March 30, 2011

Three Dog Life

So there are some "people" (that's what we call them around here) in my life that I don't talk about as often as I should.  And no, I'm not talking about my wild haired and dirty faced children.

So let me give you a quick introduction and a few stories about these other important ones in my life.  Do you remember a few days ago I posted THIS story about how a broken nail became a $645 vet bill in the end?  What I didn't tell you is that I took my beagle to the vet the next day because I knew he REALLY needed his teeth cleaned too, and I had company in town that could watch the kids while I dropped him off and picked him up.  So in 36 hours, I had managed to spend about $1100 at the vet.  They should love me there, but we'll have to wait and see what they think after they deal with Abbey again. ;D

That's Sammy.  He's your typical Pug.  For those that don't know pugs, they are lap dogs, cuddle bugs, and clowns.  They really have great temperaments.  Sam-sam-bo-bo (as Ryan calls him) is probably the favorite dog of the kids.  That is based mostly on the fact that Sammy is the only one that puts up with their crap and all the hugs.  We've had Sammy since November 2004.  He was our first baby.  My parents bought him as a gift for me for a birthday shortly after I moved to OK.  I was lonely out there, and Sammy was definitely one of the best gifts anyone could ever receive.  Sammy likes to cuddle so much that I often find myself being pushed out of my king size bed because his round little body is leaning into me with enough force.  He's a bed hog I guess, but I love that when I roll over and push him a little, he walks up to the top of the bed and pushes his way under my covers and literally spoons with me.  There is no getting lonely in bed when Sammy is around.
This is Bailey.  He's our Beagle (mix).  He's sweet and sly.  He is loving and a little bit grumpy at times. He's submissive to people, but he does not let other dogs push him around.  And most of all he LOVES kisses.  He enjoys lots of petting and also getting his beauty rest.  He HATES the grass in the summer here in TN.  We adopted Bailey from the Animal Welfare Division in OKC in April 2005.  They said he was 2 years old at the time.  Bailey was a very scared dog when we first got him.  It was clear that he had not been treated well in his life before us. and he was underfed.  From day one Bailey and Sammy were BEST FRIENDS.  They play together, cuddle, and even groom each other.  We got lucky that two boy dogs ended up getting along so well.  There is definitely a beauty in their friendship, and I really think they were meant to be brothers.  When we first met Bailey we saw a sweet dog and it just felt like he was the one for our family.  We thought it was cute that he would gently lick our faces to give us kisses.  Little did we know this is a compulsive habit for Bay-Bay (as he is called), and it gets old really fast.  At least he has clean teeth and fresh breath now since he got his teeth cleaned, so we can tolerate the kisses a little more.
This beautiful girl is Abbey.  There is so much to say about Abbey.  She is a very, very sweet dog that loves to be pet and praised.  She is obedient and wants to make her owner happy.  She has had a very tough medical life, and thus is terrified of going to the vet.  Pat went along with my crazy whim to get a third dog.  We adopted Abbey from the Animal Welfare Division in OKC too.  We got her in February 2007.  We had intended to adopt a boxer puppy from a litter that was in the shelter, but when we went and saw Abbey all alone in her crate, Pat said "I want that one."  Pat doesn't typically make such big decisions so quickly, so I really think this was fate.  She had been abandoned in an empty apartment.  She was only 9 weeks old when we brought her home.  We payed our $60 for a spayed and vaccinated dog and a few days later picked her up to bring her home.   I remember introducing the dogs in a field by our house as neutral territory.  Abbey was a barker and thought the cinnamon bun tail on Sammy looked funny.  We brought the dogs home and everything was great, until after 2 days we realized Abbey was sick.  We brought her to the vet and found out she had Parvo (a very serious illness for puppies).  The vet treated Abbey for 2 days and she was responding great so I was told I could take her home.  As soon as we got into the car at the vet to go back home, I knew something was not right with her.  I didn't know Abbey well at this point, but my gut told me she wasn't well.  I wasn't sure what the problem was, so I am sure I sounded crazy when I called the vet, and they didn't really know what to tell me.  When Pat arrived home from work, I explained that she wasn't healthy but that the vet thinks I'm crazy.  Thankfully Pat took quick action and called the vet and said even if we needed an after hours visit, we had to come in NOW.  They were open 15 more minutes and we rushed there.  I'm pretty sure they examined Abbey without us in the room.  I remember hearing her wailing yelps.  The doctor was very somber when he talked to us.  He had never witnessed what he saw with Abbey.  The Parvo had manifested itself as ulcers all over her mouth--big ulcers (wide open sores) on her tongue and all over her mouth.  I was bawling my eyes out at this news, and the vet told us she may not make it.  We had only had Abbey a couple days, but she was already considered family.  Abbey was quarantined for a week.  We were able to visit her a few times and hoped that would lift her spirits, but remember she didn't even really know us yet. During this time, she really looked like a pathetic dog.  She was not eating at all, and who could blame her with all the pain she was in.  Thankfully after about a week in the hospital she finally began to eat, and that was our sign that she would survive this.  A day or two later, after our $60 dog became a $1200 dog, we finally brought Abbey home for good.  Her mouth healed and she was healthy--for a while.

In February 2008, after we moved to TN, Abbey started having digestion issues.  We brought her to the vet here, and we were less than impressed.  They tried antibiotics, they tested for parasites, and even told us maybe she needed doggy anti-depressants.  We knew they were missing something.  After numerous visits and no diagnosis, we realized we'd have to wait for some other symptom or sign, after all who are we to tell the medical professional they are wrong.  Pat deployed that April, and Abbey was still not well.  In July before I went to visit my family, I had Abbey at the vet on post.  (They only do vaccines and not medical issues there.)  I saw that she had lost a lot of weight.  Around this same time I noticed that her chest hair was falling out all over my bed much worse than regular shedding.  I resolved that I was going to get this solved for my poor girl.  During this time, her temperament had gone down hill a bit too.  Abbey already HATED vets at this point, so taking her to the vet again was going to be a challenge.  Thankfully when I took her in, I saw a new vet that really listened.  She said it sounded like Abbey may have Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), and she could do a blood test.  Unfortunately Abbey would have to fast before that test, so we'd have to go back another day.  I brought her back yet again, and in a day or so we had results that Abbey clearly has EPI.  EPI is where she lacks a pancreatic enzyme to digest food.  So for half a year, Abbey was STARVING even though I was feeding her.  She had lost almost 15 lbs and as I said her hair was falling out.  The treatment is easy, although expensive.  With every meal she has needs an enzyme powder added to it.  The powder runs about $110 for a months supply.

You would think that would be enough for one dog at such a young age, right?  Nope.  Shortly after the EPI was diagnosed, Abbey began wetting my bed.  It got pretty frequent too.  This problem was frustrating, but I knew if we brought her to the vet we'd probably be told she needed a pill for the rest of her life.  Finally I couldn't take changing the bed anymore, and we brought her in.  They diagnosed her with an incontinence issue.  It was difficult to get it under control, but thankfully we finally have done it.  She needs one pill a week for the rest of her life.

So you would think the medical issues would be enough difficulty with this dog wouldn't you?  Not quite.  There is one thing that I HATE about Abbey, and it isn't the medical bills.  Abbey has a dominance issue with our pug, Sammy.  Yes, the big dog and little dog are in disagreement about who is top dog.  This order conflict causes Abbey to start what I call vicious attacks on Sammy.  While they say that you should let dogs work out the pecking order themselves, I cannot stand by and let Sammy get hurt.  I do not think Abbey intends to hurt Sammy, but that is what happens.  So now, it's like a circus in my house because I keep Sammy and Abbey separate at all times (except bed time).  We use baby gates a lot in my house.  And I'll be honest, if Abbey didn't have her medical issues, I probably would have tried to find her a better home where she was the only dog or only with dogs her own size.  However, given the medical bills, I know no one would take her.

We love Abbey.  She is a part of our family.  I feel like Abbey is a lesson for me on responsibility and hardship.  It's not what I pictured having three dogs would be like, but no one promised it would be all wagging tails.  All the dogs bring such happiness to our lives, and if I can give them a good home and happy life then that is what matters.  So that is the long and short of my three dogs.  Maybe that explains why having 3 dogs can keep me on my toes a lot!  


Poekitten said...

Your puppies are adorable! Someday we're going to have a beagle...they are so cute:)

Dana @ WhatWereWeThinking? said...

Our 3 big rescue dogs all have medical issues, too. They have their own line in our written budget. On top of that, our very dumb golden retriever (really, really, really dumb) regularly tries to start fights with our wolfie boy who is a good 30lbs larger. Never ends well...for the golden. I totally understand where you are coming from.

Christina said...

Oh my you so have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have extremely adorable little boys but the doggies are adorable too. I can only imagine how it is between Abbey and Sammy. That is too bad but maybe it has something to do with all Abbey has been through. Her medical stories brought tears to my eyes. How much can an animal take. You stuck in their with her. Is there any training that can be done for Abbey? So sorry you have to worry about this too.

Sarah said...

Poor Abbey! She is so lucky to have such an understanding family that loves her! I found your story thru Kelly's Korner.

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