Sunday, June 3, 2012

Toivo, my expensive dog

I love Toivo, but I swear he's going to put me in the poor house.  I guess I should have been setting aside money for the last 10 years we've been together when his vet bills were minimal.  I've been very lucky with Toivo and Zoe - apparently Finnish Spitzes are a good, healthy breed.  Up until the last 18 months, all I ever needed to do for Toivo was take him to the vet every six months for a check up.  Oh, how I yearn for those inexpensive days.

Back in March, you may remember, Toivo escaped from the backyard.  (The tale involves a skunk and a stint in the county detainment center.  It's worth a read if you missed it.)  At the end of April, Toivo got loose again.  A friend accidentally left the gate open and Toivo, apparently having an serious case of twilight-of-life wanderlust, took off again.  I didn't write about it.  At some point it started to feel like crying wolf - Toivo's gone!  But he's back!  But he's gone again!  And now he's back!  If people want to hear about it, I'd be glad to write about it, but for the purposes of this blog entry, just know that at the end of April Toivo took off for Mexico.  When we brought him home he had NOT been sprayed by a skunk again (thank you Universe, for small favors) but he was pretty dirty and covered with stickers from his trek.

About a week and a half ago, Zac alerted me to a lump on Toivo's right side kind of near his rib cage.  It was about the diameter of a quarter and it was soft.  It almost looked like a blood blister. It didn't bother Toivo when we poked and prodded it and he wasn't scratching at it or anything.  I just shrugged it off as the lumps that dogs sometimes get when they get old.  I know our family cocker spaniel, Dusty, had all sorts of lumpy fatty deposits by the time he left us.  

I had almost forgotten about the lump on Toivo until last Friday when I noticed that Toivo was licking the spot.  I got down to take a look at it and it appeared different than the previous week.  Now it had a greyish center to it, a little smaller than the size of a pencil eraser, and it was oozing something gross.  Terrific.  Just terrific.  I figured it was some sort of infection so I called the vet and asked if they had any appointments that afternoon, since I had to go head over there anyway to pick up a refill of Toivo's epilepsy medication.  They said they could squeeze us in so Toivo and I headed over to the vet's office to see what they could tell us. 

Foxtail. What a pain.
The vet looked at Toivo's wound and said it looked like something had gotten under his skin and was irritating it.  Her guess?  Foxtail.  I had never heard of it so she sketched out a quick drawing on a piece of paper for me.  She explained that they are barbed pieces of grass that cause all sorts of problems for dogs.  They can get stuck in their paws, under their claws, in their eyes, ears, just about any orifice.  They can even get under their skin if not taken care of.  Once they're under the skin, their barbs drive them further and further into the dog.  The only way to get rid of them is to cut the dog open and fish the grass out.  (There were other details and stories involved with the diagnosis, but they made me a little squeamish so I'm glossing over that stuff.)

The vet wrote me up a quote for what exploratory surgery would cost for Toivo.  I sat there in the exam room, steeling myself for the sticker shock that I knew was coming.  What was I supposed to do?  I wasn't going to let it keep oozing and get more infected.  I'm not going to put down an otherwise happy and healthy dog because he got a sticker under his skin.  It's the cost of pet-ownership.  When the vet came back with the quote I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as high as I had dreaded it might be.  Trust me, it wasn't cheap, but it wasn't going to cause me to eat ramen noodles for a month either.  

The next morning, Saturday, I brought an un-fed Toivo in to the vet so he could have his surgery.  Toivo always goes limp when it's his turn to go into the exam room at the vet.  Apparently he has watched too much tv and knows that that's what protesters do to make arresting them more difficult.  I was a little anxious dropping him off.  After all, there are no guarantees when you deal with anesthesia.  He could have a bad reaction, he could not survive.  I just hoped for the best, knowing that the vets and techs were good people that would take care of him.  

Six hours later I drove back to the Vet (with Zac in tow) to go get Toivo.  He came through the procedure just fine.  He is always good at the vet.  He hates being there, but he's always really obedient.  When he's being poked and prodded, he never gets aggressive.  He's always calm and just accepts what's happening.  The vet even noted on her post-surgery care instructions that "Toivo was a very good boy."  I got pretty teary when I read that one.  Because he is a good boy.  When we went into the back to get him, he was still really doped up.  I laughed and cuddled him.  My poor boy couldn't even walk to the car so Zac carried him out.  We got him home and he zonked out on the floor.

How doped up is he?  He has a pile of carrot peels in front of him and he wasn't even remotely interested in them.  (Carrots are his favorites.)  Note the pretty teal bandanna and bandage he got from the vet.  (The leg bandage is from the IV.) You can kind of see the patch that they had to shave.

His shaved, naked spot.  You can kind of see the small, red area where it had been oozing.  It's not a great photo.

Our friend's dog checks on Toivo.  Still not interested in those carrots.

He just needs to sleep it off. 

I'm glad he was okay.  And honestly, that teal is his color.  I might leave that bandanna on for awhile.  
Toivo was back to his old self this morning, acting normal.  I hope that we can go at least a few months before I have to dish out another large chunk of change at the vet.  Either that, or Toivo needs to get a part-time job to cover some of this.  Maybe he could be a tour guide to Mexico.

1 comment:

Teebore said...

Either that, or Toivo needs to get a part-time job to cover some of this. Maybe he could be a tour guide to Mexico.


Our new dog should probably start kicking in some cash soon, too. I'll have to look into a part time job for her. :)