Funky Fungus

Adriel looked so peaceful curled into a ball on the couch.  Her tongue hung lazily out to the side.  Little did we know that there was about to be a war waged on her tiny little body.

Not one to shy away from attention, Adriel always greets me when I come home from work.  I pick her up and cover her furry head in kisses before placing her back on the floor.  She then zooms over to the large pet bed and grabs her favorite toy:  the chef hedgehog.

I plopped onto the couch after a particularly trying day.  Adriel raced up the pet stairs and sat on my lap.  My hand gently petted her fur.  She eagerly lay on her side for a tummy rub.  As I began rubbing, my hand felt something rough.

I leaned in for a closer look, then immediately drew back in horror.

“MATT!”  I yelled.

My husband raced into the living room.  I told him to carefully pick up Adriel so that I could look at her belly.  With Adriel in the air, I was able to see that her stomach was covered in large, crusty scabs.  We were completely shocked.  Adriel never gave us any indication that anything was wrong. She was eating, drinking and playing like normal.

To make matters worse, Matt and I were scheduled to promote our new children’s book, Priceless Penny, at a two day pet expo in St. Charles, Missouri.  I quickly called my mom to see if she could take Adriel to our vet.  She raced over and sped off like an Indy 500 racer.

We soon got the call that Adriel had a skin infection.  She was given two shots and told that she would be better in two weeks.  One month later, the scabs became a faded memory.  That’s when her fur started falling out.

When I say “falling out,” I mean in chunks.  The cute white strip on her head disappeared.  She became completely bald on her left side.  Her pink and black spotted skin was becoming more visible every day.  Matt and I even started saving the fur in a sandwich bag to take to our vet.

We were scheduled an appointment to see our favorite vet the day after she returned from vacation.  My mom accompanied me and we were promptly told by a receptionist that I had missed our appointment.  They could still see Adriel, but it would be with my least favorite vet.  I was livid.  I had waited four days for this very appointment.  We made it for 7:30 p.m., not 1:30 p.m. like the receptionist claimed.

The vet took one look at Adriel and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

How could she stand there and tell me that she had no clue what was wrong with my baby?  And what’s worse, she acted as if she didn’t care (That’s why she is my least favorite.).  I presented the bag of collected fur in which she placed a piece under a microscope.  She then had a vet technician take photos of Adriel with an iPad to send to a doggy dermatologist over in St. Louis, MO.

Wanting to be proactive, we called the Animal Skin Clinic and set up an appointment for the following Tuesday.  I was not going to wait around and waste precious time.  The vet called my husband the next day.  She said that Adriel could have any number of issues including:  fungal infection, bacterial infection or cancer.  My heart dropped.  Cancer?  I was inconsolable.

Adriel was taken back to the vet the next day for blood work and a skin scrape.  My husband returned from the appointment with a smile on his face.  The lab work and skin scrape came back negative for cancer!  I was beyond overjoyed.

Matt then told me that the vet was insisting on scheduling a biopsy.  A biopsy in which Adriel would be placed under anesthesia.  My family has had horrible experiences involving anesthesia that resulted in the needless deaths of two wonderful dogs.  I was NOT eager to have my eight year old Chihuahua put under.  We decided to wait until after the dermatology appointment.

So what exactly was going on with Adriel?  My husband texted me on Tuesday afternoon while I was at work.  He informed me that a transformer blew outside of the Animal Skin Clinic and they had no power.  I could not believe it!  We had waited so long for this appointment.

He asked if I wanted him to wait to see if the power returned.  My answer was YES!  I had a feeling that the moment he left, the power would magically be restored.  He sat in the waiting room for almost 30 minutes.  Dr. Clear decided to see Adriel regardless of the lack of power.

She was a bit upset that she would not have the microscope available to her.  Matt did leave the bag of fur with her for further investigating purposes.  I suddenly received a test:  “CALL ME!”  I hurriedly excused myself from my desk.

“What is going on?”  I asked.

“Adriel is having three punch biopsies done…right now,” Matt whispered.

NOW?  They put her under?  I breathed.

I was then informed that the doctor was able to give Adriel a local and keep her anesthesia free.  What was even more impressive was the fact that Dr. Clear felt confident enough to perform the biopsies via the sunlight that was streaming in the patient room window.  We were finally going to get some answers!

I raced home from work that night.  Adriel was sleeping peacefully on the couch.  Her biopsy spots were visible  due to the bright blue thread that the doctor used.  She had one by her neck, one on her side and one near her rump.  The doctor also prescribed an anti-fungal medication along with medicated shampoo and Omega Tri-V caps to encourage hair growth.  Matt told me that it would take four weeks for the actual biopsy results to come back, but that Dr. Clear was leaning heavily towards a fungal infection.

Adriel loved getting the peanut butter flavored pill pockets twice a day.  She did not love getting bathed twice a week.  Her least favorite part?  Waiting ten full minutes for the shampoo to set before being rinsed off.

Slowly but surely, Adriel began to stop losing her fur!  At our follow up appointment four weeks later, we learned that she had had an allergic reaction to one of the shots that our vet had given her for the skin infection.  Her hair follicles were not damaged, which means her fur may be able to grow back.

I was very impressed by Dr. Clear and the entire Animal Skin Clinic staff.  They treated Adriel like one of their own.  And they even have an office dog that was rocking a sweater!  Dr. Clear took pictures of Adriel’s bald spots with her phone to monitor her fur growth.  She then disappeared stating that she would be right back.

Several minutes later, the door burst open and Dr. Clear was laughing.  “I had to do it,” she said as she showed us her phone.  On the screen was a photo of Adriel.  Dr. Clear pushed the play button and Adriel said, “Mom, Dad, you might want to start investing in some sweaters.”

I have never met such a down to earth, friendly doctor (aside from our favorite vet).  Dr. Clear took her time with Adriel and was not going to stop until she figured out what was wrong.  We had gotten several check up calls from her as late as 7:00 p.m.

Adriel just completed her final round of Prednisone and a topical solution called Dermoscent Essential 6.  The doctor was right, it made Adriel smell like an herb garden but also restored moisture to her skin that had been striped from the multiple bathing.

Adriel’s fur may never grow back, but I don’t mind at all.  I would rather have her bald and healthy then furry and sick.  She can now continue her work as a certified therapy dog, bringing smiles to all she meets.

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