River’s Morning at the Vet’s Office

River in his youth.

River has had a rough summer.  How can I say this to all you non-dog people?  My red Border Collie has had a bit of a stomach bug.  Do you get the drift of what I’m saying?  The word, “bug” doesn’t really describe what has been living in my dog’s innards.

My nose, which is finely trained to smell all sorts of canine effluvia, woke me up in the wee hours of the night letting me know I was too late to “help” River.  Nature had called and he had a choice, run to me and ask me to let him out or run to the back door and hope it opened by itself.  Unfortunately dog’s don’t have opposable thumbs or River could have let himself and his roommates outside for a moonlit potty break, thus the surprise waiting for me inside the house by the back door.  I don’t know why River’s roommates couldn’t let me know he was having stomach issues.  They all seemed to be feigning sleep.

“Hey, it wasn’t me!”  You could see the words written on the youngest dog’s face.

“Somebody’s in deep doo-doo and it ain’t me.”  Levi slunk away.

Poor River.  We muddled through the summer with one bout after another of Montezuma’s revenge.  Finally I took him to the vet who ran a complete blood test.  Dr. Perrett checked River’s heart and lungs, palpitated his stomach, looked at River’s gums and eyes.  Nothing looked out of sorts.  Dr. Perrett said River’s blood work came back with all levels right in the middle.  River appeared to be in great shape for a twelve-year-old dog.  Still, in my mind, I was worried about the vet’s parting comment, “Cancer won’t necessarily show up in the blood tests.”  River’s weight was a normal fifty-four pounds.  He has a thick glossy coat thanks to his Taste of the Wild kibble. Was he eating something in the back yard that was upsetting his stomach?

If you have a dog you know they will almost always get sick on a holiday.  Maybe this happens to horse people too.  If the vet decides to take a day off, either a Sunday or a holiday, you can count on your pet getting injured or sick.  Sure enough, on Labor Day I woke at 3:45 a.m. to the nose curdling smell of doggy oops.  I tried to roll over and hope one of the dogs simply had gas.  But the smell wasn’t going away any time soon; that was for sure.  Levi walked to the laundry room with me, his ears pinned back against his head, waiting for my reaction.  The puppy hung way back.  River ran quickly to the open door and tiptoed around his mishap.  While everyone was outside enjoying the fresh night air I cleaned up the mess on the tile floor.  Although I mopped, used paper towels and sprayed Febreze the doo-doo smell would linger for days.

Within twenty-four hours River got worse, refusing to eat, walking lethargically from one spot to another, his piercing green eyes telling me he just wanted to die.  It was time to go in for a consult with one of Dr. Perrett’s veterinary assistants.  Pam is one of River’s fans and she listened to the puzzling list of ailments, with the chart nearby on the table showing the excellent blood work drawn last month.  She finally told me to run home and get River.

A few hours later and over a hundred dollars wiped from my bank account, we had an answer.  River has Clostridium.  Here is an excellent website that talks about the diagnosis and causes of Clostridium, http://www.petmd.com/…ive/c_dg_clostridial_enterotoxicosis.  We will never know exactly where River picked up the bacteria.  He has been boarded several times over the spring and summer while I’ve been campaigning Levi in the Utility ring.  The Clostridium bacteria shows up in areas that are not kept clean, which the vet’s office said could actually be at any boarding kennel.  Life is a crapshoot and I’m not going to blame anyone.  I’m just happy I know River is relatively healthy.  This too shall pass.  He is on Amoxicillin and Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal canned dog food for the next few days, which should help return his high energy level and zest for squirrel chasing that he likes to enjoy every morning.  May he continue to live for a long time bacteria and cancer free.

But…when I walked River in the front door the smell assaulted me again.  Oh yeah.  If one dog has it in the household the others will probably get it too.  Levi was fortunately in his crate and was anxious to run outside.  Good boy, Levi.  He was able to hold off any messes.  I have to give him credit.  Have you ever had a stomach virus?  Waiting is not usually an option.  What a good dog.  The puppy remains happily unaware of the other dogs dilemma.  Maybe it’s because he never lingers anywhere long enough for a virus to catch him, thus his name, Catcher.  I can only hope.

By the way, if you aren’t a dog owner/lover you may not know that those of us who ARE think nothing of talking about our dog’s bowels at any time, any place and in great detail.  So if you hear my friends and me talking about River’s butt we probably aren’t talking about his nice rear conformation and gait.  Run while you can.  It’s probably more information than you can handle.  As for my fellow dog lovers, have you ever had to deal with Clostridium?

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