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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German products, Germany, shopping

Farm Fresh Too…

A couple of months ago, when we tried and failed to adopt a dog, I joined a bunch of local Facebook groups. My purpose for joining was to spread the word about the dog we tried to adopt who escaped from his pet transport taxi driver and later got hit and killed by a car on the Autobahn. Well… now we’re waiting on another dog to join our family in a few months, but I’m still a member of the groups I joined when we were frantically trying to recover the one who got away.

As a fortunate consequence of joining the local Facebook groups, I’m starting to learn about stuff in the area that I never knew about. One place that came on my radar is the Birkenhof Hofheim, which is a farm that offers fresh produce as well as a 24/7 refrigerator where one can purchase fresh food. Germany is wonderful about making fresh food available at relatively affordable prices. Although there don’t seem to be quite as many farms up here near Frankfurt as there were near Stuttgart, they do exist if you look.

Our last home, in Jettingen in Baden-Württemberg, was near several farms. I wrote about our first experience shopping at the farms a few years ago. Up here in Breckenheim, we’re not as close to so many farms, since it’s a more industrialized area. Still, at this time of year– smack dab in the middle of “Spargel (asparagus) season”, there are plenty of stands selling strawberries, blueberries, and all sorts of other delicious produce.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Birkenhof Hofheim isn’t fully open until May 29th. Under normal circumstances, the farm offers fresh delights that can be served at a table. They also have fun activities for kids. When the farm opens up again, special rules will have to be followed– masks worn when using the toilet and everyone has to provide contact information in case someone gets sick and you have to be notified. After three or four weeks, they discard the information.

I was happy enough to get out for a little while today and get some photos… as well as some farm fresh treats for our table at home. They had everything from corn cobs and charcoal for your grill to milk, flour, and eggs. There was paper and a pen for tallying up the cost of your goods, all of which were clearly priced. They had bags for packing your stuff, and a money box for you to put your cash. The whole thing is secured by cameras, so don’t think of taking anything without paying. We bought about 21 euros worth of stuff.

This trip was also handy because it turns out the farm is very close to the Tierklinik Hofheim, which our former vet in Herrenberg (near Stuttgart) says is one of the best veterinary hospitals in Germany. When Zane was having his first issues with mast cell cancer, the vet down there was telling me about this clinic and how she could refer us there if need be. I remember looking it up and thinking it was so far away. Little did I know, we’d eventually be living about twenty minutes away. So now I kind of know where it is, in case I have to take Arran or our next dog there sometime.

It was nice to get out of the house… only the third time since March! I’m getting braver. We’ll definitely be back to the Birkenhof Hofheim for more fresh treats soon! I love visiting the farms and am glad to find one up here near Frankfurt, the only German city with lots of skyscrapers.

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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

Community bonding…

Our new town, Breckenheim, has a charming habit of having a wine stand every other week.  We missed the first one two weeks ago, but caught today’s, which started at 6:00pm.  For some reason, the weather is really chilly today… like, it’s colder than a witch’s tit.  I actually wore the new wool sweater I bought from Aran Sweater Market last month, when I was enduring a fit of loneliness and self-pity.  I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to wear it before the winter of 2019…  I was wrong.  It’s freakin’ cold outside tonight.  We only lasted for an hour and a half and had just two glasses of wine.

Here are some photos from our local gathering.  I get the sense that we’ll know more of these people by summer’s end.

Our local church.  Eventually, I will go inside and take photos like a tourist.  I love that it’s so charming.

 

I took this before we left.  I thought the sweater would be enough, but I had to wear my other wool cardigan because it was so cold.  It’s like one of God’s little jokes.  I need a little sunshine in my life.

We scored a table.  I noticed others coveting our table.  It took over an hour before anyone asked us if they could sit down.  Just before they asked, I told Bill that in BW, someone would have asked awhile ago.

Good turnout… and this was actually before the rush hit.

My husband… in another life, he was a Scottish (or Irish) fisherman.

A shot of our “village”.  It’s a culture shock, because our other German neighborhoods were more rural.  We live a block up from here.

A pano shot, for the extra curious.

Right when things got started.  Our tiny town square.

We never did find it, but I bet by September, we’ll know where to go.

Don’t you think it’s time he changed his profile pic?  I do.

The most elaborate Easter tree I’ve seen.

Bill’s reaction to my filthy sense of humor.  I think we were on our second glass of wine.

A map of our town.  We are not near Stuttgart anymore.

Crown him with many crowns.

I noticed a few people noticing us.  The guy selling wine was brave enough to ask Bill where we’re from.  He mentioned the other American who lives in Breckenheim, on the other side of the village.  I think there might be fewer Americans in this town than in Jettingen, where we lived most recently when we were near Stuttgart.  But this town also has an Air BnB that is apparently popular with Americans.  Both times, when we lived near Stuttgart, we were in somewhat rural areas.  Where we are now is probably somewhat rural for Wiesbaden, but not for Stuttgart.  I am from Virginia, and I often liken it as a move to Northern Virginia as opposed to a move to Richmond.

Still… in some ways, I am liking Wiesbaden a lot.  In others, it’s a little hard to get used to.  One thing I can be grateful for, though, is that this area has some great veterinary talent.  Our former vets in Herrenberg alerted me to the fantastic Tierfklinik Hofheim, which is supposedly among the best in Germany.  We live only about twenty minutes from there now, which was not the case when the Herrenberg vet mentioned this facility to me.  And my German friend, Susanne, who lives near Stuttgart, alerted me to the fact that the vet we’re probably going to use permanently (and have already used once) does IVF for dogs.  He once even went to Dubai to inseminate a dog there with sperm from Australia.

It’s definitely a different world up here.  I look forward to getting to know it better.  Today, Frankfurt’s spring fair begins.  We’ll have to check it out and try some Frankfurt green sauce.

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