Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goodbye To A Big Friend

Yesterday afternoon we heard that our friend Thor had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We never met Thor in person, but thru the blogs we felt as if we'd known him forever.
 Thor was a very large doggy, but he was such a sweet gentle fellow that he had many small friends. He had his little human friends
And he had other small friends that he watched over.

 Thor also had his favorite toy, Larry the Lobster, who finally gave out and was replaced later with a new blue lobster.
We could always depend on Thor to join us in our Bandana Day celebrations and we looked forward to reading his Thorsday posts each week. Thor was ten years old, a long life for a Mastiff, when he left us and we will miss him.
Rest in peace, old friend, and give our love to all our other family and friends at the bridge.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Gg

Today is a special day. It's a good thing that big old hurricane got out of the way so everyone can celebrate.  Today our friend Gretchen is three years old. 
We wanted to celebrate her birthday even though we can't all be together, so Mom bought some cupcakes. We're party animals as you all know, so this morning we took those delicious cupcakes outside.
Dad had to explain the rules before he handed out the goodies. You know the ones, sit nicely, take turns and don't steal someone else's cake.
Then as he called our names, we each got a tiny little oh so delicious cupcake with frosting and sprinkles on top.
We tried to be good, really we did.

Then Dad said the last one was for Mom.

She ate hers.
Then we licked out the bowl in case there were any crumbs left.
We all want to send birthday wishes to our friend.
Happy Birthday Gretchen from Sky...

and Tsar....

and Bailey.....

and Samba....

and Noah....

and Norma Jean.....

and Fudge....

and Morgan....

and Lola....

and Tess.

We know you and Sissy will celebrate later. Mom said she couldn't deal with party hats on all our heads, but we're thinking of you today on your special day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Colorful Experiment

While I watch the reports on Hurricane Irene this weekend and talk my friend Sue thru her first hurricane by cell phone, I need a little project to work on. Last week on Ravelry someone posted a photo of a beautiful cross stitch piece worked with variegated floss. I love knitting with variegated yarn because watching the change of colors breaks up the monotony of stitching .
I've had some variegated embroidery floss hanging around for years. I bought it because it was pretty, but then didn't have any ideas on what to do with it. Another item that's been on the shelf for years is this kit that was a gift from my Aunt.
 I thought it was pretty, but the idea of doing that big a design in all beige on beige was more than I wanted to start. I knew I'd lose interest and never finish it.

So this week I decided to drag out the kit and the floss and just play with it to get the hang of using variegated floss. I don't have much of any one color, so I'm using whatever I have available.
Here's what I've accomplished so far. I don't know why the fabric looks pink in this shot, it's actually cream colored. I'm enjoying the changing of colors and picking up useful methods of working with the floss. I'll finish this piece and probably make a pillow from it, but someday soon I plan to make a more serious piece using this type of floss. It's fun to try something new now and then.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PT and Pee

You may have noticed that I've been a little distracted for the last couple weeks. We've been dealing with some Samba issues, but now it looks like we may be getting things under control. It started when we were at the lake two weeks ago. Samba was excited about having us throw her floating toy and charged right in to get it.
I noticed that after a couple of throws, she was holding the toy strangely and then dropped it and swam back without it. One of the other dogs would have to go get the toy. Samba would bark to have it thrown again and would swim to it but wouldn't bring it back. She'd start to grab it, then drop it and swim back leaving the toy behind.

I was worried enough to call Dr B from the lake. We were both concerned that the MMM might be flaring up again. He said to double her Prednisone and he'd see her in the morning. We arrived at the clinic the same time Dr B did and he took her right into the exam room. Fortunately, she didn't appear to be having a flare up. Instead the remaining jaw muscles seem to be stiffening a bit and it's uncomfortable for her to open her mouth wide. That's a real problem with this disease and we need to get those muscles stretched.

Because it's painful for us to open her mouth, she has to do it herself. That's where the PT or physical therapy comes in. We have four balls of different sizes and materials.
Several times every day Samba and I go into the yard and I throw a ball for her. We started with the smallest ball. She has to pick it up and bring it back to me to earn a treat. Samba is very food motivated, so she caught onto this quickly. We started with just a couple repetitions and work up a few each day. Once she is reliably returning the ball, we move on to a slightly larger, harder ball until we reach the glow ball which stretches her mouth beyond her comfort zone. So far we're only on the second ball, but we're making progress.

Over the weekend while I was throwing the glowballs for Sky and Norma Jean, Samba got tired of all the fuss and started bringing the glowballs to me. She isn't known for her patience.

We've been treating Samba for a bladder infection and when the first round of antibiotics failed to clear it up, we went on to a second stronger course of antibiotics. Monday morning I took a urine sample in to be checked but there was still blood in the urine. We had a consultation with Dr B and he felt we should look for kidney or bladder stones.
So, yesterday Samba skipped breakfast, much to her dismay, and went to the clinic for x-rays of her urinary tract. She was a good girl and didn't need to be sedated while they took seven x-rays over a several hour period.

When we picked her up in the late afternoon, we went over the xrays and Dr B showed us that there are no stones, deformities or tumors. Everything looks good, but there is still an infection present. We agreed to try a different antibiotic for two weeks, then check the urine again. If this doesn't clear the infection, we'll be consulting with a specialist at the University.
There was one slight accident. While we were looking at the xrays and discussing our plan of action, Samba got tired of waiting for her treat and decided to help herself. She stood up at the counter where the treat jar is kept and while reaching for the jar she knocked the otoscope off the counter. It broke. I wasn't sure what to do beyond reprimanding Samba and saying I was sorry. I would expect that such an accident is a part of doing business as a vet, but I felt very bad. Samba, on the other hand, didn't seem to care at all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shake, Rattle and Roll

We didn't feel yesterday's earthquake on the East Coast. When I heard about it I tried calling my friend Sue in Maryland, but it took almost two hours till I could get thru. She experienced some things bouncing around on tables and falling off shelves, but no real damage.

I've experienced two earthquakes myself. The first was when I lived in Syracuse on the third floor of a high rise apartment building. It happened early in the morning and I was asleep. Suddenly I woke up hearing the closet doors rattling and I felt sick, a lot like a case of car sickness. My dog Libby was  scratching at the front door and whining to get out. It only lasted seconds and there was no damage to our area.

The second earthquake was when we lived in Maryland. Bentley, who was extremely sensitive to weather conditions, started barking and racing around from front door to back door and back again. I didn't feel anything, but the news came on that there had been an earthquake. Dogs can be excellent forecasters of earthquakes and tornadoes.
When we moved to Missouri we did our homework and learned that we live not far from the New Madrid fault. In 1811-12 there were three large earthquakes on that fault line that are the largest recorded in the US. Now I wasn't thrilled to be moving to tornado alley, but living near a fault line was just as bad. We carry earthquake insurance on our house and we aren't about to drop that coverage.
Now the East Coast is preparing for a hurricane. Mother Nature has sure been in a bad mood this year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Play Ball!

It's still hot here in Missouri. While we haven't hit 100 in a few days, the temps are hanging in the 90s and the rain that's been forecast every day has managed to go around us leaving only high humidity behind. But despite the uncomfortable weather, a dog just has to play ball sometimes.
 When we went out this afternoon, instead of finding something to explore or chew on, everyone milled around waiting for me to come up with an activity.
I was interested in getting pictures of the new short hairdos that everyone is sporting. Each evening Rob works on one or two of them to get them trimmed down without forcing anyone to stand on the table for hours at a time. Noah is looking exceptionally good and enjoying the cooler coat.
It didn't take long for the pack to let me know that a fast paced ball game would be appreciated. Do you know how difficult it is to aim and take pictures while throwing several plastic balls down the hill?
 I guess my coordination just isn't as good as I thought it was.
Sky is begging," forget the pictures and just throw the ball".
Norma Jean never had much interest in chasing the ball until this summer. After learning how to do water retrievals at the lake, suddenly she's turned into one of my best retrievers on land, too.
Last week we had a little scare with Samba, but as it turned out she and I are doing some therapy with the ball to stretch out her remaining jaw muscles and keep them working well. I guess the others wanted to get in on the fun.
 After all that running everyone had a long cool drink and now there are sleeping dogs all over the place, till the hands of the clock approach 4. Then they'll all be reminding me that it's dinner time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Saw A Pink Elephant

Yes, there's a new pink elephant living at our house and no I haven't been drinking.
Have you all seen this book? Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen is one of the sweetest knitting books I've seen in a long time. I'd want it in my library even if I wasn't a knitter or never planned to knit any of the animals. Why? Because of the wonderful photography. Who can resist lots of pictures of plump happy animals?
There are pictures on almost every page and you get to see the 15 animals from every possible angle. That makes finishing easier as you can actually see each seam and placement of ears, tails, etc.

The knitting instructions may not be suitable for beginning knitters. Those familiar with shaping and finishing will find them easy knits, but they don't read line by line as some new knitters might expect. Most of the animals have the same basic body with differences to the heads.
The elephant, which is my first, but not last, from this book was an easy knit but there is a lot of sewing together of pieces. It took only two days to complete.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pack Politics

When Monty was alive, he was the unquestioned leader of the pack. He was big and strong and tolerated no nonsense and wasn't afraid to let the other dogs know when they were doing something wrong.

Dr B warned me when Samba was quite young, that she was a strong Alpha and that I needed to keep an eye on her. He said that as Monty aged, Samba would look for a chance to dethrone him and it could get messy. Monty didn't live to old age, he died quite young and Samba immediately moved into the position of  pack leader.

It wasn't a completely smooth transition, however. Fudge was eyeing the top spot and was pretty sure that he was getting the big promotion. There were some frightening battles between Samba and Fudge in the first few days after Monty's death.

Samba had a huge advantage. She had the voting public on her side. Her six pups supported their Mom. They were used to taking orders from her and looked up to her, so it was a given that they would support her as their leader.

Morgan is a born follower. She accepts whoever is leader and doesn't question it. She's the uninformed voter who just goes along with whatever anyone tells her. She adored Monty, but she happily accepted her friend Samba as leader. Had Fudge won, I'm sure she would have happily followed his lead.

Then there is Tsar. Rob and I both think Tsar would make a great Supreme Court justice. He's cautious and checks everything out carefully. He shows no favoritism to any of the other dogs except perhaps Morgan. He tolerates her, but is perfectly happy to be left alone to do his own thing. Once when he was quite young, he challenged Monty. Monty quickly put Tsar down on his back and stood over him till I rescued him. He never tried it again. Tsar seems to be above politics.
Right now the pack seems to be running pretty smoothly, but Fudge is still longing for that top job and with Samba suffering with MMM, I keep an eye on the situation to make sure Fudge doesn't stage a coup d'etat.