The other day I gave Hunny one of her favorite treats - a carrot. Her usual reaction would be to chew it and swallow it fast, in hopes there's another one in the wings waiting for her. Instead, her response to this carrot was more savory, rolling it around in her mouth, nibbling the edges and finally biting small pieces, letting some shreds fall to the floor here and there. When she was finished eating the broken pieces, she eagerly, but gently, ate the shreds.
No big deal right? I mean, a whole carrot might seem too big for such a little dog to eat in one mouthful. That is, unless it were a baby carrot. Poor thing. She was definitely babying that carrot. Broke my heart.
Concerned, I lifted her lips to expose her back teeth. I'm not quite sure what I was looking for but I knew I needed to look anyway. Her gums looked red and there was visible tartar buildup on the teeth at the gum line. That all seemed normal for a 10-year-old dog.
She hasn't been showing any signs of pain. But, she's a dog. Most dogs have an insanely high pain threshold. Hunny may be small(ish) but she's strong and solid. I've only heard her yelp once. I've always had to be her pain gauge. She was dying one time and I wouldn't have known if the vets didn't make me sign that "I will pay this bill even if my dog dies" paper. I knew she was sick. I didn't have a clue she was THAT sick. Obviously she survived.
Now I know her "dying" signs. When she's really sick or very uncomfortable, I usually know. She tells me. But she doesn't whimper, whine, yelp or cry. She stays silent. She sits up a lot, even during the night. She stares with a certain glazed look. She gets close and needy -- and sometimes even [gasp] cuddles right alongside me. I love those moments, but I also know it could be a sign that she's not well. She's a strong, dominant, independent dog. She plays, walks and runs like a puppy sometimes. She has a lot of energy. She eats her Greenies, bones and dry food with no qualms.
Still, the carrot incident hadn't escaped me. So we took a field trip to the vet today. Upon first glance the vet confirmed there is indeed tartar buildup and a good cleaning is in order. When I asked if Hunny was in any pain (my main concern) he double-checked her mouth, this time looking further back. BAM! An abscess. My heart sank. It's one of her major chewing teeth -- and most likely it will need to be extracted. Beyond that, we don't know what to expect until he gets in there.
My poor baby. I felt like any mother when her child is in pain. I dropped to the floor with her -- "I'm so sorry. I should've known. Bad mama." Why didn't I take her in sooner? How could I have prevented this? The vet was like, "Um, no. This stuff happens. She's here now. You're taking care of her."
Yeah well, she's also 3 or 4 lbs overweight (a lot for a dog her size). While there, I also asked that he check on some small lumps I found on her. He thinks they're no big deal. But to be sure, we had them tested.
While the technicians were poking and prodding her, our vet came out and told me, "She's just sitting there, very calm, quiet and gentle. We put a cloth muzzle on her, as we do with all dogs, but I'd venture to guess we don't really need it. She's a great dog." [Atta girl!] They needed to do a full blood panel on her. At her age, she's considered a senior dog -- a geriatric. Huh? When did THAT happen? She'll always be my little pound-pup. [I do love telling people she's almost ten ... most of them think I mean ten months. It's a fun game Hunny and I play.]
Assuming her lab results prove it's safe for her to have general anesthesia, it appears as though Hunny and I will both be having surgery this month. What are the odds? Interestingly, her abscess is on the right side of her face. So is my tumor. I'm thinking chicken broth will be on the menu around here for a while.
Click the image above for a sloppy, cheesy, sappy windows media video I created for Hunny. If you have trouble loading the link from AOL, try Internet Explorer -- it's a quick and painless load time. Even better, copy the link and paste it right into your media player.