Dog stuff

Aug. 13th, 2014 09:55 am
I was thinking about a "30 days" blog prompt for the foster dog, and I'm not entirely sure I have enough mental bandwidth right now to post every day.

But I did start keeping thoughts together for a "Diary of Mackenzie."

July 30. Today, I have destroyed a new crate. I didn't think I could do it, but I could. I rule. Nothing shall confine me.

August 4th. Today, Karin brushed me and brushed me, and probably removed 2 lbs of hair. I am still shedding.

August 7th. Today, I growled at Jodah. It was fun to see him look all worried. But Karin put me in the time out room, and I didn't like that.

August 12th. Today, Karin was in a hurry to get to work after cleaning up things from the flooded basement. So I decided it would be a good idea to get into a fight with Riley. It didn't end well. Riley is mean. I rolled over.  Karin put me in the time out room. It was so unfair.

Good thing she's cute.

mackenzie face
So the west coast gets fire and drought, and we get flooding, apparently.

This climate change, I'm not liking it. They're calling this a 100 year event, but something deep inside of me is suspecting that we'll see things like this more often.

On Monday, we got 5.46 inches of rain in less than half a day. News reports said that 1.2 inches of that fell in less than half an hour. The flooding is insane.

This is about 4 miles from my house. I drive through this interchange often, and as of yesterday morning, there were still 12 feet of standing water on the road, even when the scary pouring water over the side of the road stopped. I can't even imagine how long until that's inspected and fixed, the one portion will have to be rebuilt. They were sending divers down to check the cars to make sure people weren't trapped down there.

So many people were affected. So many flooded basements, and sewers backing up.

There have only been two reported deaths that may be related. One young woman started having seizures after she escaped from her flooded car, and she died. She had a history of seizures though, so it's hard to tell exactly what killed her. I'm sure the stress didn't help. And one very elderly woman was found in her flooded basement, she was 100 years old and it looks like she was trying to clean up the flood.

I am so, so very lucky. I did get water in my basement, but only rainwater. The sewer and storm drains did not back up. And while I have some drying out to do, I didn't lose anything important at all. It could have been worse. My dogs were in the basement, and if it had badly flooded, they might have been able to swim over the ex-pen and to the stairs, but maybe not if it was too cold or too exhausting. There was one news story of a man who raced home to find his crated dog in the basement with only 2 inches of air at the top of his crate, but the dog lived. So scary. (And yes, the dog's name was Riley, it gives me a start every time I hear the story).

So yes, daily commutes are still pretty bad during peak times, so many highways are still closed. But in the grand scheme of  things, it could be so much worse. So much. 

Progress?

Jul. 18th, 2014 08:02 am
I'm feeling a bit like a failure at the moment. Having a third dog, one I wasn't prepared for or didn't want, would be strain by itself, but Mackenzie has some issues. I can handle keeping her separate for the dog reactivity, that's no problem. But she has some wicked separation anxiety too. And again, this isn't uncommon in rescue dogs, most of my rescue dogs have gone through a phase, and it's understandable. But Mackenzie is strong, determined, and incredibly destructive when she's in freak out mode. She's destroyed 2 of my crates, countless leashes (good thing I have more leashes than one person could reasonably use), and several old towels. I'm desperately afraid she's going to do horrible damage to her teeth or other portions of anatomy. And with my work schedule, I can't take enough time to work with her for de-sensitization. It's very frustrating. I also feel like I do nothing with my days except go to work, drive to and from work, and walk dogs (since Mackenzie can't run loose in my yard, I try very hard to get her tired out with long walks. I'm hoping she can walk with Riley in the near future so that I'm not neglecting my own dogs quite so much).

I've asked the rescue to find another foster home for her. Before school starts. They seem to be taking me seriously. They arranged for another volunteer to pick her up from my home to go to the vet for anti-anxiety drugs (as I can't really take time off right now).

On a more promising note, operation DMOI with Jodah seems to be paying off nicely. He still needs several circles/stops to prevent pulling on outbound trips, but I can see him actively trying to not pull a lot more. And as long as I can keep him under threshold, he can give me about 3 seconds of "work" at a time outbound (work being healing, pivots, touches, etc.), which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's amazing progress from a dog who was so far over threshold before on walks he couldn't do any.

On return walks, it's much better even. He can focus and heel for up to 20-30 seconds at a time, give good quality work, and we've started with a lot of play to keep things fun and rewarding for him. It's getting really fun :-)  He's still a  bit "special" and I wouldn't dare walk him with another dog and hope to keep my arm intact, but hey, progress.
Jodah has never walked well on a leash. He's a puller. A serious puller.

(stupid grass, getting in the way of an otherwise nice picture!)
9046216220_dc4ef52c79_z

This ended up getting a lot longer than I expected )
This weekend, Riley and I went to visit our former foster, Bean (now named MacBean). Riley was SO happy to see him, she always liked him so much.

He's a little chubby, but SO happy. Maybe a little worried I was going to take him away from his new home. Karen is so great with him, and after his poor placement and subsequent return, I was SO happy to see him in a home where I don't have to worry about him anymore.

Not the best picture, taken with Karen't cell phone, and MacBean still doesn't like having the camera pointed at him....

MacBean and Riley

Sadness

Jun. 14th, 2014 07:30 am
It's been a rough couple of months for my crew of former foster dogs.

Spokk (Spock while he was with me) died earlier this year, sudden bleeding out, and nothing much to be done. It wasn't unexpected, he was probably 13 years old while he was with me which would have put him at around 15 when he died, he had a gnarly cough that was probably due to living in a hoarding situation (bad ammonia lung damage from waste product buildup), I really wasn't expecting him to be around long. I actually thought I'd have him until he died, but the family that took him, bless them, gave him a wonderful last year and a half.



Scale is difficult with him. A lot of people thought he was a small guy from these pictures, when in fact he was about 55 lbs when I had him, and added another 10 after he was adopted (he probably needed 5). Yes, his ears really were that huge. If I had to guess, I'd say he was mixed with GSD.


Like most of the senior dogs that came through rescue, he had a very good idea of who he was, and he had enough life experience to know when he was in a good situation. I have learned to love fostering the old guys. He was especially wonderful, it was clear that at some point he had been very well treated and had probably always (even in the hoarding situation) been loved. He didn't have that frail, damaged personality that neglected dogs get.


I also got word that Maggie Mae died from complications of Leukemia. She would have been about 7. Way too young, and my heart hearts for that lovely family and little kids. Maggie Mae wasn't a very photogenic dog. She spent all her time in the yard staring at the other dogs while they ran. But she was a nice girl, tiny as she was.



I don't have a lot of pictures of her, but she was a lovely little thing.



I didn't have her very long. She was a nice, balanced little dog and got adopted out really quick. Her family told me that her coat really grew out after they got her (from my pictures you can see she was shaved down at some point). They weren't really email people, and they never sent any photo updates, sadly, but what few little updates I got showed how much she was loved. I never worried about her.

I adopted out a couple more senior dogs who are all approaching very senior age, so I expect to get a few more notices soon. But hopefully no more young dogs :(.
At a show a couple weeks ago, the Wisdom Panel people had a booth and were offering their DNA panel for a show price of $30 if you swabbed your dog right there. So yeah, I couldn't resist, and got one for Riley. Got the results back yesterday and I can't say I'm shocked. We knew the border collie thing, and, well, papa was a sailor:

Riley panel

They listed a couple other breeds that were under threshold but actually make a bit more sense - pointers and setters, which given the shape of her skull seem likely. I admit I don't see the Schnauzer at all, lol. They also estimated her weight at 46-70 lbs, which she fits.....barely, weighing in at 47 lbs (and she's not as lean as she could be, hard to keep such a food-stealing dog at best trim weight). I actually think, given what she looks like and what the other *known* 1/2 border collie pups I've known look like, that Riley's daddy has/had some border collie in the mix too.

In non-dog news, the house sale is...progressing. Still stressful. Inspection showed a minor foundation issue (is there such a thing? It's as minor as foundation issues can be), so we're waiting on a repair estimate for that before final price negotiations. So yeah, that's been keeping me up at night off and on. Ugh.

And otherwise, I'm just plugging away at my to-do list for the new house and for being ready for school. It's a little overwhelming, but so far I've avoided feeling bad about the slow pace. It's going to get done as it gets done.
I have a contract on the old house! Still not sold, but the process is in motion.

That is a huge relief, but I'll be stressed about it until it sells.

And there's one funny thing. Ever since I've moved in, there's been this flower bed that tulip leaves sprout from every spring, but nothing ever bloomed. I figured the bulbs were old and spent, and never worried that much about it digging them out, since they're not around all that long in the spring anyway.

Well this year, well after I'd moved out, but was still back each weekend to clean up, one of those suckers bloomed. I've decided it shall be known as the "don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out" tulip:



Also, it is unbelievable how much crap I accumulated. Stacks and stacks of old flowerpots from nurseries, because they might be useful someday? Ugh. Every bag I ever owned, too. I have donated so much junk, and one more pickup left to do, because as I suspected, when I'm unpacking, I'm finding things that I really have no idea why I kept them. That's ok, it's easy enough to keep purging now. :-)

And, I've started the process of application to a one year program to get a neurodiagnostic technologist certification. It's somewhat related to what I do now (a lot of the electrophysiology overlaps), but on humans rather than animals. It will give me a lot more flexibility in jobs, and a good exit strategy for my current job (which is getting more and more....ugh). It could even mean I had a job really close to home, there are several local hospitals and clinics with good (or better) neurology programs. And you know, even if it's routine and not ultimately rewarding, it's something different, and I'm really needing something different right now. My job has lost some luster.

So the next year and a half or so might suck with how busy I'll be. Classes at night, work during the day, and the long commute (for now). But I'm hoping that the long term outlook is pretty darn rosy.  We'll see :-) For now, it's just a matter of pulling together everything for the application, and filling all the pre-reqs. 
Got the moving truck packed up on Friday, thanks to some nifty hired labor and the moral (and packing!) support from [livejournal.com profile] sarahmichigan and from my co-worker Ann. The hired guys were great, they didn't even complain about the epic dog hair under a few of the furniture items. They were, at the end, though, saying "um, you have a lot of dog crates." Haaaa.

Here's the truck all packed and tucked into the dead-end of the street while we had our pizza:



And I managed to drive the truck to the new house without hitting anything. With [livejournal.com profile] melstav's help, I did manage to get it backed into the driveway....just barely. It was exciting. As you can see, there were only a couple inches clearance under the tree:



We got everything unloaded into the garage (with the exception of a couple of rooms, not really ready for furniture in the new place yet), and the temptation was to just collapse in an exhausted heap, but I did manage to get a few more things done. Still a lot of work to do at the old house before it can be sold. *sigh*

Jodah thought the whole thing was terribly stressful. He's been having some trouble with change, which mostly translates into refusing to eat, refusing to go outside after dark, and finding creative places to poo in the house. *sigh*

He will settle down in a couple of days again, I'm sure. 
I missed a lot of stuff! Happy very belated birthday, Rosie! I'm glad you're feeling better, Dawn! I love all the training and run videos! Sorry I'm not commenting much.

So I feel like I'm treading water with house renovations - working hard without much result. Moving truck is scheduled (but not yet booked, [livejournal.com profile] melstav, I know, I know) for a week from now, and oy.

No pictures because my card reader is in a box somewhere (I have a computer that can read them too, but it's at the old house without an internet connection). But I'm trying to document as I go.

My car has tried to die...twice. $1800 later, it's running great, but oy. Those 3 days without a car were a little rough too.

I shattered the screen on my phone. Luckily for me I have a [livejournal.com profile] melstav who is quite adept at repairing phone screens. I've given him lots of practice. I'm apparently very hard on phone screens. We counted up and this is the 4th or 5th time he's had to repair mine (in my defense, I didn't break  my phone each of those times. Once was a child using my phone as a ball, once was a crack as it was repaired....the rest were me though).

The new house is fantastic, but it has its quirks. There is apparently a family of grackles (I thought they were grackles but they're smaller) starlings that are obsessed with the place. They are flying in through the gutter on the south side of the house and going...somewhere. I hear faint rustlings in the walls. :-/

After a few days of rustling in the kitchen (I really thought I must have mice, but wasn't too worried because the cat and both dogs are hunters, mice wouldn't last long), late one evening, I opened the diswasher and a bird sort of half fell out. I might have made a noise. Because I was the only human in the house (and the dogs aren't telling) I will insist that it wasn't a girly scream. The poor thing had died, wedged between the top of the dishwasher and the cabinet. I had to undo some bolts and find the pry-bar to get its little body free.

The cat is having a blast. This is maybe the first cat I've had that wasn't seriously freaked out about a move. She thinks this is pretty cool. She has tried to kill herself, though. I noticed she didn't have her collar and her ears were all scraped up, and I knew she'd gotten hung up somewhere (yay for breakaway collars). I later found the collar in one of the holes in the kitchen that were left when I took the drawers and cabinets down to paint. Oy.

The dogs are awesome. They are very happy to be somewhere where I walk more. Training is completely out the window for now. We'll get back to it eventually. Someday. 
House renovations have been focusing on 2 rooms, the bedroom (also known as the "Barney" room for it's purple and green decor) and the Kitchen.

Progress in pictures:

Lots of house pics )
but I'm tired from packing and hauling, and have too much of my mental headspace taken up with to-do lists.

So saving it for future reference: http://io9.com/one-of-the-best-habits-for-happy-living-may-also-be-the-1539895498/@whitsongordon

Strong correlation between happiness and self-acceptance, and on the balance between complacency and the desire to make things better (and self-acceptance != complacence).
I took a few days off from work this week, ostensibly to work on the (old) house, but also just to get stuff done I can't do while I'm at work.

So I took Riley to the vet this morning, and had the same discussion about vaccinating for parvo-distemper every 3 years (I really don't see why this is even an issue with them, geeze). Riley has also had a minor slab fracture on her right upper molar for a couple years. I've just been watching it. A few days ago, she was chewing a bone and gave a little cry and stopped, and I of course thought of that tooth, took a look and couldn't see any new issues, and the gum was all normal and pink, so I just made a mental note to mention it to the vet again this visit. Well, we got there today and her gum is flaming red and oozing pus, so clearly something changed. Oy. So a round of antibiotics for us and a trip back to the vet to get that molar pulled in about 10 days. Poor girl.

And for packing, I'm feeling pretty good. I am so grateful I got a decluttering/cleaning bug this past summer and fall, because it has really helped. I now have 2 bedrooms completely "done." I've designated one the "everything in this room goes to the new place" room, and the other as "everything in this room gets sold, donated, or recycled" room. The bedroom I'm currently using for, you know, sleeping is actually mostly done too, just the closet left. And there's a stack of boxes along one wall, too.

Of course, I did the easy rooms first. So this leaves what's technically the dining room, but I use as the dog room + office + kitchen overflow. I made some progress there during a decluttering spree, but there's still a ways to go. There's an old crappy desk in there (one that will not be moving), and the drawers are full of "stuff."

And then (cue theme from "Jaws,") there's the basement. The dog training room isn't bad, but the back part...there are boxes down there I haven't opened for years. Leftovers from various roommates, and other horrors. That should be fun.

But still, progress. Sarah is coming over to help some tomorrow, which will be very motivating, I'm sure.

T minus 18 days and counting.
This woman volunteers for the same rescue I do, and the dog was adopted via the rescue 3 years ago. She's done so well with him, and I'm in love with him....

I got into downward dog pose today. First time since July, when this whole mess started. It wasn't particularly graceful or pretty, but I got there.

By my unofficial measures:

forward flexion and extension are almost normal. Maybe 5-10 degrees less than my good shoulder, and it still feels tight and sore at max range. At it's worst, this was maybe 90 degrees from normal, so vast improvement here.

abduction is more limited, but also improving. Maybe 45-50 degrees different from the good shoulder, and weak in comparison (and sore at max range). At it's worst, this was about 100-120 degrees from normal, so lots of improvement here.

Internal rotation across my body (front) is normal, not sore, and feels strong. This never got too bad. It used to hurt, but I didn't lose more than 5-10 degrees. It is still more limited behind my back, but it's getting there. "normal" for me for behind my back is really hyper-extension, so I may never get that back. That's ok.

External rotation (always been the worst and weakest) still quite limited and sore. That's ok. I was warned that this would be the last direction to recover, so I'll keep working on it.

Packing and carrying (and stress?) have fired up some of the knots and spasms in my upper back again. I need a massage (and I'll go get one sometime next week). But still, I really can't complain. There's also a trend of having a few painful days every once and a while. I don't entirely know if it's true, but it does seem like these coincide with improvements in range of motion, and that's a nice narrative for me to use (it's much more encouraging than thinking it's backsliding), so I'm going with it. 
Do you wonder what time it is halfway across the world? Do you wonder why [livejournal.com profile] penichops hasn't answered your post yet, and then started to wonder if it was the middle of the night for her? Wonder if [livejournal.com profile] biggmellon is sleeping during her vacation?

I'm going to keep this bookmarked somewhere. It's pretty damn good.

http://xkcd.com/1335/
The dogs are a little stir crazy. Lots of training in the basement, and when the weather isn't dangerously cold, we play in the back yard in the snow.

I finally started teaching Jodah how to weave (yeah, I know, I know, how old is he? But in my defense, I still don't see him competing in agility anytime soon). I was dithering for so long on methods, and I had bad experiences with everyone telling me I was teaching Riley wrong, obviously. And I wanted to not mess him up. It turns out that just maybe I'm a better trainer now than when I trained Riley. Go figure ;)

My hesitation wasn't helped by the fact that I don't have access to channel weaves. My own set of weave poles is high quality, but older (I got them FREE, I'm not complaining), with 22" spacing, and they're weave-o-matics rather than fixed. With Riley, I don't care, I just lock them in upright, she's good enough to work on fixed poles.

So teaching Jodah has been fun. I'm using a rough approximation of the 2x2 method, as best I can without independent blocks of 2 poles. It's actually going really fast, Jodah can find entrances really well, with just some hesitation on soft-side entrances if I'm back fairly far. Improving fast. It went fast enough that I have actually let him run all 6 poles a few times. He has no idea about footwork (and I'm going to go find him some 24" poles sooner rather than later so he doesn't get too used to the shorter distance), but he has the idea down really well. And he's so hilariously different from Riley. Riley wanted to watch me the whole time to make sure she was right, it was really hard to get her more independent. Jodah doesn't want to slow down so I can help him. If I start him over he's all "OK I CAN GET THIS" and barrels on ahead. I love that. It's also been a while since I've taught him something that has really made him think hard, and I love watching his gears turn.

Oh, and the rescue is bringing in a new foster (not for me, I'm not going to take one until after I move, if I move). He's a sable, and adorable, in that sad shelter way. He's so cute I bet he won't be around long, the "cool" color dogs tend to get snapped up quick.

It's weird how morning temps below zero start to feel normal after a while. -4 by the bank clock as I drove by this morning. There was a weather alert for freezing fog, and I admit I consider very cold-weather fog to be a new  phenomenon to me. I'm used to "the air is warmer than the snow" snow fog, and I've certainly seen frosty mornings, but this freezing fog is weird.

View from my office this morning:



And yeah, I resonate so much with this post (I know I link to her stuff a lot, but she really tickles me, and I love how she loves her dogs). They've got it worse than I do, but the sentiment holds.

On the plus side, we're not forecast to get (significant) snow all week! And we may actually get a brief thaw next week! 
I've been ready to be done with winter for so long now. It seems like we've gotten a major storm every weekend since before christmas. Record breaking snowfall for January .Can't we pack it up and send it over to the west coast where they really need it?). So far, with our second major storm bearing down on us for the month, February is looking to continue the trend.

And though I sort of rolled my eyes at the new trend for naming winter storms, I was annoyed by the name "Maximus" for last weekend's storm (really, it's just asking for trouble), I was heartily amused to find out that tonight's storm is named for my cat.

So yeah, Nika will inflict carnage and destruction upon the midwest tonight. (warning - auto-playing video at the link, sorry, I know that's annoying).

Edit - my link broke! But I think this one is better anyway, and maybe will last longer.

You're afraid, right?

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