Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So, finally got hold of a real live person this morning. Not someone at the local ESC office – they’ve never bothered to return any of my calls. This week, I’ve been calling a benefits hotline. Couldn’t get through at all yesterday, but managed it this morning. After sitting on hold for 20 minutes (literally), an actual person answered. I almost hung up, I was so surprised (flashbacks of trying to register for classes at State and accidentally hanging up on the system because I was so used to a busy signal, my brain didn’t process the system pick-up fast enough to stop my finger on the disconnect button).

I do qualify for the Extended Benefits program, and I’m to keep submitting the weekly claim as usual (after all the unanswered and unreturned phone calls, it took the guy lass than a minute to reset my claim to receive EB money). The downside is that the state can choose to discontinue to the EB program at any time, without warning – basically, they decide the unemployment rate has gone low enough and they turn off the benefits – because the rest of us will magically find jobs, right? The program that brought the benefits out to 99 weeks is currently on hold. If I’d run out of regular benefits before May 22, I’d qualify for whats left of the original extension, but I was just a few weeks too late for that. Congress may vote to extend those dates, but who knows if or when that might happen. At this point, I’ll continue getting money unless the state chooses to cancel. Let’s hope they don’t cancel, or that Congress approves the date extension first. Because, after all, even the pups and kitties need a roof and kibble.

Still working with the student loan folks to try and get a forbearance approved. Finally got someone at the mortgage company to tell me I can apply for a loan modification. Of course, I have to have an income to be approved, so we’ll see what happens with that…

Speaking of the pups and their kibble…I just finished cutting up an 8 year old turkey so I could get the silly thing in the crock pot. I’m going to have to do two sessions, as it is just a bit too large. The pups will be able to enjoy it for at least a few days. Turkeys come with odd things inside. I never knew that packets of gravy and soup were natural parts of the bird… As an experiment, I gave the pups raw chicken legs a few days ago (don’t worry, raw chicken bones don’t have the shattering problem that cooked bones do). I figured Reyna would love the idea of raw chicken, and that Mr. Picky Duncan would boycott the meal. Boy, was I wrong. Duncan was all over those chicken legs, while Reyna tried to figure out how to eat the rest of her meal without actually touching the leg. I have to admit to being surprised.

A bit of good news – Onyx should be going to his new home this coming weekend. The family met him this past Saturday and fell in love. I think everyone here will be very happy when Onyx is gone. Poor Duncan’s had a lot of trouble this time around – a lot of jealousy and general annoyance. I’ll be happy to only have my well-behaved pups in the house. Onyx has yet to figure out that coming when I call is a good thing, but running away from me is really, really not.

Oh, and in answer to the question - I assume my A/C still works, its just not on because I can't afford the huge jump in the power bill.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I’ve been taking the pups for early morning walks in the woods when I can. They love the woods. It’s a lot prettier (and smells better) than the neighborhood, and there are certainly fewer cars. I can even let the pups run off-leash for a bit (not Onyx, of course – he’s too young and foolish for that kind of freedom). The biggest problem with the woods is the bugs. I swear, it seems like there’s always some nasty buzzing thing who decides it has to follow me for the entire walk. Of course, I just love the bugs that manage to trap themselves in my hair. And the ticks. I pulled 6 off of us after the last walk. Poor Duncan seems to attract his fair share of biting, buzzing things, too. He spends most of the walk twitching his ears, trying to shake the bugs off. A smaller, yet long-term problem has manifested itself on my legs. Apparently, I brushed against some poison ivy during one of our walks. Thankfully, its not too bad – just a few streaks along both calves. Itchy, but not much worse than the mosquito bites on my legs. I don’t know why I bother spraying Off before I go outside. Speaking of itchy, the rash on my arms finally went away. Only took a little over two weeks. Still don’t know what caused it, but I won’t be using that sunscreen again, just in case.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little Whine

The last week or so has had its own fun brand of stress. My unemployment money runs out this week, and according to the ESC website, I may or may not qualify for an extension that may or may not still exist. And I might need to submit a new claim, or I might need to just keep submitting weekly certifications. I love the ESC website. Really, I do. So, I’ve been trying very hard to get a real live person on the phone so I can get an answer about whether I qualify and what I need to do. Apparently, no live people actually work at the ESC. Their voicemail works quite well, though. I did finally get an operator one day and asked her to transfer me to a person who could set an appointment. Voicemail. Based on the complete lack of returned calls, my guess is that the folks there don’t answer their phones and just delete all messages at the end of the day. I realize they’re busy, but how long does it take to return a call?

Found out the other day that a contractor for the City of Charlotte managed to lose a bunch of data DVDs. Why do I care? Well, according to the City, my name and social security number were on the DVDs. Along with thousands of others. Because what I really need these days is for someone to use my info to open a bunch of accounts. Oh, wait – I can’t open any accounts these days, due to my employment (or lack thereof) status, so a thief probably couldn’t, either. Still. Just one more thing.

The folks at the kennel offered to bump me to full time if I can’t get an extension. Of course, full time to them is 30 hours or so, and no benefits. Even 40 hours at their pay rate wouldn’t cover the basic bills, and my savings account is dwindling pretty rapidly. Those mortgage people are so demanding... I hope my aunt and uncle are leaving soon, because at the rate I’m going, I’ll be moving into Ganna’s basement apartment before we know it. On the upside of that, Ganna and I could pool our limited resources and maybe afford A/C.

Poor Duncan isn’t handling the heat particularly well. It seems to be making him grumpy. Of course, his wonky rear end and the crazy puppy probably aren’t helping his mood, either. I did get a couple of fans, so things aren’t as totally miserable as they could be. Reyna has decided that the Best Spot Ever is directly in front of the box fan. Can’t say that I blame her, as I try to stay in front of it as much as possible, too. The last few days have been rough, especially with the nasty humidity. I’m trying to get everyone out for walks before 7am, but this morning convinced me we need to get out even earlier. By the time we came in from our 2.5 miles in the woods, I was completely soaked. I couldn’t have been any wetter if I’d taken a shower. One nice thing about the heat – it has really toned down Reyna’s crazies. I think even the voices in her head are too hot to do much of anything.


My fluffy boy is officially 12 years old! Happy birthday, Loki!

Monday, June 14, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, Onyx was returned to the rescue by his potential adopters. They said it was because he was playing too rough with their cat (he was a two month old pup - of course he plays rough), but I think a lot of it was because they really didn't know what to expect from a puppy. So, the rescue contacted me and asked if I'd foster him again. Once I agreed, they also asked if I'd be willing to foster a second pup, as well. Another foster home had two, and were overwhelmed. That led to Topaz joining us.

This is Onyx, now almost 14 weeks old.

Onyx and Topaz. Topaz was definitely the more laid back of the two.

Not that you could tell that from this picture.... That was really perfect timing for the photo.

Onyx has decided that Duncan is his favorite playmate. So far, Duncan's handling it pretty well.

Topaz went to her new home early last week. I got an update today, and she's settling in just fine. With luck, Onyx will be adopted soon.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Reyna's Update

It’s taken me a while to post this because I’ve been waiting for the last of Reyna’s test results. Finally got the information tonight.

Last Wednesday, Reyna had her annual check-up. Just to keep things simple, I took her to Durham to see our old vet, rather than worrying over what the new vet might miss. It was a bit disturbing to find out they’d scheduled her for a “Senior Wellness” exam – after all, she’s only 6, and even in dog years she’s not old enough to get a senior citizen discount. The receptionist finally told me that they usually do the senior exams starting at age 7, but since Reyna was getting a full blood panel done, it was actually less expensive to do the senior version than the regular exam. In that case, I don’t care what they call it if it saves me a few dollars.

The physical exam went well, as I expected. The techs had a bit of trouble getting Reyna to let them take blood, which I also expected. After that, it was just a matter of waiting for test results. A tech called Thursday to tell me that they didn’t find any parasites – one test down, one to go. Friday, the vet called while I was working and left a message saying that the blood work came back okay, but he needed to discuss something with me (that’s an easy way to stress me out in under 30 seconds). Of course, every time I called back he was with a patient, and I just knew he’d return my call in the middle of the concert. I got lucky, though – he actually called during one of the breaks between bands. Between the bad phone reception and the CD playing in the background, it was hard to hear, but we managed to cover the important stuff.

Reyna’s liver enzymes are low, which is a good thing, especially considering the Rimadyl she takes. Her hemoglobin is high, which is good enough. Her globulin is high, which is not good. It usually indicates inflammation of some kind. After tossing around a few options, we decided that the most likely cause of that is her constant licking of her wrist and tail. While not ideal, as long as that’s the only source of inflammation, I’m not too worried about it. The rest of her blood work was normal. Just before the next band came on, I asked the vet about her tick tests, and that’s when he realized the lab forgot to run those. He said he’d call me when he got the results, possibly that afternoon, but no such luck. Instead, he called Saturday morning while I was working at the kennel (naturally). I called him after my shift, got his voicemail, and figured I wouldn’t hear from him until Tuesday, thanks to the holiday.

Tuesday afternoon, the vet called and told me that Reyna’s tick tests came back positive for ehrlichiosis. Since she’s asymptomatic, the choices were to A) do nothing, B) treat with doxycycline, or C) run a titer to get an idea of what stage the disease is in. Since this is Reyna, after all, and I tend to be a worrier, I had him run the titer. The lab still had some of her blood, so at least I didn’t have to take her back to Durham. So, for the titer, if the number is 64 or less, the disease is in the chronic stage and the dog was very likely exposed several years ago, which is acceptable. If its 1600-1800, the exposure was recent and the disease is in the active stage, which is not acceptable. Reyna being the way she is, her titer came back at 400. This could mean that A) she was exposed a while back and the disease is on its way out, or B) she was exposed very recently and the disease is ramping up. Again, a key thing here is that she’s asymptomatic. With that in mind, we’re hoping for option A. I’ll be keeping a close eye on her over the next few weeks. If she starts to show any symptoms, we’ll run another titer. If not, it’s on the list to check again next May. Cross your paws, folks...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Where'd This Come From?

Monday afternoon, I noticed that my arm was a little bumpy. Yesterday, there seemed to be a few more bumps. Today, I have a full-out rash from shoulder to wrist along the top of my left arm. And a few bumps have shown up on my right arm near the wrist. Its not poison ivy or oak, and it doesn't itch as much as my mosquito bites (thank goodness). But I have no idea what it is. Other than annoying.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Duncan's Update

Last week was a busy one for us. Part of that was a herding session for Duncan Thursday morning. We spent our time working on tending. Duncan sis very nicely with the added distraction of Claire’s dog, Brick, running the sheep towards the boundary and generally creating a mess (at Claire’s direction, so that Duncan would be forced to work more). Duncan was quick to push the sheep back inside the graze, but he didn’t get the least bit agitated when Brick would run the sheep around inside the graze. That’s a good thing, since the tending dog isn’t allowed to enter the graze. Granted, that restriction would likely be lifted if, say, a fox suddenly popped up in the middle of the flock and started causing trouble. But in general, you don’t want the tending dog to get wound up over what’s going on inside the graze. We decided we really need to work on forcing Duncan to turn around and retrace his steps, rather than constantly going all the way around the graze. He doesn’t seem to realize that he’s allowed to go both directions, and only half-way, if that’s the easiest thing to do. He did start limping a bit while we were working. I’ll be happy when we can finally get to the vet school for an evaluation. I think. Depending on what they find.

Zoo Fun

Sunday, I went to the NC Zoo with Brian, Marie and Sophie. We had a really nice time. Thankfully, it was a bit overcast in the morning, so it wasn’t very hot until later. We saw the new Lemur Island exhibit, and several of the lemurs were feeling playful. Since we were already on the African side of the zoo, that’s where we stayed. None of us wanted to walk the entire zoo in one day. If we’d tried, I’m not sure who’d have given in first – Sophie or Marie. I was tired enough from the other weekend activities (work and the concert) that I certainly didn’t mind only seeing the one side.

Besides the lemurs, we saw the gorillas, chimps, baboons, a couple of lions and elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and a very colorful eagle. It was fun to catch up with Brian and Marie, and Sophie was very well-behaved the whole day. Marie said Sophie is usually nice to other folks even when she’s tired and reserves her grumpiness for Mom and Dad at home. I have to admit, I was okay with that.

Country Throwdown

Friday¸ (brother) John and I went to the Country Throwdown at Walnut Creek. Starting about 2:30, there were 8 different bands performing. The headliners were Montgomery Gentry, and they put on a great show. It was plenty warm, although not miserable, for most of the concert. About 9:30, though, the temp started to drop. I’d been seeing lightening off in the distance for a while, and we could see where it looked like it was raining a good distance away. Shortly after 10, it started raining just a bit and the wind picked up. About 10:30, the skies opened up and dumped right on us. Montgomery Gentry finished shortly before 11, and John and I had to slog our way through some deep water to get to the vehicle. The parking lots were starting to flood, and at one point we were walking through water that was up to my ankles.

Upside – great concert, lots of fun. Downside – I now have a cold.

Catching Up

A lot's happened since my last post - we've got herding with Duncan, Reyna's check-up (playing phone tag with the vet is not my idea of a good time), the Country Throwdown, a trip to the zoo, and puppies! So, please bear with me while I get caught up. And if I get really ambitious, maybe I'll finally get around to posting about our trip in April....