Friday, December 4, 2009

What have they been up to lately? - part 2, Loco

Loco just spends his life being Loco. Crazy, goofy dog, running and jumping and getting all excited when he hears me pick up my purse and the keys rattle. Loco knows that sound and it usually means I'm going out, and he assumes that means he's going too.

Sometimes I'm not going out, I'm just moving the purse or fishing inside for some cash for Miguel. Ah ha - fooled ya, Loco! As he circles and jumps around me, he finally catches on that I'm not going anywhere and he gets a look on his face of pure disappointment, and then flops down on the floor.

Sometimes I am going out but Loco is not - usually when we are off to Cancun. With Loco standing at the door waiting for us all to leave, we tell him he's not going, he's going to stay home and protect the house. First there is a look of disbelief, and then hope, and then acceptance - all flashing across his face in a few seconds. He knows the drill, and moves to the corner of the couch while we close the door. As we walk out the gate he's up in the window, watching us go. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but we think Loco and the cats sleep while we're gone.

We try to keep Loco confined to the property except for his toilet needs. Miguel is a lot more relaxed about it than I am though - if he is out in the road chatting with someone, Loco is running about here and there, and often I'll go out and ask where Loco is and Miguel says he's around. And he's not. He's down at the corner, and lately he's been getting bolder and is around the corner, or even down on the next block near the lagoon. This drives me nuts for a couple of reasons: he is not supposed to be out running around, he chases other dogs who are not doing anything other than just walking along the road, and he has no street sense - I worry about him getting hit. Slowly I am working on Miguel, as he is the source of the problem by allowing Loco out in the first place. It's a cultural change for him, so it is happening slowly. Poco a poco.

To add a wrinkle to my attempts to confine Loco, he has now learned how to open the gate. Thanks to Tres-patas, the little dog from down the street who unfortunately was hit by a car on the main road. But before he died, Tres-patas would sit on the outside of our gate and wiggle the doors back and forth until the latch gave and the door popped open. In all the years Loco has been confined inside the property, he never tried that technique, but after he saw how it was done, he can pop the gate open in a flash and be out in the street. I put the hook across the gate but with the latch popped, the doors open enough that Loco can squeeze through the small gap (Negra cannot, she's too chubby).

When I go to the store or over to feed my neighbor's cats, I have to keep checking behind me to make sure Loco did not open the gate. Often I will be coming back home only to come across Loco at the corner. He knows full well he has done wrong, but he doesn't really care - he just runs as fast as he can back home. Under my breath I mutter - "could we just FIX the damn gate!?". But Miguel is busy, and I've learned that all things will get done in good time. Maybe not MY timeline, but in-good-time.

Loco would rather ride on the golf cart than anything else in his life, including eating. He will stop a meal in order to hop on the cart and go somewhere. He stands with his hind legs on the floor and his front legs on the front of the cart, ears flapping in the wind. He looks like he could take off at any time, like the elephant Dumbo. Tourists love to see Loco on the cart - he is in many pictures and movies taken by tourists, and has generated many smiles.

You may remember a couple of months ago I wrote about Loco and his itchy skin. At the time Delfino wanted to test his blood, but one thing or another prevented us from making the clinic by 10 am on any given day, and then Loco had an acute episode of itching where I had to call the vet and get Loco started on a treatment plan of Prednisone. Now that the drug is out of Loco's system and he seems well again, we finally got him to the clinic for the blood test.

Yesterday afternoon Delfino came by with the results. Loco's platelet count is very low - 35,000 where the normal is 250,000-500,000. What is causing this is unknown at this time, but the primary suspect is the tick disease, Ehrlichiosis. About four years ago Loco had a positive test for this disease when he was tested for heartworm. The vet at the time said that because Loco was not sick, it just meant he had had the disease at some point in his life and carries the antibodies. The vet treated Loco with a precautionary dose of antibiotics.

Loco cannot take the monthly tick prevention because he is allergic to it. So the only prevention we have is a rigorous search for ticks - almost every day. I've read that if the tick is on the dog less than 24 hrs it is not likely to infect the dog, so I try to check daily. Loco will even let me know when he has a tick - he'll scratch in the area of the tick and then come over and nudge me - wanting me to take a look and get the tick off him. The ticks are different sizes, so I don't always find them. But Loco loves the process of searching - he stretches out on his side and closes his eyes and submits to the sensation of fingers moving over his body and through his fur. Miguel calls it his massage.

So Loco is now on another regime of antibiotics and vitamins with iron. As well, Delfino wants me to cook chicken and rice, and add cheese and yogurt to his diet. We also need to keep Loco from hurting himself as he could hemorrhage without sufficient platelets to clot the blood.

In two weeks we'll retest Loco's blood, and hopefully see a rise in the platelets. Much as Loco's goofy behavior sometimes drives me to distraction, I'd much rather see him healthy and goofy than sick and lethargic. I will post an update when we have the results.


KfromMichigan said...

Poor Loco .. give him a BIG HUGE HUG for me!

Life's a Beach! said...

Oh no! I hope Loco gets better soon! You know he's my favorite! I bet he's loving the special meals in addition to the massages.

jeanie said...

Loco has such a natural goofy look on his face all the time. I hope he'll be 100% soon.

Islagringo said...

Wish him well from us. He is such a cute dog.

Jonna said...

oh... poor loco. Hombre had erlichea when we found him, it was a long (30 days) round of antibiotics and we still get him tested every year. Loco can't tolerate Frontline or the other anti tick meds? That's scary. I think that disease is endemic in QRoo. I believe that shots of ivermectin also will prevent ticks from attaching for long enough to infect the dog.

Anonymous said...

Charlie loves his "massage" I do when we've gone for a romp in the woods!

I sure Loco's blood levels improve soon.

Isla Chica

Sue said...

All - thanks for your comments, consider Loco extra-hugged and petted on your behalfs.

Jonna - I have not tried Frontline, I tried another brand and he was increasingly allergic so I was afraid to try anything in case he got an anaphylactic reaction. My neighbor bought some Frontline for me, and after we are through this, I'm going to ask the vet to standby while we apply it. Since one infection from ticks does not prevent further ones, there are limited options and we need to explore them all. I am hoping Frontline will be ok (but a friend had a boxer that almost died from Frontline allergy, so I'm nervous). I can ask Delfino about the shot too.

Nobody would guess from his behavior this morning that there is anything wrong with Loco. He wanted a cookie, but not the one I had in my hand - he wanted a different kind. As I held the cookie out to him, he ran off, full speed, through the house and then back again. He did this twice, and then on the third time he took the cookie but threw it in the dining room as he ran into the living room. I kicked it around the floor a bit and he played with it, and finally decided to eat it.

Bennie said...

Wow, who would have thought his platelets would be that low. That's scarry.