The sound started about six weeks ago in our house, and has been constant background music for us ever since. If you could call it “music.” Which no one could – especially me who has been suffering alongside our itchy dog day and night. The poor thing began scratching all over – for no apparent – reason at some point in December. And it has been a mystery to all of us since.
In the beginning, it was rather curious to watch because she itches all over – so she would feverishly engage in the standard hind leg dog scratch, followed by frenetic biting of her toes, then the other hind leg scratch, and the grand finale of chasing her tail, catching it and chewing on it for a few seconds. In lieu of a bow, she would let out a sneeze and head shake.
Adorable. Until it wasn’t. Then, it was tremendously sad. Because she was suffering.
And so the conversations between Dave and me began about our itchy dog. And I have to tell you that it brought me back to when the brothers were little and couldn’t yet talk, but were suffering from some unknown malady. Diagnosing and treating the dog followed the exact same pattern. It goes as follows:
Awareness: While both parents may have noticed something was not right for some time, the lack of communication between them created a delay in treatment.Me: Have you noticed that Motzie has been really itchy lately? Dave: Yeah, seems like she’s been that way for a few weeks. Me: You’ve noticed this for a few weeks and you didn’t say ANYTHING to me? Dave: Well, how long have you noticed? Me: A few weeks.
And so the process begins.
Amateur Diagnosis: At first, as parents, you think you got this. After all, it’s just the itchies. A parent doesn’t need years of veterinary education to figure this out. You conduct an examine. No fleas. No skin irritation. No ticks. Nothing a good bath won’t fix!Dave: She’s due for an oatmeal bath. I’ll make her an appointment. Me: Do you think that will ACTUALLY help? I’ve never seen her like this. Dave: (sigh) I don’t know but how about we try it? Motzie: Thumthumthumthump. Snort.
And so the dog goes to the groomer and gets her oatmeal bath. Comes home smelling better, but continues to scratch all over as if there is an entire cite living under her skin. You spend another few days trying different things, none which work. The low point comes when you realize you are actually asking the dog what is wrong. In fact, every time the dog sctaches, you ask her: “What is wrong my cute little puppy???” She never answers. Soon, out of frustration, you and your husband start turning on one another.Me: I think it’s psychological. Look at her. It looks like nerves. Dave: I have never seen a nervous person itch. And besides, this dog has nothing to be nervous about! Nothing ever happens to her. She sleeps all day! Me: Ok, but I just have a gut feeling it’s in her head. Dave: Maybe it’s in YOUR head. Okay, I am changing her food to gluten free. Me: Why are you doing that? After six years, she has suddenly become allergic to her food?? Dave: (sigh) I don’t know but how about we try it? Motzie: Thumthumthumthumpity thump. Snort.
Bring in the Professional: After the groomer, changing the food, getting her a new bed, interrogating our housekeeper about any new cleaners, purchasing a recommended conditioner for her hair, dosing her on Children’s Benadryl, adding fish oil to her food, and continuing to ask her for guidance on her own condition, we finally broke down and called the vet. But not before exhausting every other avenue because the last thing you want to do is embarass yourself in front of the vet. But this was getting old.Me: We need to take her to the vet. And when I say “we”, I mean “you.” Dave: Sigh. They always yell at me and tell me that she’s overweight. And that’s your fault. You give her too many treats. Me: You’re better at this than I am. Pleeeeeeeeease.
And so the dog and Dave go to the vet, where she recommends everything we already tried, plus a few more tricks. Dave comes home to report the treatment plan.Me: Did you tell her we ALREADY tried those things? Dave: Yes, but she said it could take weeks. Me: I really think this is all in her little pea brain head. The dog’s, I mean. Maybe she needs Prozac. Mo-Mo, do you need Prozac? Dave: Well, they did give her a prescription for steroids. Me: Roids???? You mean Motzie, is on the ‘roids? Won’t that turn her into Cujo? Motzie: Thumpthumthumpthumpity thump. Sneezey snort.
We commence steroid use and wait to be attacked in the middle of the night by our killer Pug. Which never happens, nor does releif from the itching.
Desperation and Enlightenment: After two more weeks of roids, shampoo baths, fish oil and endless scratching, I call the vet again and threaten to set myself on fire unless they find a cure for my itchy dog. At this point, they get serious and tell us they are putting her on a hypo-allergenic diet, new heartworm medication, and a rub-in conditioner.Vet: Do you think she will be okay with the new food? Me: Are you kidding? The dog is like a goat. She eats cat poop out of the litter box for crying out loud. She’ll eat anything.
Thirty seconds after I hung up the phone, it hit me.Me: Honey!! Have you recently changed Kona’s food? Dave: No, why would that matter? Motzie doesn’t eat the cat food. Me: How about the brand of kitty litter??? Dave: Yeah, about six weeks ago I think but….. holy shit. Me: You mean holy cat shit.
Our sweet dog, in her clandestine love for Cat Poop Tempura, had made herself ill. In the past few days, in which we have made a concerted effort to deny her of this delicacy, she has actually stopped scratching.Me: I think she was trying to tell us something all along. I’m sure of it. Motzie: Snort.