Sunday, November 25, 2007

Things That Really Irked Me This Week

1. The vet at the emergency clinic. ‘Nuff said.

2. The tech at the eye doc’s who told me that the three years of chronic dry eyes, despite eye drops and tear duct plugs, is just because I don’t blink enough. Apparently, I should try to do everything with my eyes closed.

3. Non-school people (friends, club members, coworkers, etc) who think I should rearrange my life and “just get the papers done sooner” to accommodate them. Because, you know, if I just stop everything else in my life, I can have team assignments and an 85-page thesis finished in time to do whatever those other people want.

4. The gas guy not coming out Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and coming out at 4:30 Friday only after I’d called 4 different times, starting last week. And then being unable to get the pilot light lit, after he’s the one who turned it off. So now I have to call again Monday, and make arrangements to be home yet another day.

On the up side of things, the dogs have been really patient this week, and let me get lots done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Welcome home to the newest member of the family – Niko, the Nutty Parakeet. Niko (pronounced nee-co) joined the family almost two weeks ago. For some reason, I suddenly started obsessing over the idea of a parakeet several weeks ago. I have no idea why. I’ve never wanted a bird before, and I certainly didn’t need something else to take care of. But as days passed, I found myself thinking about it more often, and one day I discovered I was reading several websites about parakeets. I finally decided the only way to end the obsession was to just get a parakeet. So I did (and spent less on the bird and his food and equipment than I do on a month of dog food...sigh).

The store employee told me that Niko is a male, but from what I read, that can be hard to tell with birds that are predominantly white, which he is, and with young birds. His leg band says he was born this year, and its apparently easier to determine the gender with birds that are a few years old.

Niko may be smaller than Reyna’s ear, but he has loads of personality. He chirps a good bit, and has two distinct chirps – a happy one, and a mad one. He’s not a morning bird, just sits on his perch with a stupid expression for about an hour each morning. He tends to be more active late morning, late afternoon, and evening. He loves to hop around his cage, eat, and hide under the paper towels that line his cage. He’ll sit on my hand, and he seems to play with Reyna a lot, sitting where he can watch her when she’s being nutty, hiding out of site when she’s watching him, and then popping up suddenly to peep at her. Its really funny to watch the two of them. The first few days, Duncan was fascinated by Niko, and Reyna didn’t seem to notice him. Now, though, Duncan doesn’t pay much attention to Niko, and really prefers to play in the sheet I use to cover Niko’s cage. Reyna loves to look at Niko, and will put her feet on one of the shelves of the entertainment center so she can get up high enough to see him. And when she does that, Niko plays peek-a-boo with her.

I’m sure if I worked more with him, he’d learn a few words. But I’m pretty inconsistent about that. I figure he’ll learn to bark before he learns to talk. And, oh, does he get grumpy with me if I don’t leave the TV or radio on for him when I’m gone for the day. He’s so funny when he gets grumpy about something, or when he decides to hide under the paper towels. For such a little thing, he really is entertaining.

Domestic Violence Is Never The Answer

This past Friday was a less-than-great day. I’d been sick all week, and was still congested. It was a looooong day at work, and I decided to skip the freestyle club meeting that night. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have been able to go, anyway. I got home just before 6:00, and Duncan met me at the door, as usual. Reyna did a quick drive-by, and ran back outside. I realized the fur at Duncan’s neck was matted, figured it was Reyna spit, and finally got him turned around so I could see his face.

The white’s of Duncan’s eyes were swollen and full of blood. They were so swollen, in fact, that he couldn’t actually close his eyes. He was also oozing some nasty looking fluid from both eyes. Other than that, though, he seemed to be okay and was in his usual playful mood. While I was calling the emergency vet (my vet closes at 6:00) to alert them that I was bringing him in, Reyna came into the living room and they started playing. And then I saw blood spraying all over the floor. At a quick check, all I could tell was that Reyna had blood pouring from her nose. So, I unloaded the groceries, loaded the dogs, and we all drove to the emergency clinic.

The first tech to see Duncan commented that his eyes appeared to be “bloodshot.” Um, hello? We are way past bloodshot here. We chatted a bit, got the pups’ vitals (which included muzzling Reyna to get her temp), cleaned Reyna’s face, and waited on the vet. The vet, who managed to land himself on my list of “People Who Really Do Not Impress Me” had this as his first comment: “Hmm. That appears to be a bit more than an allergy.” Ya think? Just maybe? Not only did I have to explain that neither of my dogs normally look like this, I also had to explain that separating them for the exams would result in the destruction of the facility. This is why I hate seeing someone other than our regular vet – strangers just don’t realize the stupidity of some of their questions, because they don’t know the dogs. Its just so much easier with someone we know...

The emergency vet checked both dogs, made sure Duncan wasn’t blind (which I could have told him, but he insisted on testing it anyway by covering one eye and flapping his hand at the other, which just freaked Duncan out), checked for other injuries - amazingly, Duncan's neck and throat didn't seem to bother him at all, and decided that either Duncan had been hit by a car (which didn’t explain Reyna’s injuries), Duncan had caught his collar on something and so I needed to check my yard (again, no explanation for Reyna), or the dogs had been in a huge fight and that I should keep them separated for their own safety. Or Duncan had some brand new mysterious blood illness and we should immediately start running tests. Did I mention that I don’t like new vets?

I figured we had five reasonable options as to what had happened.

1 – A small animal made the mistake of coming into the yard and got into a fight with the pups. That would explain the marks on Reyna’s face, but not Duncan’s injuries. And when I checked the yard the next day, there were no animal parts anywhere in the yard.

2 – Some idiot managed to grab Duncan’s collar and choke him.
That didn’t really work for me, either, since I can’t imagine anyone getting close enough to actually grab his collar, much less doing it without being mauled by both dogs in the process. And I didn’t see any people parts in the driveway, and I didn’t have a note or phone call telling me I was being sued for the vicious dog attack.

3 – Duncan got his collar snagged on something.
Again, not too believable for me. The only thing he could snag on to cause that much damage would be the top of the fence, and that would involve jumping five feet. And we’re talking about Duncan.

4 – A deer jumped the fence, and in its attempt to flee, kicked Duncan in the face and managed to scrape up Reyna’s face.
I figure a deer kick would leave Duncan with other visible injuries, such as a broken nose. A knot, at the very least. But his eyes were his only injury. When I checked the yard Saturday morning, there was no area that looked to be any more disturbed than any other, which I would expect to see if there’d been a major scuffle with a large animal.

5 – They did it to each other while playing.
This made the most sense to me. I checked Duncan’s collar, and the part that rests on the back of his neck was stretched and twisted, and covered in dried blood and spit. There were also two spots that looked like puncture attempts, and they looked to be as far apart as Reyna’s canines. All of her canines are flat, though, so she wouldn’t have been able to actually tear through the collar material. My guess is that they were playing, and she somehow got part of her mouth stuck under his collar. They both freaked and struggled, causing the damage to her face and making it impossible for her to get loose. As his collar tightened, the blood vessels in Duncan’s eyes ruptured, and the choking pressure most likely caused him to go limp, if not pass out entirely. When he went limp, Reyna would have had the room to get loose from his collar, since he was no longer fighting and pulling. I figure, when Duncan came around again, they probably looked at each other and said something like “What the heck just happened? That was so weird!” And Duncan probably tossed in “That was cool! What a head rush!” I’m also sure it wasn’t an actual fight, because, let’s face it, if Reyna wanted to seriously hurt Duncan, she would. She could do some major damage before it occurred to him that he might need to defend himself. And he wasn’t acting off – he was playing with her, starting scuffles, not acting at all nervous around her.

After explaining to the vet that no, we were not going to run multiple tests for some sudden blood illness, because most likely the dogs did this to each other while they were playing, we finally managed to go home. I left a message for my regular vet, telling them that we’d be in the next morning.

Saturday morning, we went to see our regular vet. When he walked in, his first question was “What’s this I hear about a dog fight?” Apparently, the emergency vet had written in his files that the injuries were the result of a fight, not an accident during playtime. When I told the vet what I figured had happened, he checked both dogs and looked at Duncan’s collar, and agreed with me – it was just a freak accident and definitely not some weird blood illness. He did say that I was extremely lucky that Duncan was alive and not seriously injured – no permanent eye damage. He actually did a quick check to make sure there were no scratches on his eyes, which the emergency vet didn’t do. He also sighed and shook his head when I told him about the other vet’s vision exam, and told me not to worry about using the antibiotics for Reyna and eye drops for Duncan. I’m pretty sure I heard him mumble something about “only your dogs”...

Sunday morning, I cleaned my truck, because it looked like I’d slaughtered an animal in it. Reyna’s nose bled like crazy (as noses do), and during the ride to the clinic she had sprayed blood all over the side windows, the back window, the back of the seats, and even the outside of the truck (she likes to ride with her head out the window occasionally).

As of today, Reyna’s face is almost completely healed. The swelling in Duncan’s eyes is gone, and the blood in the whites of his eyes is receding. If he doesn’t turn his head and angle his eyes so you can see the whites (reds), you can’t actually tell anything is wrong.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Digging A Better Hole

I gave the pups a few beef soup bones this afternoon (a good way to distract them while I work on my paper). Duncan is happily crunching away on one while lying on the couch. Reyna, on the other hand, is currently extremely frustrated with the lack of hidey-holes she’s managed to produce in the dog bed. She’s been trying to dig holes in that bed for the last 20 minutes. She’ll dig, put the bone in the “hole” and then glare at it – because its still so visible, I guess. And then she’ll dig another hole and try to bury the bone again. Poor girl. I guess she’s forgotten that the best inside hiding place is under the couch or chair cushions.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Chasing Deer. Sort Of.

Yesterday afternoon, I took the pups out for their weekly tromp through the woods. It was a beautiful day for it, and the dogs were clearly feeling peppy. Our walks follow a fairly regular pattern – They run ahead, wait for me, I walk, they run ahead, find something to sniff, I walk, they run to catch up to me, they run ahead, wait for me, I walk…. But yesterday’s walk brought something new and different: a deer! Reyna’s seen one before, but I don’t think Duncan has. And what happened perfectly demonstrates that my dogs are pampered pets who have never in their lives had to actually work for food, much less chase it down.

The deer, who we’d managed to surprise somehow, even though Duncan has no concept of walking quietly, went bounding off to our right into the woods. The dogs froze, stared after the deer, and then looked at me. The quizzical expressions were fairly clear. Duncan: “Wha’ was that??” Reyna: “Are we allowed to go after that?” I said, “Well, go get it!” and they took off. Bouncing through the underbrush and jumping fallen trees…for about a minute. Then silence. I’d just kept walking along the path, but I could still see them. They looked around, looked back towards the path where I’d been, looked where the deer had gone, looked at each other, and apparently realized that, not only was I not with them, I’d not followed them, and they couldn’t see me any more. So they turned around and came running back to the path. Again, their expressions were clear. Reyna: “Mother! Where did you go? You’re supposed to stay with us! We can’t protect you if you don’t stay with us! I know we could have gotten that deer if we’d really wanted to, but we were worried about you, and we’re Good Dogs, so we had to come back and keep you safe!” Duncan: “Mom! Where’d you go? That was so cool! Did you see me jump that log?”

I love my dogs. They really are Good Dogs.

Mean Ol’ Scary Thing

Reyna’s been in a bit of an odd mood lately, and yesterday had some very weird moments. For one thing, she was very talkative. Not really barking at the things that normally make her bark (people near her territory, cars moving along the road, birds landing in the yard), just mumbling a lot. Random woofing for no apparent reason, low growling, occasional grumbling. And every time the humidifier I bought yesterday made any gurgling noise, she just had to comment.

I also bought this small space heater for the living room yesterday, and had it set up by 2:00. After the initial “Oooh, you’re home! With stuff! What’d you get us?” she didn’t pay any attention to the heater. Mind you, its only about 2 feet tall so it doesn’t take up much space, but it was something new, so I thought she’d check it out fairly early. Nope. Not her. She wasn’t at all interested in it. Until about 9:45. It had been running on low for about an hour, and I’d already checked it to see if the surface got hot to the touch, which it didn’t. So when she finally went to check it out, I didn’t worry too much, but I did keep an eye on her. She sniffed the top, sides, and top again, then put her face right in front of where the heat comes out. At that point, she gave it a bit of a glare, but went back to sniffing. Then licked the top. Put her face in the heat and glared at it again. Sniffed some more. And then backed away. In a hurry. After glaring at it for another moment or two, she walked back up to it and raised her paw, like she was thinking about touching/petting/thumping it. Suddenly, she backed off really fast, and started barking at it. Duncan was resting on their bed, just staring at her, and I had to stop laughing so I could calm her down. She came over and leaned against me with a pitiful look on her face, so I walked her back to the heater, told her it was okay, and touched the heater to show her it wouldn’t hurt her. She watched all of this from slightly behind me, clearly uncertain as to how smart it was to get that close to the evil heater. And then the humidifier gurgled, she woofed, started chasing her tail, and promptly forgot the heater was even there.