Monday, April 09, 2007

Buried Treasure

I gave the pups soup bones last night – this is one of their favorite treats, and it actually takes a couple of hours for them to finish, so I get a bit of time to get things done. Everyone’s happy. Normally, I’ll put out at least three, because Reyna will choose one, then Duncan picks one, then Reyna takes Duncan’s, so Duncan gets the third one (because he wouldn’t dare take the one Reyna had been chewing), then Reyna takes Duncan’s new one, Duncan takes Reyna’s original bone, and the cycle continues. Occasionally, Duncan will take one outside and hide it first, then come in and pick one to chew, and then the swapping cycle starts. Last night, though, was a bit different.

There were three bones, and before Duncan even got close to them, Reyna put one behind the chair, one on the couch next to me (indicating she would come back to that one), and then started looking for a place to bury the third bone. She tried to bury it in the ottoman first, but figured out pretty quickly that the hole she was trying to dig wasn’t actually getting any deeper. So she went to the chair and proceeded to dig a “hole” between the seat cushion and the back of the chair. And that’s where she buried her bone. She seemed very proud of herself, too.

Thankfully, it was only in there about an hour before she decided she’d rather chew on it than one of the other ones. I can just imagine the stink if I’d forgotten about it and she’d left it in there indefinitely. After all, these bones are uncooked, and generally still have meat on them...

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I don’t think I’ve ever talked about work on here before, but this deserves it. I’ve finally completed something. The four classes I took at the end of last year and start of this year were done in late February. I had a four hour exam March 14. Think SAT. A number 2 pencil, bubbles that had to be filled in completely, four sections of 50 questions and 60 minutes, with someone proctoring the whole thing. Thankfully, I was allowed to use my ITAR and EAR CFRs (books with the export regulations). But I made it through all of that, and I passed the exam. I am a certified United States Export Compliance Officer, which basically means I have something else to put on my resume, and I can put a string of initials behind my name on my business cards. And I’d darn well better get a raise out of it.

Big D, the Demo Dog

Duncan has become quite the popular fellow lately. He did a short tricks/moves demo for the German Shepherd Dog Club last month, and they asked him to demo again last night so they could take pictures of him. I think they just like laughing while he takes his time doing his sits, downs, spins, etc. It’s a good thing I didn’t name him Lightning. The club asked me last night if Duncan would be willing to do a freestyle demo for them next month. I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t Hakuna Matata for them, especially since I’ll have hot dogs.

On March 24, he demoed his routine (sort of) at a dog event in Greenville, NC. Considering it was his first public performance, and there were about 100 dogs and people watching, and there was all sorts of neat stuff on the stage, he did very well. The only real problem he had was that he kept looking back towards the room where Reyna was waiting, and as we were doing our walk-off, he bolted to Reyna. I had to take him back out on the stage for him to bow to everyone. So what did we learn? If Duncan is doing anything that requires he give me his attention, Reyna can’t be where he can see or hear her. But that’s okay. Because that’s something I can work around.

She Makes Me Feel So Old...

Its so hard to believe that Belle will be 10 years old in just a couple of weeks. I remember Sam and I talking about which kitten we wanted while I was still in England, and deciding to take the tortoiseshell tabby, because spots and stripes just sounded so cool. I also remember going to Regina’s house to look at the kittens with Jeff, and laughing at Belle’s poor brother, Earl Grey, who kept running into the closed storm door. I was sooooo tempted to take him, too. I also tossed around the idea of naming Belle Minerva, and calling her Minnie. I’m glad I went with Mirabelle.

As part of the joy that comes with old age – because yes, Belle is technically old – she had blood work done back in January, just to establish a baseline for the vet to refer to if she gets sick later and he needs to check her blood. That sounded like a great idea, up until the vet called to tell me that her white cell count was extremely low, and that that usually meant some type of nasty disease (think FIV or Feline Leukemia). So he did another round of tests, which came back negative. I took her back a month later for a follow-up test, to see if the first test had been a fluke. It wasn’t. Her white cell count wasn’t quite as low as the first time, but it was still well below the low end of the acceptable range. At that point, the options were pretty much do nothing but wait, or do a bone aspiration and run tests on her bone marrow. Because things like leukemia and bone cancer may hide from the blood tests, but can’t from the marrow tests. Of course, there was also the chance that the bone marrow test wouldn’t show anything, and then we’d be back where we started, except I’d be poorer. And Belle would be madder. The vet passed her paperwork on to a specialist to get another opinion, which was nice of him. The specialist recommended holding off on the bone aspiration, since Belle wasn’t acting sick, but to keep a close eye on her, and if she started feeling bad, to get her back to the vet. That sounded like a good plan, up until about a week ago….

About a month ago, Khar’pern caught a cold, and had sneezing fits and runny eyes for a bit over a week. Then Per’la started sneezing, and a few days later, Khar was fine. So Per’la had sneezing fits and runny eyes for several days. I didn’t even bother considering a trip to the vet, since there’s really nothing he could have done but tell me she had a cold, and I already knew that. But then Belle started sneezing. And a few days later, Per’la was fine. Belle’s been sneezing for a couple of weeks now, and isn’t showing signs of getting better. Parm started sneezing last week, but he got over it in a couple of days, but Belle defied the pattern and stayed sick. I talked to the vet about it Monday (when we were discussing Reyna’s current conditions), and told him I was only mentioning it because of the low white cell count. Unfortunately, he agreed that it could be a problem. Most of these colds are supposed to run 7-10 days, and then be gone. But there’s the possibility that Belle’s low white count means she can’t fight it off like the others can. So, I’ll keep an eye on her for a few more days, and then call the vet back next Monday if she isn’t better. The poor girl, she’ll sneeze 10 times in a row, and her eyes look like she’s crying almost constantly. And she’s permanently pissed right now. If one of the other cats even looks at her funny, much less dares to walk near her, she starts hissing and growling. I hate it when my baby doesn’t feel good and there’s nothing I can do about it.