Friday, July 24, 2009

Krispy the Konehead

Krispy got her tubes tied on Monday (among other minor procedures). She did well but was groggy the remainder of the day. The doctor warned that she’d be instinctively trying to scratch the itches of the stitches and staples on her belly. (No luck getting them to do these serious underbelly procedures via the back of her neck where she can’t reach to scratch!) Sure enough, when I turned around for just a moment, Miss K was all teeth at work on the temporary staples. Grrrrrrrrrrr! I neatly flipped her over (gently) and swabbed away with hydrogen peroxide to clean up the irritated tissue. Where did I put that cone?

There’s nothing quite like the feel-bad status of the family dog to make you give up on those set-in-stone rules. OK, she can sleep in the bed while she’s in recovery. After all, if she stays in her crate, with the cone on, she’ll be banging against the sides of the crate all night trying to get it off so she can scratch the itch. I'd never get any sleep. So for purely self-preservation reasoning, I opted to let Krispy spend her first night in bed. And she did just fine. No attempts (that I can remember) to lick or chew the incisions. No middle-of-the-night wandering or restlessness.

On Tuesday it really sunk in that I was going to need to change my plans for the week. Although Krispy didn’t need 24/7 attention, she was not to be trusted not to pick at the incisions. I did not want a visit to the vet to re-do stitches or staples! Having located the cone Monday evening, I now had to find an appropriate collar on which to attach it. With great difficultly I slipped it on Krispy, trying not to jostle her too much less than 24 hours after surgery. I fastened the buckle and stood back. Krispy looked as if I just made her life twice as miserable. What was this giant thing I attached to her head? How could I? It’s heavy. I can’t move my head properly!

I was attempting a dry run to see if I was going to be able to make a run to the grocery store. She moved around the office floor awkwardly, as if I’d just attached a ten pound weight to her head. She was very discombobulated! To make matters worse, the weirdness of the cone put her into a bit of a panic attack as she worked feverishly to remove it. I found out quickly I hadn’t tightened the collar well enough since she proceed to pull it over and off her head. Oh, well.

With one dry run of Krispy the Konehead down – none too successful—I opted to wait until she’d calmed down before trying Konehead 2.0. And to make matters worse, on Krispy’s first full day home from the hospital, she had no interest in food or drink and remained fairly groggy (except when suited up with La Kone). I waited another day before attempting a grocery store run when I could Konehead and Krate her.

The best sign was when she consented to eat a full meal late Tuesday night. On Wednesday she was rebounding. Her energy was returning, and she started to gingerly test out the front stoop stairs by herself. There remained minor attempts to lick or chew at her stitches, but most of the time she was good at refraining from the gnaw.

The bulk of each day was spent with Krispy in my lap from morning to evening. This was and is a bit trying on the leg muscles, requiring shifting my four-legged lap warmer from one side to another when one or the other hip or knee gets sore. Why don’t dogs know their butts are sliding off your lap? Can’t they feel they aren’t there a hundred percent? Is it because dachshunds are so long? Is the message not getting from the back end – so far away – up to the brain? I shifted her again so I didn’t have to squeeze my knees together to keep her in place….

Further Konehead attempts were met with better results but also posed new problems. Krispy was a like a broken bobble-head. Most often the cone dragged on the floor when she walked. And then she’d run into something (a little peripheral vision problems with this thing) and get stuck. The cone’s bottom edge got stuck under a table leg. She got stuck against the coffee table. Against the door jamb of the bedroom. Under the bed. And against the side of the crate. She was flummoxed to be sure!

On Thursday she got a slightly better handle on using the cone. She looked more like a functional bobble-head when she trotted towards me with the cone swinging from side to side in her gait. She almost had it down to a science…until its edge caught on another piece of furniture. Phoom! Then she was unexpectedly stopped in her tracks. I guess dogs really aren’t set up well to adjust their spatial relationship thinking for the completely different size of a cone. The problem would repeat, but she didn’t recognize it or make any effort to learn how to correct it.

It’s another five to eight days before the stitches and staples come out, so more cone-time will be in order. In the meantime, it’s a lot of lap time. But as each day passes, the incisions heal better and better so I have less worry about having to start over from torn (or chewed) stitches. And with family visiting over the weekend, there will be more eyes to help watch Krispy the Konehead keep away from the licking and chewing activities that are…inappropriate. Take a look.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hide 'n' Seek

The first rule of having a dachshund, as opposed to any other dog breed, is to remember to look down. They are a long, long way down from an adult human’s standard field of vision, somewhere from four to seven feet off the ground. When Ginny was in her final years I didn’t have to worry too much about looking down. She didn’t move around very much or very often. When she did, it was very slow and with great deliberation. She knew where I was around the house, and I knew which one of her many beds she was curled up in at any given time. So there was no stumbling over someone only ankle high.

Along comes Miss Krispy Kreme, a young spring chicken, per se, and she moves like lightening – but silent. And unlike Quincy, who’s always had a nice clickety-clickety-clickety-click going on with his nails across the hardwood floor, Krispy seems to be in stealth mode. Her nails rarely make much noise. They’re not particularly short, but I never notice them when she walks or runs. The advantage of hearing those nails is that you don’t always have to look down to know where Quincy is in the room. Krispy, on the other hand, vanishes and appears (under your feet) like a magician! Presto! Ta-da! (Round of applause.)

Countless times I have looked around for her or called to her, only to be surprised moments later when I realize she’s been standing next to me the whole time. I’ll be sure she’s sitting across the room, or in the next room, and look back to see her or to call and there will be no one there. I will walk back to investigate only to find nothing. Then I’ll turn around and wham! There she is. Nearly underfoot. I didn’t hear or see a thing. How did she get there? Then I feel guilty for not having looked down in the first place. I must retrain myself. We don’t train them. They train us.

“Krispy?” I search. I check her crate. Empty. I check her favorite pillow under my bed. Unoccupied. I walk out to the living room. Silence. I look everywhere: kitchen, bathroom, guest room, office. Nada. I return to the bedroom. I hear a faint rustling. I look under the bed and see nothing. Another rustle. I bend down again and catch a movement in the corner of my eye in the darkness. My eyes dilate and adjust to the darkness under the bed. I begin to make out the outline of a distinctively dachshund head and ears…in the laundry basket.

Now, there’s only a few inches of clearance between the rim of the basket and the underside of the bed frame – barely enough room for me to reach my hand under the bed and throw a garment into the bin. That’s all. Tiny space. But there she is. Wallowing in the stinky clothes. Happy as a clam. (Do we know if clams can be happy?)

It’s forever a wonder at what makes a dog happy. It’s secluded. It’s her personal space. It’s safe. The dirty linen is soft and supple – an excellent bed for any four-legged pet. But, after all, they do have amazing noses. So many smells to consider…. Maybe it’s Chanel No. 5 to Krispy?
Krispy Kreme in the laundry basket under the bed

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Krispy Tizzy, Bang! Bang!

For Krispy Kreme, the Fourth of July fireworks might as well have been the Landing at Normandy …by Hannibal’s Army… and she was on the beach (figuratively) in search of a bunker! Krispy had just emerged from her safe haven under my bed, having woken from a refreshing early evening nap. And just as she snuggled up with me to enjoy the last of a Clive Owen flick in the living room, the siege began. It started innocuously enough with a few pops, whizzes and bang, bang! Though not unusually loud at my humble abode (approximately a mile from the festivities), the booming effects of the fireworks finale sent Krispy into quite a tizzy.

We had gone out for a stroll on the lawn (the dachshund equivalent of a night cap) before it started, but then the show began and her leash snapped taut. She wanted out of the yard and down the street -- fast. She was off like a shot (pun intended), out the gate, and across the parking pad with me in tow. After previous jaunts at top speed (in a similarly panicked state of mind), I had a firm grip on the leash with the loop around my wrist.

I’m forever amazed at the strength of small pets. It would be so embarrassing to lose a tug of war with a ten-pound doxie. But she was determined to go, go, go! …Anywhere but there. And with her track record, I was determined to do the opposite: We were not leaving the compound. If she accidentally broke loose in the dark, that would be the last I’d see my four-legged sweetie. I opted to pick her up and bring her into the house rather than wrestle with her on-leash. (What if she pulled out of her harness? What if the leash or harness hardware snapped out of the sewn seams? It was better to haul myself in to her on a taut leash than the reverse – a bit like heaving-to in a small sailboat rather than combat gale-force winds. You can hold position but at least not feel like you may capsize at any moment. And Krispy can be a force to be reckoned with!)

Once again indoors with slightly muffled bangs and booms going on outside, Krispy proceeded to do her usual panicked run-walk. She sped back and forth from the bedroom (where her crate and under-bed safe haven are) to the front door or couch, over and over. This quickly escalated into greater panic as she jumped in my arms and then immediately wiggled to get out of them, repeating over and over. She kept trying to find better hiding spots, attempting to squeeze under shorter and shorter furniture, even running behind the toilet in the bathroom for refuge. At this point I opted to put her in her crate and stayed with her for some time to alleviate her fears. (The last thing I needed was for her to squeeze under (or behind) some piece of furniture that I couldn’t later move – or that she couldn’t extricate herself from.)

The crate, of course, did help calm her. But the process of alleviating her fears took more than an hour since the fireworks show ran quite long and various illegal fireworks continued to be set off around the neighborhood after that. In the crate she could console herself with the tight quarters and roof overhead. (Swaddling for dachshunds?)

When it was all over she left the crate of her own volition to seek me out. I gave her time and space to choose her own emergence back into the taller world. I would have been willing to bet while the fireworks were going on that she would have preferred sharing a den with a badger than being anywhere above ground. Ah, the life of a dachshund!