December 10, 2018

White Dog was frustrated. "They STILL are not figuring it out," she huffed. "It is too bad that Dr. Julia cannot treat dad, SHE would have him on track."

After three visits to urgent care and WEEKS of waiting Steve finally got to see the dermatologist about his mystery body rash. A shot of cortisone, a prescription for histamine blocker that is too powerful to use during the day (says doctor), a suggestion to invest in Allegra...and "see you in a month if things aren't better and we will test for allergies." Also "we might never know the cause. Could be bug bite was trigger...or your gout meds...or something environmental. Sometimes it just disappears." At least the shot seems to have stopped the itching so now maybe all the scratches can heal. 

The White Dogs gathered together to, as White Dog explained, "come up with some ideas that might help dad REALLY figure this out." Since the human medical route was not scoring very well so far, I agreed to hear their ideas and seriously consider their analysis.

"Remember, momma, that you found out that chicken is the number one allergen for dogs? Well, with his gout Dad eats an AWFUL lot of chicken. Maybe the rash could be a reaction to that? What if we use Dr. Julia's method of trying three things and if there is an improvement we slowly add them back one at a time until we get a reaction? Dad could avoid chicken, wear a jacket and shoes that he leaves on the porch when he comes in, and wash up his hands and arms and legs when he touches us. That way we could start by seeing if food, the outside or the WDA might be the trigger. If he gets better it points to one of these. If not we try three new things." Hmm, I thought how come none of the DOCTORS have suggested that? Good idea WDA.

"Stress certainly cannot be helping Dad's situation," White Dog read from her notes. "I know work is busy and that causes anxiety with deadlines and changes. I know you have been streamlining meals and evening demands so that he has fewer things to do here but what if we could figure out a way to give Dad an hour to meditate or just read for pleasure or do something that is relaxing? Even if we could do that a couple times a week maybe that will at least ease the severity." "Why is it that we are paying a medical professional," I asked My Girl. "This is also a very profound thought."

"We also think Dad needs to keep a notebook about where he is, what he is doing and what time it is when the itching is worse or the rash flares up. Maybe we can find a pattern that will reveal something we have missed," White Dog concluded. "I agreed we should propose such a journal to Dad.  Seeing patterns is one of the best ways to problem solve." A well deserved round of salmon treats, brain food, was shared. "We just want dad to be well and not scratch himself up from the itchies," Nilla said as she thoughtfully finished her cookie.

My White Dog Army, the best medical team...ever!


December 9, 2018

White Dog looked down from the couch where she was attempting to nap. Then she looked across the room at me. "Opal wants to know if you would brush her. Everyone else is out with dad in the yard and...well, she would like a bit of extra attention."

I picked up the brush from the cart next to me. "Opal? Of course I would love to brush you! You only ever have to ask. I know you are my best girl when it comes to grooming and your furs are always knot-free and soft as a result. Besides, I love running my hand over you."

I could hear her little grunts of satisfaction and her eyes were closed in bliss as I brushed. She turned this way and that so I would not miss any spots before moving closer and coming to rest against my legs with her head in my hands. We leaned together for a long time. 

Then she looked at White Dog. "Next?" I asked the sleeping leader of the Army. "How about you?" I teased Bailey who had quietly come in while we were in the throes of good hygiene practices but she tightly closed her eyes and pretended she, too, was sound asleep. 

I kissed Opal's forehead. "You look marvelous, Sweet One. Go show dad."

December 8, 2018

White Dog crunched and said, "one of the best parts of this time of year is not just that there are MORE songs to the delivery trucks but that so often they bring surprises to our door that fantastic."

The rest of the White Dog Army did not look up from the homemade sweet potato chips Kathie sent them...a huge bag. And the Army was of the mind that she meant the bag to be eaten at one sitting. "Um, no," I said being the Grinch. "first you would be looking for more tomorrow AND you have each already had THREE." "But they are SO good," Bailey whined as she tried to put her nose into the bag I held.

The box was deep and held more surprises. Long ago we stopped putting up a Christmas tree for lack of space, for boy dog reasons, and for the curiosity about the ornaments. We have missed the symbolism. Our talented friend must have sensed our need because next out of the box was an incredibly detailed and specialized glass tree customized just for us. "It will be perfect on the coffee table," White Dog whispered, eyes bright...and she slowly turned to look at her siblings. "And no harm will come to it," she added.
Homemade cookies for the humans, despite the Army's consensus that they, too, ought to be shared with all. Steve already had one in his mouth so I answered, "There is chocolate on these, I do not want anypup sick for the holiday fun." Moaning stopped when I handed out "one last" sweet potato chip to all.

"Nilla, come see. There is a special present just for you. Something to keep you warm and holiday festive." She wagged as Steve carried her over to unwrap a new sweatshirt in an ideal weight for brisk days not cold enough to warrant heavy fleece.  We put it on immediately.
WD looked at the treat bag just to see if she could wring one more round but when she saw the answer would be "no," she diplomatically switched to calling for a White Dog Army Song of Thanks and Friendship to our dear friend.

And then she whispered to me. "Momma, you better get your act in motion. Boxes need to be sent and cards addressed. You are WAY behind!


December 7, 2018

White Dog tugged to straighten Nilla's jacket before Steve carried her out to go see Dr. Julia. "Don't worry," WD told her, "Dad is going to connect us by phone so that we can be there with you."

Bella was starting to get a bit nervous when we did not hear from them immediately. I reminded that the office might be running a bit behind and that we should be patient. When the house phone rang nearly a half hour later I was blizzarded by the WDA wanting to be close enough to catch every word spoken.

"Hi there," I answered. "How is My Girl?" Dr. Julia greeted us and then began her exam. As she touched and looked, and poked and prodded, I directed her to look at the new hairless patch on the top of Nilla's head and another along her side.  "The older patches are not getting worse," Steve added, "but we still seem to have a problem with new patches like on top of her head." He tilted Nilla's head and showed the spot like a monk's tonsure.

"Yep. This antibiotic is not working. And this redness on her bottom is not good either." The White Dog Army listening in drew a concerned breath. "Let's send out a scraping and a biopsy to the Lab for a full analysis. That will guide where we head next...certainly a different antibiotic but we will have a more complete picture of what is involved. It will take a couple of days to get the results but there is no reason to panic." The WDA's eyes all turned to me before I heard Dr. Julia say, "Did you hear that, Sue? She is no worse but I want to see improvement. Please do not work up unnecessary worry."

Steve asked, "until we get results?" Nilla yelped as the needle slid into her skin. Dr. Julia capped the sample and looked up. "Continue the topical ointment and her regular medications. And bathe her with the medicated shampoo, it will soothe and help the itchiness. I will call you as soon as I get the results."

At that we ended our phone connection knowing that Nilla and Steve would be home in a few minutes. When she arrived we all told her how brave she was...and shared "home from the vet" cookies.

Then Nilla excused herself. "I am tired. That took a lot of energy. Wake me for dinner."


December 6, 2018

White Dog shook her head, "Looks like you created a treat monster, dad," she said.

Tizenegy is our OCD boy who requires a strict routine and LOTS of positive reinforcement. He was an outdoor dog and has been slow learn control in marking. He can be convinced to dash through the dog door if we cheerlead him on his trot down the hall and through the door but if the rhythm is broken at all he must return to his bed and start the run again. 

In effort to get past some of the intricacies, Steve has been working with a clicker and treats. Steve verbally leads him up to the dog door and sends Tiz out. Tizenegy presumably does his business and comes back inside. Steve clicks the device and gives our boy a training treat.

It did not take Tiz long to figure out if he rushed out and turned around coming right back in that he cold turn a reward click into a harvest of treats. "Look, dad, I went outside!" now comes with an expectation of something yummy. Then he turns around and goes back out...to return with the expectation of ANOTHER. 

"How do I make him understand that this is about pottying outside," Steve asked White Dog. "He thinks this is a new game of in-and-out."

"You could watch out of the door to see if he goes," WD suggested. "If he is just playing, no treat. Or maybe teach him he must stay out until you count to fifty. You know whatever plan you come up with Tizenegy will try to find a shortcut to the treat...he IS an Eskie after all."


December 5, 2018

White Dog was quietly disagreeing with Steve. They were off in the other room working on the White Dog Army Holiday Greeting. This was Steve's year to head the design team, along with WD, of course.

"Momma would never ask me to do this, you know," the Little White Dog of My Heart protested. "Come on it will only take a minute and it makes the entire card," Steve pleaded. "Can't you think of something else?" Or ask on of the others to do this. Zso would not mind." "You are the leader, Sweet Girl, it is only right that you be the one to stand out."

"You know I hate wearing clothes but in the spirit of giving that comes with the season I will do this for you, dad. But no jokes or giggles or else I am out of here. Remember I am doing this because I believe in your artistic vision."

"Thank you, White Dog. You will see everyone will love it...Can you come out from hiding, let me adjust this on you, open your eyes and stop clenching your teeth, please?"


December 4, 2018

White Dog has always known how to howl...not bark...throw back your head and sound like a wildthing howl. Zsofia and Bailey come with the built in instinct that huskies have held on to from ancient times; they both sound like wolves in our timber country when they sing. The others do a bark imitation just to be part of the chorus.

When team Zso goes on nightly walks, Bailey waits at the front door and when she hears the group returning begins a howl I think is meant to guide them all back to the warmth and love of the pack. WD joins her. Zso answers her.

Opal, keeper of the hearth, yesterday took the stance and tried her hardest to generate a genuine howl. She was sincere and focused but did not quite sing out in the commanding tone required. I laughed and rubbed her head. "It is a good start, Sweet Girl," I told her. "Keep practicing, you will get it."

Tonight, Opal sat right next to Bailey and copied her every tone and movement. Several times Bai seemed to pause and repeat herself for the benefit of her sister's learning curve. Opal's song seemed more confident even if it is not yet the polished pack call.

I especially liked that Bailey took the time to nose her encouragement and that Zso walked over to her and howled back. Miss Opal was so proud of herself, I had to smile even though I know we are unleashing a late night song not many would hear the beauty of.


December 3, 2018

White Dog quietly slipped into the bedroom to check on our newest development and left, smiling, to return to her sleeping quarters. She was checking up on Pearl who has the past few nights disappeared from her place in the office at bedtime. Pearl can be our bedtime Goldilocks alternating between the open crate in the office, Stormer's old couch in there, and her chair in the living room. White Dog wanted to know her sister was safe and comfortable.

WD was concerned but had noticed that her sister was showing signs of wanting to be less aloof. Pearl has begun turning up for bedtime treats in the bedroom with the White Dog Army instead of waiting for Steve to hand deliver them to WD, Nilla and Pearl  who tend to avoid crowds. Pearl comes in and stands with the pack accepting cookies in turn now.

The bed in the corner has gone unused since Nilla has moved to the kitchen at night. We thought no one wanted to sleep next to Roman's crate or that the narrow opening to the bed (once so we could safely gate Nils) was a deterrent. Sometimes Opal will bring her toys in there during the day to play or Bai will rest waiting as I readied myself for the day but at night it remained empty...

...until the this past week. Pearl has discovered the space and seems delighted to claim it. Often she is in the corner, waiting, before we all are gathered for the prebed treats. Neither she nor Roman seem to mind sharing a "wall."  And Pearl seems to suddenly like being part of the crowd.

It feels like a developmental victory; like Pearl has moved a little closer to trusting. And I have to admit a thrill each night as she takes the cookie from my hand and then curls into the corner.


December 2, 2018

White Dog lifted the dog door and poked her nose out. She lifted a dainty foot and gingerly stepped onto the deck. En pointe she made her way quickly to the yard and then ran back in full speed into the living room to announce to the early risers, "Snow!" Then she went to huddle under her blankets to warm up.

To most of the White Dog Army the news meant a long sigh and holding off necessary breaks as long as possible but three of the pack ventured out to see.
"Enjoy it while you can," WD called to her Tundra Loving Siblings. "It will be melted before noon." 
And she was right.

December 1, 2018

White Dog stretched and snuggled deeper against Steve's side. "It is amazing how it is sometimes so easy to draw the blinds and block out the rest of the world. In here it is warm and cozy; the house smells delicious from dinner roasting and the music fills our souls. Out there is the noisy mess of people and the cacophony of the parade."

Bella, relaxing near Opal had to agree. "Our little sanctuary is a bubble of peace."