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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Neck Update

The vet prescribed a tube of Tritop ointment and some chlorhexiderm solution for Waldo's neck. The wound has progressed into a skin infection so these meds should help keep it clean and microbal-free. My vet says that the fur *should* grow back... I just hope he doesn't have a bald spot there forever. It's in the general area of where a collar would sit, so having bare skin there will be uncomfortable for him.

The Tritop is to be used for the next 5-7 days. Hopefully he will heal up in that time and we can get back to normal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

no words

I received a call back from Tracy at Dogma about 30 minutes ago. I almost have no words to describe how angry, frustrated and stupid I feel right now. She returned my call and immediately volunteered the fact that they had put a bark (shock) collar on Waldo when he was boarded there last weekend. Before she knew how upset I was, she continued on to say that sometimes a dog will have an allergic reaction to the collar and will scratch at that area.

I am angry because he has been going there since the summer and not once did they ever tell me that (1) his barking was a problem, and (2) that they use bark collars. She immediately said that I had signed the contract saying I understood they have to control barking but I don't remember reading anything about shock collars. I'm sure there is come legalese language that absolves them of all responsibility for anything anyway.

All she had to do was call me while he was boarded there and ask if that method was okay with me (it's not). She even said that she didn't want to take him out of group play since he plays so well with the other dogs... so of course the only other option is to put a shock collar on him?? No. If I had been asked and given a choice, he would have just sat in a kennel until he calmed down and stopped barking.

I am frustrated because I am trying so hard to make positive, healthy changes for him yet I royally screw up and leave him in the hands of people who hurt him.

I feel stupid because I should have read, re-read and sent a copy of that contract to an attorney!! I know that last part would have been overkill... but....

Before I signed him up at Dogma, I toured the facility and asked questions about how they care for dogs. I saw where the dogs play, saw the food they are fed, saw the place where they sleep. Now I know to ask how they are reprimanded. I never even thought to ask about shock collars because I don't use them and just didn't think. On top of my due diligence, I was recommended to this place by a colleague who was a former vet tech who also brings her dog there.

I thought I had done my homework.... but Waldo still ended up being hurt.

I offered to email her the photos of his neck but they do not list an email address on their web site. She just kept saying she was sorry and that they are not in the business of hurting dogs.

He will not go back there again. And I will let everyone I know who will want to listen to me that they use shock collars......

How do you feel about this?? Leave a comment and let me know. Better yet, write Dogma a letter and let them know how you feel:
154 Riverlin St.
Millbury, MA 01527

You're right...

Okay, so I just called Dogma, the doggy day care place , and left a message. Lori's comment on the previous post about Waldo's neck just pushed me to call. Everyone keeps telling me to say something so I am. Hopefully they will at least call me back and tell me if they did indeed tie him up or use a bark collar on him. Either way, they should have called me. When I picked him up on Sunday, 10/21, all they said was the he had a good time and would sleep well that night (presumably from the tiredness of playing all day).

Today his neck is still red but many of the scabs have fallen off (see photo). The skin underneath is nice and pink, so hopefully the fur will grow back soon. Here is today's picture.

I am also emailing my colleague who recommended this place to me to let her know what has happened. I'm also sending the photos so she can see for herself. She has an American Pit Bull, so maybe her much sturdier dog doesn't have these problems at Dogma.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yay, Sunday!

Sunday.... it's my favorite day of the week. And what a great Sunday it was yesterday. The Red Sox won the World Series and I can finally get to bed on time again.

Saturday night we went to the Tragically Hip show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. The Orpheum is a very old, run down but sort of cool theater. The seats may be small and uncomfortable, but the bands who play there really do put on a good show. I brought my sad, pocket-sized little Sony digital camera and tried to take some photos. Most were too blurry and dark, but here's one happy accident that actually is a pretty cool picture.

Waldo was in his pen for about 8 hours while we were gone. He does really well in his portable x-pen. I had never thought of putting him in a portable pen until we saw on in use at our local pet store. I like that it can be made into different shapes and sizes, depending on where we are and what we are doing with it. It folds nearly flat for transport too.







Waldo's neck update is that his wound is healing, although it looks worse now than at the beginning of the week. The scabs are slowly coming off but also taking his fur with it. The skin that is showing looks healthy, so I hope his fur grows back quickly. For now, we are calling him "Bald Neck". Really though, it looks worse than it actually is... I'll keep an eye on it and, if it doesn't look better in a week or so, I'll bring him by the vet to have a closer look.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good Book, Sleepy Puppy, Meet George




I have been enthralled by Barbara Kingsolver's new book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" for the past week or so. The book was released in May 2007, but I only read about it recently and picked up a copy at our local library. The book is part memoir and part information guide and tells the story of how her family decided to grow all of their food and/or buy locally for an entire year. That means no hothouse-grown strawberries in December and no South American asparagus in February.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book now; so far, so good. The author lives on a 100 acre farm, which makes life easier when it comes to growing all you need to feed a family of four for a year. I've been gardening on a small scale for about 3 years now, and I still have so much to learn. Much like what we're trying to do with Waldo, we've also been cleansing ourselves of pesticide-ridden, commercially grown fruits and vegetables. We have several great family-owned farmstands around us that operate from April/June to October, but I haven't quite figured out what to do for the winter months. I'm not sure if I can handle eating a mealy, tasteless tomato from the supermarket again.

Speaking of winter, I just put in a heating pad for Waldo's bed. The pad was originally used for the Old Man and his aching bones. I figure that Waldo would enjoy it as well. What do you think?? Is that a sleepy puppy or what?



And finally, what has been big news around our house has nothing to do with dogs or dogs with cancer. I'd like you to meet George, our new MINI Cooper S. We picked him up last night and had fun driving him back home. Rich is super excited about it since he chose all of the accoutrements, so I suspect that I'll be allowed to drive it in a few months. =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vermont weekend


What a weekend! We took off on Friday for a long weekend up north. The fall foliage is amazing this time of year, and it so happened that Friday was also our 5th wedding anniversary. Waldo was dropped off at the kennel and we were on the road early towards the Burlington, VT area of the world.



There were a few must-have stops on our trip; the first being Simon Pearce for lunch and some window shopping. There is nothing like a bowl of their cheddar soup! And their glass blowing is truly an art... someday I hope to have a set of their drinking glasses. Once I win the lottery, that is....


Over the weekend, we also visited my personal mecca known as Gardener's Supply Company. They have anything and everything to please the gardener's soul. I was especially happy about their outlet store. A new shovel is great but even better when it's on sale!

On the way back on Sunday, we were stuck in horrendous traffic and were late picking Waldo up from the kennel. We had to pay a late charge or otherwise pick him up in the morning. I was adamant that he not stay another night and paid the $20 fee. He was happy to see us and seemed tired when we got home. I immediately threw him in the bath since he had spent the past 3 days rolling around with other dogs in the pond mud (and he smelled like it).


It was after I got his fur wet that I noticed some injuries to his neck. His mid-to-upper neck was swollen (below the jaw, above the collar line) and there were scabbed-over markings on his neck. (See photo.) It didn't hurt him to touch that area but it looked suspect. My gut says that they tied him up and he was pulling and straining against his collar. I chose this kennel (which is also his daycare place) on a recommendation from a fellow dog owner; I liked the fact that the dog could roam around in fenced areas. There should be no reason to tie him to anything, especially since they have a dozen or so crates for the misbehaving dogs.

There have been times that he has returned from a day at daycare with some injuries that were inflicted by other dogs. A bitten ear or a scratch on his back. I know they can't watch all dogs all the time, so I didn't say anything. These marks look more significant, but I am debating as to whether to say anything. I've pretty much made up my mind that we won't go back there, so I don't know what use it would be to cause a fuss. They would, of course, deny any wrongdoing and I, as the departing customer, would have no use for whatever discount they might offer.

After his bath, Waldo did his usual mildly damp, mad dash around the house. He runs from room to room like his tail is on fire, occasionally stopping to wipe one side of his head on the nearest throw rug.
I had purchased some Neptune's Harvest fertilizer at Gardener's Supply and had prepared my watering can to give my plants one more feeding before winter. Before I knew it, Waldo had snuck his long snout into my watering can and was drinking from it. Yikes! What happens when a dog drinks fish emulsion fertilizer? It's organic... and he is still alive 24 hours later. Should I worry??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two months and two days

It has been exactly two months and two days since Watson passed away. How time flies. Lesley, if you still read this blog, I have to tell you that you were right. Time passes and at some point you say to yourself "I feel better". His illness and death seem so far away at this moment. At some point I've stopped looking behind me and have moved forward.... just a little bit though, as I still miss the sound of his paws on the tile floor, and I still look for his sweet face staring from the landing at the top of the stairs when I go up for bed.

I started letting Waldo sleep upstairs with us. He's in Watson's old spot, right next to my side of the bed. The choice was either to let him come up or to put the bed away. I couldn't really stand to wake up and see the empty bed anymore. I have pretty much sniffed Watson's smell right out of it anyway.

I do still sleep with Watson's collar next to my pillow. Morbid, perhaps, but I will often fall asleep with it in my hands and thinking of the Old Man. I say a little prayer for him and tell him once again that I hope he knows we loved him, and that we tried to do right by him.... There is so much I know now about canine lymphoma that I didn't know before... I'm ready for the "next time" but my heart is still heavy that I had to learn it all at Watson's expense. I'm sorry, Bubbe, we tried.....

Apples = cyanide poisoning?

My niece and I went apple picking over the weekend and brought home a huge bag of apples to share. Of course, Waldo was intensely curious about the bag too. On Monday, he managed to steal an apple and played with it/ate it over the course of an hour or so. I thought "oh, how cute!" when I noticed that he ate it from the bottom-up (core and all).

Well, not so cute as I have since learned that the seeds in apples are not good for dogs. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides that break down as cyanide when digested. Not good. I can't seem to find any information on the levels of toxicity, but I can only assume that he will be okay since he is still alive and kicking two days later. Now I feel foolish for thinking that it was cute and at least the apple would give him more fiber in his diet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sponge Bob and a hot dog

This weekend was more activity that I've had in a long time. I had my niece Lauren and my friend Melanie over at the house for the weekend. Waldo was beside himself and was so happy to have the company. He is still is unsure of new people or even people he hasn't seen in a while, but once he warms up to them then he's fine.

Lauren brought her Sponge Bob Squarepants shirt so I thought I would put Waldo's shirt on him as well. He can't quite figure out the clothing thing yet. I don't dress him up too often so when I do, he tries to rip it off with his teeth. Either that, or he trots around and pleads for help from anyone but me.

But seriously, how cute are they??










Speaking of dressing the dog, Waldo's Halloween costume came in the mail yesterday. Some of you may remember the poll I posted to take votes on what he should be for Halloween. I bought the chicken costume in a size medium, but the head was too big and the body was too small. Waldo is quite stout, so he tends to wear a size large. However, he has a bit of a pin head that needs a size small. Instead of the chicken, we have opted for this lovely vintage designer hot dog costume that simply has 2 Velcro straps around his mid-section. Fashionista in the making!



Web site

I just read about the web site Dogsindanger.com that works with 120+ shelters in the US that destroy dogs. The MSNBC article states: "How much time the dogs get before death varies from state to state. In New York City, for instance, a stray dog must be kept a minimum of three days, while a shelter has the legal right to immediately destroy an animal that is abandoned there by its owner. About 4 million dogs are put to death each year in the United States, by injection or gas."

I'm not sure how I feel about the countdown clock though. But it strikes me as very sad that some of us do whatever we can to keep our dogs alive, yet 4 million of them are put to death every year because they can't find a home. Shameful.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I love about dogs, part deux

Lost dog walks 7 miles to find his home

IRWIN, Pa. --Bailey didn't need MapQuest or a navigation system to find his way back to his North Huntingdon home. Instead, the 10-year-old bichon frise dog used his nose.

Bailey was lost late last month when his owner took him to Darragh, where he was cutting wood for his sister. The 15-pound dog disappeared.

Three days later, Bailey showed up on his own front porch, whining from hunger and with a few scratches.

Since his trek, Bailey has become something of a star, getting phone calls and cards from around the country, a few gift baskets and even a free grooming at the Cutie Petutie dog salon in Westmoreland County.
------
Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

What I love about dogs...

We had to get up at the ungodly hour of 3:30am to get Rich to the airport for a 6am flight this morning. Why 6am flights even exist is beyond me. I can see how it was easier to fly that early when it didn't take 2 years to get through security lines at the airport! One of the many things I love about dogs is that they are so absolutely *happy* to see you no matter what time it is. Waldo's kennel is right off the kitchen, so he can hear everything that's going on. I let him out to give him a snack, and Mr. Wigglybutt Waldo was doing his happy dance around the kitchen. He had no clue that it was the middle of the night, still dark out and not really time to get up for the day. I put him back in his kennel before we left and he happily sat there and watched us walk out the door.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Duh

File this one under: are you an idiot? Waldo and I were just out for our (leashed) walk. There is a pleasant loop from my house to our quaint downtown that is about 1.5 miles. We had reached the downtown area when Waldo saw his arch-nemesis - a delivery guy rolling a handtruck down the sidewalk. (As an aside, Waldo spent the first 6 months of his life in a cage at a pet store. We got him as a rescue at 8 months, so he was really behind in terms of socialization and exposure to life in general. Objects on wheels still scare the piss out of him.)

Anyway, he was already nerved up about the guy and it was all I could do to keep him walking. We pass the guy when no sooner do I hear "oh, baby! hello! come here, baby!" coming from the opposite side of Main St. It was emanating from a woman who was waving her arms and smiling. I honestly didn't think she was talking to me/us so I kept walking.... so she screamed louder. Yes, she was talking to us. She was trying to call Waldo across a busy street. She was trying to call my dog to run across a traffic-laden street!

Hello!??!? Is your brain on?? I was so mad. So then she waits for traffic to pass and trots after us. Then she literally stands in front of us and tells me that she has a few dogs of her own but that they weren't afraid of traffic. Uh, duh. Is it because you make them play chicken in the street?

I'm sure she was trying to be friendly (we do live in a small town) but COME ON. If I didn't have a tight hold on his leash, he might be a hood ornament right now.

Monday, October 8, 2007

8 Hours in NYC

I can tell I am getting old.... I had to take a business trip to NYC on Friday: out the door at 6:30am to catch the train, back home at 10:30pm. It was a long day but I felt pretty good throughout. That is, until I woke up on Saturday feeling like I was hung over and/or hit by a bus. I didn't feel like myself again until several naps later.


Waldo was packed off to daycare on Friday and had a fantastic time. Sometimes I don't know why we bother to feed him quality food since he eats anything he can get his snout on. He came back from daycare covered head to toe in pond mud (his daycare place has a fantastic man-made pond with filtered water). I found mud caked in his ears and his teeth, and Rich said there was mud caked up, in and on his nose (among other places) when he picked him up.

Yesterday we went for our first off-lead walk in quite some time. Here's a photo of Waldo (the small speck in back) near an old well near the trail. It is usually full, but the summer has been so dry here that the well was empty.


He did well on the walk and his recall has improved since the spring. I stopped taking him off-lead when the warm weather hit since our favorite trail is also shared with horses. Horses + warm weather = more riders and more horse poo (Waldo's favorite yummy treat) Thankfully he seems to have broken the habit of eating as much horse poo as possible before I yell at him to stop. Yesterday, he merely wanted to stand in it at every opportunity. =) Ahhhh, kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cleaner cleaners

I've always had quite a sensitive sense of smell, something that Rich calls my "dog nose". Because of my olfactory condition, I avoid anything that is heavily perfumed/scented. I don't wear perfume or buy air fresheners, etc. I do use scented candles but only in open spaces. I can't sit next to one without getting a headache.

Watson's illness really got me thinking about the environment within our house. Our cat, Crusty, died a month a half before him with a double-whammy of lung cancer and renal failure (like I said, it's been a tough couple of months). The vet said it was probably environmental exposure for Crusty. We adopted her when she was 10, so she could have lived most of her life with smokers, for example. Same with Watson; the cause of his lymphoma will always be a question for me. He was also around 9 or 10 years old when we adopted him, so who knows that he was exposed to before then.


I've always prided myself on a clean house and the way I achieved that was any number of commercial, over-the-counter cleaning sprays, solvents and liquids (all unscented, so I thought I was doing my environmental best). My recent mission has been to discard many of the cleaners I have always used - Windex, Pine-Sol, Fantastik - in favor of more natural and less toxic cleaners. My new favorite is method's window wash, with ingredients of rice alcohol, naturally derived surfactant, biodegradable solvent, fragrance oil blend (mint), color and purified water.

Winter is coming and now is the time of year that I tend to wash the windows, take out the screens, etc. I took a look at the Windex bottle and discovered that it doesn't list ingredients. A look on their web site says that "multiple household cleaning challenges require powerful multi-surface cleaners" -- how's that for marketing brain wash?? The web site also doesn't list what's actually in Windex, except to note the powerful cleaning effect of Ammonia-D(r).

So, what is Ammonia-D? A quick Google search led me nowhere except I noticed that alot of other people also were asking the same question. Is it ammonia with a bunch of other chemicals mixed in? If so, then what other chemicals? Further digging and I found the Material Safety Data Sheet for Windex. See page 3 of the MSDS sheet for Windex regarding toxicity and rats and rabbits. Blech. Out goes the Windex, never to be bought again.

I feel good that hopefully this is one less toxin that Waldo will have to breathe in. Pollutants tend to settle toward the floor, so I need to be conscious of that since he's only about 6 inches from the ground. I also found this article called "An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality" from the EPA that was interesting. It says, in part, that "Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels." Yuck. Open a window.

If all this talk has led you to want a drink, I also found that there is a "Windex shot" made of vodka, triple sec, and blue Crua├žao for color. Uh....Yum?

Funny how the memories come...

I was just reading Graham's blog and his recent post triggered a memory in my lizard brain. He wrote about being on a plane for a business trip and related that the last time he flew was shortly after Prince died. The relationship between the two events triggered an emotional response... and suddenly as I was reading, I had a flash to the week that Rich was on a trip and Watson was not eating.

It was 10pm and I had run out of ideas on how to get him to eat. I had literally tried everything in the kitchen cabinets. I grabbed my keys and headed out to the nearest market (which is a Super Wal-Mart, but don't get me started on how much I hate Wal-Marts in general). I remember walking up and down the aisles, grabbing anything I thought he would like - beef liver, chicken breasts, baby food, bacon, Slim-Jims, people crackers, yogurt, frozen dinners - ANYTHING. I felt so desperate and irate at the same time.

Watson was also having serious bouts of diarrhea then, so I couldn't leave him for longer than 30 minutes or so. That trip through the store was like that game show, where they give you and cart and say "go, you have 5 minutes to gather up all you can carry"!

I realized that I have not stepped foot in that store since Watson died. I am not a Wal-Mart shopper anyway (I drive farther down the road to go to a real market) but it occurs to me that I should go back. If anything, I need to confront the emotions that wait there for me.

There are other things that I have not done - either subconsciously or consciously - since Watson passed. Watson and I used to walk the loop at a cemetery down the street everyday, sometimes twice a day. I've taken Waldo down there once, and it was recently, but it was still too soon. I wasn't ready to walk the same steps with a different dog, so Waldo and I usually walk in the other direction.

As I had previously written, I've done my best to put my memories under lock and key in my head. It's the only way I can get through each day. I'm ready to find joy again but I can't do that without opening up and sifting through my emotions first.

When my mom died in 2002, it took me 2 years before I could sit still again. If I sat still long enough, my mind would wander back to her. So the things I enjoyed doing while seated, knitting or reading a book, came to a complete halt. It wasn't until I dealt with my feelings that I could return to my normal activities.

But I am still so mad... and sad, and hurt.... I am so angry that cancer has once again touched my life and taken away someone I loved. I am utterly pissed that Watson is gone. I rage at the unfairness that some people float through life without ever feeling an ounce of loss. But I can't go there just yet... there is work to do, errands to run, etc., etc., etc..... so for now, I push it back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Finding pet people

Ever since I started to blog, I've been surprised by the types of people who are "insane pet people" like me. I added the blog link to my business web site and to my email signature a while ago, and am always pleasantly surprised at the response. I wasn't sure if that was the right move as I always try to be the consummate freelance professional, and you never know what people think about silly dog blogs.

After Watson passed, I seriously wondered if I was going to continue the blog anyway. He was gone, so what was there to write about. My interest in canine cancer continues, as will the blog. I even registered a URL that also points to this blog (www.cancerhound.com), so someday I will learn how to move the Blogger pages onto that domain. That will have to happen in my free time... whenever that will be.

As you know, I started feeding Waldo a raw diet in August, shortly after Watson passed. I was dismayed to hear about the recent Bravo raw food recall (http://www.bravorawdiet.com/recallinfo.html). I suppose considering that it is raw meat, there will be recalls like these. Dry kibble is so over-processed that even the germs are processed out along with the vitamins and nutrients. I am still feeding him Nature's Variety, but have switched
to the patty form factor rather than the medallions. The patties are a tad cheaper and they fit into my freezer a bit easier. I can fit 36 days of patties (3 rolls) into the same footprint as 2 bags of medallions (96 medallions, or 11 days of food).