After we got back from the North Shore, I started worrying about Boscoe. He seemed different. Tired. Old. Balked on walks, and didn't even try to jump on the bed at night. Plus, he had developed a very strange cough--a kind of hoarse, honking sound that an under-the-weather seal might make. It was as though he was trying to cough out an obstruction in his throat, but there was no obstruction.
He was eating OK, drinking OK, sleeping OK. But he just seemed...worn out. Had we hurt him, taking him on five-mile hikes? Had the experience at Hell's Ditch somehow caused permanent damage? Did he have--I don't know--throat cancer?
(Not that he had ever smoked.)
The most worrisome day was last Monday. He didn't meet me at the door when I came home. I found him in the living room, just kind of staring in a Crazy Old Dog way. His face looked sunken.
He reminded me of Toby in his last months.
When Doug came home, one of us started crying, though I'm not saying which one.
So the next day I made an appointment at the vet. Let's do a full blood workup, I said. Compare it to the one you guys did last October when Boscoe was so sick.
As so often happens with Boscoe, the minute I made the appointment, he started acting normal. Went into the play bow with Riley. Walked eagerly in the mornings. Stopped coughing. Face no longer haggard.
What the hey.
I was still pampering him, though. Truncating his walks so as not to overtire him. Sleeping on the futon (which is extremely hard and uncomfortable and has a sag in the middle and is not good for my back) so he wouldn't have to jump up on the bed (which is comfortable and firm and extremely good for my back).
You know, making those usual sacrifices.
Thursday morning I brought him in to see Dr. J. Ever since we had to start having his anal glands expressed monthly--one of them is tipped, and very hard to get at--Boscoe has hated going to the vet. When I pulled into the parking lot at 8:30 a.m., he whimpered. It didn't help that the tornado sirens decided to go off right at that moment. He trembled all the way up the stairs. (And I shuddered to think how frightened Riley must be, home alone.)
Boscoe darted into the first exam room he saw, even though it needed cleaning. The vet tech and I couldn't budge him, so she got a broom and some rags and cleaned the room around us.
Boscoe shivered in the corner.
Dr. J came in.
Got on the floor with him, as he always does. Called him a Crazy Old Dog. Leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Boscoe's, and Boscoe smooched his cheek.
Dr. J listened to his heart, felt all of his organs, listened to his lungs, listened to my concerns. Haggard face, stiff back end, not himself, overdid it on the trail, weird seal-like cough, reminds me of dying Toby, blah blah blah.
Boscoe wagged his tail and gave Dr. J his big triangular smile. And Dr. J said, This does not look like a sick dog to me.
The cough, he said, could be allergies. (He was familiar with that cough in a dog, and did an excellent imitation of it for me.)
He said that hiking four to six miles is impressive for a dog that is almost thirteen. He said that we cannot hurt Boscoe by taking him hiking; walking is good for his stiff old joints. It keeps him limber, and it keeps his muscles from atrophying.
He said they'd do a full blood workup, and, assuming everything comes back normal, he'll prescribe low doses of a pain killer (rimadyl) to give Boscoe if he gets too sore.
Boscoe, of course, was looking completely healthy at this point. How did he make his face suddenly fill out in such a robust-looking way, I wondered.
We took him in the back for the blood draw and, as long as we were there, the anal gland express. (Sounds like a really unpleasant high-speed train, doesn't it?) Of course, we had to carry him. He hates that back room. Nothing good ever happens there.
And then, as we were leaving, the vet tech gave me a speciman cup. Oh joy. I am expected to collect a urine sample and bring it in, just to rule out diabetes or other possibilities.
I haven't yet attempted that. Since then, Boscoe has been perfectly fine. He was probably perfectly fine all along.
Cost of my little neurotic adventure: $225.
Lab results should be back early next week. I'll let you know.
5 hours ago