Friday, May 31, 2013

Thanks to the internet, I don't need to buy a new string trimmer

At my request, for some gift-receiving holiday, my sister got me a corded string trimmer.  I had a battery operated one, but it went to my ex.  Besides, it didn't have a lot of power.

She got me a Weed Eater Twist-N-Edge Electric String Trimmer.  I've never told her, but I hated it.  

Every time I tried to use it, the string would break after only a couple of minutes.  This was a bona fide Weed Eater brand trimmer spool.  And I couldn't trim 10 feet without having to remove the spool cover, which was a pain, and put the string back through the outlet hole.  

The instruction manual said the plastic string was probably spooled incorrectly.  Since I bought it already spooled, I figured that wasn't likely.  

So I quit using the string trimmer and used my hand trimmers all last year.  

Recently, I decided to research a replacement trimmer.  Consumer Reports didn't give mine very high marks, but I didn't want to replace it if I didn't have to.  I searched on-line to see if other people had problems with my trimmer and, possibly, a solution. 

And found one, in a review on Amazon.  J. Meyers recommended titanium replacement string.  J. Meyers review

I debated purchasing the titanium string.  I could only find it in a 360' spool for $14.  But string is necessary for any trimmer.  If this didn't work, I would just make sure my next trimmer took the same size trimmer string.

Today I wound my spool with the new titanium string. Then tried the trimmer out on the yard.  The trimmer string worked great.  

I only had to remove the spool twice and I think both times it was a flaw in my winding.   I trimmed for half an hour, hitting the patio posts, trimming against the curb, edging against the concrete.  And it worked great.  

I'm very pleased that I don’t have to buy a new trimmer. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Van Gogh swirls on Bogie's rear

Bogie and I walk a couple miles almost every morning.  I let him walk ahead of me.  So I spend a lot of time looking at his rear end.

These patterns in his hair remind me of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Angel is doing well

Had the ten day follow-up visit for Angel's knee surgery (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). Okay, so it was actually twelve days with Sunday and the holiday.

 Anyway, she is healing well and quite perky.  Now both back legs have been repaired.  Vet confirmed that the problem doesn't occur on front legs.  Whew!

I always take Bogie with us to the vet.  The only time I've left him at home alone has been a brief absence when he barked, or rather bayed, the entire time I was gone.  So in kindness to my neighbors, I take him with Angel and me.

Usually, his presence makes Angel calmer anyway.  But today she whined most of the time we were in the waiting room and part of the time when we were waiting in the examination room.  Not sure what was different.  Maybe she is getting paranoid about being left overnight.

Bogie is getting better and better behaved with each visit.  But for some reason today, he insisted on barking at a fat little wiener dog there for a cancer follow-up.  Angel insisted on greeting nose to nose with a sweet hound dog that was exiting.

The hardest part remaining in her recovery is to keep her calm and less active for another 4 or 5 weeks.

We have to go back in 6 weeks for another follow-up and x-rays to make sure the surgery went well.  Then we are done.

Hopefully for a long while.

Angel and her shaved leg.  There are strips missing on the two fronts paws but they don't show up.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bogie snubs a milk bone

Last evening I wanted a treat.  I went to the cupboard and got 6 Lorna Doones.  Put them in my left hand.  

Got each of the dogs a Milk Bone treat.  Angel eagerly took hers and went outside. 

I offered Bogie a Milk Bone

He looked at the Milk Bone in my right hand. 

He looked at the cookies in my left hand. 

He looked at me. Then turned around and left. 

I could just hear him thinking ” Dude. That's not right.”

Bogie - 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Angel's method of taking pills

I don't know where Angel's dislike of pill taking came from.  She hasn't had to take that many pills yet in her lifetime.  Maybe Angel saw what Peanut had to go through taking 8 pills a day for a heart condition and decided she didn't like it.

In any case, getting pills into her has become problematic.  She won't even look at an empty Greenies pill pocket any more.  She seems to know what they are used for.

Hide the pill in cheese or meat, you say?  Tried it.  She eats around the pill and spits it out.

She won't even take the chewable Rimadyl tablets I give her.  Those I can crush into her morning food.  But other pills appear to have a bad taste when crushed.  You know it's bad when Angel turns up her nose at a bowl of canned dog food.

I have to make especially  sure she doesn't spit out the Rimadyl because Bogie is allergic.  I don't want to have to run him to the vet because he picked up Angel's discards.

To get a pill into her, where she can't spit it out, requires that the pill be right at the edge of her throat. Angel has a very long snout.  I have very short fingers.  This is not a good combination.  And generally requires at least two tries.

A couple days ago, Angel came up with her own solution.  When she hears the pill bottle open, she lays on her back in a submission pose.  I open her mouth and drop the pill down her throat.  I don't even have to put my fingers in her mouth.  

Then I rub her belly.  She's happy. I'm happy.

Smart girl.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Angel's surgery went well, a little bump in the recovery

Angel's surgery went well.  I brought her home Friday morning and have been hovering over her ever since, trying to make sure she doesn't undo the surgery. 

This particular surgery splits the lower leg bone and screws it back together with a small gap.  The gap fills back up with bone tissue.  The new knee "cup" is wider and not dependent on the ligaments for support. 

Her left leg, done in 2011, healed quite well, although I should have done more physical therapy on the muscles surrounding the knee.  Once I got Bogie, Angel exercised enough to rebuild the muscles.   So I have high hopes for this, the right leg.

She came home Friday with 4 kinds of pills.  Antibiotics once a day for a week.  Pain killers up to 4 pills per day as needed.  Anti-inflammatories twice a day as needed.  And a mild sedative to use if she gets too active or agitated. 

By late afternoon Friday, she was getting restless.  I don't have a crate and didn't want to crate her.  Bogie would have taunted her and Angel would have felt punished.  Ditto for locking her in a room by herself. 

I tried leashing her with a cloth leash, with one end around my toe.  But she kept struggling to get up.  So I gave her a sedative.  The instructions said 1/2 to 1 pill.  I gave her the half.  

She settled down and went back to sleep.  An hour later I looked at her and she didn't seem to be breathing.  I admit, I panicked.  I went to her and shook her.  Several times. She didn't move.  But she finally blinked.  I lifted her head and it was limp.  I picked up a leg and it just fell with no resistance when I let go. 

I was freaking out, wondering how I would get her to the emergency vet.  That's the downside of large dogs.  I can't pick them up by myself. 

I finally roused her enough to stumble outside, while I supported her with the sling the vet sent home.  I let her collapse in the grass while I sat on the patio.  I went inside to the kitchen where I could still see her.  But I decided I would rather have her inside.  

I went back outside to get her.  She was nudging her leg with her nose and I saw tiny ants crawling on the bare flesh.   I wiped them away, then tried to pick her up.  I couldn't, even with the sling.  She was too limp, all dead weight.

Finally, I got a bath towel, laid in on the ground, used the sling to lift her onto the towel, and dragged her across the grass and patio concrete.  Once we got to the door, she managed to stumble over the sill.  

I guided her to the living room where she laid down in a heap on the throw rug. I sat down beside her.  I petted her and watched TV for probably an hour before she started acting more alert.   

The past couple days, when she got too antsy, I've given her 1/4 sedative.  That calms her down just enough to stay off her leg, without totally terrifying me. 

I have a couple more weeks where I have to keep her from using the leg too much.  It's going to be a long two weeks. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Angel having knee surgery today

So I wrote about Angel hurting her knee on Sunday (Cringe inducing yelp).  My heart sank to my stomach when I realized on Monday that it wasn't the leg that had been operated on.  This was the other rear leg.

Yesterday she still wasn't putting any weight on the leg even after anti-inflammatories for 2 1/2 days.  So we headed to the vet.  The vet wasn't able to manipulate the knee without causing Angel pain, so I had to leave her there to be sedated for x-rays.

A couple hours later I got the call to pick her up, and the news that I feared. She will need another knee surgery.  An important ligament in her knee is torn.

I wanted the same doctor that did her left leg.  She was at a farther clinic today, but it was worth the extra drive to have Angel looked at sooner.  She confirmed surgery was needed.

The surgery could be done today or I could save $120 by having the surgery done at the nearer clinic next Thursday.  I opted for today.  She will be 7 days closer to healed by next Thursday.

I felt horrible leaving her there overnight.  I don't know how Bogie will be without her until tomorrow.

I dread the after care now that I know what I am getting into.  It was hard enough to keep her calm and off the repaired leg the first time.  My second dog was the older, smaller Peanut, who wasn't big on playing and was intuitive enough to realize Angel was injured.

This time I will have to keep her and Bogie apart.  He has been surprisingly patient, but he doesn't understand why she won't play with him.  She stood on the patio yesterday morning, on three legs, while he tried to tempt her into play.

At least this time I am not working and can stay home to watch over Angel.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I don't mind paying more for vet care

I am bothered by those 1-800-Pet-Meds commercials.  I understand the desire or need to save money.  But to me it feels like taking money out of my veterinarian's pocket.

I don't go to a restaurant and bring my own beverage because it's cheaper.  It is tacky, and not allowed.   If we respect the work and skill our veterinarian has, we shouldn't begrudge them a living wage.

Getting a veterinary degree takes years and costs a lot of money.  In my opinion, it takes more skill to be a veterinarian than a doctor.  Human beings come in basically one shape.  And after a certain age, they can say where it hurts.

Veterinarians deal with animals from Chihuahua size to Saint Bernard, with snub noses and long noses, floppy ears and erect ears, stubby legs and fragile legs, long hair and short.  And that's just the dogs.  

Running a veterinarian clinic is expensive. I'm sure part of recouping their costs comes from the small profit the clinic makes on selling prescriptions.

If they make any profit.  They have to maintain inventory which takes man-power, store inventory which takes building space, and prepare the prescriptions.  More man-power.

I've been told that I can get veterinary care cheaper than what I pay at my clinic.  But my dogs get excellent care at my clinic.  The doctors know my dogs.  They care about my dogs.  They are skilled care-givers.  And they hire only the best support staff.

My veterinary clinic also does a lot of pro bono work.  I figure my money is being put to excellent use.

To me, that expertise and caring is worth paying a little more.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My dad is in Wikipedia.

My dad, Warren Smith, was an author.  Not famous, but known in paranormal circles and in Iowa where we lived.  He wrote more than 60 books - paranormal under his name and a pseudonym, westerns and romances under pseudonyms.  He also wrote for magazines and newspapers.

My dad died May 2003.  Maybe it's the month or season, or that I'm unemployed as I was when he died, but for some reason he has been on my mind.

I entered his name in Amazon search and came up with 2 of his books for sale, This Hollow Earth and UFO Trek.

The reader comment for This Hollow Earth  made me proud.  "This book will open your eyes, to the secrets and inhabitants of the Hollow Earth. Derro, dwarves, UFOs, just who is down there? Evidence is given. A must for collectors of occult or just plain odd books. Very hard to get a hold of, if you find one keep it!"

I also found two other authors named Warren Smith.  In fact, another was a Warren B. Smith.

Curious as to what his B stood for, I tried Wikipedia.  And found my dad!

They had his middle name wrong.  It really was Billy, not William.  I have the birth certificate to prove it.  But it was definitely my dad. 

I don't know if Wikipedia will accept my changes, but I fixed the middle name and state of his birth.  If they accept those changes, I'm going to dig up the list I have of his books and get them all entered.

My dad is in Wikipedia.  I think that is pretty cool.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The cringe-inducing yelp

I was minding my own business this morning, pulling weeds in the back yard.  The dogs were playing in the grass.  I noticed that the patio concrete appears to be the safe zone.  When Angel runs behind the table, Bogie doesn't pursue.  So safe play, right?

I was bent over a large weed when I heard an agonized yelp.

Angel came hobbling over to me holding her right rear leg up near her torso.  Crap.  This is the leg that had the knee surgery two years ago this month and it has been touchy ever since.  I massaged it standing where I was until she was able to put it back on the ground.    

I moved to the patio with her hobbling after me, sat down, and massaged it several minutes more.  She followed me into the house and I gave her a Tramadol pain pill.  I have these on hand for just such occasions.  As well as Rimadyl, which is doggy ibuprofen.  I had already given her a Rimadyl this morning because she had had a slight limp last night.

I massaged her some more, then got her to lay down on the throw rug. I went outside and weeded the front. When I came back inside, Angel had moved to the tile.  I sat by her and massaged her some more.  I hit one particular spot and she jerked.  I had to maneuver her into position so I could massage her some more.

All that massaging stirred up a lot of loose hair.  I gave her another Tramadol, then I brushed her for a bit, which she likes.  When I gave her the post-brush treat, she hobbled outside with it.  So I felt okay asking her to come upstairs with me while I checked e-mail, Facebook, etc.

Angel plays hard.  And she initiates the play at least half of the time.  The last time she got hurt was playing with a dog close to her size.  So this is not Bogie's fault.  Still, I am sure it doesn't help that he is 2 years old to her 5.    

At the moment, she is crashed out on the floor behind my chair.  She will be zonked out for most of the day. 

She'll be better tomorrow.  Now I have to keep her from playing so hard until it's completely healed. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Squirrel drinking from my bird bath

Angel went racing out the doggy door barking.  I guessed that either the hawk or the squirrel dared to enter the yard to drink out of the bird bath.

Only a few minutes later, while Angel was laying in the grass facing the other direction, the squirrel came back.

 Checking to see if Angel notices:
Is the dog watching?
Good,non-chlorinated water
The squirrel watched, then drank multiple times in only a couple minutes.  

Then - on alert:
Something moved.
Making its escape:
Jump to the top of the wall
Get safely to the top of the wall:
Made it.
Heading home
I'm not sure what startled it.  Maybe me taking pictures.  Neither Angel or Bogie realized it was there.  

It lives in a hole on the undeveloped side of the wall, under a big mesquite tree. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Paw size visual aid

I talk about Bogie a lot, but people who haven't met him or aren't around Great Danes don't realize truly how big he is. 

Great Danes are the tallest dogs, though not the heaviest.  Now that he is full grown, measured at his shoulder, he is 33" high and he weighs 135 pounds.

So a visual aid - his paw to my hand.

This size dog can't be forced to do anything.  You have to convince them they want to do what you tell them.  

So far, so good. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The little things DO matter

Sometimes we fail to take action because we can't make the grand gesture.  But really, it's the little things we do that make a difference to people.

Recently, a favorite animal columnist mentioned that his eldest dog had died.  I wanted to offer my sympathies, but figured he would be inundated.  Why bother?  But I emailed him anyway.  It was just two simple, but heartfelt lines of sympathy and understanding.  I never expected an acknowledgement.  So I was quite surprised to get a two paragraph response thanking me and expanding on what he had written in the column.  

I had taken the time to write.  And it had mattered.

The other day, I went to my corner convenience store to get my weekly lottery tickets.  I always use the same play slips, stored in a worn vinyl sleeve.  The clerk not only noticed that I removed my slips from a sleeve, but noticed it was tattered.  She offered me a new sleeve.

I'm sure the sleeve came from the lottery commission.  It cost her nothing.  But it made my day.

Little things matter.

The bank cashed a check for me against their normal policy.  My friend used her credit card points to pay for something I was going to buy.

These are actions I will remember.  They mattered to me.

A quick Facebook birthday wish.  An offer of sympathy when a job is lost or a loved one passes. Noticing when someone is down and taking the time to listen.   Complimenting someone on a job well done or even just the attempt to do something new.  These cost you nothing, but can make a world of difference to the person affected.

They say it's the thought that counts.  But not if you don't act on the thought.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Life is pretty quiet

Not much happening.  Some phone interviews, a couple in-person interviews.  The rest of the time I'm just hanging out.

I'm catching up on my reading.  Between AbeBooks, the VNSA book sale, the digital and regular library, I have read almost all of J. A. Jance's books.  Recently I had been reading more cozy mysteries, but I've gotten snagged by her police procedurals.

This has been a little unusual for me in that I have been reading the books in whatever order I can get them.  I'm usually pretty anal about reading a series in exact order.  It isn't as distressing as I imagined having to remember that this character isn't yet married to that one, and this other character hasn't been introduced yet.

Next up, I borrowed an omnibus with the first nine of  Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles stories from the digital library.  I like the TV series with Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.  We'll see if I like the novels. 

I still have this concept that I should be accomplishing something in my copious time off.  Write a book.  Create another piece of stained glass art.  But truth be told, I am enjoying not doing anything. 

When I'm not reading, I still go to the gym 4 or 5 classes a week.  I walk the dogs and don't worry about getting home in time to go to work.  I watch TV.  I play games.  I watch the birds in my back yard.  I play with the dogs. 

I recently had lunch with a friend who is also unemployed.  It was nice to be able to sit for 3 hours and not have to worry about getting back to work. 

The upside of this is my neck and shoulders ache much less than when I was working.  

The downside, of course, is that my severance will run out at the end of the month.  

I think I really need to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  

Or win the lottery.