September 21st, 2008


Strangers In The Night

Last night at about 3:00 am my sleep was interrupted by Jaime barking. Now when Jaime barks at night it usually only means one thing--he needs to go out. So I stumbled groggily out to the kitchen and let him out into the garage on the way to letting him out. Devon came, too, of course, because any chance I have to let him out to pee, I take. Once they were in the garage they both went nuts barking, growling and sniffing at the big garage door. Still half asleep I put both dogs on leash before opening the small garage door thinking there must be wildlife out there and any confrontation with wildlife--especially at night--is to be avoided if at all possible.
As I opened the door a force on the other side immediately pushed it fully open and three dogs tumbled happily into the garage. All had big smiles on their broad faces and it took me a stunned second or two to realize that not only did I suddenly have three dogs in my garage but also that neither Jaime or Devon was growling anymore and also that one or maybe all of the strangers had been sprayed by a skunk.
It was all I could manage to get Jaime and Devon back into the house so I could try to wrap my brain around what had just happened. As I turned to look at the dogs I saw two adorable pit bull puppies and their mother. They couldn't have been happier to see me and wiggled, smiled and jumped all over me until I finally grabbed some kibble and started handing it out.
They weren't all that eager to eat it and looking at them I could tell why. All three were very well fed and wearing collars although not a tag between them.
By this time Zodi was loudly protesting from her crate in the kitchen and Devon and Jaime started barking as soon as they realized I was handing out kibble.
By this time Chuck had come out to see what all the noise was about and just guess how happy he was to find three bouncy pit bulls filling the garage with skunk scent.
I decided that I'd call animal control and have them come out to pick them up and take them to the shelter. It was obvious the dogs would be either reclaimed or adopted since they were so nice, cute and friendly. And the mom even knew "sit". By the time the ACO had answered his page and called me back it was about 4:00 and he didn't sound too happy about the idea of coming out to get them.

I happen to know this ACO because we're both county employees and he's as good as told me he doesn't care about or even really like dogs so I didn't feel real bad about disturbing his sleep. He told me he knew who the dgos belong to and asked me why I didn't just open the door and let them go. Uh, maybe because none of them had Rabies tags so who knew if they'd been vaccinated and whether or not they'd bitten anyone (I know, totally ridiculous idea given their obvious friendliness, but what if they'd been different dogs) or whether they'd make it home in one piece or even if they'd cause someone to have a car accident. Anyway, I really didn't expect to hear him suggest that I just turn them loose considering I'd already told him they were secured in my garage. The upshot was that he'd come over at 8:0 am and take them to the shelter.

No surprise, he wasn't there by 8:00 but did show up around 8:45. He was so sullen and surly that even Chuck felt unhappy about sending the dogs off in his care. I did get their case number so I can check and see if they're reclaimed. If not, I'm pretty sure I can get them transferred to the no-kill shelter since they're so adoptable.

And even though they disturbed our night's sleep and stunk up our garage, I was sorry to see them go. I couldn't get a picture of mom because my camera battery died but here are the ones I got of the pups. I hope their owners will get a clue and realize they need to put up a fence or find some way to exercise them them other than turning them loose at night.


I just called the shelter and heard that all three dogs were reclaimed yesterday (which would have been the earliest they could have been reclaimed since the shelter's not open on Sunday). I hope they keep them at home from now on. I don't want to see them splatted in the road--especially now that I know them.

Another Update on Devon

I've been avoiding posting anything about Devon because I haven't had anything positive to say. He's still taking Prednisone and Azothiaprine but his platelets aren't responding. His last CBC showed that he only had about 43,000 which is up from 23,000 but apparently not enough to say that he's actually responding to the drugs.
About 10 days ago I took him back to the vet school for a re-check after he'd been on the drugs for three weeks and at that time I saw a different student and a different resident. Neither was very impressive and the resident especially seemed to feel it was his job to say as little as possible. I had to drag information out of him and still I had no real idea what he was thinking.
While I was waiting to be discharged he brought out the results of the CBC and his response to my questions about what to do next were so strange that I really couldn't think of any questions. One of his suggestions as to what could be wrong with Devon was endocarditis. Huh? OK, yeah, he's had endocarditis for about a year now--oh, and it's only affected his platelets. He also felt that it was "too risky" to take Devon off the drugs although he said that it was clear that Devon wasn't responding to them. Huh? And he also offers that we could admit Devon to the hospital and do an echocardiogram and take blood cultures. Yeah, OK, sure.

So I left wondering what the hell to do next and the next day called back and left a message for him to call me so I could try again to get some sensible advice from him. I waited the rest of the day and all the next day and didn't get a call. Then I had to wait through the weekend and Monday am called again to ask him to call me. He called back after a couple of hours that time and I asked a lot of questions like "Why keep Devon on the drugs if he's not responding to them?" His answer: because we don't know if he might get worse without them.

Another question: "How would it help to do a bone marrow aspiration?" Answer: it might tell us whether or not Devon's bone marrow is making platelets. So, if he is making platelets then they're being destroyed by his immune system and we're back to square one. But if they do the biopsy and don't see any megakaryocytes (platelet making cells) it still won't neccessarily tell them anything helpful. It might tell them if he has lymphoma or leukemia but it's not likely he has either of those cancers. Also, even if he does, the prognosis for leukemia sucks and lymphoma has a median survival rate of one year with treatment and he has no other symptoms or signs of any other disease process.

One new thing he said--and I wondered why he didn't say anything about this on the day of Devon's re-check--was that we could try putting Devon on cyclosporine (another immunosuppresive drug) and see if he responds to that. Another benefit to that would be that we could begin to wean him off the prednisone. I like the sound of this because cyclosporine doesn't have bad side effects and because we get to lessen his dosage of pred. But why is this the first I'm hearing of this option?

So, I'm not happy with the way this resident communicates and also not happy with the way it seems like no one really knows this case very well. I've decided to take Devon to the veterinary specialty hospital instead. At least to get a second opinion and to be able to speak to the actual internist instead of getting infomation second- and third-hand through intermediaries. Our appointment is tomorrow morning and I'm allowing myself to have some hope that they'll have more experience with dogs who don't respond normally to ITP treatment. At the very least I hope that I'll get some encouragement instead of the gloom and doom of the most recent resident.

I just can't see keeping Devon on prednisone much longer. He's not obvioulsy suffering but he's just not the same dog he was before. I don't care that I have to clean up pee every morning and I don't care that he can't do agility--I've already come to terms with the idea that he'll never be able to do agility again--but I just can't stand the way he's become an eating machine. He's solely focused on eating almost all the time and doesn't act like his old sweet and sassy self.

I just want my buddy back