I have 3 dogs. That may surprise some of you because I really only ever talk about 1. No, not because he’s the favorite, but because he’s the one who always seems to be causing drama. Boyd…. you can read about his history of ailments here, here, and here, but the short version is that he’s had chronic skin allergies and ear infections for as long as we’ve owned and loved him.
He currently has yet another ear infection, and has been spending a lot of time scratching at his ears till they bleed and whining. I took him to the vet on Monday, expecting his usual round of meds. As it turns out, this ear infection is different. It’s bacterial instead of the usual yeast.
Grossed out yet? Good… let’s continue.
So, the lucky guy was prescribed 2 types of ear drops (which he hates) and an oral medication (which he also hates).
The vet we saw was also new to this animal hospital, so she took some time to talk to me about his chronic issues. We’ve had this same discussion with several different vets, and our most recent solution was to put him on a low dose steroid to stave off any further infections. While it didn’t stop the problem completely, he was definitely having issues far less frequently than he had been before the steroids, so we went with it. But, as this vet pointed out, there are risks to long-term ‘roid use, and it was really more of a band-aid than a solution anyway. If he continues to get ear infections, he’s at risk for his ears to swell up so much that he requires surgery.
On top of all of this is the thing that’s been bothering me for a while- his comfort level. He has spent so much of his life in pain or discomfort, and all I’ve ever wanted was for him to be healthy long-term.
The vet suggested we see an animal dermatologist. (No offense to any pet dermatologists out there, but doesn’t that kind of sound funny? Like, who grows up thinking one day I wanna be a pet dermatologist?) She anticipates that the dermatologist (which will not be cheap) will want to do some allergy testing (which will also not be cheap). This isn’t the first time allergy testing has been mentioned to us, but it is the first time we’ve seriously considered it. Last time, the hassle and expense seemed so ludicrous when we hadn’t yet tried cheaper and easier steroid option.
As I sat there talking to the vet (who also pointed out that he’s overdue to get his nails clipped), I felt like a failure as a puppy parent. It’s not that we hadn’t tried (I can’t even count how many times we’ve taken him to the vet, how many meds we’ve tried, and how many different types of food he’s been on), it’s that I felt like we hadn’t tried hard enough. He kept having the ear infections, but instead of taking that extra step to determine the root cause once and for all, we kept dealing with them as they happened, throwing medicine at the problem, and going on with our lives.
Of course, it’s only gotten worse since we had L. Of course L is our number 1 priority in life, but have we made her so much of a priority that we’d completely forgotten about our poor pups? Even our miserable, ailing one? We adopted 3 dogs out of love. We would have gladly adopted more if we had time, money, and space to accommodate them all, but we definitely maxed out at 3. While our intentions were pure, should we have recognized that maybe 3 was too many for us? Or maybe 3 was okay, but only if we hadn’t planned to have a baby? And even though all 3 are rescues, sometimes I wonder if one or more of them could have had better lives if they’d been adopted by someone else. We do our best- they have a big yard and warm beds and companions to wrestle with- but sometimes I wonder if they could have gotten lucky in a house that would have offered them undivided attention.
Then I have to remind myself that maybe they’re right where they belong. What if Boyd ended up in a house where the people didn’t have the time or patience to do anything about his chronic ear infections? What if Sadie ended up in a house that had no patience for her diva ways and returned her to the shelter?
Okay, we’ve obviously given them better lives than that, but I’m still struggling with how much Boyd has suffered, and where we go from here. First, we have to find the funds to see this dermatologist, and then we have to hope that all the time and money will pay off with an answer- something concrete we can finally resolve.