Monday, March 05, 2007

Party Girl

Reyna celebrated her third birthday on Saturday. She got to have a cake from Gourmutt’s Bakery – which she very generously shared with Duncan.

Cadaver Dirt Smells Yummy!

Reyna and I are back in Search and Rescue training with Donny, the same guy we originally trained with when Reyna was a pup. The last time we signed up for this, I hurt my back the day before the first session. Thankfully, that did not happen this time. Donny calls us his two cripples and his walking wounded, so he’s making a point of keeping our searches physically easier than they used to be. In fact, Reyna now only gets one standard search during each practice. I hate to admit it, but its probably a good thing. Reyna is still having some trouble with her hips, even with the new pain meds. And I feel it in my back every time we run a track.

Since we’re not letting Reyna work as much physically, we’ve decided to work that scary-smart brain of hers instead. She started training for cadaver searches a couple of weeks ago. Donny gave me a bottle with some cadaver dirt (yes, that’s dirt taken from around/underneath a dead and decomposed person) so that we can practice at home. Its teaching Reyna the scent she’s supposed to be hunting, since I can’t exactly give her a scent article that smells like a cadaver every time we start working. Basically, I just hide the open bottle, run her through the area telling her to “seek”, and when she finds the bottle, she gets heaps of praise. She hasn’t quite decided that looking for cadaver dirt is as exciting as looking for a live person, since the live person also gives her loads of praise, and the bottle just sits there. So I have to be really goofy about it, and make it as fun and rewarding as possible. She did better yesterday than she’s done recently, so I think its starting to click for her. Thankfully, cadaver work doesn’t exclude her from being able to look from live people, since that’s a different command. We “find” live people, but we “seek” for the dead. A simple distinction, but all-important in doggy vocabulary.

There is one drawback to being goofy...Reyna nailed me right below my nose with the top of her head yesterday. Now every time I blow my nose (which is a lot, thanks to this stupid cold), the sore spot makes itself known. Of course, I’m lucky she didn’t hit me any higher...she could easily have broken my nose, as hard as she hit it.

The Price of Freedom

My most recent class ended 2/21, and my next class doesn’t start until 3/20. That’s four whole weeks of freedom. Four weeks to finish everything that didn’t get done in the previous six weeks, and to accomplish everything that won’t get done in the next six weeks. It won’t happen. I’m shooting for getting a few things cleared off my to-do list, hoping that everything doesn’t just fall apart this year. I also promised Reyna I wouldn’t open the laptop until class starts again, which really doesn’t bother me any...

During these four weeks, I am updating my blog (hence the large number of new posts after weeks of silence), taking two business trips, filming routines for MDSA and WCFO, taking a four-hour certification exam for work, doing as much yard work and planting as possible, and dealing with whatever small chores pop up. One trip is done, and I’ll return from CA the day my next class starts. We’ve filmed for MDSA, and the plan is to film for WCFO March 17th. The certification exam will be during work hours, which helps. I tackled yard work this Saturday, and I am so paying for it. My back started hurting about halfway through the planting. Something about digging holes and moving stones doesn’t make it happy. Oh, well. I was going to rake all the leaves out yesterday, but between the wind and my cold, I just couldn’t see the point. I might try doing it one evening this week, once I can breathe through my nose again. This weekend, I’m planning to aerate, lime, fertilize, and reseed the back yard, in hopes that I can cut down on the amount of dirt that finds its way into my kitchen and living room. I’ve also got some more planting to do in front of the house, but I’m hoping it’ll rain again soon, so the ground will be soft. I don’t think its supposed to rain this week, so we’ll just have to wait and see. For several reasons, I need to get it done by the 16th. The time change is early this year, so that’ll help. There’s only two weeks of freedom left, and it looks like those are going to be busy, busy. Not that busy, busy is an unusual state for me...

Putting His Kid Through School

I love my vet, I really do. Duncan likes him, Reyna adores him, and Belle tolerates him. It just doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve only ever had one problem with him, and that was when he didn’t believe me about Reyna’s hips. Granted, every time he saw her, she was bouncing and jumping like nothing was wrong, but that certainly wasn’t her everyday behavior. But still, one problem in nearly four years is pretty darn good. Lately, though, we’re seeing him way too much.

Reyna’s tail finally cleared up, so she’s off the puppy prozac. Until she chews up her tail again, anyway. Because of the cold weather, she started having a lot of trouble with her hips, and the aspirin just wasn’t touching the pain. It was bad enough that if Duncan bumped into her, she would scream. She wouldn’t even snap at him, because she was too busy shaking off the sudden pain and trying to get to me for comfort. It was really pitiful. The vet put her on Rimadyl twice a day, which has helped a lot. As the weather gets warmer, I’m hoping to cut her dose in half on the days I work, since she’s not as active those days. She has to have blood work done every six months or so, just to make sure there’s no damage to her kidneys or liver. She had her first check-up just before I went to AZ. She’d only been on the Rimadyl two weeks, but the vet said that if a dog is going to have an adverse reaction, it’ll happen that quick. The tests came back fine, so she was cleared to keep taking the meds.

And speaking of blood work... I took Belle, Loki, and Mikey in for their yearlies January 27. Mikey was the one I was actually concerned about, and he came out as the healthiest of the three. Go figure. The vet wanted to do blood work on Belle, since she’ll be 10 in April. That would give him a baseline for her, in case he has to run it as a diagnostic sometime in the future. Of course, she had to be difficult. Her white cell count was very low, which indicated the possibility of one of the four big viruses. She’d not been in contact with a strange cat in years, but these viruses can sit in their systems for 9 years without any indications. So, we had to run another series of tests, which meant I had to wait another few days for those results. I had the option of doing nothing, but I think we all know that was a ridiculous suggestion. Thankfully, her second set of tests came back okay. I took her back up this Saturday for a re-test. If the white cell count is still low, he’ll just note that as her normal level. If its back in what they consider normal, then he’ll just toss out the first test as a fluke. Either way is fine, as long as she’s not harboring some disease that’ll kill off all the cats.

Loki also caused some trouble this time around. I told the vet about his projectile vomiting skills, and the fact that he is demonstrating those with increasing frequency these days. He ended up having to have an ultrasound done, to check for IBS or pancreatic issues. He’s slowly growing the hair back on his bald belly, although I’m sure he was a bit chilled for a few days. The vet said that the ultrasound showed a cyst next to Loki’s pancreas, but he doesn’t think its anything serious. He said there was also some damage to the pancreas, indicating that Loki had probably had minor bouts of pancreatitis at some point. He said that the way things looked, he’d just let it go, and see if dosing Loki with laxatives would help the vomiting. I had the option of letting him do exploratory surgery, but neither the vet nor I really thought that was the best way to go. So, Loki gets his Laxaire every day, and we’ll just keep watching. The frequency seems to have eased up, but the distance is still rather impressive.

MDSA Filming

The deadline for the Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA) Film Festival was March 1st. We managed to get our routines filmed on 2/24, so I was able to send them in before I left for AZ.

Duncan danced to “Hakuna Matata” and Reyna danced to “Tale Spin”.

Thanks to Jeff for taking the photos!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Where I Will Never Stay Again

I was in Tucson, AZ, the first part of this week for a work conference. My company insists that all business travel be booked through their online travel system, which usually isn’t a problem. For the AZ trip, I booked a room at the Best Western Las Brisas Hotel, as they are one of the company’s preferred hotels (read: we get a discount). Unfortunately, the information the travel site had wasn’t quite up to date, so I blame both the company and the hotel for the annoyances I had to tolerate.

My plane was about 2 hours late getting in, so I was already tired and grumpy. When I got to the hotel, I found out that, not only did they not have room service (which I live on during business trips), they didn’t even have a restaurant on site. This is where the outdated information comes in to play, because I never book a hotel that doesn’t at least have a restaurant. Turns out they’d been doing some remodeling recently, and their restaurant wasn’t quite done yet. After finding this out, I asked for the menus and phone numbers of some places that would deliver to the hotel. Turns out they don’t keep any of that handy, although they were able to give me the names of two Chinese places and a couple of pizza places that deliver. Neither Chinese place had a menu in the phonebook or online. By the time I’d done all that, it was well past my bedtime on the east coast, so I just ate some crackers I had with me and went to bed. The next night, though, I ordered pizza from Papa John’s (and was fed very well for breakfast and lunch at the company site).

The food thing was bad enough, but there were a lot of little annoyances that bothered me. And they probably wouldn’t have so much, if I weren’t already annoyed about the food thing. Gotta love those vicious circles... The only accessible power outlet was in the bathroom. Not exactly close enough to the bed to plug my laptop in, so I ended up having to pull the bed away from the wall to get to the plug behind it. There was no desk or table to sit at while working. Of the 10 available channels, I could actually see 5 of them well enough to be entertained. The ironing board didn’t open all the way. Again, just little annoyances.

The kicker was Tuesday afternoon, when I got back to the hotel from my meeting. I always put my “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door when I’m on business trips. Sometimes I have messages from housekeeping telling me they couldn’t change the towels because I had the sign up. That’s fine, it’s there to keep housekeeping out. And yet, on Tuesday, that’s not what happened. I walked into my room to discover that housekeeping had come in, done their thing, and MOVED MY PERSONAL BELONGINGS. I find that very annoying. I called the front desk to tell them what had happened, and to politely express my displeasure. The guy I spoke to acted like it was no big deal, and told me that since a lot of flight crew stay in that building – and apparently forget to take the DND sign off the door - the housekeeping policy is to just go on in anyway, assuming it’s a crew member’s room. I informed him that: A) I thought that was a stupid policy; B) housekeeping should be informed as to which rooms are being used by paying guests; and C) as soon as they saw my belongings, they should have immediately turned around and left. He told me again that it was really no big deal, and besides, now I had fresh towels for the next morning. Sooooo the wrong thing to say. Prior to leaving the next morning, I filed a complaint with the hotel manager about both the housekeeping incident and the desk employee. I’ve also filed a complaint with their corporate office, and sent a message through the company travel site informing them that they needed to update their information. Never mind that scorned crap; Hell hath no fury like a hungry woman with low blood sugar who has to move furniture to get to power outlets, can’t watch the shows she likes because the channels aren’t available, and finds out that strangers have been messing with her stuff...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Reyna is 3 years old today. My little girl is all grown up... Happy birthday, sweet girl!