Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Year 1, the Wrap-up

So, here I am.  One year after, and here it is a nutshell:  I didn't know what I was getting into when we adopted Thumper.

The dogs got along well.  The boys loved the dogs.  Thumper bonded with his new dad.  In spite of being the one to find Thumper, I was slow to grow attached to him.  Quite possibly because for the first months, he was nothing but one more thing to take care of.

After the excitement died down, we learned that Thumper had itch problems.  Some skin issues had been visible at adoption, but no one told is he scratched ALL THE TIME.  Having him in the house at night was like having a new born.  He would claw and scratch endlessly.  I would chase him with the anti-itch calming spray.  I didn't know if he really itched or if it was a nervous habit.  He smelled bad, too, and not just wet-dog bad.  The vet checked him for yeast and God knows what else, and concluded it was allergies.  Great.  An allergic dog in Louisiana, allergy capital of the South.  The vet's recommendation:  Give him steroids and allergy meds, and there was really nothing else to do.  Thumper took one round of steroids.  I gave him Benadryl at night to stop the itching and to make him sleep.  I was afraid to continue with steroids due to the health implications of using steroids longterm.  After wearing out Google researching itchy smelly dogs and trying fish oil, omega3 pills, plain yogurt, Dinovite, premium dog foods with no grain,  and any other holistic canine itch treatment I could find, the itching got better and so did the smell.  We are approaching allergy season again, so we'll know soon if better nutrition really helped him or if allergy season had just passed.

Then there was the worms.  I itch just thinking about it.  Of course, he shared those with Lightning.  In all the years I've had dogs, I had never had to treat one for worms.  EWWWWW.  So, another vet trip, another vet bill (worms pills cost ALOT more than I thought they would), and two Comfortis prescriptions later, the worms were addressed.

He also TORE THE HOUSE APART whenever he got the chance.  Prior to being crated when we out of the house (yes, I should have known better), I came home one day and found the downstairs a mess.  I honestly thought someone had broken in.  Books, DVDS, game stuff, etc, had all been pulled off the shelves and spread all over the family room and dining room.  Pillows were pulled off the couch, and blankets had been scattered EVERYWHERE.  Lightning ran and hid.  Thumper proudly plopped his tush down and grinned.  Ugh.  He got a crate.  Immediately.

Then, last Saturday, he went for his one year vet trip.  I was proud of how far he (and we!) had come.  He is healthy and happy and loves life.  I wanted to get this vet's opinion on the pellet in his leg (leave it....she said removing it would be like a treasure hunt) and his broken bottom incisors (they are OK until they begin to show signs of infection).  Then she gave me the bad news:

Thumper has heart worms.

My heart sank.  She says he likely had them when we adopted him, but they were not developed enough to be detected.  Or, the heart worm preventive he's been on did not work.  The how doesn't really matter....other than Lightning may have them too, if the problem is the medicine.  Treatment will be several courses of antibiotic coupled with a new heartworm/flea/other worm treatment (Advantage Multi).  It's a slow kill method that is easier on the dog.  The vet recommends it when heartworms are caught early.  Retesting every 6 months will show how the treatment is progressing.  The vet's experience is that in 12-18 months, most dogs are free of heartworms.

Lightning goes for a check up Saturday.  I hope he doesn't have them, too.

Like I said, I had no idea what I was getting into when we adopted Thumper.  I thought I had asked all the right questions and the foster mom had given us full disclosure.  Maybe she did...I like to think so, anyway.  To people who want to adopt a rescue dog, I would simply say to be prepared for anything.  Mentally, behaviorally, physically, you really won't know what you are getting for some time after you get home.  I guess it's like that with anything new, isn't it?  I do believe he is where he is supposed to be.  I can't imagine our house without him.



  1. We loved Thumper's story and reading about the challenges. We too have to crate some of the girls when no one is home because they are couch eaters. Isn't it strange how some pups never touch anything and others rearrange the house for you? Betsy had been our challenge, she has terrible odor within 24hrs of a bath and even though she is on heartworm treatment she may be positive too during her annual checkup. She has eaten/destroyed many things that were not hers.
    We are so happy to read that Thumper has a family that will stick with him through everything.
    Nina, Myshka, Sasha, Betsy, Lucy, Phoebe and Lily

  2. Hi Y'all,

    Just hopped by to catch up on your happenings and say hello!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Just hopped by to catch up on your happenings and say hello! I'm on Advantage Multi 'cause I have allergies too and they thought Frontline or heartworm pill might be aggravating me.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. I hear you. I have a dog I have been slow to warm up to. He came with a description which sound just what we needed; a calm, older dog with no particular health issues, no problems with other dogs, no problem in the house etc. I needed a dog with no particular issues. Instead we got a nine year old wild child who would knock poor Sid (a tripod) flying, and had a TON of issues. He's cost us a fortune, and restricted us somewhat on where and how we can walk.

    However, I have become fond of the old scoundrel.

    I'm sorry to hear of all the issues you've had with Thumper, particularly the heartworm. I've never had to deal with that, but I can see how it would make anyone's heart sink. Good luck with that, and I do hope Lightning doesn't have it too.

  5. Oh that has GOT to be an awful thing to hear from the vet. And, like you, I'd be worried about everyone else in the home. I hope no one else tests positive, and I hope Thumper responds well to treatment.

    And thanks so much for taking Thumper into your home and your heart.