The Continuing Story of Bo, the Epileptic Chihuahua

“Feed me, Seymour!”

– Audrey II, Little Shop of  Horrors

With little dogs like Bo and Camo, you have to be very conscious of where you put your feet and what is at their eye level. You also understand that anything on the floor is fair game. I joke that maybe I should have named them “Kirby” and “Hoover,” our living vacuums. Mr. Stuck seems to accidentally drop little dinner morsels from time to time, even though it is his rule not to feed them table scraps. It does not matter what it is– if something rolls off the counter, consider it gone. It is not limited to food, either. My ear buds fell from my desk a few days back, and it was a good thing they were still plugged in to my computer, because Bo seized one and began to trot away. Fortunately, I was able to recover it before the slack ran out. His eyesight is not very good, so pretty much anything looks like food to him.

Bo has learned to respond very quickly to any activity in the kitchen that he thinks may lead to him being fed. When he is hungry, he will let you know. Normally, I use a toddler gate to keep him out of the kitchen while I am cooking, and he sits on the other side and watches me intently. If he notices that the gate is merely propped up, he will knock it down and clamber over it or find a way around it.

Yesterday, I was clearing off the counter to make space for my cutting board. I had not yet sequestered Bo, and he was milling around underfoot. As I moved a couple of things, I heard something small hit the floor, and then the scurry of little paws. As I came to get what dropped, Bo was already there, crunching happily away.  At first, I did not know what he had and then it hit me – the strong smell of raw garlic.  I laughed out loud!  Bo greedily wolfed down his special ‘treat’ and seemed very pleased with himself.

Smilin Bo

I took to the internet to see if garlic is toxic to dogs.  Opinions vary –with some touting garlic as a natural digestive aid and immunity booster –but apparently, he was not adversely affected by the small amount he ate.  We kept an eye on him, anyway.  This is not the first time.  Over the years, he has pounced on lettuce, potato peelings, dust bunnies, grape tomatoes (the ones that miss when Number Young Son is tossing them into his mouth), pillow feathers, sweet potatoes, and bananas, among other things.  Now, we can add garlic to that list.

Bo should be safe from fleas, ticks, and vampires.

The Story of Bo, the Epileptic Chihuahua (the Prequel)

Clean and happy.
Clean and happy.

We adopted Bo the Epileptic Chihuahua (aka, Buck Nugget, BoBo, BoBiddyBo, Twerp Dog) into our family as a rescue. It was Fall 2008, and we had recently brought a puppy into the household, another Chihuahua that we named Camo because his coat looked like winter camouflage. My massage therapist asked if we would like another Chi: a client of his, a veterinarian, had one who needed a home. Apparently, the dog’s owner was in a wheelchair and had become unable to take care of him. She sent him to the animal clinic office to be put down. Fortunately, the staff at the clinic saw that all Bo really needed was a new home.

We called the clinic, which was more than an hour away, and arranged to take Bo. When Mr. Stuck arrived to pick him up, the staff was sad to see Bo leave; he had been well behaved and quiet during his stay there. In fact, they left his kennel open for him to roam the office at night. We brought Bo home with the understanding that the main criterion for adoption was that he and Camo would get along.

The first night, all Bo did was make laps around the island in the kitchen. He trotted around and around and around. He ignored Camo’s ‘youthful exuberance’ and our attempts to distract him with toys or treats.

First night home for Bo, and Camo wants to play.
First night home for Bo, and Camo wants to play.

 

We took him outside and set him down to explore the yard. He trotted off in a straight line, gaining speed as we tried to follow him and thwart his escape. We would pick him up and turn him around, and he would take off in the new direction. He did not respond to calls or whistles, and he did not bark unless he was hungry.  He slept a lot during his adjustment to us.

Brothers.
Brothers.

Bo looked like an overstuffed sausage when we first brought him home; he weighed nearly 10 lbs. He was on medication for epilepsy and had been neutered. He did not like to be picked up or held; he would panic and try to jump out of our arms. He was six years old, and he had no idea what to do with the toys we offered him. It was evident that he did not know how to play at all.  Number One Son and Number Young Son tried to engage him whenever they could, and, little by little, his attitude toward us became less diffident and more responsive.

It is now nearly 5 years since Bo joined our family. He eventually gave in to Camo’s ‘puppy-ness’ and learned to play.

Bo learns how to play.
Bo learns how to play.

He has slimmed down to a normal weight. After some adjustments, his recurring seizures are mostly controlled by medication. He does have a tendency to leave his messes around the house, and we have not been successful in eliminating that frustrating habit. But by far, his worst habit is coprophagia; that is, he has an affinity for excrement (prompting Mr. Stuck to wryly observe that Bo was a ‘totally green, recycling dog’).

Yuck.

Otherwise, Bo is a great dog; he is laid-back and compliant, in sharp contrast to Camo’s boundless energy and assertive manner. This may be due to the doggy downers he must take daily, but much of it is just his personality. Mr. Stuck and I have noted with amusement that the two dogs are similar in personality to their human counterparts, Number One Son and Number Young Son.

Doggy Downers.
Doggy Downers.

One drawback to Bo being so quiet is that it is too easy to step on him because we never know he is there. He can be pretty sneaky, even though he seems rather thick-witted sometimes. Maybe we have it all wrong; maybe Bo’s not just a family pet.

Maybe Bo’s a ninja. An epileptic ninja.

The Further Adventures of Bo, the Epileptic Chihuahua

When we last left Bo, he was home from the animal hospital with new medication and a Cone of Silence.  He still didn’t focus very well, and his equilibrium was off, but his seizures had stopped.  His eyes were improving, too.  He was in transition with his meds, and seemed to be doing very well in that arena.

Number One Son noticed that Bo had a lumpy area on his back that felt scaly.  He examined it and thought maybe a bath would help.  Bo was pretty stinky from rolling around in his own bodily fluids, and he needed that bath in a bad way.  Number Young Son agreed to bathe him.  When he brought the Bobo to me, wrapped in a towel, he told me that he couldn’t clean off that one spot on his back that was hard and felt like a scab.  Because Bo hadn’t wanted to be held in those few chaotic days, I hadn’t noticed what he was talking about.  When I looked, I saw a rough area of skin near his neck where his hair was coming out.  The skin looked patchy and dry.

The next day, Number One Son pulled out the loosest hair to clear it away, leaving a large bald patch. I called the vet and got an appointment for the following day.  Poor old Bo.  So again, off to the vet, where it was pronounced a staph infection, of all things.  Apparently, staph is opportunistic, and when Bo’s resistance was down, it jumped.  So now Bo has to be bathed and medicated twice daily in that area, and it’s getting better.

However, the good news is that he’s pretty much back to his old self.  He wags his tail and barks when he’s hungry, and he’s been approaching us for attention.  He doesn’t seem so ‘far away’ in his eyes or his manner now.  I think this new seizure medication regimen will be very good for him.

Bo's bald spot.
Bo’s bald spot.

Let’s hope he can lie low and stay healthy for awhile now.

 

Bo, the Epileptic Chihuahua

My dog Bo has epilepsy.  A few years ago, his condition had become too much for his previous owner, and she wanted to have him put down.  We rescued him from that situation and he’s been a great little guy ever since.  Bo has a calm demeanor; the only times you hear him bark are when he’s hungry and when he’s playing with Camo, our other chihuahua.  He’s one cool dude.
Bo’s on drugs — daily doggie downers. Still, his meds don’t completely prevent his seizures.  Every six to eight weeks, on average, he’ll have a day where he suffers breakthrough seizures.  We know now to expect them; at first, it was difficult to stand idly by while he jerked and frothed and lost control of his functions. (It’s still hard to watch.) We always call the veterinarian when it happens, and usually we take him in to have his blood work done, to be sure his medication levels are within the correct range.
I came home two nights ago to find Bo recovering from a seizure, and I was told that he had had several throughout the day.  We assumed that it would be a ‘normal’ seizure cycle.  Well, we were wrong.  Bo’s seizures continued overnight, which has never happened before.  In these last three days, he’s had dozens, and today he had an appointment with our vet, who referred us to a neurologist. (Who knew that there are dog neurologists? Well, not just for dogs, I suppose, but for animals. That was a new one on me.)
Bo is spending the night at the animal hospital, where he will be observed.  He had to have IV fluids and medication, since he wasn’t eating or drinking.  We were able to get some fluids down him at home using a syringe, but we worried that he would not get enough. I know he’s in good hands, but it’s lonely here without Bo, and his buddy Camo seems a bit lost, too.

Sleep well, little buddy.

UPDATE 1/12/13:  We brought Bo home last night.  He was decked out in a cool bandage on his leg and the ‘cone of silence’ as Mr. Stuck calls it.  He had eaten and taken his meds while at the animal hospital, and he hadn’t had a seizure.  They gave us new medication for his seizures and some for his eyes and some for pain.  The transition to the new medication will take awhile – they warned us he would be ‘out of it’ for awhile.  Sure enough, he’s wandering aimlessly around, and doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.  I hope he improves, and I expect that he will.  It’s almost as hard to see him like this as it was to see him convulsing.  He’s also developed a facial tic, but we’re expecting that to calm down, too.  We’re glad he’s back.

Bo in his cone of silence.
Bo in his cone of silence.