Monday, July 19, 2010

Cat Warning Labels

Here's what they DON'T tell you when you give a sweet little kitten a home:

1. You will become scarred with Maggie's scratch/bite marks.
2. You will become Maggie's mattress at 4 am every morning.
     2.5. You will become Maggie's trampoline at 6.
3. Maggie shall poop, pee and puke in your car for every ride to the vet. Both to and from the house.
4. She will learn that the dog is toothless and attempt to attack daily.
5. She will pee in the corner of the house - which is a hardwood floor twice a day.
6. She will eat any flowers your boyfriend gives you starting with the leaves.
7. Maggie will jump from your nightstand to your window ledge thereby knocking over your nightstand and break 4 lamps in one month.
8. She will eat her weight in food after she gets spade.

9. Weird, dead animals will start appearing in your house.
10. Maggie will take every opportunity to escape from your house. Once outside, she will get scared by a trash can, climb up the brick wall and start screaming bloody murder.
11. And you can do nothing about this stuff, because she is so darn cute - even if you hate cats.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It was...Soap Posioning!

I love that scene in A Chistmas Story when Ralphie dreams of getting back at his mom for shoving soap in his mouth. The revenge? Ralphie goes blind. Doesn't really seem like a smart plan on Raphie's part, but as a kid you do have these fantasies.
Maybe Stella sat there one day after a bath and thought, "I'll show her..." because-
my dog is going blind.
Yes. On top of all the lovely qualities she garnered from the Chinese Crested breed, Stella also inherited glaucoma. I noticed something was wrong when her eyes looked really buggy. But her eyes were always buggy. They just seemed...extra buggy.
Then she would cry. All the time. For a week straight. I thought she was just - hell - I don't know what I thought.
Then her right eye swelled shut. We thought Trevor's tail must have smacked her, since his butt is eye level to her.
Then her pupils wouldn't dilate.
Then her eyes turned dark blue and cloudy.
I took her to the HSMO that next Monday. They checked her pressures. Pressures? She just got hit by a tail; throw some ointment on the bill and let's get out of here.
Apparently,  I was wrong. Her eye pressure should be at 15 for each eye...she was at 67 and 87 left to right. My heart dropped. She was crying because of the blinding migraines. The pupils were big because the nerves in her retina were being squeezed. I was the worst mommy in the world.

The HS vet gave her some eye drops and recommend a specialist - a doggie opthamalogist.
I spent the next week just staring at my dog.Staring and praying. Praying and staring.
We went to the MVRC (Midwest Veterinary Referral Center) for her eye doctor appointment.  They did all sorts of weird tests on her, sticking her with things, rubbing things on her eye ball, putting contact lenses in her eyes. She just sat there and let herself be prodded. On her chart she has a permanent note, "Very sweet patient." Darn right she is.
After all of that, the doctor came in an told me that while her pressures were coming down, she needed more medicine, she was already partially blind, and she would eventually go completely blind.
The room spun.
I said in what could have been a weak voice or me shouting, I don't know, "Is there a bathroom around here?"
I went in an laid on the tile of the bathroom in an effort to not pass out. I didn't pass out. I just threw up.
I calmed down a little bit and went back in the room.
He kept talking. His words blurred together. "make her comfortable" "pain free" "euthanasia"
What the hell? What had happened? Two weeks ago, she was fine!
Buzz. Wrong. Thanks for playing. This was embedded in her DNA. It was inevitable. My baby was born to be blind. Now I just had to figure out what to do.
My choice? Panic and cry.
My life would never be the same.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meet Maggie.

Stella and  I were going along fine together. The summer of 2008 was spent relaxing and spending time with friends. Stella was always invited along and her charm made her a great party guest. But when school went back in session, suddenly, my dog was alone in the house for eight to ten hours a day. I knew she was just sitting there singing, "no booooody knowssss the trouble i seeeeeeen" while staring out the window at the world going by.
Luckily, my dad found a cat sitting in his boat at his house. And luckily that cat was knocked up with 4 kittens. And luckily, I am a softie. I figured that if Stella had a friend, they would be able to pass the time together - doing what I didn't know, but my parents needed to get rid of a kitten and I figured that a kitten would be easier than another dog.
Enter Maggie.

Now, Stella is named after A Streetcar Named Desire. So it was only natural that my little girl cat would be named Maggie, after Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Stella was a little afraid of her at first.
Eventually, Maggie and Stella became sisters. They really do entertain each other. I think having Maggie with her during the day helped Stella be less depressed. And because Maggie has known Stella since the day she was born, she thinks of herself as an equal. Maggie enjoys sitting on the coffee table and jumping on Stella's back as she passes by. Stella never notices it.

But at night, they snuggle together on their blanket. That is not a posed photo. This is how my girls roll.

The one negative? Oh, yeah, you KNOW my dog is allergic to cats. What to do? The cat gets a bath once a month to get rid of her extra fur and dander. No. No I don't have a picture of that. Because usually by the end of that bath experience, I am soaked, half naked, pissed and exhausted. And covered in bite marks. Definitely not in the mood to grab a camera. Maybe I will soon. But if you ever want to understand how to pronounce the F-bomb in 'cat,' dunk a kitten in a pool of soapy water some time. The sounds that emanate from them are the sounds of demons. I am pretty sure my neighbors think that I skin cats for fun once a month.
But, if it keeps Stella from breaking out in hives, the cat must take one for the team.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stella’s favorite foods.

Pet Food companies have issues.
Okay, I know that I have a weird dog, but there are a lot of dogs out there that ARE allergic to at least one food. And the top three culprits are beef corn and wheat. Take a look at your dog food. What are the first 3 ingredients? Uh, huh. That’s right, pet food companies are a**holes and those ingredients are cheap.  My boyfriend, Brian, is the owner of Trevor, a one-hundred pound Golden Retriever/dinosaur mix. Trevor gets ear infections and his skin itches and breaks out. Now, Brian and I love each other, but this is one of our contentions. I am convinced that his big, all-American dog has food allergies. How do I get to this conclusion? By the simple fact that my dog almost went deaf because of her affinity for beef rawhides and shelter donated food.
I have argued this with him around and around. He is coming to. Trevor takes a Benadryl once a day and has switched over to Stella’s food.
That food should be minted. I mean, if you want to feed your dog decent food that will not make it sick, get out your checkbook. It’s gonna cost ya. But, you will save on vet bills. Stella has tried a lot of them. Currently, she is on Pro Plan for Sensitive Skin and Stomach (pink and black bag). It is not the greatest one, but Stella is a picky eater and doesn’t like some of the other fancy fancy foods.  It is also the least expensive of all of them.
If you find a food you like for your puppy and it is costly, write the company and tell them how much you LOVE the food, how it has changed your dog’s life, how you tell EVERYONE about how wunderbar this food is. If you have a funny looking dog like mine, attach a pic.
You will get coupons. Stella ate for free for a month on Natural Balance. Then, she stopped eating it and we had to switch. Picky, picky eater.
I also add real food: carrots, sweet potatoes, rice and oatmeal mixed in her food are sure bets for a clean bowl. All are good for her tummy.  Aside from ear infections and skin pimples, no-no food gives Stella the runs. So I have to be ultra careful with treats and food. One time, at a friend’s house, Stella got into the diabetic cat’s food. Oh sure she was in heaven as most dogs love them some cat food. But this food was high in beef fat. She pooped water non-stop for two days. For a week, I couldn't leave my house for more than an hour at a time, I didn't sleep more than an hour at a time.  I had to buy a steam cleaner, a couple of rugs to hide the stains that wouldn’t come out and more bleach than I thought was produced. I took her to the vet where she got more meds and a crazy expensive vet bill (who knew it was so expensive to check a dog’s poop?!) I added to my tally the loss of my $400 pet deposit thanks to the ruined carpets. Stella had just eaten a dinner that ended up costing…$1,000. Take that Bill Gates. 

This is a picture of just a few of the stains bleached out on my ruined carpet. One of the new rugs went here. Also. Yes. That is a diaper on my dog. It came to that.
Then, I discovered another natural cure…pumpkin. Again, do the research! Pumpkin is a fiber-filled food that is a natural diarrhea fighter. If Stella is having some mad-belly, I just get a can of pumpkin (stock up; it’s seasonal) and put about 1/4c. of it in her food. Sure she poops orange for a week, but she doesn’t ruin the carpets.
Foods that are good good things:
Find foods that have these as the main ingredients.
Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes
Olive Oil (a little helps her skin stay soft.)

High fats, beef wheat, and corn are the devil when you have a sensitive dog. Check the labels of all food, chew toys and treats or else your dog will wear a diaper.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How does she eat?

If I had a nickel for how many times I get asked this question.
One of the defining characteristics of Stella is her tongue. 

I don’t even think about it much until someone mentions it.  People like to say (in a baby talk voice), “Oh, are you sticking your tongue out at me?!” And then I tell them that, no, in fact she has no teeth and her lower jaw is recessed so her tongue has nowhere to go.
Why can’t I just politely laugh and go, “Oh, heh, heh, Yep. Silly widdle puppy!” and be on my merry way? No. I have to go into my monologue about how because she is a Chinese Crested, she has a bad mouth. Stella lacks a lower jaw and if you pull up her lips you will see the teeth still hidden in her gums. They just never broke through. This is probably a blessing since most Cresteds have to have major dental surgery because their teeth are all cracked out. Mine's just sit up there in her gums. It makes her gums rock hard, so she eats hard food like a normal dog. It’s not pretty to watch, mind you. Food falls out of her mouth and she drools all over the place during dinner, but she makes it happen. Hell, she’s 28 lbs. She is getting fed.

It made teething a breeze! I am pretty sure that Stella was just over a year old when I got her. She was definitely a puppy because she loved to chew everything. The lack of teeth was lovely since her favorite treat was the heel of one of my shoes. I have a shoe addiction. Well – I did until I adopted Stella. Now I have a bunch of out of style heels from 2008 in decent condition. She would work on one of my high heels for hours and not damage it. It was just be really, really wet with slobber.
Currently we are on the third pork rawhide that she has ever owned. It looks brand new.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bring it on Westminster!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Yoda from Star Wars and Gizmo from Gremlins had a love child? It would be my dog. 

 Stella is a Chinese Crested mixed with a Boston Terrier. Most Chinese Cresteds max out at 10 lbs. Stella weighs 28 lbs. So a HUGE Boston mated with a HUGE Chinese. I hope the mom was the terrier or that labor must have sucked. I have never seen another dog like her. I wonder what the rest of the litter came out as? My bro-in law, Steve thinks that Stella was not born, but flew here on a spaceship and is actually transmitting information about our planet through her tongue. When she is licking the air with her tongue (for no particular reason) he yells out in his best “Stella” voice, “TRANSMITTING DATA. TRANSMITTING DATA.”
Don’t feel too sorry for her. She gets back at him. Being a CC and a BT, she has breathing problems that would make a pug ashamed. My dog snores louder that any dog, human, or moose that I have ever met or slept with. One weekend, Steve and Hannah were dog sitting Stella while I went to Kansas City for the Cardinals/Royals baseball battle. Stella stayed in their bedroom with them. Steve kicked my sister and Stella out of the bedroom to sleep in the guest room. Stella was too loud, and he couldn’t sleep. Seriously. She’s a train. I am in the living room of my apartment typing this right now. Stella is on the opposite side of the apartment in the bedroom. I can hear her snoring. I am sure my neighbors must think I am housing an old man in my bedroom. I got used to it and don’t notice it most of the time.
When I take Stella out to parties, which I often do, she tends to tap out before anyone else. Nothing is funnier than watching people look around the living room as the sound of a snore breaks out. “Who is that snoring?”
“Stella.” Then they watch in fascination as my dog, who has found a pillow or rug on the ground – or maybe even a spare arm chair – rips through the night with her ZZZZ’s. People actually have to speak louder to be heard over her.
It’s the allergies. She’s allergic to air, apparently. Her Benadryl helps, but on bad nights when it is dusty or the mold count is high, you are not sleeping in silence. Sometimes she even wakes herself up and looks at me like, “Wow, who’s snoring so loud?”
Go back to sleep, Stella, I will try to keep it down.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Jake was thrilled. He and Stella played and played. My new dog was a bully. She pounced and snapped just like a real dog only - without teeth. Jake was in love. They wore each other out chasing and running and jumping. Then Stella found a mirror I had propped up in my dining room (super small apartment). She just stared at herself. “Yes, beauty is in the eye, isn’t it, Stella?”
These are the pictures from her first night home.

Our first vet visit happened a week later. Jake had gone home, heartbroken. Stella had spent 2 nights itching her ears and shaking her head. Ear infection. I took her to the HSMO vets. I figured, if I am going to spend this much money on her, I might as well give it to the shelter that saved her.
It was an ear infection. She had already had two infections before I had adopted her. One each month.
“We will probably have to take her ear drums out since she will always have raging ear infections. She’ll be deaf.”
Ummmmm, no? That didn’t sound like an option to me. I paid the $300 for the visit and the ear meds. $300. That was three pairs of high heels. That was a month’s bar tab. $300. I would have to skip eating out that month.
I went online and started researching ear infections and treatments. I have learned that vets are great, but go to them armed with information. It will help you immensely.
By her third ear infection, I was ready.
I read online that ear infections can be caused by allergies. I talked with the vet and she agreed.
“Most dogs are allergic to beef, wheat or corn. Some dogs are allergic to all o them.”
I looked at my cross-eyed wonder. She was probably the trifecta.
I paid another $300 to the vet and went to PetsMart. I found a food that had no beef, wheat or corn. I then went to Target and got Benadryl, that the vet said that Stella could have twice a day. Then, I went online and found Earasil. It is a boric acid, alcohol solution that is a natural ear cleaning and astringent. I ordered a case from Bill's Liquid Vitamin Stop.

She hasn’t had an ear infection since. She still has her ears. What might have been a surgery that would have taken her hearing was nothing more than an allergic reaction. Do your research.
This was my induction into the world of special needs. We have only just begun to hit the tip of the iceberg.