Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Patch

Go back to the end of September, 2013, if you want to recall Patch's story. He's a dog we took in from a shelter over in the valley right after we got back from England last fall. He was emaciated and had as many bald patches as he had hairy spots. Even where he had fur, it was sparse and pathetic. He had both fungal and bacterial infections on his skin. He looked and smelled like hell but he was the nicest boy, just as sweet as could be. He was patient, cooperative, and grateful for everything we tried to do to help him. Everyone who met him wanted to touch him and most everyone commented that he was special. 

Patch somehow tested negative for heartworm and aside from the skin infection didn't seem to have anything major wrong with him. Once we got a little weight on him and got most of the infection cleared up, he went in to be neutered. He had only on descended testicle and they never could find another. What they found instead was what appeared to be a partially developed, but non-functioning uterus. Patch was inter-sexed, special in a way that we hadn't ever imagined. 

Patch was adopted to a friend and fellow rescuer, who sent this picture soon after he was adopted and settled into his new home. He looks a lot better and even his rat-like tail was finally growing hair. 

Patch's new home runs a rescue operation for senior dogs and Patch has assumed the role of guardian, mediator, and supervisor for all the older, and mostly smaller, dogs. They love him. The difference in his appearance from just a few months is remarkable. He has blossomed into a beautiful and quite regal German Shepherd Dog. He has a thick, luxurious coat, no bald spots that I can see, and look at that tail! What a difference a home makes. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Good dog Max?

A couple people have asked me why I call him Mad Max. There's two reasons:  (1) He's as good looking a dog as Mel Gibson was a man in the first couple movies of the Mad Max series. (That was before Mel Gibson exposed himself as a rabid, fundamentalist christian asshole, which rendered him permanently and irrevocably hideous); and (2) he's insane. He's not Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Nugent insane, but he's got issues. He's wrapped too tight, he's a bundle of nerves wrapped in a mass of anxiety, he's just not right.

I've had him on Prozac and that has helped. It has reduced the tail chasing and has greatly reduced the shrill screaming that he does when chasing his tail. But he's still fucking nuts and not really adoptable. Ochie is pretty high strung himself and the combination of him and Mad Max is not good. Max has taken to aggressively chasing Ochie, cornering him until Ochie fights back. Nothing physical has happened, it's just noise, but it really gets on my nerves and this morning I had had enough of it. I doubled Max's usual dose of Prozac and left him in a kennel by himself all day.

Late this afternoon I took him out on a hike and he was a different dog. The leash was usually fully extended between us, but it wasn't stretched tight.  He wasn't pulling, jerking, or trying to take off after every bird, bug, or noise that caught his attention. We had a pleasant walk. He was probably stoned out of his mind, but if that's what it takes to make him nearly normal, that's what we'll do.  I'm going to take him in and consult with a vet about a more appropriate dose, and perhaps to add a second anti-anxiety drug to his cocktail. I need to find something that works, and then I need to find him a home as a farm dog perhaps, where he won't be expected to behave too normally. 

I hope to stop calling him Mad Max someday, but "Good Dog Max" is probably a ways off still. Perhaps, Not-So-Mad Max? 
We did another 5 miles today!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A small victory lap

I was at the doctor's office today for a weigh-in on the "official" scale. I still prefer the scale in the vet's office, but this one said I had lost 11 pounds since I was there just back in January, about five weeks ago. That's pretty good. I came home and told my personal trainer, Sparky, and he suggested we go out for a victory lap.

The weight loss is great, but it's not over, I have a ways to go yet. According to those stupid BMI charts I should be the same weight I was in high school. That's just stupid, no one in high school is fully grown.

The small victory I was able to celebrate was getting into smaller sized jeans than I've been wearing. It's a tangible sign of progress and it means I'm finally losing some of the weight around my waist, which the doctor says is the last and hardest place to lose it from.

I set out to do four miles but Sparky said let's do five instead, and we did. No signs of spring yet, but the snow is almost all gone, and there were only a few muddy areas on the trail.
5.16 miles @ ~ 15 minutes/mile

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Catching up

Here's the last few days in pictures.

Ochie and I did four miles on the trails last Thursday.
He and Max both gobble up snow every chance they get.

Clay came home on Friday after being out of town for 10 days.
I had to explain the new sleeping arrangements to the dogs.
Maya didn't even listen, Gigi slept on the bed as she always did.
Trooper had the decency to go back to one of the dog beds.

I did five miles on Friday on the roads to avoid the muddy
trails. This is the view from the road up behind our house.
Maya was tired after our walk.

A rare picture of Cabell. It's a little easier to take his picture
now that he can't hear the camera, but once he sees it, he
still gets up and walks away.

I asked Max to give me his best Rin Tin Tin pose.
That show was before his time so he gave me a blank stare.
The Rivanna River is running fast and muddy from all the
snow melt and runoff.

I had Saturday free so I did a long hike
(10 miles) with Max. This was a rather
interesting growth of fungi on a dead tree.

After my hike on Saturday we went to James River
Brewing over in Scottsville and Maya came along.
This time she was actually seeking out people for
attention, mostly those who either smelled like dogs
or those who had food. 
On Sunday morning Clay brewed
up a new beer, this is a porter
from an old recipe.

Vince came out to help with the brew.
I went to Lowe's Sunday morning and got
materials for this device, called a "hop spider."
You put the hops into a permeable bag suspended
in the brew pot.

I took Maya first, then came home and switched dogs.
Ochie got the second hike over the same route but in
the opposite direction.

While Clay was brewing, I did two fast
hikes, each about 2.25 miles.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Clay has been out of town for the past 10 days or so, he gets back tomorrow. We will all be happy that he's home, but he may find that he has competition on his side of the bed. Gigi is in bed every night, that's a given, and it's been that way ever since she arrived. Trooper has been taking advantage of Clay's absence to snuggle really close to me, and of course, where Trooper goes, Maya follows.

I've been taking pics over the past week, some at night, some in the mornings, usually with poor lighting.

This pic shows at least part of all three bed dogs: Gigi, Trooper, and Maya.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday warming

Sparky loved rolling in the snow.
Sparky's got the best smile.
The snow is melting, turning to mud, but there's still piles of it around in some places so I'm not prepared to declare winter over just yet.

Downloading the update to MapMyWalk fixed the problem I was having the last couple of days. Sparky and I went out for four miles in the muck this afternoon. I think I'll have to stick to the roads until the snow is completely gone and drying begins. Many sections of the trail were doing double duty as streams today. Sparky didn't mind, however, and we had a nice muddy walk.

Today's route, 4.13 miles of mud

I returned a call today about this dog, a potential owner surrender. Two year old male, no training, unneutered, and guess what, the owner is having problems with him. Duh.

He's a good looking dog and I may go to meet him this weekend. The only problem is that he's in Lynchburg. Lynchburg:  ground zero for ignorant christian white trash. Jerry Falwell may be dead but he's still not dead enough to suit me, and he left behind his demon spawn and his bible school in that wicked little town. I'm not inclined to venture very close to Lynchburg, but I may have them meet me somewhere closer to Charlottesville.

He is a good looking dog and he has been living with a small dog, so maybe prey drive isn't among his issues.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Philosophy and technology

We've all heard the question posed, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?"  I always thought it was a rather stupid question, the compression of air waves caused by a falling object makes sound, it's not really dependent upon a listener, particularly not a human listener as the question seems to imply. Today, however, I had a bit more appreciation for the philosophical nature of the question, which concerns the role of perception in creating reality.

I've been using an iPhone app called MapMyWalk to record my hikes. It tracks the distance, draws a map of the route using a GPS chip in the phone, and even tells you how many calories the exercise consumed. It's my favorite app, I like it a lot, and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Well, yesterday it didn't work properly. It was recording distance but it didn't draw the map properly. The result was so disappointing I couldn't bring myself to share it on Facebook. I went out hiking again today and the damn thing wouldn't work at all. I fiddled with it as I walked but finally gave up and just walked. It was a nice enough walk, but I definitely felt that I was missing something.

Based on the time, the terrain, and ground conditions, and the way I felt when it was over, I'm pretty confident we did at least five miles, but I've got nothing to show for it and no way to prove it. It seems less real somehow because it wasn't plotted, mapped, recorded, and shared on the borg-like collective consciousness we know as Facebook.

Mad Max was my hiking companion today and he didn't care that my phone wasn't working, except perhaps when I made him stop so I could mess with it. We covered a lot of ground and both came back pretty wet and muddy, but feeling good and tired. When I got home I downloaded an update to the app and it seems to be working normally now.  So all is well once again, although MapMyWalk has missed out about 10 miles of my hiking over the past two days. Still, I'm fairly confident that calories were burned in the process.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slogging through the snow

I've been off the exercise program for a few days, it seems, or at least not hitting it as hard as I was. On Sunday I took Maya and Ochie together for a five mile hike. They were a handfull, mostly because Ochie thought nothing of dragging me 10' to either side in order to get to something he wanted to mark. Maya is good on a leash, no pulling, but she didn't make any effort to keep him in line either. We started out just walking the roadways at Pleasant Grove, on relatively snow-free and solid footing, but that got boring so we headed into the woods for a bit of trail walking. We got five miles in by the time it was over.

I had Monday off for President's Day and really didn't have much to do. I got Sparky out for a hike. We did at least five miles, mostly on the trails, and it felt like a lot more. Slogging through the combination of snow, ice, slush, and mud is a lot tougher walking than floating along solid (dry or frozen) ground. Sparky did something that he never does, walk behind me. I don't know if he thought I was in danger of falling or what. It was a good hike, but it felt more like 10 miles.

If you read the prior blog post, you'll know that I took Princess to a new foster home on Saturday. The new foster took her to meet some interested adopters on Sunday and they loved her, wanted her, and kept her. I'm very happy about that because it seems like a great home and it means one less transition that Princess will need to make.

Argo is also doing well in his new foster home. He's proving to be cat-friendly and he really loves belly rubs and playing ball. I've had a couple inquiries about him already that I've just forwarded to the foster.