Accepting the disease – May 2000

Life stayed fairly stable for a while. Taka had outbreaks in various places, with varying degrees of severity. Our morning routine now included a skin check to see if he was okay or if there were areas I needed to address. My travel schedule increased at this time as well which added to the problems. I would often be gone for several days at a time and although my dog sitter was good, she certainly wasn't skilled enough to care for Taka. I returned from one trip and he had chewed the remaining hair off his back and the base of his tail. Another time I came home to streaks of blood on his haunches - his tail tip had become so brittle that it broke open and bled causing the Akita "curl" to paint his legs. 

Over the months the SA was obvious not only from the hair loss, but also on his skin. The soft pink skin I knew in the healthy dog now varied from dark gray to near black and was dry and flaky. The base of each hair was black tipped as well, so much that during baths it looked like hundreds of fleas were racing to the ground when I rinsed him, for all the hair falling out.

Bath time was really the saddest part. His coat was so thin that when he was wet you could only see skin – no hair at all. He was a tall, skinny, gray dog with a long thin tail that had sported an odd curl. Only his head had a slight covering of hair – new growth that appeared sometime in mid April, but the hair stopped abruptly at his collar line.

The good news was the herbal treatment seemed to be working. Yes, he had patches of sores occasionally, but no more crusty lesions or open, oozing sores. He certainly was not attractive and often shivered on cold, damp days and would run for shade if the sun became intense. His had only a very fine covering of short hair mixed with  long tendrils in weird places. I finally took scissors to those just to even his coat out and keep him from looking so ragged.

Those of us close to Taka cried a lot of tears. Many, having not seen him for several months literally buried their face in his neck to hide their tears. Somehow it is easier when you see the dog day-to-day. Each outbreak “is not so bad”, each new bald patch “could be worse”. I poignantly remember an evening in late May when some  friends came over for dinner. They had not seen Taka since Christmas and the husband said, “That dog looks like hell”! Even so I was happy. He was eating well, relatively free of serious problems and still the big goober-puppy. Things could be worse.Next - The Rampak treatment