Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The last best days of summer

Bremo and Trooper
Summer may have just started, but it has already peaked.  Tuesday was picture perfect, blue sky, a nice breeze, 80 degrees, no humidity.  Days like that are rare this time of year and I would bet that we don't have another one this nice until fall.  It's due to heat up starting Wednesday and we are about to July, so there is no reason to expect anything other than heat and humidity for the rest of the summer. 

I started a fire in the firepit and burned out weeds and accumulated debris.  I mowed a lot of grass, having three working mowers again for the first time in a while.  And of course I got the dogs out to the pasture for a good romp.

Gigi wasn't really looking
at anything, she was just
showing me her best side
for photographs.
Hank loves Lana

I've decided I'm not taking in any new dogs until at least three of the current batch of long term fosters have moved.  But we did take in Daphne today; she just visiting for about 10 days while her mom goes out of town.  Daphne is cute, sweet, and easy.  I cleaned out the upstairs crates for her arrival because she came with her own clean bed.  She fell into the routine very easily and is getting along with everyone indoors.  She brings us up to eight indoor dogs, our five, plus, Vince, visiting Cooper, and now Daphne.  But everyone spreads out throughout the house pretty well, except during a thunderstorm, then most of them want to crowd under my desk.  I can have two or three outside most of the time throughout the day, and Vince is pretty content in his crate most of the time. 

Zachary still has a beautiful movement.

We've been fighting Gigi's digestive system since I first wrote about it.  I did my usual 24 hour fast and then started her back on a reduced amount of food.  As soon as she had food in her guts again the diarrhea came back, so she's been on another fast, for more like 48 hours.  Monday night she had some yogurt and a probiotic called FortiFlora, along with some immodium.  She made it through the night without accident and even without needing to go out in the middle of the night.  Today she had more yogurt and FortiFlora, and then I cooked her chicken and rice, followed by more yogurt late this afternoon.  She's hungry and has a good appetite, the big question of course is what will come out the other end tomorrow.  She's energetic and playful, seems perkier today.  When we get back to dog food, I think I'll switch her to Zachary's grain-free Taste of the Wild.  She always seemed more interested in his food and would just sort of pick at the other food I was feeding, which is what Bremo and Trooper eat.  Cabell's special kidney diet dog food makes for three different kinds already.  At least if I can get her onto Zach's food I wouldn't have to buy, store, and feed a fourth brand of dog food among our own five dogs.  But of course I'll do what I have to do to make her happy, and regular.  She does seem to be afflicted with German Shepherd guts.

Radley and Lana
Nose down, tails up, that's the way we like to hunt.
(Without apology to 2 Live Crew)

Dixie, always on the move

Max among the daisys

Cabell (front) is slightly taller, Cooper is slightly bulkier.
Cooper has white socks, Cabell has a curly tail.
Their coats are identical in color and texture.
This is Cooper,
 he looks so much like our Cabell.

Gigi and Cooper

Bremo still does pretty much everything he ever did,
just not quite as fast or for quite as long.

Hank and Lana probably make the best use of their pasture time.  They run and run.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday summary

I'm going to start with this picture because it's pretty and if it's first then Facebook chooses it as the picture to associate with the link to this blog post. One day last summer I bought this Lotus blossom plant at the farmer's market in Charlottesville, the one and only time I went.  It's a water plant and I put it into plastic barrell that looks like half of a whiskey barrell.  It did well but I didn't do anything with in in the fall and didn't really expect it to come back.  Maybe it was our mild winter, but it did come back, is growing nicely, and today it came into bloom.  Very pretty. 

Clay update:  Friday we had an appointment with a hand surgeon early in the morning.  The outcome was that the hand and wound area were still too swollen to really determine what, if anything, could or should be done.  He referred us for therapy right away to address the swelling.  Clay called and got an appointment for a couple hours later.  We met with the therapist, who cleaned and bandaged the wound and prescribed some simple finger movement exercises.  The wound looked better than it did Monday night, and looked better still when I changed the dressing and re-wrapped the mummy hand on Sunday.  He sees the therapist twice this next week and then sees the doctor again the following Monday.  The wound will heal, the real question is the extent and permanency of the nerve damage in the middle finger, currently it's rather numb. 

Sunday morning I took Lana, Hank, Dixie, and Max up to a VGSR adoption event in Gainesville.  I actually met and spoke with two potential adopters for Max that could be good for him.  He was a neurotic mess when we arrived such that I had to hold him myself.  After spending time with those two potential adopters I just put him back in the van and left it running with the AC on for the rest of the time I was there. 

Dixie was good, but it wasn't her day.  She just needs a more serious dog person than our average applicant.  It was Lana's first adoption event and she was very good. A women with three little girls came by near the end who was interested in her. They have a pittie mix now and have had boxers in the past. We'll see if I hear from her.  Hank had such a good time he didn't want to leave. When I took his leash to lead him back to the van he sat his butt down and refused to budge. It hasn't been a great week around here. He's a sweet boy, he's smart, and willing to learn and please. Here he is learning "down."

The dog on the left in the picture below is Neiko.  He was one of my fosters from about four years ago.  He is shown here with his recently adopted sister, Bailey.  They came by today so that Bailey could be microchipped.  Neiko looked great, but mostly he wanted to go home and I couldn't blame him. 

No one sees all the cool bling I buy for my dogs' collars, and the dogs themselves aren't really properly impressed by it either.  Here's the latest batch from my recent trip to D.C.  The Great Seal and the Jefferson medallion came from the Jefferson Memorial.  The blue triangle was from the Holocaust Museum.  This was the symbol used for Jehovah's Witnesses, who were also persecuted by the Nazis.  (They didn't have a pink triangle key chain or I would have bought that.)  The D.C. dog tag on the far right was picked up at the MLK Memorial gift shop, I believe.  The treble clef was from the Kennedy Center and it now graces Gigi's long, beautiful neck.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Solstice

If I was going to affiliate with any religion, I'd probably be a pagan.  They have the best holidays, and Summer Solstice is the best of the best.  It's hot and miserable here right now, but still there is something special about the long days that stretch well into the evenings.  Wednesday evening I drove up to the community garden to water my plants shortly before dark.  The setting sun was a huge red disk hanging low in the sky, but I was driving and couldn't get the ideal shot.  I hadn't been up to the garden since my trip to D.C., but it looked good.  The tomato plants are growing and looked strong.  The ground cloth was doing its job on the weeds.  There are others with plants beginning to set fruit already, but mine won't be as far behind as it seems in another couple of weeks. 

The container garden at home is looking good too.  Gigi took a stroll through it today, as did Vince.  I started with larger plants than usual, both because I was late and because that was mostly what was available.  The pots are all doing well.  If there is any plus side to this god awful humidity, it's the fact that things don't dry out so much, even in the heat.

Gigi hadn't been eating well the last couple days, probably because of this biotin supplement that I've been putting on her food.  So yesterday I gave her some soft food and she ate it all.  The unfortunate result of that is that today I've been washing all the dog beds from the bedroom and still need to mop the floors.  When Zachary has diarrhea, he uses the washable rug in the bathroom, very considerate.  Trooper usually uses the closet.  Gigi didn't know where to go, or how to wake us, so we had unhappy surprises all over the bedroom this morning, the biggest pile, or pool, right near my side of the bed.  The room needed cleaning, they all do, but this isn't a nice way to get it done. 

Gigi needed a bath and so did Zachary.  I have never had a dog stand as still as Gigi did for a cold water bath on a hot day.  Her short coat is incredibly easy to wash, and her height makes it easy on my back.  Zachary needed a bath to wash out old coat and also to clean up his ears.  Clay got the worst of the dog fight the other night but Zach has a couple puncture wounds in his big ears.  He's been carrying his head at a tilt with his ears pointed in odd directions to make sure we know that he's hurting.  He's been getting antibiotics and pain meds, just like Clay, but I hadn't yet really cleaned up the wounds until today.  They aren't much to see, but ears are very sensitive so I'm sure he's hurting.  Now they are clean and I'll continue the antibiotics and he should be fine. 

Thank you for the all the expressions of concern about Clay.  I feel bad about it and wish it had been me instead.  Mostly I should never have let it happen.  But that all falls in the category of things I can't do anything about.  We see the doctor tomorrow morning to see what needs to be done. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Dear Sir"

I received this email from former adopters today:

Dear Sir,

We are writing this letter in regard to a young German Shepherd (Timber) that we recently adopted from you.  We understand that a GSD is a high energy dog requiring training, exercise and stimulation.  We understand that they may chase cats, chew furniture, howl at sirens like a wolf, and generally eat a lot.  While we were willing to adjust to these problems we have recently had an episode that is difficult to overcome.  Please see the attached photograph.  Try to understand...this was a perfectly good glass of chardonnay.

Please advise on how to proceed.

The first suggestion that comes to mind is that they fish the ball out of the glass and suck it dry (these folks would).  And perhaps they should spend a little less time drinking wine and more time (more, more) playing with their dog.  After pondering their predicament for a bit, it occurred to me that the fine dog they adopted from me is also a very fine oenophile who correctly believed that the bitter taste of chardonnay is made more palatable by a slimy tennis ball.  If the dog has a nose for wine, they could probably make a fortune by hiring him out to winemakers.  (I could totally see these folks traveling from farm to farm shamelessly enjoying themselves in retirement as their dog worked to support them.)

The reason this email was so welcome today is that Clay and I spent several hours Monday night and early Tuesday morning in the emergency room getting Clay's hand treated for dog bite wounds.  Radley, who has scarcely ever had an unkind word for another dog, decided yesterday to take out our Zachary.  I do not know what brought it on.  They were all out in the dog yard together.  Radley climbed the fence into the pasture to pursue whatever game had piqued his interest last week.  When he tired of that, he began running the fence line with Zachary, a game they seem to enjoy although I hate it.  I'm not so sure that didn't bring out some aggression, perhaps trash talk was exchanged as they ran, I don't know.  They were together again in the dog yard without incident, but when they came into the house Radley went after Zach for no apparent reason.  That one we broke up without difficulty and sort of chalked it up to a nearby empty food dish.  But last night about 11:00 p.m., in the bedroom, Radley launched himself at Zachary again, with absolutely no provocation.  It was Clay's mistake, but it's one we've all made, sticking your hand the middle of a dog fight.  It's an instinctive reaction and one you only learn to overcome by experiencing the consequences.  Zachary is ok, Clay got the worst of it by far, several puncture wounds and a very nasty gash on his middle finger.  The ER doc didn't want to close it because it was a "dirty wound," so we are seeing a hand surgeon on Friday to see what, if anything, needs to be done. 

Radley is on a 10 day quarantine and then I'll have him euthanized.  He's a nice dog, but he's now completely unadoptable and I'm not comfortable having him around, nor am I comfortable passing him off to someone else.  It's unpleasant and unfortunate, but it's the way it is. 

Swinging the pendulum back again, I'm pleased to announce that the third Pyr/Golden/Lab pup was adopted this past weekend.  Rescue is always a mixture of happiness and tragedy, often occurring simultaneously.

Catching up

After dropping off Radix at his home in Arlington late on Friday afternoon, this bronze statue of Fala was as close as I got to a dog for the next 48 hours.  It was nice to get away. 

My sister Paula was coming to DC on business this week so she came in early to spend the weekend with me.  Rather than having her here, which would have required me cleaning the house and fixing food, I suggested that we spend the weekend in DC.  The weather was unbelievable, just perfect, better than we had any reason to expect for mid-June.  The first day we took in the old Smithsonian Castle and the gardens outside, and then took a long walk all the way around the Tidal Basin, taking in the new MLK Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and of course, the Jefferson.  The afternoon we spent in the Holocaust Museum, and then saw "Memphis" at the Kennedy Center that evening, followed by a nighttime drive around the mall.  Sunday we did the American Indian Museum and the nearby Botanical Gardens before I had to head back home to reality. 

I really liked spending time with my sister and I really liked being away.

The bronze sculptures at the FDR Memorial are powerful and evocative


The entrance to the MLK Memorial

The Jefferson is arguably DC's most beautiful memorial.

Bonus points to anyone to knows this little known, rarely seen memorial, near the Tidal Basin.

View of the Potomac from the Kennedy Center terrace during intermission.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Some better news before I go

I'm heading to D.C. for the weekend to spend a few days with my Montana sister, who is coming east for work next week.  I'm leaving Clay at home in charge of the dogs, 16 in all,  but just 15 after I deliver Radix back to Arlington tomorrow.

Speaking of Radix, his blood work came back and was generally good, no obvious signs of any major problem.  I gave him a good dose of Happy Traveler this evening.  It's a herbal combination that is supposed to help with generalized anxiety.  It's marketed as a car sickness remedy, but it's anxiety that causes car sickness.  I'm hoping it will help him relax a little more readily.  I've had some dogs that are virtually knocked out by it, while others are completely unphased. 

I had a major panic attack myself today when I couldn't find Radley.  At some point I realized that I didn't remember feeding him, and when I went to do so, I couldn't find him.  That is a nightmare that I've had on more than one occasion and I'm generally pretty vigilant, counting noses throughout the day and checking on everyone's whereabouts whenever I leave.  Anyway, Radley wasn't far.  I had taken him to the dog yard this morning and he apparently jumped the back gate into the pasture.  He was back in that grove of trees where he had been last night.  I don't know what was back there but he hadn't forgotten about it and went back to resume whatever it was he was doing.  (I didn't really want to know.)  He popped out of the bushes when I called and I walked him back indoors on a leash, where he stayed for the rest of the day. 

In addition to the lab results on Radix, there is one other piece of very good news.  Rex, the overly anxious juvenile tail chasing dog that I turned over to another foster home, has already been adopted.  She spent a week with him, kept him busy, and he didn't do the tail chasing.  The new foster exudes that calm, quiet energy that Cesar Milan is always going on about.  That's not me, I yell, loudly and a lot, and expect everyone to fall into line.  That's not what Rex needed and I'm prepared to admit that I was the problem, but actually I think it was this place more than anything else.  Even when he was here he would be ok when he was indoors and things were quiet, particularly if he was alone or nearly alone.  What he couldn't cope with was the excitement level, or stupid level, around here.  There were too many dogs, too much stimulation, and not enough personal direction.  The first report from his new home was sort of "so far, so good," and I hope that continues. 

Full house

Cooper under my desk.
I'm trying to find an arrangement that keeps all the dogs as happy as possible and most importantly, quiet at night.   I'm going out of town for the weekend so I need to find an arrangement that is workable and easy for Clay to handle in my absence as well.  I had been putting Radley, Lana, and Hank in the shed at night, but someone (I suspect Lana and/or Hank) has been getting destructive in there, pulling things off shelves and chewing.  So Lana and Hank are banished to a kennel at night and the dog yard during the day, but shut out of the shed.
Vince is happy in his crate but he growls at
dogs who come near it. 
We had a discussion about that this evening.
Gigi folds up very small when she sleeps.
She no longer feels the need to follow me everywhere.
She has found "her spot" and hangs out there, but she still
tries to get in bed at night, and she does more often than not.
Dixie and Max have to come in someplace at night because Max objects, loudly, if he's left outside.  They are going in the shed now because the crates in the office are full.

Vince really wants and needs to be inside, he's an old man and that's just the way it is.  Radley had to come in today because there was gunfire in the area and he freaks.  Besides, Radley is a nice guy.  Radix is indoors because he's an old guy and that's what he's been used to lately anyway.  And he's only here until Friday.  Cooper is indoors because he's Cooper.  He's practically family.  We brought another dog bed into the bedroom for him at night too.
Radley under the desk.  He hates guns.
Radix half in, half out of his crate.
He has been good with everyone around here.
Cooper had his first pasture romp today.
It's actually a pretty workable system.  I took our dogs plus Cooper out to the pasture for a romp today, followed by Dixie and Max, and then Lana, Hank, Radley, and Radix.  Everyone got a good run and things are quiet around here now. 

Radley had something cornered or treed in our little patch of woods this evening. 
I don' t know what it was, but he wouldn't leave it until I went out to get him.