Funny how these things happen: I’ve written two books, led several hikes for the venerable Catskill 3500 Club, volunteered at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival and at Hunter Mountain’s Fire Tower, finished the Catskill 35, been held at gunpoint in the Punjab… and the one thing I’ve done that has actually increased my readership? I got a new dog.
Ok, in all fairness, RedCloud is not just a dog. He is a very special dog, initially special in that “Holy crap how can he be alive and be that skinny?” way. Add to the mix that he is sweet to humans and dogs, gentle with children and the elderly, speaks Wookiee fluently, and looks more like Scooby Doo than Belgian royalty, and you begin to grasp just how special he is. I’m fairly impartial: I fall in love with pretty much every dog I meet (and most of the ones I see in my friends’ Facebook photo albums). Red’s charisma and charm are one aspect of his special-ness; his transformation is another.
And so I’ll get to the point: Red’s update, for his beloved fans.
He arrived on 9/19/10, weighing approx 48 pounds, with a bad hookworm infection and raging kennel cough.
Kennel cough is fully gone. No more yucky stuff is dripping from any orifice. He was treated with doxycycline before he arrived at my home.
Weight on 10/11/10: 55.7 lbs. Backbone is no longer visible, but hips are still looking very bony. Hookworms were treated with panacur, last dose on 9/19. We started him on homeopathic remedies: bioplasma and nat. mur., child’s dosage, within a couple of days of getting him. We also started him on digestive enzymes (dancing paws brand shake-on cheese and enzymes – I caught Tom eyeing it for pizza…), and fed him organic white rice, organic sweet potatoes, and organic yogurt for about 2 weeks. Once he stabilized (no more fire hose butt), we introduced Purina One dry kibble. Slowly we titrated white rice out and more kibble in, and eliminated the other ingredients. At first he was fed every 2 hours, but I suspect that was actually irritating to his belly. We decreased to every 4 hours after about 5 days of little improvement and he seemed to do much better. his poor belly needed more rest. We’re currently at 3 dogfood meals a day, with one raw organic chicken neck in the morning. Next feeding move will be to see if he can tolerate Organix brand dogfood, since that’s what Iske and Lily eat.
I think he may have ear mites now. He seemed to really appreciate my ear cleaning efforts (just a warm damp cloth and a little mineral oil). If that didn’t take care of it, we’ll escalate to yellow dock treatments. I’ll keep you updated.
He seems to have a colossal “play drive” but a type of prey drive that is new to me. He seeks to entice Iske and Lily to play using very good dog language: he is not at all aggressive and backs off if they snarl. He shows no interest in chasing a ball or stick, and does not chase chipmunks or geese (these are the most available squeaking-squawking fast-moving dog-teasers in the area). He watches Iske and Lily race off into the woods after a bird or a mouse and looks bemused. But take him for a drive in the car, and he is riveted on every moving object. We’re helping him through this, but at first it was a nightmare (just ask Ted, who gave Red a ride across New Jersey in the back of a Mini Cooper…). He seems terribly threatened, frightened, and ready to attack all those horrible fast-moving trees and houses… go figure.
Out hiking, his main interest is in other hikers: he goes off on diplomatic missions to all other hiking contingents and establishes positive relations before we can even articulate the thought “Where’s Red?” I’m not panicked because he is so sweet, but I’m actively addressing it because, well, let’s face it: not all beings you meet on the trail are interested in establishing diplomatic ties or trade relations, and someone’s lunch could end up very rudely interrupted.
It’s funny to me that he has captured hearts and attention spans. I keep expecting that folks will not be interested in anything more on the subject, and then I get another barrage of requests for RedCloud writings. Hmmm – there’s probably a lesson there: something about one dog’s struggle against the odds… and y’know NanoWriMo is just around the corner. Red may end up starring in a much longer work…