Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Trails, Sweetie

Sweetie's story didn't have a happy ending after all. He got out of his Elizabethan collar and hid under the shed, where he managed to paw his facial wound into a major disaster. Today he went to heaven, where I'm sure he'll be better treated than he ever was in his earthly life.

Happy trails, darling boy...

Friday, March 26, 2010


Have you ever spooned with someone? It doesn't have to be a sexual thing. It just requires two warm bodies cuddled up curve to curve, spoon to spoon. Like this:

Sweetie and the cone collar

After work today, I did some errands, and drove home thinking happy thoughts of the “Crop” (scrapbook event) I’m going to tomorrow. Mr. P. is not home at this point. I get out of the car, spot the recuperating Sweetie in the garage, and rush up to him happily…his face is POURING blood, and a new split in his flesh has appeared, from his cheek right up to his eyelid. I freak out, stuff him in the cat carrier, call the vet, and race back into town while simultaneously crying and reassuring Sweetie. A vet tech checks him out, says he’s been rubbing at his face with his paws, talks with the vet, puts a cone collar on Sweetie ($10), and off we go. Within 15 minutes of getting home, Sweetie had freaked out and gotten out of the cone collar and hid under my car. Mr. P. (home from his errands) coaxed him out, but as soon as Sweetie saw the collar, he ran off under the shed. Meanwhile, 9 dogs are clamoring for my attention, I’m so hungry I could eat my left arm (got to leave the right arm so I can hold the fork)…anyway, I finally got a meal together, Sweetie wandered back into the garage, I managed to get a dose of antibiotic into him, and now I’m done for the day. I’m going to skip the Crop event tomorrow so I can take Sweetie back to the vet to have his paws bandaged (so he can’t damage himself further), and then I think I’ll drop by the ER for a lobotomy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dream interpretation

Jean: Was that a nice nap, Teddy?
Teddy: Uhuh.
Jean: Want to go outside and play now?
Teddy: Nope. I just wanna go back to sleep. I was having a great dream.
Jean: What was your dream about?
Teddy: I dreamed that I was your only dog, and I was lying on your lap while Grampa cooked
me steak and eggs.
Jean: I don't think we've ever fed you steak and eggs, Teddy.
Teddy: A guy can dream, can't he?
Jean: Do you think maybe this dream came out of jealousy, because Jinx gets an egg every day?
Teddy: Don't talk to me about Jinx, that egg-sucking dog. Him and his hard-boiled eggs. He doesn't even put salt on them. Yuck. Me, I want a double order of Eggs Benedict, with a rare rib-eye steak on the side.
Jean: Dream on, Teddy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When in doubt, call the vet

Good evening, students. Tonight's lecture includes a visual aid that may be upsetting to the tender-hearted or weak-of-stomach, but the message is an important one, so do try to stick it out.

Last Saturday afternoon, our newest kitty, Sweetie, came home from his roaming with an injured paw. The injury seemed minor - we might not have even noticed it if he hadn't been limping. We agreed that we would call the vet if Sweetie was still limping on Monday. Then Sweetie disappeared until Monday evening, when Mr. P. found him in the garage, still limping and with a huge hole torn out of his face, right under his left eye. It was awful, but it wasn't dripping blood or pus. The vet's office was closed then, so I promised to call the vet first thing in the morning and take Sweetie to be checked out as soon as they could work us in. We theorized that Sweetie had been the loser in a cat fight because that dastardly orange feral cat keeps coming back to terrorize our cats, and Mr. P. is too soft-hearted to shoot it. Mr. P. told me, "Now, don't spend a lot of money on this cat. We can't afford all the animals we already have as it is, and I'm not spending hundreds of dollars to fix him up only to have him get in another cat fight."

I should have called the vet's emergency number that night, because the next morning Sweetie's face was truly horrific - red, swollen, pus forming in the wound, which seemed even larger than the night before - and he was still limping and his little body felt awfully hot when I picked him up. Bless his heart, he purred as I held him and let me put him in the cat carrier without a word of protest. As I drove into town, I had to fight back tears.

The vet's office was fantastic (as well they might be; after all the money we've spent there, Mr. P. says they should rename the animal hospital after us). The vet tech took Sweetie's temperature - it was 104.7 (cats' temps should be between 100-102). The vet said that Sweetie's facial injury probably started as a puncture wound received in the same fight as the leg injury, and over the weekend it got infected, formed an abscess which burst, and the bacteria began eating an even bigger hole in Sweetie's face. He said that the bacteria in cats' mouths are especially nasty and can cause tissue necrosis, just like snake venom. "We see this all the time, though usually on the hindquarters, not the face," he said. "I know it looks bad, but he'll be fine after we clean the wounds, get the dead tissue out of there, and start him on an antibiotic. We'll have to sedate him to do all that, so how about we go ahead and neuter him at the same time?" Since we'd been planning to neuter him next week anyway, I agreed.

"Once he's neutered, will he stop roaming around the neighborhood getting into fights?" I asked.

"Yes, he'll stay on your property," the vet said, "but if another cat comes on the property and attacks him, he's going to defend himself."

I thought, that's fair enough. So I left Sweetie there and went home. A few hours later, the vet's office called to tell me Sweetie's surgery went fine. Whew! After work today, I went to pick him up (and paid $134 for the whole thing - not small change, but it could've been a lot worse). His face looked much better, his leg was well bandaged, and this time he gave me an argument about getting into the cat carrier (but I'm still bigger and stronger than he is). When I got home, I gave him a dose of antibiotic liquid and a bowl of kibble. The other 2 cats sniffed at him and went off to play together (they won't let him join their clique). Sweetie ate voraciously, had a drink of water, and settled down to rest on an old sleeping bag.

Sweetie's story has a happy ending. He may never be "normal" looking again, because we put off calling the vet, but he's going to be OK and he still knows how to purr. The photo included in this post was taken today, and as gruesome as it is, the injury looked a lot worse yesterday.

The moral of this story: when in doubt, call the vet. Right away!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

OK, so he's German, but today's he's Irish, just like the rest of us:
Mr. QT O'Lionel

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alone Time

My mother used to claim that my brother and I plotted against her when we were little. We timed our naps so that when one of us was asleep, the other one was awake and getting into trouble. Sometimes I wonder if our dogs are doing the same thing. Except when they're on Red Alert ("all hands on deck!"), they're usually dividing up the sleeping chores and the bratting chores.

Berry and Georgie are the sleep specialists. Polly likes both sleeping and bratting. She's a social butterfly who doesn't like to be alone, and often she'll wake up a sleeping packmate by chewing its ear or leg or jowl.

But this morning I realized that everybody else was outside and Polly was alone inside. Not completely alone, of course - I was in the house too - but she was alone in the living room, looking pensive. I went over to her chair to check on her and we had this conversation.

Jean: Why are you alone in here when all the other kids are outside? Are you feeling OK?

Polly: I'm fine. Just leave me alone.

Jean: But you hate to be alone.

Polly: Well, right now, I need some alone time.

Jean: OK, but you tell me if you need anything.

Polly: (in a faint voice) OK.

Jean: (walking away)

Polly: Oh, there's one thing you could do.

Jean: What's that, my princess?

Polly: You could bring me a biscuit.

Jean: A biscuit in bed would make you feel better?

Polly: I think so. But maybe you should bring me a bowl of popcorn too, just in case.

Jean: I see. Anything else, madam?

Polly: A glass of champagne?

Jean: No, sorry. I'm not driving all the way to Kentucky to get you champagne.

Polly: (sighing) OK, I'll have to make do with a biscuit and popcorn.

Jean: Coming right up.

Polly: And don't forget to put butter on the popcorn.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Waist sizes

I've read a lot lately about how an excessive waist dimension in humans is associated with serious health problems, like cardiac disease, even if the person isn't obese. And because I had today off and needed a break from writing this afternoon, I measured our dogs' waists.

Polly - 15"

Georgie - 17"

Patch - 19"

Teddy & Jinx - 20" (Teddy and Jinx are a Mutt & Jeff: short & tall)

Berry - 25"

Meg - 26"

Victoria Beckham supposedly has a 23" waist. I fear Meg never may make it as a fashion model unless someone's selling Plus Sizes for Pups.

You can see from these photos that Meg is a hefty old heiffer, compared to trim little Teddy.
P.S. as I was measuring the dogs today, I was reminded of a coworker who told me that she knew it was time for her to go back to work after having a baby because she found herself weighing her houseplants before and after watering them (while her baby was napping)

Weight problems

Almost my entire life, my mother would refer to my obesity as "your weight problem". You could almost hear the quotation marks in her voice. Then I lost 90 pounds and robbed her of a big conversational topic. But that's another story.

The 9 Dogs story is that Meg and Jinx both have weight problems. I don't have a canine BMI chart but Meg has got to qualify as obese, while Jinx is too skinny. Berry's pretty hefty too, but his weight seems to suit his stocky, muscular body while Meg's weight is just...porky. Teddy is smallish but just right. Jinx, the tallest pup, is downright scrawny. Or he was until Mr. P. started feeding him a medicinal meal every night (in addition to the meal Jinx shares with his siblings).

The medicinal meal consists of a handful of kibble with a hard-boiled egg crumbled up on it. I'd have to be mighty hungry to enjoy that combination, but Jinx just loves it. He's put on some weight, his coat is shinier, he's more cheerful, and he knows exactly where the hard-boiled eggs are stored in the fridge. Of course, now that he's accustomed to this treat, it's no longer a treat. He will never, ever let us forget that he has to have his daily egg.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The new 9 Dogs Howling security procedures

Since the recent visit of a suspicious, uninvited visitor who wasn't even trying to sell us Schwan's frozen food or share the Good News About Jesus, the 9 Dogs Howling Security Team has changed our security procedures.