In Which I Give a Pill to a Dog


Paisley, darling Paisley, love of our lives and provider of Constant Supervision, turned eleven years old on March first. Which makes her about sixty in human years, if the InterTube is to be believed. Average life expectancy of a Scottish Terrier is about fifteen, so we are counting on many many more days with her.

One fact about small long-lived dogs (she's my first one - I always had Labradors and Dalmatians before), is that their minds and bodies often outlive their teeth. I was dismayed to learn during her last checkup that Paisley was probably in excruciating pain and needed an extensive cleaning and extraction. It would have to be done under general anesthesia, and would cost north of fifteen hundred dollars.

As soon as I regained consciousness, I scheduled the appointment for her.

The day of Paisley's surgery dawned and I dutifully deposited her into the loving arms of Dr. Kennard, her lifelong vet. I kissed her on the nose and promised I'd be back soon. Secretly, I was terrified about the general anesthesia - one hears such horror stories - I warned myself of the possibility that I might not see her again.

Halfway through her surgery, Dr. Kennard called me to bring me up to speed: He had finished the left side of Paisley's mouth and removed fifteen (15!) teeth. He anticipated similar problems on the other side, and would I like to postpone that for a few weeks, or get it all over with at once? I told him I couldn't bear to put her through the process twice, and he agreed with me that the kindest thing would be to finish it up and only have one recovery.

At which point I hung up the phone and cried. How could I have allowed any of this to happen to her under my watch? Was I being selfish by not allowing her to recover one side of her mouth before the other was operated on? Was it Paisley's well-being or my fear of a second round of anesthesia driving my decision? How was she ever going to eat again?

Trying to calm myself down,  I looked up how many teeth dogs have in the first place. Turns out it's 42, compared to our 32, which made me feel a little better. I went on to learn that dogs don't use their teeth the same way as humans. Rather than grind up their food before swallowing it, dogs use their teeth for tearing off chunks of larger food, then swallowing the smaller pieces whole. So swallowing small pieces of food is easy for them, even if they have no teeth at all. Which is why vets typically extract a diseased tooth, rather than performing human-type dentistry that aims to save it. Dogs who eat modern dog food are better off not taking the chance of a diseased tooth causing systemic problems.

Two more grueling hours passed before the phone rang. Dr. Kennard said Paisley was doing just fine and resting comfortably. I could collect her that evening. He had extracted twenty-four (24!) teeth, stitched her gums closed, and cleaned her remaining teeth. 

When I picked her up, Paisley was understandably disoriented from the medication, but I could tell by the way she looked at me that she was MAD. I didn't care, of course, I was just happy to have her back. I got special instructions on how the stitches would eventually dissolve, how to manage three different kinds of medicines for pain and antibiotics, and how generally care for her.

Everything went pretty well until the next morning.

At which time I needed to give Paisley a pill.

I put chicken baby food on the end of a spoon, and buried the pill in it. Paisley ate it, and spit the pill on the floor.

I put peanut butter on the end of a spoon, and buried the pill in it. Paisley ate it, and spit the pill on the floor.

I hollowed out a small piece of a hot dog, and hid the pill inside. Paisley ate it, and spit the pill on the floor.

I bit the end of a peanut butter-filled pretzel off and poked the pill into the middle of it. Paisley ate it, and spit the pill on the floor.

I hid the pill in a bowl of soft food. Paisley ate it, and spit the pill on the floor.

Clearly she was delivering my comeuppance, and I could hardly blame her. I was being totally outsmarted by a creature with no thumbs, and fewer than half her teeth. If the dog hadn't been so miserable I'd have happily admitted defeat. Terriers are known for their incredible tenacity, after all. But she was in terrible pain, and the medicine had to be delivered. I held her while she struggled, and on his 4th attempt, Phillip was able to both get and keep the pill in the dog. Paisley's poor ravaged gums were bleeding, Phillip was nursing an accidentally bitten thumb, and I was crying for all of us. And there were still 47 more pills to be delivered.

I called Dr. Kennard, begging for advice. Her medicines weren't available in liquid form, but she could have a patch stapled (!) to her skin every three days to deliver the doses. That had to be done at the Emergency Clinic, and would result in corresponding expenses. Before resorting to that, he suggested I try one last thing:

For eleven dollars, I picked up a bag of Pill Pockets, in the most exotic flavor available.

We were saved! They smell so powerfully of meat that no dog could resist them. They have the consistency of modelling clay, so after you poke the pill into the little hole, you can squish them closed: Voila! Even Paisley was unable to separate pill from treat, and happily swallowed as many as she needed. 

And now we all can recover.

A Little Light on the Subject

Last month, (coinciding with the shortest and darkest day of the year), I attempted to knit with black yarn.  That yarn is not the yarn you see in the photo below.  The reason that you don't see it in the photo below is that the black yarn was sent to Time Out, until such time as I could find a light to work by.  Instead, I switched to the green yarn project, which, as you can see, is worked at a much more fatass robust gauge.  You'll also notice that the light I pressed into service is a poor excuse, at best.  It's a $3 clip lamp I use for taking photos; not intended for the kind of workout I was giving it (and my eyes) as a work light.  It kept losing its feeble grip on the back of the chair and falling on the floor.  And it got hot.  Ridiculously, distractingly, dangerously(?) hot.  I concluded that Something Must Be Done.  Knitting is my job, after all, and my eyes have been through a lot this year.  And sometimes the yarn is just going to be black, so that's that.

This was a big decision for me, in that, A: I have never paid more than $19.99 for a light-throwing device in my life, and B: Doing so would be an admission that I am now an old lady who can't see well enough to knit beyond dusk.

A Little Light 2.jpg

It comes in a nice, condensed box.  The UPS man actually groaned when he brought it up the front steps to my door.  The base makes the box heavier than you might expect for its size.  The packaging was very protective and everything arrived in pristine condition.  I do wish there were a way to achieve this without the use of styrofoam, though.

The lamp requires some minimal assembly steps.  You screw the post together at the threaded junctures, for which the instructions were very clear.

Here's the fancy-pants full-spectrum bulb.  Replacements are a little exotic, as in, you can't dash out to the store for a new one.  They have to be ordered.  However, the manufacturer states that the bulb will burn for 10,000 hours, so hopefully it won't be an issue any time soon.  Interestingly, the $9.99 bulb is the same model used in the Verilux "Happy Light", which is recommended for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Here is the view from under the lamp.  The diffuser shield is attached with screws (tiny screwdriver included - how thoughtful!), reinforcing the idea that it won't have to be removed very often for bulb changes.  The shape and shield throw a pool of light which is focused just on my work, allowing me to keep knitting, even when my family want to watch TV with no other lights on.  Peace at last in the living room.  Who knew?

And here you can see the lamp in its natural habitat.  I was worried that the angle of the arm would cause the lamp to take up a lot of space in this tiny room, but its huge range of adjustment allows it to snuggle up nicely to the furniture.  I can easily adjust the direction and position of the light, even while I'm seated in front of it.  I especially like the largish, knurled on/off switch.  It's easy to find without looking, and engages the light with a decisive snap.  The bulb fires up immediately, unlike some florescents, which take a while to "warm up".  It's totally silent in operation, and casts a clear, bright light with no flicker or pulse.  I would describe the light as "blue-ish", compared to that of an incandescent, but not the creepy, industrial pallor of some florescents.  Colors seem very true under it, and stitches easy to read, (even black ones!) without my glasses.  It's bright, without being too bright; the glare filter lives nicely up to its name.  Best of all, the lamp stays completely cool to the touch, even after an entire winter workday of use.

I'm giving this product a hearty recommendation, for any of you who may be cursing the darkness like I was.  Since it's January, and Selfish Knitting Month, I hereby authorize you to go crazy and get one of these to let yourself see better.  Having some gear that helps you knit better and enjoy it more does not make you old.  Sitting in the dark does.