Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weebsclaw: The conclusion

When last we left our snickety girl, she was hobbled (well, not really --- that I would have noticed) by an ingrown dewclaw.

We got her to the vet accompanied by the oh-so-not-soothing soundtrack of her most passionate diva-wailing during the car ride. I don't know about your cats, but mine have a predisposition to yowl as though you're about to throw them down a well during the entire car ride, only to succumb to utter muteness once they cross the threshold of the veterinary office. As we waited for our room to open up, you'd have thought we came in alone. And yes, for the record, both the spouse and I go to vet appointments if possible. Just part of the beauty that makes us, us.

We got lucky and drew Dr. Holland for the day's event. I have yet to get overly excited or gushy about most of the vets I've encountered since moving here eight years ago, but in this case I think we got exactly the right guy. Friendly, polite, and quick with a hemostat, Dr. Holland was able to pop out the chunk of claw with one good tug.

It was a pretty decent-sized piece, which made me even happier that I didn't do it myself. I considered taking a picture for the blog, but then I'd have to explain to the doctor and the tech why I was taking the picture and I didn't want the "weirdo" moniker on my chart so soon after finding someone who was so nice to Weebs, so I opted out. I will say it was substantial enough that the doctor joked that we might be able to wear it on a chain around our neck, should we be inclined.

Once safely at home, Weebs decided that since she was feeling better, it was time to play up her injury for all it was worth. She begged for everything. Seriously. I think in another life she may have been one of those cats who lives behind restaurants eating out of dumpsters, because it's the rare piece of food that holds no interest for her. So, after good doses of Stella & Chewy's, freeze-dried salmon, crunchy treats and a shot at a piece of macaroni and cheese (where she finally decided to act cat-like and turn her nose up at something), she was sated. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who, you may ask, is deserving of such a lofty title? Why, that'd be me.

And how might I have earned such a unique place in my own blog? Well, for starters, I'm supposed to be a fairly observant pet owner (or she-servant, as I think the pets refer to me behind my back). Theoretically I keep a reasonable eye on them for signs of illness or distress, and to this day I'm still delusional enough to believe that I do a pretty good job of it.

So how did I miss seeing that Weeble's dewclaw had grown into her foot until this weekend? 

Mom done me wrong!
There she was, dozing on the bed, just like she pretty much always does in the mornings, what with her twelfth birthday just a few months away. I went in to rub her sleepy head and as she stretched out her leg  realized I was seeing an awfully large swath of claw on her left leg. It took another fifteen seconds or so to realize that the reason I was seeing so much was because her nail was completely exposed as it rounded back over her pad and disappeared into her skin.

Seeing her foot, I felt two inches tall.

How long did it take for this to happen? Why hadn't she complained more, or done more limping? Geez, try to stay in bed for ten minutes past 5 a.m. and she'll act like the house is on fire, but have a claw work its way back into her body and not a peep.

We tried to clip it on Saturday, in an effort to relieve the pressure of it all being attached, but the Weebs is a hideous patient and the claw is really pressed against her leg, so I only got about halfway through. On Sunday, we gave it another go. This time I was able to clip the claw itself, but when it came time to try and pull out the part that is embedded I chickened out, for lack of decent enough tools and hearing the conviction of her yowls as I put any real pressure on her foot. I decided I'd rather pay someone else than to further be the first-hand inflicter of pain --- someone who might actually know what they are doing and has access to drugs should they decide it's not good marketing if the folks in the waiting room think they've decided to reduce the cost of surgery by not using anesthesia.

She heads to the vet Tuesday afternoon, which will be a highly traumatic event for her (and apparently for me as well). Thus far, just for trying to clip the nail she has refused to sleep in her normal spot for the past two nights, such is her delicate little psyche.

By the time she gets home from the vet, she'll probably move into Darby's bedroom with him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Doodle and the mystery bones

I’ve never thought much the pool guy bringing Darby a treat every week when he arrives to perform the weekly maintenance on our cement pond. I’m guessing there are several houses on his route where he encounters dogs, so keeping treats in his pocket just makes sense. Darby adores Mr. Cantu with an unreserved abandon, going into complete “OMG OMG OMG!!!!! He’s Baaaacccccckkkkkk!! Hurry so we don’t miss him!!” meltdown when the truck pulls up on Fridays, flipping donuts on the carpet until his dad lets him out into the backyard to fawn all over his friend (and collect his weekly treat allowance). If there was ever a non-family member whom I’d consider to look after the Doodle, it would be Mr. Cantu. The two of them are quite besotted with each other, which is a pretty big deal for a dog who is easily stressed by strangers.

Lately, though, it appears that Mr. Cantu may have a rival for Darby’s affections. A couple of weeks ago I noticed the occasional Milk-Bone in the house. Knowing this is something we never purchase, I thought perhaps the neighbors (whom Darby has yet to love the way he loves Mr. Cantu) were trying to feed their way into his heart. I typically only notice the treats as I walk in the door at night and they tend to leave my train of thought as quickly as they leave my sight-line.

Eventually I got around to asking my husband about the mysterious Milk-Bones and their sudden, random appearance in our home.

“Where are these Milk-Bones coming from?”

“The mail carrier. She leaves them in the mailbox with our mail a couple of times a week.”  

“The mail carrier? Why is the mail-lady leaving dog treats in our mailbox?”

“I have no idea,” he replied. “Maybe she likes seeing Darby at the window. She can definitely hear him.”

See, I’d get it if we had one of the mailboxes that’s hanging right outside the door, where the mail carrier would come up close and personal-like to Darby every day, what with him stationing himself at the window every afternoon, just waiting for her truck to roll by so he can flip out (as is his wont to do). But you can literally park three cars end-to-end in our driveway before you get to where the mailbox is located. There’s no tactical advantage to leaving love treats for a pup who will never know you brought them.

Which leaves only one explanation: She likes him. Somehow the combination of floppiness, bark-howl and dedication to mail patrol makes Darby someone who appeals to her sensibilities, and in turn she’s appealed to the one thing that truly matters in his world: his stomach.

Newly aware that the Doodle has a new fan, we did the only thing that seemed right. We made some brownies and left a couple for her. In the mailbox, of course.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paws for Japan

Bloggers throughout the Internet are asking people to help support animal rescue efforts in Japan in the wake of the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami.

Please take a moment to check out some of the terrific blogs associated with this cause and consider a donation to  World Vets, who have people on the ground in Japan to help provide relief.

Disaster preparedness and your pets

The recent disaster in Japan has just about everyone thinking about disaster preparedness, particularly when you live in a state with a history of earthquakes, a bunch of coastline and a couple of nuclear power plants. As a pet owner, I’m certain you will want to include your pets in any and all preparations you make, so here’s a quick list of items you should have on hand in case of a disaster where you have to evacuate quickly.

You should have one carrier per pet. I know us cat owners can get a little slack about this, keeping one carrier around and trading off which cat goes to the vet on what day, but if there’s an emergency at your house you’ll need a separate one for each cat, so why not go ahead and get them now? I also highly recommend getting one for the dog, even if your dog has never needed to know the inside of a crate during their training years. Should the disaster be one where you are out of your home for a bit; a fire, flood or earthquake, you and your dog will both appreciate having a place where they can go and rest, secure from everything else going on around them. There are many excellent crates that fold up and down like card tables, so grab yourself one per dog and have them on hand.

Get a duffle bag and put in the essentials you will need for a week or so for your pets. You should include food, food dishes, an extra leash and collar, a few days worth of medication, a plastic cat litter tray and cat litter. It sounds like a lot, but remember that in the event of a true emergency there’s a good chance the corner store won’t be open to help you out, should you forget something. Freeze-dried food is very light and has a great shelf life, followed by canned food. If you add canned food to your kit, remember to include a can opener. Lightweight plastic dishes can be temporary food and water dishes, and there are plenty of lighter alternatives to clay or “scoopable” litter that are great cat box options. If there’s room, add in a few toys or treats. Include a paper with your veterinarian’s name, address and phone number. Finally, include a few photos of each of your pets, should they become separated from you.

Once you’ve got the duffle packed, make sure you place a stash of drinkable water in plastic containers next to the bag, ready to grab and go. Add a few blankets or towels on top of the duffle bag to use in the carriers, or to replace any towels that might get soiled.

Check your pet’s ID tags and make sure they include a cell phone number. Having your home phone number isn’t going to help if you’ve been evacuated and someone is trying to get your lost pet back to you. If you have your pets microchipped, make sure your contact information is updated with the microchip company, including a cell phone number.

Finally, make sure these items are stored some place where they can be quickly and easily accessed. Having carriers stashed out in the back shed or in the rafters of the garage won’t help if you’ve got to move quickly.

Check the contents of your disaster kit a couple of times a year so you can rotate out old items and replace them with fresh ones. A great time to do this is when you change the time on your clocks, much like you check your batteries in your smoke detectors.

Remember, in the event of an emergency, a little preparation can go a long way to keeping your four-footed family members safe.

P.S. The Search Dog Foundation has deployed teams from California to help victims of the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can help support their efforts. Head to for details.

*Written for the Bakersfield Voice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Petfinder!

Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of Petfinder, one of the greatest resources for adoptable pets ever created. 

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

At any given moment, hundreds of thousands of adoptable pets are waiting on the pages of Petfinder for their forever homes. Potential adopters can search the site by breed, age or location and can search the Petfinder database for rescue groups in their area.

Since this fabulous site came along, people looking for adoptable pets have a one-stop option for taking a peek at all of the available animals in their area, many offered by small rescue groups who might otherwise exist all but unnoticed by the public at large. Now, just a few clicks of a mouse and anyone can see an adorable guy like Raj!

On behalf of all of the folks who work so tirelessly to get adoptable pets into loving homes, thank you Petfinder, for everything you do to help us make love connections with caring owners, creating new families four paws at a time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Of little dogs and big shakes

Darby appears to be on the mend, as I mentioned on Facebook over the weekend. Though I continue to have concerns that at some point a surgical intervention will be needed to deal with his knee issues, it looks like that time may be later, rather than sooner. The meds we got from his doctor seem to be doing the trick and he’s back to being his noisy, happy little self, for which I am grateful.

I wanted to share this info over the weekend, but to be honest with you, with all of the destruction and sorrow currently taking place in Japan, it felt almost disrespectful to be rejoicing over a floppy little white dog’s leg feeling better. Like many of you, my weekend was filled with checking on news about the status of Japan following the host of disasters they continue to face as I type this post. My heart goes out to everyone there, human and animal alike, as they come to grips with the magnitude of the disaster.

In the face of situations like the one in Japan, I am perpetually grateful to see the public will rise to the occasion, providing whatever help they can to the victims of disasters. We were able to help Dog Bless You reach 100,000 “likes” before the weekend was out, which will generate a $200,000 donation from the Annenberg Foundation for disaster relief in Japan. The organization World Vets is currently mobilizing to go to Japan to assist in relief efforts for pets and animals injured or displaced during the earthquake and tsunami. In addition, search and rescue teams from California have been deployed to Japan to search for survivors. If you have a couple of dollars to spare these groups can certainly use your support.

Paws crossed that Mother Nature settles down long enough for the people of Japan to catch their breath and get on the path to recovery.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And the verdict is...

Puppy Darby.
To those of you who were kind enough to extend warm wishes and drop me messages of concern, thank you so much. I truly appreciate it.

Darby was doing a fair bit better on Monday, so I decided not to jam up the vet’s phone at the crack of dawn and instead left a little space for one of the dozen or so folks who would undoubtedly be calling as well. We ended up heading over to the veterinary office on Tuesday morning for his visit.

The tentative diagnosis from the doctor is that he may have a tear in his ACL (which I doubt) and his kneecap is loose (which I don’t doubt) , which, if you’ve been around a while, is pretty much the exact same diagnosis we got last year at this time. Due to the level of Darby’s anxiety (which sounds much nicer than “spazziness”), he will need to be sedated and have x-rays taken to confirm.  The doctor also gave us pain meds so we can take some time to see if it stabilizes on its own with a little time and rest.

So, although we’re a bit bummed that we may have to wander this particular path again with the Doodlebug, we take care of our own and we’ll do what’s necessary to see to his care. Today I just thank the great dog in the sky that dogs only have two knees.

And I promise a nicer story coming up soon.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The sad tale of the damaged Doodle

Yesterday was such a beautiful day down here in the south end of California's Central Valley. Following our completed Saturday rounds, the spouse and I settled in the backyard to enjoy the late afternoon sun, the air and the critters. Weather like this draws the cats out, as it's warm enough to comfortably rest their aging frames in the sunny spot of their choice.

Darby was busy being his Doodlebug self, zipping around after the birds who dared to light on the lawn, barking at the neighbor dog to try and draw him to the fence line and coming back our way repeatedly so we could egg him on to his next adventure.

Then came Bob, the neighborhood cat who, judging by his frame, is pretty well fed by someone but doesn't seem to ever get indoors, as we find him hanging around at all hours of the day and night. Given the frequency with which he bounces over to visit us (when Darby's safely indoors, as Bob is a bright boy), we're of the mind that he may be angling for an upgrade from family friend to family member, but I digress.

Bob rarely comes into the yard when Darby's outdoors, but every once in a while the dogs on the other side of the fences seem far more menacing than Doodlebug so he takes his chances. Other times we may pop outside without being aware that Bob's in the yard, so Darby gets a romp. We never knowingly let Doodle out when Bob or Brindle (the other stray) are crossing through the yard unless they are well, well out of reach. It's not that Darby would do anything to hurt them, because he absolutely wouldn't, but because we have no reason to terrorize a couple of cats who don't cause us any grief.

Darby saw Bob and it was game on. The Doodlebug did a couple of figure eights trying to cover every inch of turf where Bob might have left a scent-print, head high and tail as high and tight as it gets. Little dude was having the time of his life, right until he wasn't.

There was no magic sound, no yelp, whine or whimper. He just stopped in the back corner where he nearly always stops at the end of his runs to make his last bark-howl of victory, only there was no sound of triumph issuing forth. Just the sight of him limping, or more accurately, hobbling back to the patio.


Eleven months to the day after his knee surgery, the Doodle appears to be broken once again, the pain emanating from his body posture matched by our own pain and sadness at seeing him suffering. We brought him in and kept him as comfortable as he'd let us, hoping against hope that it was something strained, rather than damaged.

No such luck. This morning he was every bit as bad as last night.

(For those of you playing at home, that is not the leg that was operated on last year. It's the other one.)

Shortly after taking that sad little video, which is not great but might be worth having the vet look at for perspective, I dug out a spare Rimadyl we had from his surgery and gave it to Darby, hoping it might ease his discomfort. It appears to have helped a bit, as he seems to have gone from horrible, awful pain to just really uncomfortable.

We'll be calling the vet first thing in the morning, paws crossed that it's not as bad as it seems.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Picture Day!

Yesterday morning was a wholly unplanned "picture day" for the Doodle and me. While playing on Facebook last weekend, I commented on a Fido Friendly post and was subsequently asked for a photo to include with my post for publication. Granted, it's a tiny little comment, nothing nearly as awesome as the According to Gus spread, but it may very well be the only time Darby and I are ever in a magazine, so it's exciting enough for us.

The only hitch in this piece of fun was my utter lack of a decent photo of the two of us. I have hundreds of photos of Darby --- happy Darby, sleeping Darby, wet Darby, playing Darby, puppy Darby --- but nearly none of the two of us together. Ugh. I hate having photos taken of me, but if I want our little one inch by one inch piece of photographic immortality, looks like I'm going to have to suck it up and smile for the camera.

We got up yesterday morning and had my husband snap off a few pics of the two of us before I headed to work. I drove off with a bit of trepidation, since whatever was stored on the camera card was what I had to live with, having promised to send the photo directly.

Turns out my spouse grabbed what may be one of my very favorite "me and Doodle" shots. Darby is about as cute as I think I'll ever get on film and I managed to not look like a complete dork, which is harder than it sounds. See for yourself.

He looks so grown-up!

We're on the Hop again this weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How do you follow the bouncing blogs?

Chalk this up to another discussion topic for the group. Though perhaps not as interesting as the one about the "midnight howler", I'm hoping the comments will render some interesting perspectives.

I recently realized that I have about six ways to follow blogs I am interested in: I can add them to my Google blog feed; follow them on Facebook, Twitter or through Networked Blogs; subscribe through email; or subscribe through an RSS feed. Or any combination thereof.

Amazingly enough, I use every method listed above to try and keep up with everyone, some with much greater success than others. In the beginning, I was certain that using the Google feed would be the easiest way to stay on top of everything, but I was dead wrong. I need to be signed in to access my blog feed, which is awesomely easy when I wish to write something or reply to comments I get, but since I don't have the brainpower to post something every day, I'm not signing in and thus, not seeing new posts on my Blogger feed.

It turns out that my two favorite methods of following blogs are the two I thought I would dislike the most: Facebook and email. Being an unrepentant Facebook junkie means I always see new posts from fellow bloggers, since I'm one of those people who check FB more than once a day. Plus, I've noticed that a few other bloggers utilize Facebook in the manner I do, sharing articles of interest and brief insights that may not be worthy of a post of their own, but are still worth passing on to like-minded people.

Email subscriptions have turned out to be quite handy as well, as they let me go back and read posts when I have time to do so, without having to dig through a slew of other items to relocate them. I can easily sort my email by author or date and dig in when there's time to read and respond if I so desire.

All of which leaves me curious as to what your favorite methods are for following the blogs you choose to follow. Have you found one method better than another? Is there another way that you organize your favorite blogs for maximum reading pleasure that I left out? Some incredible method that I haven't named, but should know about? Inquiring minds want to know...

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