Thursday, May 14, 2020

Ticks, fleas & mosquitos, oh my!

I think it’s safe to say that this spring has been nothing close to normal. The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting isolation has turned life as we know it upside down! Even though our lives have been put on hold during this time, Mother Nature has not, and spring is here.  This means that ticks, fleas, and mosquitos are on their way- and likely won’t respect social distancing guidelines!   

Ticks, fleas, and mosquitos are annoying pests, and they can all cause medical issues for our pets (and us!).  Certain ticks in MN carry diseases such as Lyme, Anaplasma, and Babesiosis. Fleas are often the cause of tapeworm infection in dogs and cats, and mosquitos can give pets deadly heartworm disease. It is important to remember that if you find a tick on your pet, you are at risk as well! Everyone, animal and person, should be checked for ticks before bed each night.  If a tick is removed within 24 hours from attaching, the chance of disease spread is close to zero.  Contact us to purchase Seresto collars or other flea/tick medication to be applied every month from now until fall.

On a side note, we often see spots on our dogs that look like the classic bullseye rash of Lyme disease in humans. Dogs don’t typically develop this type of rash with Lyme disease. These spots on dogs are usually caused not by a tick but by a gnat or black fly and should go away without treatment in 3-5 days.

If you do find an attached tick on your pet, the best way to remove it is to grasp it as close to the skin with a tweezers and pull in the direction of the tick’s body.  Do not put anything on or over the tick such as alcohol or Vaseline to see if it will let go.  These methods don’t work and can introduce infection or irritate the skin.  If you pull the tick off and part of the mouth pieces or “head” is left in the skin, don’t worry!  The body will push it out on its own in time.  As long as you have removed the majority of the tick, you have stopped it from passing disease to your pet.

Below are links to more information about ticks and other pests that we see this time of year.  Please contact us with any concerns or to get flea/tick preventatives.  Stay safe!  We can’t wait to see you all at the next clinic!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Happy endings are a thing to be celebrated, even when they are a long time coming. Casey shared with Leech Lake Legacy the story of how Whitney found her way into his life and how they found a happily ever after together. Whitney was adopted quickly as a puppy, yet found herself homeless again as a young adult until meeting Casey. Their story shows us that the long way around is sometimes meant to be and can be a good thing in the end. Here is their story in Casey's own words...

October 2018

Today is the three year anniversary of the day when Whitney wandered into our lives, so it seems like a good time to share her story. I want to include EVERY POSSIBLE DETAIL, but that doesn’t make for great reading, so I will try to restrain myself and keep it entertaining and full of dog pictures.

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - About 10am I woke up and headed downstairs to make breakfast for my Girlfriend and me. I don't remember why, but something made me look out the window (in hindsight, I probably heard barking), and I saw a large dog leaping at the white picket fence in the front of the yard - from inside the yard. I thought, "Huh, a German shepherd. I wonder how that got in?" I assumed one of the fence gates had gotten left open somehow, and I went and put shoes on to check it out.

I opened the door, and looked out. Rear gate – latched. Front gate - latched. Dog - gone. I started checking the yard to see where the mystery dog could have gone.  I found it on the other side of the house, in the narrow run between the house and the 8' privacy fence of the neighbors.  I had it cornered, and it was frantically trying to come up with an escape route - clearly it had not had good experiences with people lately.  Out of options, it tried to rush by me, and I managed to grab it by the dirty, worn collar that it had on.

It was still squirming to get away, but I managed to walk it up to the side steps, and take inventory.  It was filthy.  It was gaunt. It was starting to lose hair on its haunches.
It was Whitney:
                                                                   Whitney the Stray.

This was clearly an animal that had been on the street a while. I didn't want to let her go, and have her possibly leap over the fence to freedom, I didn't have anything to tie her up with, and I didn't have the keys to the garage.  I couldn't bring her into the house because I had no idea what would happen with the two cats waiting inside, and goodness knows what she might be bringing in with her.

So I called my GF, who was asleep in bed in the house. In real distance, only about 20 feet away from me. I told her that I found something in the yard, and needed her help. She uncertainly agreed to come downstairs and help.

The collar the dog was wearing had a single tag, and I remembered from growing up and finding stray animals that it usually was a tag for a vet, and if I called them and gave them the number on it, they could find it in their records, and contact the owner. This one was for the Animal Humane Society Community Outreach program.  Being Saturday morning, the AHS wasn't open, so I left a message with my info and the dog's info. Now what?

A little while later, my GF blearily appeared at the door.  I explained the situation - dog found, needs help, think we have any food for it?  She went and started pulling leftovers out of the fridge.  A piece of pizza?  The dog scarfed it down.  Fried egg and ham on an English muffin, with cheese? (a specialty I was working on)  The dog inhaled it.  Uh.... orange pieces?  The dog ate those too.

Starvation staved off for now, we debated what to do.  Once it knew food was an option, the dog calmed down significantly. I took the photo above, and posted it to my Facebook wall, as one does.  Unfortunately, we had an event happening that day which the GF had helped plan, so she couldn't punk out. I considered bringing an unknown dog to the event, but decided against it - in hindsight, it probably wouldn't have been that bad (although we didn't have a leash or anything).

Since we couldn't let her in the house with the cats, we ended up locking her in the garage.  It was October, so I wasn't too worried about it getting hot, and it was a secure place. I left her some water, and moved a big couch cushion and some blankets out there so she had a place to lay.
                                                               Stuck in the Garage

We ducked out of the event as soon as we could, and hurried back to the dog.  She was still uncertain about people, but seemed happy to see us. The next thing was to get her chip checked. We called the vet, told them the story so far, and headed their way. Neither of us owned any dog things, and I'm pretty sure we used a cat leash.

The dog was surprisingly well-behaved.  She was excitable, but generally stayed with us on the leash, and got in the car willingly enough.  We put some blankets down, and loaded her into the back seat.

First things first, they checked for a chip, and she was indeed chipped.  They contacted the folks she was registered to, and they declined to come claim her.  The vet tech looked heartbroken when she told us.  The owners had apparently given her to a family member, who had given her to someone else, who had moved out of state, and definitely wasn't coming to get her. 

We also learned her name was Whitney.

We felt bad for this sweet dog, abandoned and friendless, and decided we would help her get back on her feet, and then see about getting her adopted.  So, on with the rest of the vet visit. We gave the vet the go ahead to do whatever was needed to help get this dog back up to 100%.

The vet checked her out and found she was generally healthy, but significantly underweight.  She was 61 pounds that day, and we were told that while you should be able to feel the ribs through the skin, you should not be able to see them while she's just standing there.

Without knowing her medical history, the vet helped us cover the bases.  It's been a few years now, so I'm not sure how much I remember accurately, but I know we put her on broad-spectrum antibiotics, and I think we did heartworm pills and flea/tick pills just in case.  We didn't want her to be banished to the garage forever, and didn't want to expose our two old lady cats to any new problems.

We asked if they could clean her up - perhaps trim her toenails, and give her a bath?  She was absolutely filthy, and again, with the cats, we couldn't bring her inside the house for a bath.

The vet techs agreed, and took her in back to do some scrubbing.  When a tech brought her back out, she told us that if we did end up putting her up for adoption, there would be a fight between her and one of the other techs over who would get to adopt her.  She was already winning hearts and making friends!  They told us that when they try to wash dogs, many will fight or try to escape, but Whitney just sat with a resigned look, as if to say, "Okay, this is what's happening now".  She was a good dog.

She also was an expensive dog.  It was fairly late when we finally got to the vet, and they were on "Emergency Room" billing.  The vet had tossed in what freebies and perks she could, but between the ER fees, the various meds, chip transfer fees (because if she ran off again, we wanted her to come back to us), license fees, and the grooming, our free dog already cost several hundred dollars.  I don't remember the exact figure, but I do remember having a moment of sticker shock, and then thinking "well, that's what credit cards are for".  Thankfully, the GF had a little room left on her card.

We justified it because she was a good dog, and clearly needed help, and we were doing the right thing.

With our pockets a bit lighter, and our hearts a bit fuller, we headed home with our new friend.  The treatments would take a few days to have any effect, so she was still relegated to the garage.
                              I eventually learned that I was never going to make fetch happen.

After this, things start to speed up.  We'd been instructed to feed her puppy food (which has more calories) three times a day, in order to get her weight up.  I went to our local Cub Foods and bought some basic dog supplies the next morning.  After a few days, we introduced the dog to the cats.  She was fascinated!  The cats did not reciprocate the feeling.  Eventually we invited her into the house.  We started keeping her in a crate when we were at work or sleeping, and gradually gave her more freedom.  She HATED the crate when we went to bed, but with time and patience we all learned to deal with it.  There were a lot of late, sad, whimpery nights for a while.
                                                                Meeting Lucy the Cat

We stuck with the name "Whitney", because she responded to it, and it seemed to suit her. She knew basic commands like sit and come.  We worked on recall a bit, and before too long, she and I started hitting the dog parks.

I still remember all the uncertainty from the first time we went.  I had never been to a dog park.  I had no idea if Whitney had ever been to a dog park.  What would she do when I first let her off the leash? Would she just run and run, anxious to return to being a free dog?  Would I have to chase, corral, and catch her again to get her home?

As it turned out, she was pretty well behaved.  She was so afraid of losing me that she usually wouldn’t get out of sight.  When she did, she'd come back after a little while to make sure I was still there. She was fairly good around the other dogs, but was always looking for someone to chase with. She's obsessed with squirrels, and I'm fairly certain it was one of them that led her into the yard in the first place - although I'm still not sure how.
                                   I call this picture “do you see what I have to put up with?”

When we returned to the vet for a 1 week checkup, she was up to 72 pounds - that's 11 pounds gained in a week!  We were encouraged to dial back the amount we were feeding her, but continue what we were doing elsewise. She eventually got to be out of the kennel at night, and shortly afterward, got invited onto the bed.  She and I became good buddies.
                                                       First in a long line of dog selfies.

Right around the two week mark, it became fairly clear that we wouldn't actually get rid of her again.  She had wandered into the right yard, and accidentally found a home.

Three years later, she's settled in nicely.  Her weight has plateaued around 100 pounds, and I joke that she's about 30% more dog than she was when she showed up. She's gotten fiercely protective of her things and her people, now that she has things and people.  We're justifiably spoiling the heck out of her.
                                                        Whitney, Queen of the toy pile.

The GF and I eventually broke up, but we both love the dog, so we're doing our best to share her.  Now she has TWO homes, that lucky dog!

I try to get her to the dog park at least once a week, and walks around the neighborhood every day. The neighbor kids all love her, and they crowd at my house and clamor for her when they see me come home from work.  She's larger than most of them are, but she's very gentle, and they trust her. I tell people she has her own fan club.

So that's the story of how Whitney found a home, and I became a dog person.  I can't imagine ever having a home without a dog again.
                                            They steal your heart, and then steal your bed!

Happy Anniversary, sweet girl!  For people with rescues, they often call it "gotcha" day, but we didn't really "get" her, we found her... So I've decided it's Whitney's "FoundHer Day".