Saturday, September 27, 2008

Life on four legs...

Earlier in the week, I came home to find Maggie's tail had been pretty thrashed. I figured she must have stuck it through the fence (where there are three dogs who wait to pounce) and they came after her...but it was still in bad shape a few days later. We scheduled an appointment with the vet in Yelm for this morning.

A long while ago, Paige (also known as the dog whisperer) had found some patches of missing fur in Maggie's coat, and it wasn't pretty. She has a beautiful snow white coat - when she hasn't been rolling in the fields or running through mud. It was something we treated with antibiotics and a treatment lotion.

I had scanned the internet then, and found that there was a possibility that she had a genetic disease (Sebaceous Adenitis) that could destroy her coat over time. Since it had essentially cleared up, we stopped worrying about it.

Today was my first time visiting the Yelm vet (though Jonathan's used them for ages) and they were wonderful. Though we had to trick Maggie into getting onto the scale, she was a big trooper. It was pretty funny watching me, at six months pregnant, try to coax her into the 4runner and onto a scale. She was not having it. Dr. Henricksen and his staff were so incredibly kind and patient, and loved the "cross between a polar bear and raccoon" that she is.

We walked through a number of different possible scenarios - food allergies, infections, skin diseases.

When it's all said and done, there's a very good chance that she does have Sebaceous Adenitis with some secondary issues. We'll need a biopsy to know for sure. The most heartbreaking thing is that there is no known cure. Akitas have the toughest time fighting the "hot spots" that break out. You simply treat the symptoms. By preventing the spots from getting worse, you prolong their lives. We'll know a bit more in a few weeks.

In the meantime, we're treating her with antibiotics, steroids, a new food program, sweet almond oil, and these sweet little medicated wipeys with ointment. The cleanings happen every 8 hours...which on our third or fourth try, we've finally mastered the best ways to calm her down and get her ready to go.

If you've ever tried to coax a 90 pound dog into anything, you know that we're definitely polishing our parenting skills. The fine line between affirmations, rewards, and straight bribery.

But there's something about dogs and their sweet unconditional love...that makes you willing to do pretty much whatever it takes to make sure they are okay.

And with Maggie, our giant raccoon-looking polar bear, we are taking things one day at a time.

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