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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

When Dogs Feel Down


My little Scotties are my babies, no two ways about it. Not that I feed them with a baby spoon, or dress them up in little outfits. Well, maybe the outfits upon occasion, but we’re not talking any obsessive freak here.

There have been so many minor mishaps with Misha and Grisha. They let me know when they’re feeling under the weather: that sad, mopey look, when they are normally perky and peppy. Their eyes say it all.

I hated the spate of time when we were at the vet continually, and I finally asked if there was such a thing as pet hypochondriacs. Were our little guys neurotic nuisances? I don’t think so, but the repeated visits had us all stumped.

A few months after Grisha joined the family, we returned home to find Misha sitting in his crate, shaky, drooly, head hanging low. Something was desperately wrong. I should say that Grisha arrived to us with various ailments from neglect: kennel cough, drippy eyes, and parasites. When his diarrhea and bloody stools continued, the vet did a blood test and found a bacterial infection, also. As soon as he grew well, it was now Misha starting to languish, becoming lethargic and looking at me with pleading eyes to help. He was throwing up and refusing to eat.

Off to the pet emergency room near our dacha, a few hundred dollars later, they misdiagnosed him, but at least he received an anti-vomiting shot, an antibiotic shot in case he got the same bacterial infection that Grisha had, and they inserted a pack of fluids subcutaneously on his back, creating the humpback of the Bartologimignano family.

He got better for a few days, then flew with us back to our other home, where he grew worse and they took x-rays and ordered him for surgery. At $3,000 for the surgery alone, not to mention the earlier fees, these dogs were costing us their weight in gold. The doctors had determined that a foreign body was inside Misha’s body. It had not yet entered the colon and seemed to be stuck.

Probably the rubber ring toy he had stolen from Grisha almost two months before. We found him chomping on it, half gone. Normally, we kept the two of them separated as they grew to know who was the leader and who was the follower, but if Misha needed to walk through the kitchen on his way out for a walk, he would try to grab anything he could. And vice-versa. Talk about sibling rivalry.

So the alpha dog had apparently swallowed more than he could handle. We had seen some of the hard rubber ring come out in his vomit, but I guess there was more that could not follow. (Is this too much information?) I asked the vet if it was possible to have a mass sitting in a stomach so long, and he told of a tennis ball that had been in a retriever’s stomach for over ten years. Another friend said the same weekend, she was at a vet and they brought in a Scottie who had a Barbie doll’s head lodged inside him. When they removed that obstruction, they found assorted other items, such as several toy soldiers, along with the Barbie. So anything was possible. The animal hospital would not operate on him until the next afternoon when the radiologist could read more x-rays. We told them we would be praying and believing for a miracle in the meantime. They shaved part of one front leg and inserted an I-V drip to keep him hydrated.

And the Lord started to work on him. Overnight, the mass began to move into his colon. Then it stopped. We prayed some more and commanded that mountain to move! Surely a mass in Misha’s colon was not too great for God. It began to move again. During a rectal exam that afternoon, the doctors could spot the mass, and pulled it out manually. There, you heard it here first. Sure enough, the final piece of the hard rubber ring.

They observed him for a few more hours and finally told me to come and get him after three days in the hospital. We brought the doctors and nurses a box of doughnuts to show our appreciation for this 24-hour facility right around the corner from us. Then they showed me the bill. I wondered if I could have my doughnuts back. The bill was about half of the surgery.

Lately, it’s been puppy Grisha going bonkers. Believe it or not, he’s losing parts of his beard at eight months old. We thought he slipped and fell, since the two dogs love to tear down the steep, cast-iron back steps to the yard. Maybe he scraped his face on the concrete pavement at the bottom. The side of his cute face was raw and matted with blood.

Mature doggy mother that I am, I almost threw up when I saw it.

We washed the wound and put anti-bacterial cream on it. Slowly, it improved. Then the beard started disappearing on the other side of his face. This was getting strange.

“A hot spot,” the vet diagnosed. Some sort of bacterial infection. Nothing that we had done wrong. A few medications, more cream, and back to normal.

Then it popped up the THIRD time on his neck. I did not want a hairless Scottie. We were not competing for the “World’s Ugliest Dog” award. I caught him scratching and stayed with him all night to keep his paws away from the patch. We could have put the cone-head apparatus on him, but that’s where the sensitive skin was. At daybreak, back to the vet.

“Allergies,” she said this time. “Every other dog is coming in with allergies, and terriers are particularly sensitive to skin disorders. It’s the falling leaves and the mold spores,” or something along those lines. For all I knew, it was the harvest moon and Count Dracula trying to suck his blood at night, but I would have none of it. He was crazed and wild, the Benedryl having hyped him up, instead of calming him down. Poor Grisha!

At last, the combo of prednisone and eye of newt worked. He stopped scratching. Hallelujah. Our happy little guy was back again. Both Misha and Grisha were on steroids for the allergies, tapering off to every other day, so as to not jeopardize their internal organs.

Steroids. It made sense. These stocky little Scottie body-builders had to be taking something to get that superhuman strength. However, if they were thinking of entering any “Mighty Dog” posing contests and oiling down their bodies as a hobby, I would need to put a stop to it immediately.

That’s what doggy parents are for, to keep our little guys happy and healthy, safe and sane. Most days it works.


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