Update on our old boy, Mic. He is doing pretty well. Still has his doggy Parkinson’s, still a little stiff – especially when he first wakes up – but mobility-wise is hanging in there. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are keeping the spondylosis under control (he has never dragged his feet since starting those) but we have had other challenges.
Late this summer he developed this habit – or we thought it was a habit – of obsessively licking his feet. Then they got infected – red, swollen, ugly. We tried Chinese herbs, antibiotics, steroids, special shampoos, antimicrobial foot washes, Prozac, and so on and so on. He would get better for a bit but symptoms would return – red, swollen feet and licking. Plus his coat had changed (kind of greasy) and he had some black-head like things on his belly which we had chalked up to aging – and at least two different vets thought so too. Because his feet kept turning into hamburger, though, we asked for a dermatology referral. We saw Dr Miller the week of Thanksgiving and after scraping the hell out of Mic’s feet and belly she found demodicosis. Or red mange. Apparently the mite that causes this is a normal element of the biosphere of a dog and does not cause problems unless the immune system is compromised. So somewhere Mic is immunocompromised. We did a battery of blood work which was all normal. Undoubtedly there is a cause, but finding it is the challenge and 50% of the time, no cause can be found. That leaves management. Which is a very nasty tasting liquid medicine (Ivermectin) and TWICE WEEKLY baths with prescription shampoo. You can imagine how much fun that is with our prissy boy who HATES getting his feet wet. At any rate, we are a month into treatment and he is markedly better. Feet are not red or swollen. Licking is almost non existent. One little success. Actually it a HUGE success because our boy is obviously not having discomfort anymore. And for the first time in months, I can do his nails.
His dementia seems to be progressing. Not dramatically – just little things like seeming to forget where he is when he wakes up. Starting about 4 weeks ago, he started this thing where no later than 7-7:30, or within 15 minutes of realizing we are awake (some days we are up at 5 for Sue to go to surgery), he makes the most unusual, tragic vocalizations – kind of a cross between a hound baying, a wolf howling and a whimper – until we go and get him up. The other kids have gotten to the point where they just ignore him (and us) when we come to get him. He then comes and hangs with us in bed while we have our coffee and then we all go walking. We used to think he needed to pee, but when we would take him outside, he would just sit and look at us. So now we just bring him into bed and he is HAPPY!
He sleeps a lot. He LOVES his food and cookies. Which he gets without restraint – anything to keep his weight up. He offers his favorite tricks if he thinks you have food. And he still loves to cuddle in front of the fireplace. If he even blinks funny, we give him a pain pill. We will not let him be in pain. But for the most part, if the nasty girls are out of his hair, he is a happy boy.
The snow picture is bad – I am not good with a camera and snowshoes – but you can see he still wants to go frolic in the snow. And you gotta love those ears! Will we still have him in a year? Probably not – but until then, we are going to try to make every minute count. Don’t tell him I told you his nickname is LoveMuffin….