Friday, February 25, 2022

Being Brave

We are off on an airplane this Sunday. We drive up to my daughter's house on Saturday to spend the night since it is closer to the airport and we can leave our car in her neighborhood. She and her husband are off to dinner and a play and will not have much time to spend with us and the grands have various plans as well. It cannot be helped that they are in the prime of their life! 

Hubby is giving a presentation at an international conference in San Diego. We are brave to go to such a large and exposed meeting with people from all over the world. It is good for him to prove to himself that he can still do this and while many will not find his speech important, it is important to him! It is only 10 minutes long with a few minutes allowed for questions and he has been working on it for months! He will print out a copy for me to review and then go down and make changes before I can even read it! He would normally have it memorized by now.  I may be the one changing the slides on the screen.

We will be exposing ourselves on long plane flights and then he will be exposed at the meetings.  We will be wearing masks and I have packed some quick Covid tests in the event we need them.  Sadly we have to go on living our lives and it seems such a small danger compared to places around the world right now that are in the middle of a war. 

hope to meet up with Mage (and Georgeas well as tour a few places in the city that I have not seen for years.  We met as bloggers when they came to my nearby city and then I went to theirs and now I am returning! 

I hope to eat in nicer restaurants; I hope to find wonderful things to photograph; I hope to avoid COVID.

After five days we are flying on to Colorado and meeting with family and praying we are not carrying germs to them although several of them have been traveling recently as well.

Life is moving on.  I guess it has to or why are we living?

(Apologies for the odd font size.  Blogger spends most of its time reducing my font size!)

Monday, February 21, 2022

Are Roller Coaster Rides Good for Your Health?

The saga of the dog is in three parts, and this is the last. If you are not a pet person or animal person or in the mood, I am guessing that reading this is a waste of time. But since it was an important lesson learned in my life, I have to document it. 

For a few years now, since we have retired, Hubby has been telling me we should get a dog. We have owned at least six dogs in our lifetime. I love dogs but not the ticks that are so dangerous. Yes, they give dogs poison but I have seen live ticks crawling on the granddogs that I babysit during some summers.

It has been good that the Shelters have been open by appointment only for the last two years due to COVID as I could avoid the issue more easily. Our local "limited kill" shelter finally opened on Saturdays for three hours for an open house and Hubby wanted us to go. We did. He immediately fell in love with a 3-year-old foxhound called Birdie and they let her out for us to visit in a side room. The dog was loving and exploring and calm. Hubby felt sure that since she was the only dog not barking in the kennels she was a real "Lady" and he called her that. He wanted to take her home immediately! I had to calm him and explain we needed to dog-proof the house (and talk about such a big step.)

 We worked on the house and a week later emailed the shelter for an appointment to take Lady. Since the manager saw our division in the enthusiasm she wisely suggested we foster to adopt. Those of you who have read the previous two blog entries know that this is exactly what we did. The second post shows the adventure we were exposed to and it helped me talk Hubby into returning this dog. I had hoped he would play a bigger role in the dog's care and in watching her, but he has a number of projects and is not good with details, such as when and how to give the dog medications.  It is not his early dementia, as he has always left the details of life to me.  He did take her on the long walks. While she initially sat with him while he watched TV, Lady related to me mostly, insisting on sitting in my lap during my morning coffee on the sofa.
She was very needy in demanding that I rub her tummy for a 15 minute morning session as I drank my coffee and watched the news.  She would take her paw under my arm and push it down.  I did not mind as she was warm for my cold hands and I realized that such vulnerable love was something that was in very short supply in her chaotic life. She was clearly trusting.  She followed me everywhere.
In about two weeks she was able to sleep in her kennel, was housebroken and rang the bells hanging on the door to go out, and actually started "talking" and "arguing" with me over treats in a very human way.

She even liked/tolerated(?) baths.  

She slept in her kennel every night without any bother and waited for me to get up in the early morning to feed her and let her outside! No barking. Perfect, right?

Then came the tragic evening that I wrote about in my last post. Such a scary thrill ride! I had imagined her dead on the road from a traffic accident, dead from the gunshot of a nearby hunter, or coming home with all kinds of health issues and broken bones to add to the ones she already had! 

It was not hubby's fault that she escaped, but it was/is a problem in that he cannot watch her and start a BBQ at the same time. His focus is singular. 

We took her back yesterday. The people at the shelter were polite and friendly, but I saw they were somewhat cold in taking her back. I brought lots of extra food I had purchased and snacks and other stuff in a bag as well as all the food she did not eat.   I still felt a failure.

Do I miss seeing that soft brown face in the morning-YES
Do I miss tripping over her as I make my way to sit down for my coffee--NO
Do I miss taking her outside several times a day-MAYBE
Do I miss her ability to drag me down the steps in the early morning before she can be controlled-NO
Do I miss her warm head in my lap-YES
Do I miss all the dog hair on the furniture-NO
Do I miss having to negotiate my every move in the kitchen-NO
Do I miss Dog bags of poo-NO
Do I miss her enthusiasm for life-Perhaps
Do I miss her watching birds with me in my weekly count for Cornell-YES

Will we try for another dog-Probably not for a long time.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Not So Boring Stuff About a Dog

This past week has been busy and I cannot remember why our shoulder lamb chops in the fridge could not be eaten until this last night. We felt caught up finally on many things in our life and these shoulder chops are my husband's favorite which he can now eat since his Alphagal allergy has ended!  He wanted them barbequed and went out to the Egg smoker on the back deck to get started.

I did not have much in the way of side dishes and so heated a few rolls, put some leftover green beans in the microwave to reheat, and made a tomato and avocado salad before the avocado got too ripe to eat.

Our Lady dog was watching hubby working through the deck window.  I asked him to move the storage bench across the stairway to the back yard blocking any getaway and I would let Lady out so she could be with him and enjoy the milder late afternoon early evening temperatures. She wandered the deck and explored every BBQ tool and watched him start the smoker.  I returned to the kitchen. 

Everything was fine for about 5 to 10 minutes when I heard Hubby shout out.  Lady had pushed aside the heavy storage bench while Hubby was distracted with some task and she had run down the stairs and was eating the birdseed under the feeder in the back yard.  We both called her to come but just minutes later she must have smelled deer!  Sure enough, she ran down to the dock where the deer trail crosses the back yard and flushed a few deer out in the verbena by the river, and off everyone went into the woods.  She was on a run and barking gleefully.  She managed to cross the woods in each ravine and the back yards of all of our neighbors for a least a half-mile down the peninsula chasing the deer and bouncing like a kangaroo.

I ran inside to get a leash and some kibble while Hubby made his way through all the woodland calling her.

I got down to culdesac at the end of the main neighborhood out front and heard her barking repeatedly. I called and called in as joyful and welcoming a voice as I could.  I turned to the right and saw hubby in the distance.  We came together and I gave him the leash and some of the kibble.  He went to the tip of the land by the river and I waited by the road in the opposite direction.  I followed her voice and soon I saw her behind me running across the road to the other side.  I called and bent down and begged her to come.  I rattled the kibble bag which was always a failsafe in getting her to come up to me and sit waiting.  She was about 50 feet away, saw me and grinned (actually), and darted off like a fawn away into the woods.  Then I saw her a half-mile up our street darting back across the road the other way, truly an energizer bunny.   I called and called.

Hubby and I followed her bark up and down the peninsula but could not get near her.  The sun was beginning to set and with the diminishing sun came some pretty cold air that would drop into the 30'sF.  Hubby and I walked back to the house, knowing she was miles away by now as we could no longer hear her bark.  He got in the car and headed up toward the main road as that was where we heard her last.  He went down the road that had a barn and leaned out and called.  An old lady was doing something there and asked if he was looking for a dog.  He said yes, and she pointed on up the hill toward other woods and houses and said she saw her streaking like a dart.

Back at home, I went out to the Egg smoker and saw the coals were perfect and red and so I shut the top and closed the damper, mostly hoping I could keep the coal fires burning for another hour!  I put on my down coat and went back outside to the end of our road and walked up the hill and called and called.  I stood there until dark and with freezing hands came back to the house, but left a trail of kibble down our driveway on the off chance she would find her way home. Even so, I remembered that this was how she had been found before in her life, skinny and lost.  I was sad, but oddly, not devastated.  I was mad but oddly not angry.  It was our fault but it was also Lady's wildness.  I did not want to think about her trying to find someplace warm and dry to sleep the night, because nothing like that existed in the woods.

After another 20 minutes, Hubby returned in the car and said he could hear her sharp high bark miles away, but he had no luck.  We became resigned.

We left the gate to the yard open, left open the garage door, and hoped for the best.

The BBQ temp had held and was perfect for the chops and so we made dinner, sat down and ate, and talked about how she was willing to miss her dinner to run and chase the deer.  She was a wild one and I thought to myself if she does not return, gets lost, and gets returned to the shelter (her ID was still on her) I was going to tell them she was too much for us.  I had never had a dog who was so gentle, slept on my lap, ate from my hand, and then totally went wild outside.  It was her dinner hour and she had no interest in coming to us.  I thought that most dogs will eventually come when they are exhausted.

During dinner, I went outside to the front door every 10 minutes and called her.  We finished dinner, cleaned up the plates, and turned on the TV for some distraction.

In over an hour we heard something outside on the porch, and Hubby went to open the front door.  There she sat, so happy to see us!  She came inside, gulped some water, and I took her bowl of kibble with her medicine from the refrigerator and put it down.  (Mistake on my part, but more about that later.)  She ate but with a calm sedateness that was unusual.  Then she went to her favorite sofa and sat and looked at us through half-closed eyes as if she was exhausted trying to stay awake.  Later she came and sat next to me trembling every once in a while.  I thought she had gotten chilled, but soon she got up and started pacing and we took her outside where she threw up some food. About 15 minutes later she threw up on a rug by the door and I recognized the kibble and her blue medicine capsule.  Perhaps the food was too cold.  Not exactly.

She went outside several times more throwing up and then burying the vomited mass in the leaves of my flower beds!  We brought her back and this process of rejecting food went on for some time.  Finally close to ten o'clock we were tired and ready for bed.  I had to push her into her kennel and I knew she did not want to go in because she was still sick!

I slept through the night not wanting to think about it all.  Just before 7:00 AM I got up and came out to release her for a break outside and then breakfast, keeping the thought away from the back of my mind that she might be dead!  But relieved that she sat up and looked at me normally.  In her kennel piled neatly all around the side like a 2-inch ridge of dirt was some strange dry black vomit.  She looked miserable, but had kept the center where she slept clean!  I took her outside and she peed but then just wanted to sit and watch the morning sun-rise which I allowed.  The weather was really nice, not too chilly and quiet except for the Canadian geese down near the water having a battle over who was going to get to use the osprey nest.  I wanted to go back inside, but knew she needed this and so tried to meditate a bit(!).  As we returned to the house she was very determined to get her "cache" of vomit she had buried under the leaves and it took my strong hand to get her back inside. 

I brought her inside and went to give her some dry kibble, but only half or even less than her normal serving.  She ate eagerly, but not crazily like she usually does.  This gave me time to clean her bedding and look at the vomit that I had thrown outside on the deck.  Below is a photo I took.  Yes, maybe some grain of some sort, thank goodness it was not poisonous left out by a farmer for some varmints.   Farmers are usually careful around here because we have had Bald Eagle die-offs due to poisoning left for wild animals.

Yes, that is a lot considering she threw up several times before we put her in her kennel.  It looks like a grain of some kind.

Yes, we are so lucky she did not bloat and die from the intestinal blockage as well, and we are lucky that it was not something terribly poisonous.  It is very dry.  She looked so miserable and we can hope she learned her lesson and we learned ours!  This is going to be a much calmer day with her while she mends.

She is not totally back to herself by this afternoon, but I can deal with the lack of enthusiasm.  She ate a lunch of a handful of kibble in chicken broth and is now sleeping.

  Of all the dogs we have owned I realize that we got them as pups or under a year.  Adopting a three-year-old is much more challenging.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Boring Stuff About a Dog---Not Your Dog

Where was my brain when I agreed to take in this dog? I am sure I am losing weight as I rarely can sit for any length of time.  Always checking on where she is and what she is up to.  I do kennel her 3 hours in the middle of the day as I really need some downtime...or a nap!  When I leave the kennel door open, she goes in on her own sometimes to nap.  We have always had puppies and that seems so much easier?  (The red plaid blanket and bed were given to us by the shelter.  I have two sleeping cushions above the kennel to rotate when washing stuff.  She never plays with the expensive dogs' toys we bought!)

Yes, she is growing on me, but she is exhausting in terms of making sure we get her to pee outside. She is on steroids and thus drinking lots of water and having to pee lots.  She manages to go 90% outside, but it is that 10% that means rugs have to be cleaned and deodorized.  I have read her a few times and realize she just HAS to pee and does not hurry to the front door but squats nearby. We are trying the bell method, and rolling up the throw rugs.

She is basically pretty manageable. We can let her out without her leash in the early cold morning and she will pee and then come trotting back. Usually, I go with her out of habit. 

After meals, she will pace the house looking for kibble and knows everywhere that I have it stored in containers for behavior modification...such as the laundry room where we have a dog shower.  She has gotten two baths and not been too upset by them; I think she likes the warm water.  Due to her skin itching, we are trying a non itch shampoo for dogs. Thus far she has not tried to take stuff off of the counters, but I am sure if we were gone she would be into everything in no time.  She gets fed before our dinner and does not beg when we sit down to eat, although she does stand or sit nearby.

She is very loving and insists on sleeping with her head on my lap in the early afternoon. The rest of the time she sleeps on the covered sofa or in her kennel. 

Hubby has trained her to heel when walking most of the time.  She does not feel a need to eat every stick or dead frog along the walk!  She will come back and sit, but mostly for kibble.  Although we try to alternate with lots of loving and no kibble.  She does not bark when the neighborhood German shepherds do their morning barking.  I have heard her bay only once, so that is not an issue.

She learned the sit command in a few days but not the stay command if there is food coming up.  She did a soft snap at me once when I was trying to get her up in the evening to go to her kennel.  I had not touched her but was moving in toward her.  She was scolded severely (no hitting - just me in an angry voice) and I am guessing she was used to being on her own when sleeping or people had been mean to her after waking?  She clearly was feeling bad about it.  She also barked at hubby when he came to the sofa and bent to hold my head in his hands and kiss me and then try to do the similar to her.  

All other times she has been very gentle and obedient.  I will ask when we return her to the kennel if this might mean she would not be safe around a small child...although they probably cannot get me a definitive answer.

I have read mixed reviews on personality changes in a female dog after spaying and that is what they will do before we can officially adopt her.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Not Back to Normal

Normalcy, if I ever could lay claim to such, has flown out the window. I gave in and agreed to my husband's desire to foster the dog from the shelter but did make him wait a week while we prepared the house with gates, spaces, etc., and bought a bunch of pet stuff!  This is a bit long so you have to bear with me.

I should have been more careful because my husband's dementia means that I am totally responsible for feeding and watching the dog when she is inside.  She has had a few peeing accidents and we are trying to get her to use the bell hanging from the door, as well as take her out several times morning and afternoon and before bed.  I also can remember the amount of feed as well as the medicine regime. Hubby is very good at walking and exercising the dog. We have had her for 11 days.  She is not a chewer, probably because she is 3 years old.  She is crazy for food.  She has Lymes and heartworm and is on medicines for that and if I put them in a "pill pocket" she will gulp them down in a second.  (Actually she will do almost anything for food.)

The first night we put her in a kennel in our bedroom, but her scratching and chewing kept us awake.  I moved the kennel to the living room, got an itching spray, bathed her with a shampoo and conditioner that was supposed to reduce dryness and itching, and also applied cream to a few areas.  Below she sits nicely in her kennel while drying in the sun. 

About the fourth night, she woke us up around midnight with a deep and frightening growl followed by the baying that only Hounds can do.  We later learned that our neighbor across the ravine was getting raccoons out of his garage.  We never would have heard any of that.

It is like having a new baby in the house.  I had to call the shelter (since we are fostering we have to use their vet referral) when I noticed two areas of serious sores.  One under her neck and one on her backside.  I put a cream there before she walks so that she would not lick it off.  They thought it might be the kibble they gave us which was something new to her.  She also was crabby when I tried to get her to stop chewing and only offering a rawhide chew worked.

They asked us to bring her up.  When they saw the issue they made an appointment with their vet for late afternoon.  Since they are 30 minutes from our house and the vet hospital is another 15 minutes from them, this meant driving back home at noon and waiting for the appointment time, and then driving the 45 minutes back up at 4:00 PM.  Bonus, she does not mind riding in a car in the kennel!  The shelter also gave a bag of new kibble that has no corn or wheat and is mostly meat.  

The visit to the vet took almost two hours between waiting and diagnosis.  We now have her on steroids and then an additional monthly medication for possible mites.   She behaved well at the vet hospital and even let them stick stuff in her ears!  The vet gave us as well some spray for the sore areas AND an ear spray!  We are hoping it is not allergies as I understand that is harder to treat and determine.  If it is mites we have no clue where she got them as it is my understanding that the animal shelters are very sterile and we have no pets here.

It was a very long day and when we got back and after we fed her and then after we took her out for a 15-minute walk, we put her in the kennel and went for out for our dinner!!  I was exhausted, and I still have not attempted putting in the medicine for her ears that they wanted us to do!!

She will go back to the shelter before our trip at the end of February and probably forget what little training we have been able to give her.  At least this will give us a break to decide if we have the energy for this.  If she did not have the skin problem, we could certainly work with her.  Hubby has fallen in love, of course!

Saturday, February 05, 2022

The Fog Has Rolled In

"I don’t look forward too far, as I would just be worried all the time." Taken from the blog Dementia,  the author Judith Clark is a professional writer, so her ability to be insightful, informative, funny, and interesting is expected and well done. 

My husband is in the process of being tested for memory problems.  The neurologist is vague and I am not even sure what all the tests are saying.  He reassures us that since hubby is starting as someone who has a PhD in the sciences, he is starting at the top of the scale.  (Having a lot more information to lose is a good thing?)

I do not want to think about the future on this path because it is not pleasant nor changeable. If I was religious I would pray and ask God to find a cure for all of us on this journey. 

My husband's mother was living alone with this memory loss in her early 80's and came to live with us about 4 years later. We had to take her to a rest home a few years after that, but mostly due to a series of small strokes she had. Her memory had diminished greatly by then, so the evidence of the strokes was mostly shown in her instability when trying to get around. If I looked forward and see that this is where I would see my husband, who is now full of life and enthusiasm, it can be greatly discouraging.  He has been forgetful about small things all of his life and I just tolerated that.  Now we will discuss something in the morning and he will ask me again in the afternoon about it.  He will ask about things that worry his mind again and again.

I am not patient!!  I do need to work on that.  I need to meditate and read more on how to improve one's emotional state.  I have not developed the habit of following him around to see if he puts stuff away so that the new dog does not get into it.

Now we may add a new grandchild who will never see the grandfather that the others saw and played with.

My son and his wife have had problems with several pregnancies before this recent one which seems to be healthy. My daughter-in-law is in her 40's which is late for having a child. She also has some small heart valve problems. This child could be born with a number of complications, or not born at all. Why look forward? 

I will just live with this hope on a day-to-day basis that they have a wonderful life.  

We are ahead of the game as my husband does not and never has smoked or drank alcohol.  (I do get two bourbon and sodas or glasses of wine before dinner most nights, but do not crave more than that.)  He loves being active and getting out and about, far more than I do.  His general health is good as is his kindness, although he is very frustrated many days.

Well, we got the big car loaded with the crib a few days ago before that heavy rain followed today by super cold weather!  Taking it up this morning.

Our new dog which has been with us a week will have to be in a crate for the four hours we are gone.  She does not mind the crate and sleeps in it all night.  She cannot be trusted to have the run of the house yet!  We will be rushed to get back and take her on a long walk before we leave.

Every day is a new foggy challenge and I am not up to it...yet.