Friday night I cleared out of the apartment to give Zack some space to really dig in and study for his finals, which began yesterday. When I returned home Saturday afternoon, my dog was broken.
Arlo is a nervous licker (heh, that sounds so much kinkier than it is). He relieves his anxiety by obsessively licking his legs and paws and nothing we’ve tried has convinced him that this is a poor choice of ways to cope. He has a couple of sores on his legs at any given time, just small ones that heal quickly. The vet says this is pretty normal behavior in dogs that are particularly anxious, which he clearly is. I’m just glad he’s over the separation anxiety chewing everything he can get his jaws around phase.
Anyway, so back to Saturday. I get home and Arlo has apparently licked part of the padding off his back right paw, which is no small feat, and the sore looked like it was thinking about becoming infected. He would walk about five steps outside, then sit down to lick his self-inflicted injury.
Also it appeared that he had rolled around in a dust pile after not showering for about a month. His fur was like an oil slick with dandruff added for just an extra dash of ick.
I was alarmed, to say the least, that all this had happened so fucking FAST. I mean, I leave Zack alone for one night, and look what happens. My dog goes to pot (hi, now I am channeling my 76-year-old grandmother) and all of the sudden, on top of my $400 tooth that’s cropped just in time for the holidays, we also have a vet visit now. Awesome!
We decided to try some home remedies since we couldn’t get an appointment until Monday night anyway.
First thing was a bath because SWEET JESUS the DANDRUFF. Then we were off to PetSmart to invest in some dog booties (much to Zack’s dismay) and a cone.
I have been an advocate for the booties since last winter, our first in Chicago, when Arlo limped around outside because the salt stung his feet when it reacted with the snow. Zack thinks they are stupid and lame and said something that started out like “No dog of mine…” and then I quit listening. But aha! Victory is mine! We got some adorable blue booties and started out by just putting one on this injured paw. And Arlo forgot how to walk. He tripped all over himself trying not to use that one foot. So we thought, let’s put on all four and then he’ll HAVE to figure out how to make it work.
I wish I had taken video. It was so so so funny. He would sort of gallop forward and then try to walk a few steps on only his front paws, which worked out even worse than you probably imagine. Then he would stop and look at us imploringly and only at our urging (insisting, demanding, GET OVER HERE NOWWWW!) would he try again. And the scene would repeat. I got him outside for about 4.7 seconds before I felt bad enough to take them off. When I freed him he was like a whole new dog, happy and relaxed and able to poop.
And then there was the cone. It is quite possible he enjoyed the cone even less than the booties (which we are returning to PetSmart since Princess Arlo will have nothing to do with them, despite limping around this very morning in the snow/salt outside). When the cone came out so we could put Neosporin on his foot, Arlo sat, calm but worried, while we [very ineptly] secured it around his head. And he sort of just….drooped. The cone made contact with the floor and there was no amount of coaxing or treat promising or threats that could get him to budge. I am pretty sure he would have been happier if we’d pistol whipped him. I took pity on him after awhile and let him lay with my on the bed, where he draped himself dramatically across my lap and sighed hugely every few minutes. We freed him after a couple of hours and have not since subjected him to The Cone of Sadness and Woe.
The upside to all this is that none of it seems to have traumatized Arlo permanently and our home torture remedies enabled us to cancel the vet appointment in good conscience . The cone and booties have gone away, though the cone is still lurking around the apartment because I suspect it’ll come in handy again in the future, and his wound has mostly healed without becoming infected. We’ve given him a couple of raw eggs since the weekend and his coat has mostly returned to its normal state of only mildly dandruffed. I did talk to the vet about the skin issue and she thought it was likely due to the dry winter air. Since it never appeared to phase Arlo and it’s pretty much back to normal now, there’s no need to be concerned.
Ella was never worried. She just watched the whole thing from a safe distance and laughed. And Sappho, of course, hid until it was over.