Kooper the Dim and the Tick

Kooper is my 8 year old, Yellow Lab mix, rescue from a local Conesus Lake area shelter. I have written about him previously and he is fondly known as “Kooper the Dim” based on his many antics and adventures.

However this story takes a bit more of a serious turn. My buddy Kooper is dealing with Lyme disease.

I take Kooper with me on many of my photography adventures. This usually finds us in the woods or walking the paths around the Conesus wetlands or many of the wonderful local parks. These are all tick habitat. After each walk I have made it a habit to check him for these nasty little creatures, and promptly remove them if found. This has happened on [unfortunately] a few occasions. This is a necessary chore for anyone with animals in our area. These critters seem to be everywhere.

Apparently I missed one, or found it too late. On a routine visit to the Vet we got the news that he tested positive for Lyme. This resulted in follow-up blood tests from Cornell to confirm and then a treatment program that required me to give Kooper a number of pills.

Have you ever tried to give a dog a pill? He wouldn’t just take it. It became a game of who could outsmart who. The first thing I tried was putting it as far back in his mouth as I could and then holding his mouth closed while rubbing his throat. He promptly spit it out. He also gave me a dirty look and walked away.

I tried a series of techniques to get those pills in him and he would catch on almost every time. I couldn’t use the same method twice. Kooper, in this case wasn’t as dim as he usually was. The most effective method was folding a piece of sliced cheese around the pill and pressing it all together. He still spit the pill out about 20% of the time.

I am glad to say that the Vet has declared that the treatment was effective, but there are long term impacts. In some cases the animal will test positive for Lyme for the rest of their life. It is at a level that is not treatable, but is detectable. It has also slowed him down considerably. He is getting older, so some of this is just the aging process, but there are noticeable issues with his movements. He still swims, chases chipmunks and jumps of the dock, but the energy level is way down, and he “pays” for it for a couple of days afterwards. I can tell he is hurting.

This lead to another Vet visit to see about pain treatment. I have been giving him doggie Glucosamine, which he thinks is a snack, and seems to provide some relief. The Vet also gave us doggie “aspirin”. We now have an almost daily game where I try to hide the pill and he tries to find it and spit it out. We’re about even in the scoring.

Bottom line, Lyme is serious, for people and pets. Our area is a hot zone. Keep yourself, your family and your pets safe from this. Check out the web sites below.

For more information on staying safe from ticks please review the Livingston County website:

“…Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls….”

For more information on Lyme Disease

“…Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria (usually Borrelia burgdorferi). The bacteria that transmits Lyme disease is commonly found in the black-legged deer tick. Current science suggests that Lyme disease is transmitted only after many hours of the tick being attached, so removing the tick promptly can dramatically reduce the risk of transmission. Untreated Lyme disease can lead to arthritis, nerve damage, heart problems (Lyme carditis), and other serious symptoms…”

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