Days 21-31

The cone. Is. OFF!

There has been much celebrating, in the form of rolling on the ground, biting ankles, biting toys, scavaging for rabbit poo, and barking just to bark. I think she wanted to burn the cone under the full moon and dance around it.

I was hesitant to take the cone off, but my husband said the stitches were done doing their thing, and most of the healing under the scab was done. It’s nice having a paramedic / EMT spousal unit. It’s like having a reference book you don’t have to carry around. And what am I a reference for? Well, if he is interested in story structure and genre and themes and the hero’s journey, well, he knows who to turn to.

Took the pups on a hike today. A new trail and I was getting quite bored. Trees rocks snow, kaaaaay. Then I met some people coming up the trail and they mentioned caves. Caves? Yes, I will cross the stream twice over slippery, crackling ice to see limestone caves. And we did.

Days 6 – 20

OMG you guys talk about out of sight out of mind! My posting completely fell off my radar dealing with holidays and dog injuries. But the cyst removed from Mayhem’s paw is NOT CANCER!!! Hooooraaaaayyyyyy!!!!!! My husband was so happy I think that if I had asked him to buy me a new car he would have said yes without a moment’s hesitation.

Mayhem and her mitten.

Things have settled down for now, but it was mayhem (ha ha) for a minute. And I was naughty. I had work due for my development editor, and I totally slacked. Well, went on an outlining tangent, and didn’t get my chapters done. She was forgiving about it but still didn’t want to meet until I completed what I was supposed to.

This is good. I get manic on things sometimes and cannot be indulged. That’s precisely why I need her.

Lessons learned from long-term dog coning:

  • Wrapping the dog’s foot to the point it becomes a mitten is a bad thing when the injury is supposed to breathe. Mayhem has a thick neck and slim head (better to bite your ankles with), so she would rear up, put her paws by her neck and push her cone off. Impressive and fancy raccoon work, the little shit.
  • Communicating to your vet that you were having cone problems is essential. I brought the cone, harness, collar, and duct tape to him, per his request. He then performed a tiny miracle. Photos below.
  • Use the sedation drugs.

Every. Single. Loop. Secured!!

They made bows out of duct tape. Bless their hearts.

I tried every dog bootie I had, and what worked the best was double-upped Ziploc bags and medical tape. The stretchy fabric kind. She couldn’t get her stitches wet because they would dissolve with moisture (hence the cone for no licky-licky), and of course, we had a big snowstorm and the snow is still hanging around. I’ve been through about two bags of Ziplocs.

At this point, the cone is beaten to crap and I’m hoping to get it off this weekend. Just waiting for the scab to fall off, but it’s locked on tight right now like a crusty barnacle.

When this cone comes off this girl deserves an all-day puppy party. For a dog that abhors people touching her feet, she has let me get all up in her foot business and has not once barked or whined about the cone. This girl is a champ.

Day 5

  • I had a funny observation earlier today, but I forgot what it was. I always think I’ll remember, and I never do
  • Skidded on ice during my drive into work this morning and almost hit a big moving van head on.
  • Had to change the dressing on Mayhem’s foot because I forgot to wrap it during a pee break. She snapped at me a couple times, but I did it!
Not their usual formation but I didn’t want to disturb the patient

Day 3

I slept through my alarm this morning. Swear it was that drink I mentioned yesterday.

Going through my chapters this afternoon, and I really have to stop myself from editing as I go. I just recently learned that you were just supposed to charge through. You’re supposed to come back later, several times actually: tweak your story, then your writing, then micro-tweak your sentences. I’ve always jumped to micro-tweak.

I’m so sick of this damn story I dread going through it again, but I promised myself that I would finish it. I wish I got a developmental editor years ago, even if it was just for a month or two.

Took Mayhem to the vet this morning for a cyst on her front paw. They don’t like the look of it and think it might be cancerous, surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning. I have to admit that I did cry in the waiting room. I am still very scarred about what happened with Max, but I also learned a lot.

Stay calm, don’t freak out, wait for test results. In the meantime, love and play.

Day 2

I’ve been living off of miso soup and protein shakes. Of course I blame the reason for my headache-y lethargy to not taking my multi. Yeah, no. I have chapters and six (short) scene analysis due on Thursday morning, which is just three short sunrises away and I do my best work in the a.m., so I have got to get it together.

A few weeks ago, I ordered some samples from a company that has mushroom based protein powder and coffee and elixer/potion stuff. I accidentally drank one of their “chill” chai latte at work, having read the word “latte” and assumed it was a pick-me-up. It was so not. I was very relaxed that evening and I think I went to bed at 7:30. All of this to say I have another sample packet of said “chill” and think it’s just what I need tonight. And not to worry – I don’t get paid from the brand to promote or anything. I mean, who reads this besides me?

My lights just flickered. I CANNOT lose power. Tomorrow the high is 2 degrees. Dos. Degree-os.

Major win today: Getting two booties on Olive. The sound the plastic hitting the ice is hilarious. It’s what I kind of always hear in my head when she’s walking anyway – she is soooo flat-footed and the most ungraceful labrador-golden(?) I have ever seen. It’s like she’s got palapus feet – plat plat plat plat…..

I did get two booties on Mayhem, who promptly sat down and Yoda-ed her ears until I took them off, then she ran away. We both knew that was the only outcome that could ever happen.

Turn up the volume for that plat plat perfection

Dog With One Kidney

I don’t know what my damage is with posting. I’ve had this site for years and have barely touched it, but this summer I thought I would be able to get into a groove, make a schedule, put my blah blah blah out there. Then I found a lump on Max, my ten year old Labrador.

Not one of those old-dog fatty dog lumps – he’s had those for years, but a hard thing right below his rib cage. At first I thought it was just a rib. Max was on a diet so I thought maybe it was working. But, just in case, I took him to my vet, Dr. Falcon (can you believe it?). He knows me well, so if I was being paranoid he would say so and send me on my way.

But no. Instead, he knelt down, felt the lump, and took Max in for X-rays. Falcon told me it was a tumor on his spleen, and that he could do surgery that morning.

“Ok,” I said. Max had surgeries before.

“I’ll give a few minutes to say your goodbyes, just in case.”

What?

“People usually don’t find these,” Falcon told me. “The tumors burst, and you could come home to find him dead. It could burst at any second.”

So I did. I said goodbye and cried freely, as people and staff walked past me, and I didn’t care. It was heart wrenching to watch Max trot off and flirt with a vet tech, not knowing what was about to happen. I texted work, letting them know I wouldn’t be coming in, and spent the rest of the day pacing, crying, being tortured by the unknown. It was a long six hours while I waited for Falcon’s call.

I got Max the year my daughter graduated high school. He had been with me during my first marriage, through the divorce and moving into a small apartment. We walked and jogged thousands of miles together and snuggled in bed every night. He moved with me to my second husbands home, then we road tripped across the country when husband #2 was transferred.

He was steadfast and loving, and it didn’t matter where we were – I was his home.

When Falcon did finally call, he reported it wasn’t a tumor on Max’s spleen, it was a tumor wrapped around a kidney. He took out the kidney too, and it was complicated. He had almost given up.

“He has to stay here tonight,” Falcon said. “And it’s between him and God.”

Max has always been stubborn, so I counted on that. Although I’m not very woo-woo hippie, I tried to send a message to Max as I cried and cried and paced the yard: Do not die in that kennel! Fight! You can die tomorrow, or even on the way home, but not in that kennel alone and scared! Fight, Max, fight!

He fought. He came home.

It’s three and a half months later and he’s still with us, but beginning to fade. The months haven’t been easy; he basically has kidney disease and cancer. I was going to document his struggle in real time, but I couldn’t. The stress and anxiety was too much, and it was all I could do to not just curl up in bed with him and cry for days on end. I probably should have blogged, though. It may have helped.

The contortions of care and research I’ve done have been exhausting, and only in the last few days have I let myself get un-wrung, largely due to Falcon.

“Why do you need more bloodwork?” Falcon asked on our last vet visit. “It’s going to be the same or worse, and I think it’s the cancer that’s wearing him down.”

“How long do you think Max has?” I pressed.

To his credit, Falcon didn’t roll his eyes. I already knew there was no way to tell.

“Why are you even looking for that?” He said. “You need to look at the extra time you already had. Given his medical history, I’m surprised he’s made it this long.”

“We got a bonus round?”

“Exactly.”

So, that’s why I haven’t been around this summer. You dog people know what’s up. And for the first time ever I joined a Facebook group. It is for canine kidney disease and the information and valuable resources I’ve gotten out if it has really surprised me. I thought it would be a lot of people giving half-baked advice, and it is a little bit that, but mostly not.

It felt good to interact about the issue, give virtual hugs, and ask a question once in a while. I was by myself in this but I wasn’t alone.

‘Till next time, blogspace. I swear it won’t be too long this time.

Driving with Triple C’s – Cross Country Cats

Well, almost. It was South Florida to South Dakota, and with it taking five damn hours just to get out of Florida, I think I am permitted to say “cross country”.

Ok – so as soon as we learned of the work transfer, we were like yay!, immediately followed by “oh shit, cats”. Four cats of various ages and temperaments.

Yes, four cats. We’re a blended family, kaaaaay?

I won’t bore you with our details, but here’s what worked for us:

  • Before the big move: Set the carriers out for the cats to get used to. I sprayed feliway on towels and tossed them in.
  • Do trial runs: We would put the cats in the carriers and put them in the garage or around the house for a few hours. From this we learned which cats to put in first. With multi-cats, yes, there is an order. They didn’t like it, but we learned to lure them in with kitty crack (aka canned tuna).
  • For the drive: Have towels or old tee-shirts that you are willing to just toss. They will poop. They will pee. No big deal. Toss the towel, put in a new one.
  • If you have overnight stays: We did. Bring wet food (for hydration) and kitty crack. Also pack disposable or cheap litter pans with flushable litter, and a dustpan + broom to sweep up all their litter mess. (We kept the litter pans in the hotel bathrooms.)

Really, the list above is all you can do. We were so stressed about the 4-day drive for them, but in reality, they did fine. They explored the hotel room, used the litter pans, and ate a little – which was fine since they were just in crates all day.

In fact, some of the little darlings didn’t want to come out of their crates in the hotel room, and would just hang out on them. Others hogged the bed.

Our two dogs were actually more work, when we thought it would be the inverse.

Oh, also, on the DL – most pet-friendly hotels only allow two cats, but there are always side doors. We told the hotels we had pets, and they would tell us how to bring them in without going through the lobby, so staff never counted our cats. I don’t think they really minded how many cats we were bringing in, honestly.

I hope you find this info useful and lowers your stress level. Even our super nervous cat (not pictured) did just fine. Best of luck!