A little bit of rain did not deter us from making a visit to the vet’s office for a nice thorough exam, a full set of vaccinations, and some compliments on her cuteness. Zee is a bit of a sissy in the rain, but once she got Chick’s waterproof coat on, she hardly even noticed the rain drops that were falling on her head.
When I first met Zee at the shelter, she was 7 pounds overweight and had a bad case of conjunctivitis, some skin inflammation, upper respiratory infection, and a mysterious neurological condition. All we really knew was that she was a sweet girl, maybe eight years old, who would almost certainly be overlooked in the shelter for as long as she lived there. In a shelter full of beautiful, bouncy, happy dogs, it’s hard for a mellow older girl with special needs to compete– people tend to get stuck on her age and apparent depression and move on.
Zee had full bloodwork done when we had her spayed a few weeks ago, but she had not had a chance to bask in the glorious attention of a nice vet who would thoroughly check her vitals and answer all of our questions — until a few days ago. Not surprisingly, she did great, and the vet’s assessment was even better than we had hoped.
Zee’s weight is down to a perfectly healthy 44 pounds. Her ears, eyes, heart, and lungs are all in great shape, and her teeth are in remarkable condition for a dog her age, especially given the fact that she has likely never eaten high-quality food before. The vet was very impressed with her beautiful, thick coat that is as soft as velvet — so different than any of the other dogs we have fostered to date. He also detected very little arthritis in her joints– so little that he did not even recommend a joint supplement, only a daily multivitamin. He thought that she may even be younger than the estimated 8 years old that the shelter had guessed — possibly 6 or 7. In other words, she is a perfect physical specimen!
The vet was also kind enough to spend some time investigating Zee’s neurological condition, which does not seem to cause her any pain or suffering, but does make her just a tad off balance — as though she were a little tipsy or walking on a boat sometimes. He did a few tests on her reflexes and coordination, watched her walk up and down stairs, and asked her to sit, stand, and follow him around the office in different directions and maneuver around corners.
The observation confirmed for our vet what we had already suspected, which is that Zee’s condition is likely the result of a trauma earlier in her life that has affected her balance and depth perception, and only very slightly her reflexes — it is essentially a form of brain damage. This type of condition comes on at once — at the time of the trauma — and tends to be stable afterward. For Zee, this means that her cute trot, her clumsy way of bumping into coffee tables, and her need to sit down when she sneezes are going to be lifelong traits, but are not likely to develop into more serious issues down the road. From the vet’s assessment, the way Zee bumbles happily through the day now is the same way she will bumble happily in five years.