Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Blood, Long Hours

I’ve been too busy and tired to post anything lately, but I thought I’d take a few minutes for a quick blog (before I curl up on the couch and zonk out).

Reyna’s blood work results came back sometime in the recent past. Its been a very long week, so I don’t remember exactly when… It was as perfect as we expected – her kidney and liver values are all in the normal range. And not just Reyna Normal, but actual Medically Accepted Normal. Impressive, isn’t it? This means she’s allowed to stay on the NSAID that improves her joint pain and arthritis, which is a good thing. Something I find really interesting about Rimadyl is that there seem to be a lot of people out there dead set against having it in the house, much less letting it pass their dog’s lips. Some people will tell you that Rimadyl is a horrible medication, that it kills some dogs and sickens all the rest. But on the flip side of that is Reyna, She Who Reacts Badly To Every Medication, having absolutely no problem at all with this dog-killing drug. On our side is also my vet (and I’m sure many, many others) who treat a lot of dogs with Rimadyl and see a problem with maybe 0.5%. Granted, there’s a reason why Reyna gets her kidney and liver values checked every six months, and if they ever look bad, she’ll come off the Rimadyl. But its very hard to see it as the hideous thing some people make it out to be. Oh, well. We’ll use what works for us, and they can use what works for them.

I’ve gotten a lot of hours at the kennel this week. In fact, today was day 5 of a 7 day stretch. Its been exhausting but generally fun. Or at least less not-fun than office work. I don’t enjoy scooping poop, but I like working and playing with the dogs. Most of the staff is pretty good to work with, although I occasionally think the owner’s forgotten just how long some things take. After all, when you have 230 dogs to get outside, clean their kennels, get them back inside, feed and water them, and then pick up leftover food, its just going to take a while. Regardless of how many people are working, that’s not something that can be done in an hour. Or even two hours. Today, I think 7 of us got it done in 3.5 hours (of course, two of the girls – one who normally works daycare and one who is just there for the week - moved a bit slower than the rest of us like, but the fastest its been done with that many dogs is 3 hours). There’s even been some excitement to liven things up a bit. Yesterday morning, one of the dogs I took outside for her morning potty break had a grand mal seizure as soon as she entered the run. She seemed fine a couple of hours later, but then she had another one this morning, again as soon as she entered the outside run. One of the managers said we shouldn’t take her out anymore, but my response to that was that she’d been taken out at least two other mornings and every evening and hadn’t had seizures. At least, no seizures that anyone saw or reported. She was scheduled to go home this afternoon, so hopefully she’ll do better. The really big excitement this morning was the little Shiba Inu that climbed the exterior fence during her morning run and escaped out into the big, bad world. I was taking out another dog and happened to see a dog wandering in the woods beyond the kennel fence and decided to check it out (since there aren’t any houses around the kennel that might have wandering pets). I was able to tell through the fence that the dog had a yellow kennel collar and got one of the other girls to alert the manager. By the time she got her slow self moving, the dog had left the woods and crossed the four lane road in front of the kennel. The dog crossed it by herself again, and managed to avoid being hit by any of the passing traffic. The drama ended well, with the dog locked securely back in her kennel and a note on the door saying she was to be taken out only on a leash. The owner was extremely happy that she wouldn’t be sued by any irate owners. And all of that happened before 9:00 this morning.

Oh, and I finally broke down and turned the heat on this afternoon. 54 degrees in the living room is a bit cold, even for me and all my layers of clothes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Santa Paws 2009

I don’t see a reason to cancel an inexpensive family tradition just because I’m mostly jobless, so last night I took the pups for their annual photos with Santa Paws, hosted by the local SPCA. I decided to make a minor change in how we did things, and I think it worked out for the best. The SPCA usually has time slots during the week and weekend before Thanksgiving, and then the first weekend in December. In 2005, we went the first weekend in December and got some really cute pictures. In 2006, we went the weekend before Thanksgiving, the place was a mad house and the pictures weren’t very good, so we ended up going again the first weekend in December. We got some good pictures that time. For 2007 and 2008, I decided to not mess with a good thing and just go in December – good pictures both years. This year, though, my free time is a bit different, so I scheduled us for a late slot on a weeknight, thinking there probably wouldn’t be too many dogs in the room. I was right – there was a pair of dogs leaving when we got there, and another pair came in as we were finishing. Having a calm, quiet room certainly helped keep Reyna and Duncan focused. The SPCA changed things a bit this year, too. In the past, we had to wait a week and then go pick up our prints and a CD. This year, though, we had the option of having a link emailed to us so we could download the photos – and the really neat thing is that I got the pictures today, rather than sometime next week (plus, I saved myself nearly an hour for the pickup trip). Below are the pictures that the photographer and whoever else with the SPCA looks at these considered to be the five best pictures of the bunch, in the order they were taken.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nothing Too Bad

Reyna had her extremely belated annual checkup today. We’ll get the results of her blood work on Monday, but we’re not expecting anything unusual from that. Doc told me to up her Benadryl intake to see if it will help clear up her itchies, and to call him in a week if it doesn’t. He said one possibility is that she has a flea allergy (since she is, after all, allergic to most of the rest of the world), and if that’s the case, it could be a single flea bite that caused her current problem. Thankfully, there’s still no indication that she has fleas, so if it was a flea bite, it may have happened when we went to the Mutt Strutt earlier this month. Of course, there’s no way to know, so we’ll just keep trying the Benadryl. The vet and I also talked about Reyna’s limping, and he noticed that her left ankle seemed stiff. Probably just a wrong step and something that will go away soon. He had me walk and trot her, and we talked about the fact that she doesn’t have the range of motion in either hip that she used to have. I’d noticed before that she wasn’t taking long strides anymore. Watching her from the side, its also noticeable that she’s hunching forward some and carrying more weight on her front legs than she should. The only way to correct that is more exercise. I’m going to talk to the kennel owner and see if we can work out an arrangement for Reyna to use their swimming pool a couple of times a week. If we can, that should help build muscle and increase her range of motion. The vet also commented that Reyna’s a little underweight (a mere 71 pounds, as opposed to Duncan’s 117), but considering her joints, being thin is for the best. Doc said everything else looks great. All in all, it wasn’t a bad checkup.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That. Was. So. Cool.

Yesterday, Duncan and I went to Pittsboro for a herding session. The trainer is letting me swap work for training, so I don’t have to pay cash for the lesson. We did about 30 minutes of herding, then an hour of work, then another 30 minutes of herding. It worked out really well for everyone, I think.

After our regular herding practice, we decided to try Duncan on boundary herding. Instead of moving the sheep around the fenced area, the point of boundary herding is to have the sheep in a big open area while the dog guards the perimeter. The dog isn’t allowed to cross the boundary into the grazing area, and the sheep aren’t allowed to cross the boundary out of the grazing area. The handler is essentially just supposed to hang out while the dog does all the work. The trainer is hopeful that working boundaries will build Duncan’s confidence and teach him that he doesn’t need to be right up on me when we’re working the sheep (which would be very useful when we’re doing the other style of herding).

This was our first experience with boundary herding, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Duncan was thrilled when the trainer asked him to gather up the entire flock and move them. He got them into the grazing area with no problem at all. The boundary was a path around the grazing area – one side was just the path, the next side was the path along the fence line, the third side was the path along the tree line, and the fourth side didn’t have a clear path – it was just the tree line. I was in the process of asking the trainer “How do you teach the dog the boundary?” and I’d just gotten “how do” out of my mouth when Duncan came to a screeching halt at the edge of the path. The trainer: “You were saying?” Me: “Never mind.” Duncan picked up the boundary idea very fast – the few times he tried to cross it was to come to me, not the sheep. As the sheep moved farther away from us, he figured out that he needed to get closer to them, but he stayed on the path. We only showed him the open side and the path along the fence line – he figured out the path along the tree line on his own. And watching him run the boundary, especially the side that was just the tree line, with no instruction from either of us, was absolutely amazing. Within just a few minutes, he learned a herding method that was entirely different from what he’s been doing. I am so proud of my boy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Dangers Of Television

I was watching a movie this afternoon (don’t remember what it was called; it wasn’t very good) that was set in the 1880s out in the middle of nowhere, and it started me thinking (I know, always a dangerous prospect). One of my ex-bosses told me that I should see the layoff as an opportunity. What he meant was that I would find a job doing the same or similar work to what I’d been doing, only I’d make a lot more money doing it (the general consensus was that I was underpaid for my job because of the way I moved up within the company, as opposed to coming into the company specifically to do that job). As I was watching the movie today, it occurred to me that he was right about seeing the layoff as an opportunity, but he wasn’t necessarily accurate about the *type* of opportunity. Instead of focusing on finding the “right” job - which could potentially lead to relocating - I should think about the places I’d like to live and see what jobs are available in those areas. I know this could upset a lot of the people who read this, because the places I’ve always thought about are not in North Carolina.

I haven’t been able to shake the idea since it hit. Let’s face it, being unemployed makes this the perfect time to enact a significant change in my life – I’m not tied to a job, which means I don’t have that excuse/rationale for not making a change. And why should I make my priorities job first, location second? Raleigh wasn’t my first choice for a place to live, or even my second – it just sort of happened. So maybe its time to be proactive, get serious about figuring out where I’d like to live, and reorder my priorities – location first, job second.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Baby Girl

Poor Reyna hasn’t been feeling too spiffy lately. Her attitude is generally upbeat, but she’s been limping on and off since the first cold spell a few weeks ago. I don’t think its necessarily her new hip, since her other hip is also bad and her shoulders are arthritic. But she’s definitely uncomfortable at times. A couple of days ago, she started scratching and chewing on herself, and when I pet her, she’s itchy and twitchy. I’ve been dosing her with Benadryl, and she got a bath this afternoon, which I hope will help. I checked, and there’s no indication of fleas (thank goodness). If we’re lucky, its just a minor allergic reaction to something, and the Benadryl will fix her up. Of course, if its that, I have to wonder what she’s reacting to. Just a seasonal thing, or (Dog forbid) something I brought home on my clothes from the kennel? She’s scheduled to see the vet next Friday to have her very belated annual exam, so if she’s not better by then, he might have a suggestion or two. Or, he might just look at her, shake his head, and say “Well, it is Reyna.”

Just A Bit Of Whining

This job search stuff is hard. I don’t like it. Spending hours in front of the computer each day, trolling through the many, many job sites, trying to figure out which postings are duplicates of postings on all the other sites, and constantly thinking “have I read this one already?” I’m tracking which ones I’ve applied to, so I don’t have to worry about that. Editing the cover letter each time, because you can’t have a nice generic cover letter, oh, no. It has to be specific to the position. Trying to figure out if I meet all of the requirements listed, and if I don’t, do I meet enough of them that I can still sound qualified. Its just frustrating. Sigh. I remember not liking the job search last time, but at least that time was by my own choosing. I really don’t like this forced job hunt. Stupid lay off.

Okay. Whining over.

A Howling Bad Time

Wednesday night, the wind was blowing pretty hard. At one point, it actually howled for a few seconds. Duncan was passed out in his chair, but when the wind howled, he woke up, jumped (almost fell, really) out of the chair, and landed with stiff legs and raised hackles. The poor guy stared at the back door for a minute or so, and then finally started to relax. Instead of getting back in his chair, though, he climbed on the couch and spent the rest of the evening curled up next to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where’s My Canoe?

I know its been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been a bit distracted. I figured now’s as good a time as any to do a basic catch-up.

So far, no luck on the job hunt. I’ve been throwing my resume at anyone who’ll take it, but its just one more in a big stack of paper. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up – after all, its only been a couple of weeks. Sooner or later, someone has to be more interested in my resume than everyone else’s, right?

In the meantime, I’m still getting some hours at the kennel. Which brings me to Thanksgiving. I certainly won’t be making it to the western part of the state for the holiday this year. That’s going to be a busy week at the kennel, so I’ll be able to get a lot of hours that week (with time and a half on Thursday). Christmas is still up in the air.

My eye is finally much better. There’s still a bit of irritation at the corner of the lower lid, but it only bothers me when it itches.

Reyna’s been feeling pretty good lately, although I think me being home so much has her more tired than usual. It must be exhausting, feeling like she has to be constantly involved in everything I do. I need to get into town to get her a new bottle of Rimadyl and a bag of kibble, but I think I’m going to need a boat to do that.

Duncan was supposed to have a long herding session tomorrow (I’m trading work for lessons with the trainer), but that’s not going to happen. I got an email from the trainer this morning – her property is already flooded and the rain is still coming down. Oh, well. We’ll get to it next week, once the floods recede.

The cats – and particularly Belle – are all healthy (paws crossed they stay that way). They’ve been enjoying the cooler weather, because it means I use the heated mattress pad at night. The only downside is that it can get uncomfortable with six cats on the bed. You wouldn’t think it’d be a problem with a queen-size bed, but they all seem to feel the need to be pressed up against some part of me. Of course, it’s a good gauge of the temperature – when its really cold, it’s a Six Cat Night.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Yay, Antibiotics!

I don’t know if it’s the pills or the drops or both – and I don’t really care – but the meds are definitely working. The swelling is much less noticeable today than yesterday, and my eye doesn’t feel nearly as icky. Its nice not having my vision significantly blocked by part of my face.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

There’s A Tear In My Beer

Well, not really, but that tune has been running through my head the last couple of days. Only now, the lyrics are “there’s a stye in my eye.” I woke up Saturday morning with soreness in my lower eyelid, and I figured one of the cats had probably kicked me during the night (its happened before). Sunday, I woke up to find the corner of my lower eyelid was red and swollen. When I woke up Monday, the swelling had spread almost to my cheekbone. I called my eye doc and was able to get an appointment yesterday afternoon. She said it’s a pretty aggressive infection, considering how fast it spread from just soreness to so much swelling. So now I’m on antibiotics to clear up the infection and medicated eye drops to keep the infection from spreading into my eye. This morning, I look like someone decided to punch me in the eye. I foresee cold compresses in my future.

On the upside, my wrist is feeling better, and I’m finally out of the brace. I just need to work on the flexibility. Belle is also finally doing better – she seems to have shaken off all but the last remnants of her cold.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

“Thank You” Isn’t Really Nice

I could rattle off a list of things that contributed to what happened today, but why bother? The end result is that we had a really crappy run. I have GOT to get better with the stock stick, and Duncan has GOT to quit trying to eat sheep when he gets agitated (its really hard to convince the judge he didn’t do it when he has wool hanging from his mouth). We had a couple of good spots in our run, but the vast majority of it was just awful. We were “thank you’d” by the judge before we finished. In this type of activity, “thank you” does not equate to “good job.” Instead, “thank you” means “get your dog and get off my field.” It just was not a good day for us. On the upside, this means I don’t have to stress over whether or not we’re ready for Course A Started at the Sanford trial – nope, we’ll be working to get our second PT leg. Oh, well...such is life.

I’ll be posting the video from yesterday’s run sometime today or tomorrow. And no, I won’t be posting the video from today’s run.