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, 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.