Monday, April 28, 2014

High Anxiety

We hope all of you were safe yesterday from the terrible storms that swept thru the middle of the country. It was one of those days where we sat around with the  Weather Channel radar map on the Kindle and watched storms approaching. Fortunately though the wind was pretty gusty, we only had one thunderstorm that lasted a short time. The bad storms went around us.

A storm day was just the start of a week that has me on edge. This is the week that I take all the dogs in to visit Dr B. They'll all have checkups and blood tests and he'll look at any lumps or bumps  and discuss any other problems. This creates a really nerve wracking week for me.

We already know that three of them, Noah, Tess and Fudge need dental cleanings, but the unknown is what worries me.

On Wednesday Tess, Lola and Norma Jean will go. On Friday Bailey, Morgan and Noah will go. Today we took Sydney, Mackenzie and Fudge in. Sydney was a mess. She's a happy girl in the waiting room, greeting everyone and giving kisses, but the minute we walk into the exam room she changes completely. She becomes one big nerve ending. She screams and squirms and snaps. We muzzled her and she still twisted herself into a pretzel while getting her vaccines. As soon as possible Rob took her to the car to chill.
Mac was totally different. Though it was obvious she didn't want to be there, she sat still and let the doctor examine her. She was very good and got a treat afterwards.
Then it was Fudgie's turn. He jumped onto the table by himself and greeted the doctor with a kiss. He was there to have a cyst checked. It's been there for a couple of years by seemed to have grown recently. Dr B says it's actually the same size but has gotten harder because of where it's located. It's on his chest right over the breastbone and it seems to bother him. Fudge also has a condition where his gums are growing over his teeth. We know he needs to have them trimmed back. 

While he was on the table I noticed another lump on his side. I hadn't noticed it before but it's a pretty good size. The doctor looked at it and said he's glad we found it today because it looks like a mast cell tumor, a form of cancer. We need to get it out of there. Fudge will be going in for surgery next week unless it changes before then. He'll have the tumor removed as well as two cysts. He'll get his gums contoured and then we wait for the pathology report.
Fudge could use the Power of the Paw from his friends in Blogville. This is a pretty scary situation.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Write It Down

I've always been a letter writer and sometimes the habit has paid off. It started when I was little and my Grandmother insisted that I write thank you notes for any gift or kindness.
It was good training, though I at times resisted. As an adult I started documenting most everything in writing. Many of those letters got filed away and eventually discarded, but a few became useful. Shortly after Rob and I were married I was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome in both wrists. The doctor wouldn't operate on both at once so we scheduled surgery for six weeks apart.  The insurance company paid for the first operation completely without any complaint but they refused payment on the second wrist calling it a pre-existing condition.

I had kept all my paperwork from the doctors, the hospital and the insurance company and when they continued to balk, I sent off a well documented letter to the insurance commissioner of the state and also to the attorney general with copies to the insurance company. One month later I was informed that the bill had been paid in full.

Another time I wanted a bread maker. I loved making fresh bread but my wrists were too weak now to knead the dough. Rob bought me the exact machine I wanted and I made all our  bread, plus rolls and pizza dough. It was wonderful. Then one day it wouldn't heat up. I fired off a letter to the company along with the bill of sale and a copy of the warranty. Two weeks later I received a new bread maker. The same happened with our coffee maker.
When Rob and I moved to Maryland we bought a newly built townhouse. New construction has it's problems and though I called the contractor when we encountered one, I also sent a letter describing the problem. He was pretty good about repairing the minor things, but there was a major problem with the bay window and he refused to do anything. He stalled till the warranty period was up, then thought I'd go away. Didn't work. We hired someone else to do the work and we got written info from the new contractor and the manufacturer of the original materials and took the contractor to court. The judge looked thru all the papers I handed him and ruled in our favor. The contractor had to pay for the new window and repairs.

Yes, my desk is messy and I have a file cabinet full of receipts and letters but it has been worth it many times.

Now I feel in the interest of fairness, if I complain about something done wrong, I also need to give credit when something is handled well. I also write letters to people and companies who do a good job or treat their customers with respect.

This brings me to Early in 2012 I was contacted by what was then Mr. Chewy and asked to write a review. We were sent a box containing dog food and treats and I was happy to comply. For a time with Samba's illness and other issues we were unable to purchase our food from Chewy but after a while we went back to ordering from them and doing treat reviews. Mr Andrew, who is our contact, has been wonderful to deal with and my pack loves seeing the Chewy box arrive.

Recently we purchased a product from Chewy and there was a problem with it. It wasn't a major problem, no one was at risk, but it was annoying. I contacted Andrew, explained the problem and asked who I should contact about it. He got right back to me, apologized for the problem, though the fault was with the manufacturer, not Chewy, and sent me a replacement. He put me in touch with the Customer Service manager who assured me they were checking their stock to be sure this wouldn't happen again. I've had several emails from Chewy about this and I feel reassured that they care and are truly concerned about quality.
Good job Chewy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

That Bunny

Hi Everybody, Fudge here to tell you about Bunny Day. When we woke up yesterday morning we all knew the Bunny had been here. When we went into the yard he'd left us little piles of goodies near the gate. Mom said not to eat them and went for her rake but of course we scarfed them down as fast as we could. Mom wasn't too happy about that but bunny poop tastes excellent. Try it some time.
Mom told us that our annual biscuit hunt was going to be postponed for a few days because Dad wasn't feeling too good and he wants to help us with the big hunt. That's OK, we don't mind waiting.
Then Mom told us that the Bunny left us a new treat and look what it was. Our very own bagels. Mom and Dad eat bagels for breakfast most days but we don't usually get more that a tiny piece. 
Now we can each have our own bagel and they're chocolate, too. Mom says to tell you they aren't really chocolate, they're carob, but we know they taste like chocolate.
First they gave one to Mackey on the deck. She has a pretty little mouth and they didn't want us stealing or helping her eat her bagel. 
It was pretty funny. Mom has been watching hockey all weekend and I think Mackey thought the bagel was a hockey puck. She batted it all around the deck. Maybe she was tenderizing it.

She finally settled down and ate it but it took a long time.
When Mom and Dad walked into the back yard the girls came running.
We knew it was our turn.

Dad handed them out much too slowly.
 Don't worry Syd, you'll get one too.
Morgan carried hers around for awhile.
We finally got to eat them. Bagels are really hard and kind of dry. We all needed drinks after eating them. Maybe that's why Mom and Dad drink coffee in the morning.
We had a fun day and we hope the Big Bunny was good to all of you, too.
Your pals at the Portie Pack



Thursday, April 17, 2014


I'm not using that phrase in a derogatory way. I actually mean the brains of our resident birds. I haven't posted about Elwood, Stanley, Calder and Norris lately. Sounds like a law firm, doesn't it? The feathered four have been getting into trouble recently and I'll share it with you.
First, if you've never lived with birds, they are messy, and noisy and a lot of fun. They like to scream and yell most when you're on the telephone or watching the news. They throw feathers and seeds all over the place and if they see the dogs responding, they throw even more at them. But when I uncover their cage in the morning, Stanley always says "tweet tweet", which I take to mean "good morning". It's the only time of the day that he makes that particular sound so it seems to be a greeting. My cockatiels could all say "hello" so I enjoy this little greeting.

Now for the trouble part. Remember this toy that Santa brought to the birds? For days they stayed as far from it as they could get, staring suspiciously at it.
Well, they got over that and have been industriously working on taking it apart. As they tear off a bit, they push it out of the cage for me to find.
OK, taking a toy apart isn't so bad, but there is a much worse event. One evening a couple weeks ago, I was putting the cover on their cage. In case you're wondering why I cover them, I want to discourage Elwood from laying more eggs. She laid 23 of them and I want to trick her into thinking that the days are getting shorter, not longer, so she won't think it's time to start laying again.
Anyway, as I put the cover on, I noticed something was wrong. It took me a minute to figure out what it was. Then I saw this. If you look closely, you'll see that Elwood has a black eye. I was surprised and upset. I do not condone domestic violence anytime anywhere by anyone and that includes the birds. One of the male birds had beaten up Elwood and given her a black eye. Rob and I both examined her and the eye wasn't injured but the area around it was badly bruised. We decided to watch her closely and get the spare cage ready in case it was needed. I also gave the boy birds a lecture on unacceptable behavior and the consequences.

Elwood is all healed up. The side of her face is no longer bruised and her eye is fully open. There has been no rough behavior or any sort of disagreement among the flock. Everyone seems to be cheerful and busy so I'm hoping this was a one time unfortunate accident.
But I'm watching!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Can you guess?

Today, April 15th is a special day. Do you know why?
Mom guessed something about taxis again. That woman has taxis on the brain.

Dad guessed something about the moon turning red. What? We were all asleep, what happened to the moon? Did it get hurt?
No silly peeps, it's the day we get to open our Chewy box. Mr Andrew sent us another surprise package to taste. Let's get to it.
This time he sent a bag of Belly Bites. We've never had them before.
Oh boy, we can hardly wait. 
Hurry up Mom.  (Check out the smile on Sebastian's face)

Stop reading the bag and hand them out.
These are great but one isn't enough. How about a second round for your favorite dogs?
Don't forget Sydney.
Morgan wants one, too.
Hey look, Mom set the bag down on the planting table. Maybe Tess can reach it.
Mr Andrew did a good job this month. These treats were a huge hit with the pack. They were made with duck, peas and garbanzo beans, a flavor that was new to my dogs. They're a nice size but I was able to easily split them in half for a smaller training treat and they're a soft, chewy texture. They get forty paws up from our house.
Thank you Mr Andrew and Chewy.