Posted by on 26 September 2007 at 7:24 am  Uncategorized
Sep 262007

My dog Kate recent had a thorough work-up at the vet due to a bunch of unusual and worrisome symptoms, most notably refusal to eat and excessive peeing and drinking. The exam and lab work showed an infected anal gland (totally gross) and a urinary tract infection (probably caused by the nearby grossness). She was clearly feeling better with a few days of antiobiotics. She’s now feeling even better since she finished them. (Antiobiotics always upset her stomach. The vet-recommended Pepcid helped tremendously though.)

However, her x-rays also showed calcification of the kidneys, i.e. nephrocalcinosis. That’s not the same as kidney stones: the calcification is in the meat of the kidney itself. If you look at the image below, you can see the brighter white dots in the kidneys. Those are the calcium deposits. From the front, they look like stripes.

Happily, the x-ray helped us catch this problem in good time, as her lab work isn’t showing any decline in kidney function yet, just elevated calcium levels. So we’ve put her on a new kidney-friendly diet.

So my poor darling Kate has officially hit the decline of old age. She’s always had terrible orthopedic problems, but now she’s showing her age — whatever that is. Her actual age is unknown to us. We adopted her from an animal shelter nearly 8 years ago. She was full grown then, physically and mentally, probably at least three years old. So she must be pretty ancient for a German Shepherd by now.

Happily, she’s super-enthused to accompany me on my twice-a-week trips to Boulder. I’ll take her around campus as I run errands. She won’t go inside buildings, as she’s wary of stairs and hates slippery floors. However, she’s well-behaved off-leash, including in crowds of students on campus. She also seems willing to be tied outside buildings for a time — not a usual activity for her — when I need to go inside.

Often, we stop by the dog park on the way home. At the dog park, she doesn’t run around or play with the other dogs; she’s too aware of her own frailty for that. However, she is keen for a slow tour around the small pond, occasionally saying hello (in the usual doggie way) to the other, younger dogs.

She still looks pretty good for an old lady. This is a picture of her I took this summer with my iPhone.

Oh, one more funny tidbit: Kate is not a morning dog. Without Abby to help rouse her, she doesn’t like to get up right away in the morning. She’ll usually lay in bed until I make the usual noises for feeding, then she’ll ask to go outside. That way she gets fed the moment she comes back inside, just the way she likes it. She’ll often ignore me if I try to rouse her just by calling to ask if she wants to go outside. She’s waiting to hear the clang of the kitty dishes. Then she knows that breakfast is at hand.

In fact, I’m writing the final bits of this post from bed this morning. Kate is still happily conked out, without a care for the fact that Paul got up, showered, and left, that my alarm clock went off three times, and that I’m now awake. Why care about that when you’ve got a nice warm bed in which to sleep?!?

Kate is undoubtedly the easiest dog to live with that I’ve ever known. She aims to fit into the life of the pack without a fuss. She does that exceptionally well.

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