In the morning after her night downstairs, nothing had changed. All the kibble was still there and the water bowl had air bubbles clinging to the sides, as it does when sitting undisturbed for many hours.
“Try the pinch test,” a friend suggested when I said that Alanis was still not drinking normally.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot about that." In the pinch test, you pinch up a bit of skin at the nape of the dog’s neck and release it. If it returns to normal quickly, the dog is hydrated.
With very little fat under his skin and his coat no longer as thick as it had been, it was easy to take up a slack between thumb and forefinger and see how slowly it returned to normal. Darwin was dehydrated again. The vet tech inserted an IV type needle just under the skin of his right shoulder and let half the bag of fluid flow in. After she emptied the rest of the bag into the other shoulder, she said, “Now he looks like a linebacker.” He did, indeed, have the look of someone wearing outsized shoulder pads. The fluid would flow through his system, flushing out his kidneys, and he would eat. Until the final day when the subcutaneous fluid did no good and the fever did not go down despite an antibiotic injection.
What was I supposed to grab on Alanis? When I put my hand behind her head, she lifted it, folding the skin into two rows. There was a healthy layer of fat covered by thick, wiry coat. I closed one roll between thumb and forefinger but the skin was too tight to pull up. I tugged and let go. The dog stretched her head back farther and looked at me with those round, dark eyes, as if wondering what I was doing. So much for that idea.