Tipper came to live with us just over a month ago. We don’t know what he was called during his former life in Louisiana. Like so many other dogs, Hurricane Katrina forced Tipper to adapt to a new name, unfamiliar humans, and an unknown environment (while undergoing treatment for heartworm disease). Tipper is the definition of adaptable, and he came through all this change with flying colors and a big ‘ole smile on his face. He’s a big beefy mutt- likely the result of a Doberman and Shepherd rendezvous. His tail is jet-black with a white tip (thus the name Tipper) and never quits wagging. My son Jacob, then an undergrad at Colorado State University, signed up to adopt a Katrina rescue dog. He was paired with Tipper (a match made in heaven) and the two have been inseparable, up until now that is.
Jacob graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology and minors in Spanish and conservation (can you sense a mama bragging here). He is now off in Guatemala studying jaguars. He figured he could trust his two parents, both veterinarians, to take care of his dog. So now Tipper has become part of our canine trio enjoying the life of a country dog. In addition to goats, and horses (and horse manure), and deer, and cats, and foxes, and wild turkeys, Tip’s experienced some unexpected mishaps during his short stay with “grandma” and “grandpa”.
Week one: It’s foxtail season here in California, and one of these annoying plant awns landed deep in Tipper’s ear canal resulting in furious head shaking. Using an otoscope and a special type of instrument called an “alligator forceps” I fished the foxtail out of his ear canal. Tipper and his eardrum were immediately relieved. Problem solved.
Week two: Over the course of a few hours, Tipper vomited six times and his face swelled to the point of his eyes being closed. Poor boy must have ingested or been stung or bitten by an insect or spider resulting in a severe allergic reaction. Some antihistamine and TLC were administered and, within 24 hours, Tip was good as new. Problem solved.
Week three (at dusk): Tipper came scampering into the house with his eyes at half-mast and reeking of “Eau de Skunk.” Clearly, the little black and white critter took good aim and hit poor Tipper right between the eyes. Fortunately, Nellie and Quinn, his two partners in crime managed to avoid the skunk- they’ve learned from past mistakes. Tipper received eye ointment and his first California baths. Problem solved (although he still smells a bit skunky).
Week four: One minute the dogs were ripping around the horse pasture, the next minute Tipper was three-legged lame. Manipulation of his affected leg revealed a torn ligament in his knee. Tip’s going to need to have surgery followed by a couple of months of rehabilitation therapy. Problem will be solved.
I hate to think what week five holds in store……………
Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,
Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.
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Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –