Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

This was a most unusual week. We had no vet visit. We did, however, have a dog food run. We bought 120 pounds of food for the pups. They go through about 40 pounds a week. This week we went through a little more than expected. One night this week a computer tech came to the house to help me set up the new computer. I didn't want to listen to lots of barking or have anyone jump on the man, so I put the pups in their crates and everyone else in the garage.

We have the garage divided so the dogs have a straight run to the back door and there is a sort of fence to keep them out of the rest of the garage where we store things, including the dog food.

We have never had success containing Samba. When she was ten weeks old we decided it would be a good idea to put a gate across the kitchen doorway and keep her confined to the kitchen until she was trustworthy. Our kitchen doorwa
y is five feet wide. I finally located a rather expensive custom gate that stretched across the doorway. Rob installed the hardware, we put up the gate, locked it and I put our adorable fluffy black puppy on the kitchen side. Rob and I stood on the other side to admire our handiwork.

Samba was not pleased. First she tried to jump, but the gate was too high. Undaunted, she ran to the table, pushed a kitchen chair to the gate, jumped on the chair and over the gate. In all she was confined for about three minutes. We must have had interesting looks on our faces as we realized she was a force to be reckoned with.

When she was about six months old Samba and I were at a friends house. My friend and I were having coffee in the yard and Samba and her dog were playing. The yard was safely enclosed with a four foot fence. I thought of something I needed outside the fence, walked out the gate and fastened it behind me. Samba couldn't bear to have me leave her, tried the gate with no success, so she jumped the fence. It was then we knew we needed our fence to be six feet high.

Back to this week. Confined to the garage, Samba decided to explore. She could see the dog food bags on the other side of the barrier, so she worked at it and opened the fence allowing all six dogs access to the open dog food bags. Tsar, who is a picky eater, didn't participate, but all the others had a party.

When I went to get them they were stuffed. Samba and Sky both threw up that night and the next morning Monty exploded. I won't go into detail, it's too gross. There were four open bags and each had been attacked.

Fudge and I have been working on our obedience course with varying results. One afternoon every time I called him to the front, he jumped up and licked my face. Not what the judges want to see. The next day no matter what command I gave him, he just stood there and looked at me as if he had never heard the words before. One day he laid down and rolled over, no matter what I told him to do. Today he was perfect and he knew it. When we finished, he jumped around and was so happy. I wonder which Fudge will appear at the trial, the one who does everything he's told or the one that doesn't speak the language. I have no idea how he'll behave. Should be interesting.

Today I'm trying to finish a few things. I started laundry yesterday and am almost done with that. Fudge and I have been practicing. I have two projects that I want to get done today. One requires the use of my new sewing machine. It's electronic and talks back to me all the time. I find it very frustrating. Maybe I should have taken those lessons. It seems whenever I'm rushed the machine chooses to complain about something. Today was no exception. I finally got the item finished. One of these days I'm going to have to devote the time to learning how to operate this thing.

Right now the dogs are all sleeping quietly here in the office, except Morgan who is in the garage. The electronic noises my sewing machine makes seem to set off her panic attacks. That, of course, adds to my tension.

It's almost dog dinner time and I'm starting to hear some discussion about it. Soon they'll chose a representative to come tell me that they're starving. I guess I should stop at this point and go feed them. Then I can get back to my projects.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yard Work

First an update on my dogs on sick call. As you can see from this picture, Noah's incision has healed and his hair is growing in to cover the scar. He was an excellent patient, no complaints and he left the incision alone. We're hoping this was a one time event.

Morgan is still getting eye drops three times a day. At first when she saw me with the bottle, she would close her eyes tightly and I would have to pry them open to put the drops in. Now she just sits there and lets me do it. She's such a good girl.

Fudge's ear is back to normal. We clean it and put drops in it and he sits quietly because he knows there is a cookie coming when I'm done.

Rob and I have been trying to get the yard ready for winter, trimming and moving things. We're planning where to plant in the spring and just general clean up work. Of course, we have lots of canine help.

What's so fascinating in this spot? There are a couple rabbits that visit us every evening and leave their calling card in the yard for the dogs to find.

While the others are cleaning up after the rabbits, my Zen dog, Tsar sits on the hill and contemplates space. He spends a lot of time staring off into space or watching the treetops. He's always been a bit strange.

Morgan is a hunter. She specializes in squirrels and lizards. She'll spend hours watching the rocks in case a lizard sticks it's head out.

Tsar likes to hunt for moles and bugs. Today there are a lot of grasshoppers in the yard. He catches them and rolls on them.

How many heads can fit in the water bucket at one time? The answer is four, although we try to cram one more in.

Norma Jean is doing her part by mulching sticks.

Noah looking for something to get into.

Lola watches Noah running.

Lola decides she'd rather play ball.

Tess waits for me to throw the ball.

Noah decides to play on the trampoline.

With all this help it's hard to believe we didn't get finished with all we had planned to do. Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Starting To Feel Like Fall

Today is cool and overcast, a good day for yard work. Rob decided to trim the hedge in the front of the house. He disappeared into the garage, but it was too quiet. After an hour or so he came in and sat down across from me in the office. I could tell something was wrong.

It seems he plugged the trimmer into a long cord and plugged that into an outlet on the porch. Then he approached the hedge. He didn't notice that the cord was wrapped around the trimmer and promptly cut through the cord.

He went into the garage and cut off the damaged cord and attached a new end to it and walked back up the hill to the hedge. He plugged the cord into the outlet, but when he
went to plug the other end into the trimmer, he found that he had attached the wrong type of plug.

He walked back down the hill to the garage and found a different cord, walked back up the hill and started over. Everything was plugged in, the cord was free of the trimmer and he approached the hedge. No power. He had fried the trimmer.

We took a quick trip to the home improvement store and came home with a new trimmer. He plugged it in, approached the hedge for the third time and turned it on. No power. When he cut the cord, he had popped a breaker.

Our house was built by an electrician. One needs a GPS unit to locate which breakers control which outlets. To give an example, we have outlets every six feet all over the house. No need for extension cords in this house. We have 50 telephone jacks and 48 cable tv jacks. The master bedroom alone has six cable tv jacks.

After wandering from room to room, throwing switches to see which lights were on and which were off, we found a breaker in the garage that we didn't even know about, and we've lived here nine years. We got the power running again and I can hear the trimmer running outside the office window as I type this.

While looking over the yard I came across this fellow on the back gate. I saw the neat zig-zag pattern in his web before I noticed him hanging nearby. There is also one living on the front of the fence and I looked him up . He's a yellow garden spider and he's one of the good guys.

This is the largest one I've seen so far. He measures approximately 2 1/2 inches. He's a pretty impressive spider. I found out after Rob and I married that he's afraid of spiders. If he finds one in the bathtub, he calls me to come remove it. We do have some nasty ones here in Missouri, but we also have some very good ones. I've taught him to appreciate the garden spiders and now he looks for them and shares them with me.

The same spider, different angle.

While trimming the hedge, Rob found another yellow garden spider. This one is a little smaller, maybe 1 3/4 inches. He spotted the zig-zag web first.

Rob found this fellow stretched between two bushes. I'm not sure what he is. He's all curled up and refused to move while we were watching. He's a big boy, whatever he is.

The birds planted these little blue flowers and they're trying to take over the garden. I can pull piles of them out today and tomorrow they will be back again. I found this interesting bug feeding on the dead butterfly bush flowers. I don't know what he is.

While we were at the store this morning, we bought a young river birch tree to plant in Lucy's memory. It looks pretty healthy and the weather is cooler, so the time seems right. We stuck it inside the fence until we can get it planted. Of course, the dogs noticed it and Lucy's brothers and sisters all checked it out.

Monty approved.

Bailey and Noah checking the new tree.

Lola and Tess think it looks good.

Norma Jean wanted to taste it. I discourage that. We'll need to put a small fence around it once it's planted to give it a chance to grow. These dogs have been known to pull saplings out of the ground to use for chew sticks.

The dogs all love to help us with the yard work, but it goes a lot quicker if they don't help. Still a cool day like this is perfect for them to play. Fudge and I have to practice some obedience moves and I have a bunch of office work to tackle. Then there is that list that doesn't seem to be getting any shorter. I could use a few more hours.

Friday, September 19, 2008

If It's Friday, We Must Be At the Vet's

We had an early morning appointment with Dr. B today. He wanted to recheck Morgan's eye and go over her blood results with me. On Tuesday I noticed that one of Fudge's ears was red and angry looking, so he went along this morning.

It was good news for a change. Morgan's blood work was all normal. He had been worried about an infection that could move from the eye into the brain, but no infections were indicated. The eye is looking normal, or what passes for normal with Morgan. A couple years ago her irises started fading and what had been chocolate brown eyes are now gray and almost transparent. They are no longer red or swollen and the iris is the right size, again. The pupils are still somewhat unresponsive. I've wondered for awhile if she was going blind and I think she may be, but it's so gradual that she is dealing with it with no obvious difficulty.

Fudge's ear is irritated. He has a lot of hair in his ear canal, so the Doctor shaved the hair away from the outer parts of the ear to allow air flow. I have to clean his ears daily and use antibiotic ear drops for a week. Then we have a special medicine to use in his ears every other day to control the ph. The ear doesn't seem to be bothering him, it just bothers me.

Next we had to go to the electronics store to arrange for someone to set up my new computer and make some adjustments to it. For Christmas Rob gave me an I-Mac that I adore, but I had to keep my old PC going because I have some specialty software that isn't supported by the Mac.

My PC is slowly dying, it takes about an hour to boot up. While I was sick with the flu a couple weeks ago, Rob bought me a new PC. Instead of taking me a week to transfer everything over, we're having someone come to the house to do it all at once and make the thing wireless at the same time. I can't wait to play with the new machine.

When the mail came I had a package. Don't you love getting packages in the mail? Inside was this gorgeous yarn. I just love looking at it. The only thing that worries me is that it's all wool. I'm allergic to wool and the last time I used it my hands got red and itchy. I'm going to take an allergy pill before using it and hope that I can handle it.

I'm not the only one in the house that likes getting presents in the mail. You can see the furry vultures circling the yarn. I can read their little minds. They're trying to figure out if this is a dog toy. I won't let them read Nichole's blog.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Practice, Practice, Practice

Well, I did it. I sent in Fudge's entry form for the Rally Obedience Trial next month. I don't know if he's ready and I'm sure I'm not, but we're going to do it anyway.

We hadn't practiced in a couple weeks while I was sick, but we have started again. He seems to like the practice sessions, at least he likes the treats. Wait till he finds out there are no treats at the trial.

I've broken this rally stuff down into it's components. We have 'heel', 'sit', 'down', 'stand' and 'stay'. Everything is just a variety of these five moves. If we can do those five moves, we should be able to get through the course.

Maybe it would help if I cut his bangs. Seeing could be an advantage, or with Fudge, maybe not. If he sees something more interesting, it might be all over.

Tomorrow I'm asking Dr Nicki for some clarification on a few of the signs. Then more practice on the deck and in the garage. I would never have expected Fudge to be my first obedience dog.

Is this the face of a winner?
I think so.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Morgan Magoo's Mysterious Malady

Morgan has a few problems. They're things we don't understand, but we're doing our best to help her live with them. She has always had obsessive compulsive disorder. She barks repeatedly at things that are no longer there, until we stop her , usually by distracting her. She licks anything, floors, walls, furniture, people, other dogs, herself. She licks until we stop her. On occasion she has licked herself until she licked the hair off, then licked the skin off.

For a number of years we've controlled the OCD with drugs. They worked pretty well and we could adjust them up or down as necessary.

When Morgan was about four years old she caught kennel cough. It didn't go away by itself, so we gave her some antibiotics. The meds were sulfa based and she had a severe reaction. Her liver was being destroyed by the sulfa and she spent a week in the hospital on IV fluids. We didn't know if she would survive, but her liver regenerated and she recovered.

In mid-February of this year she began exhibiting strange behavior. She would start panting and trembling, then run frantically around the house trying to climb on counters, tables, desks, etc. During these episodes, she was uncontrollable. We would leash her, but it was all we could do to hold onto her. She's a small dog, 35 - 40 pounds, but she would drag us around while trying to climb. Her vet thought she might be in pain and trying to escape it.

One day she jumped onto Rob's desk and pushed everything onto the floor, phone, calculator, files, books. We lifted her down and she immediately jumped back up. She jumped onto low file cabinets and the kitchen counter, pushing everything onto the floor. She would get into the bathtub or the shower and try to dig. We started keeping all the doors in the house shut so she wouldn't hurt herself of destroy anything.

About ten days after this started, Rob became very ill and was hospitalized. While he was away I sent Morgan and Monty to the vet to be kenneled. Les came to the house to take care of the other dogs. The day I brought Rob home, Les brought Morgan and Monty home. When we arrived from the hospital and walked into the house, I couldn't find Morgan. I went into the kitchen and I heard water running. Morgan was sitting on top of the washing machine panting and trembling. I lifted her down and she jumped right back up. I went into the bathroom off the laundry room and the water was running in the sink. She had jumped into the sink, knocking everything off the counter and somehow pulled on the knob to turn the water on. I took her off the washer again and leashed her. She went to Rob's side and never left him for the four months that he was home recovering.

Working closely with Dr B, we have found a combination of drugs that help Morgan's anxiety. She still has espisodes when she starts panting and tries to climb, but they are infrequent and she's much easier to control. We no longer have to leash her. Now I can hold her or take her outside to walk around and she calms down. She can no longer take her OCD drugs, however, and the licking and barking and other problems have returned.

Monday morning Rob and I were getting ready to go out when I offered Morgan a treat. Something didn't look right. I looked more closely and her right eye was strange. The iris was very tiny with white all around it and the white was pink and inflamed. I showed it to Rob and he put her in the car and we went directly to the clinic.

Dr B examined her and said the pupil was unresponsive in the right eye and the pressure in both eyes was low. He prescribed two kinds of drops to be used daily, and took blood. The next morning her eye looked almost normal, but we have no idea what is going on. We hope the blood test gives us some information.

We will do whatever we can to keep Morgan safe and comfortable and when we can't, we'll let her go. After losing Lucy so recently, it's very hard to accept that Morgan may not have much time left. She's always been such a sweet little animal. I don't want to think about it.




Friday, September 12, 2008

The List

Last week when Rob was getting ready to leave for Kansas City for the week, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish or at least get started on. The dreaded housework was there, as were a number of crafty projects to knit, sew or cross-stitch. Some needed to be finished, others started.

Instead I was visited by the Gustav Flu and spent the week lying down.

This week I got a second chance. Rob left on Monday for Kansas City for the week and my list had grown. Well, Gustav is still hanging in there, but I managed between naps to get a few thing done. Still the list is long and growing each day.

Rob got home last night and we had Friday to spend together. Unfortunately, life got in the way. Here's our day off.

At 6 AM Tess barked to let me know she was starving. Soon the others joined in. I threw on jeans and a shirt and went to the garage to feed the pups. Then we went out in the dark. Next the big dogs went out for a few minutes. Everyone got a cookie and we all went back to bed.

At 7:30 AM I got up again and fed the big dogs. Then everyone went outside. Rob came out and started scooping the yard while I took everyone in and gave them their pills.

Around 9AM Rob and Morgan and I went out to breakfast.

After breakfast we stopped at All Creatures to pick up some supplies.

Next stop, Petsmart for 270 pounds of dog food plus some treats. I know that sounds like a lot of dog food, but remember I have about 600 pounds of dogs, each eating twice a day.

Morgan volunteered to ride in the back with the food, but we tried that once and during the ride home she chewed through the bag and feasted. Note the tongue in action.

We got home in time to take everyone out again. After checking e-mail and doing a couple small jobs around the house, it was time to head back to All Creatures with Noah. Today he was getting his stitches out.

Here's Noah in the waiting room checking out the distance to the door.

He decided he couldn't make an escape, so he chose to look around. Most of my dogs like going to the Vet. Everyone gives them a lot of attention. They also give delicious treats.

Our friend Les told us we could go into the exam room.

The nice nurse let him stay on the floor to have his temperature and pulse taken and she told him he was a good boy. This may not be so bad after all.

Sitting on the table is scary.

Is this going to hurt?

Noah being brave.

Dr B said he'd left his stitches alone and everything looked good. The diagnosis was mixed. The good news is the lesion was benign. The bad news is it's called Focal adnexal dysplasia. We're not sure what caused it, but we're hoping it's an overreaction to a body slam from one or more of his sisters. It could be the body just overreacting and producing these things on it's own. We have to wait and watch.

We arrived home in time for dog feeding, evening edition. Morgan couldn't wait to try out some of that new food.

Tsar, who last night refused to have his picture taken, tonight posed for me. Go figure!!

Our dog duties weren't done yet. Rob and I grabbed some dinner, then headed out to pick up a prescription for Morgan and a weeks supply of yogurt. Rob asked if we could wait till tomorrow to get yogurt. I told him that we were completely out and if he wanted to explain that to the dogs I was willing to wait. We stopped for yogurt.

So, that was Friday. The list didn't get done today. Rob leaves again Monday for the week. Maybe next week I can put a dent in the list. Of course, I was reminded that Fudge and I need to get back to work on our rally practice. The trial is just a month away. I'll just readjust the list.