Last Updated: 8/27/08
Schmoozer's story is below.
Also, see my dog page.
Schmoozer on 1/31/04.
Schmoozer was our only living dog from 5/26/91 to 1/31/05. After his death, I had to go through the following story and put it all from the present tense into the past tense (a lot of work) which I do after the passing of all of my animals. The verb tenses may seem a little strange because of this. It is hard to do but provides some closure and a review of his life.
Schmoo was a brindle (brown and white with black tips) Shih Tzu. Schmoo was born on 3/8/91, and my mother bought him for $350 on 5/26/91. He was never trained properly. If he did something wrong, people would often just scream. It was amazing that he was house trained. He was not, however, capable of refraining from barking for more than a short time when he was young. He barked at ANY human, deer, cat, rabbit, squirrel, turkey vulture, crow, or foreign thing around. This included barking at the cat he knew and any cars that drove up. He could not see the cars on the road, we had few visitors, and so they warranted a loud barking spree. Schmoo ripped at the windows in the process. Proper discipline would be a firm, "No!" and perhaps a squirt of something bad. Instead, the family screamed and usually let him outside. By releasing him, they rewarded his barking. He knew if he barked, outside he went. Despite all this, he could be sweet when alone with us and calm (usually when he was worn out from barking!). I did teach him to sit but he only did it when there were no distractions at all. My mother thinks his "bad" behavior was due to inbreeding since he most likely came from a puppy mill (he had mange too) which we did not know at the time we got him.
In 1998, I bought a bark collar that zaped him when he barked. It worked for a few months but then he ignored it. You could see the light go on when he barked but he kept going without a pause. At first, he would yelp. The first time it zapped him, I heard a thud. He was on the bed barking and had fallen off when he got zapped. I still put it on every day for a few years but it did no good at all so I eventually stopped using it.
Update 3/28/00: Schmoo still barked his head off. Zappers, cans with coins, yelling, closing him up in another room; none of these things work. I just ignored him mostly but other people screamed, stomped, and finally let him outside where he got into trouble. The neighbor's dog, a 50 pound male beagle, used to come over to find food to eat. His owner only fed him in the evening and not with food to his liking. They NEVER let him inside their house and even did not have any vet care done because they said they could not catch him. They claimed this was because the previous owner beat him. Anyway, Schmoo went crazy when he saw this dog. If he got outside, he attacked the beagle. Schmoo got a few nasty bite marks on his head. The beagle was a wuss who never let me touch him but he did bite back when Schmoo attacked him. (Bart, the beagle, vanished the next year. Neglected dogs die young.)
[I wanted to add this information on 4/21/07 after I received an e-mail from someone who read the above. They said I should never be allowed to have any animals because of what I did to Schmoo with the bark collar and later not holding him while he died. About the collar, I wanted to clarify a few things. First, I did not want to get the collar. My mother insisted on it. Schmoo would wake us in the dead of night having barking fits and bark half the day at animals passing the window. Other ways to get him to calm down did not work. I set the collar on a pretty low setting and took it off when he went to bed. Aside from the first time when it hurt him, he showed very little sign after that that it was even doing anything. The collar only slowed his barking a little for a few weeks until he was back to normal showing no sign that it hurt him. I do NOT advocate bark collars. Not only are they cruel but they really do not work. I told this person that while I do have other animals, they would be happy to know that I will never have another dog or any human children.]
Schmoo had some arthritis in his back. He stood at the bottom of the stairs and whined although he could climb up. At his yearly checkup on 3/23/00, Schmoo weighed 20.1 pounds and gave the vet's muzzle a good workout.
By 6/22/01, Schmoo had begun to have various problems, mostly from his age. He had arthritis, cataracts, itchy skin, goopy eyes, impacted anal glands (I could not get them to expel so he was going to the vet), overgrown nails (he bit if I tried to trim them so the vet did until the last year of his life when I did with help and a muzzle), recurring diarrhea, and often woke me at night to pee, have diarrhea, or for no particular reason. One night he wined all night, and I lost a lot of sleep. One positive note was the discovery of Greenies (see below under links) which he loved to eat up until about a year before he died. They also reduced his horrible bad breath.
On 1/15/03, I took Schmoo to the vet for an infected ear. It was fungus again that he had when he was a puppy. His ear was all scratched up and full of scabs from him scratching it. It stunk but did not look too dirty. The vet gave him a steroid injection and Otomax (gentamycin sulfate, betamethasone valerate, and clotrimazole) for the fungus. By the next week, he seemed cured for then but his eyes were glued shut partially again! He had gone to the vet numerous times for his eyes too but I did not record it here. He had cataracts and maybe glaucoma but being that he was almost 12 then, we did not treat him for that. One eye was white but the other was not as bad.
Schmoozer had his yearly checkup on 3/27/03. I had blood and urine testing done. Everything was normal except for three things. He tested positive for Lyme disease antibodies which meant he had been exposed. He was negative in 2002 and had been on Frontline. I did not recall many ticks on him in 2002 but it was not a surprise he might contract it as at least two human neighbors were positive, and we had a large deer herd who unwittingly carried the ticks who carried the disease all through no fault of their own. Anyway, he may not have had an active case. As he was old, there was no way to tell old age problems like arthritis from the Lyme disease. Second, his alkaline phosphatase was a little high. The vet said it could be Cushing's disease but other portions of his test that she would expect to be off from that were normal so it might just have be early liver failure. His urine showed white blood cells so he may have had a bladder or urinary tract infection which I suspected since he had begun to drink and pee more than normal. Since he was positive both for that and the Lyme disease, the vet prescribed an antibiotic to treat for both simultaneously. He took Cephalexin 250 mg #42 three times a day for two weeks (he weighed 20 pounds). Since I could not pill him, I had to wrap it in a piece of cheese. He was eating a lot of cheese then! His eyes were still cloudy but not as oozy, and his ears were okay for then. He was sleeping a lot more often now that he had gotten older.
Schmoo's problems again mounted so that I took him to the vet on 8/12/03. This time, although the same vet group, we saw a "relief vet" who was not a regular. She really helped us! First, his eyes had been off and on full of goo, like slime, glued shut, and generally GROSS! The previous vets said there was a test to see if he had dry eye but Schmoo was too violent to allow the test. So, he had just been on eye antibiotic every time it got really bad plus I rinsed his eyes with doggy eye drops. His left eye had a full cataract, and the vet said he was 100% blind in that side. His right eye she said was 25-50% blind. Surgery for cataracts is thousands of dollars so she agreed it only makes sense for a dog who loses all his vision. Schmoo was old too. Anyway, this vet did give him the test for dry eye which was simply a piece of paper in his eye for one minute. I was proud as Schmoo was a good boy, and the test was no problem! He produced zero tears during that time, a 100% failure, meaning he had the problem called "dry eye." He was then put on 0.2% cyclosporine or Optimmune twice a day for the rest of his life. Within days, his eyes were shiny again! I had the vet pluck his ears (which I could no longer do because Schmoozer was not cooperative) and express his full anal glands which I had never been able to do even though I tried. Schmoo was probably wondering why I kept squeezing his butt! I was able to do his nails then with homeopathic sedation, a muzzle, and my father holding him with leather gloves. Schmoo had a number of warts now including a large black one which the vet said to keep an eye on for size or shape changes. We thought (correctly) that they were not cancerous. He also had at least two fatty tumors on his stomach/sides. As if these were not enough reasons to go to the vet (see I put it off until I had a ton of reasons), Schmoo had been chewing on himself like a chew toy. He had always done this but now it was worse, and he had some bald areas that were raw. The vet said only prednisone would stop his itching so he is on that for a few weeks. After that, he went on Benadryl. There was no way to know what thing or things he was so allergic to as it could have been anything. With his poor vision, old age, etc., Schmoo had fewer barking fits than he used to. He slept a lot.
You will note that up to this point, I had not keep a complete log of Schmoozer's vet visits and problems until about 2001 but did after that time. It helped me to look up what medications he used for example or what date something occurred. I do not think many people read this page at all so it was really for my own sort of doggy diary.
After Schmoo's prednisone was used up, I started him on 25 mg of Benadryl (for his allergies) and one dog aspirin (for his arthritis) twice a day. He then took to spitting them out of the cheese at all costs. I had to give up. I wanted to help him but he fought it!
Schmoo stopped eating much on Benadryl and aspirin so I took him off them for a while. Then, he started chewing on himself like a chew stick again so I put him back on Benadryl without any bad effects. But, he did not stop chewing. Then, he became worse stinking than normal, unbearably so. He started ripping his fur out. His neck was stinky and sticky and bare and gray crusty things were on it. We went back to the vet on 10/24/03. He had a skin fungal infection which I expected. The vet put Schmoo back on prednisone (5 mg) for a few weeks and two weeks of Clavamox (amoxicillin trihydrate and clavulanate potassium, 25 mg, 2 times a day) in case he also had a bacterial infection. The fungal problem was treated with Malaseb spray and shampoo. Spray was done daily and shampoo twice a week. It contains miconazole nitrate and chlorhexidine gluconate to kill bacteria and fungi. A week later, and he was getting better.
Update on 1/23/04: Schmoo's eyes were doing very well. His fungal problem was now minor. He did not stink too bad. He mostly slept a whole lot as he was getting old.
Update on 2/13/04: Schmoo was less and less active. He slept most of the time. He still enjoyed a treat after his twice daily medications. I did not bother to walk him much anymore as he was so slow that you would be there all day unless you drug him which is no fun for either of us so his walks were shorter. A little after 12 am on 2/13/04, we were awakened by a sound I had never heard before in my life. Schmoozer was emitting an extremely loud sound. I can only say that if a dog could scream bloody murder, this was it. It was part bark, part yelp, part whine, part scream, and all terrifying. I was awakened bolt upright out of a deep sleep and immediately thought he was dying. I ran downstairs to him and shook him. It seemed like fully a minute before I got any response. I thought he was dead. He finally lifted his head. He seemed fine in the morning so I can only assume he had a night terror. This is a nightmare where, for humans, you sweat and scream, etc. Schmoo screamed in his sleep. We had all been under stress and duress and now it was affecting the poor dog. I gave Schmoo extra kisses and hugs (ignoring his stench) and told him I loved him and wanted him to stay alive.
Schmoo had another night terror before we went to bed a few weeks later. He was paddling his feet and crying/screaming in his sleep.
On 3/16/04, Schmoo had his yearly checkup. He was 21 pounds, 12 ounces. He had a heart murmur. A large black cyst on his back was getting huge, and he must have scratched it open around 3/13/04. On 3/22/04, he had surgery to remove it. It was the size of a gumball. The vet also thought a growth by his anus might be cancer so that was also biopsied at the same time. I also had his teeth cleaned. He had lots of fatty tumors as well and more lumps and bumps all the time. Schmoo probably had half his vision in one eye and none in the other from cataracts. In order to be operated on, they had a new policy in that he had to get a nasal Bordetella vaccine he never had before. Schmoo again tested mildly positive for Lyme disease. His blood work (full panel) was fine except for his alkaline phosphatase which was up to 1100 from 424 in 2003. The vet was not concerned since his other liver enzymes were fine.
On 3/22/04, Schmoo had surgery. They removed his black cyst growth from his back and the growth near his rectum. It was biopsied. They did clean his teeth as well and removed three loose ones in the back. Total costs for the last two weeks for Schmoo then: $1300! They told me he had to wear an Elizabethan collar so he did not pull his anal stitches. Well, he could not eat, drink, sniff, get on the couch, or climb the stairs with it on. The fist night, he cried and wined. So, my mother insisted it come off despite the vet receptionist saying absolutely not to do that. So far, he had not tried to remove his stitches. Hopefully, it would be okay. This same week, on 3/24/04, a fox got into our hen house and killed my favorite and oldest hen and the only chicken I have ever hatched, a rooster named Beebee, so I was very upset.
Schmoo's biopsy showed the tumor was benign, and they got it all. His stitches were removed on 4/1/04, and he was doing fine.
Schmoo's luck ran out. Around 1/23/05, he stopped eating and for four days strained to poop but nothing came out. He went to the vet on 1/27/05 (the earliest they could see him). When they went to do his temperature (which was normal), they found his anus encased in tar-like feces. This explained why he could not get anything out. They did his anal glands. He was down to about 17 pounds (a loss of 4 pounds from the previous year). Aside from the heart murmur being pronounced, that vet thought he was okay. She felt nothing abnormal aside from his few fatty tumors. I suggested a blood panel (she was not even going to do it). They gave him some subcutaneous fluids. Schmoo was supposed to be just fine the vet said but he still would not eat and produced almost no feces. The next day, we got the blood results. Schmoo was dying.
His blood work was pretty bad. Here are the results that were abnormal:
Urea nitrogen - 36 (normal 6-25 mg/dL)
Bilirubin - 7.6 (normal 0.1 to 0.3 mg/dL) - causes yellowing or jaundice; his skin was yellow; his urine was an intense yellow
Alkaline phosphatase - 13,680 (normal 5-131, U/L) - this was WAY high! This indicates liver failure.
ALT - 418 (normal 12-118 U/L) - liver enzyme
AST - 304 (normal 15-66 U/L) - liver enzyme
Phosphorus - 6.7 (normal 2.5 to 6.0 mg/dL)
BUN/Creatinine ratio - 40 (normal 4-27) - indicates kidney problems
Triglycerides - 604 (normal 29-291 mg/dL)
White blood cell count - 25.4 (normal 4-15.5) - indicates infection
Platelet count - 83 (normal 170-400)
T4 - 0.5 (normal 1-4 ug/dL)- indicates thyroid problems
GGTP - 40 (normal 1-12 U/L) - do not know what that one is
The vet thought he had liver cancer. On 1/29/05, he had an ultrasound. The technician said he did not have severe liver cancer. There was one possible tumor there but not really significant. His spleen and kidneys were enlarged. He suggested exploratory surgery and perhaps spleen removal. The vet there that day, and I thought that it was not worth it. Surgery would have been very stressful for him in his state near death and probably would not have helped much. Schmoo had trouble breathing so they took an x-ray which showed no fluid on the lungs. After cleaning out his nose, he then seemed to breathe okay. I think he aspirated some vomit (he threw up some butter-like stuff). It was now apparently likely that Schmoo did have hepatitis. How he got it, I have no idea! There is a treatment but for some reason, the vet did not want to try it right away. The vet said he should be at the emergency vet. I did not want his last time to be in a hospital. I asked what they would do (for $500 a day), and I started doing it myself. The vet gave me a few syringes of Baytril to inject for infection. He was on 200 mL of lactated ringers (subcutaneous fluids) every day. I also tried to get him to eat baby food and that energy supplement stuff (malt, sugar, vitamins, etc.) by smearing it into his mouth. One moment he looked horrible but the next he was able to get up and seemed to ask for something, what I was not sure! When he walked, he started to sometimes fall over on his back legs. My mother would not give up on him and wanted me to spend all the money I had if need be to get multiple opinions. While I would do almost anything for my animals, I also know when to accept that he was dying.
On 1/30/05, my mother blended up turkey, a raw egg, half-and-half, a dog vitamin, and some of that sugar/malt/vitamin dog energy supplement. I loaded it into a feeding syringe and put a little bit at a time in his mouth. My mother had to pry apart his jaws which were still amazingly strong. We were hoping that force feeding him might make a difference.
Around 6 pm on 1/30/05, I gave Schmoo his 200 mL of lactated ringers. I walked him a few feet from the house. He was walking okay but refused to pee. At 9 pm, my mother wanted to force feed him again so I went to get him. He had vomited his other feeding on himself and the sheets. I picked him up and set him down. He could not longer stand, just fell over. His head was cocked off to the side. His breathing was shallow. I knew this was the end so I cleaned up and put a piece of plastic under the bedding to catch the urine that occurs upon death to keep it off the couch. I tried to sleep that night after crying myself to sleep but was up a few times and could not stop thinking about baby Schmoo. I did not have the guts to check on him. When I did at 6 am, he was gone. I was surprised to find he was still hot and limber though so I am guessing he died around 5 am on 1/31/05. My mother told me that Schmoo had been whimpering around 11:30 pm that night but I did not hear it. Because it had been so cold, we could not bury him like all the other animals so, for the first time, we had him cremated. Schmoo was 36 days away from his fourteenth birthday.
[I wanted to add this comment on 4/21/07 after someone e-mailed me that I was evil for leaving Schmoo to die alone. First, having had many animals and many sick ones that have died, I have learned to emotionally detach myself from them to some degree in order to continue to work non-stop and continue to care for the other animals. If I did not and let myself grieve, I could not function. Second, I was not as close to Schmoo as I would have liked. This was partly because he smelled horrible despite weekly baths and various trips to the vet for that, partly because he liked to bite, and partly my fault I guess. I have never been able to watch an animal die. If that makes me weak, so be it. I just cannot physically or emotionally take it. I feel I must leave. I was there seconds before a rabbit died; she couldn't breathe and was gasping so horribly that the mere thought of it now, years later, is causing me to choke up; I left for a minute to call the vet for an emergency, and she was gone while I left. Once I know for sure an animal is going to die, in some ways it is a relief, not so much for me but for them if they have been suffering. I accepted Schmoo was not going to make it, and my constant work ethic made me put down the plastic under him so my parents would not yell at me after he soiled it. No, I did not hold his paw while he suffered and die. But, I was hardly sleeping. I was crying (and people who actually know me say I never do that, that I have a cold heart) and slept very little. My mother did hear his dying whimpers; I did not; she did nothing, and yet I am pure evil. Regardless of your level of contempt for me, you can rest soundly knowing that I have been forbidden from ever having another dog. No dog will ever love me. I can still hear myself saying, "Give mommy a kiss," and Schmoo would lick my face. I think he would forgive me.]
I always reflect on the unique and good things about each individual after their death. Here are some of Schmoo's marks on my memory.
1. Every time I would sit and eat French fries, Schmoo would make short barks until I gave in.
He was so happy if eating a fry!
2. Every Christmas, Schmoo would open his presents, ripping them all apart. When he got down to the present, he would look up as if to say, "What do I want with THAT thing?" He enjoyed the wrapping paper more than most of the presents. It really was not Christmas last time because he did not want to open any presents.
3. When it would snow, he would run through it trying to eat the snow that he churned up! It was so funny.
4. He loved to slurp water out of the cat fountain, always leaving a puddle for me to clean up.
5. He was an adept pill-spitter-outer. No matter how I would wrap those pills up, he would usually get them out and eat the food wrapped around them if it was good enough in his mind. After his morning pill, up until a few weeks before his death, he would always eat a Pupperoni, one of the few made-for-dogs foods that he would deem worthy of his consumption.
6. Schmoo was such a part of our lives for almost 14 years. First thing in the morning - walk the dog. First bowls I fill in the morning - the dog. Last thing before going out and first thing when coming back - walk the dog. Last thing at night - walk the dog. Someone is visiting - put up the dog. Dinner leftovers - call the dog. It will be hard to change the routine; I am sure for a few moments here and there, I will forget he is gone.
7. Schmoo loved his weekly shower! He was always waiting for it. If I had to do my Saturday chores on a different day or I was running late, he still knew it was Saturday and awaited his shower around 4 pm every Saturday. He would get out of bed and stand in the open looking towards the laundry room where I showered him. After his shower, he would run super fast in circles around the house before he got sick. He was such a spaz then (and not really at other times).
8. Like all dogs, before settling in to sleep, Schmoo would dig around his bed and spin around. He kept messing up the couch throws he slept on (it was an old yucky couch) so we had to keep adjusting them! Sometimes he would dig, dig, dig on the hard ceramic-like foyer floor too; you would here the scratch, scratch, scratch. He was trying to dig a hole I guess but why on the hardest floor?!
9. Schmoo hardly ate dog food but loved "people food." My mother would give him corn on the cob and sweet potatoes which were two of his favorites. He ate a lot of meat and licked a lot of butter dishes (which I did not think was so good for his health). Of course, the junk food I tossed him probably was not either! He liked goldfish crackers a lot. For a while, he went through a potato chip phase. I always got mad when my father would cover his dog food he was supposed to eat with 100 potato chips he usually then ignored. Schmoo had a lot of digestive problems from all the excess "people food." When he used to eat spaghetti, his whole face would turn orange.
Here are some names we called Schmoo - Schmoo-pie, Schmoo-cilla (like Drucilla), Pus (yuck, I do not know how I came up with that one but I used it a lot), Pew, baby Schmoo, Smoo, Smo, Smooze. My brother called him Scooby. My mother wanted to add that she called him "Moo- Pie-Ist." While he normally ignored us for companionship (just wanted his food, to go out, etc.), my mother said that one time when she was feeling very bad around 1998, Schmoo licked her and tried to comfort her. He did like to eat Scooby Snacks! These were the moist ones. He also ate Pupperoni treats. Aside from that, if it was meant for a dog, Schmoo 95% of the time would not even try to eat it. He would eat a can of Mighty Dog maybe 2 to 4 times a week before he got really sick though. I tried the expensive all natural kinds of dog food but he never touched it.
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