Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sometimes, It's the Little Things

Through some strange sequence of Google coincidences, I ended up at my own blog this morning and realized that I haven't said a word on it since February. And I realized how much has happened since then, but how many of those things have been so small that I didn't think to blog about them until they added up.

"Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?"

Bruno's seizure episodes have all but come to an end. After that last post, I made a sort of connection in my brain: the worst of Bruno's seizures all seemed to happen right not long after he had a lot of goodies. Christmas was a confusing time for him, with people pouring in and out of the house, colorful paper being ripped to shreds, weird music playing through the home theater system. And to placate him, I was giving him goodies on the regular.

After writing that last post, I was feeling particularly emotional, and he could feel that. So I gave him extra goodies to let him know that everything was okay, that he was a good boy. And he had another particularly violent seizure.

The goodies in question? Blue Buffalo. Supposedly the exact sort of crunchy, green, organic stuff that I always buy for him. So I did some research and found that I wasn't alone. Scores of complaints were piling up on the interwebs from puppy-parents whose little ones were having all sorts of nasty reactions to Blue after the company was sold. Some opined that the inclusion of walnut shells in Blue's kitty litter might be contaminating their canine goodies and food. Was it a slam dunk case? Of course not. Correlation doesn't imply causation. But it was enough for this desperate daddy to throw away all of the Blue goodies in the house and see what happened.

It's been six months since, and he's had two very, very minor episodes that didn't result in full-blown seizures, but merely disorientation and a general grumpiness. Which, I might add, you can literally see him trying to control. One time, he actually put himself in time out, as if he knew something were wrong and he didn't want it to escalate.

The other little thing that felt like a huge thing was that Bruno made a canine friend. Our next door neighbors got a little Chihuahua/terrier mix named Champ, and after a few days of woofing, Bruno decided that this little guy was okay. Which blew. My. Mind. Over the course of a few months, I could even see Champ having a calming effect on Bruno when we ran into other canines while out walking/jogging. He even gave Champ kisses through the fence, and would try to initiate games of tug-o-war with the little guy!

Sadly, Champ disappeared after three months. The neighbors were away for the weekend and he broke out. They never found him. That was two months ago, and Bruno still looks for him, still pines for him. If it thunders, he immediately runs outside to comfort Champ (who was never allowed inside). Sometimes he just sits at the fence and stares into that yard, hoping his little buddy will come out to play.

It breaks my heart.

And unfortunately, most of the good that Champ did for Bruno has been undone. It used to be that, when we were out walking, if a little yappy-type mutt ran up to Bruno, he would remain pretty calm. A few weeks back, though, a little ball of angry fluff came running up to him and bit him right on the nose. And now they're the enemy again. All of them


Monday, February 11, 2013


It's been a while.

It's not that I haven't had a lot to say since the last time I posted. It's that I don't really know how to express what I'm feeling fully. That may have a lot to do with the fact that I don't think linguistically, so taking torn thoughts and turning them into a cogent string of words is tough.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I mentioned before, but haven't said much about since, the fact that Bruno has neurological problems. Contrary to suspicions, neutering went a long way toward diminishing those. Before, he was having major seizures or similar neurological episodes three, four times a month. Post-neutering, that's down to way fewer than once a month. Usually no more than one every two months.

But Christmas was bad. Really bad. Over the course of three days, he had three major episodes, one of the accompanied by severe convulsions. Those that weren't involved severe disorientation, immobility, hallucinations  and -- here's the kicker -- severe aggressiveness. Directed at absolutely nothing or no one.

In other words, he would lie on the ground, look around at shit that didn't exist, and snarl a deep, resonant, painful snarl that resembles absolutely nothing that otherwise comes from the boy. To make matters worse, the worst episode occurred when we had house guests. One moment, he was Bruno, jumping around, playing, snuggling with the company, as happy as he could be. The next, he was lying in my brother-in-law's fiance's lap snarling ferociously at... nothing. I managed to get him off her lap and onto the floor, where he just lay growling for the next hour, with one five-minute break during which he completely lost all control over his body.

The cause, it seemed, was just too much freaking excitement, just like it usually is. Either a nightmare, or bad weather, or something similar. Explicable causes did little to ease the minds of our guests, though, and of course the questions started rolling: "Can you treat this? Are you going to treat this? This isn't like Bruno at all!"

And therein lies all the conflicted thinking and lack of word-making. In the parlance of our times, I'm fucked for what to do, except love him and fret over the fact that I'm fucked for what to do.

Reasons that I can translate from my non-word-thinking to some semblance of words:

  • It's a sporadic issue. His doc and I agreed that if it were more frequent than once a month, we would start to seriously discuss medication. Reason being, the anti-convulsive medications are considered effective if they limit seizures to once a month. So there's that. We could put him on meds, and his current once-every-two-month occurrences would still be considered within the norm. (He's had one episode since Christmas -- just this weekend -- which involved a bit of growling and some shaking, but passed pretty quickly.)
  • On the other hand, Bruno weighs 75 pounds, 90 pounds of which are his head, and 100 pounds of which are jaw muscles. You know the regular red Kong toy? He literally puréed one in under ten minutes. Granted, by his nature, Bruno is the gentlest, kindest, snuggliest, most submissive boy in the world, and wouldn't dream of turning those bear-trap jaws on a two-legged person. But during these episodes he's not Bruno. That's the only way I know how to put it. Bruno goes away, and I'm not sure what happens when he comes back -- whether he remembers what happened during the episode, or whether he's just picking up on the tension in the room -- but as soon as he regains his sense of reality and stops with the snarling, he instantly starts cuddling and nuzzling and trying to make things right. It's like a switch flips, although it takes a few minutes to flip. The point I'm making here is, this isn't a behavioral problem. This isn't his fault. But the reality is, he could potentially do some damage during one of these episodes. Now, granted, if he did bite, the bitten someone would likely be me, since they usually happen when he's sleepy, and he uses me for a pillion, and the bite likely wouldn't be that bad, because he has the motor skills of a drunken baby giraffe when he's like this, but still -- what if, by some struck of bad luck, something did happen to someone else, and the question arose: are you treating him for this condition?
  • The thing is, if I do put him on meds, in all likelihood it will change his personality permanently. And 99.9% of the time, Bruno's personality is the last thing in the world you would want to change. He's so sweet. He's so gentle. He's such a good, kind-hearted, well-behaved boy, with such a passion for life that it's entirely infectious. He lights up any room he's in. He refuses to let anyone be unhappy in his presence. He's everything that's good and right and worth loving in this world, all wrapped up in a big, goofy, clumsy package. I do not want to change that. At all.

So I just don't know what to do. I mean, there are exactly two options here: medicate him, or don't medicate him. Granted, he's been through obedience school (passed with flying colors!) and we're talking about trying to work with a behavioralist on his issues revolving around canine aggression. There's hope there.

But this thing -- this isn't a behavioral issue. It's not an obedience issue. It's a neurological issue. If it were occurring more than once a month, the decision would be easier. If they caused him longterm distress, the decision would be easier. But we're right on that cusp of indecision. His doc refuses to make the call. I can't make the call. I feel like I'm facing Sophie's Choice here. I have to choose between one thing and the other, and both seem equally bad.

I honestly hate to even talk about this, because, of course, there's the whole ridiculous perception of pit bulls "turning," and I don't want to lend any fuel to that fire. There's a medical problem, which is doc thinks (due to some of his physical reactions) may be related to an upper-spinal or neck injury from his fighting days. Or it may be genetics. Who really knows? I just hate that such a sweet, loving boy is at the center of this whole brouhaha.

I'm so glad, though, that he's with me, and not another family, who might consider a more drastic choice.