Saturday, April 09, 2005

Dixie's Diagnosis

Last Saturday, while taking Dixie back and forth to the vet during lunch time from my hospice volunteer training in Marlborough, I was cruising along the Mass. Pike in the middle lane at a speed just about equal to the route number. It occurred to me that at noontime on a weekend it might be prime time for the state troopers to be out in force but I did need to get Dixie to the vet by 12:30. I became momentarily distracted from that line of thinking as I passed a delivery truck traveling in the right lane. Something about the truck captured my interest and I found myself reading the information on its side. Since I was passing it pretty rapidly, I could only get a close look quickly. Suddenly, out of the corner of my left eye, a car traveling in the passing lane flashed past.

Now, since I was traveling along at (close to) 90, I didn’t think too many folks would be passing me. But, ya never know. So I looked over to see who this speed demon was and saw this state trooper fading away to the east in front of me. Out of respect for the law I decided to slow down a few miles an hour to a more respectable speeding violation limit.

This Saturday I took Dixie to get her teeth cleaned, got the results of the blood tests and also told the vet the good news. The good news is that Dixie’s perked up (mostly) and is eating her food and drinking, pooping and peeing, and, except for still being slow, moves around pretty good. She’s back to chasing squirrels and cats. The vet said that was good news, indeed. The blood test results showed that she’d had a bacterial infection; the antibiotics of penicillin and cephalexin are doing their jobs. I then learned the rest of the story.

Dixie has hypo-thyroidism. It’s this condition that’s causing her to slow down. The vet hopes that after 7 – 10 days of taking medication I’ll see a marked improvement in her condition. It’s a little funny, in a sick kind of way, to watch Dixie go after squirrels such that they saunter instead of scamper while she’s charging ahead in a sort of slow motion run after them. You gotta love her for trying, though. She puts her soul into it, even if her feet can’t carry out her heart’s desire.

The vet gave me medication for Dixie to take related to the teeth cleaning. Her teeth are fine but from the cleaning the gums are a little tender so the medication is to help heal the tender tissue.

I’m standing at the window in the reception area of the vet’s clinic with vials of pills piling up in my pocket. I said “Wait a Minute. I’m to give her the Cephalixin, the thyroid pills, the pills for the teeth and also the Cosequin? Every day? I’m to give her some of these pills once a day, some twice, this tiny little yellow and white capsule I’m supposed to break in half and give her three times a day? And still another pill she’s supposed to take for the rest of her life?” Yep, was the reply (you have to say “Yep” with an Israeli/New England accent. Now that is an interesting Yep, if you can say it that way). And by the way, the vet says, here’s the bill.

“Yep.” I said, with a slightly Southern twang using a sad affect in the accent. “That sure is the bill.”

So now we know: Dixie had a bacterial infection that she picked up like a bad accent up here in Massachusetts and also has a screwy thyroid. Poor dog. It’s no wonder she’s been walking around hung down, laid low and moving slow as molasses. With all this medication about to be introduced into her, she should perk up, pick up and move out – with “vigah,” as JFK used to say. Maybe. The vet’s going to call me on Monday to see how she’s doing.

How’s she’s doing right now, on a gorgeous New England spring day, is sleeping off the effects of the anesthesia used to put her to sleep in order to clean her teeth. And that’s another thing – Now I have to brush her teeth every day.

I never heard of brushing a dog’s teeth. “Oh yes.” Say the dog people in the know. One must brush the teeth of the animal daily to excise the enzymes that build up on the outer side of the teeth and gum line that causes plaque to form. One needn’t worry about the inside of the teeth as the animal’s natural saliva will dissolve the nahsty stuff.

Hell, I can’t even remember to floss my own teeth daily and now I have to remember to brush my dog’s teeth, but only on the outside. And, the vet specifically reminded me not to use my finger, I had to use the brush. And, to use the large end of the brush, the smaller end being for cats. Can you imagine trying to brush a cat’s teeth? Plus, I have to give her more medications daily than my mother had in her pillbox. How come I can’t just toss Dixie a milk bone now and again for her to chew on and call it even?

Oh! The indignity, the dog owner society says, to treat your animal like a common animal. What kind of beast are you?


Dixie, the Airedale Dog, is back on the road to recovery. She’ll be traveling at a little slower pace, perhaps, but she will certainly be a lot wiser in the long run. She will also have teeth that will simply sparkle.

I think we’ll go out and celebrate by taking a walk in the sun. It’ll do us both good.

I’ll just have to remember to take sunglasses along to protect me from the glare off her teeth when she smiles.


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