1. He is stressed.
2. He is aimless, probably because he should be a working dog and we have turned him into a comfort-loving, comfort-giving playmate.
3. He has an allergic reaction to something
It was clear that I wasn't going to be able to quickly solve any of those issues, so today I took him to the vet, Dr. Erin Russel at Brookfield. Again, the quality of vet that fell into my lap continues to astound me. She has so much to say, so much advice to give, so much knowledge to impart. She rolls options off her tongue, keeping in mind my pocketbook (although my pooch could never be called cheap) and the practically of the time commitment she's recommending. There are so many things I could be doing better, but somehow she never makes me feel like I should have already known how to better care for Chevy.
Her opinion is that Chevy is having an allergic reaction to something, which is causing the paw obsession. The licking is causing inflammation to his paws and causing an acne-reaction to his face. There is a multi-step process to fix it. First, Chevy needs to wear a cone to keep him from doing more damage to his paws. (He is not a fan.) Second, a "people" allergy medicine like Benadryl or Claritin once a day. Third, a topical steriod spray to help his paws twice a day. And fourth, a pill anti-biotic to fight his issues from the inside.
Once we get the current paw licking under control, we need to keep an eye out for what was causing the allergy. Is it his food? Consider switching to a different protein. Does it happen again after we return from Eastern Washington? We also need to keep an eye on his feces to make sure his parasite hasn't persisted.
As I type it, it seems like a lot...but it does feel doable. Hopefully it is. You know I'll keep you all posted, whether you want me to or not! =)
One last pic of my cone-head, Chevy. Note the tongue is still in action, he just can't reach his paws!