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Archive for the ‘Play & Recreation’ Category

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.

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I think I have the laziest dog on the planet.  How do I know, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure the following criteria qualify him as the most sluggish around:

  • His favorite walk is from my bed to the couch.
  • He refuses to catch a ball and, instead, lets it bounce off his forehead.
  • The above also applies with a frisbee.
  • He only goes the minimal distance required in the yard to do his business.
  • All the bunnies and squirrels laugh when he is around.
  • He is slowly becoming part of the sofa (see previous posts).

Rufus has seriously let himself go.  His lack of movement has caused his waist to expand a bit and I fear his limbs will deteriorate.  I gave him some slack earlier in the year, thinking his laziness was due mostly to the extremely hot weather we had earlier in the summer.  Now that it is cooling off a bit, I expected to see his frisky side come out.  Nope.  He just asked for a blanket to keep him warm in his slumber.  The time had come to force the issue and get him off his behind.

 

"Okay, fine.  Let's get this show on the road.  I'm ready to sweat!"

“Okay, fine. Let’s get this show on the road. I’m ready to sweat!”

 

I thought it might be fun to try Rufus out as a jogging partner.  I figured since he just sort of shambles anyway, I could go really slow (which is my prefered pace) and enjoy the scenery.  Rufus could get his blood flowing, I could slowly get back into running and we could bond over the experience.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I had my arm almost pulled out of my socket.  It’s not what you think, though.  Rufus did almost dislocate my shoulder, but not because he took off like a rocket.

We started slowly, Rufus trotting beautifully by my side.  “This is great,” I thought.  “Rufus makes an excellent poster boy for jogging with your dog!”

The joke, however, was on me.  Here I was, jogging happily down the road, stupid smile on my face, enjoying the cool brisk evening air, hand in Rufus’ leash, when all of a sudden Rufus decided he didn’t want to run anymore (and run is being generous…he was barely trotting).  Instead of slowing down first like any normal dog (or any other being with any type of motor skill), he just stopped and flopped immediately onto his side, perfectly imitating a beached whale caught on the asphalt.  I, in my jogging enthusiasm, did not realize he had crumpled himself onto the road and I kept going until whiplash and an almost dislocated shoulder from the sudden dog anchor stopped me in my tracks.

“Rufus!  What the heck, buddy?  Come on, let’s go!”

I tugged at the leash.  Dull, glazed over eyes stared out at me from Rufus’ skull.  Dear God!  Had I killed my dog?  Did he have a heart attack?  I bent down and checked him out.  He proceeded to roll on his back and solicit belly rubs.   Big faker.  I prodded him with my foot.

“Get up.  Let’s go, doofus.”

He rolled back onto his side and just laid there.  I tugged again at the leash.  Nothing.  I started to drag him, thinking he would get up and start walking.  Nope.  I dragged him two feet with his harness before I gave up.  He still wouldn’t budge.  Since we were only fifty feet from the house at this point, I thought I would call his bluff and just leave him.  I turned around and jogged towards home.  This finally got him to sit up and acknowledge me, but he wasn’t moving anywhere.

“Come on, Rufus.  Come here!  Ok, fine.  I promise I won’t make you run anymore.”  He still looked doubtful.  Time for the ultimate bribe.

“Rufus!  Come here!”  Blank dog stare.

“If you come now, I’ll let you snooze the rest of the evening away on the couch…and I’ll throw in some peanut butter!”

**Boing!!**  That dog actually galloped back home and beat me to the front door.  As soon as I let him in, he jumped on the couch.  Even though Grimm was in his favorite spot, he didn’t care.  He just climbed on top of Grimm and commenced his snooze fest.

"I never want to leave the couch ever again...or you, Grimm."

“I never want to leave the couch ever again…or you, Grimm.”

 

Obviously Rufus will have to stick to sleeping and wrestling as his sports of choice.  I guess he really isn’t built to be a runner.  He has more of a couch potato weightlifter physique.  Really, though, is being lazy all that bad?  If sleeping on soft surfaces makes him happier than frantically chasing frisbees, that’s fine.  Grimm and Zella are more than happy to be my running buddies.  Rufus can come if he wants and we’ll slow our pace to make him happy when the time comes.  I will enjoy the dog he is rather than try to turn him into something he isn’t.  I’ll take him any way, shape or form, even when he’s out of shape and his form looks more like a sofa pillow and less like a dog.  As long as he’s happy, I’m happy.  At least I know I’ll have company when I, too, want to be a couch potato.

 

"dkkj"

“Okay, no more pictures…and no more running!  Take off these sweatbands!”

 

“You gotta know when to be lazy. Done correctly, it’s an art form that benefits everyone.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, The Choice

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Being the new kid on the block can bring challenges.  You have to make new friends, avoid new enemies, prove yourself worthy in a lot of ways.  Making that transition can be hard and finding new buddies to share life’s experiences can be that much harder.  So, when you are finally accepted into the fold, life feels complete.  What could be better?

 

Battle Over The Stick

 

Rufus was accepted as one of the gang right off the bat…even before I officially decided to keep him.  I thought Grimm might be a little jealous of the new guy since his position of youngest was being usurped by a new hellion.  I had visions of gang initiations and hazing going through my head.  I could just imagine Grimm, Zella and Charley making Rufus dress like a cat and meow all day or forcing him to give them his ration of treats and food as tribute.  But did they?  Nope.  They took him in and immediately made him feel welcome–sharing their toys, their food, their beds, their love.  He became their newest little buddy.

 

Grimm vs. Zella & Rufus

 

Maybe, I thought to myself, the dogs knew at that time that he wasn’t supposed to be a permanent resident.  They were just being polite.  Now that I’ve officially adopted him (and by officially, I mean I just said, “Okay, I guess you can stay”), I thought maybe the jealousy would start.  Dogs can sense so much–surely they can determine through their canine superpowers when something is temporary versus permanent.  Surely they would gauge the subtle shift in the environment when Rufus was given tenure.  Surely the petty squabbles would commence.

 

Three Pups Carry A Stick

 

Unless playing tug of war with a stick counts, then I was completely mistaken. You see, that is what is remarkable about dogs.  They have an innate sense of goodwill (well, most dogs, anyway) about taking things at face value.  The newbie didn’t have to prove his worth to them or remake himself to fit their ideals.  He could be himself, and they theirs, with no apologies for their quirks, no expectations to become something more or less…no hidden agendas, no subterfuge, no scheming or gossip.  How refreshing it would be to live in a world such as this!  To be able to just say what you mean and mean what you say…well, why can’t we?

 

Teamwork

 

 

Rufus couldn’t be happier about being accepted into the fold.  To belong to something…to be part of something…isn’t that what most of us desire?  Don’t we, too, understand the feeling of wanting to fit in and the joy of finding true friendship?  As long as we can be ourselves and be true to our spirit, then finding our niche should bring us joy.  Love your friends and accept them for who they are.  And if your friends also love to tug on sticks as much as you, well that is a huge bonus!  Tug away, my friends…tug away.

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How can two very lovely dogs go from this

 

What Big Teeth You Have!

 

 

to this

 

 

Dumb and Dumber

 

in a matter of three seconds?  If you answered “brain damage”, I suspect you might be right.  I think my dogs have been eating lead paint…or drinking…again.

King Knucklehead (that would be Grimm), however, chose not to participate in the day’s shenanigans.  (Shocking, I know.  I checked his brow for a fever.) However, just because one does not willingly join in with the antics of others does not mean that one is immune to being pulled into their affairs.  See what I mean?

 

 

You Eat Grimm's Leg, I'll Eat Yours

 

Zella the Zany and Rufus the Dufus (or Doofus, however you want to spell it is fine) were determined to drag Grimm the Grump into their canine capers. Grimm, however, just wanted to bask in the warmth of the sun.  The wild woofers, however, just kept gnawing at his leg until he said, “ENOUGH!”

 

 

Don't Bite My Leg!

 

 

Rufus couldn’t help but give a little sass back, but he and Zella decided to leave Grimm the Grumpy Pants alone.  With a huge, dramatic sigh, Grimm went inside to lie down next to Charley.  Even though Zella and Rufus were leaving him alone, being next to Charley would guarantee that they wouldn’t try any funny business.  No dog dares to wake Charley without a very good reason.  Charley may be old, but he’s fierce and doesn’t take kindly to being roused from his beauty sleep by the likes of barbarian canines.

So, for now, Grimm is safe from the doofuses (or is that doofi?).  I fear, however, that it will not be long before Grimm reclaims his role as their witless leader.  If he doesn’t, Rufus may take the role…if so, God help us all.

 

 

Rufus the Dufus

 

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My dogs love frisbees.  LOVE them.  The problem, though, is that these plastic discs last about two seconds around my house.  They can only hold up so long against the catching, chomping, chewing, crunching and tugging done to them by my canines.  Until I go shopping again, they are an endangered commodity.

 

Rufus With Blue Frisbee

 

Somehow, Rufus found an almost completely intact specimen today.  This is like finding the Holy Grail–it’s rumored to exist, but no one knows where to find it. Where it was discovered, I’ll never know.  Perhaps it was one of Grimm’s secretly hidden discs.  He has a few caches of favorite things around the yard; problem is, he forgets where he places these items.  My guess is that Rufus just happened to stumble upon one of these treasures.

 

Chewing on the Frisbee

 

 

Rufus started to munch on the frisbee, savoring the subtle flavors of the plastic and further mangling its rim.  Of course, his crunching sounds of contentment soon attracted the attention of the current frisbee king at my house–Grimm.

 

 

The Theft

 

 

Grimm:  What’s this?  What you got there, Rufus?

Rufus:  Nothing, I don’t have anything.  Just chewing on a stick.

Grimm:  Oh, no.  I know what chewing on a stick sounds like.  You’ve got a frisbee, don’t you?  Is that one of MY frisbees?

Rufus:  It’s mine!  I found it all by myself.  Just go away and leave me alone.

Of course, now that a frisbee was involved, Grimm had no intention of just walking away.  Where frisbees are concerned, Grimm is like a crack addict.  He would definitely end up as a destitute frisbee whore turning tricks on a corner if I didn’t keep him regularly supplied.  Since stock was running low, Grimm was getting a little edgy about his next fix.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Grimm decided to just steal the disc from Rufus.

 

 

Going, Going, Gone

 

Grimm took the frisbee and ran.  The adrenaline sparked by his theft coursed through his veins, providing extra speed.  Rufus’ short legs would never be able to catch him and both dogs knew it.

 

 

Bring My Frisbee Back

 

Rufus was devastated.  He was so mad at Grimm–Grimm was the one who introduced him to the awesomeness of frisbees to begin with!  He felt betrayed, humiliated, and downright angry.

 

 

Zella Consoles Rufus

 

 

Zella tried her best to console Rufus.  After all, she knew what he was going through.  Many a beloved disc had been run into the ground, sometimes very savagely, by Grimm.  She comforted Rufus as best as she could.

 

 

Frisbee King

 

 

They both looked over to where Grimm stood, smugly crunching on the stolen frisbee.  Enough was enough.  They decided then and there it was time to de-throne the self-proclaimed Frisbee King.  Rufus started work on a plan to win back his disc.

 

 

Stakeout

 

 

Hiding behind some sticks (not his best camouflage, I know, but Grimm was paying more attention to his contraband anyways), Rufus observed his opponent in order to find an area of weakness.  Unable to find any, he proceeded to his backup strategy:  act like a crazy, rabid dog and just flat out attack Grimm.

 

 

Kung Fu Moves

 

 

His daring move caused Grimm to momentarily drop the stolen disc.  Rufus jumped and growled and brought forth his best impersonation of an ogre in order to try and gain possession of the frisbee.  Grimm, though, was up for the challenge.

 

 

Epic Battle For The Frisbee

 

 

 

Both dogs proceeded to try to overcome the other.  The epic battle for the frisbee began.  Seriously, folks, dogs the world over will be woofing about this battle for decades to come.  Grimm eventually got too hot to continue warring with Rufus.  No way was Rufus calling a time-out for Grimm to cool off–it was either stay and fight and get heat stroke, or just give up the frisbee already. Grimm decided to go take a swim in the water trough instead.

 

 

Got My Frisbee Back

 

 

Rufus claimed his prize–the shabby, worn piece of plastic.  He went back to his chewing spot and commenced the whittling of the disc.  Grimm, impressed by the littler dog’s courage and fortitude, let him be.  Rufus became the Frisbee King, for today at least.  I better stock up on more discs, and soon, before more havoc strikes my canine kingdom (or Grimm starts showing up on street corners jonesing for a frisbee fix). Maybe it’s time for an intervention.  Anyone know of any good canine frisbee rehabs?

 

 

 

 

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What is it about a stick that attracts a dog?  Sure, they are fun to chew on and chase and even carry around at times, but when the stick is as big as the dog, you would think things would get a little awkward.  Obviously, Zella doesn’t care:

 

Yippee!! I found a stick that is as long as me!

 

**Prance, prance, prance**
Sure, this may look awkward as this heavy branch pulls my head sideways, but boy am I having fun!

 

I present to you…my stick. Please oh please oh please throw it for me! Pretty please?

 

Grimm, like any younger sibling, coveted the big stick that Zella had found.  He tried to steal it from her a few times and even offered her a chewed up frisbee in exchange.  But really–who in their right mind would exchange such an awesome piece of wood for a ragtag piece of plastic?

Not to be outdone, Grimm found his own stick–the mightiest stick of all (at least that could be found in my backyard at the moment):

 

Ha! My stick is bigger than your stick, Zella! Who’s more awesome now, huh?

 

Grimm’s stick was so long and bulky, he had trouble carrying it around.  He kept tripping over it and finally he settled for just chewing on it.  When he got tired of munching on his tree branch, he just sat and stared at it and laid by it and babysat the stick for a while.

Zella saw the monstrous stick and of course she wanted what Grimm had found.  No way was little brother going to have the more mighty length of wood.  She didn’t try to bargain for it or perform some covert operation to steal the stick–she just flat out took it from him.

 

I’ll take this, thank you very much.

 

You would have thought that the stick was big enough for them to share–Grimm could gnaw on one end while Zella pulverized the other.  Oh, no…Zella wanted to drag the giant stick around the yard–without Grimm’s help.  She got stuck a few times trying to bring her prize with her, and even tried to bring it indoors at one point, but no way was she giving Grimm back his stick.  It was hers now. Grimm had to settle for her cast-off branch.

 

This giant stick sure is tasty! It may take me a while to turn it into sawdust.

 

What was Charley doing, you may ask, while the younger ones battled over stick supremacy?  Well, Charley doesn’t really care about sticks.  He only would ever fetch sticks when swimming was involved, and since he doesn’t do much of that anymore, he proceeded to perform the one skill he has absolutely mastered over the years:  steal my bed.

 

Those wild young ‘uns can keep their rough, hard sticks. I prefer comfy, soft beds. And yep, you ain’t seeing things. I do have my rump on my owner’s pillow. I make my own rules–ain’t nobody gonna tell me I have to use a pillow only for my noggin.

 

Well, guess who’s changing their sheets today?  Thanks, Charley, for putting your dog butt on my pillow.  Just glad you are comfortable.

**Sigh.**

 

 

 

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Apparently Grimm thinks he is some sort of Tarzan.  See for yourself:

“AaaaaaahhhhUhUhAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUhUhAaaaaaahhhh!!!”

Earlier this week, he and Zella decided that it would be awesome to mimic beavers and gnaw one of the climbing arms of my Lady Banks rose off of its base.  This old rose has climbed all over the hackberry tree it neighbors and thus this vine was very well anchored in and around the tree.  Once separated from its base, the vine then became a free-floating, dangling stem for the dogs to grip onto and hang from.  Zella quickly tired of the swinging-from-the-vine game and decided to go munch on a frisbee instead.  Grimm, however, thinks he is some gravity defying Cirque du Soleil protege and refuses to leave the vine alone.

When he grabs the vine with his mouth, his front legs can no longer reach the ground.  At times, his whole body is dangling from the rose vine as he slowly twirls in a circle.  He tugs and wrestles with the organic climber but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot pull the vine down.  He has, however, caused the vine to knock against some of the dead limbs of the hackberry tree which support it, so at least he has managed to prune the tree for me.

Zella also pretends she is Tarzan at times, although she likes to swing from a proper rope and not a vine.  Here she is doing her impersonation of soap on a rope.

Some dogs really enjoy tugging on a rope or other such toy.  Certain breeds, especially pit bulls, American bulldogs and other “bully breeds”, have a deep, ingrained desire to grasp, hold and tug.  This was originally what these types of dogs where bred for and this genetic trait can be seen in our dogs today.  With their big ol’ heads and strong necks and jaws, these dogs can literally dangle from a rope or other such instrument.  However, this sort of grasping and grappling isn’t so easy on their teeth, especially when you have a dog like Grimm who now thinks any tree branch within mouth’s reach would be fun to try to hang from.

See any splinters in there? Take a good look–this may be the last time Grimm has pretty teeth. Because he likes to hang from woody vines and tree limbs, he may soon start looking like a hillbilly.

Tarzan…I mean Grimm…hopefully will become tired of swinging from his vine.  It looks like this vine may very soon become too high for him to reach.  All of his chomping and tugging has slowly whittled away it’s end.  Time to get out more ropes so I can save my trees.  Apparently my dog has a chainsaw for a mouth.

“AaaaaaaahhhhUHUHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUHUHAaaaaaaahhhhh!!

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