I’ve been thinking for the last several weeks that it’s time to do an update on Teddy, fill you in on how he’s doing. Problem is there’s so too much to tell in one posting. Several times, I’ve started writing, but I quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of information I want to share. Before long, I’m cutting, pasting, and erasing what I’ve written, staring at the screen in frustration. Then this afternoon, I got the bright idea of doing a bulleted list, just like I used to create in my old technical writing days. I’ll still not be able to tell you all the wonderful ways in which Teddy has brightened our lives in one posting, but it feels manageable this way, so here goes:
- I’m confident saying Teddy loves Tom, me, and the rest of the regulars around here as much as we love him. He fits into our family and our lives like it was all meant to be. And it was, I have no doubt.
- Teddy has the most expressive eyes and the sweetest little wrinkly face. He uses both to his full advantage. Knowingly. With no apologies. I’m toast.
- After more x-rays, discussions with his vet, and a consultation with a physical therapist, the general consensus is that Teddy’s left front leg doesn’t work properly because of damage to the brachial plexus (the network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and paw) in that limb. Possibly the result of falling from a vehicle or from a high place such as a porch. The physical therapist does not recommend professional physical therapy at this time, nor does she recommend–for multiple reasons–putting Teddy in a brace (much to Tom’s dismay), but she does hold out slim hope (since we don’t know how long ago the limb was hurt) that the damaged nerves may one day start firing again. She has also suggested that we try to get him to put weight on that paw when he is standing by pulling the paw to the ground. We know the poor little guy feels pain (or at least some discomfort) in that limb because he tucks it up tightly to his torso and licks it incessantly when he hasn’t had the daily dose of his pain med–which we withheld a couple of times on purpose to see how he, and the limb, reacted. Otherwise, he lets his left paw hang freely to the ground and occasionally uses it as a kickstand. On a happy note, Tom is beginning to have a bit of success at getting Teddy to shake with that paw.
- Our initial assumption that Teddy’s status as a three-wheeling pup would mean no need to have a fence was wrong, wrong, wrong. We have several companies coming next week to give us an estimate.
- Teddy does have a voice. For the first three weeks he lived here, we heard little more than a whispery “woof” on the few occasions when someone new entered the house, but all that changed after he spent time with Carey and Austin’s dog, Otis. Otis taught Teddy to voice his opinions and concerns boldly to all within earshot. Teddy’s still not what you would call a “barker,” but he’s more than happy to let you know when someone is passing in front of the house or when he’s none too happy with you for leaving him behind when everyone else is getting in the car to leave.
- The ear infections Teddy had when he came to live with us are all cleared up. Finally. The vet says he’ll be prone to them thanks to the Shar Pei in his lineage. What that means for Teddy is he goes to the vet every two weeks for a bath and to have his ears irrigated. He doesn’t seem to mind either procedure all that much, but he’s none too happy about the scarf the groomer puts on him when it’s all over–especially the sissy-colored ones.
- Probably as a result of a lifetime of untreated ear infections, Teddy is hard of hearing. Not stone deaf, but dang close. Of course, there are those occasions when I would swear his lack of response is more a matter of selective hearing than non-hearing (learned behavior from the other males in this house?), but I have no way to prove it, and he knows it.
- Teddy loves to ride in the car, and he practically wets himself at the thought of getting to ride in the truck. His cruising stance of choice in the truck is to stand on the flat surface in the back–created when we fold down the back seats–and then to lie across the large console between the two front seats, gimpy paw in the cup holder for stability, ears flapping in the breeze created by the air conditioner. He can get into all three vehicles without help, but does need to be lifted down out of the truck. No worries, as long as the shapely, little lhaso apso across the street isn’t watching. When he rides in my car, he likes it when I keep the windows down, the stereo turned up, and my hand on the shifter, so he can use my wrist and forearm as a chin rest and drool catcher. He hates it when we come to a light and I have to shift.
- Teddy is also quite happy to lie at my feet–actually on my feet–here in my office as I write. He’s there now, snoring and farting. Which brings me to…
- Teddy has a very temperamental tummy. Again, because of the Shar Pei in his background, the vet warned us he would probably have a sensitive digestive tract, and he does. That would be no problem–we’re happy to feed him the salmon and rice dog food recommended by the vet–but, although Teddy ate the fish diet without complaining for the first several weeks, he grew tired of eating the same food every day and refused to eat even a nibble of the stuff after a while. He is both strong-willed and hard-headed, so, of course, I blinked first and got him some other food to eat. Oh, happy dog. A different dog food every other day. And then, because he wasn’t eating the sensitive formula dog food anymore and was doing just fine, we mistakenly reasoned that we might be able to give him…well…give him just a taste of…of bacon bits…of a little baloney and cheese…a nibble of leftover chicken…it can’t hurt. Right? Oh, man. Last night we came back after being gone for a couple of hours and knew immediately when we opened the door that something was wrong. Teddy was uncharacteristically curled up in the laundry room and the house smelled like something had died. Sure enough, the poor little guy had made a mess in our bathroom. An hour or so later, he began dancing again, and I raced him into the backyard. He was a man on a mission and went racing in front of me out into the darkness. When he got about 20 yards from the back of the house, I couldn’t see him, but I heard an explosive sound I typically associate with big burly guys who have been eating hot dogs and drinking beer all afternoon. All I could think as I raced toward him was, That poor little thing just blew his bottom off. It must have un-nerved Teddy, too, because he took off for the back of the yard as fast as his legs would carry him with me in high-speed pursuit, hoping every step of the way that I wouldn’t step in the aftermath of the explosion. After two additional middle-of-the-night excursions into the darkness (me looking lovely in my nightgown and flip flops), Teddy’s tummy seems to finally have settled and Tom and I are in complete agreement that Teddy will never again eat people food.
- And finally, I must confirm something Marie, Teddy’s foster grandmother, told me the day I picked Teddy up from her house: Teddy is extremely modest. Given the opportunity, Teddy will go as far to the back of the yard to conduct his business as he possibly can–to the point of pooping on the neighbors fence out beyond the bog on the back property line. If he can get behind a bush or a tree, all the better. Whatever you do, don’t look. He hates that.
And now, I must stop, but I will tell Teddy tales again soon. I’ve got a million of ’em.