We’ve completely gone to the dogs

By Mir
November 22, 2013

I know, I know. I was all LOOKA MY NEW SMUSHY PUPPY and then I disappeared. Almost like I had a life, or something. Except no, I totally don’t, I just have this here newish dog who is a complete mess. Needless to say, this both confirmed my belief that he’s totally part of our family AND has kind of been keeping me busy.

Anyway, we had to go see the vet.

“I am the saddest sad who ever sadded. WHYYYY MEEEEE??”

The good news is that the vet was all “I have an open appointment right after you pick up your kid! Come on in!” The bad news is that THEN two dogs who ate rat poison came in, so we had to wait for an hour. Neither Duncan nor Monkey were pleased. (Monkey busied himself with taking pictures, then playing every game on my phone, and later he was allowed to visit an owl they had in the back who escaped his enclosure and drank the vet’s coffee. So I think maybe I’ve been forgiven because OWL DRINKING COFFEE.)

[I assure you the owl thing really happened. Because if I was going to make up a story with an extraneous owl, I would never in a million years have it drink coffee. In related news, I think I figured out why owls stay up all night. *rimshot*]

Anyway, Duncan is itchy and his skin is a mess and we have uncovered multiple… ahhh… inconsistencies in what we were told and the vet records we were finally able to obtain. Surprise, Duncan is a lot older than we thought! Surprise, every time a vet suggested appropriate treatment, it looks like they may have just… changed vets!

Surprise, I hate people!!

Duncan got a steroid shot with a Benadryl chaser and now we’re trying a few different things to get him healed up. It’s hard to know what, exactly, he’s allergic to, so there will be some trial and error involved while we try to keep him from chewing off all his skin. That’s delightful.

Along with the various medical interventions I am now slathering Duncan with coconut oil along the worst spots, and it does seem to be helping, but of course other than around his eyes and on his snout, he can (and does) happily lick it all off because coconut oil is delicious. We’re going to give it some more time before resorting to the Cone Of Shame, I think, though I’m somewhat looking forward to Licorice discovering that her pesky new brother tastes delicious. I figure it’s only a matter of time before I find her licking it all off his face.

The first couple of days, Duncan didn’t poop. (Yes, this has become the sort of place where you can come read about dog poop. You’re welcome!) This was very odd because Licorice spent her first few days with us expelling out of every possible orifice (you’re welcome, again) and I’ve never heard of nervous doggie constipation. Then Duncan was gracious enough to find a nice pile of leaves… on the deck. I’ve been taking him out and watching him like a hawk, so if you MUST know, no, he didn’t actually end up pooping on the deck. I shouted “NO!” and picked him up and carried him down the (long) flight of stairs and he just… let it go all the way down. So. Yeah. Were you thinking of getting a dog? Not anymore? I cannot imagine why. Isn’t carrying a pooping-down-the-stairs dog on everyone’s bucket list…?

Naturally this turn of events concerned me, but after that, things seemed to be… y’know… cleared… and the next few times I took the pups out, all excretory functions were performed in appropriate places and in sufficient ways.

Last night, Otto and I had to go to Fancy Faculty Event (motto: Dress up real nice for mediocre food!), so I went over all directions very carefully with Chickadee before we left. Feed the dogs at this time. Take them out at least once, and stay with Duncan because he might not go if you don’t accompany him. (Heck, the first couple days we couldn’t even get him out the door unless he was on the leash. Now he just walks out on his own, hooray.) Etc.

The event was fine (actually, more than fine; in a giant ballroom full of people, I ended up sitting down next to Jana, and now we are best friends. Jana? Why are you changing your number, Jana…?) and there were no frantic text messages, so we figured all was well. And it was, I guess, until we were in the car on the way home and Chickadee called.

“Hi, honey,” I said, figuring she was calling to ask when we’d be home.

“Do you know what’s really NOT FUN?” she replied. Uh oh.

“Ummm… no…?”

“Cleaning a bunch of dog crap off the stair landing, THAT’S WHAT!” she huffed. Oh, dear. “And THEN trying to get the dog to go outside and him peeing all over the floor of your office! Like WHILE I WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE OPENING THE DOOR!”

She was indignant. I managed to keep from laughing until our call was over.

When we got home, Chickadee felt I was not being appropriately sympathetic, I think. She ended up yelling, “YOUR OFFICE SMELLS LIKE DOG PEE!” on her way up to bed, which certainly showed me.

For his part, Duncan was unclear about the fuss. If he could talk, I’m sure he would’ve said, “But she went upstairs without me. I needed to send a message.” Or maybe even, “Why does the large female puppy spend all her time on the tiny box with buttons?” Dogs don’t understand teenage texting addiction, y’know.

There’s nothing quite like shimmying out of your party dress and Spanx so that you can get down on the floor in your pajamas with a bottle of Resolve to keep you humble. I mean, not that a piece of overcooked steak had me wracked with delusions of grandeur, or anything, but I think the moral of the story here is that real life always awaits, and it’s often messy.

Later, Otto and I sat down on the couch to end the evening with some terrible television. Licorice jumped up and settled in my lap. Duncan jumped up and sat precisely in the middle of the couch, between me and Otto, and a few minutes later got up and walked over to stretch out half-flopped on my nearest thigh.

Television really is a lot more relaxing when you’re covered in dogs, even naughty ones.


  1. jana

    So much poop in one little post.

    And I’m SO GLAD we met last night! I was nervous being there because shit like that makes me feel like I’m actually a grown up and well, I don’t like being a grown up sometimes. So it was much better than having to talk to somebody about nuclear physics and GMO’s and stuff. Muah!

    • Mir

      It was so nice not being kicked under the table because I was misbehaving, too! ;)

      • Amy

        You met my Jana!!! I’m so excited y’all met!

  2. Mom24_4evermom

    I know this firmly classifies me in the box of terrible people, but I’m afraid your stories just reaffirm that rescues are not for me. I can deal with a dog’s issues. Maybe. I can not deal with the lies and the coverup the people perpetrate. I run a home daycare and I have visions of the “oh he’s wonderful with young children” dog chewing off one of my little one’s faces.

    Good luck. I think Duncan found an absolutely wonderful home.

    • Leslie in Toronto

      Please don’t give up on rescues! You may end up with older than expected or maybe more health issues than expected (mine has seasonal allergies too – suprise!), but if you go through a reputable foster organization you will likely end up with the personality you expect. If you are nervous about it, maybe stay away from the humane societies, as they generally don’t know the dogs as well. There are always exceptions, but that is my experience. But yay for rescue dogs!!

  3. Pam

    I think the fact that you could legitimately use the phrase “extraneous owl” in a post means you win the Internet this week.

    (I laugh because there is a dog in our future, too – and I KNOOOWWWW what’s coming with said dog…)

  4. jenni

    Stories like this are what I need whenever I start thinking too seriously about getting a dog.

  5. Kelly

    I hope you figure out what he is allergic to. My dog happens to be allergic to…grass. Not the kind you smoke, but the kind she has to walk in to get to where she can pee and poop. She loves the grass. She wants to roll around and lay in the grass. The grass makes her sooo happy. In the sunshine, she flops down and looks so content. Then I have to pull her away and make her come in the house. She looks at me, like “But why, Mommy?”. Then when she comes in, she has red welts down her chest, and starts biting her feet until they bleed. I have to keep her on a leash, even in the fenced backyard, because she will not come in away from the wonderful grass. The vet recommended lamb and rice formula food, and she gives Niblet allergy shots a couple of times a year, but the only thing that works is only letting her out for a few minutes at a time. I wish I could let her roam, but unfortunately it would only end up hurting her.

  6. Noelle

    I think Duncan hit the jackpot when he came to live with you. I had a dog that was allergic to flea bites. One bite and this poor dog got a rash like you wouldn’t believe. I became like a maniac making sure this dog got his Frontline every month, even in the winter. (I wasn’t taking any chances.). I’m sure you’ll get Duncan sorted out, just like Licorice.

  7. Pip

    Oh goodness! How old is he really, by the way?

    Poor baby, not being properly taken care of.

    • Mir

      We were told he was 5, which was the upper bound of the age we wanted. Looks like he’s actually 7.

  8. aly

    why are there not more pictures? MORE PICTURES PUH-LEEEEEASE. (to be clear: not of the dog poop. perhaps the laps covered in puppies?).

    is he also a shih tzu mix or something else?

    • Mir

      We think Shih Tzu/Lhasa Apso. Several Lhasa enthusiasts are insisting to me that he’s more Lhasa than Tzu. I’m terrible at seeing the difference, though, so I dunno.

  9. Heidi

    Poor Duncan! My cat developed a sudden allergy to something in her food a few years ago that had her licking/biting her paw so much that it became badly infected. So I switched to a grain-free cat food and no more itching! Maybe Duncan needs to go gluten-free, too?

    • Mir

      He came to us on a grain-free food, and Licorice is on a grain-free food, too. We’re transitioning him to her food (they’re not all the same, and she does well on this one, so we’ll see?) and crossing our fingers.

      • Patricia

        Given the “consistency” of information you were given — is it possible that Duncan’s um…constipation could have been a result of a food change just prior to the family change? My thought is that his previous family might have switched him right before sending him to you to make it look like they’d been trying — just like this dog is 5, not 7. I just find grain-free food to be inconsistent with a family who changed vets every time there was a need to try to solve the skin issue.


        • Mir

          Yeah, entirely possible.

  10. js

    The second night we had our rescue pup, he pooped all over his crate. The first night my husband slept downstairs with him. So on the second night, we left him downstairs and went up to bed. He disagreed with that choice strongly. I still remember that night, that smell and trying to clean him up, vividly, two years later. Also, you might already know this but when we were house-breaking our boy, I read that if you push their little tails down, they’ll stop, mid-action. Worked for us.

  11. RuthWells

    The poop stories are NOT helping — I want a puppy. I’m going to need some worse stories, please.

    • RuthWells

      Plus, my grandmother had a shih-tzu/laso mix named YumYum (“For he going to marry YumYum….”) and now I miss my grandmother. I think I should get a puppy in her honor, don’t you?

      • Mir

        Totally. Just, uh, stock up on Pet Stain Resolve, first. ;)

        • Karen in Michigan

          Pet Stain Resolve is awesome! I have a cabinet full of other stuff that just doesn’t do the job. (Why don’t I just get rid of those ???) I have cats that don’t poop on the rug, just puke. Ah, the joys of pet guardianship.

  12. Cheryl

    We had multiple extensive and expensive skin issues with our dog and any food. Even the “no dog ever has issues with this food that is more expensive than the kind you feed your kids” Ultimately, we had to switch her to chicken/rice/veggies and never again had a skin issue. I know it’s a pain, but if nothing else works, it’s worth a try.

  13. Andrea

    AW, I feel for you AND poor Mr Duncan! Thank you for being one of the few people in the world who are actually responsible enough to have a pet. He’s in good hands. Hope it all smooths out soon!

  14. Chris

    Dogs are work and too many people want the puppy kisses, but don’t want to put in the training required to make them safe and, shale we say, polite. Even dogs that aren’t “rescues” usually have an adjustment period when they go to a new home (and all the fun poop/pee/bark that goes with it). It just takes a bit of time and work before they feel comfortable and safe in their new homes. So glad you are giving him that opportunity. Having had both puppies and dogs/ “bought” and rescue, I’ll take a rescued older dog every.single.day.of.the.week. Our boys are 14 and 15, both rescues, and when they are called home to the great farm in the sky we will have a huge hole in our family.

  15. Sharon

    Thank you for the wonderful/complicated/exasperating/joyful pets you share with the rest of us. The work is all on you, which isn’t fair, while your readers reap the benefits. Welcome to the family Duncan!

  16. Juli Ward

    I really like your shoes! Hope that helps.

  17. Kristen

    We got our rescue dog on Nov 1 and she didn’t pee for 24 hours, or poop for DAYS. (We had no idea how many of our conversations would be about poop. a lot, turns out.)

    I hope the itching is resolved. But what a cutie!

  18. Chuck

    I miss my parents’ last dog…but this post reminds me of why I never have gotten a pet. I am sure things will get better soon though, and he is a cutie.

  19. Crista

    The miracle coconut oil! It’s ok if he licks it off. Probly some will have soaked into his skin, and then the coconut oil can work it’s magic from the inside! Both of our dogs have mild allergies and putting coconut oil in their food keeps the allergies at bay.
    He sure is a cutie!

  20. Karen

    I totally missed the NEW DOG POST!! ZOMG!! Congratulations!! and I think it’s so very cool that you adopted/rescued again. LOVE THAT!..

    And also… holy wow, you ‘ve got another allergy issues in your abode. Maybe it’s the sheetrock?… :-)

  21. Vicki

    Coffee keeps the owls up all night! Love it!

  22. Jeanie

    I have to disagree with the people who think Duncan looks like a lhasa. He looks just like my shih tzu, including the underbite, except Kenzie is black and white. I had a lhasa once and will admit their faces are similar, though. Duncan is so cute I think I could put up with a lot if he were mine.

  23. Heidi

    Duncan is an extremely lucky dog to have had you choose him because you’ll love him and take the very best care for him possible. I think you deserve a medal. Me? No dogs, thank you so much. Not that I’ve been tempted of late, but boy howdy, this really puts a fork in it and calls it done. Nuh uh, no way.

  24. Maggy

    Hi — A couple of suggestions, mostly about Duncan’s allergies. Switch him to a grain-free food. If there’s a Petsmart in your area, Blue Buffalo is a good choice. If you have any specialty pet stores, talk to them about their grain-free dog foods. I have several dogs, and a couple of them have allergies (and had itching/hair loss issues) until I switched to grain-free kibble. If Duncan is a picky eater, mix some steamed (then cooled) veggies w/ his food .. my dogs LOVE their carrots, green beans and broccoli!

    As for the ‘collar of shame’ .. there’s a new collar that’s more like a pillow and does the same thing, but is better tolerated by the dog who’s wearing it. I suspect that 800 Pet Meds or Drs Foster & Smith carry it, but if you’d like more info, email me!

    As for the peeing and pooping in the house, I have a dog like that, too (he was a foster dog who was out of time; he’s still w/ me and it’s been almost three years). Although I hate to crate any of my dogs, I do have to crate him from time to time, just to ensure that he doesn’t squat and pee when he feels the urge (like Duncan, he was older and less “well-behaved” than I was told). I’ve also found that he needs to go out for a bathroom break just before meals, and about 30 minutes after meals. Learning his behavior and potty needs has helped both of us!

    My best to you and Duncan (and Monkey, and the rest of your family)!


  25. vanessa

    you are obviously DROWNING IN ADVICE and not to go all hippie on you but maybe some basic people food? like literally boiled chicken and white rice. then you can add in ingredients slowly. or boiled hamburger. oh except that’s not grain free.
    you know what, i clearly have no idea what i am talking about. my dog has had tummy issues but not allergy issues soooooo.
    i love the duncan updates. godspeed and good luck and check out pat miller’s work for any training advice you may need.

  26. Laura

    Did you ever think that maybe Duncan just had travel constipation? That’s what happens to me, but I don’t ever poop on anyone’s stairs when it finally lets up.

    Also, when our Piper had surgery, I found a blow-up tube collar cone thing. I can’t find a photo or link, but it is a device that makes it look like she’s getting ready to go hit the river with a case of beer. You blow it up, and it attaches to her collar. So much more comfortable, quiet and dignified, and she would just rest her head on it when she slept. I got it at PetSmart, but I can’t find it on their website. Worth a look; so much easier to live with and look at.

  27. Kelly

    My cat had allergic dermatitis and an Atopica prescription cleared it up. I would also recommend getting a blood test to see what he is allergic to. I spent a year trying to find a food that would agree with my cat before my vet suggested a blood test. Turns out he is not allergic to food at all, just grass and cat dander.Yes, my cat is allergic to cats. Good luck with your new pup, he is a cutie!

  28. Kristin

    We have a small white dog, mixed between poodle and bichon we think. Rescue as well. Sweetest thing. But man, he has the itchiest skin and smells.

    Over the course of the last three years, I concluded that both the itching and smelliness were kept not-quite-at-bay-but-helps with no grain food. Which you should appreciate – gluten free dog food. We use Taste of the Wild, Pacific genre because of fish oils.

    We also finally put him on a daily allergy pill. Temeril. I never thought I’d ever be one of Those People who bought monthly prescriptions for her dog. But here I am.

    Here’s what the vet said to me last time I saw him. “You want to know the real reason why he’s so itchy? Sadly, it’s because he’s a small white dog. In Oklahoma. Small dogs have semi-terrible genetics, leading to more conditions and white dogs have terrible skin normally. Even white labs. So yeah. Small white dog.”

    Good luck!

  29. Pauline

    . . enough about the dog.

    Now tell us about those shoes . . are those your feet and what are they incased in ?

    • Mir

      Haaaa! Yes, those are my feet. And that’s a pair of Borns from a few years ago—super comfy.

  30. Angela

    “a pooping-down-the-stairs dog…” FUNNIEST. DESCRIPTION. EVER!!

  31. Sandra

    We have a llasa poo with allergies. Wheat free was the first change we made too when she was a puppy. We also find she’s just got a nervous habbit of licking. She creates hot spots on her feet from licking. She has different triggers. We rarely use the cone but we will if she’s just out of control. Last weekend at her annual check up (she’s almost 7 yo) The vet said we can give her people Benedryl in pill form to help with the itching. It might make her sleepy but she sleeps all day anyway. She’s 17 lbs (needs to lose 3 lbs) and can take 17mg of Bendryl every 8 hours.
    Our vet friend does holistic meds with animals and uses Chinese therapy. “Hot” foods like beef & chicken can be problematic for some animals. “Cool” foods like fish and lamb are better tolerated.
    Good luck! He’s awfuly adorable, poop and all.

  32. Daisy

    Awesome shoes, though – you know, in the picture at the vet’s office with said poopy pup on your lap.

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