Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harley and the Doctor


Harley almost blends in where ever he goes. I am still amazed at his long fur. He used to be scrawny with so little fur. We have Newman's Organic Dog Food  to thank for his long fluffy fur that popped out a few weeks after he started on their dog food. By then he was about two years old. It's really changed his life.

6.8 pounds of pure energy! Up from 6.6 pounds he weighed last year.

Harley went to another new veterinarian. Such is the life of a traveling dog, he meets vets everywhere. He is going to be fine and the vet is healing up nicely too...

Grrrrrrrr...

He has only ever met one vet he likes, and sadly she is far away. I screwed up and found out his rabies shot had expired. Heavens to Betsy! 

He came to me severely malnourished at the age of 5 months. It seems like he will never catch up in the weight department. Now, 4 years and 3 months later, he is still considered underweight, but he seems super healthy. He has incredible energy, ready to run and play plus we do a fair amount of walking. Several times a day we play Frisbee, so he does get loads of exercise.

One day recently on a hot day, he ran over to his outside water bowl lapping up the last little bit. I jumped up to refill his bowl, but he became distracted by visiting company even though I tried to coax him to drink the fresh water. I should have insisted.

I asked my friend if he would work with me on training Harley to come when called. Harley has had a very hard time learning this because he has lived on a tether or leash when outdoors due to our camping lifestyle where dogs are always required to be restrained. He doesn't understand why he should come when called EVERY time. He doesn't understand the danger of fast cars. When he has escaped, he generally runs wild and ignores me! This could cost him his life, so I have been trying to teach him to always come when called. *Sigh*.

How can one little doggy know the name of every toy he owns but can't remember to come right now when called?

I've tried treats and bribery but he is whimsical like a cat. Maybe he will come, maybe not. It occurred to me that maybe he needs to be loose and free of tethers and leashes, to seriously train him to come back when called.

We went for a walk in the woods, away from the dangers of cars and turned him loose to run wild. This is new found freedom for him. He raced through the woods, then came back when called, accepted a treat, then raced off again. He seemed to like this game.

He was bouncing around testing out his speed, then racing back for his treat. I thought great! We're getting somewhere with this. At the end of our hike, we leashed him back up because my friend and I were going to clean up the lake shore. Harley was on a long flexi-leash so he could poke around with us while we collected garbage. The lake level has dropped several feet, exposing a new shoreline. This has also meant that more and more garbage seems to be floating up on the shore from careless boaters who either toss it overboard or let the wind take it away.

Even though I already volunteer as a park host and litter picker, I also signed up to volunteer for the 34th annual Hartwell Lake Cleanup Campaign, Aug. 1 through Sept. 20. The Hartwell Lake Cleanup Campaign coincides with National Public Lands Day, a nationwide observance for volunteering at public lands. The cleanup is also part of Georgia’s statewide “Rivers Alive” program and South Carolina’s statewide “Beach Sweep River Sweep” program. (Lake Hartwell is situated in both states.) My friend who was coming to visit also volunteered for 8 days.

Last year’s campaign won the Rivers Alive Government Partner award, demonstrating the quality of the cooperative effort between the Corps of Engineers, the Lake Hartwell Association, and other volunteers.

It was a very hot day and after awhile Harley simply collapsed in the grass near the shore, refusing to budge anymore.

Oops!

I suspect it was his lack of water, the excitement at running wild, then the walk in the sun to clean up the shore.

He could have drank the lake water, but chose not to. Perhaps he is spoiled with the purified water we drink from our Berkey water purifier. In my attempts to keep him healthy I wash his water bowl often (he washes his beard in it too!) and I always add the purified water. He has an outside water bowl and an inside water bowl, so he really has no excuse to be thirsty but before our walk, he didn't drink enough water.

We stopped cleaning the shore and carried Harley back to the motorhome. He was oh so grateful for that "free ride". Poor little fellow was plumb tuckered out. Back home I made him stay inside where the air conditioning was running and he drank some water and took it easy the rest of the day.

The next day we went to visit a new vet because I had discovered it was time for his vaccinations. They didn't do walk ins, but it gave me a chance to look over the place while making an appointment to come back another day.

He was thrilled to ride in my friend's car with his head hung out the window, the wind blowing in his long fur. On the first trip to the vet's office, we only saw the waiting room. Harley paraded around on his leash, flirting with the other canines and their owners. He danced, he twirled, he spun in circles. He was such a clown.

When we returned a few days later, we were rather prompt, but the vet was running way behind. Again Harley romped around flirting, parading, dancing, spinning, the usual wild antics he does on a regular basis. He found another doggy to play with and they were becoming fast buddies. But when they called us to come back to the exam room, the approaching vet tech scooped him up so fast in her arms, he began shaking like a palm frond in a hurricane. I think if she had given him a chance to flirt with her first, he would have willingly gone into her arms.

When she sat him on the exam table, he was pretty upset. I felt so bad for him. She tried talking to him, petting him and I kept saying soothing things to him, but he still did not like this scene at all. Last year he had to have emergency ear surgery in Toccoa, Georgia and the year before that he got a stick stuck in the roof of his mouth, another rapid trip to an unknown vet in Orlando, Florida. Another time he thought he was going to the vet in Melbourne to be tutored, but it turned out he was neutered. He was so angry and mad for days.

So this time when the new vet came in to check him over, he growled at her! The more she poked and prodded the more he growled. He even offered to take her arm off. She thought it was kind of funny, this feisty little fellow. I was trying to explain that his past vet experiences had not been good. She tried bribing him with treats, and at first he refused, but when she left one sitting in front of him, he decided to take it after all. Then she tried to give him his shots and he shrieked something awful.

By now I was almost in tears.

My poor baby!

When all was said and done, he was caught up on his vaccinations and pronounced to be in good health though the vet said he was under weight. They always say that. *Sigh*

I explained his chaotic history, his very rough start in life, that I agreed over the phone, sight unseen to give him a forever home, then borrowed a car to go fetch this wretched excuse for a puppy who was in such sad shape, so used to starving, that he could barely eat more than a tablespoon of food at a time. His first vet visit was to a doc who was severely pessimistic about his future, saying he wasn't likely to live very long and he hadn't enough meat on his bones to survive his shots, so they weren't even administered at the time. I decided not to return to that particular vet again. Traveling in this old motorhome has meant that Harley has seen different vets hither and yonder.

On this day I watched the vet's eyes widen as I rattled off his daily food intake and that his dry bowl food was always topped up, he could stuff himself silly when the mood struck him, but he chose not to. He also eats wet food and some meat and a little cheese (his favorite!) He does eat a lot for such a little guy, but when I explained how much walking we do, that we play lively games of fetch every day where he races around on a 150 foot tether leaping for his Frisbee or tennis ball or golf ball, she seemed amused. Also I don't give him fatty treats on a regular basis, but save them for training or to calm him down when company arrives and he is twirling, dancing, jumping, racing. He will sit still if he thinks a treat is involved, so that is one way to calm him back down again.

After the vet gave him shots, she tried to give him more treats, but he was having NOTHING to do with her now and didn't want her proffered treats either. She was the new enemy in his book, not to be trusted. So he stuck his nose in the air, with his mouth firmly closed.

On the way home, riding in my friend's car, I cuddled him and talked sweetly to him. The rest of the day, he wanted to be held and pampered. Poor baby.

Oh and the vet's arm is just going to be fine too...


1 comment:

  1. I had the same problem finding a vet my dog likes. She is a rescue and doesn't like men but on occasion finds a man she likes. She likes her new vet but he was on vacation when her rabies shot was due so I went to his colleague whom she growled at, got her shot and has been limping ever since. Now going on two weeks. I should have paid attention to her growl. Now we go back to the nice vet to see why she is limping. I just want my pet to be well.

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