What’s a foxtail?

Before I moved to the San Francisco Bay area, I had never heard of a foxtail!  In the bay area though, if you are a dog sky_IMG_20150628_071040574owner, especially when there is no rain …. well you’d better know what a foxtail is and be on the lookout for them every time you take your dog outside.

Foxtails are most dangerous when they are dry.  This is when they fall off are become easily dislodged from the grass they grow on.  They are barb shaped and when a dog is a around them they seem easy magnets for capturing a foxtail in their coat and then this barb shaped little spikelet starts working it’s way into the dog’s fur and frequently into the skin.  They travel one way!  Deeper into the skin.

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So why would I mention the insidious  foxtail in my blog?  Well -you guessed it if you’ve been reading my blog at all.  One of my dogs, my Australian Shepherd, Sky started showing the symptoms of a foxtail in her ear.  She had been scratching her ear for a few days and I would look at it and see nothing and she wasn’t scratching all the time – just randomly.  Two days ago whilst I was visiting a friends place she started scratching and then cried out in agony.  The three of us got her to calm down and put the other dogs out as we worked to try and find the source of her discomfort.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary really though we saw a small scratch in her ear.  We looked for a foxtail but saw nothing and I thought well maybe in the course of her scratching herself she hurt herself and so was crying for that reason.

I kept an eye on her for the rest of the day.  She seemed ok -but not her normal chipper self.  I noticed she was tilting her head a bit to the left and occasionally shaking her head or scratching her ear.  By the evening, though still no visible evidence of a foxtail, I was getting more concerned that perhaps this was the situation.  Sky was not acting in pain or scratching at it very often -but she was at times and I figured I had best get her to the vet by the next day.

Yesterday, Wednesday was that day.  I called my vet, Steve and he said he wouldn’t be able to see her till late afternoon.  At about 4pm we got to his office and I explained the symptoms to him.  He had me hold her head as he used a scope to look in her ear.  We wound up doing this twice though he was quite sure he saw something the first time.  He made one attempt to pull the foxtail out while I was holding her head but that was just too impossible so keep her still so no other choice than to give here a sedative.  Within about 10 minutes of the sedative she was knocked out well enough to begin the extraction.   Steve Egri DVM is the master of foxtail removal!  He had that foxtail out within about 15 seconds.  His scope inserted deeply into her ear and then he has tweezers that fit through the centre of the scope and he goes right to it and next thing you know there is a foxtail removed from the ear!!


This was the culprit in Sky’s ear!  Not that big but certainly a source of discomfort for her.  I have been using Steve as the dog’s vet for at least 5 years now and I have to say he is the most honest and straightforward vet around.  He is much more affordable than other vets.  That doesn’t mean I consider his prices to be cheap but they are in comparison to others.  the main thing I love about going to Steve is his approach is to listen to you and then use common sense to make the diagnosis.  While I was in his office for Sky’s foxtail, before he had given her the shot to subdue her another patient came in with a cattle dog and complaining about the itching her dog was dealing with.  He listened and asked questions and then sent her to buy a flea collar.  He didn’t charge her for this visit and didn’t sell her the collar but sent her somewhere to get it.  Steve’s prices have gone up since I first started going to him -but honesty and not trying to inflate the bill with loads of meds etc means more to me than feeling like you are a sucker walking in the door as seems to be the case with so many Vets!

The foxtail removal in this case – was $100.  I received a little discount since I did fix his phone and internet while I was there but I would still go to him at twice the cost because I know he’s honest and practical knowledge goes a long way.

If you’re looking for a good honest vet who lives in the bay area and is open 7 days a week just by calling or texting -then definitely call Steve at Harbor Veterinary Services in Sausalito.


By the way the flea collar he recommended, for the dog with the itching problem, is one I’ve never heard of but sure looks more appealing than the frontline or advantix.    It’s the ‘Bayer Seresto Flea & Tick collar’.


Too long

What sort of a writer doesn’t write?  I would have to say a lazy one or one who has more excuses than reasons.  I’m speaking of myself and alluding to the challenge of maintaining a consistency in publishing to this blog on a regular basis.  It is certainly not for a lack of things to say or thoughts to share but rather those other things that seem to come up just as I am sitting down to the computer to get those words formulated in some cohesive manner.

Alright -enough said about not writing.  How about saying something!

The good news!

swa_bd3I have finally returned to work after a year’s absence due to Posterior Tibial Tendon transfer surgery in my left ankle.  The road to recovery was long and not completely over but the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely getting brighter and the complete healing seems close at hand.  The surgery took place last July.  July 10th, 2014.  I returned to work on June 1st of 2015.

The return to work has been challenging in many ways.  I started out on an 8 hour shift that was split between evenings and graveyards.  I would come to work and get the work packages ready for the overnight shift (the overnight shift is technically my shift)  and then I was supposed to get off at midnight while my co-workers on graveyards worked till 7am.  The biggest challenge of trying to leave after 8 hours was leaving in the middle of all the work.  The other challenge is returning to a job that I haven’t done in a year and even then, really for the last two years before this surgery I have been rather limited physically.  So I have returned to a job where there has been a lot to relearn and remember.

I am back on my normal overnight schedule with adjusted days off for the moment to allow for me to finish up a therapy program I in at the Veteran’s Admin.  My therapy so for the moment I have Tues/Weds/Thurs off instead of my normal Thurs/Frid/Sat.  The first 2 and half weeks or so of my return to work seem to have come at the worst timing as far as workload.  Last Saturday, 27th of June was probably the first time since I have returned to work that there was enough manpower for the work at hand.  Try being on light duty or getting the hang of things again when the workload is over the top!  Then on top of that, try going home because your 8 hours are up when everyone else is still slaving away.  not good for my morale any more than my coworkers.

As recoveries go I am learning about balance.  Now that I can walk in general without pain, I have also discovered that a good balance between walking and sitting is important.  Some days I am pretty sore and have to really try and pace myself -other days I have felt like everything is normal with no regard for the need to pace myself.  I spent my first weekend off mostly in bed recuperating from work!  Balance is good in all aspects of life and overall this is the lesson I am learning at the moment.  While still on light duty I have to be aware that even when things feel great, ‘don’t overdo it!’