Sunday column: Tough week for a dog owner

Back in January, I introduced my readers to Miles — then a fuzzy little ball of terror my wife and I adopted from Carolina Animal Rescue and Adoption. Just over three months later, I’m writing about
again about Miles — now a fuzzy big ball of terror who keeps my wife and I on our toes like you wouldn’t believe.
I get teased by a few for bringing up my dogs a lot (in addition to Miles, a Bernese/lab mix, I also have a 7-year-old Jack Russell Terrier), and I take teasing in stride. I’ve always been a dog person,
and I’m not ashamed to admit I tend to treat them more like humans than the average person.
But it’s been a tough week to be a dog person. In addition to the awful, gut-wrenching news from Sanford this week about a man who allegedly shoved a deflated soccer ball on a dog’s head and led it
into traffic (the dog was hit and killed), my wife and I have been battling a disease Miles came down with just before our weeklong vacation in South Louisiana.
I had every intention on this column being a warning about erlichia — a tick-borne disease very common in the Southeastern United States and a disease that will kill a dog if untreated. We’ve been treating Miles the past nearly two weeks now with antibiotics intended to kill erlichia, which, much like AIDS in humans, attacks white blood cells and keeps a dog from being able to battle illnesses.
Miles had all the symptoms — urinating blood (and being in pain while doing it), having bruises and blood spots on his belly, slight bleeding from the gums and an overall “sickly” feeling that turned our bright, energetic, fun-loving dog into a moping, depressed little puppy.
Those of you who have met healthy Miles might find it hard to believe anything could keep him down … but it did.
While in Louisiana, our former veterinarian told us the disease could be erlichia, but since ticks aren’t all that common in that part of the country, he did not have the materials on hand to do a blood test
for it. He still prescribed the antibiotics for erlichia, and ever since, Miles has gotten much better — just about back to his old self.
This made it really strange for us when we learned Thursday Miles’ erlichia test came back negative. Now we’re stumped … we’re a bit worried … and we’re scared for Miles (not that we’d every let him
know that).
It will possibly mean more tests, which will mean more vet bills — but we’re willing to do just about anything to get this dog healthy.
I have actually told Miles — yes, I talk to my dog — that he needs to just kick whatever’s ailing him, because I don’t know of a better life a dog can have than one with a family who loves him.
It’s crazy. We’ve had this dog nearly four months, and he’s a huge part of our family. Then again, he was from Day 1.
That my wife and I are willing to do all we can for an animal makes the soccer ball incident even more upsetting to me. Back when the whole Michael Vick thing was going on, I wrote that there are two kinds of people in the world — those with the capacity to abuse an animal and those who couldn’t possibly even think about it. I have yet to meet a person in that first category I like … and I like a lot of people.
I’m not writing this for sympathy (I have complete faith that Miles will be OK), and I’m not writing this to rile up PETA or any other organization.
I do, however, want people to have a better awareness of tick diseases here. They can be deadly, and if you ask a local vet, they’ll tell you it’s more common than you’d think. If you feel the same way about your animals as the way I do, you wouldn’t want a tiny little tick to cause so much harm.
I also want to plug Jennifer’s blog — Life with Miles, located at If you’d like to hear about
Miles’ progress, that’s the place to go.
You’ll also learn about what a terror he is.
A wonderful, wonderful terror.


One thought on “Sunday column: Tough week for a dog owner

  1. Billy, my wife and I have furry children as well and can have been in a similar spot. We wish Miles a fast recovery and his parents the best.

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