Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roxy's sweater

If you've been following along at home, you'll know that my little dog, Roxanne, is ill. It used to be Cushings disease (which makes for a very hungry, very thirsty, VERY FAT little dog). The Cushings is treated with a medication called lysodren, which acts like chemotherapy, killing off the adrenal gland (which is busy making too much cortisone). This is supposed to create a less hungry, less thirsty, less fat little dog.

However, Rox was prescribed too much lysodren, which pushed her to the other end of the adrenal gland disease-state spectrum, and she now has Addison's disease, where her adrenal no longer makes ENOUGH cortisone. (Now we have a very skinny--even skeletal--little dog.)

When we first got Rox, she was living with a bike shop stoner who was feeding her pizza crust and Cheerios. She was horribly malnourished and skinny. Wanting to skijor with her, we took her to Rae's (the mushing store in Anchorage--dog food by the ton, all the gear you need) and--because her hip bones stuck out so much--we had her fitted for a custom harness that had padding all the way to the tail so her fur wouldn't rub off in the joring.

A few months of high-protein, high-fat, high-cal food, and Rox was looking swell. (There were also a lot of (nosy) concerned neighbors who asked if we were feeding her every time we took her out for a walk. We were. She was even getting olive oil and chicken stock on her kibble. And canned salmon. Okay, she was eating better than we were.) But eating has never been Rox's strong suit.

She's always been a crazy eater. She lays down to eat, curled around her bowl, and she has a ritual of licking the inside rim of the bowl for a full count of 25 before letting her tongue glide down to the up-most layer of kibbles in order to pick up one kiblet to chew. She continues on in this way, running her tongue down the side of her bowl, grabbing one or two kibbles, and crunching them daintily. She never finishes all the kibbles; she simply creates a dent in the pile off kibble that was on the one side of the bowl where her tongue was--a mountain of kibble remains.

We have always bought tiny-kibbled dog food for this one. This dog also needs her treats broken up into tiny pieces. (She can, however, catch, kill, and field strip a rabbit. But that's neither here nor there...)

So. Getting Roxy to eat has been a challenge for the eight years she's been with us. And now that she has no appetite (as opposed to the voraciousness she experienced while a Cushinoid dog and as opposed to the pseudo-appetite she used to have) it's hard to get her to eat. We pump her full of cortisone and watch her carefully, and now she's even responding to the command "time to eat" where she'll come and at least lay down by her food. (You can lead a horse to water...)

It's winter, and Roxy's skinny. Now, winter in Seattle isn't like winter in Anchorage (and it's nothing like winter in Minnesota either), but to a little, sickly dog, it's pretty darn cold.

And thus the impetus for the sweater.* I recently joined ravelry (thanks Cara and Rachel) and was able to find a sweater for a greyhound (which is a bit like Rox) and, culling my stash, knit up this baby.

She wore it out today on a walk, and was quite pleased with it, I do believe. In fact, there may have been a new spring in her step.

*NOTE: I'm not the dog-sweater type. I believe that if a dog needs a sweater, the dog probably shouldn't live in your climate...or shouldn't have been bred that way. But a sick dog, now that's okay. Plus, I added stripes to the sweater, so that I could pass it off as ironic.


Anonymous said...

There are no words for how precious this blog and photos are. Yes, there are words - so precious!

Floralee said...

your poor baby! I would be stressed to bits if I were in your shoes. She looks adorable in her sweater, wow you are a fast knitter.
You know my boxer/lab mix gets cold in this weather, she has short fur and no body fat! So I put a coat or a fleece on her when it gets extra chilly. It lasts as long as she doesn't let the other dogs rip it off. :)

GillHowe said...

The Boot sends well wishes to Roxy and hopes that Roxy's mommy will knit some sweet leg warmers to go with the sweater!

Pamela said...

I love to read your stories- I've read this one about 10 times! Please write more!