Hairless, Hair-brained and Hair-raising “Tails”

Brad had already established a series of puppy rules for the home: no dog on the couch, no dog on the bed, no table food for the dog. I circumvented some of the rules but was very supportive of the “no table food rule”. I insisted that Chase was not on the couch or bed, just merely on my lap. Brad adjusted the rules so that the dog could be on my lap but no dog part could touch the couch or bed. “Dogs belong on the floor” he asserted.

One week after Chase became a part of our family, he had his first vet visit. He had gained a pound and he still had a raspy cough so he was scheduled for a follow-up visit the next week. Otherwise, the vet declared him to be healthy.

Back at the house, we were quickly discovering that this puppy kept positioning himself under our feet. It was difficult to remember to look down before we stepped and many times Chase would squeak like a dog toy with our ill-placed feet. Brad seemed to step on the dog more than me; however it was I who closed the front door on Chase one Saturday afternoon.

It is my belief, after many years of experience with animals that only bad things happen to them on the weekends and after veterinary office hours. We tenderly placed our quivering ball of fluff into the car and drove the 25 miles to the nearest animal hospital. This facility typically charges a minimum of three hundred dollars just to walk in the door. Chase hobbled around on three legs, holding his injured leg up dramatically. We were escorted into a room where we waited for the vet to arrive. As soon as the vet walked into the room, Chase became excited about this new person and bounded across the floor. He soon forgot which leg was “injured” and tested a few of them out in the injured paw pose. The vet wanted to take an X-ray just to be on the safe side. We concurred. Chase was diagnosed with a sprained paw and was prescribed a low dose of pain medicine just in case he needed it. His records would be forwarded to his regular vet and as an added bonus we were given his X-ray. Since he was so small, it was an X-ray of his entire body. I planned on framing this expensive piece of art.

At his follow-up vet visit with the regular vet, Chase was given a clean bill of health and a chiropractic adjustment to keep his spine in alignment. I wasn’t sure that his spine needed to be aligned as he was still just a baby, but he didn’t seem to mind the procedure. We were given the vet’s after-hours number to call if any future emergencies occurred. Another vet visit was scheduled which seemed to be a follow-up to the follow-up. I tried to remember if my parents had taken their dog to the vet as often as we were. It seemed to me that back then, the dog went to the veterinarian once a year. Maybe things had changed.

Between these vet visits, Chase was scratching himself a lot and chewing at his paws. I couldn’t see any fleas. My grandmother kept telling me that this was an ugly dog. She thought his fur was too thin. Of course, I disagreed but the next visit to the vet proved me wrong. He had the mange. The vet explained that because Chase contracted parvovirus, his immune system was not up to par and that made it easier for the mange to rear its ugly head. I was given a dip to take home and some eye goo. The eye goo went directly on the dog’s eyes to protect them while you dipped the dog. The eye goo was nearly impossible to apply. The first eye went smoothly but he knew what was coming with the second eye and kept twisting his head around to avoid the application. Brad had to hold his head in place but it still wasn’t easy – this dog could squirm! He was still small so I used an old cooler to dip him. After three more follow-up visits, he had lost nearly all his fur, and the vet decided that if the mange didn’t clear up soon, more drastic measures would be taken. I was worried. Brad helped me research the disease on the internet. It was full of myths, semi-truths and things that seemed more believable. We learned that coating the dog in motor oil was a myth, although this seemed obvious to both of us. The things that held the most truth were immune system building foods for dogs. Translation: cook homemade food for the dog.

Never in a million years did I think that one day I would be a doggie culinary chef. I mixed up batches of rice, salmon, and broccoli. For variety there was also a choice of rice, sardines and spinach. I added all of the recommended vitamins that were guaranteed to build Chase’s immune system and promote healthy skin. Chase loved mealtime.

I’m not sure if this was considered table food because we were not partaking in his special cuisine, but our puppy was certainly pleased with his new diet. Did it work? His fur grew back and there were no more medicated cooler dips. I seemed to believe in the power of sardines and my grandmother decided that he had a beautiful coat. We were also seeing less of the vet which was good for our wallet.

At the time I couldn’t imagine that one day, Brad would be inviting the dog up on the couch to snuggle while watching a movie or calling him back to bed when it was time to sleep. Or saving a few small pieces of steak as a special treat. No couch? No bed? No table food? No way.

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