Tag Archives: life with dogs

Mud season

‘Tis the season where I have to towel off Gaby’s feet before letting her in the house. Except today we awoke to rain, which added in with temps above freezing for several days in a row and the resulting thaw and someone named Gaby’s overwhelming desire to bury something…

MUD. I mean, paws like snowshoes except snowshoes made of MUD. I tried toweling them off. Then I tried wet paper towels. Then dipping paws in a pan filled with warm water.

I finally gave up and bundled Gaby into the tub. Directed the detachable shower head at her paws, and marveled at the never-ending stream of filth. Dried Gaby off, then cleaned the tub. The floor. Bundled towels into the washer. Vacuumed.

I should learn to ignore the muddy footprints until they dry, at which point I can vacuum the resulting fine dirt. But then I need to put up with a floor dotted with paw prints, like a canine Marauders Map.

I will have to admit that once I got Gaby into the tub, she stood still like a good girl, and needed to be urged to jump out so I could dry her off. I gave her a cookie. She is dozing on the couch now, where she will remain until July.

Sunday dash-off post

Saw one of these during the morning walk. I need to take my camera on these jaunts.

Herself got skunked last night. A minor assault, as these things go, but enough to make her rub her face in the grass for a few minutes. Luckily, I had bought a bottle of Nature’s Miracle after friends raved about it. Managed to get rid of the worst of the stink. I will still try to get her to the groomers this week, though. There’s always that last bit of whiffage that I can’t get out no matter what I do.

Another year

I will be 55 tomorrow.

Have yet to adjust to the 50s. The 40s still felt, if not young, at least pre-middle ages. But 50s butt up against the 60s, which is Social Security/Medicare territory and no I’m not ready. I know, I still have 5 years left to kid myself that 50 is the new 30 so that means that 55 is the new 37.3 or some such. But I know how quickly time passes now–events from 5 years past still replay in my brain as if they happened yesterday. One of my fave t-shirts is a navy blue trad cut with a Santa Barbara crest that I bought for my Dad 20 years ago at my first writers conference ever. 1993 was 20 years ago. I still remember walking along the beach and listening to the lectures and surviving the workshops and receiving validation in the speculative fiction workshop that yes, I could actually write.

20 years.

It doesn’t matter that to some folks, I may not look my age. I’m not sure what that means. This is what 55 looks like. There are lines that weren’t there a few years ago. Skin no longer as taut. There’s more gray hair. Stuff hurts. I’m at the age where Doctors test All The Things. The body, it has changed, in most ways not for the better. I am, knock wood so hard it splinters, blessed with decent health, and to be honest, fuck the skin and hair, that’s all I want. If I have that, I can push/pull/adjust/survive anything else. This, I tell myself. That’s my bargain with whatever inevitable is out there. Just grant me this one thing.

I understand, though, that shit happens. Seen it up close over the last 10 years.

I understand that I am blessed with resource. I am a child of the First World, and though I made countless bad choices over the years, I ended up okay.

I understand that unless there is some startling medical breakthrough in the next few years, I’m on the downward slope.

If nothing else, this understanding is driving me to take some chances, so that I can spend as much time as possible doing what I really want to do. Last year at this time, I wasn’t at this point.

Not much else to say. Wondering where I’ll be a year from now. Lots to do between now and then.

Different dogs

T-storms last night and this morning. Rumbles. King would have been pacing, pawing me, trying to climb onto the bed. He hated thunder. Over the last few years, he even grew restless as the pressure changed.

Gaby…sleeps. Unless it rumbles hard enough to rattle the house, she pretty much ignores storms.

It’s strange, getting used to not having to do certain things because King is no longer around. No more emptying tissues and paper towel out of the open-top trash cans so he wouldn’t eat them. No more lowering the toilet lid to keep him from drinking. Last week, I put the pale green and white bedspread on the bed–King would always brush against the edges of bedspreads when he followed me around the room, and his hair really showed up on anything light-colored.

Yeah, I know. Trying to keep dog hair off the bed–what was I thinking?

I can even contemplate switching out the lava rock in the backyard for wood mulch. King used to love to chew on anything wood, and whenever he had a stomach upset he would eat anything to try to quell the burning, including mulch. Gaby’s not a wood eater.

Bladder capacity, however, is another matter. I have to make sure to set out the pads before I leave for any period of time because little Miss Teaspoon-and-a-Half sometimes can’t hold it for more than a couple of hours….

Happy Saturday, with doggy details

Ya-flippy dippin’-hoo.

Awoke around 8ish, and started getting prepped for a busy day of shopping and working when Gaby threw up on the hallway rug. Yellow liquid with foam. Good old bile, which had built up enough to irritate her tum because she hasn’t been eating enough.

She had yet to eat breakfast, and hadn’t eaten since Friday dinner, which was at 5pm. I fed her the canned duck food with the better consistency, and dressed it up with cooked chicken breast and dehydrated duck hearts. She did eat, but I had to add more hearts to get her to finish.

Took her for a long walk after. Everything stayed down, so I piled her into the car for our shopping trip.

There’s a newish pet food and supplies place in the small strip mall where I usually shop. I decided to check it out, and was happy to find a pretty extensive assortment of food that included a raw duck variety. I bought a sample bag, and gave Herself a few bits when we got home. She sniffed it for a minute or so–it’s a frozen variety, and even though it’s thawed before serving, it’s still colder than her usual food. Anyway, after she figured out what it was, she ate it. Licked the bowl clean, then hung around the kitchen as I put stuff away, coming close and sniffing every can and box. Welp. It was lunchtime anyway, so I gave her a half-cup more, which is one third the daily serving for a pup her size. After a few minutes, another clean bowl and additional sniffing around for more. I stopped there, though, because I didn’t want to overload her after a month of light eating.

I will get a little bit more of this stuff. If she still seems as enthusiastic, I will probably make the switch. Whether it’s upset over all the changes, missing King, food boredom, or all of the above, it doesn’t matter. She needs to eat more.

Hoping the balance of the weekend is nice and boring.

Life, and other things

Over on Facebook, I posted a link to a Roger Ebert essay on life, death, and things learned in between. I think it a courageous piece by someone who was staring mortality in the face. Lovely, in places. One line in particular stood out for me, a quote by van Gogh. “Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”

I’m not ready for the stars. I hope to put off that journey for a long time. But it’s a promise to ponder. Something to take out of my back pocket and examine, every so often.

That said, there has been altogether too much bad health news lately, touching people I know and people I’ve only heard of and read about. April has been living up to its reputation as the cruelest month, and it can stop it anytime now.

Gaby seems to be okay. Still not eating at pre-King levels. I had to take her to the vet’s on Monday for an inflamed foot; she was weighed, and looks to have lost a couple of pounds. 43.1, as opposed to the 45.0 she weighed back in August. Vet is not too concerned yet. Gaby could still afford to lose a little more weight–40 lbs would be a good weight for her. She’s playful, acting normally. I take her back in a month for a teeth-cleaning, and if she’s still off her feed and/or has lost too much weight, there will be blood tests, etc. Trying not to think about anything being wrong. She has been through a lot of change lately, and I honestly believe that she ate more when King was around because she knew that if she didn’t eat it, he would. She’s not a food-driven dog–she will eat when she’s hungry and not before, and if the food isn’t to her liking, she will pick. It could be that she’s tiring of the duck & sweet potato, and I will need to find her something else. Not looking forward to the possibility, but if I have to, I guess I will have to.

It’s still chilly, but the Time of Freeze seems to have passed, she said hopefully. Crocuses have bloomed, a little cluster of purple amid the brown. Lawn is greening here and there. Indoors, the sprouts are coming along. Tomatoes are an inch or so high. Basil, a bit shorter. No signs of life yet from the mesclun in the raised bed, but it has only been a week since I planted the seeds.

Looking forward to a long weekend in Chicago at month’s end. I will be spending a day at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. Not on any panels–attendee only. It will be my first comics convention. No idea what to expect, but I will wear comfy shoes and bring my camera.

Just another day

It’s been almost a week since King passed. Time goes so quickly.

I was picking through photographs, and found my favorite picture of him. Dad was still alive, which means it was taken in Fall 2001 or 2002, which in turn means that King was either 8 months or a year and a half old. He was bounding around the backyard as Dad and I raked leaves. I was toting the camera in hopes of getting a good photo, and took a short break just as King decided to check out the pile I had just raked. He sniffed the leaves, then plopped down in the middle of them and stayed there as they filled in around him.

Puppy in the leaves

Gaby seems fine–she’s eating, playful. Earlier in the week, she would hesitate and look around when I offered her a treat. It seemed to me that maybe she was wondering where King was. She doesn’t appear to be moping or quiet. I took her for a walk this morning, and she was so excited–nose to the ground the entire time…except when she spotted the deer. She really wanted to give chase.

Taking her to the boarding kennel for her temperament check tomorrow. She will be there for a good chunk of the day, which means I will be Solo Kris for the first time in months. I have plenty to do–errands, grocery shopping. The usual chores. But it’s going to feel weird.

I hope things go well. I would really like her to have the chance to play with other dogs every so often.

Saturday morning, with snow

Looks like we got a couple of inches. Still falling lightly. Could get occasional fallage over the next few days, which means that we will have something that approximates snowpack.

Oh well. This is the Midwest in February. I knew the snowfree state couldn’t last.

I am at the garage, getting Kuro’s ::check engine:: situation sorted out and getting a new side mirror installed (to replace the one that got clipped/broken by a passing jerk last week). The drive wasn’t near as bad as I feared–main roads were just wet, with a little mushy churn at the intersections. After I get out of here, to the grocery store I will hie. Then to home.

King had his monthly check-up on Thursday. Still maintaining.

Pasta of some sort for dinner, I think. It’s a red sauce and meatballs kinda day.

Saturday

A reminder that my agent, Jenn Jackson, is offering a critique (partial novel ms, up to 50 manuscript pages) in exchange for a Hurricane Sandy relief donation to the Red Cross. The current high bid is $1000, which is awesome. If this is something you’re interested in, please check out Jenn’s guidelines/preferred genres, and maybe give it a shot. Bidding ends at 5pm EST on Monday 5 November.

In other news, it was a Drivey McDriverson day for me. Took the pups to the regular vet–Gaby for her heartworm test, and King for his Adequan shot. Given how the last month has gone, I had my fingers crossed for Gaby’s test result even though we were mosquito-lite this summer and her coat is so thick that the little buzzy bastards would have needed miners’ gear to get to her skin. Lucky for us both, results were negative.

Took the pups home, then bashed off to run errands–post office, gas station, pet supplies big box for pup food, then grocery store for my food. This was the grocery store with the good fish, which is way the hell away from the pet supplies big box. Tollway time. Almost 60 miles round trip, which is a lot of driving for me on a weekend.

Lunch was sautéd sockeye salmon (say that 3x fast) with sautéd spinach and kale and some couscous. Broke out the Ghost Hill pinot noir blanc. Bit fancy for a Saturday, but it’s been a month, dammit.

King continues okay. He acts like an old dog, not a sick dog–a little slow in the mornings, sleeping a bit more, stiff in the hips. But he still loves to eat and bark at the mailman. Still plays with Gaby after dinner. Still acts like King the Love Sponge–pet me, love me, and you may kiss my nose. Let that continue.

In other news, we get our phantom hour back tonight! I missed that thing. Took me weeks to adjust when we lost it last spring.

Monday

So today I took King to the vet’s for an ultrasound.

Good news: nothing leapt out and said “Houston, we have a problem.” Liver appeared okay. Possible cyst on one of his kidneys–vet wasn’t too concerned. Bladder appeared okay. Gall bladder was partially filled with what was described as “sludge,” thickened bile, which the vet said probably resembled sand in water.

Iffy news: a half-inch wide darkened area on the spleen.

For now, we’ll treat the gallbladder–King’s on ursodiol, a med that will dissolve the sludge. In a few weeks, we will redo his bloodwork and see if the liver enzymes have lowered. Fingers crossed that’s the answer.

As for the spleen…spleen cancer is a possibility, especially in older, large-breed dogs like my guy. We may redo the ultrasound in a few weeks to check if the thing has gotten any bigger. Depending on the result, we may biopsy. Not looking forward to the prospect of King going under the knife. But spleen cancer isn’t often diagnosed in an early stage, so we would have to press the advantage if we have it.

King was a good puppy during the testing. He did receive a mild sedative, but even so he could have been twitchy and he wasn’t. The tech said that he lay perfectly still, and she didn’t need any help holding him.

He ate a good dinner. He’s sleeping now.

Tomorrow, it will be four years that the Mickster went in for an ultrasound as preparation for pancreatitis treatment. The vets found tumors in his liver and bladder. They gave him a few weeks, and he lasted six days.

Which was why the prospect of this ultrasound made me a little edgy.

But it looks like we may have options, room to maneuver. Nothing is definite–it could be nothing. We have some time.