Mad dog in the middle of the night

When I last posted, Roo was starting to feel better. She had just tested negative for Addison’s disease and I was discussing next steps with the vets. The one in Tulsa who we went to for her ultrasound didn’t return the call for a few days (note to vets: If you’re too busy to make the calls, don’t take the patients).

Meanwhile, Roo continued to feel better every day. By the time the vet called on Monday morning, five days after the results the had prescribed came back, she was almost back to normal. Almost, because though her energy had returned and she was happy and as active as ever—I wouldn’t have been able to tell her apart from the dog she was some weeks ago before she got sick—her stool was still wet. But, I was monitoring it the way the court physician in The Last Emperor checked the boy ruler’s chamberpot with every bowel movement, and it was improving. Slowly improving, but definitely firming up a little more each day.

Now, I’m sure that vet in Tulsa is fine physician, but he is not good at communicating. When he called, he was more like Deep Throat in All the President’s Men, the source whose information brought Nixon down, but whose rule was that he wouldn’t volunteer any information that he wasn’t asked for. God only knows why. 

“Well, Doc,” I said, “the ACTH test came back negative, so I guess Addison’s is out.”

“Yes,” he said.

“But she’s been feeling much better. Almost back to normal. The only thing is her stool is still on the loose side.”

“Ah,” he said.

“I know you said that the next step would be an endoscopy, but what about other things she may have? Irritable bowel disease?”

“Possible,” he said.

“And when she was really sick, back when I took her to the doctor originally, she had that slightly elevated number for pancreatitis. Could it be that that test happened to catch her at the tail end of a pancreatitis attack? The blood test you did was a week later and didn’t show anything. But you said that her pancreas might have been a little swollen.”

“Well,” he said. “That’s a possibility.”

“In which case…?” I tried to prompt him, but it was no good. “Wouldn’t it make sense to treat her for the other stuff and see if it does any good.”

“You could do that.”

“Just with diet, or with any meds?”

“Bland diet. No fat.”

“I mean, does anything indicate to you that that she needs to be scoped urgently? Is there any sign of anything grave that you’d need to get a look at? If she had something growing in there, wouldn’t that mean that she wouldn’t be improving?”

“Probably. Hard to tell.”

“But you don’t think I’d be placing her in danger by not scoping her right away?”


“Is there any other testing I should do in the meantime? Another fecal exam?”

“You could. Parasites can come in waves. They don’t always appear in every sample.”

Roo kept improving. She returned to her old energy levels and started bugging me constantly to be allowed out in the hopes of killing someone. She even started to lay down a few near-normals poops.

The only thing over the past few weeks that has changed is that Roo hasn’t gotten any of her usual tastes of cheese or milk or any of that. Not that she ever got large amounts, but she always got a taste. Now, though, I trim all the fat away from her meat and she’s not getting anything with fat in it. So maybe the reduction in fat is why she was doing better. And if she has inflammatory bowel disease, her cleaner diet might also have been the solution. But, with IBD they tend to lose some weight, which Roo wasn’t. She’s lost a tiny bit because of the way her diet has been scaled back, but she’s not wasting away. In fact, she looks so good that if she had an egg cream at the soda fountain in Schwab’s on Hollywood and Vine somebody would spot her and cast her in movie.

But then, late this afternoon, she had a small piece of chicken, cut up into small pieces and spread out on a plate to keep her from snarfing it down in one gulp, which is how she likes to eat, and suddenly her acid reflux came back. She must have been as worried as I was at the thought of getting sick again. She panicked and started jumping up and down and getting agitated and wanting to get outside. But, was this Roo having the same thing she had recently, or was this just Roo getting nauseous the way she always has from time to time? Whatever it was, there was no calming her down. She had to get out to eat grass to make herself throw up. That didn’t seem like such a bad idea, except that the last time she ate grass she didn’t throw up. And if she ate grass and the didn’t throw it up, with whatever’s going on in her gut, it could irritate her intestines more. But, it wouldn’t if she threw it up. On the other hand, she had been off the anti-vomiting medication for only a day or two that last time, and maybe that was why she didn’t throw the grass up.

Who knows? Half the time it’s impossible to tell what’s going on with these guys. This is exactly why I would rather fly around on Air Force One with a special Naval veterinarian whose entire career devoted to one patient—Roo. Otherwise, you spend your whole time trying to figure it out. Even vets have no clue what’s going on with them most of the time.

But, she was freaking out. I opened the door. She tore away at the grass, for ten minutes, then threw up an impressive green ball that looked like something out of a Japanese dinosaur movie from the 1970s and then seemed to be more or less okay. The reflux kept coming back, not violently, but repeatedly. And now, nearing one in the morning, it’s till hitting her a little.

Here’s another weird thing: When she getting sick a few weeks ago, I started to think that her skin, on her lower neck and back, was feeling a little hard, a little thicker than usual. Then, as she got better, it seemed to get back to normal. Now, tonight, it seems to be back to being hard again. Of course, this is probably just another symptom of losing my mind from overanalyzing everything she does. All night, every time I hear her just settling her tongue in her sleep I’m immediately alert for signs of her being sick. But there have been none. Until today. 

I was really hoping she had gotten over her weeks of illness. Maybe she has. Maybe she hasn’t. 

I gave her another round of Pepto about half an hour ago. And just now, at 1:28 AM, she went on the alert at the door with the hair on her back standing on end. I opened the door for her and Roo—the same Roo who has refused to go out for a nighttime pee in two months—charged out and chased some poor little beast, some nocturnal Oklahoma furball, probably skulking around the campground in the hopes of scavenging some tiny crumb, off into the night. 

This is what that looked like: Roo, with her hair up, barking, bolting into the darkness, then instantly running back with her tail between her knees and wanting to get back inside. It took some convincing to get her to relieve herself, but finally she did. And she didn’t want to eat any grass. So, maybe she’ll be all right.

Don't you wish she would make up her mind, already?

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