Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Nature of Spring

After a cold, wet winter and an even wetter spring, the sun came out and the air warmed up and things dried out and bloomed.

And it was bad.

At least, it was bad for us allergy sufferers. Still is, actually, but I'm not complaining this year. That's because after seeing Bailey's allergic reactions to the blooming trees, complaining just didn't seem right.

Allergies tend to be typical in Labs, and we went into this adoption knowing that he had them. That first spring, they turned out to be a bit more serious than I had anticipated (read: worse than mine). I just get a runny nose, sneeze a lot and sometimes my eyes itch. As we quickly learned, though, it's different with dogs.

First, they have zones. Allergy response zones. Around their mouth, nose and eyes gets very red. Their muzzle itches. Their ears itch on the inside. The skin on the inside of their legs and their private parts becomes very sensitive and itchy.

Worse, they have claws. So when these areas start itching, dogs can scratch them. Really scratch them. I was not trying on my British accent when I referred to Bailey this week as "a bloody mess."

See, when the itching got bad (i.e. he would scratch until he was crying), he had to don the cone of shame. the problem is that Bailey is a smart dog, and anytime I left him home, he either figured out a way to get the cone off (doing his drunken sailor routine and walking into furniture and doorways) or enlisted Flash to spring him. So the sooner he got it off after I left, the longer he was, shall we say, on parole.

It was during these short periods that he would scratch his face bloody, and then proceed to rub said face all over the (thankfully covered) couch corner, in between its pillows and along the carpet to try to ease the itch. Not pretty.

Fortunately, Bailey can't read. Because if he could, he'd likely peruse my bookshelves filled with the works of Plath, Hemingway, Woolf and others. He might see himself in their torment, and get the idea in his head that the only way out of his discomfort and misery is suicide.

Fortunately for us, Bailey can't read. And fortunately for Bailey, there are doggie drug cocktails available to help him. Now when he walks into walls, I attribute it to the meds, because he's no longer scratching.

As he gets older, he'll get itchier and it will start earlier and last longer each season. But we're anticipating this, and have ammassed a geriatric canine medicine chest for just such occasions. And we laugh, sympathetically, at how these days, spring gives a whole new meaning to the term 'scratch and sniff.'


Snowbrush said...

What a sad photo!

Bonnie has allergies too. I don't understand why you assume they will get worse with age. I know that the opposite is often true of people, and it seems to be true of Bonnie also.

Christine Orchanian Adler said...

Snowbrush, I agree--it shouldn't get worse with age, but apparently with Labs, that is what happens. I guess as their defenses get weaker, the allergy season is harder to fight and is therefore longer. And my dad grew into allergies, whereas he never had them before! Lots of extra lovin' is what we're giving Bailey, poor thing.