Talking Pets: Ella and the fungus amongus

August 24, 2012 

Are you ready for summer to be over? Boy, my dogs and I sure are.

Besides the stifling heat, mosquitoes and thunderstorms, this summer brought something new to our house: fungus amongus.

It started back in early July, when Ella had some odd spots on her belly and inside thighs. They weren't bumps, or sores, they were ... well ... like crop circles.

There was no hair there. Hmmmm ...

A trip to the vet and a skin sample showed it was some fungal activity. Holy cow dog.

We got some meds (antibiotic and antifungal) and some spray and headed home to battle the enemy.

Ella did great with the pills. I just hide one in a

chunk of canned dog food and it goes right down. She got the antibiotic in the morning and the antifungal at night, so she was getting chunky canned dog food twice a day and loving it.

The spray was another matter.

Sometimes rescue dogs don't like you coming near them with implements such as brushes, brooms or rolled-up newspapers.

But this rescue dog doesn't like washcloths or tissues or cotton balls.

Or anything in a bottle, such as ear cleaner. Or Fungisof.

But I was told to spray her and spray I did, twice a day for about 10 days, and the fungus retreated.

I say "retreated" because guess what. It came back.

On Aug. 10, I noticed Ella's left eye was weepy and reddish. By the next day, the right one was looking infected, too, and I noticed a couple of little "crop circles." So I called the vet's office and got an appointment for Monday morning.

This time, the vet did a skin scraping. (The last time, the crop circles were tested with the tape method, where the vet took what looked like packing tape and pressed it on a crop circle to get some skin.)

And sure enough, the fungus was amongus again.

This time, there were no oral meds. Oh, no ... this time there were EYE MEDS. If you think Ella freaked out over the Fungisof, you can imagine how she reacted to the eye meds twice a day.

Actually, after about three days, she got much better at accepting the ointment. At least she wasn't closing her eyes so tight I could not get them open.

I have found that if you just keep doing the thing that scares them -- and I'm talking ear cleaning, nail trimming, brushing and such -- then they will learn that you are not going to hurt them.

In addition to the eye meds, she had to get a bath twice in the first week. What fun! And after the baths, she had to get a special fungicidal lotion dabbed on the crop circles.

Now she's getting a bath once a week, followed by more fungicide. More fun! And this will go on until those nasty crop circles are gone.

Bathing, as with other doggie grooming procedures, has to be accomplished over and over so they will realize you are not torturing them.

The hard part is getting them to go into the bath without using the word "come."

In training, you learn never to call your dog with "Ella ... come!" when it's going to involve something unpleasant. You should never call a dog and then punish her for something. That will just teach her NOT to come when you call her.

So getting her into the walk-in shower is a challenge. It went something like this:

"Ella!" (in my best sing-songy voice). "Guess what time it is! Time to get a nice baffy."

At this point, I had to track her down. She was "hiding" on the couch.

"Ella ... I need to talk to you," (while hoisting her from under her armpits).

"We're going to get a nice bath and you're going to feel lots better," (while sliding her down the hallway).

"I got some nice oatmeal shampoo, just like the doctor said," (while closing the bathroom door behind us).

"You are such a good girl!" (while lifting her front paws into the shower).

Whew! After that, we were home free.

So, yes, we will certainly be glad when summer is over. I figure Ella got the fungus amongus laying in the backyard, which hardly ever dries out these days with the summer rains.

She absolutely loves her backyard. She would live out there if I would let her.

Sometimes, after I get home from work at night, she will hang out in the backyard while I sit on the back porch checking on Facebook and such.

She will be out there in the dark, just laying there gazing at the night sky. Sometimes I can tell where she is by the "squeak-squeak-squeak" of a favorite toy, the one I call the Dirty Little Santa because he came with her the day I brought her home from Canine Christmas.

He's dirty and kinda stinky, but she loves him.

Kinda like I am with her before a bath.

M.K. Means, Herald copy editor, can be reached at 941-745-7054.

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