Thursday, September 26, 2013

Half-Hearted Training and Urban Nature

Mr. Big's rear end weakness/degenerative myelopathy has resulted in him having accidents in the house. The effort of standing up sometimes causes him to lose some bowel control, and he'll poop in his sleep sometimes. I don't mind, really, I don't. After twelve years of unconditional love, the least I can do is clean him up and clean up after him. At least it's not diarrhea, I kept telling myself.

But females in heat often have diarrhea, and yea, you guessed it, Pipsqueak now has diarrhea.

My whole house smells, despite vigorous cleaning. Twice a day, per dog, right now. Big sigh.

And I have out-of-town visitors coming to stay for a week on Sunday. That'll be nice for them, huh?

Backyard birding:

lesser goldfinch
house finch
Gila woodpecker
and the evidence of a hawk's dinner in my front yard (an eviscerated pigeon)

DoodleBug and I saw another coyote on our morning walk, too. He was in good shape, after a fairly rainy summer and thus a good supply of food. I've been slowly adding a little distance to our walks since DoodleBug and I are doing the SAAF AIDS Walk in mid-October, and while it's only 5K, it's a slow 5K because of the crowds, which means it'll take twice as long as 3.1 miles would for us on a regular walk, and will run later and it'll be sunny and hot halfway through the course. Yesterday we did 1.9 miles. The mornings are, at last, a little cooler, so these walks are becoming very enjoyable again.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On Raising the New Puppy

Pipsqueak, the puppy also known as Z, is the great-niece/cousin X-removed of my beloved Pupgirl. That's where the similarity ends. Oh, they look similar. And they're both troublemakers. I haven't white-washed Pupgirl's puphood on my memory. She earned her nicknames of Stinkerbelle and Pestica.

I have done some things better this time around. I am crate-training her, to keep her out of trouble while I'm at work. So Pipsqueak has not replicated Pupgirl's list of chewed-into-oblivion household goods. Ah yes, I remember the two television remote controls, the cell phone, the numerous shoes, Pat's out-of-print monograph from the Royal Ontario Museum (I confess I let him die without knowing she'd chewed up that book I borrowed), the futon (pad and frame), the industrial carpet... Pipsqueak has directed her energies into digging up my rosebushes. She's on rosebush number 3 right now.  First the Harrison's yellow, then my Perfumed Delight, and now the unknown white climbing rose that came with the house. Although she's happy to grab a runner of the Tombstone rose and make off with that instead of a real cane if she has to.

And what energy! I swear, her energy level is Pupgirl's times 2 or 3. Steroidal. Exponential. She can leap over DoodleBug from a standing position. I've seen her fly through the air. At 30 miles an hour. She's as fearless as Pupgirl was, but faster.

She is growing up. She went into her first heat last night, and nearly ripped DoodleBug's ear off, because he was innocently standing behind me while I tried to wipe her tuchus. Today she got a clean bill of health. The severe medical crisis of this summer, when her liver shut down and her kidneys started to be compromised and she almost died, has completely cleared up, and she's gained the 5 lbs she lost as a 7-month-old puppy back and added another 4, for a total of 46.8 lbs, with adult fur coming in on her back. Pupgirl was at 42 lbs at 10 months, but I think Pipsqueak is a might taller than her aunty.

Maybe Pupgirl's terrible teen months were easier because she was an only dog. Mr. Big didn't arrive until she was 10 months old. He came specifically because she was bothering my beloved cats so much, trying to get them to play with her. But her first heat came and went and she was neutered before Biggie arrived, so I didn't have to run interference between her hormone-induced crazniess and a poor unsuspecting eunuch boy. Pupgirl and Mr. Big did play insanely, and wrestled all over my house. I have the photographs to prove it. And DoodleBug and Pipsqueak wrestle insanely, too, all over the house and outside.

I have been very lucky to have had dogs that actively like each other and get along so smoothly, I know that. I know people that have to keep one dog gated apart from the others, because it doesn't get along with them. And rather than re-home it, they take turns with who gets to be inthe living room at any given time. I am so glad I don't have that problem.

I guess that's worth a rosebush or two.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Backyard Birding

I was very excited to see a male Anna's hummingbird at my feeder on Sunday. He's been hanging around a lot lately, so I think he's displaced the black-chinned who used to live nearby. He's quite the handsome guy, despite being a bit dusty.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fritters and Rainbows

Dinner the other night was the hummus fritters and Mediterranean salad from Cooking Light--delicious, healthy, and fast. Definitely on the re-make in the future list (albeit with spicy hummus).

We had 1.6 inches of rain last week. On my way to lecture Monday night, I drove past a double rainbow. Sadly, the lighter of the two didn't show up in the photos, but I present them to you for luck anyway,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Voyager 1!!

Official as of today: Voyager 1 left our solar system on August 25, 2012.  Hooray!!!

Remember when it launched? Remember when it flew past Jupiter? It is still sending back data with what would be laughable equipment if it weren't still working, and working steadily and fabulously. Whose laughable now?

Go, go, little-can-that-could. You and your team are an inspiration.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

On Living with a Senior Dog

Mr. Big is now 13 and 3/4 years old. Yes, we count in quarters, now, because every day is special and every day means our time together is even shorter than it was yesterday. The cataract in his left eye is more cloudy, his hearing a little less acute, his walk--when he can get up--even stiffer. But he has not given up. Yesterday, as the other two wrestled and romped and ran and leapt, he very determinedly made his slow way over to them to sniff and watch and, I'm pretty sure, try to figure out of there was a way he could play, too. He ripped his ACL trying to defend his property from a marauding, eager puppy who was walking off leash down the alley in July. I found him behind the bushes again yesterday morning, sitting and barking loudly and insistently after some long-gone dog. He eats slower, but he had four teeth removed from one side of his mouth last year, and as he used to eat too fast, I'm glad he's savoring his meals these days.

Scientists tell us that dogs live in the now; that they don't have the same emotions we do. Any dog lover will tell you, however, that their dog can be happy, funny, sad. Scientists agree they are attuned to our emotions, so if they can recognize sadness or anger in a human, might they not experience it themselves? If they can be happy, surely they have to be able to experience the entithesis of happy--sad.

I'm pretty sure Mr. Big is not in pain. He gets a small dose of Rimadyl every day, and Tramadol when he needs it. He's stiff, but stoic as Samoyeds are, I think I'd notice signs he was in pain, for example, a refusal to move. He's stiff and slow, and with his gimpy back legs, he has to get up slowly and very carefully, but he does. And he's been getting up on his own, without my help, more frequently these past few weeks. He's not incontinent, although the effort to get up sometimes results in his defecating on the floor. Sometimes he just needs to go and simply can't rise and walk fast enough to go outside. I don't mind.

Blogger's sideways photo gremlin strikes again

Walks right now are just going out in the front yard, sniffing, and marking less familiar bushes. I think he wants to walk farther, but he just can't, and wisely will, after standing and smelling and taking it all in, turn and amble inside. He sleeps a lot, and unfortunately started pacing at night in June. I just started him on a neutraceutical I hope will alleviate that. He struggles to get up and follow me or the dogs around the house because I don't think he likes to be alone. But he stilldreams when he sleeps, and in is dreams, his legs flail and I hope he's dreaming about pulling a sled across a snowy expanse with his Pupgirl by his side.

Watching him age and accommodate his limitations makes me wonder if he remembers the way things were. I remember for us both.

Pico Iyer has a wonderful essay on suffering in today's New York Times. I was thinking about this post last night, before I read about Issa'a haiku on dew in the essay. But I remember for us both, and yet...