Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Delicate Flowers

As I was making supper Saturday evening, I happened to look over at the dogs. They were both sitting quietly off to the side, waiting to see if they were going to get any of the nummy cheese or hamburger. Just as I turned to look at them, Duncan opened his mouth and gave a nice loud burp. Behind him, Reyna was smiling as a trail of drool disconnected from her mouth and hit the floor. Some days, the beauty and intelligence of my dogs amazes me. Other days, I wonder when I became the parent of two teenagers.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Saturday’s Rally Obedience trial went very well. We didn’t qualify on our first run, because Reyna really didn’t want to sit, and she decided that her best defense against that was to ignore me as much as possible. She ended up doing everything I told her to, but she made me tell her repeatedly, which lost us lots of points.

Our second run went much better. She was tired and moving a bit stiffly, but she responded on the first command most of the time. There were a couple of spots where she had to sit several times in quick succession, and she delayed those a bit, but I can’t really blame her for that since I’m sure it hurts her to keep popping up and down. I lost her on one of the turns when she decided to sit down and have a really good scratch. Thankfully, we’d been granted extra time because of her hips, so the delay didn’t cause any problems.

Here’s a picture of Reyna ignoring me during one of the many sit exercises.

And here she’s paying close attention, because she’s waiting to see if she’s going to get the cookie that’s in my pocket (she did).

After we finished the bonus, Reyna knew she’d done a great job.

And here we are, with our qualifying ribbon and our Level 1 title ribbon.

Her official name is now Vereyna, CGC, RL1, but she’ll still be Reyna to her friends and family.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like A Bunny In The Oven

Well, its was really just a couple of cans of Reyna’s rabbit and potato food, but still... I spent a couple of hours last night baking the canned food and shaping it into small balls for treats. It’s a good way to use the last of the food, and she seems to really like it. I’m hoping these treats will be strong enough to keep her attention at least somewhat focused on me tomorrow during the Rally trial. The smell was certainly strong enough in the house last night. Not a horrible odor, but not one I’d like to smell on a regular basis.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cross Your Paws!

I’d like everyone to cross their paws for me and Reyna this Saturday afternoon. We have a Rally trial, and if we’re having a good day (no major hip pain, Reyna actually pays some attention to me, I remember that I can’t touch her to get her attention, and I can keep my rights and lefts straight) we might earn the last Leg we need to get our Level 1 title. We’re doing two runs, and I figure the first one is probably a lost cause, but if we can qualify on the second run, we’ll have our title.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let’s Not Do This Again, Shall We?

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Carolina Back Institute for a nerve test and epidural. I’ve been having trouble with my back for over a year, and its gotten worse in the last 6 months or so. Two spots have been hurting for a very long time, and my GP’s suggestion was to leave those spots alone for at least six weeks. Unfortunately, every chair I sit in rubs on those spots, so that idea wasn’t exactly feasible. Over the last several months, I’ve been having numbness and nerve pain in my left leg, muscle spasms in my lower back, and sitting for more than 20 minutes has become excruciating. Fun, huh? So, just after Christmas, I went to CBI for an initial exam, and the nice doctor says she thinks there’s trouble with my S1 nerve, probably because the disc that I ruptured back in Feb 06 is bulging and pressing on the nerve. The two specific spots she thinks are problems with the sacroiliac joint, between my spine and pelvis. The spasms and general back pain are most likely referred pain and/or caused by trying to compensate for the nerve and joint pain. All of which makes sense.

The nerve test is something that I hope I never, ever, have to repeat. The first part is done by sending electrical jolts into various parts of the leg from ankle to the back of the knee, finding the nerve, measuring it and the response to the shocks. The first couple weren’t so bad. And then she turned up the juice. She was testing my left leg, but my right leg did most of the flailing. Which was probably for the best, since a couple of times she had to repeat a jolt because my left leg jerked the wrong direction at the wrong time, or something like that. After a few minutes, I was so well-conditioned that I started flinching when she typed on the computer keyboard (jolting was usually immediately preceded by typing). The second part of the test is done by sticking a needle into various muscles and sending a low-level current into the muscle. She would also rotate my leg each time she moved the needle, and I could hear a different response on the computer, depending on the leg position. Unfortunately, rotating the leg usually made it hurt a lot more than just sticking in the needle. I’m hoping she got some useful information out of that, and wasn’t just doing it to torture me. I tell you, I was worn out after the test, and it only lasted about 20 minutes. She said it takes a few days to get the results back, and I guess she was mostly right.

The doctor that gave me the epidural a bit later was able to tell me that the nerve test showed that the S1 nerve was definitely being pinched on the left side, but he couldn’t tell me much else. Although, really, I have no idea if there’s anything else to know. Guess I’ll find out when I do my follow-up in a couple of weeks. I had an epi done back in March 06, and I’ve apparently blocked most of that, because all I remember from that one is lying on my stomach, and then going home, with a stop to pick up lunch. I remember some pain during the car ride, but no numbness, and no real pain the next day. Of course, I could have blocked that out, too, I guess. Or I might have been lucky that time. I hope I manage to block out most of this epi, too. The doctor was very nice and talked to distract me, which I appreciated even though it didn’t really work. Even with the local anesthetic, the shot was miserable. Thankfully, he works fast. Afterwards, it got kind of interesting. I didn’t have anyone to drive me home (like they say you need), but I figured any numbness would be in the left leg, and my truck doesn’t have a clutch, so it’d be okay. And driving home from Angel’s with the dogs when I first ruptured the disc taught me that driving is possible, even when you don’t necessarily think it is.

My leg had a bit of numbness right after the shot, but the first thing to go was my butt. I swear, I didn’t actually feel it again until this morning. The back of my thigh was numb most of the afternoon and evening, and my calf and heel had a few moments, but I was always able to feel my toes. I figure that’s a good thing. The worst was the minor spasms and that I couldn’t stretch backwards, because where the shot was done, well, lets just say that was pretty stinking sore. Still is, actually. Apparently, this time I get to be in the “small group of patients who may experience a mild increase in pain for one to seven days immediately following the injection.” Lucky me. If I’m really lucky, though, this will ease up the problem in my leg and back, and maybe fix it enough that I don’t dread the idea of getting on a plane for an hour. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

If Its Not One Thing, Its Another

Poor Reyna. The pups are boarding this week while I’m in Delaware. I dropped them off Sunday mid-morning, and on Monday morning, the hotel called. Reyna had a tapeworm, so they had to pull her from camp, take her over to Banfield for treatment, and keep her out of camp for 24 hours. They did some individual play time with her, and I told them to have Duncan join them during those sessions. Monday evening, I checked on her, and she’d had a relatively quiet day. Unfortunately, the meds made her sick, and she had an upset tummy. Tuesday morning, though, she ate all of her breakfast and they let her go back to camp.

Tuesday evening, I received the results of Reyna’s allergy test. She is mildly allergic to Vernal grass, Sage, Curvularia fungus and horse hair. She is severely allergic to the following:


Lamb’s Quarters

Box Elder/Maple


Other Things:
Tobacco Smoke

Now, some of these things, I don’t even know what they are. But some are going to be an issue. Anyone who has been to my house knows that dust is a massive problem. On the upside, her allergies are a good reason to make sure no one smokes in the house, as well as just another reason to make sure we never have cockroaches. I’ll be talking to the vet on Saturday to go over all of this. I’ve already sent him an email asking him to check and see why fleas, ticks and spiders weren’t on the list of tested items (I don’t know that she’s allergic to fleas, but its definitely a concern, and I already know spiders are a problem). I know he’ll want me to consider doing an allergy vaccine for Reyna, but that’s just not going to happen. I’ll just make sure she has plenty of Benadryl during high pollen days.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Me? Worry? Maybe Just A Little...

I’m a worrier. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, does it? I may not worry out loud about everything to everyone, but I do worry. And not about a lot of things, necessarily, but about certain specific things. For instance, I don’t worry about whether or not I’ll make it to work tomorrow, but I do worry about whether or not my truck will have working AC come summer. I think my two biggest worries are my kids and money. Of course, the money worry covers a lot of issues. The kids, though, I worry about them a lot. And last night, I realized that I worry about them all differently. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I guess it makes sense. I’m sure that parents worry more about their sick or “special needs” kids more than they do the healthy or “normal” ones. Not that they don’t love them all, just that some kids have more problems, so there’s more to worry about.

Anyway. Last night, I got home from work around 6:30. The dogs weren’t at the kitchen window, but that’s not too unusual for that time of night. By the time I got my mail and went inside, Duncan was bouncing around the front door. But Reyna wasn’t. And that’s very unusual. So, instant worry. Where’s Reyna? Is she okay? Did she have an allergic reaction or a seizure? Is she outside in the cold; is she sick, unconscious, dead? Poor Duncan probably couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t all excited to see him, why I kept asking him where his sister was. I got my stuff put down and was getting ready to head outside when Reyna came flying through the dog door, perfectly fine. She’d probably just been taking a potty break. But it struck me that, when she isn’t where I expect her to be, or if she doesn’t act the way I expect her to, I instantly assume the worst. When Duncan doesn’t greet me at the door, I just wonder what the goofy boy is out doing. If he skips a meal, I just put his food away. Now, if he skips two meals in a row, I start worrying. But one? No problem. Reyna skips a meal? I spend the next 10-12 hours stressing, wondering if she’s okay, if she’s going to eat her next meal, or if I need to call the vet and let him know we’re on our way.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I’m like that with the cats, too, but to a lesser extent. I don’t worry about the three younger ones at all, except when Per’la’s eye gets really nasty, and even then there’s nothing I can do to treat it so we just wait it out. The older ones, though, I worry about a bit more, but not in the same way. I worry about Mikey when he seems bummed, or when he’s so deeply asleep that it takes several minutes to wake him up (but that’s only because I thought I’d smothered him a few years ago when I rolled over on him one night and he didn’t even twitch). Loki, I don’t worry about so much. Belle, though, I do worry about. She’ll be 11 in April, which is fairly old for a cat. When her mood seems off, or when I don’t think she’s eating, I watch her more closely.

Rationally, I know that the odds that Reyna has collapsed outside are much, much lower than the odds that she’s just out pottying. But knowing that doesn’t keep me from worrying when she doesn’t meet me at the door. Last night’s episode, from opening the front door to Reyna running inside, took maybe 30 seconds. But that was still plenty of time for my emotions to veer from happy to be home, to minor concern, to panic mode, to overwhelming relief. Because you know what? The odds may be low, but there’s still that possibility...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Random Things

So, a new year has started, and while it doesn’t seem as though anything has changed from last year, a few things actually have. Some big events last year were Sam and Cary’s wedding, moving to the Engineering department at work, Reyna’s epilepsy diagnosis, the birth of Baby Dexter, Gee-pop’s death, Ganna’s 90th birthday, and completing my Master’s program. Niko joined the family in November, Reyna’s seizures stopped in October, and just last week we lowered her dose of Phenobarb again. While 2007 wasn’t a perfect year, I have to say that the good out-weighed the bad. And that works for me.

Now, on to the randomness...

After nearly three very long and painful years, I finally completed my Master’s program on Christmas Eve. Yes, Christmas Eve. I don’t know what idiot decided that December 24th was a good last day of class, but I guess it worked out to be a good Christmas present to myself. Of course, I could have done without the stress of the last week of class being the week before Christmas, but it was better than starting a week or two later and having the class finish in mid-January.

As part of the Christmas preparations, the dogs went to the PetsHotel on the 23rd. This meant that the cats had the run of the house for a couple of days. Late the 23rd, Mikey finally noticed Niko, but didn’t do anything other than stare at him. In fact, none of the cats seemed particularly interested in Niko, except when he would go off on one of his chirping tangents. And then they would all stare intensely. The morning of the 24th, though, Mikey got bold and decided to investigate. I had tied the doors to Niko’s cage shut, so I wasn’t too worried about him. Mikey was very gentle, though, and he and Niko seemed to hit it off.

As usual, the animals did very well for themselves this year. Everyone, including Niko, got treats and toys. Being the strict Mommy that I am, I’m doling out the toys and treats on a limited basis, so that they last more than a week or so. The cats have been playing with some mice they got from Uncle Jeff, and Niko has been dancing under the disco ball he received from Uncle Jeff. The dogs enjoyed a stuffed toy they got from their Grandma and Paw-Paw, up until tonight, when Reyna enjoyed it so much that she ripped it apart for the squeaky. I’m amazed it lasted this long, really.

Shortly before Christmas, Duncan brought in his red bouncy ball that he got from Dante and Mia when he was just a young pup and showed off some of his fancy ball-handling skills.

My company shuts down for the last week of the year (which I love), and so I wrote out a list of things that I needed to get done during the break. A lot of stuff around the house has been on hold while I was in school, particularly the last 18 weeks. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I should have, but I did accomplish more than I actually expected. I can live with that. After all, if something has already waited nearly half a year, another week or two shouldn’t make a difference.