Archive for November, 2013

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.


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…

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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?”


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“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.”



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