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Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy 9th Gotcha Day Tinker...and Some Catching Up to Do

Our handsome boy
It's hard to believe that it has been over two years since I wrote anything on Tinker's blog. Especially in the last year and a half. There has been much going on - good, bad, and ugly.

First and foremost, if you don't already know from following Beagles-on-the-Web, Tinker lost his best pal, his big sister Virginia.  Our hearts have all been broken since we lost her to kidney disease this past September 27.  It had been a rough year in general with taking care of her and trying to give Tinker as much attention as possible.

I won't go into more detail here about Virginia's up and down 2012, but you can read more about it on my baseball blog. The "Sky is Crying" is all about our beloved VA.

As for Tinker, he turned 13 this past February 12. He is still as funny as ever and has now found his own voice.  For 8-1/2 years, Virginia was the straw that stirred the drink. Whatever she did, wherever she was, that's where Tinker wanted to be. When VA was hospitalized in March, 2012, Tinker was extremely depressed. He would lay in his dog bed and had lost his spunk. But he was back to his old self when VA returned from her 4-day stay at AERA, the specialty animal hospital.

Both dogs were treated for Lyme and/or Ehrlichia over the years, but in September, 2011 we also found out they had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), a tick-borne disease that is uncommon in the northeast. The way we found out they were infected was simply terrifying.

We were on vacation with family in North Carolina and took Virginia and Tinker for a walk. VA was hesitant to go down the darkened street. We encouraged her and our walk continued. Suddenly a Golden Retriever came running off-leash towards us. I put my hand up to try to grab the dog or at the very least keep it back. This dog, like most Goldens, was goofy and ran back to its owner and we proceeded with our walk.

The next night, which came after our first full day on vacation, we walked up the street again. And this time through the darkness we could see the shadow of a dog charging at us coming from the same direction as the night before.  But this time we could tell by the shape that it was not the same dog. As the dog approached, we could make out the hulking form of a huge, aggressive Rottweiler mix and we yelled at it to "Go home!" It didn't.

I attempted to grab at the dog but missed...  and suddenly the night's silence was broken by Tinker's screams. The dog had latched right onto him! The owner ran across the street, calling her, and at some point the dog let go. C instinctively threw herself down on Tinker until they took the dog away. I scooped him up and the four of us ran down the street. What seemed like hours actually took place in a matter of seconds.

Tinker had bites in several places and I could feel the blood seeping onto my shirt as I held him. It took many frantic phone calls until we could find a vet that was willing to meet us at their office late on a holiday night, but we ended up at Roanoke Island Animal Clinic at around Midnight. First, Doctor Layng met us and later the practice owner, Dr. Grossman, came in.

The worst wound on Tinker was what looked like a simple dime sized hole, but with a pen like object, Dr. Grossman showed us that the wound under the fur went several inches in each direction. It was the type of wound that happens when a dog has latched onto and shaken another dog  during an attack.

Pre-surgery bloodwork showed signs of anemia...which turned out to be RMSF. The doctors did a fantastic job of patching our boy up and put him on Doxycycline for the tick-born disease. He stayed at the vet's for a couple of days, and then he was back with us at the vacation home, where he began eating normally. Both dogs had started avoiding their food in May - apparently because of the effects of the RMSF - not something they test for in the northeast.

Sure enough, when we got home we had VA tested and she had RMSF as well. We realized they could have had the infection in their system for some time and for whatever reason, it was no longer dormant.

Things went downhill from there for VA. She was diagnosed with kidney disease in December and we spent the next year taking care of her and keeping her feeling as good as possible.

Our little girl in happier times.
Now we have a dilemma. Tinker is 13, but he could use a pal. We could use a little time to breathe. Not just from VA's loss, but other things that have taken place in the past year-plus. Right now we are just enjoying our boy, who despite now also being on thyroid meds and being treated for possible GI issues, is still Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky for the most part. After all the poking and prodding over the years, he's not so happy to go to the vet's anymore and he avoids some big female dogs since those were the gender that attacked him both times.

But he still wakes up every morning happy as can be. He comes to both sides of the bed in the morning to get good morning pets and can't wait to go out for his morning walk. He sleeps a little more than he used to, and his hearing has diminished a bit, but all in all he is still the same wonderful, nose licking, silly boy he's always been.

Happy Gotcha Day Tinker! (aka Boo Boo).

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