Handbasket #3: Mad Dog Cow Patty

Yesterday, Roo was feeling a little better. Even though she spent most of the day lying on the floor with her belly still aching—she could sleep, but let out the occasional grunt or groan. She was glad to go out a few times and even did some some spectacular running around and dug a hole that she nearly fell into. She never really lost her appetite, and after I hosed her off and gave her a bowl of plain, nuked chicken, she scarfed it down. She slept comfortably for a while and then woke up and ate some kibble. Then, at around 10, she seemed to turn the corner. All of a sudden, she went back to being smiley and waggy again.

She continued the trend this morning with a little more of a walk than she’s been wanting this past week. The digestive product was not ell formed, so that was disappointing. As soon as she did that, she took her Flexi from me in her traditional method of terminating the walk and trotted back to the camper to get back to sleep while I waited for her vet, Dr. Stokes, to call with the results of her blood tests drawn on Friday.

Around noon he called to brief me. All the blood results were nicely in the normal ranges—except for one: the Precision PSL. The range for that is 24 to 140. Roo clocked in at 297. That test is for pancreatitis, which was what Dr. Stokes had said was a probable candidate for what could be wrong with Junior. 297, he explained, was not an alarmingly high number, that sick dogs frequently return numbers over 400 and up to 1000 (I think that’s what he said; something like that, in any event), and that it didn’t conclusively prove she had pancreatitis. But, combined with the symptoms she’s been having, it was more likely.

Pancreatitis can range from a single mild episode that you don’t even notice to an acute, and even fatal disease. It’s often caused by ingesting food that a dog shouldn’t, especially fatty stuff or too many carbohydrates. Now, Roo’s diet consists of a variety of fresh, raw meat and top-shelf kibble. Her usual treats are Dogswell jerky or Grillers and a few Chihuahua-sized Milk Bones. What can I tell you. I have tried every premium biscuit in the known universe, but as a guy in a south Arizona mouse store once put it, as if he was Roo’s bartender, “Some gals just like the cheap stuff.”

But… Roo is like Tony Soprano: she gets a taste of everything. So, in the course of a day she does get a piece or sprinkle of cheese or a few little pieces of bread. If I have a sandwich, she gets some. At the market I always buy her some little thing to bring back to the car for her. When I pour half and half for coffee, she gets a little. Could that stuff be enough to cause pancreatitis? Who knows. Roo has always had a sensitive stomach. She throws up a little more often than the average dog. Maybe this is why. Either way, she hasn’t been getting any the past few days. She should get a job in vaudeville with the over-the-top looks she’s been giving me over that.

The next step is an ultrasound of Chiggi’s pancreas. The closest internal medicine specialists are a couple of hours west of here in Tulsa or five hours south in Dallas. Dr. Stokes called in the referral and a few minutes later I was on the phone booking her appointment.

Here was the trouble. Nothing available until next Monday. A week. They said I could always bring her in to the emergency room.

I called Dr. Stokes back. If you ever find yourself in east Oklahoma and need a vet, make sure you pick Stokes at LeFlore County Veterinary in Poteau. He knows what he’s doing, explains everything and pays attention. And as busy as he is over there, he has made time to talk about this on the phone a few times and never been in a rush.

We spoke about how Roo was feeling. I happened to have been walking her at that moment and it was then that she assumed the position. 

“How do you like that,” I said. “She happens to be pooping this very second.”

“Ah,” he said. “How does it look?”

Roo stepped away and I went over to take a look. “Well, it’s got some shape, but it’s loose.”

“A cow patty?” he said.

“Yes. Pretty much. Wetter, but cow patty describes it.” Could be a number of things, but something causing the small intestine not to absorb moisture.

On the question of whether to take Roo to the emergency room, he said he didn’t think it was the way to go. He said they’d just be working her in. That she would be more thoroughly (and, it might be safe to assume, more gently) examined in a full-scale appointment, and, as she had improved so much and so quickly over the weekend, he didn’t think waiting a week would hurt her. If things changed we could always head to the ER. In fact, he said to take her off the anti-vomiting medicine and see how she holds up. 

If you saw Roo, you would not know there was anything wrong with her. She’s active, shiny, bright-eyed, interested, running, digging holes, the whole Roo act. She’s just a little more tired than usual, but waking up. It just doesn’t seem to add up to dragging her to the emergency room. So, that’s the plan. Next stop will be the internal medicine specialists in Tulsa on Monday.

And with that, I wish a good night to Mr. And Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. This ends the non-apoacalyptic portion of the broadcast. 

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