Sophie Update

It’s not good news. The new, very expensive medication from the compounding pharmacy across town isn’t making any difference so far. We are on day…4? I think. We should have seen some improvement at this point. She’s had massive, watery diarrhea in the night two out of the last four nights, which is a move in the wrong direction. She had been able to somewhat control it and do it outside for the last couple of weeks. Bless her heart, she does try to put it on the giant potty pads covering the floor, but, yeah. Life is just gross now.

She can’t make it up and down the stairs (I live in a 2nd floor condo). She doesn’t enjoy walks. Taking her out is a chore for both of us. I carry her down the stairs and she is utterly disinterested in the outside world. She’s completely blind and I’m not sure how her other senses are faring. She sleeps 23 hours a day. I’m not sure I’m doing her any favors fighting this battle much longer. I’ll give the fancy new antibiotic the full two weeks, but I’m not feeling hopeful.

A Blind Dog and Her Llama.

Sophie was a huge squirrel fan and TV watcher and barking at golfers off the balcony years ago. She’s losing her vision to cataracts. She’s eleven and a half, which is young for that, but it’s happening.

She always adored playing fetch with her stuffed toys. It was a longstanding ritual. I’d come home from work and the first thing she did was bring me a toy to throw. I’m not sure when she stopped doing that, but gradually fetch just stopped being our ritual. She’d still pick up a toy and toss it around, but fetch was no longer a thing.

The day before yesterday I noticed Sophie exploring the basket where I stash the gazillion toys when I clean the floor. She found a toy and pulled it out of the basket. I hadn’t really been paying attention. This morning I realized that she’d pulled out her llama and took it to her favorite dog bed, so she could nap with it.

And Today We Were Back at the Vet.

Sophie was doing much, much better: pooping normally, eating well, not so gassy since I found ways to totally eliminate chicken from her diet. (You really have no idea how hard it is to avoid poultry until you have a dog allergic to it.) Smooth sailing for about…three weeks?

Yesterday morning as I was leaving for work, I noticed Sophie doing the dreaded butt scoot – obviously something was amiss at that end. I didn’t see anything wrong in the morning, but by the time I got home, yep, one of her anal glands was red and distended. Of course the vet was closed, so I called when they opened this morning, and halleluia! They had a cancellation and were able to squeeze her in. (Heh, get it: “squeeze?” She didn’t think it was funny either.)

So the very nice young vet who looks like she’s around 19 years old but is very smart examined her, and nope, she didn’t have an impacted gland. She wasn’t sure what caused the redness and swelling, so Sophie is back on amoxicillin and pred, just in case. And I’m seriously considering launching a Go Fund Me for my dog’s ass. I do like it when she’s on amoxicillin vs. some other antibiotic, because I can get it filled for free at Publix. Today’s adventure in gross veterinary matters stayed under $100, I’m only half kidding about the Go Fund Me. She’s cost me a fortune this summer.

She wishes to lodge a complaint with the management.

I was horrified by the hairiness of my couch in this photo, and spent a chunk of my morning de-hairing it, de-spotting it, and flipping cushions around. It’ll look like the photo again by tomorrow. Then I did all the laundry, planned meals for the week, put Sophie in a chokehold (as if she hadn’t already suffered enough) for her heartworm dose, and changed the AC filter. I also woke up at 4 am for no particular reason, so I might be indulging in a glass of wine right about now.

Sophie’s Woes (Gross but True)

The last three months have been shitty in every sense of the word. I think it was some time in mid-April when Sophie developed spectacular diarrhea, pretty much out of the blue. It was so spectacular, it would have been comical if I didn’t actually fear for her life. (As long as this post is, it is a highly condensed version of what was actually an over two month long, incredibly expensive and exhausting saga.)

So, Sophie had a gastrointestinal situation. She’s also the smartest and cleanest little dog ever, so this was as distressing for her as it was for me. Did I mention how smart she is? When Sophie has diarrhea, she runs to the master bathroom shower. I didn’t train her to do this, of course, I have no idea how she figured out that the shower would both contain her poopsplosions and be super easy to clean afterward, but she used the shower faithfully during this very trying time. I kept a spray bottle of bleach solution handy for cleanups, and the old grout in the shower has never looked whiter. (Bonus!)

Of course I took her to the vet at the start of this mystery illness, and she was on a steriod and an antibiotic AND expensive prescription food; none of which was helping. Because she’s a very clean dog and doesn’t want to poop in the house if she can help it, she would wake me at all hours when the urgency hit, so we were both miserable.

Weeks went on this way. She seemed to be getting a bit better, then, nope, liquid again. In one particularly impressive burst, she was squatting in the strip of grass beside the driveway, and it burst from her with such force that it SPRAYED ACROSS THE ENTIRE SINGLE CAR DRIVEWAY, which is about 10 feet wide.  I was thankful that it was my driveway and not a neighbor’s.

The Driveway Poopsplosion was frightening. Let’s remember that this is a small Boston Terrier, 12-13 pounds on her biggest day, and I was worried that’d she’d become dehydrated quickly, so I immediately called the vet’s office, and was told they couldn’t see her that day, call somebody else.

This is the veterinary office I’ve been taking my animals to for about 25 years, and yeah, things haven’t been the same since they sold out to VCA. I don’t blame the doctors; they’re preparing for retirement and winding down their practice, and they have to do what makes sense to them. But there are a lot of new faces on staff, and the girl on the desk had no idea I’d been a client since before she was born, and probably wouldn’t have cared. So I called another clinic, and eventually ended up at a very nice clinic a bit further away. I liked the vet so much that when my long-time vet does decide to wrap up and retire, I’ll probably switch to her practice.

BUT – of course this doctor had never seen Sophie before, so she understandably wanted to do a thorough exam with a new patient. She shared my concern about dehydration and gave her subcutaneous fluids and a B-12 injection, and more medication, and told me to follow up with her or my regular vet if she didn’t improve, and another few hundred dollars were spent.

A week later we were back at the regular vet, who said the next step would be to send a blood sample to “the Texas lab” – which turned out to be at Texas A&M, and apparently specializes in canine gastrointestinal distress. Let’s pause a moment and salute the brave lab techs who deal with THOSE samples all day. That test was over $200, but finally, finally we should get an answer about the root cause of the issue.

BUT – remember I said the new vet had given her a B-12 injection? That shot meant that the blood test would be screwed up, and we’d have to wait 30 days before we could do it. So the saga continued; Sophie got better and worse, the poopsplosions became less frequent and dramatic but still, she wasn’t really okay.

(I forgot to mention that we also switched her food to something called “hydrolyzed protein,” which must be made in a magic kitchen high in the Himalayas or something, because that shit costs over $4 a can. I counted my blessings that she wasn’t a Great Dane.) Fortunately, my picky eater LOVED the stuff and cleaned her plate at every meal, and the diarrhea slowed to a weird yellow sludge, but never really went away.

We finally did the expensive Texas A&M blood test – at last we will get a diagnosis and know what’s going on! And it came back: Inconclusive. Yes, her blood showed evidence of the gastrointestinal distress, but not a clear cause.

By now her poopsplosions had slowed to a fairly normal poop schedule, but her poop was still that odd yellow sludge.  She obviously was feeling much better. I had spent well over $1000 on this saga, and decided to take a break from further and increasingly expensive testing, and just see how she did.  Last week she decided she didn’t like the super expensive food anymore, so I decided to throw caution to the winds and try her on the prescription gastro low fat food I still had in the pantry, instead of the hydrolyzed protein.

She liked it more than the HP,  and her poop actually became a bit firmer and more normal looking!  It appeared that our long gastrointestinal nightmare was OVER! She was feeling fine, she liked her food, the entire household started getting some sleep.

Then, the night before last, she woke me at 2 am in distress, AGAIN.  She was peeing very frequently, and her pee had traces of blood in it, and she was obviously very uncomfortable. Yep, she as a urinary tract infection. It was kind of inevitable, if you think of the anatomy of a female dog: her ladybits were in frequent contact with runny poop, no matter how I tried to keep her clean. We were back at the vet yesterday, her pee is at the lab and she’s on a different antibiotic, which hopefully won’t bring back the diarrhea.

And now you are up-to-date on our very shitty summer.