October 19, 2017

White Dog was standing in front of the full length mirror that hangs on the inside of the closet door. She was studying her furs. I scooped her up in my arms. "Sweet girl, you need not worry. YoYoMa and Nilla have other issues that made this possible. Their immune systems are broken; Yo because of his IMHA and Nilla because she is very old and frail."

This morning I drew Nilla close to me to check out what I thought was a smudge of dirt on her side. As I stroked it, clumps of hair came off attached to strange debris at the hair follicles. Ultimately a red patch of about 6"x4" was revealed. All of the White Dog Army was pushed from the room. "Better safe until we know what this is," I told them. And to Nilla, "Don't worry Baby Girl, it looks like we can fix this."

Now, I admit I am a total science geek and DO have a microscope in my office. While Steve looked closely at the furs, I did a quick skin scraping and looked under the lens. What I saw would require a call to Dr. Julia, and some treatment but was not life threatening.

I gathered each of the WDA one-by-one into the office to do a check. Only YoYoMa had similar patches in two places, his chest and right whither.

It was Red (Demodetic) MangeDemodectic mange, sometimes just called "demodex" or "red mange", is the most common form of mange in dogs. It is caused by the Demodex canis, a parasite that lives in the hair follicles of dogs. Under the microscope, this mite is shaped like a cigar with eight legs. As long as the body's immune system is functioning properly, these mites cause no harm. Our wonderful vet's #1, Cindy confirmed that all normal dogs (and many humans) have a few of these mites on their skin. As long as the body's immune system is functioning properly, these mites cause no harm. But of course Yo and Nilla have immune systems that are not all right.

Demodectic mange may occur in older dogs because function of the immune system often declines with age. Dogs who have immune suppression due to illness or certain medications are also candidates for demodectic mange. Red mange is not contagious to other animals or humans. Surprisingly, a dog with red mange usually does not itch severely, even though it loses hair in patches. It is called "red" mange because it leaves the skin red and irritated.

The spots on both Nilla and YoYoMa were carefully washed with a medicated shampoo which should do the trick. As an extra precaution, Cindy advised us to once a week for the next month thoroughly wash the areas with a diluted lemon juice rinse. And of course we are to be on the alert for new patches occurring. If the the disease becomes more than localized we will need to consider a full body dip. 

We very closely examined Stormer and Benson, both also with compromised systems and found nothing. The younger and healthier members of the WDA all appeared to be fine enough to complain mightily about the indignity of the exam.

White Dog sighed in relief and then went into leader mode, making sure that all lined up for exams and brushings. Then she reminded Steve to sterilize all of the combs and brushes used...just to be safe.  Yo and Nilla were none the worse for their ordeal but both now sport bald patches.

Nilla was too shy to be photographed in this state, but it looks like she has a "window" on her side into her body. WD cautioned that ANY pup caught teasing her would have to face the wrath of the Queen. 


October 17, 2017

White Dog nodded as she listened into the phone conversation I was having. It was Dr. Julia. Our beloved vet had just finished saying, "Maybe you should put White Dog on first so you do not over-react." "OK," I responded, "but THAT opening makes me more than a little nervous."

"It is just that there is an adjustment period while YoYoMa's body learns how to react and respond to the new combination of medicines that he is receiving. There will be a little bit of see-sawing and I know you worry at each drop no matter how small."

"Shouldn't I?"

"Of course, but there will be fluctuations. Like today he tested down from last week but still within the acceptable range. He is just over 35. Next week he may be at 39 again; we will have to wait and see. But you know one dip doesn't mean he is trending downward."

White Dog barked her agreement...both about Yo's condition AND my propensity to be an overprotective momma.

Dr. Julia continued. "His white blood cell count looks great. So let's just keep calm and steadily continue doing exactly what we are doing. And we will take a look at his numbers next week."

"It is all good. You say so. White Dog says so. And Yo is standing in front of me wagging his agreement. So this momma is putting on her calm, it-is-good face for the rest of the week."


October 16, 2017

White Dog peered at Zsofia closely, just as I was doing. She just came in from the yard and had a smudge of something pink on her cheek. Of course when I called her closer to get a better look, she became coy and uncooperative. I grabbed her by the collar and wrestled her to sit between my knees. She began wooing a most pitiful song that brought Bailey and Sachi rushing to her side.

It looked like a smear of blood that had been licked almost clean. I rubbed at the blush and found no wound; nor was there any injury inside of her mouth. "Were you playing too rough?" I asked as I checked her all over thinking maybe she had been self tending to a nip or cut, but she was unblemished. Nor were there any itches or hots spots that might have been irritating her.

Next I did similar checks on her most avid playmates: Bailey, Sachi, Opal, Bella and Pearl. No one had a tender spot or a reddened area.

White Dog came back from checking the toy box. We currently have no red or pink toys that could have transferred color. 

"Did you find a dead thing in the yard?" I asked her. She averted her eyes but the location of the blood was not around her mouth but on her cheek. "Maybe there is a bird down and my sister was rubbing in it," WD ventured. I admitted it WAS a possibility (one later disproven when Steve came home and found nothing).

The interrogation was not answering the pink question and the WDA was getting antsy being held for questioning so I released them back to their pursuits.

This momma is not one who likes unsolved WD mysteries. And when next Zso came in, the telltale blush had been totally removed...as if I had imagined the entire thing.


October 15, 2017

White Dog gently nudged my leg and I turned to see what she was viewing.
"This is all your hard work," I told her. "it is NOT easy to keep such a large family loving and connected to each other." She smiled as Opal curled herself around the curve of Bailey's side so that they could rest together.


October 14, 2017

White Dog assigned tasks and the White Dog Army put on their red flannel lumberjack shirts. It was time to help Steve get rid of the kind of scary Friday the Thirteenth prank nature pulled on us

They began by gathering up the smaller debris and stacking the sticks.
Then the White Dog Army supervised from on the deck while Steve used the chainsaw to cut the main branch into more manageable pieces.
Steve, with help, loaded the chunks into the wheel barrel.
The poor Bradford Pear Tree had to have a couple of ITS delicate limbs removed; the falling branch had broken and damaged it when it landed nearly on top of the little ornamental. White Dog and Bella looked online for a dressing to protect the tree as we wrapped the wounds.

The White Dog Army agreed that dad's wood chipper was pretty awesome in its ability to "chew" an entire stick to mulch in just seconds. And Bailey thought the mulch was a delightful "dry bath"
to roll in.

Two hours later the back door banged in tune with the dog door as Steve and the crew came in; task completed. Nilla and White Dog offered warm apple cheddar muffins to go with the duck jerky for our hungry hearty lumberjacks.

High fives with full mouths all around for a mission accomplished. 


October 13, 2017

White Dog was as puzzled as Steve. "There were no winds. Was not a storm. What the heck?" Most of the White Dog Army lined up along the deck barking their distress. Pearl and Bella had gone down the stairway on the other side of the deck and were at the far end of the yard noisily looking for clues. Stormer looked heavenward and complained.

Sachi and Bailey followed Steve down to examine the huge branch that was lying face planted next to our tiny (by comparison) Bradford Pear.

At some point during the night it had seemingly just severed its relationship with the giant shade tree that covers most of the yard. The tree has been slowly dying for years and we often find little castaways, sticks by comparison, that the WDA loves to play with and chew.

But this was a tree in itself. And the fact it just "dropped off" the trunk had everyone following Stormer's lead of looking up to survey if there were others.

"This could be a safety hazard," wooed Zsofia. "What if we were out playing and suddenly..." White Dog nosed Zso's face. "Step back, let's not get hysterical."

Steve added branch cleanup up to the weekend's "to do" list, as well as maybe some selective trimming. The WDA meantime has a new task added to their routine...falling branch watch...AND they have a new favorite area in which to wrestle and run...out in the "way back" free of tree branches but lacking in shade.


October 12, 2017

White Dog snorted when Steve picked up Sachi and commented, "Wow! You smell really nice." "Ask him WHY he has become a Lavender Sachet," she suggested.

"Oh-oh," Steve said sitting down with the Little Man. "Sounds like there is a story here."

For no good reason Sachi randomly chose poor sweet Nilla as a target. All day he hounded her and went out of his way to be unkind. Nilla does not provoke. She does not dominate. She is gentle and unassuming. She yields rather than embroils herself in conflict. Peace-loving Nilla is sometimes, White Dog tells her, too nice.

Sachi was asleep on the couch when Nilla woke from her nap in the office and came into the living room to see what was happening. The moment she entered the room, Sachi jumped off of the couch and ran over to nip her on her flank. And he chased her from the room later by trying to mount her as she spun in circles to avoid his advances. He was unrelenting.

For times of misbehavior that cannot be redirected positively and is met with no remorse, I keep a squirt bottle filled with water scented in calming lavender. Usually just showing the bottle diffuses the situation but today Sachi stubbornly...several different times...refused to back down from his Nilla meanness. I actually had to blast him with the spray to get his attention.

And at treat time when he took Nilla's jerky from her mouth he stood and growled his defiance... earning him a drippy face as well as being put in time out. He screamed his demands for a lawyer and media coverage of the injustice while Nilla enjoyed her replacement treat in peace.

After, Nilla curled up next to my feet and flinched each time Sachi walked past...and he made a point of sauntering the length of the room pausing in front of her (and giving momma the evil eye) several times before hopping back on the couch and proudly settling on the pillows. White Dog shook her head at him. "Brother, you are pushing the limits today. It is not cute. It is not nice. It is not macho. Now get a grip and behave yourself!" He curled his lip and turned his back. I gently touched WD's collar. "Ignore him. He hates that."

Steve listened to the recounting of the day and turned The Little Brat to face him. "Sachi, you know that we do not treat each other like that. Let us hope you have worked through your inner demon and will be nice the rest of the evening, otherwise you will have to go off by yourself."

"Geez, I thought lavender was supposed to be calming," Steve said to me. "It smells like he was dipped into it and yet." White Dog answered. "Imagine how out of control he might have been without it!"
Above the law because EVERYBODY loves the Lavender Sachi man!


October 11, 2017

White Dog Wordless Wednesday.


October 10, 2017

White Dog said,  "Cue the Rocky theme gang! And momma let's bake a cake! YoYoMa has wonderful news."

Well, actually Dr. Julia had wonderful news, about Yo's latest blood check on his anemia. "Whatever you are doing to NOT change a thing," our beloved vet told me. "This is the best he has been in months...

His HCT is just over 39...in the normal range. 
And his white blood cell count is 16,540...ALSO in the normal range.

"The new medicine seems to be just what we needed," she continued. "That and the guidance of a gifted healer, a determined Spirit on Yo's part and some pretty incredible ninja red blood cells," I concluded. "Let's see him again next week. We need to be cautious just until we are sure this is a pattern that holds."

"And now, the cake, momma," was the sound accompanying the tap on my leg. "Yo LOVES carrot cake and cream cheese frosting."

October 9, 2017

White Dog looked at Benson standing in front of us and she jumped down. As she moved past me she whispered, "He needs holding."

Benson is my bravest soul. As he battles end stage kidney disease which pushes his dementia hard on some days, Ben-Ben stalwartly shoulders on and never gives more than a soft whimper when he hurts or is scared. He knows that there is no magic pill that will make it all go away...and he is VERY clear that he is not interested yet in leaving us.

There maybe no magic pill but I have learned that there IS comfort for him in being scooped up and cradled in my arms. He settles against my heart and lets its beat provide a rhythm that soothes. I wrap my arms around him like a human version of a thunder shirt so that he can feel entirely encircled... and safe. "I am right here," I tell him. "You are safe and loved. Relax. Rest."
Benson never comes over and begs for attention. Like this morning, he simply stands in front of me gently, undemandingly waiting to be recognized. But his need is clear.

I lift him to me and immediately he sighs in relief as he lays his head on my shirt.  I pull the blanket around us both and let go of my mental "to do" list. This is where I am meant to be.