Wiffie at me so I can work on my inside game.  I call it “catch and release.” Catchy, eh?

Quarantined or not, I’ve got to stay in shape. After turning 10 years old in February, my weight has been creeping up again, and Mike threatened to put me on the dreaded diet. It was a good thing that last week  was my annual physical with Dr. Aimee Kimmel,  my longtime personal physician. After the exam, she assured Heather that my weight gain was OK. “Overall, she is doing great!” Dr. Kimmel wrote in her report.· “She is a little ball of muscle at 21.0 pounds.” Couldn’t have phrased it better myself! Mike might plan to economize on my daily rations, but even a tyrant like him wouldn’t ignore the science-driven advice of his top medical expert—nobody could be that dumb.

Dr. Kimmel on a previous visit.

The rest of my annual physical was pretty routine, but it was different, too, and not just because Elliott Bay Animal Hospital officially designated me a “senior patient.” Because of virus-prevention, Heather had to wait in the car in the parking lot while I went inside for my exam and other assorted stuff like nail-trimming and anal gland extraction (I’ll spare you the details).

After about a half-hour of examining and some shots, I got to take a break outside and meet Heather for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Then it was back inside for more shots. I was hoping all this variation from my normal going-to-the-vet procedures would result in extra treats for me, but I was disappointed. Maybe next time will be better, however. As a senior patient, they want to see me again in six months for additional blood work. I see every appointment as another opportunity to cash in on canine Social Security.

Chloë Injured in the Line of Duty

Returning to the scene of the crime.

I could tell from well down the hill that this dog would be trouble. I tried to pull Mike in another direction, but we were on a narrow trail near the top of the South Meadow, and the dog was standing right next to our path. His person sat to his left, holding his leash.  He wasn’t that big, but I wanted no part of him, going as far to my left as I could, so Mike was between me and the other dog. He was actually cute, in a Benji kind of way, and Mike thought he was harmless, so he spoke to the dog, told him we were nice guys, and extended his palm for sniffing.

That move backfired, however, as the dog lunged at Mike and barked. I yanked Mike in the opposite direction to save him (and get out of the way myself), but as I dug in my paws, a sharp shard of rock shot up into the bottom of my foot and up between my toes. While the barking dog’s owner mumbled apologies, I hustled Mike up the trail to where it intersects with the paved park road. Only when I knew we were in the clear did the pain hit me, and from that point I limped home, hurting every time I put my front right foot down. Mike stopped to check my paw a couple of times, but there wasn’t much he could see or do. I stumbled home.

It’s the right front, doc.

Heather tried to remove the shard using her high-powered flashlight and  tweezers, but to no avail. When she still couldn’t get it out the next morning, it was off to see Dr. Kimmel, my personal physician. After she examined my paw, she sent me right to the dreaded Back Room, where all the really nasty stuff takes place. Plied with many treats, however, I held my squeals to a minimum, and the sharp little prick finally came out, making me feel better immediately.

Luckily, I didn’t need stitches or even a bandage. The only special instruction Dr. Kimmel gave Heather was to cover my paw when we walked in the park, so dirt didn’t get up between my toes. Heather disdained bandaging it, opting instead for fastening an old sock from her rag bin around my right front paw with rubber bands. I wore it on our walks for three days, but on the third day it fell off and dropped somewhere along our path. Maybe some dorky rodent found it and used it for nesting material, but I didn’t care. I was about done with it, anyway.

 

Chloë Dives into Water Sports

Not comfortable enough!

The traveling part of our cross-country trip can be tough on all of us. Mike’s legs and butt hurt from sleeping in so many different beds. Heather gets rankled when damn New York drivers cut her off or, even worse, tailgate her car on city streets even when she’s already doing over the speed limit! And I get irritated every time something disrupts my daily routine so I don’t get treats on time, which has happened far too often for my liking.

One routine we followed at home in Seattle was Heather cleaning my ears every single week in order to ward off my too-frequent ear infections. The trip interrupted  our habit, however. Sure enough, soon after arriving in Syracuse I found myself in the Jamesville clinic of Dr. Gary Rothman, the vet Mike and Heather used when they lived in Syracuse way back in the last century. In fact, they were still in the clinic’s computer system, and everyone who treated me there seemed very impressed that we had such a low client number (from 26 years and two dogs ago). Anyway, the medicine that Heather dutifully squeezed into my left ear twice a day seemed to do the trick, and all the yucky stuff and the itching went away almost immediately. We will do better on the trip back, Heather vowed.

Anyway, I felt much better by the time we went to Brantingham Lake to visit my Alaska pals Debbie and Juneau George and the rest of Debbie’s family. Her brother Jaimo took us on a long, slow boat ride around the whole lake and the next day on a long car ride on forest roads. I got to sit on Heather’s lap the whole way in the car and most of the time on the boat ride, so I was happy, even when I had to pee real bad and there was no stopping.

I reciprocated those favors by showing everybody how to get to a nearby place called Shingle Mill Falls that I had discovered the day before. No waves or lapping water there, so I was able to walk both up and downstream with ease, leaping between the rocks and changing the course of Otter Creek by digging new channels in several locations. 

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Lest anyone think I went overboard with this newfound devotion to water sports, a few days later I respectfully declined to be lured down the steps into Tuscarora Lake for a swim, nor did I jump into a motorboat with Mike and Heather to make a beeline across the lake to a concert on the opposite shore. I was perfectly happy to snooze in the car for a couple of hours and rest up for the next phase of my exciting vacation.

Chloë Tops 20

Chloe’s Crown

Maybe we should just do away with this “annual physical” thing. I feel great, and yet every single time Dr. Aimee, my personal physician, manages to find something wrong with me. Usually it’s an ear infection, but Heather has been trying hard to keep them clean, which means weekly swabbings and more cheese treats for me. At my previous annual physical, she discovered the chipped tooth that led to my shiny titanium crown. This year, she zeroed in on my skin, dry and flaking in spots.

But that was hardly the worst news to come out of this yearly exercise. Even harder to take than the heartbreak of psoriasis was the mandatory weigh-in, which did not turn out well from my standpoint: 20.13 pounds, a gain of more than three pounds in the past year, which does seem like a lot. Maybe the scale malfunctioned, just more fake news.

Poised and ready for the doctor

But I ask you: Do I look heavy? Personally, while I am forced to admit that a few gray hairs sprinkle my back, I’m not seeing any signs of middle-age paunch down below. In fact, I’m leaner and in better shape than most dachshunds half my age. Maybe I’m just starting to take after my brothers Frank and Stanley, a late bloomer into the imposing physique of a  big-boned gal from Washington State.

Hospital anxiety

Dr. Aimee, who a year ago set my target weight at 18.5 pounds, told Mike and Heather that we’d consider 20 pounds or so as my new normal. Even with that reassurance, however, Mike immediately cut back my twice-a-day rations: Now I get 5 of the special Hills Oral Care “meatballs” instead of 6 at each meal. “At least until things stabilize,” he promised me, anticipating my opposition to this latest menu change. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Chloë Has a Crowning Achievement

I realize I have been laggard in reporting on the second phase of my oral surgery, but the news was good. My personal dentist, Dr. Evan Crocker, did a masterful job when installing a shiny new titanium crown over the chipped tooth that resulted in last month’s root canal procedure. Check it out here in these photos, graciously provided by the Mercer Island Vetinerary Clinic, as I am unlikely to slow down enough to show it to you myself. You have to fold back my upper lip pretty far to get a good view.

My new crown on the top row.

A close-up view. What a shine!

Unfortunately, Dr. Crocker also discovered a little growth on the gum line beneath the crown that he missed the last time, so he cut it out and sent it out for biopsy, just to make sure it’s benign. We await the results, but nobody seems too worried about it. Besides, if I have to go back to Mercer Island before my six-month checkup, I’ll get to see all my new good buddies there, including Justin, the nice guy with shiny blue nail polish that goes well with my shiny new crown.

Chloë Hits Her Target

Figure 1: Chloe Weight Chart May 2018

As we all knew would happen, my food honeymoon is over. After nine glorious weeks of uber-rations, I reached my target weight (18.5 pounds) at my most recent vet visit, when I weighed in at 18.69 pounds. That visit was the one after the last one on the accompanying chart (Figure 1). On that very day, twirling his imaginary handlebar mustache like the mean Simon Legree we know him to be, Mike immediately cut me back to his unilaterally imposed and strictly observed meager limits. Oh, the agony of it all! The only saving grace right now is the extra broth Mike is adding to all my meals, since I have to eat softened kibble until Dr. Crocker installs the cap on my recently root-canaled chipped tooth. (Meaning more sedation and great dreams to come, no doubt!)

Double dose of goo.

While I was sad when my bulk-up menu ended, I will always savor the glorious nine weeks that it was! I gained almost two pounds in nothing flat. I can see how some members of the dachshund breed can get precipitously porky. Not me. . .at least not as long as Mike and Heather are paying attention, anyway. I’d settle for some middle ground.

I also had a great visit with my buddy Lynn, who came over for some play and cuddles one evening when Mike and Heather went out to watch the first-place Seattle Mariners. I always go absolutely nuts when Lynn comes over. She really knows how to talk “dog talk” in a higher pitch, if you know what I mean.  When she’s around I always get plenty of attention, plenty of play and plenty of treats. Heather even moved my big, round toy pillow back to the middle of the living room, so Lynn and I could get at them easier while she was here. So we did a lot of playing, upstairs and downstairs, too. But the best parts of Lynn’s visit were cuddling on the couch, jumping up on her lap and biting her nose. Every time I look in her eyes, it’s true love. Thanks for coming over, Lynn!

Big, round toy pillow makes brief reappearance.

The downside of the week was yet another ear infection, this time in my “good ” right ear. Heather and Dr. Kimmel each took a bunch of ugly black goo out of my ear and squirted some soothing white goo in.  I don’t like it one bit; when Heather says the word “ears,” I run. But after this now-daily ordeal is done, Heather gives me cheese. Not the little bits of chopped-up mozzarella sticks Mike gives me, but thick pieces of smoked Gouda. Less goo, more Gouda, dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! For that level of payoff, sign me up for an ear massage every day.

Chloë Interprets Her Dreams

Hanging out with Mr. Monkey

Just as I am while I am awake, when asleep I am a vocal dreamer. Rare is the night that I don’t startle my crate-mate Mr. Monkey and even at times Mike and Heather with my yips, whines, low growls and, at the least, gentle snoring.

There’s no doubt that I dream. Noted pet behaviorist Patricia McConnell accepts the concept of dog dreaming, but wonders what we’re dreaming about. She argues that, like humans, dogs probably dream about recent events through a funnel of memory-processing and consolidation. “Thus, it is reasonable to speculate that our dogs are dreaming about something that might have happened during the day, but not necessarily in context. (Herding the rabbit they saw in the woods in the afternoon, but this time in a sheepdog trial in the snow under a purple sky?)” McConnell writes on her blog, The Other End of the Leash.

I bring this up now because of my recent oral surgery, for which Dr. Crocker, who otherwise seems like a nice man, had to put me under anaesthesia. See, despite the anti-anxiety medication Mike administered twice before forcing me into the car and taking me on what could have been the last ride of my life (and they didn’t even let me sit in the front seat!), I  was afraid. Not of having my tooth drilled, filed and filled. I was afraid of the nightmares I was certain to have while I was off in another dimension.

“Do dogs have nightmares?” McConnell asked in the same post. “It seems very likely. Our experiences, the biological continuum between all mammals, and the emotional content of REM dreams, suggest that they do. So many of us have seen and heard dogs growl and whine while dreaming. I’ve had clients whose dogs woke up in a panic, sometimes even running across the room and trying to hide. Science teaches us to be ‘parsimonious’ in our explanations of what we observe, and surely it is simpler to explain what we observe, and what we’ve learned about neurobiology, to assume that dogs do indeed have nightmares until evidence appears that tells us that they don’t. I wouldn’t bet on that happening, myself. But it is also probably true that most of a dog’s dreams aren’t nightmares, and are either pleasant, or just bizarre.”

I considered myself lucky when my hours of stupor produced only these wonderful thoughts.

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When I awoke, I was still a little woozy, but Mike and Heather were there to greet me and told me I had done a great job. And there was good news: Dr. Crocker managed to save my tooth with a root-canal procedure instead of extracting it. In a couple of weeks, I get to go back to finish the job, putting a permanent crown on the tooth and enjoying another few minutes of drug-induced dreaming. This time I’m looking forward to it.