Clean Up On Seven

Tonight Blue became a hero. He gave his first donation of blood at our local animal emergency clinic. In honor of Girly Girl, I took both Blue and Bettina to the clinic and had them tested. As most greyhounds are, both were universal donors. Since they are both healthy, above the minimum weight and their mumma promised to come when called, they were accepted into the blood donor program.

I got the call a couple days ago. The clinic’s current supply of blood was due to expire and Blue was next up on the donor list. So after dinner on Thursday, I bundled Blue up and we made our way to the clinic.

Luckily for us, it wasn’t busy at all which meant he got right in. I must confess to having a small fantasy that we would arrive at the clinic in the nick of time to save the day for some poor dog at death’s door. Blue would gallantly lie down next to the unfortunate canine and give a patient to patient transfusion thus saving the dog from certain extinction. Yeah right.

Instead, they took Blue out back and I read the newspaper while they drained my big guy. After awhile, Blue came out staggering slightly, looking a bit woozy. The clinician explained that they had actually had to tap both sides since the first attempt caught him by surprise and he jerked his head, collapsing the vein. He was prepared when they got to the other side though and she said he was the very model of a perfect canine blood donor.

For those of you who don’t already know, they take the blood from the large veins in the neck. Ouch. They had given Blue subcutaneous fluids on his back to help mitigate the effects of his recent blood loss. He looked like a four legged Quasimodo with his watery hump back. They had used cold fluids so the hump was not only squashy; it was cool to the touch. Blue is typically a furnace so it was strange to pet him and feel his warmth only to suddenly come upon a spot that was cold by comparison.

One of my big concerns about letting the kids be blood donors was that it may traumatize one or both of them. Any concerns I had about Blue were allayed when the clinician made a big deal of him for a bit and then turned to go back to the treatment area. Blue started in after her, clearly not traumatized at all by the woman who had just pierced his neck with a fire hose. That’s my boy. He doesn’t care what you are doing to him, as long as you are touching him. He had two staff members’ undivided attention for 40 minutes. For Blue, that seemed well worth the vampiric experience.

I put his coat on as they warned me that, as a white dog, he would bleed some more. I am familiar with Blue’s penchant to bleed more than normal and bruise terribly at the slightest hint of a breeze wafting by and inadvertently brushing his skin.

When we reached home, Blue seemed a bit woozier than when we had left the clinic. I figured it must have hit him on the ride home. He tottered inside and waited for me to remove his outdoor gear. I took his coat off and it turns out white dogs do indeed bleed. A lot.

There was fresh blood smeared all over his neck, chest and jaw. Small rivulets of blood were still trickling down each side of his neck from the newly minted puncture holes. The skin underneath all that gore was nearly black and he had a puffy, squishy dewlap of pooled blood just under the surface.

Two rolls of paper towels later and fifteen minutes of direct pressure managed to bring the flow to a level small enough to allow me run to the trusty medical stash and grab him some Yunnan Baiyao capsules. This is a Traditional Chinese Medicine remedy that we used on Girly Girl when her lungs were filling with blood. It is nearly miraculous in its ability to stop bleeding anywhere on or in the body. Within a couple minutes, the bleeding stopped completely.

I then turned my attention to clean up. Another roll of paper towels later, I had managed to clean up much of what could only be described as a scene from a slasher movie. There was blood on Blue, blood on me, blood on Bettina, blood on the floor…you get the idea. I even wrung another pint or so of blood out of Blue’s coat. I certainly hope no one investigates my garbage too closely. If they do, I’ll surely have law enforcement on my doorstep.

I spent the rest of the evening stuffing Blue full of his favorite treats and telling him what a hero he was. He was still pretty glassy eyed, but nothing stands in the way of Blue and a treat so he soldiered on until the treats stopped coming. I covered the dog bed in the living room with a blanket in case we got another gusher. Blue promptly plopped himself down and shut his eyes. He was so zoned out that he was completely oblivious to Bettina’s attempts to bully him off the bed. Even her death stare was ineffective this night. She was incensed enough by this utter lack of respect for her status as house bully, she began to whine and prance with frustration. Getting no quarter from mumma, she finally gave a very pronounced sigh and did the heretofore unthinkable. She joined Blue on the bed. It was truly a night of unusual events.

After a short siesta and some more treats deftly extracted from mumma, Blue rallied. His eyes were bright again and he spent some quality time with his favorite bone. I was relieved to see that all was well. Poor Blue had given twice the normal donation amount. We’ll have to come up with a better solution next time because my budget can’t afford another clean up on seven. And they’ve already informed me that Bettina is up next month.


Two Dog Afternoon

After a recent Nor’easter, SOMEONE snow blowing the driveway covered up the vent pipe for our monitor heater (technically it is a Toyostove, but unfortunately for Monitor, they’ve transcended brand). OK, it was me. Jeez. As one might imagine, the monitor heater did not take kindly to this unfortunate turn of events. When next attempting to fire up, it blew a gasket and promptly shut down. When I say it blew a gasket, I literally mean, pieces of the gasket shot out of the front vent of the heater and covered my carpet in gasket detritus.

As any rational person would, I immediately started cursing and ran outside, no coat, no gloves, no socks and my boots not fully zipped up. I plunged into the new mountain of snow I had proudly created just 30 minutes before. I was up to my waist. I managed to clear the vent pipe at the cost of frostbite to my feet and hands. The hounds were waiting for me at the door. This was an exciting departure from our typical routine. Still cursing, I headed back to the monitor, hounds trailing at a safe distance behind me.

I was able to restart the beast. It even threw out heat. But the house was shortly filled with the overpowering stench of K1. I cursed some more (I’m not proud of it). Were we going to die? If it smells this strongly to me, what must it smell like to the furry kids? Was I going to cause them permanent harm? I checked to make sure that our fire and carbon monoxide detectors were working. Feeling I had done enough damage for the day, we turned in for the night.

We survived the night and first thing in the morning, I called the monitor repairman. As luck would have it, he was in our area that day. He arrived on our doorstep in the afternoon, toolbox in hand. After greeting the hounds, he headed back to the monitor. Don’t ask me why he already knew where it was, that is a story for another day.

Blue and Bettina were quite excited. Oh Boy! A living, breathing stranger. And in OUR house! There was a tiny parade in Bowdoin that day as the repairman headed down the hall to the monitor. He was followed closely by Blue, who was followed closely by Bettina, who was followed closely by mumma. The parade pulled up short when he reached the offending heat source.

It was right there that the repairman made his big mistake. He sat down on the floor to do his work. Two sets of hound eyes lit up like they had just been given free access to a refrigerator full of steak. True to their individual natures, Blue sat himself down in the repairman’s lap and waited for the shower of attention he was sure would be forthcoming.

Meanwhile Bettina, ever nosy, had jammed her head over the repairman’s shoulder and was attempting to supervise his work, while checking his ear for interesting smells. I was hoping she might learn by observation how to fix the cussed thing for next time it exploded.

The repairman suffered this intense interest from the furry kids for as long as he could take it. He calmly set down his screwdriver. Still facing the monitor, not turning to look at me, he said, “Ma’am….I’m going to need you to remove your dogs so I can work.”

Blue and Bettina had no intention of giving up this fabulous new distraction from the boring work day. No amount of calling, cajoling, threatening or begging would convince them to even look at me, let alone cease their ministrations to the now trapped repairman. The repairman sat still on the floor, hunched up, defending his ears from Bettina’s cold, wet, probing nose.

After being fully embarrassed by my willful disobedient mutts, I had to lift Bettina up and carry her to her crate out in the living room. Returning to the scene of the attack, I tried to remove Blue’s 80 pounds from the repairman’s lap. He wasn’t having it. A wrestling match ensued, after which I had managed to get Blue into a standing position.

He locked up all four legs, determined to stay and extract every last moment of attention from the new body in our midst. I tried getting him to back out of the small space. He declined to oblige me. After somewhat of a stand off, during which I heard the repairman sigh heavily, I had to lift Blue, turn him around and half carry, half drag him down the hall to his crate in the living room.

Being freed of his admirers, the repairman was able to complete work on the monitor. Meanwhile, Bettina complained vociferously from the living room. Once the repairman had emptied my wallet and departed, I let the kids out of their crates. They raced to the monitor heater. Where was he? After fully sniffing the monitor heater and the surrounding area, they traced him down the hall to the door. But sadly, he was gone. We all retired back to the office, free of the K1 smell and concern that we might die in our sleep. The monitor came on and put out a gentle heat that warmed us as mumma worked. It may have been a two dog afternoon, but at least it wasn’t going to be a two dog night.


In the Name of Science

Recently we found ourselves as participants in the Dog Genome Project. I had read somewhere about how scientists had sequenced the entire canine genome (a boxer’s DNA if I remember correctly). The project was important enough that it had a name, a website and was affiliated with the National Institutes of Health. They had expanded their focus to a herd of breeds through which they were studying various canine traits and illnesses. I paid a visit to the website and found there a list of breeds for which they were asking the dog owning public to contribute data. Scanning the list, I found that they were in need of greyhounds. In fact, greyhounds had an asterisk beside their name. This denoted that they were a breed singled out for special studies in which the dog owning public could take part. Checking further, I found that cancer was one of the canine issues they were working on. I immediately sent off an email to the project’s contact to see if we could help. Cancer has reared its ugly, nasty, life-ending head in our house and since that moment, we’ve taken every opportunity we could find to help find a cure.

After a short while I received a reply from someone at the Dog Genome Project. They were indeed in need of greyhounds to take part. I had visions of scientific greatness when Blue and Bettina became responsible for identifying the gene in greyhounds, oh heck, in all dogs, that controls whether or not cancer develops. The woman who emailed me said she would be snail-mailing me information and the necessary items we would need to take part.

In a week, important looking envelopes arrived from the National Institute of Health. I opened the first two and found mysterious tubes. Inside were two vials for each dog, wrapped in tissue. The vials contained preservative and directions on finding a canine phlebotomist to draw the blood samples. Of course. Blood samples. Nothing good in science can happen without blood samples. I eagerly opened the last two envelopes. What other hard science apparatus had they sent us so we could cure cancer? It was….measuring tapes. Huh?

The accompanying paperwork asked for a list of about 20 measurements they wanted taken of the hounds. Stuff like, length of ear from head to tip and circumference of hind leg between hock and foot. Okay, why not. It’s in the name of science. I started with Blue. Since I’ve managed to turn him into a large lumpy couch potato, the hardest part of measuring him was getting him to stand up long enough so I could measure his chest and waist. Luckily the rest of the measurements could be made on a supine hound. It took about 15 minutes to complete.

Getting Bettina’s measurements took the next three days. She has not yet bought into our sedentary, lay about lifestyle. At any given attempt to measure her, I could get her to stay still long enough to get one measurement on the list. Some took several tries. If I was lucky, I might knock off two in a session, but only if they were easy ones. All the while I had to frequently wrestle her down and extract the measuring tape from her jaws. She thought that this was a fine game and she seemed a bit let down when the list of her measurements was finally complete.

Next we made a visit to our favorite vet, Dr. Edelbaum. She gladly drew the requested blood after reading the information on the Dog Genome Project. She and her staff printed out wonderful labels containing all the dog’s vital stats. My plan had been to write their names on each vial with a Sharpie. We were given an extra label for the outside of the mailing tubes. She even declined to charge us since we were bleeding in the interest of curing cancer.

We took the two tubes filled with blood vials. I packed in their measurement sheets; packing taped them to within an inch of their lives and made straight for the post office from the vet’s parking lot. The blood would be good in the vials for a week, due to the preservatives, however, I didn’t want to take any chances and I wanted to hurry up and cure cancer in greyhounds. At the post office, the counter person asked if there was anything hazardous, perishable, liquid, flammable or otherwise dangerous in the tubes. I proudly announced that they contained dog blood which would cure cancer. Maybe even cure cancer in humans since dog and human cancer is so similar. Our adventures in science almost came to a screeching halt then and there in the post office lobby. Apparently the counter person had never encountered anyone attempting to mail dog blood. She wasn’t sure if that was considered hazardous or otherwise dangerous. She consulted a poster on the wall. Not finding the answer there, she pulled out a giant laminated document, folded accordion style. She unfolded it until it reached the floor. We were almost a week there in the lobby while she went down every one of the 3000 or so items listed which were either unmailable or which needed special handling.

While searching her list, she mentioned that someone regularly mailed goat urine and that, surprisingly, is not on the list. After she checked her list for a second time, she determined I was free to mail out dog blood if I so desired. So, with postage duly paid, our blood and measurements went on their way to the samples manager in Bethesda, Maryland.

They have arrived by now and we anxiously check the website every few days, waiting to see the announcement that canine cancer has been cured thanks to our special donation.

(If you want to help, or are just curious, check out The Dog Genome Project’s website by clicking on the title of this post.)