Not my picture, stolen from teh interwebs:
Finals week for winter quarter. Passed my practical exam last night, which was the one I was most worried about. 2 more exams to go. Competed my first clinical rotation with an A grade, and a comment that they'd welcome me back for an externship (woo!).
Took a break from studying this past weekend to put mulch down and prune the shurbbery/trees in the dog yard, with "help" from Riley ("so many sticks!"), Jodah ("you're really here to throw my Frisbee, right?"), Melstav and oldest kidlet ("you didn't really mean to put all the dog toys in this bin, right? Surely I should scatter them back around the yard"). I probably won't get grass really growing in this yard until I fence off another area for the dogs to use for a couple months, but the mud should be tamped down a bit, anyway. Maybe less will make it into my house. A woman can hope.
Found Jodah's ID tag in the mud in the back yard (not even in the dog yard), exactly 2 days after I'd ordered a replacement tag. So at least now I'll have a backup, and he won't have to wear the foster-dog tag again.
It's probably been forever since I posted, but yeah, school is intense this term already. My grades last term were quite good, so I'm hoping I can keep that up, but yeah, the practical course is kicking my butt a bit. And I'm not the only one.
The dogs are good! And will be enjoying the snow, for sure. We played a bit yesterday, and I'll try to get some new snow pictures today :-)
In the mean time, have some pictures from Saturday, when the sun was shining, and there was a lot of competition for the sunny spot on the big fluffy dog bed:
Yeah, black dogs in the sun, the cell phone doesn't quite know how to handle that, but hey.
Nika, since she hasn't had much camera time lately:
I'll pull out the good camera today. I need to update on Riley's ear, it healed really well, but yeah, it looks different from the other one. And it seems a bit prone to getting funky-smelling, like just the start of a fungal infection, so the cleanings are happening often, much to her dismay.
Here's the "before." This is actually from before I bought the house, back last February:
Here's almost exactly the same view, today (quick, before I let the dogs loose to cause mayhem!):
I had to close the blinds for color balance. Here's one with the blinds open, a bit of detail:
It feels awfully good to have it done.
The main thing I really really really wanted to get done was to paint the living room. I've had the dining room done for months, and it just sort of transitioned into the bland, institutional-looking decor that used to be througout the house in the living room. It's not a small job, I still had to nail/caulk in all the trim and prep the walls, and the color scheme is complicated - a band of dark brown (to mimic wood) crown molding with some dark paint above that in the transition zone between wall and the white ceiling (which also had to be painted, the former "decorators" used the same paint for walls and ceiling), and pale walls and white trim. As of this morning, everything is done but the white trim, which should take me just a couple hours after the sun comes up, and then after it dries, I can take all the furniture out of my dining room and put it back where it belongs (YAAAAY).
Not that there weren't some hiccups along the way. The day after Christmas, I came down with a nasty stomach bug. Spent the night puking, and the next day and a half feeling like a zombie. Ugh.
As I was patching holes in the walls, I hear a noise, look back, and Jodah is carefully, delicately licking the spackle paste out of each and every hole.
But this will be really satisfying, oh yes.
Other things I've gotten done: I took Jodah to the closest "self serve" dog wash for a bath and blow-out. It was a bit expensive for what it was, not that much cheaper than the gromer around the corner charged, but I'm still glad I did it. Their "shed package" took the edge off the cost, too, with some special shampoo forumlation (which they diltue down and put in shake-bottles for you, which is a nice touch that I didn't expect to like) and time at the blow-driers. Given it was 15 degrees that day, I was for sure going to blow him dry, but it was a bit rough on the poor guy. He's already noise sensitive, so I expected that, but he really hated the instinctive back-and-forth motion of the air blast, so I kept that to a minimum, and he also hated the loose hair flying around, he kept expecting attacks. And yes, he's so much better now, shedding down to a dull roar, and that layer of dense greasy undercoat is gone. I guess Jodah's a bit less wash-and-wear than I want him to be, haa.
I haven't done quite as much cooking as I wanted to, but still enough so that my freezer is stocked with single-serve meals for lunches and quick dinners. And I still have ingredients for black-eyed peas and greens to make, I'm probably looking at sunday, but I may take out the ham hocks and simmer them for stock today while I finish the living room.
Overall, this break has been very good. While getting sick sucked, at least it didn't happen on a day where I'd have had to miss work or school (or worse, attempt to drag myself there before I was well again). And it was so nice to get some uninterrupted time to work on the house, I haven't had that since mid-summer sometime.
I did like the vet. An older, Indian guy who did all his initial training in India, and got a PhD here in the states before he went back to get his license. In fact, he did some reproductive endocrinology work just up the hill from where I work at U of Michigan. I'm not sure why he's in private practice again, but I'd give it a guess that it has to do with the same reasons I'm looking to leave research...
But anyway, he was very good. Riley handled having her bandage cut off just fine, and he didn't want to re-bandage her. He said just to leave the cone on, especially if the ear drains at all (it'll cut down on the splatter), but other than that, I can just put a bit of stockinette over he head babushka style if she gets antsy about rubbing or scratching it.
I talked with him about the anesthesia issue, and he went through the record very carefully, and asked me if the emergency center vet was young. Riley was, in fact, overdosed on butorphenol, not the stand-alone dose, but in combination with dexdomitor. And that likely caused the extreme bradycardia and apnea. So, I'm still thinking about how to handle that, whether I should send a letter to the emergency clinic so they don't actually kill some other person's dog.
And possibly the most concerning: he was worried that since Riley didn't have an ear infection and hadn't been doing much head-shaking that I'd seen that this may have been caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder. So I guess I have some research to do, and she has a pred course and taper now on top of the antibiotics and pain meds.
I just left Riley at the emergency vets.
Her ear blew up at some point, totally a mess, big hematoma. They're going to surgical resolve it and tack it down (I used to call it "quilting") and do some labwork to see if they can figure out why a healthy dog without an ear infection suddenly got a bleed.
I know she'll be fine, but I hate leaving her.
And her perfect little folded ear will be no more, destined to be a little funny looking for the rest of her life, poor thing.
Edit/Update: It was a rough night. She didn't handle sedation/anesthesia well at all, and we ended up getting home around 1am after she finally woke up. Better today.
Days until solstice: 10
Days until exams are done for this quarter: 7
Days until the grant is submitted at work: 3
Number of times the "paper from hell" has been submitted at work: 5
Number of times radiologists will call me back for more mammogram views: 2+?
Months Jodah is late for his vaccine boosters: 3
Days I have unscheduled over the holiday break: 5
Number of things I want to get done in those days: countless
ozdobe, I hope you get your hearing back in your left ear soon, but in case you don't, so you don't feel so alone, let me tell you a few perks you might have not realized yet. I lost hearing in my right ear over 20 years ago now, and after a few surgeries I sometimes have some hearing and sometimes I'm pretty deaf, depending on the day. I wear a hearing aid on that side.
1) you will quickly adjust to things like where to sit in the movie theatre, or in a lecture hall, so you can both see the front of the room and angle your good ear towards best sound. For me, this is the left side of the room so I can look at the speaker and have my good ear angled to them too (I'm guessing it'll be the opposite for you)
2) Since you only have one good "phone ear," you have a great excuse to get out of long phone conversations. "Sorry mom, my phone ear is all flattened, and I have a crick in my neck from holding the phone, so I have to hang up now. Can't switch ears!"
3) Your friends will all learn quickly what side of you to walk on when you walk together.
4) You'll become very opinionated about where you sit at large tables, so your good ear will be angled towards the most people. Circular tables present a problem, though.
5) You know that annoying person with the chronic sniffle sitting next to you? No problem, put them on your deaf side. Problem solved.
6) You will start to sleep much more soundly, because you body will gravitate towards sleeping with your good ear muffled by a pillow. Your world will be so quiet as you sleep. You'll make ripnpaws jealous, since you just won't hear the dogs obsessively licking at night. Buy a vibrating alarm, or use your phone alarm and rest your phone on the bed.
This past week, I'd been noticing that Jodah was moving a little funny. I KNOW he banged up his bad knee (the one missing all the hair and some soft tissue from being hit by a car when he was a puppy - before I had him) blasting out of the X-pen. He knows how to wait and leave politely, I swear, but yeah, impulse control, he struggles. But then it was clear it wasn't his knee. He was bunny-running in the yard, no split-leg running at all, and when he peed, he was hunching up his back all oddly. I had conflicting reactions:
1) CRAP, I don't have time to rehab a dog injury right now
2) I am a terrible person for even thinking that, and of course I'd figure something out
3) I wonder how much this will cost...
And Friday afternoon, I sat on the floor and pulled him into my lap (he loves this, actually, it's how we do brushing and just hanging out), and I was trying to feel along his back and his belly for sore spots...and I find:
Little tangled mats on either side of his sheath. Probably each about the size of a dime, but pulling hair from all over his groin. He doesn't have a lot of fur "down there," but he has long fine guard hairs, and yeah, just enough to make a mat that pulls on the super-tender skin of his belly and groin. So yeah, I cut those out, and lameness and weird movement solved.
So I guess I'm adding that to the list of "places to check Jodah for mats" when I brush him. Poor guy!!
And beyond that, nothing much changing. School is getting intense, finals are in 2 weeks, and yeah. I am SO VERY MUCH looking forward to semester break. Oy.
This photo is from last year, but I think it is a pretty good indication of how Jodah feels about tangled fur around his junk:
I was at school lots, I am very tired, and it was colder this week than last week. I'm getting used to walking the dogs in the dark.
I am not getting used to trying to pick up dog poop in the dog yard in the dark. The fallen leaves don't help.
In all seriousness, the time change this week was hard on me. I know that the "fall back" change is supposed to be the easier one, but the night classes are just killing me, it feels like I'm sitting in that room until midnight.
I blew up the vacuum cleaner last weekend. It started making a terrible noise and then smoke poured out of it. I'm thinking that's bad. I'm going to try to get it into the Dyson repair shop tomorrow and I guess I'll see. I still have my ancient hoover vacuum, it had been living in the basement to be the "dog room" vacuum cleaner. It doesn't do well on carpets, but it does ok on hard floors, and I'll make do until I get a real vacuum functional again.
And I'm really thinking hard about what I should do for my dogs. I feel like I barely see them, but it would be really good if I had some quality time, even a few minutes on my school days. Maybe some new tricks to work on? I dunno. Walks are going to get a bit more dicey in the winter. I'm not going to be comfortable walking in the dark once the sidewalks/streets ice over, and even now with limited time my morning walks are short. So I'm going to have to find SOMETHING. And the big walks can happen on weekends. Poor dogs.
Also, this lack of spell check (does Chrome just not play well with LJ anymore? zomg) can bite me.
One of my frustrations is being taught "neuroscience" by people who clearly have less education in the topic than I do. I've worked in the field for almost 20 years, I have a solid (even if not detailed) understanding of neuro-mechanics and far more physics/engineering background than anyone in the class.
So I'm dealing with test questions that are so twisted from the source materiel that they're flat out misleading, but other students in the class are doing fine because they're just memorizing the study guide. So I'm endeavoring to practice "Learning for the test" and memorizing each instructors peculiar idiosyncrasies. It's very annoying.
BUT, on the other hand, I'm learning a ton about an area I knew nothing about before, and my practical-lab instructors are excellent, which is really good. And I fully intend to be blunt in my course review. You know, after they give me my certificate.
Dog stuff that's happened:
I was out running errands one morning, and had pulled off to the side of the road to use my phone to google alternate bank locations since mine was closed, and someone pulled up next to me, rolled down her window, and said "do you know anyone who's lost their dog?" and I look over and there's an adorable border collie leaping around her back seat. SO CUTE. SO MANY CURLS.
So I pull out my cell phone, snap a couple pictures, and send an email to one of my rescue contacts so she can put the word out on facebook. I mean, this is CLEARLY someone's dog, right? She looks like she just scooted out from someone's back yard, muddy nose and all. Except she sat for a week in this woman's home with no claim, and her finder REALLY tried - posting to the statewide lost and found facebook dog group, posted on craigslist, calls and photos sent to the local shelters, and calls to animal control. I actually don't know what ultimately happened, except that her finder was committed to NOT taking her to a shelter, so I don't know if the home was eventually found, or if she did a private re-home and/or adoption. Such a cute girl! I hope she has a smooth landing, wherever she went.
The other good thing that happened since my last post is that Mackenzie, my foster dog, was adopted. They drove up to get her from the trainer's home (and oy, there was drama with this trainer, but that's a separate issue and a separate post), and I met them on their way back downstate. Such a lovely couple, and Mackenzie was obviously very happy with them, but she was REALLY SURPRISED to see me there, too, which was adorable. She's such a funny dog, I really hope they appreciate her and are as fantastic a home as they seem.
(and google auto-awesome cracks me up)
The first week of classes was fun, and not too difficult. I suspect that this will change as the semester continues, but I'm grateful for the slower start, since I'm also sorting out the logistics of managing my life around the new hours.
The dog-walker seems ok, the dogs like her, and there are poops in the yard when I get home, so I know she's letting them out. I'm not sure she's playing with them out there, though, I don't think she likes getting her clothes dirty (and yeah, Jodah and frisbees and dirt, you'll get slimed). And she writes more in the communication book about the cat than the dogs. Don't get me wrong, the cat is social, but I'm paying her to hang with my dogs ;-)
Most of the first week has been review, but it's become obvious to me that I'm going to be harassing all my local friends (you are warned!) to let me measure and mark up their heads with china markers. Apparently measurement and electrode placement takes heaps of practice to get fast enough to work clinically. So they try to get us really good at that before and while we start looking at EEGs/waveforms. We don't even get into other neurophysiology until 3rd and 4th quarters.
I can tell already that I'm going to get really tired of eating in my car, and driving.
I drove Mackenzie up to her new foster-person on Sunday afternoon. It was funny, the day started out pretty mild, so I was wearing sandals and capri-length shorts, but it got COLD as some storms came through, and the wind was really brisk, so I was feeling pretty foolish. We met in Pinconning, at one of the cheese factories there, so of course I had to pick up some cheese to take home. Tasty!
And then on the way back, I was transporting a puppy back down-state. PUPPY! She was maybe 8 weeks old, and freaking adorable. This is not my picture, and it's not the best, but you get the idea. She was an excellent traveler, pottying outside whenever we stopped, and her only "tantrums" seemed to happen when she needed a potty stop. She did have a set of lungs on her, though, wow.
(not my picture, I didn't think to take one):
I know - cute, right? omg. It was good I had to hand her off.
And this morning, before work, I really realized how much extra time Mackenzie had taken of my mornings. I had time to play with both my dogs and do some quick training before I started drivng to work. Best "free" time ever. Now just to maintain that on school mornings, since that's pretty much the only time the poor dogs will see me those days.
I still have my foster dog, Mackenzie. She's now getting along fine with Riley and Jodah, after a few bumps here and there. I had one interested adopter, but he wasn't really prepared for her "issues," so that didn't work out. I have my eye on another application, but if she's not interested, I'll go ahead and push the rescue to find a new foster home for the girl.
In a few weeks, I'm starting school for a neurodiagnostic technologiest certification. It's a brick-and-mortar school, thankfully close to home, 3 nights a week. I'm planning on continuing to work as close to full-time as I can manage for the duration of the program. So if I don't post much for a year, you know why ;-)
It's going to be an interesting shift, from working mostly with animals (clinical veterinary practice and labatory work) to working with humans. The pay will be substantially better in the long term, I think. I hope, anyway. In any case, it should allow me to have a job much closer to home, and the cut in commute costs (and time) will be most welcome.
I'm already feeling guilty for the lack of activities and extra time I'll have for my dogs. I'll have to find ways to make it up to them on weekends and the few evenings each week I have free. Thank the gods for dogs who find a good game of fetch and quick training sessions (even if just upstairs) very rewarding.
One thing we've both enjoyed a lot is when I drive him up to the wooded neighborhood park and let him run on the flexi around the path. He gets a ton of exercise, and it's a bit of relief from the "walk nicely" training and attention, you know? I don't have to be 100% on, and can just enjoy walking with him.
And Riley is indeed famous! I got my copy of Fenzi's (highly marketed!) new book, and Riley's picture is in it, in the glossary next to the entry for "obsessive compulsive disorder." (LOL). The book itself seems pretty good, and all the photographs make it a lot of fun to leaf through.