What a year! I don't think any of us wil look back fondly on 2020. This has been an especially bad week in a bad year.
On Saturday of last week I learned that Blogger and I can't coexist happily and today I'll be blog shopping for a new home for our continuing saga.
On Sunday last week we suddenly lost telephone, television and internet service and due to the helpful service provider we remained cut off for four days.
Then there was Norma Jean. On the 25th, a week ago Friday, she went for her second chest xray to see if her bronchitis was improving. She had only coughed a couple times during the week, so I was hopeful. The doctor called me in to take a look at the pictures side by side. There was definite improvement but her lungs still weren't completely clear. Dr B said she was responding to the prednisone and wanted her to contine with a low dose every other day. He also took some blood and sent it to the lab.
On Monday when I checked with him on the blood results I was told they weren't back yet. That seemed strange as they usually only take 24 hours but in 2020 nothing is unusual.
I called in on Tuesday and was told that the doctor would call me back. That gave me a nervous feeling. After he closed the clinic, he called so we could talk uninterupted. He told me that there were abnormal cells in the blood so it was checked out by two different pathologists. They couldn't come up with a clear diagnosis, but it appears that Norma Jean has lymphocytic leukemia.
Since she isn't showing any signs of feeling ill and she seems to be responding to steroids, we have started her on another course of doxycycline along with her prednisone. On Thursday she'll have another blood test to compare with the last one. If she is the same or shows improvement, we'll probably increase her prednisone. If she is worse, we'll have another long talk about options. I made it clear that due to her age we won't be taking any drastic measures. We won't do biopsies or chemotherapy. Our mission is to keep her happy and commmfortable until she lets us know it's time to say goodbye.
No, 2020 is not going down as one of my favorite years.
Last Friday Norma Jean started he meds for bronchitis. She responded almost immediately and she didn't cough all weekend. Then on Tuesday she woke up coughing. It continued thru the day and she had a very bad night, so I called Dr B first thing Wednesday morning. He said to bring her right in and leave her. He'd do a chest xray and set an appointment for the afternoon to pick her up and go over the results.
I paced all morning with thoughts of Monty running thru my head. Finally it was time to go get her. Dr B called me into the office to take a look at the xrays. He said there was good news and a little less good news.
The good news was that her lungs are clear. There are no tumors or masses and her heart looks great for her age. The bad new is something that looked like little threads running around outside her lungs. He says they are tiny little extensions of her airways that don't belong there. They can be caused by a couple of different conditions.
First is chronic bronchitis caused by seasonal allergies. The airways have become inflamed. The other is necrosis or scarring of the airways caused by age and inflammation. Neither of us want to do invasive testing on Norma Jean due to her age so we're going to treat her with a tapering dose of prednisone for one month. At the end of that time we'll do another xray and compare the two.
If there is improvement in the airways we'll assume that her condition is from her allergies and we'll treat seasonally. If the airways remain the same, we'll assume the condition is from necrosis. Dr B assured me that the condition is treatable and she can live comfortably with it. He also said that from the looks of her internal organs she may have a lot more life left.
So that's where we are. She's not coughing very much today but the prednisone is making her ravenous and she's begging both Rob and me for snacks. This may be a tough month living with a dog that's convinced she's starving.
Since many of us are still spending most of our time at home these days, how about spending some of it with a new book? I was sent an advanced copy of 'As The Stars Fall' by Steve N Lee. I read it over the weekend and I enjoyed it.
Have you ever thought about how our dogs look at us and the world around them and try to figure out what it all means? They must really wonder at some of the things they see us doing. Mr Lee has obviously given this a good deal of thought for this book. The whole book is written from the perspective of the dog, Kai.
Kai starts life as an abandoned puppy living on the city streets. He learns a lot about human behavior from just trying to survive. He's one of the lucky ones because he's rescued by a little girl and becomes part of a loving family/pack.
Kai's experiences will have you laughing and crying. I especially loved the part where he gets a Christmas present. He tears off the paper wrapping and tosses out the stuff inside and has a great time playing with his new box, even sleeping with it, until it finally disintegrates. It reminds me of my dogs enjoying the paper wrapping more than the gift.
But life doesn't always go the way we hope and that's true for both people and dogs. We all know how deeply a dog can love and this book shows us the deep, never ending love between Kai and his girl, Mia.
As The Stars Fall is being published today and is available at the following stores:
Language can be a real barrier to understanding. I once went on a date with a Frenchman. He spoke about two words of English and I spoke about two words of French. We wisely took a translator along with us to dinner. The Frenchman and I never went out again but the translator and I had a lovely relationship. Oh well, that's a story for another day. The purpose of this post is to discuss the language barrier between us and our dogs.
Having had dogs all my life, I think I do a pretty good job of understanding dog but my dogs have all been better at understanding my language. We sometimes even have to spell a word so that our sleeping pooches don't hear and get overly excited. I've found that the phrase "Do you want?" always gets their attention. They've learned that the phrase is usually followed by something good, such as treat, ride, to go out, etc.
Learning to understand each other is vitally important. The top reason that dogs are turned into shelters is house training problems. Most think the dog has a problem learning where to pee and how to communicate the fact that they need to pee. I think it's just the opposite. The human has a problem learning how to understand what the dog is saying to them.
Just as with humans, not all dogs speak the same dialect. We have to be adaptable and learn from them. My dog Libby told me she needed to go outside by bringing me her leash. That's pretty direct and understandable.
Bentley rang sleighbells hanging from the doorknob. It was easy to understand.
Monty was adorable. He had suffered terrible physical abuse before we
adopted him and he didn't like to bother anyone. He would touch me
gently with his paw and when he had my attention he would pull his lips
back in a silly sheepish grin. He was saying "excuse me, if it isn't
too much trouble I really need to go outside for a minute."
Morgan barked at me. She'd plop herself in front of me and bark. Unfortunately, this was her method of addressing any need she had, so when the barking started, we'd play a game of 20 questions. Do you have to go out? Do you want a drink of water? Do you want a cookie? Are you hungry? Did you lose your toy? Is someone in your bed? When I hit the right question the barking would stop and she'd wag her tail and get very excited. I'm sure she thought I was terribly stupid.
Tsar, in typical Tsar fashion would leave the room, then poke his head around the doorway as if to ask if I was ready yet. It was subtle.
Samba would put her face about six inches in front of me and stare deeply into my eyes. We would read each others thoughts.
Fudge was much less subtle. He'd hit me, either with his big fat paw or worse with his enormous heavy head. It was impossible to miss his meaning.
Tess would race back and forth between me and the door as fast as she
could go. Tess usually waited till the last possible minute to tell me
so if she started running, so did I.
Sky would pick up his ball and bring it to me. Fairly obvious.
Noah would go to the window and look out, then come and nudge me. Also fairly obvious.
Sebastian would come lick my hand, then put his head in my lap. He was such a gentle boy.
Mackey picks up her squeaky toy and stands at the top of the stairs squeaking.
Norma Jean dances. She gets in front of us and shifts her weight from one foot to the other and hops around. It's hard to miss.
They each have their own way of telling us what they need. The
question is, are we smart enough to understand what they're saying? How
do your dogs let you know when it's time to go out?
About ten days ago Norma Jean had a little cough. It sounded like a tickle in her throat and only happened a couple times a day. I took notice but didn't panic.
As the days went by the cough happened a little more frequently and sounded like she was trying to clear her throat. I started paying closer attention.
Then about three days ago the cough became persistent. It happened more frequently, lasted longer and seemed to bother her more. Time to panic!
My thoughts went back to the days when Monty had a little cough that grew worse. When we took him to the vet, a chest xray showed lung cancer and he died shortly after. I couldn't get that experience out of my mind whenever Norma Jean coughed.
I made a vet appointment for next Monday but yesterday morning Nora Jean was coughing constantly. I was worried about making it thru the weekend so I called and they saw us yesterday afternoon.
Norma Jean walked nicely into the building with her nurse. I settled down for a long wait but they reappeared pretty quickly. Dr B knew I was thinking about Monty and said the first thing he did was listen to her lungs. They sounded OK. She has no fever and she's eating and drinking normally. He listened to her cough and checked out her throat. Without a chest xray he can't be positive but he feels pretty strongly that she has bronchitis caused by her seasonal allergies. She's also been chewing on her front feet, another sign of her allergies.
He sent her home with an antibiotic, some Temiril-P which is an antihistamine steroid combo and some antihistamine foam for her feet. After her first dose she only coughed a couple times and didn't lick her feet at all. This morning she has coughed a little but is mostly sleeping quietly.
It looks like Dr B was right and we're on track to fixing this problem. If it doesn't work in the next few days, we'll do that chest xray. Keep your paws crossed that it's bronchitis and that it responds to the meds.
Hi Bloggers, it's me Mackey. I have an exciting story to tell you.
I spend lots and lots of time watching squirrels thru the window. When I see one heading for the bird feeders I bark really loudly to warn Mom and Dad. Sometimes Dad will open the door and let me chase them away from the feeders. I'd like to catch one. My sister Sydney has caught two of them and I think I'm just as good a hunter as she is. So far I haven't had any success. They run into the trees as soon as they see me. Mom says if I was a little quieter I'd have a better chance but I get so excited that I forget and start barking.
Well, the other night Mom got ready to take Norma Jean and me outside to pee before going to bed. She snapped my leash on and opened the front door. There in the bird feeder sat the biggest squirrel I'd ever seen. It was bigger than me and it just sat there looking at us.
It seemed to be a very
responsible giant squirrel because it was wearing a mask and it followed
social distancing, keeping at least six feet away from us at all times.
I tried to get closer but it climbed down off the deck and went under
the porch. I tried to pull Mom in that direction but she wouldn't budge. As soon as I peed, she dragged me back inside.
I thought about that giant squirrel all the next day and that night
when it was time to go out before bed, I was hoping to see it again. It
wasn't there but there were three little masked squirrels in the feeder
instead. Two of them ran away but the third one laid down in the feeder
and waited for us to leave. I stood there looking at him but Mom
wouldn't let me get close.
I'm not sure I could handle that big giant squirrel, but I bet I could
catch a little one, especially if he just laid still and didn't run.
Have you ever seen a giant squirrel bigger than me?
First Norma Jean had surgery to remove a tumor from the side of her face. Then Sydney had her vet visit. I was surprised when Dr B reported that she was a good girl. She had surgery on her eyelid. Finally, yesterday was Mackey's turn to visit the vet.
Mackey has been healthy except for her seizures and so far this year she's only had two. She needed some vaccines and an overall checkup. I pointed out a couple of small bumps, one on her side and one on her neck.
Mackey did not want to get out of the car and certainly did not want to go with the strange lady. We waited in the car wondering how she was acting.
When Dr B brought her out to us he said she was quite wound up. That's vet speak for she acted like a crazy wild animal. His report wasn't what I was expecting. First I was sure he'd tell me to put her on a diet but he said her weight was ok. He said that since her seizures are infrequent that we won't do anything differently but still treat her with valium.
He said the bump on her side is a fatty tumor but he doesn't like the one on her neck and it needs to be removed. Also he managed to get a look at her teeth and she has cracked a molar. It's a bad crack and the tooth needs to come out. He'll do both surgeries at the same time. We're planning on doing it in September.
Mackey was very happy to get home and the vet techs were probably happy to see her go. This new system of letting the dogs go in without us is hard on everyone.
After observing our little raccoon family, Mom, Dad and three kits, we wondered who would show up last night so we made sure there were some seeds in the feeder as evening approached. It didn't take long before I spotted a shape on the deck.
When I went to the window I saw Mom and her three babies, but wait was that a fourth head sticking up?
Mom saw me and headed toward the hedge, then she stopped. Lined up behind her were six kits. Three were a bit bigger than the ones we'd seen the other night, though I think they were the same ones, just grown a little. Two were a little smaller and one was a runt.
The three bigger ones knew exactly what to do. They entered the feeder and started chowing down. The two smaller ones stayed behind Mom and she shoved seeds toward them, The runt stayed under Mom and I think may have been nursing.
When the bigger ones had eaten their fill, they went to play on the
porch while Mom and the smaller ones ate. Mom kept her eyes on me all
the while, but she didn't run away.
These little guys are so cute. Rob and I decided that we'll feed them
again tonight but then we're cutting off the food kitchen. We'll remove
the feeder at night. We don't want to encourage them to take up
residence on the porch.
HI. Happy July, Canada Day and beginning of the week most hated by dogs. On Saturday Rob went to the grocery store and one of his purchases was a bag of bird seed. We like to feed the birds around now because they bring their chicks and entertain us with their noisy antics. Rob grabbed a bag of seed and didn't notice that it was all sunflower seed. The bigger birds and the squirrels love it but he had to go back for a bag of smaller seed for the little guys. The feeder is busy all day.
Sunday night a little after dark I was walking by the window and something caught my attention. I peeked thru the blinds and saw a raccoon sitting in the feeder stuffing herself with sunflower seeds. I turned on the porch light and she ran into the hedge.
About ten minutes later I looked and she was there again. Rob stepped onto the porch and again she ran for the hedge. Still later I looked thru the blinds again and she sat in the feeder and stared at me. I could read her look. She was saying, do we have to keep doing this? I'm tired and I just want to eat my dinner and go home. I turned off the light and left her in peace to finish the seeds.
On Monday night there was some seed in the feeder and I wondered if the raccoon would come by again. I left the porch light on and the blinds open and had my camera handy. I got more than I bargained for.
When I checked the window we had company, but it wasn't the stressed
raccoon from the previous night. She had brought her three babies and
left them in the feeder while she waited in the hedge. They were
adorable, all stuffing their mouths with seeds and pushing each other
I quietly walked onto the porch and the babies, each about eight inches long all climbed down from the feeder and started running toward me till Mama gave a squeal and they changed direction and ran into the hedge with her.
After getting a few pics, I left them alone to eat. I understood why she looked so tired the night before.
Last night I checked the window again and this time there was a very large raccoon there, I'm guessing it was Daddy. He didn't want any pictures and ran instantly but I noticed that one baby was with him.
The sunflower seeds are disappearing fast but we're enjoying our night visitors, especially the little ones.