Thursday, February 24, 2011
Josie's Tale & Townie Deer
Thank you to everyone for your well-wishes for Josie, who had her second bladder surgery on Tuesday. She did great and was very happy to come home yesterday, bringing a chow-hound appetite with her (she normally is a rather dainty, bird-like eater but she's been putting away the groceries like an NFL lineman since she got home!)
Here she is earlier today, enjoying some lovin's from BW in front of the cozy fire...
Josie has suffered chronic urinary tract infections for several years, and last October an ultrasound showed a mass in her bladder. Figuring that's what was allowing bacteria to congregate and cause her infections, our vet (Jen) removed the mass - a benign fibroid - and had Josie complete a final course of antibiotics, and we all thought that would be the end of those wretched infections. But first Josie experienced an allergic reaction to the dissolving sutures, and then her next follow-up U/A showed a new bladder infection!
After clearing that one up BW and I started Josie on Cranimal organic cranberry supplement, which really helped balance her pH (always too alkaline before) and have been giving her the rainforest herb Chanca Piedra, which works wonders for kidney stones and also helps fight urinary tract infections and promote urinary tract health. We thought surely this time she'd pass her U/A with flying colors (she never has obvious symptoms!), but no - last week her second post-surgery follow-up U/A showed she had yet another infection and an ultrasound showed another bladder polyp. And so, more antibiotics and Tuesday's bladder surgery.
Jen's first discovery was that there was no polyp after all. She thinks what looked like a mass on the ultrasound was probably sludgy infected urine pooled in that area of the bladder (yuk!) Her second discovery was that unlike last time she operated, when she said Josie's bladder was "red, inflamed and angry," this time it was, "pink, healthy and happy." Her urine was bacteria-free (the week of antibiotics would account for that), and everything was functioning normally. All she found that was unusual were little blister-like bumps on much of Josie's bladder wall, which she'd never seen on a bladder before but has seen on eyes with chronic irritation. With all the infections she's had, Josie's bladder has definitely suffered chronic irritation! Jen biopsied some of it (we'll get the results next week) and removed the rest by curetting the bladder wall. Then she flushed her bladder with antibiotics-laced saline solution and sewed up both bladder and belly using un-dyed sutures (the dye being what usually causes allergic reactions) and stainless steel staples for her skin incision. I took a photo of Josie's Frankenstein tummy staples, but BW deemed it "too gross" for my blog. :-)
As you can see from this photo taken just a day or two after we adopted her from the local shelter on Sep 30, 2005, bladder infections and surgeries are the least of the traumas and afflictions poor Josie has suffered in her life...
Josie & Willow, just became sisters and playing already.
Josie looks so different without her beautiful, plush fur!
Josie had been found along with her daughter about 20-25 miles from Sheridan near the Montana border and brought to the shelter by a good samaritan. Both dogs were filthy, undernourished, covered in ticks and burrs... and pregnant! Worst of all, Josie had been shot in her hind leg at some point and never given medical attention, so that her leg had healed twisted and short with atrophied leg muscles. Cleaned up (Josie's fur was so bad it had to be shaved off), fed, wormed and vaccinated, Josie and her daughter gave birth to their puppies, were spayed, and everyone was adopted out except Josie who was considered special needs. Our then-vet Lou (who since moved away) was consulted about Josie's leg. He took her to a specialist in Billings, MT who agreed with Lou that amputation was not necessary. It didn't seem to cause her pain and though she carries it off the ground when she trots and runs, she uses it a lot when she walks and pivots, and at times to help stabilize herself when standing.
The shelter eventually found a home for Josie with an older couple. But Josie was a nervous piddler then (who can blame her?), and when she got nervous and piddled on their floor the first night they yelled at her and put her outside. So she skeedaddled! She was found by someone and brought again to the shelter, whose staff was wondering if they'd ever be able to find her a good home. It was about then that Dr. Lou told us about her. We'd just lost our last two elderly dogs, Tater and Pris, three weeks apart (Tater at age 15½ of lupus and renal failure and Pris at 18 or 19 of extreme old age). We hadn't actually planned on adopting another dog, having adopted Willow in 2002 and having suffered the loss of our five old dogs within a four-year period. But when we heard about Josie's plight, I went to meet her. Then I brought BW and Willow to meet her. Then we filled out all the forms and did interviews, while Lou and his vet tech - who was on the shelter staff, knew our dogs and had been to our house - vouched for us. After everyone declared their approval (most importantly Josie), we adopted her. And right out of the gate, poor Josie had yet another thing to deal with...
Josie takes a another lickin' and keeps on tickin'
Until a suitable home could be found, Josie had been living with the shelter's administrator who raises German Shepherds. (A sad irony not lost on us and not the only sad irony at that shelter, which raises money to help some species of animals by selling the barbecued flesh of other species of animals and selling raffles for hunting rifles and hunts on local ranches to kill yet other species of animals. And this sort of deep disconnect and resulting hypocrisy is not at all unique to this particular shelter, unfortunately). Anyway, one of the Shepherds had recently had puppies, and had taken a dislike to Josie who pretty much preferred to keep quietly to herself (I can relate!) But one day Josie apparently did something that set off the Shepherd and the dog fight was on. Since she was half the size of the Shepherd Josie fared the worst, getting a huge gash over her right eye. She still had a bald patch and stitches when I met her and her wound was still visible when we brought her home. We didn't know how that incident would affect Josie's behavior toward Willow. Though a little standoffish toward Willow at first, Josie was quickly won over by Willow's innumerable charms. They were playing within 15 minutes and have been best buddies ever since. :-)
Josie, just a few weeks after joining our family,
fell sound asleep cuddling "Tiger Baby," Willow's favorite toy.
Uh-oh, I've been busted! LOL
Her gunshot wound, feral existence, being separated from her puppies, cast out by her new people, and mangled by a German Shepherd should have been more than enough trauma for one dog, but the Fates weren't done being cruel yet. In June 2009, Josie tested positive for heartworm.
Ever since moving to Wyoming from Texas, where we always had to give heartworm preventative to our dogs, I'd asked every vet we had whether we needed to do that here. And every vet told us without hesitation that we didn't since there was no heartworm in this area (and we have almost never seen mosquitos at our house and don't travel anywhere with Josie). They didn't heartworm their own dogs, rarely tested for it, and didn't stock heartworm medication. Sounded good to us - we don't take meds unless absolutely necessary and feel the same about our furkids. Besides, heartworm medicine is expensive. (We've since learned it's very cheap, relative to heartworm treatment!) That spring of '09, as I did every year during our critters' annual checkups, I asked again. And this time I was told I might want to consider it since there had been 12 confirmed cases of heartworm in the county so far. So I dutifully had all three dogs tested (on BW and my wedding anniversary, no less), thinking it was just a routine square-filler so I could start them on the preventative, and was loading Josie up to head home when the vet ran outside to tell me Josie had tested positive. I don't know which of us was more aghast! It was our vet's first positive heartworm test on a local dog (a visiting dog with symptoms had tested positive a year or two before) in his 42 years of vet practice here. And Josie had no symptoms of heartworm infection. So they decided the test kit must have been faulty and tested her again for free. Positive again. And so another ordeal began.
It started with a ton of research on both ours and our vets' parts (this was one of the most helpful web sites we found), then a course of antibiotics to weaken the heartworms followed by three terribly painful shots deep into the back muscles requiring hospital stays and several days of pain medication and recovery time. The treatment also required six months of confinement. No walks, no play, no jumping up and down - Josie could only go outside on a leash to go potty and had to be kept in very small confined areas in the yard and in our front hallway. I think that was the toughest part for all of us. And the cost of the treatment was over $1300. Josie was lucky that her infection appeared to be either very mild or caught very early, she was young and otherwise healthy, and asymptomatic. Most dogs don't survive heartworm infection and some don't survive the treatment. We don't know how or when Josie was infected - maybe she became infected before we adopted her, maybe she just got unlucky on a trip to town one day. They think that the Katrina dogs brought to shelters in neighboring counties brought heartworm to our area, but who knows. Josie was the 13th local case in our county that year and by last June there had been 34 cases. We now give the preventative year-round, despite our winters and still relatively low heartworm incidence here. Regardless of where you live, if you have a dog (or cat!) please get them tested for heartworm and be diligent about giving them the heartworm preventative! You don't want to have to go through this, and you sure don't want to have to put your furbaby through it.
Josie patiently endures Willow's constant desire to play ~
sure beats enduring gunshots, heartworms or bladder surgery!
So as you can see, bladder infections and surgeries are just the latest in poor Josie's afflicted, traumatized life! But you'd never know it. She's patient and sweet and uncomplaining. Even our vet clinic's staff talk about how despite all they've had to do to her, she never holds it against them. She walks in and loads right up in the kennel, and endures the latest indignity and discomfort with grace. They love her to pieces, spoil her rotten, and always hate to see her go. But the feelings's not totally mutual, because when it's time to come home Josie nearly dislocates my shoulder trying to get out their door and into the car! :-)
After I picked BW up at the dentist and we all headed for home, we were driving through a busy residential neighborhood near the dentist, an elementary school, a church, the hospital and various doctor's offices when I looked to my left and saw this sweet scene...
See the muleys? I was so glad I'd brought my camera along!
A pair of mule deer enjoying a siesta in someone's front yard.
We used to see mule deer at our place every once in a while, but haven't for years. It's always fun to see them, almost always on the outskirts of town, but I don't recall ever seeing any relaxing in someone's front yard in a busy neighborhood before. :-) You can see from their big ears why they're called Mule Deer (or "Muleys!") So cute! But still no match for Punky, beauty queen of the White Tails! :-)
- INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
- MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
- MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
- ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
- QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
- THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
- THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
- THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
- THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.
~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"