Thursday, October 8, 2009

Labradoodle News

Good news this morning on the "dog front." Scout labradoodle is feeling a lot better. She's still wimpy, not motivated to walk more than about a mile, and completely uninterested in her toys - but she's definitely on the road to recovery.

Yesterday's vet visit was a little scary, as Dr. M's eyes got big the moment he saw her and he was obviously very concerned. "I'm very concerned," he said, and went in to full examination and diagnosis mode without any of his usual preliminaries.

"This is a massive allergic reaction," he said. He went on to explain that the response was systemic, and that Scout's entire body was reacting. Consequently - and we'd seen this - her skin was bright read and "angry" absolutely everywhere. Even her paws and the pads were inflamed. Ears, belly, eyes, between her legs - everything was reacting. The reason she was panting was that her airways were restricted by internal swelling - and her heart was racing because she could hardly breathe.

Scout spent the previous night keeping us awake because she literally couldn't find a comfortable position. She'd lie down, but had to get up in five-ten seconds. Then she couldn't walk on those sore feet, so she'd try lying down... and the process repeated. She felt so bad she cried - more of a whimper - all night long.

At one point I found her in the guest bath tub!

Well, the vet gave Scout a huge dose of epi-something - a shot, and she started feeling much better withing a half hour. She's stopped biting herself and - by late afternoon yesterday, she could lay down on the floor and actually snooze.

Today she's all about resting. Actually, following me around the house and then resting wherever I happen to be. It feels good just to see her relax.

Three years ago, when Rebekah bought her home ("Hi Derek, guess what I've got in the car...") I wrote a couple of labradoodle columns for the Tribune. If you haven't read them yet, I've posted one under today's sign-off. This one is about the last time she was really sick...

Love and blessings - DEREK

Something new every day
rek Maul
The Tampa Tribune
September 6 2006

What I really want to talk about is the new puppy. Yes, the past month has been instructive in so many ways. Who knew one innocent bundle of fluff could have repercussions on so many levels. Pandora’s Box comes to mind… Tornado Alley… Holy Jihad… Chaos Theory… Katrina. What was it that finally came along and chased off all those dinosaurs? Maybe now we know?

“Scout” is a great name for a labradoodle, but last week she ate half the contents of the living room and ended up in surgery for the consequent intestinal blockage. So I’m thinking maybe we should call her “Chapter 11,” “Second Mortgage,” or simply “Visa.”

This dog is going to be huge. At four months she now weighs 30 pounds and her feet are so big she could wear my tennis shoes. I’m wondering if there was a mix-up at the breeders and they really sold us a rare labra-pony by mistake.

On the plus side she’s got me off my duff in the best possible way, two or three 45 minute walks daily plus regular playtime. Additionally we enjoy several unscheduled episodes of chase around the family-room so we can discuss details such as the, “Do not grab things off my desk and run like crazy” rule.

So, rather than “Scout” I thought we could well have named the labradoodle “Lifestyle Family Fitness,” “Shapes,” “Workout Express,” or simply “Gym” for short. I kid you not I’ve now lost 11 pounds in the past month. Pre-puppy I was 186 drifting helplessly toward 190. Today I’m well on the way to my idea 172.

Here’s how a puppy is actually better than a gym.
  1. When you wake up at six and don’t want to work out it’s easy toskip some sweaty treadmill four miles away. Puppies bark in your ear and slobber on your face until you get out of bed and walk.
  2. Large energetic distractible squirrel-chasing puppies with long legs and insatiable curiosity provide the complete workout. I can burn more calories on a short excursion to the mail-box than thirty-minutes rotating muscle-groups in a fitness center.
  3. Puppies are portable. You can exercise where you want. Why fight traffic when you can wrestle a large dog for your cell-phone, circle the couch at speed 23 times in order to retrieve an overdue bill, and work up a good sweat just attempting to attach a leash 15-30 times each day?
Need I say more? The weight is off, it’s staying off, I like how I feel. I have reconnected with a fundamental principle regarding general health that had somehow become lost in the pile-on of
important yet sedentary events. Constant and varied physical activity is not only good but essential. Thanks, Scout, you may actually be saving my life.

Corollary benefits abound. Two and a half miles at six in the morning is an amazing opportunity to get myself dialed in for the upcoming day, especially now that the whole leash-training fiasco is pretty-much out of the woods. Supplementary pluses include spiritual and metal clarity too.

Scout is providing a gift I was otherwise passing up - the occasion to pray my day into focus and to clear the cob-webs from my brain, to breathe in spiritual fresh air along with the balm of early-morning peace. It is easier to engage the dealings of the impending hours from a positive and a healing view-point when my business is prefaced in such a manner.

So maybe I should call her “Providence,” “Perspective” or even “Refocus.” Because even though this dog is turning out to be one immense pile of work and has inserted her lovable self into every conceivable corner of our lives… well… she has also turned out to be one more way that God is constantly teaching me how to live. I may be getting older, but I still learn something new every day.

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