Another day, another test for Rooki

Whatever is making Roo sick seems to come and go. She’s worse in the mornings, but by the afternoons wants to get back to her life’s work of leaving the grandpuppies she never had a world untroubled by mouses. 

You might remember that one of Roo’s peculiarities is her need to sleep by the side of a bed. In the camper, those spaces are only 18 inches wide. The bed is on a square wooden frame, and I had that cut back on one side to make enough room for a proper bed for her. She likes that bed, it’s comfortable memory foam model, and that’s where she sleeps. 

But the other side is still only the original 18 inches wide, and she goes there when she wants to hide. Being tighter, it probably feels more secure, and she also has a better view of the rest of the interior from that side. If she’s keeping an eye on things you see her forepaws and her nose poking out from the corner. 

Over last night, she moved from her bed to that side, either because she heard something that worried her or she felt sick. Whichever it was, every time I checked her, she was sleeping and she seemed to be okay when I leaned over the side to say hi to her. 

This is a ritual Rooki loves. Roo is a prizewinning sleeper. She hasn’t changed much since she was a puppy who couldn’t be woken up. She lies there as if she’s recovering from the effects of a profound experimental anesthetic, groggy, glassy-eyed, barely able to move. I put my hand on her head and say something like, “Who’s this little country mouse sleeping here?” She makes an enormous effort to move an arm over in the conviction that such a supercanine effort should be rewarded with some belly scratching. I comply and she puts herself back to sleep. Her eyes glass over again. She looks like a sea bass lying on ice chips at the fish market. She seems to be asleep, and, because I am hanging uncomfortably off the edge of the bed, I always take advantage of this to get up. This, however, is never acceptable to her. With the reflexes of starved Malinois working the barbed wire at a Soviet work camp, the second I move she frantically bats at my arm with her forepaw and picks her head up to look at me withto let me know that I am not, as I seem to think, dismissed.

This morning she was the same as usual, except for being on the narrow side of the bed. When she got up a few minutes later—way earlier than she usually does—I waited until she took her usual morning sip of water to get her throat lubed up and then stuffed her pills down her throat. She’s not getting these meds in the hopes of fixing anything she’s got. They’re just to try to make her more comfortable. She’s back on the Cerenia, which controls her nausea and keeps her from eating grass. One of two omeprazoles she’ll get (thank you Blue Cross Blue Shield for those), and a couple of Peptos just in case. But ten minutes another reflux attack hit her. 

When that happens, she gets worried about how bad it’s going to be. I know it’s worry because she can be comforted and when she calms down the severity seems to be reduced. 

To make things worse for her, she was going to have to go to the vet’s again, and this time be left there alone for the two-and-a-half hours it would take to complete her ACTH stimulation test. She had to be there by ten in order for the blood to get out the door to the lab by the one o’clock cutoff. She was so wrought up that she didn’t even get everything done. 

I kept her outside for as long as I could. It helps her because she spots a squirrel or remembers some promising mousehole and, with her mind off the way she’s feeling, she does better right away. All of this is new, and it hasn’t settled into definite patterns, but that’s what it seems like, anyway. I hope it doesn’t get to settle into regular patterns before we find out what’s wrong and can treat her for it instead of just trying to keep the symptoms down.

When we got to the vet, Roo hopped out of the car and trotted right up to the door—but then remembered the implications of where she was herself and decided not to come in. I asked someone to hold the door so I could move farther in and get her to follow. The worst part is having to turn her over to the staff. She doesn’t want to leave me, so I have to go through one of the doors to the back area ahead of her and then hand her over when she follows. It feels like I’m tricking her. I hope it doesn’t feel like that to her.

I came back to get her at 12:30, and man, was she glad to get out of there. Who can blame her. No dog likes it. Roo of course is a skittish dog, but she was no more upset than any other dog. She wasn’t looking miserable. She was just glad that whatever the hell that was all about was over. She was like, “You forgot to take me with you when you left. I tried to come, but you were already gone. These people put me up on a table! One of them held me while the other one stuck a needle in my arm! For a Daddy, you sure have some weird friends.”

The stress took a lot out of her, though. She was wagging and smiling with relief about getting in the car, and jumped right in without playing her usual delay game. She lay down in the back seat and was asleep in seconds. Back at the camper, same thing. She didn’t want to go for a walk, she wanted to get right in and lie down on the narrow side.

She slept for a couple of hours. Any time she woke up I suggested a walk, but she wasn’t interested until much later. And then, as soon as we went out, someone started shooting. Not close by, and whoever it is is a deliberate shooter who doesn’t blow off a lot of ammo, and Roo has been getting used to that particular source of gunfire. She’s almost to the point where she can tolerate it with just a little coaxing. But not today. We had barely gone 200 feet. I was a little ahead of her when the popping started and she ran to me with a look that said, “Nope, not today. Not dealing with it. Had it.” She motioned for her Flexi and as soon as I gave it to her she ran back to the camper and waited with her nose at the door until I got back to open it.

She needed more sleep, anyway. Later she was willing to try again, and that time, she ran up and down the hills and dug holes and refused to listen to me when I called her and tore a dead tree down and chased the rat who this forced out. He won that one, but she knows where he lives now, so it’s only a matter of time before that rat goes swimming with the fishes. With the sea bass, in particular. She was in the same kind of shape she’s always been in. When you have a dog who isn’t feeling well and they have stretches where they seem as energetic and happy as ever, it’s really something to see. 

The vet says the results of this last round of testing might come back tomorrow, though it might take another day. On one hand, if it’s Addison’s disease, it could provide an answer, though not a great one. On the other, if it’s not Addison’s, she’s going to have to have endoscopy right away to see what’s going on down there.

Meanwhile, Roo has been asking for a little more attention. She likes it when I say something about her stomach and rub her belly where it was shaved for the ultrasound. I tell her what a poor little bear she is with her stomach but that we’re going to fix it so can can stop worrying about it. She listens with her ears back and the skin on the top of her head flattened. I hope she’s not too worried.

It’s getting late. She just came out from the narrow side of the bed, stretched, wagged, and put her chin on my leg. She knows this will get her ears scratched. Then she asked for a lift up to the bed. That’s a good sign—she never goes up there if she’s worried or feeling bad. She went to the head of the bed and leaned against a pillow, but then reconsidered and crawled closer to where I’m sitting on a camp chair. She stretched her neck to get her snout close and looked at me while she went back to sleep. Maybe tonight she’ll sleep through the night. It might be a tall order with the wind blowing as hard as it is. But maybe she can.

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