Monday, August 5, 2013

WATCHING ME WATCHING HIM



                    "I was looking back to see
                      If you were looking back to see
                      If I was looking back to see
                      If you were looking back at me."

As the old "country" song goes. 

For those of you thinking I am describing a romantic parting, I apologize. Nothing nearly as much fun. This involves my dog. The two of us  are playing a watching game these days.  

Mighty had to have additional surgery on his eye. That made it surgery #3 in a month's time. He had a couple reversals in what is usually a long haul recovery.   

While he has been really good about not messing with the bad eye and damaging the variety of stitch work, he has instead become obsessed with his feet. He has always been the occasional  foot licker, not an uncommon doggie obsession. Lately however,he would lick them to the bone if at all possible. He had licked a really deep, raw spot. The vet thinks he is transferring his anxiety to his feet. 

I was feeling pretty helpless about his eye not healing quickly and just wanted to do something proactive to help. I thought that perhaps I could handle this foot fetish.
   
At first a gentle "No"  was enough to interrupt the incessant licking.  One "No" was never enough however. I had to watch him constantly, yet keep my "No" gentle so as not to stress him further.  That is when I noticed he was watching me to see if I were watching him. 

We were like a pair of old boxers circling the ring, warily keeping an eye on each other, looking for a weakness. Whenever I'd leave a room with him comfortably resting on the couch or bed, I'd give it a few minutes then peek around the corner. Sure enough, he would have his eyes glued to the door way trying to determine if I had really left or was faking it. 


The good eye is the glowing one.

Those times he was convinced it was safe, I would catch him attacking his feet with a vengeance. A regular foot junkie. 

The vet tried medication but that turned him into a drunken zombie. We tried the Elizabethan collar (the doggie head cone) but he kept frantically banging his head to get rid of it and that was too dangerous for his eye.  I tried Bitter Apple spray only to find he kind of liked it. Any dog that eats poop has little problem with bitter apples. Did I mention he is a lousy patient? Anyway, I think I now have the problem solved.

Since I couldn't find any 12 step programs for doggy foot lickers, I decided that instead of making his life one long negative like a curious two year old child, I'd try distracting him out of the licking compulsion in a positive manner. 

First I make sure he gets lots of outside time to combat boredom which is a huge part of the problem.  However when he returns from outside, it is prime licking time. While we watch the sample showing of the new Dog TV channel, I just pet him gently till he falls asleep. Truthfully that new channel is so bland and with soft new age music that I almost fall asleep.  

This approach successfully distracts him from the need to lick. Each session takes about 20 minutes but so far we are batting a thousand. The raw spot is healing. It is just a good thing I don't have a life. 

Hopefully in time this will break the cycle.  At least he is enjoying the approach and I don't feel like such an negative Nelly. Perhaps I have stumbled upon something that drug rehab facilities could use.  When the addict feels the craving, bring on a masseuse and tune in Dog TV. Hey, might work and it sure can't hurt.    

For now I am loving the fact his eye has healed to the point that he now feels the desire to do his happy dance over food or going outside. He has resumed his slow motion chasing of  bunnies, making grasshoppers hop and searching the yard incessantly for worm jerky, grubs or rabbit droppings. Yum. 

Friday the vet unstitched his eyelids and he is looking less like a cranky pirate. 
Dr. Matt says we are not out of the woods yet but on the right trail. 

I know with his age, 16 plus people years, that we are on borrowed time. However each day lately seems to bring him back closer to his old charming self.  I'll take what I can get and am ever grateful for this long life of his we have all ready shared.  

For now, all is good. If you can, send my little guy good thoughts, not so much that he lives for many more years, but just that what ever time he has left continues to provide him pleasure, interest and freedom from stress.  We thank you. 

39 comments :

  1. My daughter researched this for me. I changed the dog food to a lamb/rice mix and no more licking. She said it is an allergy. The vet said an allergy will cause this also.

    Not certain if that is the case with your dog, but there are many tips on Google search to help you pin it down.

    Good luck!

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  2. I shall think of youband send positive thoughts to you. I wish I could give you useful advice like Peruby.
    Thanks for your comment and visit.

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  3. I'm so glad to hear he's getting better and acting like his old self more. That's pretty old for a dog, but Mighty isn't very big. I'm keeping him in my thoughts and you in my heart. :-)

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  4. I'm sending positive vibes your way...and I am in awe of your patience. I seem to be sorely lacking in that character asset. I'm glad he is healing and becoming more like his old self.

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  5. I hope your little guy has sunshine and rainbows the rest of his days. Good idea distracting him-- extra activity and attention seem to solve so many problems with fur-people-- but still, I forget to try it at first!

    Peace, Mari

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  6. Aw. I'm sorry. I am definitely sending positive thoughts to your sweetie now.

    It's amazing how resourceful our little friends can be, but so hard to watch them fade.

    Hugs and peace.

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  7. Your pets have drawn the lucky place winner to become a pet in your household.
    All dogs should have just a bit of the love and care you bestow on yours. They are so worth it. I've grown to know and love Mighty through your posts and wonder what Cody and Mighty would say to each other if they could meet.
    Keep the little guy in mind? That I will certainly do.

    You might check the comments on Amazon for Solid Gold Seameal for dogs. I give it to Cody once a day for allergies.

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  8. Comforting thoughts for the both of you are on their way. Sounds like you have discovered a wonderful alternative to being the big bad no monster as I used to call my daughter when GK was two. Shame on me.
    I hope Mighty is comfortable and continues to be all he can be. Oma Linda

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  9. Sending positive thoughts from here with fingers and paws crossed.

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  10. Sending best wishes to you and Mighty. I hope he heals well and quickly. You are a kind and patient caretaker. I'm sure Mighty appreciates that in his own doggie way!

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  11. Mighty - I am sending both you and Patti good vibes. My Golden (long gone) had a terrible paw-licking problem (probably from allergies). We wore baby socks on her when she was inside and washed her feet in a tub of water whenever she came in from the outside. However, Mighty's paws are so tiny, I doubt you could find socks to fit him. (In a funny note, our newest Grandson, Sam, who is now 11 months, is wearing some of Breezy's unused socks Breezy has been gone 8 years, but I saved the socks!)

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  12. I had a dog that also licked her feet raw. It was allergies. Dr gave her some meds & it stopped.

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  13. Oh Patti, You are so very very good to Mighty --and I'm sure that he KNOWS it... He's a good doggie ---and probably loves all of the attention you are giving him... I've wondered whether dogs would like the DogTV or not....

    I'll keep your little furry sweetie in my prayers. Hope he continues to do well.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  14. Sending my best thoughts to you & Mighty!!

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  15. Oh, we are so happy to hear that sweet Mighty's eye is healing and he is enjoying his yard adventures again. That dog tv and massaging sounds like something he may just want to keep enjoying. As always you sweet Patti and sweet Mighty have good thoughts and prayers coming your way from here. Hugs and nose kisses

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  16. Dear Dear Mighty....This getting older really sucks, doesn't it? I wish only the best for you, sweet Mighty....Good Health and Lots of Poop for possible snacking...!
    And may your eye HEAL completely, very soon and nuch distraction from Foot Licking!...Hugs To You Dear Mighty....(And to you too, dear Patti. I know how much your little buddy means to you....)

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  17. Oh poor Mighty! It really hurts when you see your sweet pet suffering, I know. I'm glad he's better now and hope that he continues to do well. I'll be thinking of him and you, too! Take care.

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  18. Sending lots of warm doggy thoughts your way. My Mocha used to have a butt problem but she used her teeth. I tried everything, tar soap, etc. The last few years she had lots of fur on her butt. The reason... all her front teeth had fallen out.

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  19. Peruby,
    Thanks for the tip. Mighty is all ready on special food as he has a gluten intolerance. I pretty much wore the color off the Google button. The vet is pretty sure it is stress.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil. Much appreciated.

    Djan,
    Aw thanks so much. He is even so much better today.

    Terri,
    Thanks but I am pretty sure if I had a life, I wouldn't be so patient. Being retired, he is my only job.

    heavy hedonist,
    First welcome and thanks for stopping by. He really is eating up all this attention.

    Jenny,
    Thank you so much. I know you are going through your own trials now. We do the best we can don't we?

    Manzi,
    Ha, I am sure Mighty would want to know why I don't cook his food like you do for Cody.
    I checked out that product and think I will order it. It looks amazing and at his age, he can use every boost.

    Linda Wildenstein
    Two year olds will try you and turn the best into NO monsters. GK seemed to have survived and prospered. A little Oma influence didn't hurt.

    NCmountainwoman,
    Thanks and it all seems to be working. Today has been his best day.

    robin,
    Thank you. Actually I think I have traded one addiction for another. He has turned into a real snuggle bunny. I'll take that.

    Barb,
    I did think of socks and glad they worked for your Breezy. How cute that the unused ones have found new life on your Grandson.

    Cherrie,
    Thank you for your suggestion. I asked the vet about that but he thought that since it got bad the same time as the eye injury, that it was most likely stress. So far the diversion tactics are working great.

    Betsy,
    Ha, you are right. Now he is addicted to attention. So far Dog TV puts him to sleep. It really isn't stimulating for it is largely dogs either sleeping or chasing a ball. Soothing music though. Ho hum.

    fishducky,
    Thank you so much. The thoughts are working for today is the best so far.

    Maggie,
    It was really rough early on and I was concerned he wasn't going to make it but he is really doing well now. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.

    Naomi,
    Mighty says thank you big time, especially for that wish for plentiful poop:)) That pleased him a bunch. We pet owners do get involved don't we?

    Cheryl,
    Thanks so much. They can't tell us what hurts and just look so pitiful. He is doing soooo much better. Phew.

    islandwonder,
    Ok I know that was not a funny condition for her or you but you told it in such a funny manner-- I laughed.

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  20. Patti, you are such a terrific writer. I started reading your post to my husband who loves dogs and he just stood there chuckling. He said Mighty sounds like a real character. Mighty sounds like a loving soul, Patti and you are the best friend a dog could have.

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  21. Oh my goodness, my heart goes out to you and your boy. I'm glad the news is good for now. Seeing the happy dance again must mean the world to you. Sweet, sweet boy!

    (Oh, and my condolences on the vet bill. Been there!)

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  22. Oh, Mighty! Hoping his eye and foot are getting better. He's lucky to have you in his life.

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  23. Oh Patti I do send the best wishes for Mighty for new pleasures, interest and freedom from stress. He is such a sweetie and deserves all of these and much more.
    I can just see you two watching each other.
    I am watching my Tinkerbell myself more these days because she is rough on her new step sister Billie Sue. I hated to upset her life so by bringing in a cat to share her life but after Billie Sue was hit by a car I had no choice. Hopefully in time she will adjust.
    I hope you and Mighty are staying cool and glad she is on the road to recovery.
    Love
    Maggie

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  24. What a creative doggy "mom" you are. This comes with a prayer for many more precious moments and feel-good days ahead for you and your tiny family member.

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  25. You are such a good mom. What was wrong with Mighty's eye. Boston has a problem with his eyes. He has eye lashes that are turning inward, scratching his eyelids, and will most likely need a $1500 surgery to fix it. Ouch to us. Ouch to him if we don't fix it.

    But, after reading your post, I had to wonder if the reason he is licking his leg lately is because he is frustrated over his eyes bothering him. Something to think about.

    I had to laugh at your statement about Bitter Apple and the poop eating dog. Boston also used to eat his poop. He now must be taken outside on a leash so he won't indulge. He doesn't like Bitter Apple though. He runs when he sees me get the bottle. Usually, he will stop licking if I tell him to stop, but while he was kenneled while my husband had surgery, the vet tech said he really had a problem with licking the spot. No doubt he was anxious at being kenneled even though we made sure he had doggie day camp every day while he was kenneled. Oh the things we do for these critters.

    We haven't tried the new channel yet. I'll tell my husband about your take on it.

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  26. Kay,
    Aww,you always make me feel good. Thanks so much. So glad Art got a chuckle. That was my goal.

    marylee,
    Thank you and I know you went through a similar problem with Miss Piggy. So far my vet has been awesome. After the first visit, he has only charged me for anesthesia and meds. All office visits and check ups were no charge.

    Barry,
    Thanks but I am the lucky one to have had the delightful little character for so long.

    Maggie,
    I am so sorry Tinker hasn't adjusted yet. Give her time. They may eventually become best buds. Feel better soon gal.

    LC,
    Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. They must be working for he is sooo much better now.

    Sally,
    I sent you an email about Mighty and Boston.
    I almost wish Mighty ate his own. Would save on yard clean up. He prefers rabbit droppings or the occasional stray cat poop he can dig up. Gross.

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  27. I send all my love to your wounded little fellow ...he is a battler ...a character ...and I know how much he means to you. He is doing so well and you seem to have the knack of coping with him ...well he is a very special chap. xx

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  28. Hoping this all straightens out Patti. It so hard to watch our dear friends suffer....

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  29. Poor Mighty, he's going through some tough times. How lucky he is to have a mommy like you. Paying him attention and making sure he gets some exercise really worked. I'm glad his eye is better now.

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  30. Thinking of you two. I like the way you were able to change the no, mustn't, can't, regime to a positive one. It was very clever of you. I wish they had Dog TV over here, it would be a great way for me to go to sleep, and it could be most entertaining for our cat!
    Hugs, P

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  31. look at this little fella. How brave he is... and do I know about licking obsession? my dog has a spot on his paw that apparently tastes like bacon. I even have to bandage it sometimes.

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  32. You and Mighty are well matched. Had to laugh at the eyeing each other. That would have been Gus and I. I've had my dogs on no corn diets for a long time,(used to work for a vet) keeps their coats great, and no lick carcinomas.

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  33. I am most definitely sending positive and warm thoughts Mighty's way :)

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  34. Dear Arkansas Patti, in early July I read your posting about Mighty's eye and what might have happened to cause the problem, which led to the operation. Now I return to blogging and discover that Mighty and you have had a month of ups and downs with all this.

    It's inspirational the way you care for him. All three of the cats with whom I live are relatively young and I've been lucky as they have had no major problems. I do so hope that if a problem does happen, I'll be as gentle and loving as you.

    The earlier posting got me thinking about Matthew, who won't let me clip his nails. He gets close to my face when I'm lying in bed and frequently flashes his paw by my face. Since he's never learned to retract his claws, this could prove dangerous for my eyes.

    I've lived with cats for forty-one years and only once before did I live with a cat whose nails I feared. I then decided--much against my own philosophy and belief--to have Raissa declawed. Now I think I need to do that with Matthew despite my belief that declawing is unnatural. Any thoughts on this???? Peace.

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  35. Angie,
    Thanks so much. So far we are winning this battle. I like the idea of him being a "special chap."

    TB,
    I know that you are well aware of the misery of seeing our friends struggle. Thank you.

    Inger,
    Actually it would probably work for us humans also. Distraction is a great tool I sometimes forget to use on myself. Thank you, he is really doing better now.

    Peter,
    Aww Peter, I am sorry you don't have Dog TV. Mighty doesn't seem impressed but it will zone a human out by watching. I do hope your back gets much better and you can return to your amazing talent.

    Introverted Art.
    Try the diversion therapy. While your dog's may have an allergic, boredom, stress or pain reason, breaking the cycle has really worked for Mighty who suffered from three of those and it only took a couple of days. Good luck.

    Brighid,
    You are so right. Most commercial foods have lots of harmful fillers. I have had Mighty on no grain food for several years when I stumbled upon his gluten intolerance that caused his seizures. I became a real label reader and he is seizure free.

    Keith,
    Thanks so much. He and I both appreciate that.

    Dee,
    I understand your hesitancy. It is a painful operation and sometimes the pain lingers. However, if you have safety concerns and as long as Matthew is an inside cat, I would have it done. Besides the fear for your eyes, cat scratch fever is a real possibility. I had to have Minnie declawed for similar reasons.

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  36. Aww I think that's a wish we want for everyone, animal or human, that our time left on this planet is a pleasure, full of interest and freedom from stress.

    Sending good wishes your way!

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  37. Sending all the good vibes and thoughts I can muster for Mighty and for you, he is a fighter as are you and I am sure these setbacks will all be worth it in the end.

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  38. How wonderful for both of you to have this quiet time together and it seems to be easing his anxieties too.
    Also, once again, I can't thank you enough for supporting me on UNlimiters. I don't know how you keep up with everything with the amount of followers you have but you do !

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  39. Our dog would get those on his feet from time to time. Glad you found a solution. And that you don't have a life so you can dote on him! LOL

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