animals, dogs, drugs, Germany, veterinary care

Arran’s recovery is a bit rocky…

Poor Arran has had a rough week. A few days ago, after we came home from Heidelberg, he gashed himself after running under a bush with low branches. That encounter led to an hours long ordeal at the Tierklinik Hofheim, which is a really good veterinary hospital near us. He wasn’t that badly hurt, but there were a lot of sick animals that night, and Bill had to wait for them to be treated first.

Bill got to the emergency clinic at 9:30pm and got home at 4:30am, armed with antibiotics and painkillers. Arran had to have five stitches on his left shoulder, right near where he has a lipoma. He tore a big gash through all of his skin layers, so the emergency vet had to remove a flap of skin and debride the wound.

Arran was basically fine on Monday and Tuesday. He was eating, drinking, and demanding his walk. Then yesterday, at about noon, he vomited all over Bill’s side of our bed. Luckily, I managed to push him to the edge, so the mess wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When he had his dinner last night, he threw up again, although he never lost his appetite or his crankiness toward Noyzi.

Bill and I figured maybe the antibiotic was affecting him, since I had read that vomiting and diarrhea are side effects of Kesium, which is what he was taking, along with Metacam for the pain. Then this morning, after an uneventful night, Bill gave Arran a little bit of food. And yes, you guessed it, a couple of hours later, he puked again.

We already had an 8:30am appointment for him to visit the vet to have his stitches checked. Bill took him in and was back home very quickly. I was feeling dread, given that Arran is about 12 years old. But Arran surprised us by romping into the house, obviously feeling great. He did a play bow and smiled at me as he ran into the living room.

The vet gave him an injection of antibiotics, an injection of painkillers, and something for his stomach. It’s obviously all kicked in. Bill says the vet thinks the nausea is caused by the last of the sedation Arran had on Monday morning, exiting his system. I don’t know why it wouldn’t have bothered him on Monday and Tuesday, but hell, I’m not a vet. Anyway, the antibiotic was directly injected into his bloodstream, so it’s not sitting in his stomach. He’s had that drug before and it didn’t bother him. Maybe he’s developed an intolerance.

We’ll bring him back to the vet on Saturday for another shot. Hopefully the stitches can come out a few days after that. The wound seems to be healing nicely.

Meanwhile, Noyzi seems to have a touch of diarrhea today, and it’s raining pretty steadily. He came upstairs at about 4:00am, obviously eager to go outside. Bill let him out and he was quick to do his business. This morning, I see a little residual diarrhea. I’m not sure why he has the runs, but I’m grateful that he came to tell us that he needed to go outside. He’s such a good dog!

This was when I noticed the gash Sunday night.
His “walk dance” on Tuesday.

I suspect it will be a cozy day today, once I do my dreaded and hated Thursday chore of vacuuming.

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disasters, dogs, veterinary care

The waiting is the hardest part…

Today’s featured photo was taken at our neighborhood Rewe, which appears to be very gay friendly… The Rewe could use an Apoteke.

A week from now, barring any disasters, Bill will be home from his latest TDY. For some reason, this one has been harder for me than the previous ones have been. I think it’s a combination of the many months we’ve been locked down, bored, and the many weeks he’s had to travel on business. This time, he’s half vaccinated. At the end of the month, he’ll get his second injection. I’ll get mine on June 9th. Then, maybe we can start doing some normal stuff again. As Tom Petty used to sing, “the waiting is the hardest part”…

One of many great singers from my youth who have died since I’ve lived in Germany. I always seem to be in Europe when icons die. I was even in Europe when Princess Diana was killed, back in 1997. It seems to be my destiny to spend time here.

I had a bit of unexpected drama last night. On Friday, we got some new toys for the dogs. Arran had recently destroyed a little blue gorilla that he loved. It was a Kong toy, so it had lasted awhile, though not as long as some of the others we’ve had. I try to cycle the really damaged toys out, even if they are much beloved. I don’t want the boys chewing on toys that are raggedy because they can end up swallowing things they shouldn’t. That seems to be especially true in Noyzi’s case. A few months ago, he swallowed part of an old toy that had been three pieces. Arran had long ago shredded the other parts of the monkey– the toy part had come from– but there was still a leg with squeakers in it. Arran would play with it.

At the time that happened, Bill was at home. He took Noyzi to our vet; they gave him a shot to make him vomit; and he puked up the part of the toy he’d swallowed. It was an old toy, though, so I have been careful to get rid of the ones that get too torn up. Friday, I gave the boys four brand new Kong toys. Kong toys are known for being very tough. But the raccoon toy I got the other day was not as sturdy as the other rope toys I’ve been giving them.

Last night, I came downstairs at about 6:00pm to find that Noyzi had “skinned” the toy raccoon, leaving the head and tail, and the rope innards. I was glad he hadn’t destroyed the head, since that was where the squeaker was. But he had apparently swallowed the “fur”. Fortunately, this particular toy, by design, didn’t have a lot of polyester batting in it.

Immediately, I started thinking I’d need to get him to the emergency vet– Tierklinik Hofheim, specifically, since our vet wasn’t open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him into Bill’s Volvo. He’s too big and cumbersome for me to get him into the car by myself. I don’t think he’s too heavy… he’s about 63 pounds, and I can lift that. But he’s long and tall and not very cooperative. After a few minutes of trying to wrestle with him, I gave up.

Then I went looking for hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as an emetic in dogs. I thought we had some on hand, but it turned out we didn’t have any. And Germany, unlike the United States, doesn’t dispense things like hydrogen peroxide at the grocery store. You have to get it at the Apotheke. It also costs a lot more there than it does at US stores. So I went looking to see if any nearby drug stores were open. The one at the nearby Globus was open, but when I tried to get there, I got turned around and wound up in a strange neighborhood. I’m not used to driving Bill’s car… I would have driven mine, but it’s in the garage, and the Volvo was in the driveway. Then, when I got back, I couldn’t get the car parked in the driveway again. I know I should have been able. The Volvo has cameras and park assist, and of course, GPS… I can’t get used to using those things. I don’t trust them.

So I worried all night, although Noyzi was pretty much normal. I came down in the middle of the night to check on him, and he greeted me sweetly each time. I obsessively read a bunch of articles on the signs of a blockage, and finally got ahold of Bill, who said if I needed help with Noyzi, someone from the office could come over. This morning, I found Noyzi lying on his back with his legs in the air. When he saw me, he rolled onto his side and wagged his tail. I kept hoping he’d poop… because again, “the waiting is the hardest part.” A good poop is a good start on the way to recovery from something like this.

I just took the boys for a short walk. It was a short walk because it’s raining. Just afterwards, I let Noyzi in the backyard. For some reason, he doesn’t like to go potty when he’s taking a walk. Arran is just the opposite. Anyway, after a few minutes, he came out, took a whiz, then took a fairly normal looking poop with bits of toy in it. I suspect there might be more bits in his next constitutional, but at this point, I’m not too worried about him needing emergency vet care. He seems to feel better, too, even though he wasn’t that distressed in the first place.

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience. The first thing is that we need to train Noyzi to get in the car by himself. If it had been Arran (or the late Zane), it wouldn’t have been a problem getting the dog loaded. Both Zane and Arran fit in the Mini, too. But Noyzi needs the Volvo and has to ride in the cargo area. He needs to learn to get in by himself, because I’m not getting any younger or stronger.

Next– I need to buy some hydrogen peroxide to keep around for these kinds of emergencies. Noyzi has proven that he likes to eat toys. All of the new ones are out of reach, for now.

Next– I need to stop being such a luddite. I have yet to embrace GPS technology because I find the voice prompts distracting and annoying. But the GPS could have gotten me to Globus last night. And the park assist could have gotten the Volvo into the driveway. I have been able to park in the driveway before, by the way, but I was not in the right frame of mind for it last night.

I need to drive more, too… I just don’t enjoy driving if I have nowhere specific to be. Hopefully, with the availability of the vaccines, that won’t be so much of a problem for too much longer.

I was feeling pretty frustrated, though. I’ve been in Germany for years and I know how most things work here. But I’m still getting to know this area where we live, mainly due to the COVID-19 nightmare. I don’t know a lot of people up here, so being here alone is pretty stressful. I have fewer people to call in case of emergency. And I’m really tired of Bill’s constant business trips. The good news is, he thinks they’ll be done after this one… at least for the time being. I hope he’s right.

He’s perfectly happy. This was what he looked like last night, as I was fretting.

Anyway, I think Noyzi is going to be just fine. I guess I need to watch him more closely when there are toys around. At least until he learns that toys are for playing with, not eating. Sometimes, though, I do miss how things are in the United States… not that I’m hankering to move yet. I just want Bill to come home and fix me a martini and tell me it’s all gonna be okay. Just a few more days to go.

Edited to add: Two more dumps littered with toy debris have appeared… and they were both perfect. After each one, Noyzi seemed even happier and more energetic.

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disasters, dog rescue, dogs, Germany, Health, veterinary care

Noyzi’s big emergency…

Yesterday, I was expecting a package from Amazon– a new bin system for our dog food. For the past few months, we’ve been giving Arran the same higher calorie food we’d been giving Noyzi. It’s resulted in some unnecessary and alarming weight gain, so I decided to put Arran back on his senior dog food while I continue to give Noyzi something with more oomph. I bought a two tiered bin that allows me to separate their food while taking up little space under the counter.

I heard Noyzi bark, so I thought maybe the delivery had arrived. I went down to check and found Noyzi standing by a pile of dog toys. Among the toys were two stuffed monkey legs. They were originally part of one of Arran’s favorite and longest lasting fluffy toys, a monkey that had long legs that threaded through holes on either side. The monkey’s torso was long ago obliterated by our resident hunting dog, Arran. But the legs had survived, and they had working squeakers.

From the day Noyzi first arrived at our home last October, he’s been a friend to the toys. Instead of attacking and chewing them up, like Arran does, Noyzi tends to treat them like his pals. He stacks them in his bed and uses them as pillows. So I was a little surprised when I came into the living room and noticed that one of the monkey legs had been amputated at one end. I couldn’t find the stuffed fabric paw or its squeaker.

I emailed Bill to let him know. Bill called the vet and they advised him to bring him in to be seen. Even if I wanted to take Noyzi to the vet, it would not be possible. I drive a Mini Cooper and Noyzi will not fit in it. It’s illegal for dogs to ride up front, and I doubt I could convince him to get in the car, anyway. As it is now, he has to ride in the back of our Volvo SUV because he won’t get in the backseat, which he probably could fit in if he was more cooperative.

Just as Bill was about to leave work, he got a frantic work related phone call from the States that he had to take care of. He ended up getting home about an hour later. We wrangled Noyzi into the SUV and Bill took him to the vet’s office. Noyzi was given an emetic, which made him throw up. Sure enough, we found the offending piece of the monkey toy, although no squeaker was found. It’s possible that Noyzi swallowed it, but it’s equally possible that Arran ripped it out ages ago and I tossed it. If it did end up in his intestines, we may find it in his poop in a day or two. If there are other problems, he’s sure to let us know. We’re lucky enough to have great vets in the next village, as well as the excellent Tierklink Hofheim nearby.

Yuck. That’s the part of the toy he swallowed.

We’re keeping an eye on Noyzi, but so far, he’s back to his old self. In fact, if I hadn’t noticed the amputated leg, I would never have known what he did. He was acting totally normal yesterday until he was forced to puke and given an antidote, which wiped him out for a couple of hours. By dinner time, he was right as rain… and then Arran threw up. But I think in Arran’s case, it was a case of too much salmon. He had a little of our dinner last night. He’s fine today, too, but we have to get him slimmer. I never thought I’d say that about Arran, who has always been athletic and sleek. But he’s twelve now, so he needs to watch his figure.

By the way… anyone want to guess how much this emergency cost us? It was a mere 89 euros. The vet was able to squeeze us in during regular office hours. Several of my friends gave me tips on how to make my dog vomit, but I prefer to let the vets handle that, especially when it’s not that expensive. God bless German healthcare costs. America could take a lesson or two.

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anecdotes, pets, veterinary care

Leland Sklar… and a low two tumor!

Yesterday, I wrote about our dog, Arran, who just had surgery to have a mast cell tumor removed. Last night, the vet called and emailed to tell us that the tumor she removed was “low grade” and she got excellent margins. This is very good news. I mean, the first mast cell tumor Arran had was rated a 1.5, which is very low grade… almost benign, actually. This one was a 2. A two is not as good as 1.5, but pathologists can be pretty subjective about their opinions, anyway. Another pathologist might have rated it differently. The point is, it doesn’t look like it was a particularly aggressive tumor and there’s a good chance the surgery was curative. I wrote more about this on my main blog.

I was impressed that the vet called and emailed, especially on a Friday evening. She said she would call today, too, since we missed the call last night. When we lived in Stuttgart, I remember getting the news at the appointment, rather than by phone. I was actually a little concerned when Bill said he got a call and an email. I thought maybe there was something urgently wrong. But, it turns out she probably just wanted to put our minds at ease for the weekend. I mean, mast cell tumors are shitty and they’re not good news as a general rule. But having now dealt with several types of canine cancers, I can say that I would take dealing with a mast cell tumor over, say, prostate cancer or the horrible spinal tumor our sweet MacGregor had in 2012. That was heartbreaking.

Last night, I also finally got something I’ve been waiting ages for… a book by the great bass guitar player, Leland Sklar. I am a big fan of his work, since he’s played bass for many of my favorite artists since the 1970s. Ever since the pandemic started, Lee has been posting videos on YouTube. He’s also started a “hangout”, which I would join if I weren’t so many timezones away. In the fall, he decided to publish a book called Everybody Loves Me. It’s basically a thick coffee table book full of photos of people flipping him the bird. Seriously, there’s very little writing in this book. It’s all famous and non famous people giving Sklar the finger. He’s got a broad range of people mugging for the camera, too. Off the top of my head, besides many people whose names I don’t know but give good face, he’s got photos of Phil Collins, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, and David Crosby, among many others.

So what does this have to do with traveling? Well, it’s not so much about travel as it is life in Germany and getting stuff through the APO system, which is what we US government affiliated people get for US mail. Lelad Sklar mailed my book sometime in late November, I think. It just got to me yesterday. The mail has been slow lately under normal circumstances. When someone mails something through the APO system, particularly when they don’t pay for premium shipping, it can take many weeks. I’m not complaining, mind you. I was glad to get the book yesterday. It was worth the wait. I got a big kick out of it. Incidentally, I ordered Bill an Ancestry.com DNA kit for Christmas back in early November, I think. It just got here about two weeks ago.

The weather continues to suck, although I did read that at least reports of COVID-19 cases have gone down a little bit. I just got up and noticed that it’s snowing again, but I don’t think it’s cold enough for anything to stick. The ground is positively saturated, and every time Noyzi goes outside, he runs around like a maniac and gets mud caked in his paws, which he then tracks into the house. I need to vacuum, but I may just wait, because vacuuming when it’s so muddy outside is utterly futile. But Noyzi sheds all over the place, so I’m constantly sweeping. I’m thinking it’s time to buy a new vacuum cleaner that is a lot lighter and more portable, because I probably ought to vacuum every day. I know ex landlady thinks I’m a filthy slob, but I’m really not. I just love my dogs and they’re a step above toddlers when it comes to messes, especially when the weather is bad.

Again, not complaining… having Noyzi is well worth the trouble of sweeping and vacuuming more. He’s a ball of love who has made enduring the pandemic a lot easier. I love watching him evolve. He’s turning into a real character now. I think the ghost of Zane visits through him, as he plays keep away in the yard with a distinctly mischievous grin on his face. I also love to feed him snacks. He has such a big mouth that it reminds me of mailing a letter. He’s so adorable the way he sneaks up behind me quietly, like a shadow, and quietly requests a bite of whatever it is I’m eating. When we first got him, he wouldn’t eat anything but kibble, which makes training a bit more difficult. No food rewards. And he was too afraid to play with toys. Now, he loves his toys.

Anyway… now, all we have to do is wait for Arran to heal some more so he can ditch the cone.

Here are a few photos from Leland Sklar’s book. When I ordered, I got a funny little animation that flipped me off as it thanked me. I thought to get a screenshot of it, which is today’s featured photo. This book was $65 unsigned, $85 signed. I got it signed because Leland Sklar is so entertaining and kind that I figured he deserved the extra cash.

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dogs, veterinary care

Poor Arran…

Monday morning, our dog Arran, whom we’ve counted as a family member since January 2013, had surgery on his left hind leg. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a red bump there as Arran was headed outside for his evening whiz. Having already dealt with mast cell tumors in Arran and our late beagle, Zane, I had a feeling a new MCT had showed its ugly head. I told Bill about it when he came home from work. The next day, he called our vets in the neighboring industrial park in Wallau and told them that Arran had a tumor. They were good enough to fit him in for an aspiration that morning.

A week later, we went back to the vet’s office for the results of the aspirate, as well as basic bloodwork for our new dog, Kosovar street dog, Noyzi. The vet confirmed what we’d feared. After five and a half years with no new mast cell tumors, Arran had another one. It was in the skin, rather than under it, and she didn’t detect any swollen lymph nodes. She scheduled him for surgery a few days later. Meanwhile, Noyzi had three vials of blood taken, as well as a sample for a DNA test.

Monday morning, Bill planned to take Arran in at 10:00am. That was what was written on the appointment slip the receptionist gave him last week. Unfortunately, the receptionist got the time wrong. He was supposed to go in at 9:00am. So poor Arran had to starve for a couple more hours before he got in to have the tumor removed. I had noticed it shrinking last week to almost nothing, but by Monday morning, it had blown up again. Mast cell tumors notably do this— they’ll shrink to nothing, then swell up a lot when they’re bothered. That’s one of the telltale signs. The tumors put out histamine, which causes the inflammation and itching that comes with these types of growths.

Because mast cell tumors are typically more invasive then they appear, and will sometimes come back with a vengeance if the margins aren’t good, the vet made a very large incision on Arran’s leg. She was a lot more aggressive than our old vet in Herrenberg was. I have noticed the vets up near Wiesbaden seem to be a bit more aggressive and up to date than the ones in the Stuttgart area are. I loved our Herrenberg vet, though. She just had a more conservative approach to surgery.

Arran has been wearing the dreaded cone of shame all week. He’s been surprisingly well-behaved and calm about it. We did finally put a “Comfy Cone” on him yesterday. I had bought one for Zane a few years ago, but misplaced it in the move. The Comfy Cone is less rigid than the traditional hard plastic Elizabethan Collar is and it makes less noise. But it’s not made of transparent plastic, so it’s harder for Arran to see or hear with it on. We took it off last night, and he behaved pretty well, but we put it back on this morning after he started licking his stitches. Poor guy. This is probably driving him crazy.

We should get the results of the biopsy next week… and maybe Noyzi’s DNA test results will be in, too. Noyzi was given a clean bill of health, which is a good thing. I hope Arran’s tumor was a low grade one. I hate canine cancer, and it wasn’t so long ago that we were dealing with it in Zane. But I guess whatever’s to be will be. As dog cancers go, I don’t think mast cell tumors are that horrible. At least they can be treated and often cured by surgery. But I still hate canine cancers… and mast cell cancer sometimes turns into lymphoma, which is what happened with Zane after three years of MCTs.

In case anyone is wondering, the total cost of the operation and everything that came with it was about 590 euros, or around $700. Right now, the dollar is taking a beating against the euro. Still, this would have been a lot more expensive in many parts of the United States. We can also use a VAT form, which exempts us from paying German taxes on the procedure. At 19%, that’s a very good thing.

As you can see, Bill is Arran’s favorite person.

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advice, anecdotes, animals, dogs, housekeeping tips, pets, veterinary care

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…

Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.

I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.

A new toy… takes up a lot of counter space, so it must live downstairs in the basement.

We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.

Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.

Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.

But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.

Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.

People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.

For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.

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veterinary care

German style euthanasia…

Sorry for not writing much on my travel blog lately. If you know me personally or have been following my main blog, you might know that the last week has been unexpectedly sad for us. I haven’t really been doing anything fun that I can write about. I’ve been too busy tending to one of the less pleasant aspects of life. We’ve been living in Germany this time since 2014. I knew we’d lose at least one of our dogs during our time here. I wondered if it would be like it is in the States. Yesterday, I found out.

Last Saturday, our beloved beagle Zane was unofficially diagnosed with lymphoma. At the time of his diagnosis, he had swollen lymph nodes under his jaw and behind his knees. Since Zane had also had mast cell cancer since 2016, the vet was pretty sure lymphoma was causing the swollen nodes, lethargy, and mild anorexia Zane was experiencing. Our local vet recommended getting him an appointment at the oncology department at the Tierklinik Hofheim.

I first heard of the Tierklinik Hofheim from our vet in Herrenberg, who had taken care of Zane and Arran when we lived near Stuttgart. She had told me it’s one of the best vet hospitals in Germany. At the time, we lived several hours away from it. Now, it’s a fifteen minute drive.

The local vet decided not to start Zane on steroids, since she wasn’t absolutely sure he had cancer. She just strongly suspected. Bill tried to get an appointment for Zane, but they are fully booked until September 20th. By Monday night, I knew that would be too late. Zane’s nodes were swelling so much that he could barely open his eyes. Bill took him to the Tierklinik Hofheim’s emergency department, where a vet aspirated his lymph nodes and the lymphoma diagnosis was official.

We started him on Prednisolone, which is supposedly easier on the liver than Prednisone is. He tolerated it well and enjoyed a couple of good days. I took many pictures, including a few in which he looks pretty normal. He ate lots of people food, enjoyed the warm, sunny days, and slept a lot. We even managed to take a couple of walks. Wednesday and Thursday, he went his regular route. I knew his time was borrowed, but I thought maybe he might make it to September. Yesterday morning, I realized it wasn’t meant to be.

Zane woke up so weak yesterday. He could barely stand. He’d get his haunches up, but his front half was stuck to the floor because he was too exhausted to get into a standing position. He managed to eat and do his business outside, but his bowel movements were dark and a bit bloody. He also had one accident in the house, although he was kind enough to do it on some tile flooring. Zane was extremely well house-trained and hadn’t had an accident in many years.

And then I noticed his belly. Part of it was distended. He resembled a lactating female, as part of it hung down like a teat. We had to wait until 9:00am to call the vet’s office. One other nice thing about being up here near Wiesbaden is that our vet regularly offers Saturday hours. In Herrenberg, different vets were on call.

Fortunately, the same vet who saw him last week answered the phone. Bill explained what was going on, and told her that we felt it was time to let Zane go. She scheduled our euthanasia appointment for noon, then asked Bill questions about what we wanted done with Zane’s remains. Since we move so frequently, when our dogs have died, we’ve always just had them cremated and don’t pick up their ashes. The ashes don’t mean anything to me. What matters to me is the special memories and the great love we shared.

After breakfast, which ordinarily Zane would have shared with us, he went to the front door. Bill said, “He’s expecting us to take him for a walk.” I doubt Zane would have made it very far, but he was a very routine oriented hound. He wanted us to get up and go to bed on a schedule, feed him and walk him at certain times of the day, and give him time in the yard. If something wasn’t done routinely, he would protest, usually in the form of soft whining.

Since he was so weak and exhausted, we spent a couple of hours with Zane out in the yard. He’s always loved sunning himself, and we had great weather for it yesterday. At one point, just before we clipped the leash on him, Bill looked at Zane in the eyes and told him how much he loved him.

We arrived at the clinic at about 11:45. I helped Zane out of the car and he gave a little yelp. It was the first yelp I’ve heard out of him since this ordeal began. In contrast, his predecessors, Flea and MacGregor, also died of cancers and theirs were much more painful. I’m grateful Zane’s last days were full of exhaustion and weakness rather than agony and excruciating pain. As cancer deaths go… at least in Zane’s case… canine lymphoma wasn’t so horrible. I would definitely take it over the prostate cancer that killed Flea, or the spinal tumor that killed MacGregor.

Zane greeted the vet with a sniff and a slight tail wag. Then we walked into the exam room. Zane got halfway on the scale, which amused me slightly. He was always such a good boy. Bill lifted him onto the table, since the exam room didn’t have the kind that raise electronically. The vet checked Zane over and drew blood, noting that it was kind of “watery”. She saw his belly and said she thought his spleen might have ruptured. It was good that we brought him in yesterday, because the vet felt he wouldn’t have survived the night. He likely would have gone into shock within hours.

I let Zane lick liverwurst flavored paste from a tube while the vet explained what she was going to do. She didn’t really have to, since we’ve been through this a few times. In fact, my first job was working for a veterinary hospital. I witnessed dogs being put down as part of that job.

Our last three dogs were euthanized in the United States. All three of the American vets sedated our dogs before giving them the shot that would end their lives. The German vet did not do that, but it also didn’t seem necessary in Zane’s case. I also noticed that the medicine she used was clear, rather than pink. I read somewhere that in the United States, euthanasia meds are colored pink so that they’re less likely to be given by mistake.

Bill put his arms around Zane and felt his heart. He does this whenever we lose a dog, so he knows when they are free of pain and sickness. I stroked Zane’s head as the vet administered the medication. It was over in seconds, and very peaceful.

I am so grateful to Dr. Glenn. She was very kind and compassionate. She chatted with us for a few minutes about Zane and we told her a brief version of his story. She gave me a big, sincere hug, and even shed a couple of tears herself, even though she really didn’t get a chance to know Zane like our old vet in Herrenberg, Dr. Schube, did. I’m grateful we didn’t have to ask Dr. Schube to end Zane’s life. They had a bond. Much like his predecessor, Flea, Zane was very much a canine ambassador. He never met a stranger.

Dr. Glenn told us they would send us the bill and we were welcome to spend as much time as we needed. Bill and I stayed with Zane’s body for about ten minutes, then went home to Arran, who seemed confused and upset about being left home alone. He brought us a toy and ran around the house frantically, until he finally settled down and hung out with us all day. He seems little unnerved about being the only dog now, although I could tell he knew that Zane wasn’t feeling well.

We usually get another dog soon after we lose one. I think this time, we’ll hold off on it for awhile. Arran is himself about nine or ten years old. He’s still vital and likes to play, but he doesn’t share well. He gets jealous and picks fights. I’ve also heard that Germans don’t like to let Americans adopt, thanks to the jerks in the military who dump their dogs rather than taking them with them. We’ll see what happens.

It seems to me that our dogs that have passed have inspired me to find new ones… In a lot of cases, it’s almost as if that dog was sent to us by his predecessor. When we got Arran after we lost our dog, MacGregor, we noticed he did some things that were very much like MacGregor. It was like MacGregor was sending us a sign. The same thing happened with Zane and his predecessor, Flea, although Zane and Flea had totally different personalities. As Zane got older, I’d swear I’d see glimpses of Flea coming out in him. I know it sounds like a lot of woo and it probably is… but it’s a comforting thought, just like the Rainbow Bridge story is.

Anyway… now I know. German style euthanasia is much like American style euthanasia. It sucks either way… although I’m grateful for a lot of things that made yesterday go better. Ultimately, I’m grateful that our sweet dog is no longer suffering and that we had each other for almost ten years. Although all of my dogs have been special in their own ways, I think Zane’s imprint on my heart is the most indelible. The next days are going to be hard as we adjust to life with Zane’s leadership. He kept everything on a schedule.

Edited to add: On September 13, we received the final bill for Zane’s euthanasia. In all, it cost about 230 euros for the procedure and cremation. We also received a “death certificate”, which I thought was kind of odd. However, the certificate listed Arran as the deceased dog, so we’ll have to get that corrected. I have really been missing Zane a lot. He meant so much to me… and for many reasons, his death has hit me particularly hard.

This is a video I made yesterday with pictures from all of our years with Zane…
More photos of Zane…
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Germany, veterinary care

Meet the vet… and eat Cajun food!

Those of you who know me on Facebook and/or have been following my main blog might have read that a couple of nights ago, our dog Zane experienced a bit of veterinary drama.  Bill had to take him to our local vet because he was throwing up foam.  A couple of hours after they left the local vet, Zane had bloody diarrhea.  I asked Bill to take Zane to the Tierklinik Hofheim, which is not too far from where we live.  I first heard of the Tierklinik Hofheim from our former vet, Dr. Schube, in Herrenberg.  She said it was one of the best veterinary clinics in Germany.  I never thought we’d ever live close enough to use their services, but I was sure glad we had their services handy on Thursday.

Our new vet.  Up here, all of the vets have a little “V” sign by their office, indicating they are veterinarians.  I don’t remember ever seeing that near Stuttgart.

Bill brought Zane in at about 8:00pm and didn’t get home until almost 1:00am.  I was really worried about Zane, who really looked uncomfortable.  I did some checking online and it appeared that he might have suffered from HGE (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis).  While this condition is very treatable if it’s caught early, it can be deadly if it’s not treated aggressively with supportive therapies.  Fortunately, Zane wasn’t as sick as he seemed and Bill brought him home to sleep off the medications and the effects of the illness.  He’s fine, now.

We’d already had an appointment for today, which Bill made before Zane got so acutely sick.  We went in today to drop off some samples from our dogs to find out if they have parasites… and if they do, what kind.  I have a feeling parasites might have been behind Zane’s attack, especially since both dogs have had a lot of gas lately… and it has a distinctively “wormy” odor to it.  I can’t describe it; and you probably wouldn’t want me to; but once you know that smell, you know it.  Arran was similarly sick a few months ago and deworming him fixed him right up.  That time, I had some dewormer from our Stuttgart area vets.

Our new vets are pretty high speed.  The male half of the husband and wife team was in the news for doing IVF on a dog in Dubai.  They have several vets on staff and even offer Saturday hours, which is pretty impressive.  I don’t enjoy visiting the vet, but I did need to visit so I’d know where to bring them when it falls to me to get them in for vet care.  I did most of the vet stuff when we lived near Herrenberg and I have a feeling that Bill likes it that way, even if I don’t.  Although Arran didn’t need to see the vet, we brought him along for the ride so he wouldn’t be stuck at home alone.  Actually, our vet appointment was pretty much nothing.  We went in, talked to the vet, and dropped off the sample.  That was it.  It took about an hour, though, because there were a lot of people waiting.

Our vets have a book “lending library” out front.  That scores points with me!

Once we were finished at the vet’s office, we dropped the dogs off and then visited our new friend, John, at Spirit of New Orleans, his fabulous Cajun restaurant.  I’ve written about this restaurant before and it bears a repeat write up.  If you’re in Germany and missing American cuisine, this is a good place to be.  John is from New Orleans and has made his home in Germany.  He’s been thrilling homesick Americans for years and, best of all, his restaurant is located just a few kilometers from our house.  Today was only the second time I’ve eaten in the restaurant, but I’ve had Bill go pick up food from there a few times.  He has everything from ribs to burgers, with some special delicacies like po boys, jambalaya, red beans and rice, chicken wings, and shrimp.

Today, I decided to have the steak special, which came with shrimp, macaroni and cheese, and a salad.  I finished half and will eat the rest later.  

 

Bill had spare ribs, which I’ve had a couple of times.  John’s barbecue sauce is homemade and delicious.  I love his “fries” too, which are really more like very rustic steak fries.  

 

As he was preparing our food, we could hear him in the kitchen cussing.  I heard him yell “Aw fuck!” just before he brought out my steak and almost delivered it to the wrong table.  I could tell he was a bit on edge.  Bill says he reminds him a little bit of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.  As long as you follow the “rules”, you’re in for a treat.  Not only is his food amazing, he also plays awesome music.  I was really enjoying Earth, Wind & Fire as I waited for my lunch!  He also offers regular events starring local musicians.  Someday, we’ll be in town when he has an event.  He’s doing a brunch for Mother’s Day next weekend, but we’ll be in Stuttgart… and/or on our way back from Stuttgart..

I had to get a shot Bill…

As well as our local Harley-Davidson dealership, which boasts a certain taboo symbol…

 

It’s always interesting to see the “stars and bars” in Europe.  The flag doesn’t seem to mean what it does in America.  I’ve seen it on cars, in Italian truck stops, and now at the neighborhood Harley dealer.  They probably think they’re catering to Americans with that…  An Italian friend explained to me that, for some reason, southern Italians relate to southern Americans and some have adopted the “Confederate Battle Flag” as their symbol.

A couple of shots from the hilltop looking down toward our neighborhood.  It’s not as beautiful as Jettingen was, but if you know where to look, you can appreciate lovely views here, too.

We left Spirit of New Orleans with my leftover lunch, plus an order of chicken wings, and New Orleans Crawfish Etouffee.  I think John’s restaurant is the only one we’ve been to in Germany where we regularly order lunch, as well as more food to go for later.  It really is a treat!  He went to New Orleans in April, so it’s great that he’s back in town.  He lit up when I told him we missed him.  Although he’s a bit eccentric and sometimes uses blue language in the kitchen, he’s a really great cook.  I’m willing to overlook a little nuttiness if the food is good.  It really is.

Well, in a few days, we’ll be back in Stuttgart to see our dentist and see Elton John perform.  With any luck, the dogs will not have any more veterinary dramas and we’ll be able to enjoy our old stomping grounds with a couple of new Stuttgart restaurant reviews.

 
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Germany, veterinary care

A duller week than usual…

Well, I don’t have much to write about today, since I’ve been alone all week and I’ve been writing about what I’ve been up to on my main blog.  I just wanted to write a quick blurb on this blog for those who keep up with it regularly and look for new posts on the weekends.  Also, I wanted to update everyone on Arran.

After a couple of days of waiting to see if the meds we got from the local vet would work, I started to realize that Arran was acting a bit like a dog suffering from a worm infestation.  He did seem a little better after the stomach meds, but he wasn’t getting back to normal.

Intestinal worms are not something I’ve had to deal with extensively in recent years, with the notable exception of a time in 2017, when I actually saw worms coming out of Arran’s ass before he had any symptoms.  As I’ve learned this week, you don’t have to see the worms to have an infestation.  In fact, it’s lucky that I saw the worms the last time.  Oftentimes, roundworms and hookworms stay in the body and just deposit their microscopic eggs to the outside world.

In the United States, we usually give our dogs heartworm preventative, which usually also contains medicine that keeps intestinal worms at bay.  Here in Germany, vets don’t routinely prescribe heartworm preventative, so our dogs have been going without that broad spectrum worm protection.  Heartworms do exist in Germany, but they are much less prevalent because there aren’t as many infectious mosquitos here due to the colder weather.  I imagine that will change as the planet heats up, though.

Since our dogs are normally protected from worms when they’re stateside, and the last time intestinal worms were a routine thing for me was back in the 1980s, I didn’t really think of parasites when Arran was blowing up the house with gas and diarrhea.  However, before we left Stuttgart, we went to our former vets in Herrenberg, who were just great to work with for four years (and for the two years we were in Stuttgart before).  As I was settling up our affairs with them, one of the vets recommended that we buy some flea and tick pills and single doses of dewormers for the road.  I took her advice.  I’m so glad I did that.

By the way… for the Americans who are reading this– you can get heartworm preventative here, especially if you are affiliated with the military.  When we were here from 07-09, we mostly used the Panzer vet for everything our dogs needed, which wasn’t much until one of our dogs got prostate cancer.  The vets on the installations are American, and they practice like American vets do.  That means the usual U.S. style vaccines and heartworm preventative protocol.  But if you use local vets, expect that business will be a bit different.  German vets typically don’t prescribe heartworm preventative as a matter of course.  European vets, in general, also aren’t as spay and neuter focused as American vets are, and they tend to do those operations later.  But that’s a topic for a different post.

In any case, Tuesday night, as Arran was looking more miserable, I determined that Wednesday morning, I’d slip him a pill.  I decided to wait until the morning in case something went wrong.  I wanted to be awake to deal with the aftermath and/or get Arran to the local vet, although we are now fortunate enough to live about twenty minutes away from Germany’s largest “Tierklinik”.  Our former vet in Herrenberg had even mentioned Tierklinik Hofheim to us back in 2016, when I was regularly freaking out about Zane’s mast cell tumor.  Arran looked sad enough that I thought I might even need to take him to that clinic, which is a 24 hour full scale emergency vet hospital.  However, if I could help it, I preferred to take him to the clinic just up the road from us.  It’s easier to do that during working hours.

Milprazon, a deworming drug used here in Europe, was what the Herrenberg vet had sent with us to Wiesbaden.  After consulting trusty Google, I determined that even if Arran’s problems were not due to worms, the dewormer wouldn’t harm him.  So Wednesday morning, I gave him the pill, said a prayer, cleaned up a cheesy smelling watery accident on the ugly rug we bought at Ramstein, and waited.  I gave Zane a pill too, just in case, although he has been fine all week.

The Milprazon made Arran sleepy, so he spent the day napping on his freshly laundered bedding in my office.  By mid afternoon, he was looking a bit perkier.  He went outside, enjoyed a somewhat normal dump, and came back in and had his dinner.  By Wednesday night, he and Zane were playing in the living room.  By Thursday, he was pretty much entirely back to normal.  He’s now his usually adorable, friendly, funny self.  In a playful mood yesterday, he even brought me a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom!  Hopefully, that one dose will be enough to kill all of the parasites for now.

I’m still a little concerned about the bump on his head.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Dr. Pimple Popper on iTunes…  We’ll get that sorted out soon.  Bill is supposed to be home tomorrow morning and he’s promised me dinner at a nice place.  I don’t know if it’ll happen tomorrow, since he’s probably going to be exhausted.  We are planning a trip to France next weekend, though, so there will soon be more love on this blog.  We’re also going to be car shopping soon.  It’s time to retire our 13 year old RAV 4 and get something fancier.  That may involve a trip to Sweden or Munich, depending on which brand Bill decides on.

I’m looking forward to better weather.  Up here in Wiesbaden, there’s less snow because there’s less altitude.  It just looks grey and ugly all the time at this time of year.  I mean, it looks like that in Stuttgart, too, but it snows more often.  At our old house, I had pretty views and could watch the weather.  I can watch it here, too, but our house is in a less country setting.

Anyway, that about does it for today’s blog.  I wish I had an idea for something more interesting to write about today.  Maybe something will come to me later.  For now, I’m signing off until next time, and reminding all of my Germany based readers with dogs to make sure they’re worm free.  Deworming is essential!  😉

A look of pure relief on Arran’s face as he stops hosting nematodes.

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Germany, veterinary care

Arran ruins our Saturday plans…

As some readers know, I have two dogs that kind of substitute for the offspring I never had.  I wouldn’t say my dogs are my life, per se, but they are very important to me.  And, just like all living things, sometimes they get sick.

A few years ago, my dog Arran had a mast cell tumor on his head.  He had it removed and, fortunately, it was pretty benign.  He healed quickly and never seemed any worse for wear.

I was hoping Arran would be one of those dogs who never gets another MCT, but I think he might have one now.  He has a hard, slightly ulcerated bump, right next to the top of his right ear.  It’s maybe an inch or so from where his first tumor was.  I suspect it’s a MCT because it seems to get inflamed easily.  Arran has also been spontaneously vomiting recently, for no apparent reason, and he’s had some pretty rancid gas.  Mast cell tumors give off histamine, which can cause bleeding, stomach upset, and gas.

Yesterday, as I was writing a new book review on my main blog, Bill came into my office to tell me that Arran had a huge accident in the night.  Sometime before we woke up, he went into the living room and had a bout of diarrhea on one of my new rugs.  We cleaned up the mess; then at ten o’clock, Bill called what I think will be our new vet.  Unlike our previous vets in Herrenberg, this practice has regular Saturday hours from ten o’clock until noon.  We got an appointment at 11:45am.

Bill met the wife side of the husband and wife team, who checked out Arran and spoke relatively good English.  She gave Arran a shot and some medications for pain and to settle his stomach.  He’s doing better today, but unfortunately, Bill had to leave for another business trip.  This time, he’s going to the States.  I’ll be here alone all week, which sucks.

I think after Bill’s trip, I will arrange to have the vet aspirate Arran’s bump and, perhaps, remove it.  There’s always a risk with MCTs because if you don’t get them all with really good margins, they can come back with a vengeance.

My other dog, Zane, has also had a mast cell tumor.  Zane is doing fine now, but he’s had his issues with stomach upset and the like.  He’s getting lumpier by the day, too, thanks to many old man tumors.  I hope none of them are dangerous, but I don’t want to put either dog through any extreme surgeries because they’re both getting old.  I suspect a lot of the tumors Zane has are fatty lumps called lipomas.

I was hoping to have something new and exciting to write about today, but unfortunately, it’s just another cloudy weekend on my own.  Maybe I’ll think of one of my famous top ten lists in the meantime, as I feed Arran a bland diet.  Arran was ravenous this morning, which is a good sign.

On another note, as happy as I am that my husband has work he enjoys in a place we both enjoy, I really hate it when he leaves town.  I especially hate it now, because I don’t really know anyone in Wiesbaden yet and don’t yet know my way around here.  I also hate driving, although I will do it if I have to.  I miss Bill when he’s gone.  I suspect I’ll be sleeping and reading a lot this week, hoping for prettier weather.  Last night, I told Bill it felt like he’d never left the Army.  He just doesn’t get to look like a hottie in his uniform anymore.

Oh well…  for President’s Day weekend, we have planned another trip to France, this time to an area we have not yet explored.  We’ve found a very inexpensive and pet friendly house to rent.  It might soon be time for another list of pet friendly lodging!

It’s a good thing they’re all so cute.
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