Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#018 In which our hero's dog falls ill

This is Tucker:

Tucker is a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback. It's an unusual breed, certainly not as common as labs or shepherds or Schnauzers. They were bred in Africa to hunt lions, if you can believe it. Not that you'd know it from our dog, who cowers during thunderstorms and whines if you're slow with the dog food. He's twelve years old.

Tucker is really my wife's dog. She's had him since he was a puppy, trained him, and basically made him into the loyal, loving and (mostly) obedient dog he is today. Tucker likes me, but he loves my wife. And I can't blame him, I've only been on the scene for the past three years. And even though I try to be Tough Sword Guy, and my wife is mostly Tough Horse Gal, we both would be reduced to sobbing wreaks if anything bad were to happen to this dog. And that's the problem... right now something bad is happening to this dog.

For a big dog like Tucker, twelve is old. Like end-of-the-line old. My wife has been great about always feeding him good food and giving him plenty of exercise, so he's in fantastic shape for a dog his age. But that doesn't do a thing to offset the fact that he's reaching the end of his lifespan. It's nothing we like to think about, but we've recently been forced to.

Tucker is a sensitive dog... I've always marveled that he'll slink away when I raise my voice to him, even though he could tear out my throat without much trouble. If this 100-pound dog was motivated to fuck me up, fucked up I would be. But he's a big wimp. And this sensitive nature has led to other problems, most notably a delicate stomach.

We feed him special easy to digest food, but there are still times when he gets so upset that he won't eat. There was an especially ugly incident when we went away for a week around Christmas and left him in the neighbor's care. He got himself so upset with separation anxiety that at the end of the week he wouldn't eat and managed to have violent diarrhea all over the carpet. Oh yeah, it wasn't pretty (and smelled worse when we got home).

This happens from time to time, and we've learned that feeding him some over-the-counter acid reducer and switching his diet to boiled chicken and rice fixes him. So that's right, for a week I'm fixing His Majesty chicken and rice for dinner.

Last month Tucker again stopped eating. We sprang into action and whipped up some chicken and rice, which he ate unhesitatingly. And then crapped all over the floor the next day. We took him to the vet, and two ultrasounds, one chest film, blood work and $600 later we were told that he had some non-specific stomach malady. My friend Ragnar (ex-college roommate and emergency veterinarian - sadly in a different city) told us that he probably just licked something he shouldn't have, and picked up a bug. The vet gave us antibiotics and a week later he was fine.

But then, a week or so past that, he was again hesitant to eat. He's on some meds right now (for high blood pressure) that we suspect upset his stomach. We figure that acid builds up for a couple weeks, then reaches critical mass, and he stops eating. Then we feed him chicken and rice, give him Tagamet, everything calms down, and I don't have to rent a steam cleaner to get dog shit out of the carpet.

Well, everything seemed to be following the plan... then Tucker managed to get into the pantry and eat an entire box of dog biscuits (my cat most likely assisted in this caper). This resulted in a huge shitting episode the next day. Ugh... I've cleaned up more dog crap and vomit in the past year than I have in my entire life. The bottom line is that the chicken and rice didn't seem to help, the crapping continued, and we finally had to break down and take him to the vet today.

And he's there right now. After fasting for 20-some hours, the vet is going to scope both his stomach and his colon. Poor guy is going to get it at both ends, yuck.

I'm hoping it's just an ulcer, or something that can be managed with drugs. But secretly I fear it's something much worse.

Hang in there Tucker. You're a good boy.


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