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Out In The Cold

Texas weather has a reputation for being bipolar. The sun shines and all seems perfect, but by the time you get dressed and open the door to go outside, hail plummets from the black sky and a tornado comes roaring down on you. Okay, so maybe not that extreme, but this past week illustrates the fluctuation of Texas weather perfectly.

Early last week, the weather was pleasantly mild. The dogs even had a blast chasing bunnies and playing outside while I caught up on some yard work. By late Thursday, however, the weather people predicted that we would have snow. Snow! Yeah! We haven’t had proper snow in years…2010 to be exact. The neighborhood kids would get a snow day, traffic would be light on my way to work and Grimm and Rufus could experience the cold, pure flakes of frost for the first time.

The weather forecasters were correct in saying we would get frozen precipitation, but wrong in leading us to believe it would be snow. Instead of white, fluffy flakes we got hard, crunchy ice. Yes, technically it was still frozen precipitation, but ice and snow are not the same thing. For one, you don’t usually slip and bust your bottom while walking on snow covered ground. Ice covered ground, however, leads to lots of slipping and cursing and muscle pulls and cursing and falling and cursing and then bruises…in that order. Even though hard pellets of sleet and ice were falling from the sky, I was determined to make allow Grimm and Rufus to experience the joys of frozen precipitation for the first time.

"I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun...this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!"

“I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun…this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!”

 

Both dogs were tremendously excited at first when their jackets came out. They suited up, I opened the back door onto the porch, they bolted out and promptly slid and crashed into the rear portion of the deck. Both dogs started trying to stand and continued to slip. They looked a little bit bewildered and confused, but no way were they running back indoors. I was determined they would have their moment of icy fun.

 

"What in the world is this cold stuff? I can't sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!"

“What in the world is this cold stuff? I can’t sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!”

 

Grimm gingerly walked around the deck, sniffing at the ice. He kept lifting up his feet and frankly looked miserable. The ice pellets were blasting down and hitting him in the eyes and he begged to go back indoors. Rufus kept running in circles and slipping and falling, only to try again. I did not realize that he had to really go to the bathroom. I thought his frantic circling was due to the cold ice touching his feet and the frozen precipitation hitting his head. Finally, he found the one spot on the deck where there was an actual patch of what might have passed for snow and urinated on it.

 

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

 

Where was Zella while the boys and I were having so much fun slipping and sliding and trying not to fall in yellow snow, you ask? She was curled up on the couch, refusing to step one hair over the threshold into the cold. She much preferred the warmth of the indoors to the stinging pellets of ice. I don’t know why. Ice pellets in your eye and slipping and sliding on ice seems like awesome fun to me.

 

"Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles."

“Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles.”

 

Zella is not generally a fan of frozen precipitation, snow or ice. She’s seen and experienced both before and was in no hurry to repeat the experience. There was a reason she lived in Texas, she told me, and the current weather we were experiencing was not the reason why. She never expounded on why she lived here but it must be because of her excellent owner. I feel so blessed.

 

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

 

 

After drying paws, the boy woofers and I came inside to thaw out. They were never going outside again if they could help it. I don’t think they are fans of cold, frozen precipitation, at least of the variety we have here in Texas.

The whole city of Austin pretty much shut down and we made national news for being the dumbest drivers in the world. I was not one of the 150 plus people who got into accidents of some kind or another driving on ice, but I did experience the fun of slipping and sliding while trying to stay on a road and not run into other vehicles or trees or houses. I must say, though, it was pretty amusing to watch a few terrified drivers pull off the road, hazard lights fluttering as quickly as their pulses, and then wait in their cars in cold panic, determined not to drive any further until the ice melted. Since it was 6:00 in the morning and temperatures were not to get above freezing until early afternoon, it looked like they had a long wait ahead. They were probably wishing they had stayed inside, curled up on the couch. Being out in the cold was not fun. Zella had the right idea.

 

 

I must have been out of my mind the day I wished Rufus wasn’t so lazy. You’re probably saying, “Well, you know they say to be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Like I said, outta my ever-loving mind.

The only reason I wished for Rufus to not be so lazy (mind you, I didn’t wish for him to be active, just to not be so lazy) was because I was getting tired of dragging him off the couch…and out of the car…and out of his kennel…and off of my bed.  My arms and back were threatening to mutiny if I kept using them to haul fat-boy Rufus around.

The one time I took him hiking with the other dogs, I had to help him climb up some of the boulders on the hike out. Before this, I had never had to help a dog climb up a moderately steep incline–usually they were the ones pulling me. Let me tell you…it was quite awkward, trying not to slip while pushing Rufus’ derriere in front of me. He basically would just put his front legs up on the boulders and look back at me, waiting for his push. I tried to see if he could do it on his own, but he just rested his head on the rock and looked at me like I was the cruellest person in the world for not helping him. Finally I gave in (because if I hadn’t, I would have been there all week) and hoisted him up the rest of the trail until the area levelled out and he could make it on his own. Needless to say, since all the attempts I have made to get Rufus to really exercise seemed to end up with my arms falling out of their sockets, I gave up.

Rufus Before...

Over the last few months, Rufus has battled ongoing skin issues.  It started as soon as I rescued him.  He had road rash from being run over and was on antibiotics to help his skin heal.  Even after his skin healed, though, he never seemed to grow new hair and was losing what he did have left and right.

I scraped him several times looking for mange mites.  I never found any under the microscope, but because he was a pit bull type dog (they are notorious for getting demodex mites) and because he was itchy (pruritic) and because sometimes you don’t find the mites, I treated him empirically with Ivermectin for three months.  The missing hair around his eyes (an area you can’t really scrape without sedation) grew back, but the rest of him stayed as bald as ever.

I changed his food to grain free and only fed him a fish based diet. I added fatty acid supplements to his food, antihistamines to his medication routine and bathed him with oatmeal-based shampoo. His pruritus continued to worsen and he started to stink really bad. He had horrible seborrhea (oiliness to his skin), developed comedones (fancy term for blackheads) and continued to lose hair. I performed skin cytologies and more antibiotics and anti-seborrhea/antipruritic/antimicrobial/antifungal shampoo were tried. He became less itchy, but the comedones were so bad that he looked like he was growing mold. Through it all, he continued to lose hair. I could either have his skin biopsied and/or start allergy testing or see the veterinary dermatologist.

Instead of putting him under anesthesia for the biopsy, I decided that I would see the dermatologist first. In preparation for that visit, I decided to go ahead and perform a complete blood profile on him. I remember joking with one of the veterinarians at work:

“Wouldn’t it be funny if he just had a low thyroid?”

“Well, it would be an easy fix, but juvenile hypothyroidism is just so rare. One can always hope,” she replied.

Then I really started to think about it. Maybe he DID have a low thyroid. Other than the fact that it is very rare for a dog to have juvenile hypothyroidism, he did fit the other criteria:

  • Poor hair coat with lack of growth and general alopecia–Yep.  With his patchy baldness, he was starting to look like a chupacabra mixed with a hippo.
  • Lethargy–Check. It he was any lazier, people were going to start assuming he was just a weird dog-shaped pillow.
  • Mental dullness–Uh oh. I was pretty sure his IQ was well below normal for a canine…or a rock.
  • Heat seeker–Yep!  Rufus hated the cold weather and I had to give him Charley’s old jacket to wear else he trembled uncontrollably, even in 68 degree weather.
  • Gain in body weight–This was the whole reason I was trying to get his lazy behind off the couch to begin with. He was definitely becoming more rotund.
  • Neuromuscular signs–Hmmm. Rufus had been observed to do some weird head bobbles and tremors at times. I thought maybe it was just because his head was too heavy.
  • Myxedema of the face–Also known as thickened or swollen skin, this leads to the tragic expression seen in dogs with severe hypothyroidism. Rufus definitely looked tragic, with thick eyebrow folds and drooping skin.  I thought he just looked sad because I made him get off the couch every once in a while.

Rufus’ bloodwork came back with a few discrepancies:  he was slightly anemic, his cholesterol was elevated and his free T4 and total T4 were both very, very low;  all of these tests displayed biochemical trends that are usually seen in true hypothyroid dogs. In fact, his free T4 value was so very low, it was reported as “less than” the lowest number they record. I had my solution to his skin issue (and his other issues, as well). All I had to do was supplement him with thyroid hormone, no need to see the dermatologist just yet.

Rufus After

Fast forward one month. Holy mother of dog! Rufus is a new canine.  His hair coat has almost completely grown back in, his oiliness has disappeared, he lost eight pounds without any change to his diet, his tragic expression has almost gone away completely and, in answer to my wish, he has become turbo-charged. Whereas before he would only play for a few minutes, now he wants to play ALL DAY LONG. Grimm is worn out, Zella is worn out, I’m worn out. And guess what? Rufus can actually run and gallop and jump up into the car on his own. He drags me out the door by his leash rather than the other way around. AND he can go outside in 60 degree weather (like today) and not shiver at all. Now, he still likes the couch, but these days he uses it more as a springboard to jump off of rather than a bed. At times I’ve almost been tempted to stop his supplementation, just to have lazy Rufus back for a bit. But…then his hair will fall out and he’ll stink again.

The only symptom that hasn’t gone away is the mental dullness. Thyroid hormones did not make him a genius overnight. He will probably always be a little slow mentally. Puppies who don’t have enough thyroid hormone during development can have impeded mental function and retardation of growth (they call this “cretinism”). They  can  still grow once supplementation is started, but they can not catch up mentally.

So there you have it. I got exactly what I wished for (a less lazy dog with better skin) but found out I was not yet prepared for all that entailed. Now I guess I need to wish for a magical way to exercise and entertain Rufus so Grimm and Zella don’t become worn out. Then again, if I wish that, there is no telling what cruel joke fate would play on me. I just might get it.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

~Charles Dickens

 

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

  ~Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

Merry Christmas 2013

 

 

 

 

 

XMas 2013 Pup Pic

 

 

I hope everyone has a festive, fun and furry holiday season!  Here, the woofers are eagerly awaiting their visit from Santa and his elves, vigilantly watching the fireplace for the appearance of the fat man.  Or maybe they are waiting for the rats to come back…who really knows?

Can you find Grimm in the above picture?  If you’re having a hard time, just look for the pair of floating eyeballs.   Grimm is so dark, he blended almost seamlessly into the dark furniture.  Plus, his collar and white streak on his chest combined in some magical way to give Zella horns.  Maybe she’s trying to become a reindeer…

 

 

Rufus' First Christmas

 

 

This is Rufus’ first Christmas with me and the gang.  This is also the first time in more than three years that I’ve actually had a Christmas tree.  My tree, however, is not the traditional type.  I figured Pig Pen…I mean Rufus…needed a Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree to fit his style, hence the use of the giant pencil cactus.  Between Rufus’ curious nose and Grimm’s happy, waggy tail, I’ve lost a few ornaments. Thankfully, however, none have ended up in any doggy bellies…yet.  The holiday season still has a ways to go, though.  Anyone care to guess how many ornaments will survive?

 

 

To Catch A Rat

Now that wintertime seems to have officially announced its presence here in central Texas, all the outdoor creatures want in…to my house.  Evidently, one day while I was away at work, some critter placed a big, fat “Vacancy” sign over my door.  That’s all it took.  A family of squirrels moved in, a few lizards snuck inside and a small army of rats turned into squatters, all happily nesting together in my attic.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

It wasn’t such a huge deal at first.  I figured, once it warmed up, I’d see about fixing the hole in the soffit filters on the house, trim away the branches that touch or reach the roof and somehow shoo the critters away.  My traitorous house, however, decided to fall apart in exactly the wrong area:  a section of tile around the fireplace came unglued and fell off the wall, leaving a very tiny crack.  This tiny, 1/2 inch space somehow connected to the nether regions of the house and, ultimately, to the attic and outdoors as I could feel a draft coming through the crack.  I didn’t get around to fixing the tile immediately, which was exactly the same amount of time it took for three rats to move in.  Three.  Rats.  In.  My.  House.  Not wanting to become a wildlife landlord, I decided to take action.

You would think the presence of three dogs would deter the rodents or, at the very least, the canines would alert me to the rats presence.  If we were talking about normal pooches, the above would probably be true, but because we are talking about my dogs, none of it is.  I’m beginning to suspect that maybe the “Vacancy” sign was hung by my woofers in an attempt to make new friends.

The first time my dogs saw a rat scuttle by in the wee morning hours, they all looked at me like, “What the heck is that?”  Grimm literally stood still and watched as the rat ran underneath the couch, through his legs and then disappeared into the space under the fireplace.  I’m yelling at them, “Get the rat!  Get the rat!”  Zella finally started sniffing tentatively at the spot where the rodent was last spotted, Grimm followed her lead, and Rufus went and waited by his food bowl in hopes of scoring a second breakfast.

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can't team up to catch one measly rat?

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can’t team up to catch one measly rat?

With the second rat sighting, the dogs conducted themselves in a slightly more intimidating manner.  Well, okay…a slightly less embarrassing one.  It was like watching the three stooges–all of them were trying to figure out where the rat went, sniffing like crazy, but they kept bumping into each other in their exuberance.  The rat must have been laughing his little rat ass off at their shenanigans.  Even though all three watched as this rat ran under the refrigerator, instead of guarding the fridge, waiting for the rat’s appearance, they all ran back to the fireplace to see if any new rats would emerge.  Worthless dogs.  I told them I was trading them all in for cats.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model.  So, to up his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model. So, to improve his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Because my canines were clearly failing at catching rats, I had to take things into my own hands.  I refused to use chemical warfare for a few reasons: having rats bleed to death or go into convulsions before dying seemed barbaric and cruel; the rats would probably pay back my cruelty if I used such methods by dying in between my walls and causing all kinds of calamity; and my dogs would probably find and ingest the rat bait regardless of how well I hid it, leaving me with high vet bills and/or dead dogs.  On to my next option.

I decided against rat traps because, even though they are more humane than the poison option, waking up to a rodent with a broken back or a crushed face with little proptosed rat eyeballs seemed like the basis of nightmares.  The little rodent bastards were eating my food and generally causing messes, but I couldn’t kill them for it.  I decided to dust off my old Havahart trap, baited it with dog biscuits and peanut butter, and waited.

The first rat was caught the first night I set the trap.  My sister and I drove a mile down the street to a nice wooded area and let him go.  Rat number two was caught a few days later and released into the same area as rat number one.  Rat number three was proving to be the brains of the trio and not falling for the baited trap routine.  I tried bananas (because he sure liked them when they were on the kitchen counter), tortilla chips (again, because the rat tore into the new bag I purchased, probably to eat with his rat salsa) and bread (this little rat had an insatiable appetite)…but no luck.

One rat down, two to go...

One rat down, two to go…

There was one day when I almost caught the rat–he had gone into the trap, but the trap door didn’t close all the way.  I picked the trap up to examine it more closely in order to determine the malfunction.  I did not realize that the rat was still in the trap, hiding under the trigger plate.  As I peered into the front of the trap, this gray blur sped out and launched itself off the front of the trapdoor, right into the midst of three pit bull dogs.  This was probably the safest place for the rat to be as my three knucklehead dogs again became the three stooges, twirling around in circles trying to determine where the rat went.  

While my dogs were dancing around the rat, I was doing a heebee jeebee dance of my own, squealing like a six year old girl.  “Eeeeeeeeh!!!!!  Get the rat…get that bastard!”  By this point, the rat had escaped into parts unknown, leaving bewildered canines and a frazzled human in its wake.  Well played, rat, well played.

Days went by before the last rat finally let down his guard and became my captive.  Again I made the trip to my secret rat dumping ground and released the bugger.  As I drove away, he probably hitched a ride on my car’s rear bumper and is now outside, plotting how to get back inside and commence Operation Rat Revenge.  Good luck with that, rat.  I now have a secret weapon:

"Meow!  I'm a scary kitty cat, and I'm going to eat me some mousies!"

“Meow! I’m a scary kitty cat, and I’m going to eat me some mousies!”

Okay, so my secret weapon isn’t really that threatening, but maybe the rat will at least die from laughing.  Just in case, though, maybe we’ll see how the lizards and squirrels react first.  Then again, maybe not.  They might invite all their friends over for the show, making my house some new vermin version of a nightclub with Rufus as the star attraction.  I think I may need to invest in more Havahart traps…

Rat in a trap

Even captured in a trap, rat number three still looks smug. Probably has a shank hidden in his cheek pouch…

Call it whatever you like:  slobber, drool, drivel, slaver.  No matter the name, it all boils down to one thing–wet, drippy slime.  Watching juicy tentacles slither out of your dog’s mouth causes two things to happen:  a mad dash for the nearest absorbent material and a quick prayer that those tentacles stay attached to your dog long enough for your return.  If they disconnect, there is a very high probability they will land somewhere you really don’t want them, like in your other dog’s eye or on your naked feet or in your hair (and yes, I speak from unfortunate experience).

Can I catch the slobber strings before they detach and land on Zella?

Can I catch the slobber strings before they detach and land on Zella?

Of all my canines, Rufus has been the only one with a drool problem.  He hypersalivates anytime anyone mentions food and, if you happen to discuss peanut butter for any reason, prepare yourself for foot long slime tentacles to appear.  Because of his saggy jowls and undershot bite, he has more space for his saliva to collect.  Eventually, the excess saliva either drips or slithers out, leaving a surplus of disgustedness in its wake.

Swing your drool to the left...

Swing your drool to the left…

can always tell when Rufus has been to the water bowl.  He could be the canine version of Jackson Pollock, if only Mr. Pollock used water instead of paint…and his mouth instead of a paint brush.  Spatters of liquid surround the bowl after Rufus takes a few licks of water.  When he walks away, more dribbles follow him, leaking from the sides and front of his mouth.  I am left with Rorschach water blots all over the tile:  one looks like a canine mocking his owner, while another uncannily resembles a frustrated person and the third, I swear, looks just like an owner strangling her dog for drooling all over the floor.  

...and now to the right.  Look at those drool strings go!

…and now to the right. Look at those drool strings go!

The waterworks really start flowing at breakfast and dinner times.  Rufus’ mouth mimics a leaky faucet–drip, drip, drip.  The area where he sits waiting for his morsels soon turns into a moat surrounding Castle Rufus.  If I’m slower than normal getting his food together, the drips thicken into a proper slaver, turning into long strings of spittle.  As long as I move slowly and calmly towards his face with my paper towel or baby wipe, I can catch the entire length of drool and save my rug.  However, if I move too quickly, Rufus will shift his head and **FLING!!** slobber all over the cabinets, floor, rug and me.   It’s like a scene out of Ghostbusters but instead of ectoplasm, it’s Rufusplasm.

slimed

Too bad bibs don’t work on dogs.  I’ve come up with other ways, though, to reduce the slobber problem.  I’ve strategically placed dog drool towels around the house, become much quicker (and sneakier) when preparing the dogs’ meals and eliminated the words “peanut butter”, “treats”, “cookies” and “hungry” from my vocabulary.  So far, the saliva worms have been mostly manageable and I’m proud to report 32 days without incident.  I know others of you out there also suffer the slaver dilemma.  So, may I ask, dear readers, how do you react when your dog’s slobber is showing?

The drool keeps going and going and going and going...

The drool keeps going and going and going and going…

Autumn Days

Autumn days mean deep blue skies, frolicking squirrels, trees shedding leaves and temperatures dropping.  This leads to more outdoor time, with a 66.6% approval rating by my dogs for the change in season.  The remaining 33.3% would rather hibernate.

 

Zella watches the leaves fall, Grimm searches for squirrels.  Rufus just stares at me accusingly for making him get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors.

Zella watches the leaves fall, Grimm searches for squirrels. Rufus glares at me for making him get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors.

 

 

Rufus seemed truly baffled by the large flurry of leaves that kept dropping on his head.  The wind had picked up and the hackberry tree was losing leaves left and right.  What was Rufus’ solution to the problem?  Why, try to catch and eat the leaves, of course!

 

Leaf Catch Try #1

 

 

Leaf Catch Try #2

 

 

Leaf Catch Try#3

 

 

Obviously the boy lacks hand, err, mouth-eye coordination.  I thought try #2 was to be a success, but no.  By this point, even the squirrels had come down from the tops of the trees to watch the show.  I think a couple of them actually even tried pelting him with a few acorns, making bets on whether or not they could hit his huge noggin.  Finally Rufus gave up and started eating leaves that had accumulated in my flower pots.  Rooting around in the dirt, he looked like a little piggy…with a vest.

 

Eating Dirt

 

 

Zella was completely embarrassed by her housemate’s lack of proper dog abilities.  All the work she had put into making the squirrels fear her wrath…out the window.  She was going to have to work double time to regain their respect.  Didn’t Rufus know anything?

 

"Why?  Just...why?  Can I bury him in leaves?"

“Why? Just…why? Can I bury him in leaves?”

 

 

Grimm was so fixated on triangulating the squirrels, he just ignored the antics of Rufus.  Grimm really wanted to race around in the yard, but because of the recent rain and the amount of mud present, he satisfied himself by giving squirrels death glares from the deck.

 

Grimm:  "I'm so gonna get you, squirrels!" Rufus:  "Ooohhh...funny looking baby kitties in trees!  Love you, baby kitties!" Zella:  "Dear God, please turn me into a squirrel so I can scamper far, far away from here."

Grimm: “I’m so gonna get you, squirrels!”
Rufus: “Ooohhh…funny looking baby kitties in trees! Love you, baby kitties!”
Zella: “Dear God, please turn me into a squirrel so I can scamper far, far away from here.”

 

Between all the dirt eating and almost leaf catching, Rufus was worn out.  It was time for his sixteenth nap of the day.  Back inside we went to rest up for our evening walk.  The cool day should lead to a crisp night, perfect for a stroll around the neighborhood…if we can pry Rufus off the couch.

 

"Grimm told me to pretend to be a squirrel.  Is this a face a squirrel makes?"

Rufus:  “Grimm told me to make a scary face to frighten the squirrels.  Is this scary?” Grimm:  “See what I have to work with?”

 

Pay It Forward

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” 
-Winston Churchill  

 

Meet Waylon.  He’s the boxer puppy in the below picture with Grimm and Rufus, although he is much bigger now.  And no, he’s not mine.  At one point, he almost became part of my household but, because another was smitten by his cuteness, I was let off the hook.  Waylon is now 9 months old, crazy as only a boxer puppy can be, and is Rufus’ blood brother.

 

"I'm the baby.  I said, I'M THE BABY!"

“I may be the littlest, BUT I’M THE LOUDEST!”

 

 

Back in June, Waylon presented to my veterinary clinic on an emergency basis for vomiting, lethargy, inappetence and basically a failure to thrive.  He was skin and bones, white as a sheet and completely depressed.  Originally from a breeder in Missouri, his owner at the time brought him to Texas and assumed that everything was normal.  He trusted that the breeder had dewormed and vaccinated the puppy as stated and couldn’t believe the reason his young dog looked the way he did was because of hookworms.

Hookworms can be devastating to young pups, frequently causing severe anemia if left untreated.  Hookworms feed on their host’s blood by attaching to the mucosa of the small intestine.  Enough of these parasites were present in Waylon to reduce the amount of red blood cells in his body to 8%, a dramatically low number when a growing pup should have a hematocrit of at least 30%.  A blood transfusion was needed but the owner at the time could not afford treatment and wanted to go ahead and euthanize the little pup.  I offered the owner another option:  turn him over to my hospital, we would cover treatment and, if he survived, adopt him out.  The man readily gave his consent.  Now all Waylon needed was blood.

My personal dogs, with the exception of Charley, have always been blood donors.  (Charley could not be a donor because of his chronic ehrlichia infection.)  My dogs have been lucky enough (or unlucky, I guess, if you ask them) to be universal donors.  Grimm, because of his size, his high hematocrit level, universal donor status and easy-going nature, has been the go-to dog at the clinic for blood when we have no packed red cells in hospital or when whole blood is needed.  He has saved the lives of numerous parvo pups, IMHA dogs and other anemic puppies.  However, I did not have Grimm with me the day Waylon came in.  I did, however, have a nine month old red head named Rufus with me who was ready to step up to the plate.

 

Rufus Lounges in the Grass

 

 

I have warned clients in the past that I am not responsible for any changes in their dog’s behavior after receiving some of my dog’s blood.  I am joking, of course, as the new blood will not change their personality in any way (although they will feel better) and will only remain in their dog’s system for a short time.  After receiving Rufus’ blood, though, I swear Waylon became a mini-Rufus for a while, at least until the blood was replaced by his own.

Just two hours after receiving the blood, Waylon’s color and attitude improved immensely.  He started barking and jumping around, his appetite returned and he wolfed down his puppy food.  His barking turned into ogre noises like those Rufus’ makes.  He was now Rufus’ blood brother.

Waylon was adopted by one of the technicians at the hospital.  Curiously enough, the technician who adopted Waylon was the same technician who originally brought Grimm into the treatment area where I first met him.  Because of her, I have Grimm.  Because of me, she has Waylon.  Circle of life…sort of.  Anyways, I digress.  Waylon’s parasites were treated, he continued to thrive and has been my dogs buddy ever since.  Fast forward now to the end of October.

A rescue group came in with a litter of six, seven-week old Australian shepherd mix pups, all of which were suffering from hookworm anemia.  One was too sick to be saved.  The remaining five pups needed blood fast.  The only available dog at the hospital able to donate was Waylon.  Because each pup was so little, they only needed a small amount of blood and, because Waylon is now so big, he was able to donate a bit to each of them.  All of the remaining pups survived and are now in foster homes, waiting to be adopted.  See?  Even a dog can pay it forward.

There are so many things given to us each day:  a small kindness, a helping hand, the gift of life.  How many times can we say we really do pay it forward?  I would like to think I do my part, but I know at times I have fallen short.  I challenge each of you to pay one positive act forward each day.  You don’t have to give blood to save a life…sometimes a smile may make all the difference.

 

 

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

 

 

“You may be only one person in this world, but to one person at one time, you are the world.”

-Anonymous

 

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