Friday, January 30, 2009

Finally Over

Update: Okay, I didn't actually get to leave work until a few minutes before 5:00. But thats still a LOT earlier than I've left during the last few weeks. I even made it home before dark!

Its Friday afternoon, the customer is leaving, and I get to go home really soon! Yay! I’m so glad this week is done. All the free food was nice, but I really need a break. And some rest. Next week will be back to the usual insanity, but that’s no big deal. At least I can take my time getting into the office again and I’ll be able to leave when I want (for the most part).

The results of my not-so-scientific experiment are in – Reyna needs at least two visits to day camp before she gets to a tolerable (for me) energy level. Poor girl, she certainly won’t get that on a regular basis. The PetHotel folks told me last night that Duncan played soccer again for most of the day. Reyna apparently did most of her playing in the morning and spent more time relaxing during the afternoon. Duncan was comatose for most of the evening (no surprise there), and even Reyna was fairly relaxed. She was feeling good enough that we actually spent about 20 minutes retrieving the soccer ball last night, which is a game we haven’t played in a very long time. Paws crossed, she continues feeling this good for a long time. If nothing else, that would give me more time to save money for her surgery.


You know, I love the benefits I get from my quarterly shot, but I really hate that it makes half my butt hurt for three days. The nurse suggested taking the shot in my arm, but I can't imagine that would feel any better (and probably hurt worse). I guess three days for three months is a reasonable price to pay, but still... Good thing the chairs at work are comfortable!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not As Urghy

The week is almost over (glory, hallelujah!) and has actually gone fairly well. The testing has been successful in the sense that our equipment works and the problems have all been proven to be caused by other vendors’ equipment or firmware. So, our customers are happy with us, and that’s taken a lot of the stress away. We still have about a day and a half left for the customer to play and try to break the system (less if they decide to leave early tomorrow), but today has been a lot less intense. We even managed to get out of here at 6:00 last night. Our visitors are going to the hockey game tonight, which means we have a great excuse to get them out of the building by 5:30.

The pups had a blast at day camp on Tuesday, and they’re back there again today. One of the girls at the PetHotel told me that Duncan played soccer with her and another dog for nearly an hour Tuesday afternoon. Naturally, Duncan was the goalie. When I called to check on them today during lunch, the girl said that Duncan had been playing soccer again and that Reyna spent quite a bit of the morning playing with several other dogs. This is a very good thing, because I desperately need Reyna to be a bit more chilled out than usual tonight. Of course, I also need some time at home during daylight hours, because the yard could really use a good scooping.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Hero

I almost forgot to write about how my co-worker, Kevin, saved my thumb from infection, gangrene and almost certain amputation (well, maybe not gangrene or amputation, but definitely a nasty infection). Monday night after dinner I was reaching into my purse for my phone and managed to jab the tip of my mechanical pencil under the cuticle of my right thumb. Naturally, the lead broke off and stayed trapped under the skin. I was too tired to deal with it Monday, so I poked at it a bit Tuesday morning. By then, the skin was red and irritated, and it was easy to feel the lump where the lead was wedged. Being right handed (and really tired), I couldn't get to the lead very easily, so I gave up. I showed my thumb to Kevin when he got to the office (he was with me when the injury occurred), and he promptly pulled out his pocketknife to try and remove the lead. He seemed rather surprised that I gave him my thumb – I think he muttered something about me being too trusting... He couldn’t remove the lead with his knife, so we checked the first aid box and found splinter removers (yes, that’s what they’re called). We took one of those and an antiseptic wipe and went into the lab to use the magnifying lamp. Within a minute, Kevin had pulled the piece of lead out from under my cuticle. Now, a day and a half later, the skin is still a bit red and sore, but definitely much better than it would have been if I’d just waited for the lead to just work itself out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I know its only Tuesday, but this has been The Week That Never Ends, starting last Monday. Well, Wednesday, actually, since I got to stay home Tuesday and play in the snow with the pups. I did work from home some, but still, Tuesday wasn’t a bad work day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I was in the office until 7:30 each night. Back in the office Saturday morning at 6:30 (yes, 6:30am) for several hours, then working from home Saturday evening. Back in the office Sunday afternoon at 1:00, left around 6:00. The customers for my big project flew in Sunday afternoon for a week-long visit, so I was in the office yesterday morning at 7:15, getting the equipment room cleaned up for their visit. We had a good day – all the equipment worked like it was supposed to – and then we had a group dinner last night. I didn’t get home until 10:30 and by that point Reyna was in full-out lunatic mode. I knew it would just get worse as the week progresses, so the pups are spending the day at the PetHotel’s doggy day camp. I’m hoping Reyna will burn off at least a little energy. I’m also hoping we’ll be out of here today by 6:00, since I’ve been here since 7:15 again. And tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, I’ll be in between 7:15 and 7:30 each morning. Even if we’re wrapping up each evening around 6:00, I’m still going to be pooped. I’ve been so tired that I’m having trouble getting warm, and I keep having really wonky dreams. Sunday night, I dreamt that Jean-Claude Van Damme told me that I “really looked 30.” I was a bit annoyed, until he explained that he was saying that, since I’m 32, I look younger than I really am. I let him get away with that because, after all, he has a really cute accent. Did I mention I’m really tired? Fingers crossed that all the remaining testing goes well and the customer decides we’re done early Friday, because when they leave, I’m leaving. And I am not working from home this weekend.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That Makes A Weird Sort Of Sense

So I was reading an article about German shepherds today and I came across this quote about GSDs and herding: “…and even when you walk them, they will tend to go a little ahead, but keep checking back with you and circling you to make sure your perimeter is secure.” And that’s when the lightening hit. I’d commented a couple of weeks ago about Duncan’s new trick of walking and weaving behind me. It suddenly occurred to me that’s his version of herding me while we walk. The weaving he was doing was exactly like what he does when he’s moving sheep from one point to another. I don’t know that he’s necessarily checking my perimeter, but the result is pretty much the same.

In other news...

Reyna’s been feeling pretty peppy lately, so I thought we’d give a walk a try today. After all, I’ve been working some late hours, including going in to the office today for about 4 hours, and another 5 or so on the schedule for tomorrow, and a really long week coming up. Because I’ve not been home much, she’s been nuttier than usual (hard to believe, I know). Anyway, the three of us started to walk through the neighborhood, but Reyna showed signs of difficulty almost immediately. We turned back towards home, but decided to take the scenic route through the woods. We haven’t been in the woods behind the house in nearly a year, primarily due to Reyna’s condition. She did pretty well, though, and both pups had fun playing in the nasty stinky pond. They didn’t seem to enjoy getting hosed off in the yard quite as much... Reyna’s been a little limpy since we got home, but at least she managed to burn off some energy.

A Different Sort Of Thing

I thought I’d post a few more pictures from Tuesday’s snow. Instead of more dog pictures (although I have plenty of them, so don’t tempt me), here are a few of the cats and the local birds.

If you look closely, you can see the bright red cardinal.

Per'la, Khar'pern and Parm were fixated on the birds.

Here are several of the birds just waiting for the dogs to be distracted.

Watching anxiously....

I had to refill the feeder twice Tuesday because so many birds came to visit.

Mikey, checking to see if its safe to come out.

Okay, so just one dog picture....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Today was absolutely wonderful! I don’t know when the snow started, but when I woke up at 3:30 the ground was already covered. It was still snowing when I woke up at 6:00, and didn’t stop until nearly 2:00 this afternoon. Based on various measurements around the house, we got nearly 6 inches. It was a light, powdery snow that made pretty swirly patterns when the wind blew. I know a few folks went into the office today, but I was not one of them. I did get quite a bit of work done, though, including a conference call. But most importantly, I spent a lot of time outside playing in the snow with the dogs.

The blowing snow turned Duncan into a complete goofball (more so than usual). He bounced more than he walked, talked Reyna into playing several times, and thoroughly enjoyed chasing the birds away from the feeder. He played hard every time we went outside, and he’s currently sound asleep on the couch, with his head in my lap.

Reyna also had a great time today. She ran and played, and chased her ball and the birds. Her hip didn’t seem to bother her at all. It was really great to watch her have so much fun. I also enjoyed watching her nap most of the evening.

Here are just a few of the many, many, many pictures I took today.

Making snow angels...

Getting rid of the birds...

Let's play!

Not sure what Duncan is pointing at in this one...

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Six Cat Night

This past weekend was definitely a chilly one. Based on the animals, I’d say Friday night was the coldest. Mind you, I was perfectly comfortable with my heated mattress pad, flannel sheets, quilt and afghan. The cats, not so much. I think they decided they were too far away from the heated mattress pad, because when I woke up at 3:00 am, I discovered that my afghan was on the floor. And I was trapped. Belle was tucked up on my left side, Loki was curled up beside my head, Parm was wedged in my lower back, and the other were all at my feet (one on each side, and the third between my feet). Its probably a good thing they’d pulled the afghan off the bed. If that had still been on top of me, I probably would have been roasting.

My poor little heat pump had a rough time with the temps, too. Saturday morning, the temperature was still 55 in the house when I got up - it should have been 64 by then. When I realized we weren’t making any progress, I turned on the fireplace and put a big pot of water on the stove (its better than a humidifier, since it also adds heat). By 11:00, the temperature was back to normal.

Mary came over for a day of cropping Saturday. I think she made some progress with her stuff, and I finally finished my Germany/France book from 1993. Now I can go back to focusing on Hawaii. I admit, I took too many pictures there. I’ve been very good at thinning the stack, though. For some reason, Reyna has decided that she won’t stay in the house with us when we crop. She kept to that Saturday, even though it was so cold outside. She had a very hard time with her hips over the weekend, poor girl, and I doubt lying around in the yard helped much. I convinced her to stay in for most of Sunday, though. We spent the day being lazy (not hard to do). She was still having trouble walking this morning, but hopefully she’ll be better when I get home.

Now, everyone cross your fingers and paws, and hope we get some decent snow tonight. I’ve already been told I can work from home (which I’d planned to do, anyway). I’d love to get some pictures of the pups playing in the snow this year.

These are my all-time favorite pictures of the pups in snow (notice Duncan in the background of the first picture):

Friday, January 16, 2009


Mom and Ronnie bought a PediPaws nail trimmer before Christmas to use on Sugar. It is essentially a low-power dremel tool with a cap to catch nail dust. It didn’t work like they’d hoped, so when I visited at Christmas, they gave it to me to use on the dogs. I’ve spent some time since then getting the dogs used to the noise and the general feel of the PediPaws, with moderate success. Duncan doesn’t like having it actually touch him while its on, but he’s interested in it and not scared of it. Reyna doesn’t want it anywhere near her and generally just shoots it dirty looks. Last night, I finally used it on Duncan’s nails. It works, in the sense that the nails I used it on are now shorter than they were when we started. The problem is that it is extremely slow to actually file the nails down, and anything more than just the slightest pressure from the nail causes it to stop spinning. I’m sure I could have eventually filed all of his nails down, but it would have taken a very long time. And the way the cap is shaped, its hard to get the edges of the nail or to see how far they’ve been filed down. This might work for a small or medium dog, but its just not powerful enough to really handle the thick nails of a big dog. On the upside, it does work as a light back massager.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Brief Harmony

This is the closest we ever came in our house to something similar to Max and Fawn. It certainly didn't last very long.

And, well, this one is just really cute.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sights You'll Never See At My House

These pictures were taken at our house in Sterling, Alaska, in 1982. This is Fawn, our German shepherd, and Max, a kitten I received from my kindergarten teacher. Notice how Max is curled up between Fawn's paws in the second picture...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Duncan Chooses Discretion Over Valor

My Dog, Gimpy, And Her Sidekick, Hop-Along

Saturday, Duncan and I met Brian, Marie and Sophie at Lake Johnson. We did a short walk with them (just a bit over 1.5 miles) and then made a complete loop around the lake. We ended up walking a little over 4.5 miles. Duncan started an odd little thing during our walk. Several times he would drop back and then walk directly behind me for a few minutes, weaving back and forth like he wasn’t sure which side he wanted. While he was weaving, he wouldn’t come up beside me at all, he would just stay right behind me so that I either had to watch his shadow or turn my head and look over my shoulder to see him. And then he’d pop out on one side or the other. I have no idea why he started doing that, but a lot of people got a chuckle out of watching it.

After we got home, I let Duncan crash and took Reyna out, since she’d been rather upset at being left behind. I’d originally planned to take her for a ride to Petco, but she’d been doing really well all week so I decided we’d go for a short stroll instead. Reyna and I walked just over ¾ of a mile. She seemed a bit confused at first, since I was trying to keep her at a fairly slow pace and letting her stop and sniff (normally when we walk, we walk quickly and all sniffing is done while walking; there is no stopping). She did very well with the walk, though – no lagging behind, no signs of discomfort other than insisting on walking on the grass whenever possible. Reyna’s done so well this past week, in fact, that she’s even been playing with her ball a bit more. I actually had to get her a new one just after the holidays, as she finally destroyed the one she’s had since August (a new record for her).

Sunday, Duncan was supposed to start a 4 week class, so we went out to Shelly Lake to get some education. And we did. We learned that the coordinator had pushed the start date back a week and hadn’t bothered to let us know. She was very apologetic when I called her (the other lady who showed up was really ticked when I told her about the change). Since we were there, I decided we’d go for a stroll. The loop around Shelley is about 2 miles, but I didn’t plan on walking that far, since Duncan was limping a little. I’d checked his foot and leg, and I think the problem was just muscle soreness from the day before. The poor guy’s out of shape. As we walked, though, the limp went away and he was eager to go, so we ended up doing the 2 miles. And then we ruined all that effort by picking up McDonald’s on the way home. To keep Reyna from being upset, I got her a cheeseburger, too. Duncan got to eat his in the truck, since I was a bit worried Reyna might try to take it from him.

By the time we got home, Duncan was limping again. And let me tell you, he milked that all afternoon and evening. Don’t worry, he was perfectly fine this morning – completely limp free. Reyna, on the other paw... She was a bit limpy yesterday, so she didn’t get to take another walk. I think she was okay with that, though, since she ate her burger, went outside, and settled down on a pile of leaves. It was a very quiet evening in our house – on the dog side, at least.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Get That Tail!

Nice While It Lasted

For the two weeks I was home, Reyna was a pretty relaxed girl. There wasn’t a lot of the spinning and barking that’s such common behavior for her. She did it occasionally, but it seemed to only happen on days we didn’t go outside as often because of the rain. One day back at work ruined all of that, though. Monday evening, I got home, we played outside for a while, and as soon as I started fixing dinner, she started spinning and barking. And continued doing that most of the evening. This really supports my theory that she doesn’t do it just because she’s insane. I mean, sure, that’s part of it. But I really think a lot of it is due to the massive amount of excess energy that builds up during the day while I’m gone. The obvious solution, of course, is for me to work from home. All the time. Somehow, though, I don’t think my boss would consider Reyna’s excess energy a reason for me to work from home. Maybe if he spent a couple of hours with her one evening...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Vacation – Day Sixteen

Well, this is it. The fun is over. Tomorrow, the obnoxious alarm clock goes off again and its back to the office for me. I find that I don’t particularly want to go. I’ve enjoyed the two weeks off, and I could easily enjoy another two. But I guess I don’t have too much of a choice, assuming I want to keep my job. And I guess I do... Sigh.

Today’s weather was icky this morning, which made it easier to stay in and do a couple of chores. Thankfully, it cleared up this afternoon and even warmed up to a rather pleasant temperature. The Honey-Do list is in no way complete, but I made a decent dent. Did I mention that I don’t want to go to work tomorrow? Cause I really don't. I think I should stay home and take care of Reyna. I’m sure she’ll need me.

Ode to Dogs

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I love thee agreeably - enough to let your stinky doghide on the bed after a run through damp leaves, mud and slug infested gardens.

I love thee steadfastly - enough to devote a year to raising you from a wobbly speck into a strong healthy adult (who promptly attempts to seize control).

I love thee passionately - despite your repeated efforts to probe my ears, eyes and mouth with the same tongue you use for various other atrocities.

I love thee well - despite the amazing odors you produce.

I love thee deeply - though you use me as a napkin at every opportunity.

I love thee madly - despite the various bodily functions you have performed at inappropriate moments - in inappropriate places.

I love thee constantly - despite the dog "bladder curfew" I have lived by for many years.

I love thee truly - despite the "doggie landmines" hidden in the grass.

I love thee absolutely - because you never (well, hardly ever) hog the remote control.

I love thee gratefully - because you stay by my side (or on my side).

I love thee devotedly - more than clean carpeting, clothing, furniture, floors or walls.

I love thee bravely - enough to battle the indomitable flea on your behalf.

I love thee monetarily - enough to put the vet's children through college.

I love thee openly - I will bear any embarrassment for your furry sake.

I love thee totally - more than free time, excess cash or a predictable life.

- Author Unknown

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Vacation – Day Fifteen

Today has been one of those days that’s hard to really classify. It was a good day, in the sense that the weather was nice and I got a few things done. But it was a bad day for Reyna, and that makes it a bad day for the rest of us. Before I get into that, though, a funny story…

The pups and I had been out in the back yard, and when we came in we discovered that Mikey had pushed open the hall door again. He’s been doing that a lot lately, and I think it’s because it’s a lot quieter in the living room than he’s used to, so he thinks it’s safe to come out. Of course, if he spots a dog, he runs, and they chase. It’s just how things are. But I digress. So, Reyna saw the open hall door and immediately ran for the bedroom. I guess everyone was feeling rambunctious today, because when I got to the bedroom, what I saw made me wish I’d stopped for the video camera. Reyna was crouched with her butt up in the air, tail wagging frantically, her head wedged as far underneath the bed as she could get it. She was so distracted by whoever she was watching that she apparently didn’t realize that Belle was standing beside her, swatting her repeatedly. As I was moving Belle away with my foot and scruffing Reyna to get her away from the bed, Duncan ran by me around to the other side of the bed. That had to be one of the worst decisions he’s ever made. He managed to get himself wedged in the corner between the wall and the bed, trapped by Loki. I was calling Duncan to get him out of the bedroom, and I could see he was trying to come but he kept stopping. And then I saw Loki try to jump on the bed. He snagged the pillow, though, and overbalanced and fell back to the floor. Duncan rose up and looked like he was considering trying the same route – getting out of the corner by going over the bed. But then Loki jumped up again and made it that time (and put a large hole in my quilt, too). Once Loki was out of the way, Duncan headed for the safety of the hallway. Neither pup ever actually snapped at any of the cats – the only damage was a scratch to Reyna’s nose. Loki was in a foul mood for quite a while afterwards. I think his ego was injured. The look on Duncan’s face during his part of the incident was absolutely hilarious. And I can’t believe Reyna never noticed Belle, because if the amount of dog fur on the floor was any indication, Belle was definitely making contact.

And now, back to Reyna. I’m not sure, but I think she may have had a seizure last night. I heard some horribly familiar noises, but by the time my brain processed them and I got from the bedroom to the living room, they had stopped. Reyna seemed rather agitated, though. And today, she was anxious and upset most of the day and some of her behavior was a bit…off. For example, at one point this evening, I caught her growling at her foot. Now, I don’t know if she thought her foot needed to be growled at, or if she just happened to be looking at her foot while she was growling about something else. Either way, that’s not typical behavior for her. So, now we wait and watch, and see if anything else happens.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Vacation – Day Fourteen

Well, I managed to knock a couple more chores off the list today. I’m ever-so-slowly getting them done. Of course, now it really is time to prioritize, since I only have two days left. I am not looking forward to going back to the office Monday. I could go at least two more weeks before the thought of boredom even occurred to me. At least the weather wasn’t so miserable today – I only had to break the ice on our first trip outside. Reyna did pretty well most of the day, but I’ve noticed that she’s having a lot more trouble than usual moving around this evening. Duncan has also had a rough evening – I woke him up to eat his dinner, and then woke him again to go outside for a few minutes. I am constantly amazed at the grace with which he handles life’s difficulties...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Vacation – Day Thirteen

I’m getting tired of this ridiculous flip-flopping weather. The last several days have been very nice, and this morning I’m chopping ice in the pups’ pool. And then rebreaking it every time we go outside. I really wish Mother Nature would pick a temperature and stick with it for more than a few days. Of course, if we can’t have snow, I vote for warm. Reyna votes for warm, too. The relatively sudden drop had her limping quite a bit today. She did make good use of the leaf piles, though. And it took her multiple tries during the day, but, not surprisingly, she finally figured out how to get one of the shoulder bones through the dog door. Since it was too cold to really enjoy spending time outside, I knocked a few more items off my Honey-Do list. And took a nap with Duncan.