Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It’s The Little Things…

Over the last few weeks, Reyna has shown more signs of getting worse. There are several little things that she’s been doing (or not doing) that tell me she’s not feeling like herself. One change I’ve noticed is that her tail is much cleaner than usual. Which means its not all crusty and covered in dog spit. That’s because she’s not sitting on it and licking it as much anymore, which is because she has a lot of trouble catching it now. Even though she still wants to spin around the living room, she’s not doing it nearly as often. I think somewhere in her doggy brain she’s realized that slipping and falling is not a fun thing to do.

Another change I discovered a couple of weeks ago when we had a nice warm weekend. I gave the dogs baths, and for the first time ever, Reyna didn’t spend the entire time trying to get away from me. At one point, she actually sat down while I lathered her up with the shampoo. That’s just not like her.

Her hips have started shaking every time she stands still and she occasionally has trouble getting up the ramp to the deck. That’s not a good sign. She’s also started licking more and chewing on herself. The lick granuloma on her wrist is twice the size it was two weeks ago. Some of the chewing may be due to allergies, so I’ve got her on Benadryl to help with that. I’m afraid most of it is because she’s hurting and frustrated at her inability to do what she wants and her obsessive-compulsive brain is acting out. If she starts fixating, we could have some real trouble. She has an appointment Monday with our regular vet to get on Clomicalm, an anti-anxiety med. Since the Prozac never caused any obvious behavioral changes, we’re trying something else. With luck, the new meds will calm her down and keep her from obsessing over licking or chewing certain spots. And she can stay on it through the surgery and recovery period. I also talked to the vet today about getting a sling for her so I can help stabilize her when she has trouble walking. He actually recommended a special harness instead of a sling, which makes more sense to me. A hip sling would very likely cause more pain, particularly after the surgery, and I’m not sure that Reyna would tolerate a belly sling. She’s used to wearing a harness for SAR, though, so this shouldn’t cause her any stress. And its designed so that she can wear it all day, which means I won’t have to go looking for it when I want her to use it, or worry her by putting it on and taking it off repeatedly.

We’ll see how the new meds go, and maybe the weather will warm up some and help ease some of the pain. Right now, my goal is just to get to the pre-op appointment without losing so much bone that the surgeon says she can’t have a new hip.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Howling Good Time

We don’t hear many sirens at our house, but when we do, the dogs tend to ignore them. At most, they might look in that general direction for a few seconds. Tuesday was different. Lots of sirens went by our cul-de-sac three separate times, and each time it was several vehicles, not just one. The first time, about 3:45 (yes, I went home early), Reyna ignored them and Duncan just raised his head and looked. The second time, about 6:15, Reyna raised her head and looked and Duncan actually wandered over to the fence to see what he could see. The third time was a whole ‘nother story. It happened at 10:40, and the sirens lasted for several minutes. Duncan shot through the dog door and proceeded to howl until all the sirens had stopped (Duncan has never howled at sirens before, but he does howl at other things). Reyna’s response had me laughing. She went to the kitchen windows and started barking. But her bark was different than usual. After a couple of normal barks, she changed to shorter, higher-pitched barks that sounded exactly like a stuttering howl. This was the first time in her life that she’s howled (or close to it). Can’t wait to hear what happens the next time we hear sirens!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Response To Sam's Comment...

I couldn't find a soft copy of Mikey and Loki under the lamp, but I did find this one (also taken by Sam). And if it doesn't scream illicit love, I don't know what would.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kitty Love

With a clowder of six indoor cats, the relationship dynamics can be pretty interesting. It seems that there are occasional changes, but a lot of their preferences stay remarkably constant. For example, Belle hates everyone else. That really never changes, although she will occasionally share the bed with them instead of doing her normal growl-and-run. Mikey likes to make Belle crazy (usually by sitting on her head), and Loki just loves to make Belle so mad that she, well, growls and runs. But that’s been a constant since the boys joined our family years ago. Something that has changed, though, is who Mikey prefers as a cuddle buddy. When I first got Mikey, he would often sleep snuggled against Loki. Loki seemed to only tolerate this, not really enjoy it. Now, though, Mikey sleeps next to Per’la. I’ll often walk into the bedroom and see them curled together, sometimes facing each other, sometimes spooning, sometimes nose to butt, but always some part is touching. When I pet one, they both purr. They are the only two who consistently sleep together; the others more often prefer their own space.

Interestingly enough, the kittens' personalities have developed over time to match up with the adults. Per'la is most like Mikey, Parm is like Loki, and Khar'pern is an orange and white version of Belle (except she doesn't growl and run. Yet.).

Monday, February 09, 2009

Handicapped Accessible

John came over Saturday afternoon to build Reyna’s new ramp. He got to the house at 3:00, made a quick run to Lowe’s and Papa John's about 8:00, and we were finished a little after 11:00. This came just in time, too. Reyna's had a rough few days and has been limping quite a bit. John mentioned a couple of times that she was worse than he'd ever seen her.

Here’s a “before” photo of the deck.

After considering what would need to be done to the support boards if we wanted to keep the steps, we decided to just get rid of the steps completely.

John dug a hole for the end of the support boards. Duncan wasn't sure if he was supposed to help or not, so he decided to guard the pile of dirt.

"Mom! He's touching me!" John decided to have a bit of fun with Duncan and a tape measure, but Duncan didn't find it quite as funny as John did....

Reyna and Duncan, both watching John work.

Reyna was very pensive the entire afternoon and evening. I think she was concerned about how she was going to get back in the house.

Every now and then, Reyna would go over to doorway and act like she was going to try and jump up onto the deck. She acted upset that I wouldn't let her try it, but I don't think she really believed she'd make it all the way up.

John used cement to brace the supports and the bottom rail post. I’m pretty sure the ramp isn't going anywhere any time soon.

Almost done! I'd told John we had to have a hand rail (mostly for my benefit) and pickets to keep Reyna from taking the shortcut and trying to jump on and off the ramp halfway up instead of walking all the way to the end.

And here it is, the finished ramp! The ramp is 8’ long, so the slope is fairly shallow. All that’s left to do is paint the railing white to match the deck and stain/waterproof the ramp.

Thank you, John, for spending your Saturday afternoon and evening doing this! I'm so grateful, and I know that somewhere in her doggy brain, Reyna is, too.

Surgery Schedule Update

Everything has been finalized with the vet school (finally). Reyna’s pre-op appointment is still scheduled for Monday, March 30. Her surgery has been moved out one week to Thursday, May 7. She’ll come home either the 8th or the 9th, depending on how she does.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Picture Night

Wednesday night was GSD club night, and it was picture night, which means Reyna got to go. The pups went to camp for the day, in hopes that Reyna would be more relaxed than usual that evening. She was actually very well behaved during the meeting, and only tried to eat one dog’s head when she showed a bit of dominance to Reyna. Reyna doesn’t tolerate that, especially not from some young thing barely old enough to breed.

Some of the pictures came out a little fuzzy (Mary is still working on her photography skills), but we got some nice shots.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Poor Girl

Reyna’s having a rough time these days. I wish I could say I don’t know why, but only because denial is occasionally less stressful. It looks like the grace period we had from late December through last month is ending. For the last few days, she’s had more difficulty in getting up and down, and she’s started falling several times a day. I just got off the phone with the vet school, and her surgery is now on the calendar for April 30, with a tentative pre-op appointment March 30. The pre-op is tentative only because her surgeon will be out of town most of March, so she’d be seeing a different orthopedic vet. The school is going to confirm with the surgeon that he doesn’t have a problem with that and call me back this afternoon. During the pre-op, they’ll take x-rays of her hips and determine if she can have the cementless hip or if she needs the cemented hip (not our preferred choice because of increased potential for complications). Reyna will also have her cardiology consult that day. Wow. Just having it on the schedule has increased my stress I have an actual date for when I’ll be handing over lots and lots of money. But, its good that its on the calendar. Now I can solidify plans with my boss and make sure work doesn’t book any trips for me.

In other news, Reyna and Duncan are at day camp again today. We have GSD club tonight, and its picture night, so Reyna gets to go with us. I’m hoping the day of camp will ease her insanity level down a notch. Paws crossed...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Why I Should Not Have A Camera

Since Mary and I discovered our mutual love of cropping last spring, we’ve been getting together once or twice a month to work on our various projects. Because of that, I’m almost done putting my trip to Hawaii in a scrapbook. Yep, the trip I took in September. Of 2007. It’s a good thing I haven’t had any out-of-town vacations since then. Part of the delay with completing the book is that I can only work on it at my house, since I need access to my printer. Of course, that lets me work on the dogs’ books at Mary’s house, so its not such a bad thing. Lately, though, I’ve been bogged down by the sheer volume of pictures. For example, I just finished cropping the pictures I took at sunset on my last night there. It took a bit of time to sort out which pictures I wanted to use, but I finally narrowed it down to 52. That may sound like a lot, but you have to consider that, in a 30 minute period, I took 340 pictures. After my initial review, I only printed 297. So 52 really isn’t that many.