Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leo’s Mama/Sister/Daughter?

My friend Elissa recently ran into a dog that looked a lot like Leo. She sent me an email with a photo she took of the dog:

“The pic didn't turn out very good. The doggy was in the shade because she was hot ;)

I wanted to get another one but I think the guy thought I was hitting on him. He kept bringing up his wife. This dog--her name was Bear!--looked just like Leo. She was 12 and even had his little funny stiff walk and his grey hair (and eye boogers!) This guy said they are smooth chows and have much better personalities than other chows. Their bodies are also built differently. Maybe it is Leo's mama? Or his sister? The guy got her from a flea market--he didn't say where--and he wasn't sure where she was originally from.”

First, the detail about the wife cracked me up. Second, it blew me away how much this dog Bear really does look like Leo! The shape of her muzzle, her nose, her purple tongue and her eyes are all similar to Leo’s. She’s even graying in the same areas as Leo (though Leo is admittedly more gray).

I wish the guy knew where Bear originally hailed from. Could it really be a long-lost relative of Leo’s? Maybe. I was told at the Humane Society that Leo is at least nine years old, though probably older (they said it was hard to determine how much wear and tear was the result of age vs. surviving a hurricane). If Bear really is 12 years old, I’m thinking Leo must be at least her age (eeek). Maybe she’s Leo’s sister, or Leo’s daughter. Only genetic testing could tell for sure. I’ll have to settle with curious speculation.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Ripple has gone home to her people and life has returned to normal for Leo. Normal, except for that hole in the side of his face.

One morning I was walking both doggies when Leo snatched up something dead lying beneath a giant tree. I didn’t get a chance to see what it was; all I could see were dangling appendages hanging out the sides of his mouth that slightly resembled a plucked chicken.

I yanked on his leash and ordered him to drop it. Nothing doing. He rabidly chewed and swallowed, the sound of crunching, cracking bones turning my stomach. And then suddenly he collapsed on his side.

“My God the chicken corpse is killing him!” I thought as I gasped. Then just as quickly he hopped back up and went about sniffing around for more. The walk was officially over in my mind, and we headed homeward.

When I told my husband about Leo’s snack and subsequent collapse, he laughed. “Maybe he was overcome with pleasure?” he suggested. I wasn’t buying it.

The next morning, my husband and I were getting ready for our four-day road trip to Vancouver, B.C. It was to be our “real” honeymoon trip (as opposed to the practice one we’d had immediately after the wedding). We had a rental car to pick up and hotel reservations already made.

I was about to take the doggies out for a quick last walk before hitting the road when my husband asked, “What’s this on Leo’s face?”

I ran my hand over his muzzle to find a giant lump, the size of a baseball, protruding from the right side. How didn’t I notice this before? And when did it first appear?

We loaded him in the car and drove to the vet. I told the receptionist the chicken corpse story, relating the crunching of the bones and Leo’s sudden collapse. They were busy that day, she said, and would hold him until a doctor had a moment to examine him. That was at 10:00 a.m.

We drove home and fretted over whether to delay the rental car or cancel it altogether. At 1:30 p.m., the vet called. The bump was an abscess, she said, and she’d have to anesthetize Leo to examine him further and see where it originated—inside or outside of his mouth—and then drain it. He would probably be ready for pick around 6:30 p.m.

And so our road trip to Vancouver quickly became a foolish endeavor. Leave the next day to drive all day, spend one day in Vancouver, then drive back? I cancelled the hotel reservation; they charged me a $97 cancellation fee. Meanwhile, my husband had a disappointment meltdown and stormed out of the house.

At 6:30 we arrived to pick him up. Turns out, he had punctured the inside of his mouth with a bone from the mysterious chicken corpse and it had gotten infected and formed the abscess. The vet tech brought him in with a drainage tube sticking out of the side and bottom of his face; she instructed me to flush it twice a day (fat chance of Leo holding still for that, I thought). He was still very groggy from the anesthesia and insisted on collapsing into a deep sleep rather than walk, so my husband carried him out to the car, and then into the house once we arrived at home. (Oh, and they charged me $400; this was turning out to be a very expensive non-vacation experience for me.)

The next morning, I put the dreaded cone on him so he couldn’t scratch the tube out of place. He was up and around as usual, growling at Ripple to back off. By the end of the day, the inside of the cone was already reeking of rotten flesh; I was eager to take him back to the vet to have the drainage tube removed.

And the following day, off came the cone and out came the tube. Leo will be on antibiotics for two weeks or more. And the fur on the right side of his face will take awhile to fill in again.

He’ll also be wearing a muzzle for our walks from now on. No more dining on cat poop, road kill or mysterious chicken corpses for him.