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Dog Health: Spider Bite Recheck #3

Friday, Lilly had a rough day for no particular reason I could find. But, when it came time for her to load up for her third (and we hoped final) spider bite recheck, she threw herself to the ground and had a full-on anxiety attack.

Tom told Lilly earlier in the afternoon that she needed to see the V-E-T, so I pretty much blame him. I can say that because he doesn’t read the blog.

Generally, I tell her things like we’re going on “an adventure.” Lilly’s receptive vocabulary (the words she “understands”) is pretty big, and V-E-T (said or spelled) is among the words she knows.

Adventures of Worm Girl

So, Lilly wormed her way around the ground, like a little black-and-white hovercraft, for a while. My attempts to coax her or convince her to act of her own volition and hop on up into the crate failed, so Tom scooped her up, gave her a bunch of kisses, and stuffed her into the crate in the back of my car.

Once we were on the road, she was completely fine in the car. I’m so grateful that she doesn’t have any car issues, including motion sickness or whatever.

We stopped at the bank so that I could make a deposit and get some cash for our garage sale at my sister’s the next day.

(We’re liquidating some of my Mom’s stuff. For those new to our community, my Mom is terminally ill. It’s upsetting and strange to take on some of these tasks while she lives, but there will be so much to do later that we’re trying to keep pace now.)

Detour to the Park

Anyway, we ran to the bank, but even with Friday rush-hour traffic, we got to the veterinary hospital 30 minutes early. So, I drove Lilly on by there, and we went instead to a park to walk around and see if I could get her to let go of her worry.

Lilly poked around and sniffed and explored the huge grassy area. Each summer there is a small, one-ring agility trial at this park, so Lilly knows the park — likely with not the best associations since the trial environment freaks her out (even as a short-time spectator). But, we walked the edge of the park, leaving the baseball fields to the boys who were also there.

We looked at the goat on the adjacent land. We explored every tree and bush. And, we played on the empty playground equipment … using the very short toddler slides as pretend A-frames.

Lilly needed to get a running start to overcome the slippery surface of the slide, but she seemed to love it. So, she’d run up the slide to a platform, and I’d lift her down to try again. We did that a bunch of times, and Lilly sported her best laughing-girl face.

I thought I’d succeeded to helping her reset her mood to a more neutral one.

Then, I made a mistake.

Rather than lift her down from the platform, I sent her through a playground tube. I thought I could run around to the other side, and ask her to use the stairs to get down off the playground equipment.

Lilly was too fast for me and chose instead to try and run down the short, cork-screw slide on the other side.

And, you know what happened, yes?

Lilly lost her footing. Her front feet went one way. Her back feet the other, and she shot off the steep side of the slide. She launched into the air, as if catapulted.

It’s a good thing I caught her, or she would have thumped and slid across the gravel.

“I’m so sorry. Are you OK? You OK?” I kept asking her, amid the wiggles and kisses she gave me as part of her nervous, gee-that-was-scary fit.

I gave her a good once over with my hands, and she seemed fine. Her back didn’t seem sore or tweaked.

I hope I haven’t ruined her A-frame going forward. After all these years, she expects the other side to be many things, and slippery isn’t one of them. I wasn’t using her A-frame cue, and visually this equipment is different enough that I think we’ll be OK. But, I won’t know until she sees a real A-frame.

Worm Girl Returns

We made our way down the road to the veterinary hospital, and even with the scare on the slide, I assumed that Lilly had recovered from her hovercraft mood at home.

Alas, she realized where we were, and again flung herself belly to asphalt and refused to budge … at least toward the building.

So, once again, I tried the indirect route. We looped west into the grassy area, then back toward the east (toward the building) along the railroad tracks. Lilly cannot see the veterinary hospital from this vantage point because of the landscaping and such.

She seemed to be coping pretty well, so we cut back through into the parking lot and right into the hospital. Lilly tucked her tail and ducked her head, but she kept moving. That’s all I can ask of her.

Another dog, a big, older Lab minded his business when we entered the lobby, so I knew Lilly would be fine. Not great, but fine.

I could NOT get her to take any food once we were inside. That’s not unusual if Lilly is scared. So, I petted in long, soothing strokes down her back, and she chose to sit between my feet, with her back to me.

After a couple of minutes, Lilly unclamped her lips, unfurrowed her brow, and smiled. It was a bit of a nervous, panting smile, but still.

Fearful Dog and Hyper-Vigilance

A scheduling glitch delayed our ability to wait in an exam room, so one of the technicians suggested waiting out in their outdoor courtyard. The hospital went through a significant remodel last year, and the new skylights in the lobby means it gets pretty toasty in there, even if it isn’t too hot outside.

Lilly seemed happy for the fresh air, despite the nearby traffic noise. So, we hung out in the courtyard. In this setting, Lilly could finally hear and respond to me, so I asked her for a DOWN.

Again, she chose to face away from me, but that was fine.

While she certainly looked calm on the outside, I knew otherwise. A bird sputtered its way out of the bushes and up into a tree, and the flapping noise nearly made Lilly jump out of her skin. Poor sweetie.

Unfortunately, to let us know an exam room was open, someone knocked on the glass behind me and freaked Lilly out. She is SO sound sensitive, especially when she is already on edge.

Dog Spider Bite – All Clear

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Sunday (6/5), nearly 2 weeks after bite

Once in our own exam room, Lilly wanted to pour herself onto the floor to “hide,” rather than sit on the bench with me, but I encouraged her otherwise, by letting her use my legs — draped across the bench — as a barricade.

Our veterinarian checked Lilly’s neck thoroughly and declared Lilly recovered from this rotten, rotten spider bite that somehow became almost instantly infected.

I asked her to double check the lymph nodes in Lilly’s neck. I don’t often feel that deeply into Lilly’s neck, so I didn’t know if what I felt was normal or not. It was.

best dog blog Champion of My Heart spider bite

Tuesday morning (5/17). The day after the bite.

We have to wean Lilly off the steroids in the coming days, but she got the all-clear.

Still … we’ll wait until sometime in July before even thinking about doing her vaccinations that are due. We want her immune system to recover really, really well before we go challenging it with shots.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

kb - June 8, 2011

Wow , that was quite an adventure. I’m so glad that Lilly didn’t get hurt on the playground equipment (such an easy mistake to make – I’ve made it too), and that her spider bite is better.

I keep thinking that R and Lilly would be waiting room partners from hell. He ripped off a toenail, got an infection, and has been going to the vet almost every other day. When he gets nervous, he gets loud, very loud (remember him in dog class? Now imagine that in a confined environment). So, we try to wait outside until they have an exam room for us in case a Lilly-like dog walks through the door.

JJ - June 7, 2011

Yikes. I feel your pain on the work involved in getting Lilly to the vet. We used to have similar problems with our dog, Kittie. (Don’t look at me like that. “Deer in the headlights trapped in a dog’s body” didn’t fit on the paperwork.)

I’m glad the spider bite is better! That would have scared the bejeezus out of me! =]

Living Large - June 7, 2011

So glad the spider bite is better, Roxanne! What a relief!

Alexandra - June 7, 2011

As I was reading this post, I was thinking how fortunate Lilly is to have you. Glad she’s over the spider bite!

Jana Rade - June 6, 2011

So glad Lily has recovered from the spider bite!

Sorry she’s having such a hard time with vet visits. We are very lucky this way. Jasmine LOVES going to the vet. We can ask her, “do you wanna go see Dr. Rae?” and she gets all excited, same as going for a walk.

Pamela - June 6, 2011

Boy, this post really shows just how much effort it takes to work with a fearful dog. And vet’s offices, no matter how nice everyone is, are scary places.

Honey looks very enthusiastic at the vet’s office. She gallops into the office and dances around when she greets everyone. But I see moist little foot prints on the tile floor showing that she is anxious even if it doesn’t calm down her joy at seeing new people.

Glad Lilly got the all clear on the spider bite so she gets a respite from vet visits (hopefully) for a while. I’m sure you could use the break too.

Candy Blakeslee - June 6, 2011

Whew! I am glad the spider bite is better!

Norman loves to go anywhere, if you say let’s go to the Vet he is jumping out of his skin with happiness.

Betsy on the other hand does not like to ride in the van or go anywhere. So it surprised me last week when she not only hopped in the van but walked right into the acupuncture vet last week. To top that off she hopped right up on the table and waited for it to go up.

Who knows what goes on in their minds…I sure wish I knew.

PS sure glad that she did not get hurt on the slide!

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