This post was most recently updated on May 17th, 2015
This is Georgie. She is our 6 year old wire-haired Irish Viking dachshund. Technically, she’s as American as I am, but she closely identifies herself with the Irish. And the Vikings. Although, just between you and me – I think she only wants to be a Viking so she can have Kveldsmat, the traditional Viking late afternoon snack … Anyway, Georgie came to live with us right after our 3rd child was born. She had some pretty big paws to fill – my long-haired dachshund, Harley, had recently passed away at the age of 15 and she had been quite a character. But George quickly fit into our family and started making a name for herself.
She, like most dachshunds, has a very unique and entertaining personality. She’s quite loving and playful (as long as she gets her rest) and she is an excellent manager. In fact, she has an actual job title: Household Supervisor. She started out as the Bathroom Supervisor, following the family (usually me) to the bathroom every time we went and waiting until we were done before leading us out of the room like a pilot car. She did such a good job that she quickly self-promoted to the Household Supervisor position, where her duties include not only the bathroom, but the kitchen, family room and bedrooms as well. She’s even taken on the job of supervising Daddy Dog when he’s working in his home office. She’s quite an over-achiever. The only space she doesn’t supervise currently is the basement, but she anticipates taking over that area once it’s completely remodeled.
She is compensated for her work with food and treats, of course, regular medical care, a family bed where she and all her companions live and play in relative harmony (until Bachmann the Beaver stirs up a ruckus and she has to kick him out, that is). She is loved, cuddled, petted, played with, snuggled, treated, talked to, sung about and praised. She gets her own birthday week and even gets a cake. (Really, she gets a small muffin, spread out over the whole day, but we call it cake and she’s none the wiser.) She’s walked for her health, which she tolerates. And she even has her own blog, devoted to her Irish-Viking musings. All in all, she’s got it pretty good. Her best friend is my parents’ one-eyed black lab mix named Mollie – George likes to think Mollie, like the Norse God Oden, gave up her eye for knowledge and wisdom. I’ve explained to her that it was an ill-fated fight with a tough raccoon, but you know how dachshunds like to be right … She’s fey – which is her preferred term. We just call it “the damn dog barks at everything – even when there’s nothing there!”
One thing about George – really, just about the only thing about George – that we have issue with is … her fungus problem. What’s that you say? Fungus issue? Yep – the dog has a fungus. It started about 3 years ago – scaly patches and darkening skin on her tummy and a very … um, distinctive aroma … like feet. We took her to the vet, who ran tests and said she had a yeast infection. Dr. LuAnn wasn’t amused when I suggested that we might dip her in yogurt, incidentally. The Diggy Dog went on an oral yeast medication, underwent a grueling bathing regimen with special shampoo and suffered through daily sprays of an anti-yeast agent in her ears. Super fun times. But the problem went away … for about 3 weeks. When it came back, it came back with a vengeance. Back to the vet we went. More medication – this time it was a cortico-steroid which didn’t help her skin problem at all but did make her thirsty, puffy and sleepy. More bathing and spraying ensued, but the problem stuck around like an unwanted houseguest. We took her to a different vet who took her off the steroid and put her on another anti-fungal medication. He said to continue bathing her and he took cultures to identify the problem. A few days later he called to say that Georgie had a fungus, most likely related to some sort of skin allergy, but to what? Well, he couldn’t say, he said – it could be any one of a thousand things she could be allergic to! Sooo … we switched her dog food and her snacks and treats to an all grain-free diet. Cha-Ching! More high-powered anti-fungal shampoos and sprays were acquired. Cha-Ching! For the past 2 years, we’ve barely been keeping ahead of the fungus. She starts smelling like a foot about 2 days after she’s been bathed and the scaly patches spread to her haunches and neck. We’re pretty sure there’s something about our grass she’s bothered by, so we try to keep it mowed, don’t use any chemicals on it and move her potty area around frequently so she’s not in the same place for very long. She never allowed outside without supervision and when she’s walked, she has to stay on the drive-way area – dirt only, no grass – and must be wiped down with a towel upon her re-entry to the house. Her bed and blankets are washed frequently, with hypo-allergenic soap and we never, ever use those very popular stink removing sprays, even though the temptation to cover up that horrible smell is great. I’m about half afraid, though, that the result would be a sort of ‘meadows and foot’ smell, which would probably be pretty gross. Recently, we changed her food again – this time to some fancy stuff my parents use in their kennel. It’s not grain free, but she seems to like it better and it’s helped her skin condition a little bit. She looks a bit glossier, her eyes are brighter and she seems to have more energy. I guess we’ll see if this fixes the problem. Also, there’s a new vet in town who may have some more ideas as to the cause and cure for her *disorder*, since our vet has basically told us all we can do is keep bathing her regularly and try to figure out what she’s allergic to – he’s stumped. Which I understand is an actual veterinary medicine term …
You may be wondering if keeping the dog is worth all the expense, effort and trouble we’re going to? Well, of course it is! I wouldn’t get rid of one of my kids for smelling bad or having bad skin. In fact, my oldest is going into puberty and … oh, I forgot – I’m not supposed to talk about that. My point is, though, that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to ensure the health, happiness and well-being of my family. And Georgia is part of my family. She is a source of comfort, joy, amusement, entertainment and love for all of us. We’re not going to stop loving her because she isn’t perfect. But we will do all we can to make sure her life is as happy, healthy and high-quality as we can. Because that’s what we do for family down here on the farm.