The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.


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.


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…

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.


Bonding with our German vet over cannabis…

Since Bill and I returned to Germany, I have been spending a lot of time in the veterinarian’s office.  The vet we currently use is the same one we used last time we lived here.  That vet diagnosed our dog, Flea, with prostate cancer back in 2009.  I never met her last time we lived here.  Bill took Flea to his vet appointments because we only had one car.  We also used the vet on Panzer Kaserne for routine stuff, but that proved to be a real pain in the butt since appointments were hard to come by.

These two dogs are Flea and MacGregor, the dogs we had during our first Germany tour.  Flea is the one standing behind MacGregor.

Flea survived Germany and we took him with us to our next duty station in Georgia.  He lasted another two months in the States before we sent him to the Rainbow Bridge.  About a month after we lost Flea, Bill and I adopted our dog, Zane, from Atlanta Beagle Rescue.  Zane is pretty much a bigger, sweeter version of Flea.

Zane, the tri-colored beagle… and adopted “brother” Arran.

When we got back to Germany and rented a house near Herrenberg again, we decided to use the same vets we did last time.  Because we now have two cars, the duty of taking the dogs to the vet often falls to me.  Zane gets allergy shots every month.  I could learn to give him the shots myself, but I’m a bit squeamish.  So every month, I take Zane (and often Arran) with me to the vet.  She gives Zane his shot and any other treatment he needs.  We’ve been in this routine for about two years now.

Many Americans who live in Germany comment that it can take awhile to get to know Germans well.  Germans seem to be fairly private people, especially in a professional setting.  That has definitely been the case for our German vet.  Our visits have been mostly all business.  In fact, until a couple of months ago, I was calling her by her colleague’s name.  I made this mistake because Bill got their names mixed up last time we lived here and passed his mistake to me.  Our vet didn’t introduce herself when I came in the first time, so I was assuming her name was her colleague’s name.  For two years!  It wasn’t until I mixed the names up in the vet’s presence that she corrected me.

Most of our visits have not been particularly friendly.  There’s been a minimum of small talk.  The vet has been very matter-of-fact about most things.  I actually found her kind of hard to talk to, although she seemed very competent.

Both of my dogs have had cancerous mast cell tumors removed by our German vet.  Arran had one taken off in July 2015.  It was a very low grade bump that, so far, has caused no more issues.  Zane had one taken off in October of 2016.  Zane’s tumor was a little bit higher grade and it was larger.

In the weeks since his surgery, Zane has also not really been acting like himself.  For several weeks after his surgery, he seemed lethargic and less social.  I suspected that he was in pain.  Thanks to the mast cell tumor’s presence, I started becoming obsessive about looking for new lumps.  I would mention them to the vet, who was astonished that I found them.  They weren’t exactly big and noticeable.  One was buried deep beneath some muscle.

After Zane was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, Bill stopped by to talk to the vet and she said, “Your wife is really good at finding lumps on Zane.  She seems really knowledgable about diseases.  Is she a nurse or something?”

Bill explained my education and work background to the vet.  He later told me that when he explained my public health experience, it was like a lightbulb went off over the vet’s head.  Suddenly, she started becoming a lot friendlier toward me.  I went in to see her in late November to talk to her about changing Zane’s diet, putting him on Benadryl and Tagamet for the mast cell disease, and avoiding unnecessary vaccines.  She also asked me about my background and I told her.  I also used to work for a vet and spent most of my childhood working in a barn.  With that knowledge, it seemed like the vet started seeing me in a different light.  It was as if I wasn’t just some American hausfrau anymore.

Last month, I asked the vet about having Zane tested for tick-borne illnesses.  I knew that Zane would come up positive for ehrlichiosis, because he had it when we lived in North Carolina.  Ehrlichiosis can cause some of the symptoms Zane has been exhibiting.  Also, Zane was bitten by a number of ticks last summer, despite my efforts to keep them at bay.  He’s been chewing and licking his paws a lot.  I thought it was due to the allergies, but now I think he’s been doing it because he’s been in pain.  It was not enough to make him limp noticeably, but it was enough to make him not want to play or hang out with Bill and me.  I remembered Zane’s previous bout with ehrlichiosis, told the vet about it, and she agreed that he should be screened.

I also told the vet that Zane was having issues with his paws.  He would lick and chew the pads until they were raw.  Then he would have pain when trying to walk on the frosty grass because the raw paws would be in contact with the grass.  The vet had sent me home with medicated shampoo that was supposed to help heal Zane’s paws.  Having used this remedy a few times on both of my dogs, I didn’t have much faith that it would be that helpful.

Coincidentally, the day after our visit, I made a big change in Zane’s regimen.  I started giving him 5% CBD hemp oil.  Hemp oil is rapidly becoming well-known for improving the quality of life for dogs with a variety of ailments.

Yesterday, I took Zane in for a blood test.  We had a tick panel done in December and Zane came up positive for ehrlichiosis.  The vet wanted to do a more sensitive test to determine if the infection was active.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving Zane the hemp oil and I’ve watched him become more energetic and social.  He seems to have less pain.  He’s stopped licking and chewing his paws as much.  Now he confines the licking to one paw, rather than all four, and he doesn’t chew the pad until the skin becomes raw.  It’s been nothing short of astonishing.

Prior to yesterday, I had not seen the vet since I made this change.  While she was drawing Zane’s blood, we started chatting.  She was friendlier than ever.  I told her about the CBD oil I’ve been using and how amazed I was by it.  She started telling me about other essential oils that we could use for Zane’s allergies.  So far, I’ve noticed that the oil seems to make Zane feel better overall and perhaps helps him with pain and inflammation.  While he’s still not quite 100%, he’s probably now at 85% or even 90% as opposed to 65% or 70%.

She asked if I was using the CBD oil for myself and I said I’d tried it.  I mostly give it to Zane, though, because it tastes like hay.  She laughed and I ended up telling her about how I tried marijuana for the first time in The Netherlands.  She laughed and asked if we visited a coffee shop.  I told her about how it was my 43rd birthday and we got a space cake from a coffee shop near our hotel in Haarlem.  Then she told me about how she and the other vet went to Amsterdam with their husbands and the husbands wanted to visit a coffee shop.  It may seem silly to mention this, but remember, I’ve been visiting this lady for the past two years, often more than once a month.  And this was very close to a friendly conversation!  In fact, it was probably the longest chat we’ve ever had.

Having lived in Germany for a total of about four and a half years, I have come to realize that Germans, by and large, can take awhile to warm up.  But once they do, you start to see a very appealing side of them.  As we continued chatting, we started talking about politics and the vet amazed me by showing that she knows as much or more about American politics than I do.  I would be hard pressed to know much about German politics, although I did read yesterday that Germany has just loosened up the regulations on the use of medical cannabis.  So we chatted a bit about that… and I would not be surprised if she was surprised that I knew about the new medical cannabis legislation in Germany (which I think is a great thing).

Another thing I’ve learned during the two times I’ve lived here is that dogs can be excellent ambassadors.  I have met more Germans because of my dogs than I have in any other circumstance.  That was true when we were living here last time, too.  Our dog, Flea, actually got our first German neighbors talking to us after we’d lived next to them for over six months.  And when Bill and I ran into them last spring, they asked about our dogs (we have different ones this time).

I don’t know how long we’ll have with either Zane or Arran.  But I can see that the vet really likes my dogs and is particularly fond of Zane.  I could be wrong, but I think her opinion of me has changed a bit, too.  Our frequent visits are now a lot less awkward than they were even just a few weeks ago.  Who knew we’d bond over pot?


Finally went out last night…

But it was to have dinner with Bill’s co-workers.  We drove to Sindelfingen and enjoyed a very pleasant evening with Bill’s bosses.

It was nice to get out of the house.  I have been pretty much cooped up at home since we got back from Ireland.  Most of the reason I haven’t gone out is because I’ve been really upset about my dog, Zane.  Our local vet diagnosed him with a mast cell tumor.  The tumor was removed, but I’ve found other suspicious bumps on Zane.  Also, upon doing research, I determined that some of the other symptoms he’s had lately can be explained by mast cell disease.

This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with traveling or visiting restaurants.  Maybe I’m just writing about this because it seems like there’s such a difference between German veterinary care and American veterinary care.  Our vets here seem to have a different attitude about providing care.  In the States, it seemed like we were always getting reminders to get vaccines and wellness checks.  Here, it seems like the emphasis is less on preventive care.

Of course, there is a school of thought that Americans vaccinate their pets too much.  I’m inclined to agree with that assessment, actually.  I’m not anti-vaccine, but I do think it can get to be excessive.  Also, American veterinary care seems to be a lot more about business than German care does.

I’m not sure what we’re going to do about Zane… or even if those other lumps I found are mast cell tumors.  I have a feeling they probably are, but I don’t know for sure.  I’ve found that I have to ask for things here more than I did in the States.  Like, today, when I take Zane to the vet to have his ears checked, I will probably have to specifically ask for an aspirate, whereas an American vet would probably suggest it before I ask.  In fact, both of my dogs have had tumors removed here that I identified.

Anyway… my last three dogs died of devastating diseases.  One had a mycobacterial infection.  The other two had severe cancers– prostate and spinal.  Mast cell disease is not necessarily a death sentence.  It can kill, but it doesn’t always kill.  I’ve been giving Zane Tagamet and Benadryl and it does seem to be helping him feel better.  I’m not sure if the vet will approve, but at this point, I figure it’s better than simply watching and waiting.  I’ve noticed Zane isn’t as itchy, gassy, or sluggish as he was before I started giving him the medicines.

Tomorrow, I will get out again.  We’ll be going to a company Christmas party, where I’ll get to socialize some more.  Maybe we’ll even manage to make it to a new restaurant, too.  I need to stop brooding about Zane and get on with enjoying Germany.

Zane and his buddy, Arran… enjoying the sun yesterday.