Roo's surgery: More paw trouble


The day started with taking the half hour to wake Roo in time for her 8:30 appointment with Dr. Stokes. “Chig, you’re going to have to get up,” I repeated to her a million times while I made some coffee. “You’re going to have to get up, Chigi, we have to go in the car. You have to go back to the doctor. Poor little bear. But the doctor is going to fix you that little hand of yours, so at least there’s that. Come on, Rooki, you have to get up.” Waking that dog up is like bringing someone back from the dead. But finally, she got the idea, got out of her bed and came outside.

She had refused to go out last night, so it was more than 12 hours since her last bathroom break, but there was no talking her into that. I tried and tried, but she just wouldn’t go. I tried again at the vet’s office, but she wasn’t interested. She was going to go under the knife like that.

Roo was good about going into Dr. Stokes’ office but she wasn’t too excited about being placed in the cage where she was going to have to wait until her surgery. “Don’t worry, Chig,” I said. “You’re going to be fine,” Dr. Stokes told her, and she gave me a look of terrible disappointment as I left.

Around noon Dr. Stokes called to say that there was no foxtail awl in Roo’s paw. What there was was a small nodule, some sort of growth. Dr. Stokes kept the incision small, but excised the nodule put eight stitches in and wrapped Bearface up in a fat pressure bandage. The growth is off to the lab. The results will be back in five days. Probably Monday.

Dr. Stokes told me to hold off until 3:30 or 4 to pick her up. I was there at 3:30. Roo was still a little woozy from the anesthesia, and putting any weight on her paw hurt her, but she kept forgetting because she was so happy to see me. Dr. Stokes briefed me on what he’d found. He said the growth was hard and fibrous and could be from something that got in there, though there was nothing else to be found. So, the lab.

The second Roo got outside she took a long pee that reminded me of the day I first met her, when I picked her up from the lousy, crowded vet clinic in Los Angeles where she had just been spayed. She had been caged for who knows how long then and, as frightened and traumatized as she was, she had to go.

After that, she wanted to get right in the car. Roo being the dedicated chowhound she is, and having been starved since 8 last night, she tucked right into a piece of jerky and a cookie. She didn’t want to drink any water but when we got back to the camper, I gave her a bowl of water with a big chunk of the ice I always freeze for her in hot weather, and she tanked up.

Unsurprisingly, the paw is too painful for Roo to walk on and she doesn’t want to go outside for long enough to get rid of everything she needs to, so that can’t be too comfortable, but that’s where we are.

I had been planning on leaving here, but obviously we have to stay for her follow-up. Dr. Stokes said to expect it to be pretty sore tomorrow — the day after surgery is always, in my experience, the worst of them. He’ll take the pressure bandage off tomorrow afternoon and have a look at how she’s doing. We won’t leave until Dr. Stokes clears her.

And so we wait for the lab results. In the meantime, the thunderstorms I’ve been dreading and was hoping to get ahead of are on the way. They are the last thing I want Roo to have to experience tonight. She’s going to want to come up on the bed, but if she tries to jump off she could hurt herself, so I have to figure out how to keep her from doing that.

She’s a little on the miserable side, but not as bad as she could be. She likes hearing me tell her what a Poor Little Bear she is, though. I get down on the floor with her to tell her, and she bats at me with her paw to make me tell her again, but then it zaps her with pain and she has to stop.

She’s a tough girl, though. As long as there’s no bad news from the lab — and I have a feeling there won’t be, because it seems more likely that this is just another in Roo’s long line of mouse hunting injuries, if a strange one — she’ll should be all right. The stitches don’t come out for 10 to 14 days, though, and that means that Roo in hot mouse country, is grounded. No swimming, no nothing but life at the end of a leash.

For now.

Roo to go under the knife tomorrow


Roo K. Beker continues her odyssey through the American veterinary system tomorrow with minor paw surgery.

Whatever it was that injured her paw ten days ago seemed to be healing, but slowly. Then, as soon as the course of amoxicillin she was on ended, it swelled up a tiny bit. It didn’t seem to be bothering her. She wasn’t licking it and she only limped once or twice, but only for a few minutes. Otherwise she seemed fine. She didn’t get a lot of exercise, because it has been murderously hot. We were planning to leave Oklahoma by the end of last week, but on Thursday, I wanted to bring her in to see Dr. Stokes. He, however, was in Japan. Luckily he was on his way back, and he was able to see her today.

Dr. Stokes used a local anesthetic to open the wound a little to try to remove whatever is in there, but without luck. He said that he’s going to have to put her under and make an incision to clean it out.

So, tomorrow, Roo has another surgery.

If she only knew that it’s going to mean getting up at 8 AM — between four and six hours before the time she usually gets out of bed — and being dropped off at the vet’s, she would really be mad.

There is a plague here of something I didn’t even know about, and which hasn’t been a problem any other time we’ve been here: burr clover. Evidently those things attack with very small seeds. I have s feeling that’s what nailed the Kahoo. We’ll know tomorrow.

Grizzled Bear


Sometimes I think I’m blind to what Roo really looks like, because she never looks old to me. Usually it’s the other way around. When I look at her, I always think how young and healthy she looks, even puppyish sometimes. But then I see a picture like this one, taken today, and realize that this is the face of an aging dog. Same thing with her weight. When she comes out of the water and her fur is all slicked down, I always tell myself she doesn’t look fat. But she’s put on a lot of weight, even though I have her trimmed back to so little food that I don’t know how she survives on it.

She’s seven and a half. I wonder if the stress of the amount of fear she experiences is affecting her. For example, I joke all the time about how late she sleeps, but in reality the chances are it’s because she wakes up every few minutes, alarmed at the sound of a truck on the highway, or the wind or rain. If there’s thunder, of course she doesn’t sleep at all. Like any dog, she takes lots of naps, but can they make up for her poor sleep.

It has got to be getting harder for her. From the start, I recognized that Roo always worried about any sound of which she couldn’t see the source. No matter how many times she hears something, and then, even if she sees what made it once — like the same truck going over the same gravel — if she can’t see it, she’s at least concerned by it. It’s always been that way. Here, there’s a road about 1500 feet away, and every time a truck passes, she’s concerned. Not scared. She seems to be asking herself, “Was that thunder?”

There is a terrible storm coming tomorrow. It’ll start raining overnight and the thunder is supposed to start in the morning. To prepare for that, I got her to take a walk around 8, but her swollen paw was bothering her too much. The storm is forecast to last all day and through Sunday morning. That means that Roo will not go out. No matter how badly she will need to, if it’s thundering all day, there will be no getting her to go out. She’ll spend the day in a panic.

Usually there are some breaks in the weather and I can get her to go out, but this one is supposed to be a solid, longer storm. There’s nothing on the radar yet, but I ran out of bandwidth it takes to see it and so I don’t know for sure. A guy here told me the local news said four inches of rain. And the hourly forecast from 11 tomorrow morning until 5 the next is solid thunderstorms.

Thinking that if we could get a little farther north, I made the trailer ready to leave here tomorrow. Roo would get in the car, even if she refused to go out, but only because hitching the trailer scares her enough to make her want to bolt. Once outside, no matter how badly she might have to go, she wouldn’t. I don’t know how she holds on so long, but she regularly holds it for 20 hours. But, then I realized that the plate on the trailer is expired. The DMV won’t be open until Monday, so we can’t go.

I figure we’ll head east and stop to look in local papers along the way to see if there’s anyplace to rent. As much as I want to get out of the camper, I’ve got to find something for Roo. There’s no reason to think she isn’t any less fed up with being in this tiny camper than I am.

So, we’ll be off, and I’ll keep you posted….

The continuing adventures of the most vetted dog in history


Well, it was a pleasant, though brief, spring here in southeast Oklahoma. It only lasted two or three days before the brutal onset of the vicious summer America has to look forward to, but, looking back on it, I seem to remember that it was it was quite nice. Now, with 90 degrees here, people in drenched t-shirts are struggling to hack their way through tall weeds on their old riding mowers, algae is starting to form in the swamps, and, of course, the snakes are everywhere.

I haven’t seen any venomous snakes yet, but the western rat snakes, like the one entering the tree in the photo below, are everywhere, and there are always more of them than their more dangerous relatives. They are the harbingers. You see about 20 of them to every cottonmouth, and about 30 of them for every copperhead. I have yet to see a rattler here, but they are, and according to Dr. Stokes, their bite is the worst of them all. Fortunately, they prefer to keep to themselves.

The upshot of this is that I’m never out walking Roo without worrying about snakes. It’s torture. And so, when Roo started to limp suddenly and badly yesterday evening, I lay her down on the ground to check her legs and paws, but I found nothing. We had about half a mile to go, and she was a trooper and powered her way through. After I rinsed the mud off her, I kept checking, but I could find nothing wrong.

The blistering heat set in early this morning. Roo sleeps until at least 1 PM (I’m starting to think she’s depressed a lot of the time), and so it wasn’t until she came out of her corner that I noticed the black spot between her toes on her left front paw. There was a fat black welt and a puncture. When she was bitten by the snake in North Carolina the skin turned black. But this time, nothing seemed to hurt her. I got her into the light to see if there was anything in there, but there wasn’t. I suppose a less freaked out person would have just left it alone to see if it got better, but not me, because when your dog is snakebitten and the ER doctor tells you that one of the four dogs ahead of her in line for antivenin just died because his parent waited too long to bring him in, you remember it.

Dr. Stokes was out on vacation, and he has a recently graduated young vet working in his clinic now. Poor Roo had to be hefted up on the examining table, but Roo was a decent sport about it. The vet, nonetheless, strapped a muzzle on Roo. I told her Roo would not bite but didn’t object beyond that, because I wanted to get it over with and if it made the vet feel better, fine. She said (as several of you guys did when I posted a picture on facebook, and man, you’re all a hell of a lot smarter than I am) it didn’t look like a bite and she went fishing in the puncture with a forceps to pull out a grass seed if there was one there. There wasn’t. She did a good job and the whole thing was over in two minutes. Roo took it like the bravehearted girl she is. Now she has a shaved and swollen foot, and a daddy more anxious to get out of here than ever. We’re stuck for a little while longer, though, that’s thanks to Trump’s loathsome IRS and their determination to get the working poor to hurry up and send their money to the billionaires who really need the dough.

Roo spent the rest of the day sadder than I’ve ever seen her in the absence of thunderstorms. I suppose that between having to go to the vet and the realization that the heat, which is hard on her, she had a lot on her mind.


On the road to nowhere


This has become impossible. Roo’s level of fear during thunderstorms — even if they’re 50 miles away — seems to get worse. I plonked down $100 for a bottle of CBD oil and tried that on her a few times at different doses. Last night I went to the max and it had no effect whatsoever. The same wild panic, panting and trembling all night, all of which she will only do either crammed behind me on the tiny dinette bench or, if I try to go to bed, burrowed under my pillow. There’s no moving out of her way, because she flails around in panic and burrows back under immediately wherever I am or it is. I’ve tried the Thundershirt, Rescue Remedy, trazadone, benadryl, you name it. Everything but lavender oil, and I’m not going to bother with that, because, really, this is not mild anxiety. Roo is just way too fearful and damaged. Supposedly there’s some $50 per dose med available, but her meds bill is already monumental, and what with there being say ten days a month of thunderstorms pretty much anywhere in the country during the spring or summer, it’s not a solution. 

Last night the storms weren’t even that bad, but she panted so hard for 13 hours straight that the camper was rocking, even though it’s up on stabilizer jacks. It rocked because the rhythm of her panting created an oscillating vibration. Beyond how awful it is watching Roo suffer so much, I hardly get any sleep as it is, but none at all a few times a week is a little more than even I can take. 

Fortunately, President Trump might be coming to the rescue, since the IRS informs me that I have to sell the 20-year-old truck (which got hail damage a week ago) and cash in the maybe $500 of equity in the camper to make a down payment on the unbelievable amount of taxes I owe. More than a third of the total of someone who makes 11 times as much pays. How that’s right, I don’t know. 

And yet Trump supporters whose own tax bills are up will tell you they still support him because even if taxes are up this year, it’s just because the tax cuts haven’t kicked in yet. Okay, then.

Then, after a night like that, Roo is depressed and exhausted all day. I really don’t know what to do any more. This whole misguided adventure was the worst mistake of my life (I mean taking off in the camper, which is turning out to be a death sentence). I thought it would be cheap and a good way to take care of Roo. When the Golden retriever rescue in Los Angeles turned her down and left her to be killed at the shelter, it was because they thought she could never recover from the worst case of fear they’d seen in 30 years and 12,000 dogs rescued. They could only pull two dogs that day, and so the hard choice was made to leave Roo behind. But, when Roo gets to spend part of the day being a dog, she does well. Outdoors she’s fine (as long as there’s no thunder or high wind). This method of trying to do that for her was doomed from the start, and now the doom is setting in. What Roo needed is some sort of soundproof refuge to crawl into, her own noise-proof cinderblock enclosure. So much of her life is pure hell. I didn’t realize how hard on her this would be. Instead, I focused on trying to make her life as full as I could, to relieve her of as much of her pain as I could, but I got it all wrong. Now, it’s an unrecoverable mess.

Those of you who read the Roo book so long ago probably don’t remember, but this was near the end, after adopting Roo and when we were leaving town:

It was September, and hot, and I couldn’t get out of Los Angeles fast enough. Trying to shortcut traffic, I cut through an alley. Roo was sitting up in the passenger seat looking around. She spotted a handsome pit bull with a homeless man in an abandoned parking lot. The man was on a pile of rags and newspapers wedged between dead weeds and a cinderblock wall. He was trying to get some sleep, but the sun was blistering and he was agitated and sick. The dog kept watch. He was a big pit bull, a gentle brown guy with soulful eyes. He lay under their cart with a paw on his man’s leg. He knew exactly what kind of shape the man was in. The dog looked like a million bucks, fit and bright-eyed and clean. The man might have been dying, but he wasn’t done putting his dog first.

When he saw us pull in, the man found the cardboard sign he used for fundraising at intersections. It read, “Here but for the Grace of God go you and your dog.” We had a couple of bags of duck jerky and a box of Milk Bones stocked up for the long drive ahead. I put them in his cart. When she saw me take one of her stuffed toys, Roo wasn’t too sure about that. After all, having things of her own was still new to her. The pit bull smiled and poked the mallard with his nose a couple of times, and when it honked, his tail thumped on the concrete. He put his ears back and gave me a big smile. 

The man had an old Scooby Doo head, the kind you pull over your whole head and see through a couple of holes in Scooby’s eyes, and he put that on to talk to me. He was a sweet, gentle man, a much better man than I’ll ever be. You could see it in his dog.

Please, do me a favor, and don’t post replies to this. I’m just venting, though really it’s just at myself for how badly I’ve failed.

An old but pretty picture


I found this on the computer while looking for a good cliff to jump off in honor of my colossal trump tax “cut,” but as it’s a screen grab from an unknown video, I don’t even know where we were. The old Kahoo wasn’t as old as she is now. I keep feeling that she’s older now and more worn out than she should be, that the difficulties of living in a noisy box are starting to be a little more than she can take.