The Chronicles of Hermione Granger Reed

This blog is devoted to my puppy dog Hermione, chronicling all developments in her life, humorous, trying and otherwise.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Dog Has A.D.D.

A chronicle of my morning with Hermione thus far:

She woke me up at about 5:30 with the stretch/bed creep that is her patented move. It begins as a stretch (and Hermione, because of her reputed Italian Greyhound blood, has a very long body, so long it has given rise to the nickname "Neville Longbody"), but a stretch cleverly directed towards the top of the bed, leaving her, post-stretch, closer to the always-enticing pillows. Today, however, Mission Stretch/Creep was regularly interrupted by scratching. Now, at the time I read this scratching as the last vestige of mange, a reading I have since reconsidered based on later information. Read on.

After Hermione jumped out of bed, her sign that she is ready to greet the world (or at least has desperately to pee), we headed downstairs, where she began her day as she almost always does: by finding her favorite toy (a leopard print fabric bone, with a sqeaker inside). She squeaks on the toy, looks at me expectantly, and I rebuff the request for play by reminding her (by picking up her food bowl) that it's breakfast time, and that she loves food more than play (most of the time). So this morning went like other mornings--until, that is, I gave her her food.

Now, as you might have guessed, I'm a rather indulgent dog mommy. Not in terms of discipline--Hermione is a well-behaved pup--but in terms of the luxuries of doggie life. Exhibit A: Hermione's breakfast always includes something freshly cooked, cut up and mixed in with her kibble. Normally this is a fried egg, but since we are out of fried eggs, and I'm too behind on my work to drive to the grocery store, today it was a piece of bacon (since I had to buy bacon for a recipe I made for a dinner party and am trying to burn it off to prevent my own indulgence in the taste sensation that is pork, salt, and fat). So I fried a piece of bacon, cut it up, and mixed it in with her kibble, fending off a leaping puppy the entire time, enticed as she was by the smell. You would think, then, that when I deposited her food bowl in its normal place, and instructed her to eat with the clearly uttered command "Food," she would throw herself into this process with abandon, becoming oblivious to all that surrounds her as she indulges in the smokey taste of a bacon-kibble casserole. You would be wrong.

Instead, her breakfast tiime went something like this:

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Leopard Bone from dining room rug and depart

Return to dining room rug with Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot and depart

Return to dining room rug with Pink Flamingo

Eat delicious bacony kibble

Get Pink Flamingo and depart

Smell delicious bacony kibble (on command from mommy to "Food") and scorn it.

Force, through such strange behavior, mommy to get out of her chair (and leave her precious coffee) and follow me, having convinced mommy that I am shitting somewhere in the living room (ugh)

Happily surpirse mommy with lack of poop, but then wig her out when she discovers a very neat pile composed of the Leopard Bone, Isaac Mizrahi Plastic Toy Rain Boot, and Pink Flamingo right in the center of the TV room (see photo).

I have absolutely no idea what such behavior means, but have dealt with my initial wiggins by refusing the horror-movie ideology whereby the strange stacking of objects is a sign either that one is a ghost or that one is insane. There is no reason why good organization should take such a bad rap, and so I've decided instead to see this in a positive light (as is, as I've said before, my wont as a doggie mommy). Perhaps Hermione is just taking inventory, or engaged in a bit of spring cleaning. Or perhaps this is the dog version of the Freudian fort-da, and she is thus learning to manage the trauma of my departures. Or perhaps, as my title suggests, she just has A.D.D., and so can't keep focused on any one thing at any one time. Since I have A.D.D. (just recently diagnosed, in fact), but have managed to soldier on and get a Ph.D. and become a professor, I think this bodes only well for my mangy pup. In the meantime, I will simply appreciate the good sense of my dog, who has managed to do my chore of organizing her toys for me. It just remains for me to go pick up the pair of my nylons she discovered while I was composing this post, and which she has since deposited on the dining room rug, after, that is, tearing through the house (and through them) with them in her mouth.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy Fun Time!

After many rather depressing posts to this blog, I am going to dedicate this post to happy fun time. In other words, I'll be dedicating this post to one of Hermione's favorite places: the dog park. Before getting into the dog park, though, I'll give a brief update: Hermione's mange seems to be under control, with her scratching almost entirely gone (and this with two of the three treatments still to go!). She had a small eye infection on Friday that is healing quickly, but otherwise is almost back to perfect health. So she looks good (having had a bath yesterday), feels good, and has reclaimed her title as Cutest Pup In All The Land (as if she could ever really lose it. I mean, just look at her!). Her mom, however, has been a deliquent blogger because of a debilitating case of strep throat, though is--happily--also on the mend. Soon enough mom and pup will both be back to 100% and will resume their habit of spreading puppy dog cuteness far and wide.

And one of the ways we spread this cuteness is by going to the dog park. Now, the small midwestern town that we call home is lacking in certain amenities (good grocery stores with organic meat; a large selection of decent restaurants; any store selling clothing for professional women), but it does have one of the best dog parks anywhere. It's a 10-acre park with varying terrain and a special spot just for small dogs. Hermione loves it. There is so much to smell, so many dogs to meet, so much room to run! And Hermione is always a hit whenever we go. Not only is she just an adorable, friendly, well-tempered dog, but she always shows off her acrobatic skills, making all the other owners marvel and wonder at her agility (okay, maybe not, but this is what I think they think, and I'm not *totally* wrong: at least once every visit someone asks me if Hermione has had agility training because she is such a nimble little pup). What skills, you might ask? Well, apart from smelling the rear ends of other dogs, or wading through muddy puddles, Hermione loves to run up to me and, just as she's about to reach me, leap into the air (see photo of Hermione, mid-leap). My job, of course, is to catch her. It took me awhile to get the timing down, making for some rather dorky dog part moments (FYI: the person in the photo isn't me, but is the only other person who can catch Hermione when she jumps). After I catch her, I throw her up into the air several times, making for full airborne pup. Hermione can't get enough, as evidenced by the fact that she will repeat this routine until I insist that she go spend time with the other doggies.

I find this game utterly entertaining. The other dog owners find it charming, strange, funny, weird, depending on how cool or lame they are. Rest assured there are no other dogs in the dog park who leap into their owners arms and then look forward to being tossed in the air. Or, if there are, there are no other owners willing to engage in such kind of play. And so Hermione manages to stand out, mainly because she is so capable of leaping up (and because she's found an owner who does indeed treat her dog as if she were a small child).

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that she might also stand out because she is the most submissive dog ever (I will post at another time about the rare exceptions to this rule). She will turn over on her back for pretty much any dog and for pretty much any reason. That's right: Hermione is a bit of a dog park floozy, satisfying the domination needs of all the town's pups. I choose to see her willingness, indeed even eagerness, to submit as a sign that she is a generous, kind-hearted dog, out to make all the puppies have a good time. She is, for example, the consummate hostess, always wanting to greet all the dogs as they come into the park. That being a good hostess might shade into being, ahem, a good hostess (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) is a semantic grey-area I choose to ignore, which is my right as a doggy mom. I'm going to focus instead on Hermione-As-Agility-Pup, defined not by her willingness to be on her back, but by her pure happiness at being tossed in the air.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Hermione's ear scratching has finally been definitively diagnosed. She has sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. What this means is that a tiny little parastie, scientifically known as the notoedres mite (see illustration) has burrowed under her skin and set up shop. The Vets missed it initially because most mangy pets have a lot of hair loss (I'm presuming from the scratching), and Hermione has only a tiny bald spot on her right ear. But Dr. Dust, super-Vet that he is, was determined to solve the mystery of her scratching, and so found the notoedres mite itself under her skin: definitive proof that she is a mangy mutt. He suspects (and, as Debbie will confirm [since she saw the condition of the "rescue" from which I rescued Hermione], he's so totally right) that she's had this since I adopted her: it takes awhile for the symptoms to begin to show, and mange is the kind of ailment that dogs who live in close quarters with other dogs tend to have. But after she completes her treatment (which just involves putting a topical ointment on her every two weeks for six weeks total), Dr. Dust predicts a full recovery!

That's the good news. The bad news is that the treatment takes up to a month to work, and can, in fact, make her itchiness worse before it gets better. Why? The medicine works by killing the mites, and the proteins in their decomposing bodies (ick) aggrivate the itchiness. Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to allay the itch. With one exception: a lyme sulfur dip. So you can stop the itching only if you are willing to deal with the overpowering rotten-egg smell of sulfur. That's a tough call. We'll see what becomes more valuable to me: sleep or preserving my nose from such an assault.

With all the technical stuff out of the way, it just remains for me to say that this diagnosis is hilarious. My dog has mange! That's too funny. Even funnier? So do I. Mange is communicable to humans, though it doesn't seem to result in full scabies (where the mites start reproducing and spreading). Instead, the mites burrow under your skin and then just fade away, but it has left me with a bunch of red bumps over my arms that get somewhat itchy when I'm warm. Funnier still? On Thursday, when the red bumps were particularly inflamed on my right elbow, I drove up to Chicago in order to attend a reception for those admitted to Harvard Law School. That's right. I went to a Harvard Law School reception, held at the very swanky W Hotel in downtown Chicago, full of successful, well-off Harvard Law School alums dressed in their corporate finery, with mange. The grew-up-poor, lived-in-a-trailer-park, huge-chip-on-my-shoulder part of me thinks that, in the history of class warfare, this might be the best--or at least the most hilarious--campaign yet waged. Shake my mangy, mangy hand corporate lawyer, and do it with a "We Hope You Come To Harvard" smile on your face.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Itchy & Scratchy

It is currently 5:30 AM and the sun has yet to rise in Champaign- Urbana. The same can not be said of me. Hermione woke me up at 4:30 with incessant scratching (the kind that is so intense it makes her whine in pain or annoyance or both--I'm not wholly sure), this after having woke me up at 12:30 with the same routine. This is particularly troubling not only because I was awoken twice, but because Hermione is now on an even stronger medicine, Dr. Dust having decided (after my concerned phone call to him) that the cortisone wasn't working well enough. Not only is she on a stronger medicine--prednisone, to be exact (but more on that below)--but I gave her a "mega" dose (two large doses back to back, one Monday night, one Tuesday morning) in order, per Dr. Dust's instructions, to knock out the scratching. You see why, then, I am so troubled by the fact that she seems to be scratching more than ever. I'm at the point where I'm almost ready to throw up my arms in defeat, since no medicine seems to penetrate the cloud of itchiness that surrounds Hermione's ears (which I think of as akin to how Pigpen gets drawn in Peanuts--with that cloud of dust around him).

That the medicine was prednisone is particularly disheartening. Any of you who have asthma will be familiar with the miracle that is prednisone: a steroid that seems to cure all lung problems, leaving wheezy kids able to run, and jump, and play like they've never even heard the adjective "asthmatic." And so prednisone has always been a wonder drug for me (with the exception of the time I was given too much of it by an incompetent doctor, and had hallucinations about a giant snake as a consequence. In fact, the more I think about it, that hallucination was all about a basilisk, and I should sue Rowling for stealing my idea [or my fear], or at least I should be given a full-ride to Hogwarts. Where is my owl with my Hogwarts letter, by the way? I've been waiting FOREVER). It's failure for my sweet pea puppy dog is thus doubly disheartening, and quite frightening: what medicine lies beyond the prednisone panacea? Or is the solution just a higher dose, in which case does the threat of puppy-dog hallucinations loom large? And what would Hermione hallucinate about? I suspect it would be one of two things: 1. Her mommy packing up her suitcase again or 2. (more honestly, less self-aggrandizingly [which is so not a word]) a giant bunny rabbit intent on vengance for Hermione's "murder" and "attempted murder" of all of our backyard rabbits. Let's hope, for her sake alone, that we never find out.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Puppy Love

I am currently sitting in a Panera Bread in Princeton, NJ, waiting for my panel to begin (I'm giving a paper at the American Comparative Literature Conference. My paper is as uncomparative as you can get: it's on Mark Twain and American constitutional history. I'm clearly the odd-ball out here, evident not only in the topic of my paper, but also in the fact that I am wearing neither 1. "funky" glasses nor 2. "colorful" shoes). At least that's what I'm doing physically. Mentally, I'm imagining all the things my puppy dog might be doing right now, and wondering if she misses me, or thinks I've abandoned her forever, or can't be bothered to remember who that lady was who always insisted she eat peanut butter and not pee on the floor. She seemed to know that something was amiss as I was packing, and kept smelling my luggage with a concerned earnestness, eventually plopping herself down next to the suitcase and chewing on a toy with a melancholic slowness (see photo). At several points she actually got in the luggage, which was nearly impossible to resist in its bad movie/sit-com episode potential: hide the puppy in the luggage and let hijinx ensue!

I didn't expect to miss Hermione this much, but I've found that she's so quickly structured the rhythm of my day that I'm a bit lost without knowing when it's breakfast time, when it's pee time, when it's chase-the-tennis-ball time. I guess I can only hope that she's as disoriented without me, and that she will greet my return on Sunday with a vigorous tail wag and a jump up into my arms (Such a wish is not outside the bounds of possibility. For those who have not seen her leaping abilities in action, she is wholly capable of leaping up into one's arms: the trick is being quick enough to catch her before she falls).

In the meantime, however, all reports about her health are good despite Dr. Dust's caution that the cortisone might be too strong for such a small pup (weighing in at 15.5 pounds at last check [2 pounds heavier than when I first adopted her. I will choose to see this weight gain in a positive light]), leaving her lethargic and leaking urine. Yes--leaking urine. So far, though, she's just been a bit more tired than usual, but still has that Hermione get-up-and-go that boggles even the most active mind (and body). And no urine leaks, a phrase which--in its various permutations--makes me think of the Leaky Cauldron, and so secretly pleases me even as it is totally gross. And the good news is that though she is still scratching her ears, she is scratching them less, which means that she's on the road to recovery.

So pup is doing better, but mom misses her sweet pea, and is wondering if a conference on comparative literature--one that has so many "euro" folk in it [see note about glasses and shoes above]--wouldn't have minded a very elegant, friendly miniature poodle as part of the festivities. The title of the conference is, after all, "The Human and Its Others." Screw theory: I'm all about praxis, and that, as far as I can tell, totally means giving a paper with my puppy dog on my lap.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dr. Dust Rocks; I Kind of Suck

So the mystery of the never-ending ear infection has at last been solved, and solved by the best Veterinarian ever. Seriously. Stephanie and Debbie had both spoken enchantingly of Dr. Dust, but he had remained but a myth for myself and Hermione. Until today. He is everything they said he was and more. I felt myself wanting to tell him my various symptoms, since anything he would say in his calm, even tones would be sure to cure me by sheer force of his understated confidence. Our previous visits to the Vet had been fine or slightly disturbing, and I had left each time feeling like neither of the various Vets we saw really knew my dog, or knew how to speak to a new, slightly nervous, owner. Shuttled in and shuttled out in about 20 minutes each time, we had been given quick diagnoses, and quick solutions, and yet here I was with a puppy dog who was still scratching her ears raw (and waking me up at ungodly hours).

Dr. Dust, however, changed all that. His diagnosis was so thorough, so careful, so attentive that I will never see another Vet ever again even if it means flying in for Hermione's check-ups. I am so not kidding. So, the verdict? Hermione doesn't have an ear infection. What she has is a food allergy. Why do I believe this? Because Dr. Dust explained that dogs who have a great deal of itching in the wintertime are rarely allergic to something environmental (since everything is dead). Dogs who particularly scratch their ears tend, by a large margin, to suffer from food allergies. Dogs who have allergies and respond to Benadryl in places on their bodies other than their ears (which is true of Hermione) are almost always suffering from food allergies. Thus, a dog with perpetually itchy ears who has no ear infection and who responds to Bendaryl on her body only is a dog that almost certainly is allergic to something she is eating.

You may thus ask then, why all of this leads me to the inexorable conclusion that Dr. Dust's awesomeness cannot help but reveal my suckiness. Here's why: Dr. Dust not only thought that Hermione had food allergies, but that her allergies were incredibly severe. The fact that she was stopped in her investigation of the exam room by an irresistible desire to scratch herself was a sign that her distress was so severe it stopped her from doing typically doggie things (like smelling Vet exam rooms). In fact, her ears are so inflamed that they have themselves thickened (they are probably twice as thick as they are supposed to be), a condition that leaves her in danger--if she keeps up the scratching--of causing a hematoma (a blood clot) that would inflame the ears to ginormous size and require surgery to correct. He has thus put her on a crash course of cortisone to reduce the ear swelling and to stop her from scratching, and given her a very high dose because of the severity of the allergy. I just thought she had a little ear infection, and found the 'clink' of her dog tags as she scratched at 4 AM kind of annoying. Meanwhile, she's in auto-immune hell, and I'm just hoping to get an extra hour of sleep. Jebus. I do suck.

The saddest part, though, is that the Era of the Treat must come to an end. The only way to fix food allergies is to put dogs on hypoallergenic food for 8 weeks to flush their systems, and then to reintroduce various foods to figure out what they are allergic to. So I bought a big bag of Prescription Diet z/d ULTRA Allergen-Free Prescription Food, and am going to begin Hermione's detoxification. She's also got the cortisone, and some fatty acid pills (which help with the allergies). What she won't be having are any Goobers, Pup Corn, or Vanilla Woofers. She can't even have her tablespoon of pumpkin or her ritual peanut butter (laced with a benadryl tablet). I think I'll go on a sympathy diet: brown rice and steamed vegetables. After all, I've been sick this whole time too, so maybe detox would be good for both of us.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Snow Day

I think that today is the first day Hermione has encountered snow (or, rather, the first day she has encountered it as Hermione, since who knows what she knew or saw as Cassie, skinny pound puppy forced to live in Indiana). She seems to have an intuitive grasp of the relationship between snow and play (or an intuitive grasp of the concept of a "snow day"), since the first thing she did when I let her out was drop into the play position. Okay, actually the first thing she did was eat some snow, but then she went into the play position and subsequently ran around like crazy.

She's now fast asleep in her dog bed--tuckered out from chasing snow around. Little does she know that once the snow stops, she's going to have to go to the Vet to get her ear infection looked at--or, rather, get the ear-infection-that-will-not-die looked at, since she's already been treated for it for two weeks, but is still waking me up every morning at 4 AM with an hour of non-stop scratching. Poor thing has managed to scratch the inside of her ears raw, and has a bald patch on her right ear from where she's torn it to shreds. I must say, it seems odd to me that an ear infection is so difficult to root out, but who am I to talk, since I've managed to stay ill for the last four weeks. My working theory is that her ear infection is a sympathy illness (or that my lung infection is): either way, the two of us really are totally sympatico.