Monday, February 20, 2017

Even Therapy Dogs Get Sick

I took Maggie to the vet this past week. She has been getting cysts on her back side and her legs. The cysts have been bothering her and I didn’t realize she has been gnawing at them. They ruptured and scabbed over. The vet diagnosed this as sebaceous cysts. Apparently these cysts are common in large dogs. Maggie is 73 lbs. to be exact (she was just weighed at the vet). The sebaceous gland contains sebum that lubricates the hair follicles, hair shaft and skin. Inflammation happens when cysts form a sac under the skin because the area gets clogged.
I’m sitting with the vet talking about Maggie and she said Maggie is close to being a geriatric dog. As tears spring to my eyes I say “no she is only 7 ½ years old “
The vet who is such a good doctor (and a lovely person) says once a dog hits the age of 8 they are classified as geriatric. I held back my tears as best as I could and looked at Maggie who was obviously quite uncomfortable. I asked what we can do to help my sweet and loving dog. She suggested a round of antibiotics to treat the infected cysts and if they should continue then we might want to test them to make sure they aren’t anything else.
I agreed and as I await the medicine I think back to the time Maggie joined our family. At 8 weeks she was a sweet and curious pup ready to explore the world. We brought the right gear to prepare our home so that Maggie would not injure herself. Who would know that 7 years later there would be so many hearts that Maggie would touch!
I refuse to think of Maggie as geriatric dog but rather this incident as a small bump in the road. This visit to the vet is the same as us visiting our doctors when we don’t feel well.
When the vet returned with the medication (enough for two weeks) she recommended a collar so Maggie would not gnaw the cysts or scabs. I figured we would stop at a pet store on our way home because Maggie loves to go shopping there, kinda like a kid in a candy store.
The vet looked me in the eye and said if Maggie did not appear like herself in a few days to call the office and make an appointment to bring her back. I felt sincerity while she was talking to me.

P.S. As I sit and write this blog Maggie is back to her (young) and usual self. After 2 days on the meds one afternoon she picked up her toy and brought it to me as if to say “Mom I’m all better how about a game of tug-a-war!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Maggie and I returned to PCOM this past week. Many of the 2nd year students recognized Maggie from our visit last year and the first year students were thrilled to meet her. Since it was such a warm day (the temperature gauge on my car read 64 degrees) we decided to meet outside. For February this was most unusual but such a treat! The students loved the chance to get some fresh air and Maggie and I enjoyed it as well.
Getting ready for finals is never easy and spending time with these hard working students was such a pleasure.
I did my best to avoid questions about their studies as I felt the best way for these students to decompress is to talk “dog.” Many of them chose to dive in and “attack” Maggie with lots of love-which Maggie just can’t seem to get enough of. When the students came up for air the questions start.
What kind of dog is she?     Goldendoodle
How old is she? 7
Does she shed? No
Is she your only dog? Yes
How often do you go out on therapy visits? Generally once a week but sometimes twice
How did you get into this type of work?  I was in the hospital myself and visited by a therapy dog and felt the positive benefits from it. I always promised myself that if I were ever in the position to give back I would.
When they finished asking me their questions I turned the tables and asked if they had dogs back home. A few answered yes and told me the breed and how old they were. One girl told me she had just lost her family dog to old age. I told her how sorry I was but she said she was really ok since her dog had led a good life.
 I notice in all the college visits there always seem to be one or two students that linger a bit longer than the rest. On this visit a young man hung around longer than most. He told me he is a first year student and he kept saying he wanted a dog of his own as he had grown up with dogs and missed them, He knew he could manage a dog for his first and second year of school but by the time his third year came and his rotations started he knew it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. I sat there and listened to him debate this I felt he didn’t need me to comment on his thoughts- he just needed someone to listen to him. He thanked me for bringing Maggie- a nice polite and sensible young man.
Some faculty members also came outside to visit Maggie. Always nice to see them take advantage of us being there. Maggie is happy to get love from them as well.
It was a great session and hopefully we helped destress everyone so they can focus on their exams in the coming weeks.

We look forward to going back next semester.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pajama Day

I could feel the excitement in the air as soon as Maggie and I entered the Vanguard school in Malvern. I looked around and saw the kids in the pajamas, Teachers as well. Pajama day! If only I had known I would have worn my pajamas and dressed Maggie as well. Actually Maggie doesn’t own pajamas but I would have figured something special for her just so she would fit in!
How wonderful to feel a shift in the energy at the school. The kids were excited to see Maggie and of course Maggie was excited to see the kids. The kids got to wear their favorite pajamas and most of the teachers wore theirs as well. We saw pajamas with stars and princesses. We saw pajamas with dinosaurs and superheroes. We even saw pajamas in many colors of the rainbow. Some kids even chose to wear their slippers to accent their outfits (I’m sure they were instructed to put on their athletic shoes when they went outside to play).
Having a special day brings teachers and children to the same level. It’s another way to say we care about you and are there for you. Some of the teachers even took it another step and chose to have messy hair as if they had just gotten out of bed!
Most kids like a change from the normal schedule. Everyone we saw was in a good mood. No sad faces today, no comments like I don’t want to read to the dogs today. Today was a fun and exciting day. Maggie being a dog who is sensitive to people’s feelings and emotions knew something was different. She was not her usual sedate self. She wagged her tail more and she licked more faces. The librarian noticed a change in her as well.
“What a sensitive dog that Maggie is,” she commented
I smiled to myself and thought ---oh yes she is!

And a great session we had!