Monday, August 18, 2014

So What Do I Do?

Haven't posted for awhile, and what I have to post about now I'd rather not write.

I'm sitting on the two-seat sofa with Llewellyn next to me, and he's not well at all.  Around the first of the month he threw up his regular kibble (whole), then started turning up his nose at it altogether.  Prior to that he'd been having trouble eliminating, but I thought maybe he'd gotten into the cat box and picked up a bug.  But when he didn't want to eat . . .  Got a vet appointment for the Thursday following (the 7th, the soonest they had), and they told me to put him on chicken and rice in the meantime.

He ate that fine, and everything looked all right at his appointment.  I just needed to feed him more and get him fattened up again; he was too skinny.  They also gave me an antibiotic as they thought he might have a gastric infection.

Kept him on the chicken and rice and changed his kibble.  Fine in general, though he wasn't keen on the increased amounts (this is a dog who left toothmarks in the metal lid of a scented candle).  But last Wednesday his stool got tarry and gradually there were fewer and fewer things I could get him to eat.

Saturday night I made him a batch of hushpuppies and that's the last thing of any significance he's had.

Got him in to the vet's today.  X-rays and sonogram clean.  But they did a comprehensive bloodwork panel and it shows that he's severely anemic.  The doctor is of the opinion that Llewellyn either has an ulcer-- or it's a stomach tumor-- i.e., cancer.

They sent me home with more pills.  For what it's worth, for he's still refusing to eat.  He's lost two pounds in the past 11 days.  And he was a lean dog already.

Vet says if he doesn't start eating I'm going to have to make a Decision.  Crap.  How is it he's still so strong he won't open his jaws for me, but so weak it was a wonder that I found him upstairs with me this morning?

It's not helping going online and reading about miracle cures.  Do I get this stuff and force it down him on the chance it'll mean a breakthrough?  Or do I leave him in peace . . . for whatever time he has left?

Sometimes, when the mood takes me, I bunk down on the two-seat sofa and spend the night sleeping with the dog in the living room.  I think that's what I'll do tonight.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Of All the Nights . . .

Of all the nights for Llewellyn to decide to get skunked, he chose this one.

Yeah.  The one where I've been working two different jobs since 7:45 this morning, got home after 11:00 PM from the second one, and haven't finished filing my taxes.

Took him out, soon as I got home.  No leash, since there's no other dogs around that time of night and well, it's easier.

Yeah, right.  Now I know.

The skunk was a white one, frequent around here, sauntering through the parking lot on the other side of the alley.  When he took off after it I prayed it was a cat.  I yelled at him to get his rear back here, and if had been a rabbit, he would have.  But with a skunk, nooooooo!

When he finally came back to me he wasn't fazed at all.  Oh, no, not he!  No yelping, very lively, proceeded to do his business . . .

But he smelled like garlic and something else, which was weird.  Not at all "dead skunk the the middle of the road."  I read that that's how skunk spray smells close up.  Who knew?

Hustled him inside and into the bathtub.  Found out a few minutes ago I should have used peroxide and baking soda, but I hit him with the doggy flea shampoo since it was what I had on hand.

He didn't enjoy the bathing process and it serves him right.  I don't enjoy the garlic stink that's still got its claws embedded in the back of my throat.  But once he got out of the tub, oh, he's Mr. Lively!  He's around ten years old now but he generally contrives to forget it.

Llewellyn's sitting next to my chair as I type this.  Yeah, he's in the house.  What am I supposed to do, kick him out in the backyard where he'll bark at the full moon and disturb the neighbors and get into even more trouble?  When I sniff his fur it smells all right.  That's the dry parts.  Maybe it's the wet parts that still stink.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Flea Wars

It really wasn't my intention to break my long silence with a post like this, but the subject demands venting.  I was ashamed even to mention it, till I learned that it's a bad problem all over this year.



We haz fleas!

And I thought we didn't.  I'd been sympathizing with my friend Hannah* since the end of last month, because her dog and cat and kitten and her whole house was infested.  I'd been empathetic with the customers who came into the Big Blue Box Store (where I've worked since last March) wanting advice on flea remedies.  I listened attentively-- for informational purposes only, I thought-- to a fellow store associate as she coached a customer in the flea-removal uses of Dawn dish soap.

My house had no fleas!  I hadn't seen any, and don't the kids all sleep with me?  I would be hopping with them myself if we had them, right?  True, Llewellyn had been itching awhile, so badly that he'd chewed the hair off the back of his hind legs.  But that had to be a dietary deficiency.  He'd grown immune to his dogfood, that was it, and I was trying out another brand to see if that would help.  And it seemed to, a little.

Then two days after the conversation in the store, Sunday night two weeks ago, I had Rhadwen in my lap as I sat at the computer.  And what do I see in her white fur?  Flea dirt!

She got a bath in blue Dawn that night.  She cried the whole time, but was very good and didn't scratch me once.

Llewellyn stood outside the bathroom door and barked and barked and barked!  Never mind your noise, goggie! You'll get yours.  Which he did, the next afternoon.  He's not fond of water, either.  I had to pick him up and put him in the tub.  But once in, he yielded to the treatment, with some trembling, poor thing.

The following Friday I noticed some more fleas on him when we were outside for his bathroom break.  He got a touch-up with the hose.

Last Saturday I headed for the local Tractor Supply store, because I heard they had economically-priced anti-flea medicine, and food grade diatomaceous earth at a good per-pound price.  It's made of ground-up fossils and its sharp-edged grittiness rips the nits and larvae to def!

Got the carpets vacuumed up as well as I could reach with my upright Oreck (with a flea collar in it to kill them), then loaded the garden puffer with D.E. and went to work in the guest bedroom (formerly the Kitten Room).

Oh, dear.  This will not do.  Diatomaceous earth.  As in earth.  Like, dirt.  It looked awful.  I just couldn't see coating my carpets with it.  And letting the dog and the cats roll in it and get filthy after their baths.  And having them and me track it all over the house, including all over the stairs I'd just touched up with nice, shiny new shellac.  It'd scrape the hell out of the finish.

I think I'll use it in the garden instead.

Meanwhile, the bathing campaign went on.  Last Monday, Huw got his.  He's very strong, and definitely let me know how he felt about it ("Maow!  maow! maow!), but he held still once he was in, and scratched my left arm only a little when at one point he tried to use me a a ladder.

Llewellyn got a repeat bath late Tuesday evening.

And Rhadwen had to undergo the ordeal again on Wednesday.  Poor thing, her head is so tiny it's hard to get it lathered up really well.  And just as I thought we were done, I noticed that a good many live fleas were headed for her face.  Noooooo!!!!!!  Die, monsters, DIE!!!!

By yesterday afternoon everyone had been bathed and had their topical flea medicine applied-- except for Gwenith.  At six years she's still my shy, skittish girl, and won't let herself be touched unless she feels she has you confined or at some disadvantage.  I even ran the bath for her Thursday night, but the water went cold before I could get her corralled.

But yesterday I caught her on the stairs, happily while I was carrying a towel, and whisked her upstairs and into the bathroom.

No pictures of Gwen in the bath.  The steam shorted out my digital camera while I was working on Rhadwen on Wednesday.  She reacted totally contrary to what I'd expected.  Thought I'd be chasing her all over the bathroom.  But no.  As long as I held her gently but firmly, and maintained a calm, soothing attitude (the attitude of the bath-giver is very important!) she held still.

Oh, she did cry at some points.  Sounded uncannily human:  "No! No! No!"  But when I was massaging the lather into her, she quieted down and even relaxed.

Which was a jolly good thing, because when I had her rinsed off and I thought we were done, when I had her out of the bath and onto the towel, I noticed her chest was still crawling with live fleas! Aaaaagggghhhh!!  Back in the tub, and through the whole process all over again!

Even then, I think there were one or two that were clinging so tightly to her fur I couldn't get them either with my fingers or the flea comb.  Tried and tried to get them out, and maybe I did, but I figured by then she had had enough.  After I dried her off, she ran into the guest bedroom and crawled into a rip in the box spring cover and hid.

Last night as I lay in bed reading she was speaking to me again.  Which was good, because her ordeal wasn't over:  I still had to treat her with the topical medicine.  Poor thing, betrayed again!  I got it on her, she headed for the hills, and I didn't see (or feel) her again last night.

What now?  Everyone has apparently forgiven me; at least, they're all being sociable and no little revenge presents have been left in the laundry basket.  Llewellyn still has some live fleas on him; at least, he did this morning, and got another sponge bath.  But he's not itching like he was, and the hair's growing back on his hind shanks.  The kittehs are still scratching here and there, but I don't know how long the histamine in a flea bite lasts after the fleas themselves are dead.

I wonder if there's a flea powder or spray I can use on the kids to supplement the action of the topical medicine.  And how long after applying the latter I can give them another bath.  Though I'd like to avoid that if I can-- and I'm sure they feel the same.

Still need to do something about the carpets and chairs and so on.  It's hard to get the place really clean, since I'm still, perpetually, eternally renovating.  But I have to try.  Forgive me, but I'm contemplating chemical (vs. mechanical) methods.

I wonder if my exterminator knows a product that'd be good.  Unfortunately, I find I forgot to pay him so far for this quarter's treatment.  I think I'd better take care of that before I go asking for free advice.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just Had to Do It

I'll redo this when I have time. But for now . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Wennie!

Today is my calico cat Rhadwen's twelfth birthday!

Here she is, as pretty as ever.

I'm not absolutely certain-sure that's the exact day in 1998 when she was born on the acreage outside Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska, but I seem to remember the family who gave her to me as a kitten telling me that's when her mother gave birth.  So it's a good day to commemorate.

I'm afraid we didn't do much to celebrate.  I forgot to buy tuna at the store, and, due to lawn chemicals on the grass, I couldn't let her spend the day in the back yard.  (Oh, I heard from her about that!)

She's doing very well, regardless of her age, and is the best hunter in the family.  She brought me a live chipmunk a week or two ago that I would not let her bring inside.

So, many Wennie happy returns!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tomato Sampling Expert

Less than five minutes ago I harvested my first Pink Brandywine tomato of the season.  I set it on the counter, and went upstairs to get my camera to document the occasion.

In less than a minute I returned to the kitchen, to find the tomato gone and my dog Llewellyn in the dining room having a last chomp.

You greedy beast!  So, was it good, sir?  Did it meet your expectations?

And don't you know tomatoes are supposed to be bad for you?


Monday, June 7, 2010

Close Calls

When I was on restricted activity post-op, I arranged for the neighbors down the street to come and feed the animals and especially, to take Llewellyn out to the alley to do his business. If I had him properly leash trained I could've done it myself early on, but noooo, he's still tugging and pulling at the best of times. And if he sees another dog, it's Katie, bar the door! Definitely in the category of Heavy Lifting.

But about two weeks before I was cleared for regular activity, the teenaged kid from the family that was helping me told me they couldn't find my house key. For a few days, he'd ring the bell morning and afternoon, I'd let him in, and he'd take the dog out. And late at night, at bedtime, I could take Llewellyn out off-leash, since nobody walks their dog in the alley at that hour.

But gradually, none of my helpers from down the block came at all. It was up to me. Whattodo, whattodo . . . ? Ah. Midnight trip, as before. Daylight potty breaks, I let Llewellyn run down to the back gate and I'd get him secured when I got there. Then, "Sit!" He sits. I put the leash on him. "Wait!" He waits. I open the back gate, carefully, carefully . . . I stick my head out, and sweep the scene, up and down the alley. No dogs. "OK!" And out we'd come, Llewellyn would do his business on a relaxed leash, and I wouldn't get my stitches pulled and he wouldn't be menacing other people's pets.

This worked so well, that last week, I got careless. I didn't take the time I should've to make sure the coast was clear. And for three straight mornings, at different times each day, I just missed letting my fear-agressive mutt into the alley right in the path of a neighbor and his little brown dachshund!

I do not know how Llewellyn didn't nose that dog and go off after him, but I guess he had other business to attend to.

Unless . . . ?

Not sure when it was, last Friday or Saturday, but we were out there so he could do his business. And a couple houses down the alley, two young guys I didn't know were standing by a car, I guess waiting for their friend to get home. Then I heard a jingling as of dogtags, and yes, they had a little mutt on a leash, right where Llewellyn could see him. And Llewellyn did see him. And did nothing, except finish his business.

Then yesterday, the neighborhood children were out in force, accompanied by the big Dobie owned by the family on the corner. Vader, who is always off-leash, lay down in the next-door neighbors' yard, not twenty feet from my front entrance. Where the door was open. And Llewellyn was sitting right behind the screen. Did he go crazy? No, he didn't. In fact, the kindergartners and I did some training with some doggie treats I brought out. Llewellyn got treats for sitting nicely behind the door and not barking at Vader, and Vader got treats for chilling out and not coming any farther into Llewellyn's territory.

All seemed well. Until the one preschooler in the group ran into my house to get something, and let the door hang open when she came back out. And out Llewellyn came with her, starting down the front steps, with the child's pet Doberman just a long leap away.

But . . . Llewellyn wasn't running, or barking, or attacking. He was just ambling out, enjoying the fun, wanting to be outside with all the kids who like to pet him and spoil him rotten. Had to spoil his fun, of course. "Llewellyn, back in the house. Now."

He went. Dare I say he might be getting an eensie bit more dog-socialized? If so, I wish I knew what we were doing right. I hate having to be so careful of him now-- and I know he'd love it if he could get over his fear and get out and play and frolic with other dogs.