Dionne has so few toys. It’s partly her fault that she doesn’t find balls riveting (we have plenty of those). Apart from balls, CCI only declares two toys to be safe for CCI puppies (Kongs and Goughnuts). We have both, but they’re pretty boring (unless the Kong is stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese).
So I was thrilled a few weeks ago when I spotted a new toy at Costco. The OddBall isn’t on the Approved Toy list, but another CCI puppy-raiser had praised it highly, and it looked indestructible. For a day or two Dionne seemed enchanted.
|There’s a tennis ball inaccessible within the tough clear outer ball.
Even Tucker seemed to like it, which made it much more desirable in Dionne’s eyes. But within days, she was power-gnawing on the handle section, and we could tell that soon she would gnaw right through it. Since then we’ve limited her access to the OddBall, as her interest has simultaneously waned.
Clever pup that she is, Dionne has since found other toys that ARE ravishingly interesting — common sticks. She’s delighted that we have a large supply of strewn around the yard, and every time she finds one, she snatches it up and rockets around the property, powered by joy. Sticks have the advantage of not only being smelly, but you can CHEW on them and reduce them to nasty piles of splinters. This makes you feel powerful. And if you’re a bit peckish (pretty much always, if you’re part-Labrador, you can eat the splinters.
Why, oh why, don’t the humans see how wonderful they are?
With turn-in looming less than three months from now, I feel like I’m more and more often being asked to predict Dionne will do. I’ve been focusing on the positive a lot. We enjoy long stretches of time together in the house when she either snoozes or lies quietly, not getting into any trouble at all. A year ago, that was never the case. And I cannot remember the last time she threw up as a result of eating things outside. A year ago, it happened almost any time she was out in the yard off-leash for more than a minute or two.
Because of this last turn of events, I’ve been allowing her some free time outside. But Steve points out that unfortunately she’s still digging up trouble. Or more precisely, she’s been digging. He fears she’s going to kill some of the trees, if she’s not prevented from indulging in this particular passion.
|Here’s what this morning’s destruction looked like.
|She doesn’t exactly look guilty. But the evidence is as clear as the nose on her face…
Last week when Steve took Dionne to the vet because she was limping, he noted this poster on one of the walls:
We figure Dionne has eaten at least 5 of the 10 — socks, rocks, balls, chew toys, and sticks. (Does that make her average? Or above average?) Fortunately she’s never eaten enough of any of them to require surgery. And with less than three months until her departure for advance training up in Oceanside, you can bet we will not be leaving any bones or corn cobs or underwear unguarded. (Happily hair ties and pantyhose are not much in evidence around here.)
Also happily, we have not had to return to the vet this week. The limp has completely disappeared. The dreadful cystic growth has shrunk and toughened. It’s now almost indistinguishable on her paw.
Last week when Dionne was limping most piteously, Steve uncharacteristically reacted by buying something — bright pink “Pawtectors” that he hoped might stay on her better than the loaner booty we got from the vet.
Dionne was NOT impressed. Getting them on her was a nightmare, and she looked mortified when we hoisted her upright.
Attempts to walk in them resulted in some hilarious gyrations:
The whole attempt was an abject failure.
The GOOD news was that starting last Friday, she obviously began to feel better. She stopped sleeping all the time and started snatching our slippers again and attacking Tucker.
Steve took her grocery shopping on Saturday, and yesterday we all did our customary hour-long walk up the hill. The cyst is still tender, and we’re still cleaning and medicating it daily. But it has developed a protective crust that must make it hurt less. Dionne is still limping somewhat, but often it’s barely perceptible.
As icing on the cake, when Steve tried to return the Pawtectors to Amazon this morning, they told him not even to send them back. They would just credit his account.
Sounds like we’re not the first to try them and find them wanting…
I’m a little surprised by the way Dionne is handling being incapacitated by her paw tumor. This formerly wild, boisterously exuberant girl has spent most of the last few days resting quietly. She limps to meals or outside for water or toileting breaks, and once in a while, she accelerates and the limp disappears. But more than anything, she’s been sleeping.
Fortunately, we’ve gotten a few bits of encouragement, to counterbalance this depressing state of affairs. We e-mailed the local CCI headquarters to see if the folks there could add to or amend what we heard from our vet. But Stu, the program manager, only replied that Our national office refers to these as “CCI Warts” as they are not uncommon and they do resolve with no surgery.
That was mildly comforting, and my dog-savvy cousin Mary offered some welcome advice and encouragement. (“It will go away…Don’t worry, I know how you feel…it’s sad for us, but the dogs don’t care…they carry on!)
I know she’s right. They do. And I’ve also nursed a pipe dream: namely, that this hopefully very BRIEF experience with pain and disability will somehow make Dionne more attuned to her potential mission in life. More empathetic and motivated to serve.
That’s pretty silly. But at least for the moment, she does seem like a changed girl.
We couldn’t get a vet appointment yesterday, but today Steve was able to get Dionne in to see Dr. Scoggin first thing this morning. After what he learned, all I can say is: it’s a good thing Steve and I have day jobs. Maybe we should consider abandoning amateur veterinary science altogether.
Dr. Scoggin quickly rejected the notion that Dionne was suffering from panosteitis. She also dismissed our weekend theory that the little bump between the toes of the topside of her right paw was causing her pain. (She thought it was nothing.) Instead she focused on the angry red growth on the underside of the paw.
|Here it is. Nasty looking little thing, isn’t it?
It was a histiocytoma, she declared — a benign tumor of a sort that commonly afflicts pets. The unfortunate part was its location. (Steve says the vet didn’t make him feel bad that we had not recognized its presence immediately; she said they can be hard to see at first.)
I suppose some good news is that it should go away by itself. Dr. Scoggin said she could remove it surgically, but given its location, there were likely to be complications (such as Dionne ripping out the stitches.) She gave us an antiseptic solution in which to wash it daily, oral antibiotics (to help prevent any infection), and a cream to apply to it every evening.
The bad news is she said it could take a couple of months to disappear. She said we need not restrict Dionne’s activity during that time; we could even take her on walks.
She also lent us a leather booty that she hoped might protect the paw from irritation.
|Dionne may not have liked the boot, but Tucker thought it was intriguing.
We took it off when Dionne was napping in her kennel (so that she wouldn’t try to chew it off). But when we tried to put it on before I walked with her to the mailbox, she almost instantly flung it off, and we couldn’t figure out how to secure it.
So I walked her bootless. Or rather, I walked. She limped. Steve and I are sad to see this. I’m not sure how Dionne feels. Steve and I have been reading Temple Grandin’s book, Animals in Translation, and Grandin says animals don’t get depressed when they’re in pain, the way people do.
I hope not.
Dionne’s still limping. She’s not limping any more badly than she was when it started last Tuesday. But she’s not any better either. However, we have more insight into what’s going on.
Steve very intelligently sat down with her last night and carefully massaged both her legs. She was totally relaxed, and she never whimpered or otherwise reacted, even when he squeezed pretty hard.
But her right paw was another story. That’s the one she’s been favoring, and she struggled every time he probed it. He finally found a small but distinct bump between the pads.
In the sunlight today, we could see it clearly, though we have no idea what it is — a tick? an infected thorn? A cyst?
We’ll try to get her in to the vet tomorrow. But at least we have a clearer idea of where the problem lies…