Friday, September 30, 2011

Advanced Studies- The Hard Way

It's no secret, I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but circumstances beyond my control prevented it from happening. Apparently my pack is determined that I get to study canine illnesses and injuries the hard way, thru actual experience. Now, we probably don't have any more illnesses and injuries than any group of 10 dogs living together, or say 10 two year old humans in daycare, but lately they've been turning up the learning curve.

Morgan has been coping with arthritis in her hips and back legs for several years. Lately we've noticed that she's walking stiffer than usual. We try to avoid stairs with her and I've been taking her into the front yard instead of making her go up and down two flights of stairs to the back yard. This morning when we headed for the front door, she was limping. It wasn't just a stiffness limp, her left hind leg was hanging uselessly.
I made a call to Dr B, who was in surgery. He said to bring her and leave her. He'd check her between patients. The call came a couple hours later. Morgan has a torn cranial cruciate ligament. You athletes out there will recognize this as a tear to the ligaments holding the knee in place.
Because of her age, almost 12, we've decided to try to treat the tear without surgery. This requires weeks of rest and walking on leash only to relieve herself. She's also getting medication, Adequen injections every two weeks, an increase to her Metacam arthritis medication and Tramadol three times a day for pain. We'll keep surgery as an option if this treatment doesn't help her.
Our goal is to get her healed and back to playing with sticks and hunting for lizards. I'd welcome any advice or comments from those of you who have dealt with this injury without surgery. You can email me at

And a note to my dogs, it's OK, if I'm curious about canine health problems I can read about them. You don't have to keep presenting me with these new challenges.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Little Lower and To The Left

Hey Dad, while you're just standing there could you scratch my back? Please.

Oh, that feels good.

Could you scratch a little lower and more to the left? Ummmm.. that's the spot.

Tess's favorite activity is having her back scratched. Any time she sees a human standing around, not doing anything she interprets as important, she asks them to help her out. Once you're done, she'll run around like crazy to show how happy she is, then she's back for more scratching.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review and a Quandary

This is an unusual post for us.  I have a decision to make and I'm having a lot of trouble making it. Why do I always have to see both sides of a situation. Anyway I'm asking for your advice in helping me make up my mind. But more about that in a minute.

First Norma Jean wants to thank all of you who sent her good wishes when she had her sick tummy.
Once the silly girl stopped eating grass she stopped vomiting. And once the vomiting stopped, her tummy started feeling better. By Monday morning she was feeling so good that she tried stealing Bailey's breakfast. That's when I knew she was Ok again.

Also on Sunday Lola sprained her leg. I don't know what she did exactly, but she came in the house limping and unwilling to put weight on that leg. I checked for cuts, swellings or pain, torn nails and anything stuck under the pads. When I didn't find any of those, I gave her some Rimadyl for a couple days. This morning she had totally forgotten about the sore leg and was running laps in the yard with Tess. Lola knows you would have all wished her well, too, if her lazy Mom had bothered to write about her sore leg.

Last week my friend Sue recommended a book, actually a series of books to me. She said they were light, fun reads and I immediately borrowed the first from the library. The author is Spencer Quinn and the books are Dog On It; Thereby Hangs A Tail; To Fetch A Thief; and The Dog Who Knew Too Much. They are all Chet and Bernie Mysteries.

Ordinarily I'm not a fan of mysteries, but these are amusing books about a somewhat inept pair of detectives. Chet is a dog and Bernie is his PI master. Chet is actually the better detective, but has a rather short memory. Although he has some great ideas, he's easily distracted by the scent or even the thought of bacon. Sounds a lot like my Morgan.

I'm only on the first of this series, but it's a fun read written from the dogs point of view and I'm sure I'l read the others. If you're looking for some light vacation type reading, try the Chet and Bernie mysteries.

Now for my quandary. Last week I posted pictures of my hand knit dog sweaters. Over the weekend I was contacted by an online site that handles dog accessories. They expressed interest in selling my sweaters. At first I was excited and started thinking of ideas for new sweaters, but as the week has gone on, I've had some doubts.

I don't want to devote all my time to making dog sweaters. I'm also enough of a control freak to want to decide how they will be marketed. I also want to decide what to make and when. Let me give you an example.

I used to sew most of my own clothes. Occasionally some of the women I worked with asked if I would make something for them. I usually agreed.  At first it was fun, I was doing something I enjoyed and I was making a little extra cash, but pretty soon my 'customers' were getting more and more demanding. They'd bring pictures from magazines or describe an outfit in great detail and I was supposed to produce exactly what they had in mind.

The final straw was when a co-worker asked if I'd make her daughter's prom dress. Stupidly, I agreed. The girl, her mother and I went shopping for a pattern and fabric. She chose a pattern that I didn't like, but I agreed to make it. Then the pair chose the most awful fabric I'd ever seen. It was hideous by itself, but in the style of dress they wanted, I knew it would look awful. I tried to steer them toward other fabric, but they were in love with the hideous stuff.

Reluctantly, I made the dress. I hated every minute I spent working on it and the finished dress looked terrible. When I showed them the finished dress, they were ecstatic. It was exactly what they wanted and the girl wore it to the prom.

Well, you're saying, the customers were happy, so what's the problem? Maybe I'm being silly, but I hated that dress and was ashamed to admit I made it. It was not something I'd ever choose or make on my own. I stopped sewing for several months because I didn't enjoy sewing anymore.

Now, I can envision the online company coming back to me and saying "we want six of these orange and kelly green sweaters in extra large size." I wouldn't be able to force myself to make them.  It would turn me off knitting as the prom dress did sewing. I like the freedom of making what I like and feeling the pleasure of creating something I feel proud of.

So, readers and friends, I value your input. Should I say no to the online store and either open my own Etsy shop or peddle my sweaters locally, or should I go along with a site that has wider circulation?  Your advice is needed and welcomed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm Trying

I'm aware that Sky had some complaints last weekend. He felt I was using a flu shot as an excuse to avoid my doggy duties. He discounted the fact that it rained most of the weekend. Of course, as a water dog, he doesn't mind rain.

I guess I have to plead guilty to Sky's charges. I was just being lazy and taking some 'me' time to stay warm and dry and work on my hobbies. This is what I was doing last weekend.

This weekend I'm trying to do a better job at being attentive to the needs and demands of the pack. We've made numerous trips outside to run around and play ball. Rob and I have also had to clean up many times because Norma Jean has an upset tummy and rather then just rest quietly, she insists on eating grass every chance she gets. Then she throws up again. The cycle keeps going on and on.  Finally this morning I forcibly kept her from grazing and it seems we might be getting control of the situation. Why do dogs do that?

We hope you all had a fun filled weekend with no tummy upsets.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stylish Dogs

A couple years ago I entered a contest. The local animal shelter was offering a $50 prize for the best handmade dog sweater. Well I didn't win. I came in second, but it was so much fun that I made a lot more sweaters.

A dog sweater knits up pretty quickly, especially if you're knitting for a small dog.

You can get as fancy or as simple as you want.

You can knit in school colors. This one is the colors of the local college.

You can add fancy trims. This one has a 'fur' collar and crystal buttons. It should be worn with a jeweled choker.

 This is an afternoon lunch with the girls sweater. My Mom had a jacket that looked very similar.

I made several that didn't get photographed such as a red and white 'fur' jacket for a girl and a tuxedo for a boy for their New Year's party. I enjoyed making ruffles, so I made several ruffled sweaters.

Chan, this is the one I had in mind for Gretchen if you think it'll fit. I'll send you the measurements.

It's also nice to have a warm cabled sweater for cold wintry days.

Dr B sold a number of my sweaters thru the grooming salon, but eventually sales dried up as the same customers were coming in again and again. I'm now trying to think of another outlet for our sweaters. They're too much fun to stop making them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lazy Days

Mom got a flu shot on Friday, then it rained all weekend so she used her stiff, sore arm as an excuse to be lazy. Now that it's cooler, you'd think she be happily taking us for walks and practicing our obedience lessons and throwing the ball for us to chase. But no, she wanted to sit around all day and read or knit. What fun is that?

She did manage to put some bird seed out for the hungry flock.

This is our new neighbor, Mr Chipmunk. He lives under a rock by the side of the house, but he loves to eat at the seed bar. The new seed Dad bought has peanuts in it and this little guy stuffs his cheeks so full, they look like they're going to burst.

It was pretty boring laying around all day waiting for a human to play with us. I stayed on the window seat so I could keep my eye on the squirrels, but Noah fell asleep waiting.

At least the few puny flowers that didn't cook this summer enjoyed the rain.

Now that Mom's arm is feeling better, we're all getting a chance to run and play and she's throwing the ball again. Life is good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Day With Morgan

I, Fudge, thought you might like to know more about Morgan.  First, Morgan is the oldest dog in our family. In November she'll be twelve years old. She's also the littlest dog in the family, but she can be bossy when she wants to be. Here's how she spends her day.

Morgan gets up with the rest of us at 4:30 when Tess starts barking. We all go outside and then we have breakfast. Then Mom says we all have to go back to sleep for a while, so we do.

The next time we get up, about 8:30, Dad takes all of us except Morgan out back to run around. Morgan doesn't like to go up and down the stairs because of her arthritis, so Mom takes her into the front yard.

She has to check out the place where the chipmunk lives before she comes inside.

When we all get back inside, Mom gives us our pills. These are the ones that Morgan takes. Three of them are for her anxiety disorder, one is for her liver and the others are for her arthritis.

Because Morgan gets confused, Mom helps her with her pills by putting them in yogurt. That makes them slide down easier.

She takes liquid medicine that Mom says is an NSAID. She gets it in a plastic thing called a syringe. 

After we all have our pills, Mom and Dad eat their breakfast. We wait for them to finish because then we get a special treat.

Dad makes toast for us and spreads it with something good. Today it's cream cheese, Tsar's favorite, but sometimes it's peanut butter or best of all is jelly. 

He cuts it in pieces, little ones, and we each get two pieces. It would be nice if he made a whole slice for each of us.

After breakfast Morgan takes a nap.

When she wakes up she usually needs a drink to wash down that dry toast.

Then she comes into the living room to continue her morning nap. This time she's on Dad's lap.

Morgan is our chief squirrel watcher. She checks the window several times a day.

When we all go outside for a run around, Morgan usually goes hunting for lizards. She's pretty good at catching them. Just this week she caught one. Dad saved it from her, but she ate the tail. If you see a tailless lizard around, that's the one and Morgan would like it back, please.

Sometimes she finds a stick to chew on or a toy to play with. She's really good at skinning tennis balls.

Samba is Morgan's bestest friend. Sometimes they share secrets.

Sometimes they compete with each other.

Morgan doesn't do much running anymore, but when we have a game, she likes to be involved, like when we play football......

....or baseball.

After dinner, Morgan likes to clean us all  and make us neat.

She likes toys and has a lot of them. She carries them around and chews on them and sometimes she sleeps with them.

At bedtime we each get three spoons of yogurt to help us sleep thru the night with happy tummies.

Then we get a good-nite cookie.
Then we each go to our beds. Lola, Tess, Bailey and Norma Jean sleep in their crates downstairs. Tsar sleeps wherever he wants, usually in the kitchen or on the sofa. Samba sleeps in the bathroom because she gets hot. Sky and Noah sleep on their beds and I sleep on the floor next to Mom's bed. Morgan has a basket and a pillow and a bed and a chair and she moves around a lot between them. If there's a storm, she sleeps with Mom and Dad.

Morgan is a good buddy and she gets along with all of us..

She's a little slower and a little stiffer than she used to be, but she can move pretty fast when she wants to. She's a pretty good big sister to have.