Saturday, August 20, 2011

Butt Kickin'

Ahhh, hindsight. If I could just roll back the day by 6 or 7 hours. But the daisy chain of decisions really begins a few days earlier when I returned from vacation.

I was excited to see my fur baby Moose. I thought about him the whole ride from the airport (an extended drive from Nashville due to getting lost), imagining him on the other side of the front door, just like when I get home from work each day. Unfortunately, I have to fantasize that he was happy to see me, as there was no greeting upon my entry to the house. Heck, I couldn’t even find him. In spite of me calling his name, he failed to appear or even utter a sound. I started to think he was on an outing with his dog sitter.

Turned out he was shut in the bathroom and being as quiet as a statue. When I let him out, he slunk directly to the couch, hopped into the corner, buried himself in the pillows and cowered and trembled as if expecting something very bad to happen. I don’t ever hit him, so his occasional fearful behavior mystifies me. I know most of his signals and behavior -- the way he stands next to the office chair and looks at me when he wants to go out; how his eyes shift to the direction of the treat jar when he wants a cookie; the route he takes down the hall and into the living room when he needs to go out versus the detour through the kitchen when he is attempting to extort a treat; his growing agitation as I dress for work each morning, which he knows means I am leaving soon.

I calmed, petted and hugged him on the couch, as much for myself as for him, because I missed the little guy. That’s when I noticed the rash covering his belly from his throat to his neutered boy parts. His sensitive skin requires special food, oatmeal shampoo and conditioner. He has Benadryl for allergies and when he is sneezing a lot. He has sprays and ointments and gels to soothe his practically bald belly skin. Yes, he’s got some maintenance issues. But I’ve never seen his skin look like this.

Over the next couple days, it improved to a smaller area of pink. And worsened to a larger red area. And improved again. And worsened. By Friday at noon, I had decided to take him to the vet Saturday morning. It was hugely improved by the time I got home from work, so I decided to re-evaluate in the morning. Saturday morning he got me up at 8, and it seemed we were in the clear -- the rash had remained pink and minimized for a solid 14 hours. I opted out of the vet trip, drank coffee, continued unpacking (yes, I’ve been home for a couple days by now, but really, what is the rush?). I went shopping and to lunch with Caitlin. When I got home three hours past the vet’s closing time, I witnessed the folly of my decision.

I took Moose outside (he seems to like company -- or an audience -- when he pees) and he splayed himself on the ground and dragged his belly across the grass, dirt, rocks, sticks, whatever was there. His belly skin, (when I could finally get a look at it) was dark, splotchy red again. Back inside, he laid himself on the floor in the office, pushing and pulling himself along the carpeting. A Benadryl tablet, oatmeal shampoo bath, Cortisone 10 ointment treatment and 1.5 hours later, he was back to dragging his belly on every surface he can find.

I feel horrible. If I had stuck to the plan, I might at least know what the problem is. Every time he looks at me with his tender brown eyes I feel guilty -- like I gave him the rash myself.

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