Saturday, April 19, 2008

Baxter's 9th Birthday Picture 4-4-08

A little late getting the image from camera to blog, but here he is...the birthday boy. I can't believe he's nine years old already! And still handsome as ever.

Moose-bear R.I.P.

I was on a conference call. Kirby was being very, very quiet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Treatment #3 for Kirby, Baxter Tests Negative!

Treatment #3 was about the same as #2 yesterday. Sore bottom on the little guy and he's lethargic, but OK. He seems to find more comfort retreating to his crate instead of sleeping under the desk or out in the open in my office. Going to his crate during the day is a pretty good sign he's not feeling well... But his eyes are bright and he gets up and comes out whenever he hears a stir. I just wish I could make him feel better right now. But if it's like the previous treatments, he should be up and at 'em more by tomorrow.

I'm also very happy (and relieved) to report that Baxter's follow-up heartworm test was NEGATIVE. This is further indication that Kirby most likely came to us from the shelter hosting the heartworms in his system. Not that that's a good's horrible. And it's not surprising, given that a) Kirby and his siblings ran loose on a farm with no preventative and no vaccines until they were several months old, and b) he came from Northern California, where heartworm is more common than in Oregon. But I've been carrying around more than a little guilt over the fact that I was an imperfect administrator of preventative...missing a month or being late here or there. The vet says it's unusual for one dog to get heartworm and the other not to, particularly given that Baxter is a much older dog, and that's why the vet wanted to retest. Fortunately, the preventative we gave Kirby early on probably killed the larvae and made the adult worms sterile, so he didn't infect too many other mosquitoes.

Anyway, lesson learned. And I still feel bad about missing preventative doses. Honestly, having been a Portland-ite for so long (where there is almost no incidence of heartworm), I didn't realize to what extent that Southern Oregon is in a higher risk category. I didn't develop as rigorous a habit of giving preventative as I should have. And my husband wasn't tracking on it at all, since it was a job I took on. Now both of us are tracking on it, noting the day each month when our guys get preventative and reminding each other -- even though we're now back in the Portland area and it's probably not as critical. I just know I wouldn't want either of our dogs to have to go through this process in the future.

I've also commented previously here that good-natured people who adopted Katrina rescue dogs (50% or more were estimated to be heartworm-positive) sometimes unwittingly spread heartworm to relatively free areas... all it takes is one of the small number of local mosquitoes sucking the blood of a positive dog, then spreading it to countless other dogs. And Portland is full of good-natured dog lovers, so it wouldn't surprise me if that, plus global warming, plus the way these things travel wouldn't result in rising infection rates here. Well, at least our veterinarian has practice.

That said, I'm so glad there is a treatment for heartworm. I grew up in Iowa hearing, at the time, that heartworm was basically a death sentence for the dog -- a slow and painful death sentence. Early treatments were very hard on the dogs and many didn't make it. The new treatment is still risky, but with a 98% success rate, I feel much better about Kirby's odds of getting through this and going on to be a healthy, bouncy, happy little dog.

Now if we can just keep him from bouncing and racing around the house for the next six months, until he gets his follow-up heartworm test, we should be in the clear.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Treatment #2 for Kirby, Test for Baxter

We took Kirby in this morning for the second of his three-shot heartworm treatment. The vet also wanted to retest Baxter for heartworm -- he tested negative in December, but sometimes it takes longer for dogs to test positive and if, per chance, he was exposed last summer, it should be showing up by now. Our fingers are crossed that Baxter will still be negative.

Kirby is a bit lethargic, as he was after his first shot. They give the shot in the deep muscle of the lower back/hip area. Occasionally Kirby will curl around to bite at it, but for the most part he just seems tired. He also has his "panic smell." Kirby had this weird smell when we first got him as a puppy -- some of it is coming from his breath, but some of it just seems to come out of his whole body like a little cloud of stink. Now he gets that smell whenever he's frightened or really stressed. These trips to the vet really bring it on. It usually wears off in a couple of hours...hope so, because he's sleeping beside my desk...

The vet said the first of the three shots is the worst in terms of danger to the dog -- you don't know how they'll react, that's when the majority of the worms die, etc. Because Kirby did so well the first time, he's less worried this time -- but it's not over until it's over and we still need to watch him closely for a while. Restricted exercise continues for a few more months as well...

The vet said it's possible all the worms died after the first shot, but they can't get an accurate test for six months and the protocol says to treat all dogs as if they had a heavy worm load. So it's three shots no matter what. Kirby gets the third shot tomorrow morning. Poor guy, he still has a lump on his hip from the first shot last month, he got the other hip this morning. Not sure where tomorrow's will go...he's out of fresh hips to get shots in.

Thanks to all of you who are following Kirby's progress and who have sent your good wishes. They are most appreciated by all of us!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yet another Kirby cousin?

No photo this time... As my husband was out for his morning run today, he saw another little dog that looked just like Kenny -- same color and proportions -- walking with a different person. They didn't get a chance to meet, but we'll certainly be keeping our eyes open next time we're in that neighborhood.

Maybe dogs are like cars. Every time I get a new car, or even think about getting a particular model, I suddenly see them EVERYWHERE. Of course, we've had Kirby for well over a year now, but I know my ability to spot shaggy little black-and-tan dogs is definitely more acute.