Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rock-a-bye Baby

We've had lots of rain this spring and the flowers in the neighborhood are loving it.
It seems to be an especially good year for roses. We panted our climbing rose about twelve years ago and the most it's produced is one or two flowers a year till last year. It did nicely last summer, but this year...WOW!
Look at all these pretty blooms.
But if you look closely to the left of the flower you'll notice something besides flowers in the rose bush.
I had to wait quite a while for Mama Cardinal to leave the nest before checking on the two new members of her family. They have only just hatched in this shot.
The next day they didn't look much different.
I wish she hadn't chosen the rose bush for her nest. She built in the very same place two years ago with sad results. Cardinals get their chicks out of the nest very early before they can really fly very well and that time the dogs trampled the chicks.
This year we'll check before letting the dogs out to make sure the chicks aren't hopping around the yard but life is dangerous for baby birds.
 Even if we keep the dogs away, there is also this fellow who lives in the rock pile.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We Scored A Hat Trick

I'm a big ice hockey fan and I've taught Rob to enjoy the game, too. The National Hockey League is currently in the midst of it's Stanley Cup playoffs and we've been watching games every night. It's heaven! A term used in hockey is the 'hat trick'.  It means that one player has scored three or more goals in one game. Several other sports also use the term, but it always means three of something.
Here at our house we've scored our own version of a hat trick. You remember that last week I posted this picture of the girls Sydney and Mackenzie sporting their fashionable plastic bonnets.
Well over the weekend we added a third. Bailey had a cyst on her side that we've been watching for more than a year. It never seemed to change till Saturday, during a long holiday weekend of course, when it exploded. It went from the size of a nickle to a two inch in diameter mess. It drained to the inside and the outside and became swollen and an angry red color. Bailey started wearing a cone, too.
Today we made a visit to Dr B with both Bailey and Sydney. Syd has been having some poop problems since her surgery and we wanted to get her checked out. After a truly awful exam of the area, she's on medication for some inflammation but will be fine.

Bialey's cyst did explode as we suspected, but it's mostly good news. It may have destroyed itself and not come back again. If it does start to grow back in a few weeks we'll have it removed. She'll take antibiotics for a few days to fight the inflammation but doesn't need to wear the cone any longer. Licking the area won't hurt it and may help it finish draining.

With three dogs in plastic cones at once we think we may be in competition for the record number of cone heads in one household. A warning to Fudge, he's now the only canine member of the family to never wear a cone of shame.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cone Heads

Regardless of what Fudge thinks, I don't think the world is ready for Portuguese Water Beagles. So yesterday the girls went to visit with Dr B.  Sydney had an umbilical hernia that needed repair. Actually Dr B wanted to spay her and fix the hernia earlier, but I wanted them to be at least six months old. I wanted them to have the benefit of the hormones that aid growth and muscle development. We compromised on the day they turned six months.
When the Portie girls were spayed at 18 months, I spaced them two weeks apart so that I could keep the one most recently done separate and give her special care. This time I decided to get it over with all at once. Having two pups in cones on special routines is rough. They are in separate crates which seems to be causing them more grief than the incisions. They have never been separated before and we heard all about it at bedtime last night.

They are being walked on leash and need some help negotiating doorways and stairs with their cones. Last night they refused to eat and I only managed to get a little yogurt down. But this morning their appetites are coming back and they have eaten some kibble from our hands. Mac is drinking water from the bowl but I'm helping Sydney by giving her water from a syringe.
Mac had a spay and seems to be feeling better today.
Sydney had her spay plus a hernia repair and is hurting. We also had the doctor look at an injury to her eyebrow, a result of a wrestling match with her sister. He said it seems to be healing well and though she'll have a scar he didn't think it needed any special attention.
Tess and Sydney have formed a close bond and last night was hard for Tess hearing her favorite puppy crying. Tess started howling and both pups were squealing. I finally got out of bed, handed out extra cookies and reminded everyone that it was bedtime. After a few more minutes they all quieted down and slept thru till morning.
It sure feels good to roll in your own yard after a day in the hospital.
 The girls are getting pain meds and sedatives. They're sleeping most of the time and getting special meals fed by hand. In a couple weeks this will all be forgotten and the pack will be running together again. Sorry Fudge, but I'll see what I can do about those cupcakes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Really Bad Birthday

Today Sydney and Mackenzie are six months old. Mom told us that she had a special surprise planned for them. We all went to sleep last night dreaming of cupcakes and Frosty Paws, but that's not what our mean Mom had planned.

This morning Mom and Dad got up early and put the little girls in the car. Wow, they must be going to take them to breakfast. They'll probably have bacon. Wrong! They took Syd and Mac to see Dr B and came home without them. The girls are spending the day with Dr B and the nice ladies and having some spare parts removed. When they come home they'll be  really sleepy and Mom will put them in separate crates for the first time.

Mom told us that the little girls can't run and play with us for a week, then they'll start feeling better. She said they're OK, they just won't have puppies. 

WHAT!!!!! They can't have puppies???? It can't be true! The little girls are really cute and I was planning on making some Portuguese Water Beagles with them. What did you do Mom and Dad? You've spoiled all my fun. What a bummer of a day!
Your very sad pal, Fudge

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Projects In The Works

I've been wanting to start some new projects but my mood and craft paralysis was keeping me from being productive. This week I'm trying very hard to get back on track. I'm not napping the afternoons away and have actually started some things. Here's the proof.

This is going to become a pink pig, a gift for a special friend. If you're reading this, you know who you are.
I have started three cross stitch projects. The first didn't move along fast enough so I picked out all the stitches. Rob hates when I do that. The second piece I started had a lot of errors in the chart. I still plan to do it sometime in the future, but first I need to redraw the chart. It makes me think of Syd and Mac and their siblings.
The third one is just getting underway, but I think since it has a lot of bright, pretty colors that I'll be able to stick with it. Once I get going I'm hoping that my mojo comes back and my attention doesn't wander so much.
I'm also rereading one of my favorite books, a long one at more than 1000 pages and enjoying it. While the weather isn't too hot, it's nice to sit on the porch and read.

While we're on the topic of handmade items, wouldn't you love to own this beautiful bunny? You can. It's being given away by the designer. Just head for the Soggibottom blog and leave a comment. On June 1st a winner will be chosen and the hare will head to his new home. He's ready to travel anywhere in the world, so don't be afraid to enter. I own one of the Soggibottom creatures, a dog, and I love him.
It looks like I'll have plenty to keep me busy on this long weekend.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

High Anxiety

When we walked outside yesterday morning we could feel that something bad was coming. Although it was windy, the air was very heavy and there was a stillness around us. The birds were quieter than usual and the sky was dark. There were storm warnings on Sunday night and we were under a tornado watch from early yesterday  morning till 10 PM. The dogs were antsy. Morgan spent most of the day hidden in her toy pile and Sebastian vomited from nervousness. We all hunkered down in front of the TV feeling helpless. We had strong thunder storms, but nothing more.
As everyone is aware by now, Moore Oklahoma got hit during the afternoon. It was a very strong storm and did tremendous damage. Our hearts go out to the people in that area.
As a Central New Yorker, the weather problems that I grew up with were lake effect snows. Syracuse is the snowiest metropolitan region of the country averaging 114.6 inches of snow every winter. That much snow can be hazardous if you have to go out in it, especially driving, but mainly it's an annoyance. Walking a small dog in snow over it's head can be a challenge and putting on all those clothes every time you want to step outside is tiresome, but generally you don't have to worry about your house and family blowing away with barely a moment's notice.
I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like this area of the country. The weather is one reason for that. I truly don't understand the thought process of someone who has just lost their home and all their possessions and possibly a loved one too, rebuilding in the exact same spot.  Moore, Oklahoma apparently has been hit by tornadoes four times in the last twenty years, yet I heard people talking of rebuilding there yet again. Can anyone explain that to me?
 I'm not heartless, I feel terrible for the people who were involved yesterday and on Sunday. I wish them only the best. But here again today the sky is dark and the air is heavy. I had to stop writing this post to take the pups outside and the wind has picked up and it's starting to rain. This will probably be another day spent watching weather reports on TV and planning ahead for moving everyone to the basement if necessary.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Spring In Her Step

Portuguese Water Dogs are hairy creatures. They have hair growing everywhere including their ear canals and other  unmentionable places. In case you're wondering, the hair in the ear canals protects the eardrum from cold water while swimming. I don't know what purpose the hair in the unmentionable places serves. They also grow lots of hair on the bottom of their feet.
Sky was forever getting little stones wedged between his foot pads and the stones would get twisted in his long hair and form hard painful mats. He would let me know he had these mats by constant foot licking and I'd cut the mats and stones out for him.
Morgan is not a Portuguese Water Dog, but she also has hairy feet. Rob and I both noticed that she was limping and we thought it was from her knee injuries and didn't pay too much attention. Then Thursday night she started licking her front foot and chewing on the pads.

We put her up on the bed and I examined her foot. There was a mat between her pads so I grabbed my embroidery scissors because they're very small and I thought I could get in the tight little area to cut out the mat. Rob held her while I attempted the surgery, but she struggled and twisted and tried to pull her foot away. I was able to cut away part of the mat but afraid of cutting her if I tried to get the rest.
Friday morning I called the clinic and spoke with one of our techs. I explained the situation and asked if she would try to remove the mat. I had checked the other front foot and there was a smaller mat in that one, too. She agreed to try and we both thought that Morgan might hold still for her.
Rob and I drove over with Morgan and he took her into the exam room. I waited in the lobby. I didn't hear any howling or yelling so I assumed it was going well. About ten minutes later they all came out and our tech said it was a good thing we'd brought her in because she had mats in all four feet and there was an especially large one in one of the back feet. She was able to cut them out and shave down to the skin with a number 40 blade.
Morgan walked out of the clinic after her mani pedi without a limp. Then she went home and ran the length of the yard with the other girls.
 She's feeling much better and we'll be checking all the hairy feet on a regular rotation to make sure nobody is trying to walk on painful mats. It's no fun to have a stone in your shoe, imagine having one attached to the bottom of your foot.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fear of Thunder

Hi everybody,
We want to talk about a serious problem today. Are you  afraid of thunder and other loud noises? Don't be embarrassed, lots of doggies are. But now we're going to face our fears and join a new support group on Stella's blog. If you have a noise phobia, join us. Mom will tell you about our experiences.

We've had lots of experience with noise phobias and we've had some minor successes. First was Bentley. He was afraid of all loud noises, but especially thunder. During daytime storms he'd get as close to me as possible as if attached to my leg. If I sat down he climbed on my lap, all 66 pounds of him. If a storm started at night, he'd wake me. Then we'd go downstairs, turn on lights and turn the TV on loudly and wait it out. He never got over his fear though as he grew older his hearing wasn't as sharp and he didn't react quite as badly to loud noise.
Next was our very worst case, Monty. That poor boy had been tortured as a puppy. He was beaten and who knows what else. He was afraid of everything. Even small noises like the snap of a three ring binder would cause him to drool, tremble and try to hide. He couldn't tolerate loud voices and would whine if anyone argued in his presence. 

There was little we could do for Monty. We consulted with our vet and tried giving him valium during very bad storms and on the 4th of July. The best thing we did for him was teach him to sit in a closet during storms. At first I would sit in the closet with him and sometimes the other dogs would join us, but eventually when a storm started he would disappear and I'd find him sitting bravely in the closet trembling.

Morgan learned to be afraid of storms from Monty. He was her best friend when she was a pup and she saw how upset he was, so she became upset too. 
Morgan would go into the bathroom and jump into the tub. She'd sit there till the storm was over. She continued this until she hurt her knees a couple years ago and couldn't jump anymore. Now she buries herself in her pile of toys and usually falls asleep there.

When Samba's pups were born Rob and I wanted to make sure they weren't afraid of noise. As soon as their ears opened we started exposing them to all sorts of noises. Their pen was in the kitchen and they heard the mixer and the food processor and the vacuum.  When Rob worked in his shop in the garage, the pups went with him and heard power tools and pounding noises. They paid no attention and we were pleased that even during storms and fireworks, they paid little or no attention.

Last year something changed. We had a really bad thunderstorm, the kind that shakes the house and makes everything rattle. The dogs all barked, but since then both Bailey and Lola have shown fear of thunder, fireworks and even the vacuum. I'm not sure why this happened later in their lives and I'm not sure what to do about it.

I'm worried that they may be picking up on my feelings. When I was a little girl my grandmother was terrified of thunder and she passed her fears on to me. I'm not as bad as she was, I don't unplug everything in the house and sit in the dark, but I am anxious and I'm sure the dogs pick up on it.

Then the younger generation. Sebastian arrived at our house on July 4th and we thought that might have something to do with his being lost. He's mildly frightened of thunder and fireworks. He shows some anxiety but doesn't get crazy. He'll just get close to one of us and follow us around. He refuses to go outside if her hears those sounds.

Mac is now afraid of loud noises. A few weeks ago she was outside with Rob when out of nowhere there was a super loud clap of thunder right overhead. Mac jumped and ran for the house. She spent the whole evening sitting on my lap staring at the front door. Now she's attuned to every noise. The funniest is whenever an airplane goes over, she stops, sits down and watches it. We tell her that it's a drone coming after her for misbehaving. During thunder storms or if one of us is vacuuming, she climbs on a lap for safety. I hope she'll outgrow her fear.

So you see, some of us have problems with loud noises. This can be a serious problem. Our vet knew of a dog that jumped thru a window during a thunder storm and the window was closed at the time. The poor dog got all cut up. Other dogs have run into the street and been hit by cars.

That's why Bailey, Lola, Sebastian and Mac are all joining Stella's thunder support group. We'll discuss various ways of dealing with our fears. We'll hear from those who use thunder shirts and those who take drugs and even those who just hide under the bed.Together we can learn to deal with our fears. Our next meeting is the second Saturday in June. Join us if you need help.

Your pal, Fudge (who isn't afraid of anything)