Monday, March 7, 2011

An Impatient Patient

About a week ago, we noticed that a sebaceous cyst that Jade has had on his rear leg for a couple years was looking a bit red and irritated.  We started to watch, and realized that Jade was fussing with it and it seemed to be bothering him, so we made an appointment to have it looked at.

Our vet reassured us that it was indeed just a cyst, and that sometimes they do start to irritate the dog and the best option is to remove it.  So, Jade underwent the simplest of simple surgical procedures.  All it involved was some sedative and local anesthetic.  I sat on the exam room floor with his head on my lap while our vet snipped off the offending cyst and put in a couple stitches to close the small incision.  Jade didn’t even notice. 

At home, we put an e-collar on him and kept an eye on him all afternoon and evening.  As he became a bit less groggy from the sedative, he grew interested in what was going on with his leg.  I was disappointed to see that he could bend himself around the e-collar and still get within licking distance of his incision.  Consequently, I decided to stay home from work the next day to keep an eye on him.

During our day at home, Jade made a couple attempts to investigate his incision, but a verbal reminder to leave it alone was all he needed.  He didn’t seem overly obsessed with getting at the stitches, and I thought the e-collar was at least a deterrent if not a preventative. So, that evening we decided to try to leave the house for about an hour to make it to a coaching appointment that we had scheduled and paid for weeks ago. 

When we arrived home a little over an hour later, we were dismayed to find that Jade had removed both of his stitches, and the incision was wide open.  Although small, it was near enough to the knee that the skin would tighten and open the incision wider when he flexed his leg to sit or lie in a “sphinx” down. 

So, Friday we returned to the vet, left with three new stitches and the largest e-collar they had. 

Jade cone

My relief was short-lived though.  As soon as we walked into the living room, Jade bent himself in two, hitched his knee over the gigantic cone, and made it very clear that he could still reach the incision. 

In desperation, and realizing that one day I needed to return to my job and couldn’t just sit around the house dog-sitting for the next several days, I sent a plea out to my dog-owning friends asking for suggestions. 

A friend suggested we try the Bite-Not, which is basically a cervical collar that prevents the neck from bending.  However, they aren’t readily available and usually need to be ordered on-line.  Fortunately, another friend had one we could borrow, and she suggested we may want to use the e-collar along with it.

On Saturday morning, I was out of the house for a seminar at the local dog training club, so Lowell and Jade ran across town to pick up the Bite Not.  Lowell put it on Jade and tried to lure his head to either side with treats to see how much range of motion he still had.  Jade swore that he was now unable to move his head to the side and could not possibly get anywhere near his knee. bite not

Lowell continued to keep an eye on Jade for a couple hours and all seemed well until he made the mistake of going into another room in the house for a minute, leaving Jade asleep on the couch.  After his very brief absence, he returned to find Jade doing his pretzel imitation once again, and having removed two of the three stitches.

One tenacious stitch remained, and was nobly doing its job keeping the incision closed.  With some fumbling and adjusting, Lowell managed to get the gigantic e-collar on Jade’s neck in front of the Bite Not.  That, I can say with a huge sigh of relief, seems to have done the trick, and Jade is now safe from himself.

Sure, my dog looks like a third of his body in encased in plastic.  And sure, as I like to remind him, this is all over an incision less than an inch long and only involving the top layer of skin.  Nowhere near the incisions Tristan had for his knee surgeries, or Maebe had for her spay surgery.  Which neither of them ever fussed with at all.  And yes, his reward for being a bad patient is that he temporarily gets to sleep in bed with us since he no longer fits in his crate with all the various paraphernalia he is now wearing, and which also means I get crammed against the wall, get the blankets stolen, and wake up several times a night to a paw in my face. 

But, given he is an eleven-year old dog whose predominant breed has a high risk of cancer, all I could think about last week was how glad I am that all this was due to a pesky cyst and not something much more sinister.  In a few days (barring any more interventions from Jade)this will be healed and over with, and I’m happy to provide the extra nursing care for my big guy in the meantime. 

Even if he is a bed hog.

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