My Fuzzy Little Time Bomb

On Friday I coaxed Nemo, my 13 year old beagle, into my car.  I realized I’d forgotten my phone, and ran back inside to grab it.  Our vet's office, as much as I love them, tends to keep me waiting in the exam room—I don’t want to leave the house without anything to entertain myself when I take my dogs there.

That morning I cleaned three pee puddles in less than an hour.  The third occurred when I had gotten back out to my car, still sitting in the garage with Nemo in it.  Nemo had peed all over the front seat.  I swore a blue streak at him, frustrated after having already cleaned two other pee puddles.  I dragged him into the truck, sitting on the driveway, in the pouring rain, and practically tossed him into the front seat.  It was getting late. 

The day before I had to shampoo the carpet on our stairs, as he peed while he walked down them, his urine soaked every single step.  Shampooing the carpet on stairs is a pain in the ass, but needed to be done after that escapade.  The night before that he leapt onto the couch and pissed all over that too.

What the hell is going on with this dog?  I blamed it on his age.  I blamed it on his getting lazy.  I blamed it on his not giving a crap and wanting to do what he pleases in his sunset years.  I called him a gangster.  A terrorist.  He slinked from the couch to his bed.  I watched him, waiting for the telltale squat.

“Something’s not right,” Todd observed.  “You need to take him to the vet.”

“He’s fine.  He’s just being lazy.”

“No, he’s not OK.  He wakes me up in the middle of the night every night looking for something to drink.  He never used to do that.”  It’s true.  Todd told me how he woke up in the middle of the night to find Nemo extending his tongue into the water glass Todd keeps by the bed.

Friday morning I collected his pee by jamming a container under him first thing in the morning.  The idea is that morning pee is the most concentrated, and the vet can test it to see if there is any infection being passed.  I brought him and his sample to the vet down the road.  Normally we’d walk there.  It’s 8/10 of a mile, and Nemo loves the walk.  But in the pouring rain I decided not to.

They tested the urine.  No infection.

They listened to his heart and lungs.  Normal.

They poked thermometers and fingers everywhere they could.  Normal.

They drew blood.  Normal.

“I am not leaving until we examine every hair on him,” I protested.  “He’s not OK.”

“No, I get it.  It’s a mystery right now,” the doctor replied.

His xray was normal.  They decided to inject him with some hormone, or something, by then I’d lost track of what we were testing for.  I’d been at the vet’s office for 2 hours.  I played all my turns on Words with Friends, read several chapters in Truly, Madly, Guilty as I waited for this test and that.

“Leave him here, we need to test his blood now and then an hour from now.” 

I went home and went back to work.  Two hours later the vet called.

“He has Cushing’s Disease.”

“And what is that?”

Turns out, Cushing’s Disease is caused by tumors either on the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland.  It causes Nemo to produce an excess of steroid.  This is what is causing the excess drinking, excess peeing, and the four pounds he’s gained since his annual physical in April.  We have been very careful to not let him get portly, as beagles often do in their teens.  I went back and took his prescriptions home, and left hundreds of dollars with the vet.

“We can keep him on these meds for 2 weeks and see if he improves.  If not, then we’ll check and see what the status is with the tumors.”

I scheduled an ultrasound with another larger clinic for Tuesday.  I am not waiting 2 weeks for any potential tumors to grow even worse.  I am perfectly content jumping every gun when the word tumor is in the picture. 

We got home and I set a timer on my phone for 30 minutes.  I woke him from his nap, sent him outside and waited for him to pee.  I set the timer again.  Again.  Again.  I treated his accident prone little bladder like a fuzzy little time bomb.  I am determined not to clean another puddle of pee if I can help it.  I’ve Fabrezed and Swiffered and Yankee Candled, and Gladed, and shampooed far too much these last few days, determined for my house not to smell like a porta-pottie at a Phish concert.

“I think 30 minutes might be a bit excessive, hon,” Todd sighed when he got home.

"Ding!" my phone chirps from the coffee table.  I leap up, wake Nemo, "Time to go out, buddy dog!"  He yawns from his spot on the ottoman and glares at me.

It’s Sunday now.  Nemo’s dozing on the couch.  He woke up a bit ago, just to find another spot to doze.  His behavior isn’t all that different.  He still goes after Potter’s food while he’s eating it, he still gets into the trash, he begs as I am eating.

The biggest difference is he’s annoyed with me, every time the timer on my phone dings.


BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 07.10.17

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