Category Archives: Vet Visit

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.

 

Chloë Weighs In

Chloë gets physical.

I had my annual physical with my personal physician last week, and the results were both good and bad. Good news first: I am finally getting some medicines to control my two recurring maladies, ear infection (left ear worse) and skin rash. Dr. Kimmel prescribed antibiotic pills, gook for my ears, shampoo for my skin, the whole works. Hopefully this will get rid of this once and for all. If not, well, at least Heather gives me extra cheese treats after every treatment, so it’s not all bad.

Speaking of food, I got even better news from Dr. Kimmel. After I weighed in at a mere 16.95 pounds, well below my target weight of 18.5, which is exactly what I weighed a year ago. That means what Heather, Caroline, Charlie, Lynn and other people who really care about me have been saying for months was true: I am too skinny!!! That mean Mike is starving me, and Dr. Kimmel had the perfect prescription for that: “Bring Chloë’s morning meal to 3/4 cup while she is active to help maintain her weight.” It’s written right there in black and white under “Notes to Owner.” Got that, Mike?

Dining festival on tap.

So I’m going to get more food! When I heard that, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

So  after all that good news, what could be so bad? Well, after eight straight years of praising my exemplary dental hygiene, Dr. Kimmel discovered something no amount of brushing could have prevented: I chipped a tooth. (I can’t imagine how that happened! A bone? A stick? A plastic food container?) Unfortunately, this upper molar is one of the most important ones for chewing, which I’m planning to do a lot more of since my rations have increased. I’m going to need that tooth in the future, too, anticipating lots of joyful gnawing to come. I wouldn’t want to be without one of my major tools.

Being careful with chipped tooth.

The chipped tooth surprised Mike, whose attentiveness to my dental hygiene has impressed my doctor at every previous checkup. In his defense, the tooth was too far in the back of my mouth for him to see it, and if the exposed area was the source of  any pain, I wasn’t showing it.  Apparently dogs don’t complain about pain, facing it stoically to avoid showing weakness to predators and the rest of their pack. I’m not sure this veterinary truism applies to me, however, since I squeal like crazy if someone steps on my tail, I complain about almost everything and I whine every time I don’t get my way. It’s always easy to know where I stand.

Anyway, since the interior of the chipped tooth is exposed and possibly infected, treatment is required. The question was whether to try to save the tooth by doing a root canal operation and perhaps putting a cap on it later, or to extract it. The extraction, while less expensive, is more dangerous, as it could lead to bone loss in my jaw if the tooth’s roots are deep. Mike and Heather decided the root canal was the clear choice, so in a couple of weeks we’ll meet my doggie dentist and schedule the procedure. I foresee a lot of cheese after this one.

Please, sir, I want some more!

Meanwhile, I’m not having any trouble scarfing down the humongous bowls of food Mike is plopping down in front of me twice a day in an attempt to put some weight on this frail body of mine. I predict, however, that as soon as I get back to my target weight, Mike will cut back on this current largess, so I’ve got to enjoy every one of these lumberjack meals to the fullest. So far I seem to be doing a good job of it, judging from the changes in my daily bodily functions. Ironically, at the same time the size of the poop bags is shrinking, the frequency and size of my poop is expanding. Something’s got to give.

 

 

Chloë Slims Down for Boot Camp

Exam room: The weighting is the hardest part.

With Heather officially retired and  boot camp looming, I approached my annual physical with some trepidation. After all, my most recent weigh-in last December hadn’t gone so well: an all-time high of 19.5 pounds. That explains why on our February staycation,my best friend Lynn was much stricter with portion control. But the diligence paid off: At last week’s weigh-in I has dropped a whole pound to 18.5, which Heather says is my “ideal” weight, and she should know. The vet’s assistant weighed me twice just to make sure I wasn’t cheating.

Don’t touch me there!

My regular physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, was back from maternity leave, and even though I had no new concerns to report, Dr. Aimee made sure to poke her instruments (or fingers) through every orifice in my body. While she, as usual, praised my dental work (“Beautiful!” she exclaimed), she did chip a big hunk of tartar from my upper right molars, which are understandably hard for Mike to get with a toothbrush. “Please keep brushing her teeth daily,” the doc told Mike. “It is really helping.”

Bonding with Dr. Aimee post-exam.

On the down side, literally, was that the rash on my underside has returned (or never really left), meaning another course of little antibiotic pills that Mike sneaks into my dinner when he thinks I’m not looking. I also get weekly shampoos from my personal trainer, Heather, in which the lather has to stay on my sensitive skin for 10 minutes. Trust me, it’s a long 1o minutes for everyone.

If the treatment for this skin rash doesn’t do the job, Dr. Kimmel said, “We should discuss possible allergic causes and allergy medication.” That didn’t sound good. My brothers Frank and Stanley have been down that road, and I would rather not go anywhere that might involve giving up such favorites as chicken broth on my food or, worse yet, Frozen Peanut Butter Boneys.

That’s why I put up with this shampoo for now. The things you do for love.