I knew the easy streak couldn’t last. It’s been almost two years since the health of my bulldog Lucy (on the left) has caused me to take extraordinary measures, though not in the way you might think. Back then, I ended up making pot upon pot of chicken stew (click here to read my essay in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Now, I’m not sure what I’ll do.
Lucy has recently been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is typically treated with steroids, if your dog isn’t Lucy. Because Lucy’s liver is haywire, too (though the cause is unknown), steroids are not a safe course of treatment. But several other meds and a change in diet were beginning to lessen the bloating and other problems. Until yesterday, when a new problem arose: fluid pockets under the skin of her belly and neck. The cause could be any number of scary things, so blood was drawn and x-rays taken, and several hours and hundreds of dollars later, we still didn’t know. Hopefully the radiologist will be able to tell us something in about a week.
In the meantime, we’re leaving for the beach on Saturday morning. At least we’re supposed to. I’m feeling horribly guilty leaving Lucy. That’s Dilemma #1. Our friends will come to the house four times a day to feed the dogs, let them out, break up the monotony. And Lucy will probably just rest; she sleeps a lot. She’ll be 10 in November — that’s old for a bulldog — plus, this disease has aged her quickly over the last month. Or maybe it’s been all the vet and emergency clinic visits, the exploratory/biopsy surgery, the poking and prodding. That’s Delimma #2: continue to try to diagnose and treat, or just stop and let nature take its course? Because so far, Lucy’s nature has outsmarted the veterinary professionals.
And here’s Dilemma 3: Lucy’s vet feels that the root cause of her current gastro-intestinal trouble is our other bulldog, Wilson. Since his arrival a year ago as a pup, Lucy’s jealousy and anger have literally festered into illness. Though Lucy generally dislikes other dogs, we’d figured she’d get used to Wilson. Alas, he’s turned out to be the bane of her existence. At best she tolerates him, at worst she snaps at him (which is usually warranted, since he chews on her legs and sniffs her privates). The vet wants me to have Wilson stay with friends for a few days and see if Lucy’s health improves if she has my love and attention all to her self. The logical question is, What if it does? What then?
Dilemmas 2 and 3 will have to wait. I have less than 36 hours to decide what to do with Lucy with regards to the beach trip. I figure my options are A) Stay home with her even though my absence will upset a delicate balance at the beach house; B) Take Lucy with us even though pets aren’t allowed in the brand-new rental; or C) leave her at home and trust that she’ll be all right even though in so many ways she’s obviously not.