Canine or swine?

“Is your dog pink?”

This is a question I get on a regular basis and no wonder: Henry often looks pink (thus the occasional nickname of piglet). When his skin is irritated he turns a beautiful shade of pink all over his little body – and his skin is always irritated.

He was on antibiotics for a skin condition when we adopted him and he has been on and off of antibiotics and steroids ever since. And the scratching! Oh man, the scratching is enough to drive us all insane. I think that scratching might be higher on the “things that annoy me and prevent me from sleeping list” than snoring!

His most frequent itchy spot is his left armpit. This provides a lot of amusement as he sticks his tongue out with each forward sweep of his back foot but also gives him bright red armpits. 

He also scratches his forehead until it bleeds and chews and bites and licks his paws until they are bright red. 

Oh, and when he is tired he gets bright red around his lips and nose. Which means I have a pink dog with red spots.

I don't think this picture does it justice but to give you an idea:

For a long time there was this never-ending cycle of taking Henry to the vet, getting meds & sometimes a steroid shot, and having a less itchy dog for a couple of weeks and then returning to the vet in a month (at the most). Not only was this a drain on the pocketbook but I was worried about exposing H to so many meds so much. And we just felt bad for Henry and his quality of life or lack thereof.

One vet recommended that we draw blood and get it tested for allergies, leading to regular allergy shots for our little man. Surprisingly, he doesn’t mind getting the shots…or maybe not surprisingly as he gets treats after each shot. The blood test was positive for several food allergies as well and so Henry went on a hypoallergenic diet. He wasn’t much better with the shots but better enough that we were able to visit the vet a little less frequently.

We changed vets and were instructed to give Henry more frequent baths and were given the name of a specialist to take him too. Baths are surprisingly easy and leave us with the softest Henry of a dog.

The specialist? That would be a veterinary dermatologist. Right. I’ve been struggling with adult acne for years and it’s my dog that gets a dermatologist. The doctor told us that blood tests aren’t very reliable and so that the only way to determine food allergies was through an elimination diet. My favorite thing about the doctor was that he kept my pocketbook in mind and recommended we wait to do the gold standard skin test until we see the results of the current allergy serum we had with a modified shot schedule. The dermatologist also prescribed an antihistamine to be given twice daily (a steal at more than 50$ a month).

This gave us a little more time in between vet visits…until both Jensen & I thought the other had given H his shots. A mere two weeks without allergy shots and Henry’s skin was out of control. Back to the vet for more antibiotics. The vet also told us we could give Henry up to three Benadryl per dose when he was having such a bad reaction.

The dermatologist couldn’t see Henry for over a month (apparently there are lots of allergic pets in the greater Seattle area) and in the meantime I bought enough Benadryl to put an entire city to sleep. You would think that a diet augmented with six Benadryl would chill Henry out right? That six Benadryl would calm our hyperactive, crazy little canine right? Wrong. The pills may as well have been made of sugar, very expensive sugar.

Finally, the day of Henry’s skin test arrived. Even Henry was reluctant to go to the vet when we had to leave at the crack of dawn to make the 45-minute drive (without traffic) to get to our 7 a.m. appointment. The dermatologist and his assistant take Henry away for his test as I go off in search of coffee. I enter the office less then fifteen minutes later to the sound of laughter. The doctor emerges from the back still giggling: “I just reversed the sedative and Henry still has his sea legs!”

Surprise of surprises Henry is allergic to almost everything except saline: Human dander, cat dander, dust mites, storage mites, wool, a mix of insect venom (is that what you call it?), weeds, if it is/was alive, grows, blooms, etc., he is allergic to it. Oh, and the storage mites? Storage mites are in dried food when you buy it, which means that we now have to freeze Henry’s dried food before we give it to him…oh joy.

The new shots have to be given to Henry every other day. He has been on them for a couple of months. He is still itchy but he isn’t eating a horses share of Benadryl on a daily basis. But time will tell….

Oh, Henry.


What is Henry?

The Seattle Animal Shelter said he was a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. Which never seemed quite right because of his height, his gargantuan ears, his face & chest (which are just not quite as broad as other pit bulls). I have been told he looks just like an American Bulldog, a Dogo Argentino, and many others.

What is he?

I wanted to know. Do I wear an "I love my American Pit Bull Terrier" or "I love my Dogo Argentino" shirt?

So I finally break down and get a DNA test. I mean really, I spend enough money on this dang dog that I should at least be able to know what the heck he is.

And the results:
At least 50%: American Staffordshire Terrier &....
At least 12.5%: Miniature Bull Terrier




hmmm, well maybe the miniature bull terrier explains the ears?

The Shocker.


I couldn’t write my term paper at my desk because Henry kept trying to climb into my lap. So I decided to sit on the sofa so that I could cuddle my pup and crank out the last paper before spring break at the same time. I had been working on the paper for the previous few days and not sleeping very much (I procrastinate a lot) and so took a nap the second the paper was e-mailed to my professor. To be awakened by a scream.

Wait, a scream?

I found Henry on his side shaking, foaming out of his mouth and having lost control of both bowel and bladder but still conscious. An awful smell seemed to emanate from him—unrelated to the mess on the floor. I got a paper towel and began to wipe the foam away from his gums and found two, whitish lines on his lip that look like a cauterization. That’s when I noticed the extension cord…chewed open to reveal two metal pieces that were perfect matches with the lines on his lip.

(This is a good point to mention that if I had just ignored Henry and stayed at my desk, like I should have, this never would have happened.)

The call to the vet consisted of: “my dog just electrocuted himself!!!” and “Bring him in! Bring him in!”

For the first 15 minutes of the car ride Henry was still, too still, in the passenger seat of the truck. I monitored his pulse and respiration rate for any detectable abnormalities (can you tell I was taking my Cardiopulmonary class at this time)? About two miles from the vet he sits up and starts trying to climb into my lap – all 50+ pounds of him. I push him back into his seat but he keeps frantically trying. He settles back down until I pull into the parking lot of the vet. He pops his head up and realizes where we are.

Have I mentioned that Henry loves, L-O-V-E-S the vet? He jumps up in his seat and can hardly wait for me to open the car door. He pulls me into the vet pulling so hard on the leash that he is constricting his breathing. A vet tech looks up and exclaims “Henry! You dork! Are you the dog that electrocuted himself?” Techs, front office staff, and the veterinarian gather around him and he is wagging his tail and jumping around like nothing ever happened. The vet looks up, “this is not the dog that electrocuted himself?”

The vet concludes that he must have just burned himself because there is no way he could be jumping around and so happy if he had electrocuted himself. She gives me instructions to monitor him for 36 hours for any pulmonary edema (bloody froth from the mouth) but that’s it.

He behaves normally after this but he continues to have just an “off” smell.

The smell gets worse. The whole house just…reeks. And it is definitely coming from H. Back to the vet we go….

The veterinarian examines his lip, which it turns out is basically rotting. Then he has me open Henry’s mouth so he can look around.

“Have you seen his tongue?” the vet asks. Jensen and I both peered inside H’s mouth to observe a pink tongue with a perfect half-circle, at least an inch, missing from the right side. “This is one lucky dog. The electricity entered his lip & exited his tongue, if it had gone to his heart he would have been killed instantly.”

We leave with antibiotics and a mouthwash to prevent food from getting into the wound on his lip. The smell gets marginally better. I notice that part of his gum is hanging off. I chase him around with a paper towel and manage to grab him long enough to grab the hanging skin, which comes away easily. The smell now seems to come from my hand and I run the – I don’t even want to think about what it was – outside to the trash can, gagging the entire way.

The stench in our house goes away and we are left with Henry minus a chunk of gum and a chunk of tongue. The missing gum means that Henry now drools out of the right side of his mouth, drools on the couch, drools on the coffee table, drools on Jensen and I, our guests, strangers – you name it!

On an interesting (but related) side note:

Henry is a little bit crazy. He gets overstimulated and freaks out. He only wags his tail when he is barking at Jensen or myself, he is a perfect angle on walks for months & then decides to jump and try and grab a strangers shirt, jacket, on one occasion a neighbors hair, or tries to eat a door:

 Vets and dog trainers all confidently aver that he is not aggressive at all. I have heard things such as he is: just misunderstood (said with humor), dorky, silly, etc. Two seperate people have commented that he acts just like crack babies do.

We come up with different hypotheses: he is simply crazy, he was exposed to some bad chemicals with his first owners (meth?), etc. But recently I came up with a new one. I take Henry to the doggy dermatologist who notices the drool/missing gum. After hearing the whole electrocution story he tells me his own electrocution story about an acquaintance’s 3 year old son that chewed an extension cord and despite being in his 30’s never progressed past 1st grade developmentally.

First reaction: Oh, crap! I have to worry about this with a kid?

Second reaction: ! Maybe that is Henry’s problem.

Oh, Henry.