Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Random Musings

PayPal should be accepted on all websites.

Why can't they just leave olives empty?  Who really likes pimentos? And better yet, what are pimentos?

I wish my bank had one of those apps where you just take a picture of a check to deposit it. 

Why do they still make single-ply toilet paper?  Is there anyone who hasn't realized that you just use it twice as fast?

Are people unfamiliar with the general rules of driving or they just don't care?

All clothing should be tagless. 

Sometimes bananas make me sick.  But not always.  So I keep eating them until one does.  Then the rest of the bananas go bad. 

I find it hard to believe the same people who enjoy watching the olympics also enjoy the closing ceremonies. 

North Dakota was recently declared the happiest state.  I doubt the people who determined this are familiar with all the states south of North Dakota. 

Monday, February 24, 2014


Legend and I started a Nosework class  two weeks ago and so far, just like tracking, she loves it.  What's really nice about Nosework is that it has similar concepts to tracking but takes a lot less time and space to practice.  All you need to get started is cardboard boxes and treats!

Essentially the first phase of learning is to teach the dog to search an area by arranging boxes all over and putting the treat in one.  When they find it, you just move the boxes around so the treat box is in a different spot.  As the dog gets better you put boxes on chairs, in corners, on top of each other etc to add dimension and challenge to the search area.  And that's as far as we have gotten so far-this week will be our third class.  But last week, in just the second class, once she saw the boxes it was all I could do to  hold on to her!

So I think this will be another fun activity for us to pursue along with tracking.  And they are complimentary so the training in one will help with the other.  Always, a plus!

For more about Nosework check out these sites:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Doodle Dilemma Part 2

Recently, there has been a trend toward "purpose bred" mixed breed dogs for sport (most commonly flyball or sometimes agililty).  The most recent article I read on this topic pointed out that some of these breeders used healthy, well-cared for dogs with health clearances and did all the things that responsible breeders of purebred dogs do.  They make the point that there is no cut-off date for creation of new breeds.  But the question is does all this make it "ok?"

While I understand that these people are trying to produce a dog with a specific purpose in mind, that purpose is, for all intents and purposes, a game, hobby, or recreational activity. I mean, we're not talking about working farm dogs, military dogs, police dogs, service dogs or other dogs that in some way benefit society.  Can we really justify producing more mixed breed dogs for the sole purpose of playing games while there are millions of these same dogs available in shelters?  I appreciate the good intentions but when you are mixing two very different types of dogs together you have no idea what you are going to get.  What if they don't turn out like you planned?  What if they don't excel at said sport? Then what happens?  You don't get a black and white dog by breeding a black dog to a white dog-it's just not that simple. And not to belittle flyball but we need a specific breed of dog to jump 4 hurdles and fetch a ball from a box?

There is no guarantee that your $1000 purebred dog, your $1000 "well-bred" mixed breed dog, your purebred rescue, or your mixed breed shelter puppy is going to perform up to your expectations, not get injured, or be healthy.  You can sometimes tip the odds in your favor with a responsibly bred purebred.  But only sometimes.  I have seem some very expensive dogs with bad injuries or illnesses.  In the end you are better off to seek the dog that has the qualities you are looking for, regardless of where is comes from (bad breeders excluded of course!) and in the price range you can afford.  There is no need to try and create one out of two very different dogs and hope for the best.  If health concerns factor in many shelters and rescue would be happy to  have the testing you want done perfomed.  Even if you have to pay for it, you are likely going to get a better deal on your "Border Jack" from the shelter than from a "breeder."  

And they can harp on genetics all they want as far as health concerns go, but genetic disease are tricky, and can come back to haunt you.  There is a recessive gene in Chinese Crested dogs that causes a fatal, progressive brain disease.  There is a recessive gene in Kerry Blue Terriers that causes a fatal, progressive brain disease.  Do you know how they determined that this is the same gene?  They bred a carrier of each breed together.  This could happen in other breeds unknowingly.  Aren't we better off to focus on eliminating diseases in breeds we know about instead of accidently creating more problems?
By and large most dogs today are pets.  Even "working" sport dogs.  And there are hundreds of breeds available to choose from.  If none of those are what you want then there are literally millions of unique mixes available for adoption.  And beyond this we often tout dog sports like agility or flyball as something any dog can do-so what does it say when all of sudden we decide that no current dog on the planet is good enough and everyone needs to have a dog that looks and acts specifically like "dog x" to compete effectively?  At this time, my opinion is that we don't need to create more breeds of dogs.  Obviously some will debate that, but they can start their own blog!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seven and a half months later...

Cade has been adopted! He left this morning with his new family who will be keeping him very busy and taking him everywhere they go. He even has his very own teenage boy for endless games of ball and frisbee. Good luck Cade!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be mine?

One more day of Valentine's cuteness.  And these are almost too cute to bear.  But is that really a surprise considering it's Lyric?

The first one is my favorite

 I like this one too, just wish it had been centered.
 These are all about the same, cute, but not as cute at the top one.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This guy

Melts.  My.  Heart.

I actually bought the roses (artificial) with the idea of taking some valentine pictures of Legend, since I knew she would hold them.  While I was at it, I took some of the other two dogs too, and I think I ended up liking theirs better!  Legend seemed a bit unimpressed with the texture of the flowers.  They are ok, but I don't love them.  Last year when she did some Easter modeling for the local photographer she got some adorable shots of her holding a spring bouquet of flowers.  I have one of them blown up and framed but they are copywrited so I can't post them.  I thought I could recreate it but evidently Legend found the photographer more exciting than me and gave her better poses and cuter ears.

Anyway here are the rest of Zodiac's.  He did hold the flower for a second but was unimpressed.

This is the same as above with some kind of art effect added in.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Payment predicament

By and large, veterinary clinics don't take payments. And generally speaking, this is because people don't make their payments. Especially if the pet dies. They will promise you everything under the sun and to the moon and back, but they don't make them. And sending to collections is only marginally productive.  In a perfect world, it wouldn't be that way. Clinics would have payment plans, people would make their payments, all pets would get ideal care, clinics get to provide the best options, everyone is happy. This is not a perfect world. Nor is the issue ever that simple. 

From the client standpoint it seems obvious, I want to do this to save my pet, all you have to do is let me pay it over x number of months or weeks. And since there is nothing physically or legally prohibiting the vet clinic from making that happen, then that's how it should be. 

Now, look at it from the veterinary clinic's point of view. If you don't have a savings account, a credit card, friend or family member who can loan you the money, why would the vet clinic? Why is it their responsibility to finance the medical emergency you were fully unprepared for? What if the emergency stems from client ignorance or irresponsibility? What if it's an unvaccinated puppy with parvo, an intact female with pyometra, a free roaming dog hit by a car? The veterinarian should still give you special treatment?  And what if it's a pet that has never received any veterinary care in its entire life, but now, suddenly, when it's an emergency that pet means "everything" and is a beloved family member? And what about when it's a dog that is just going to be put back out in the yard on a chain once it has been treated? Now the veterinary clinic gets to determine who is "deserving" of payment arrangements?  I'm sure that will go over like a PR nightmare. 

And who decides the terms of the payments? The client? What if they want to pay $10/month on their $1000 bill? Under any other circumstance you need to qualify for financing, and someone else tells you what the terms, and in most cases, the interest, will be. If a vet clinic needs to employ a financial department then guess what, costs are going to go up even more. 

And I get that some illnesses are unexpected, not preventable, and expensive. But if you choose to get a pet then you also need to think about what you will do if such a situation arises. You can get pet insurance, you can set up your own emergency fund and save money every month, apply for a credit card or Care Credit (put it away in a safe or freeze it in a block of ice if you have to but at least it's there if you need it).  It's your responsibility, just like when the car breaks down, the house needs a new roof, etc. 

Like it or not we all make pet owning decisions based on money. It might be how many pets we own, how well they are cared for or even whether they live or die. At some point we all need to decide how much money we would be willing or able to spend to extend or save a pet's life and where that money will come from. That amount is going to vary from person to person, pet to pet, and depend on age, prognosis, and quality of life.  But it is something you need to think about in advance. 

And I'm not saying a person needs unlimited funds or a minimum amount of money saved before getting a pet. I've seen a lot of clients on a tight budget do a great job of caring for their pets. It might mean spreading out routine expenses and saving or budgeting for larger procedures like dental cleanings or lump removals. And often, if these clients have a good relationship with their vet the clinic will work with them if an emergency arises. But a person also needs to be prepared to make difficult decisions if the need arises. Having a pet is a privilege, and potentially curable pets get euthanized all the time for financial reasons. Veterinarians don't like this any more than you do, but that is the way the world works. 

And it doesn't make you a bad pet owner, sometimes you just have to prioritize. We all do. If something hugely expensive happened to the barn cats that I couldn't fix myself I would put them to sleep. If Squirt, at 18 years old or more, needed $7000 colic surgery I wouldn't do it. These pets are loved, have a good life and are taken care of. But I have to draw the line somewhere. It would be hard and I would be sad but I also wouldn't expect the referral center to let me make payments of $100/month for years on end because that would make it convenient or feasible for me to afford something outside my comfort level. On the flipside, when Icy got sick I handed them my credit card and dealt with the payments later. It wasn't easy or convenient, but it was our decision to treat her and that's why we have the credit card. I didn't have the money up front, but I had a way to pay so she could get the care she needed. 

A person should also, ideally, think about the type of pet they are getting, the problems they are predisposed to and how they would deal with them should they arrive. Granted, you cannot predict everything, but running blindly into pet ownership with the idea that the veterinarian will save your pet at a moment's notice regardless of your ability to pay is foolish and irresponsible. 

I know some people feel strongly about this issue, and hopefully this gives you a perspective on why things are the way they are and a little on how to be prepared for an emergency-both financially and emotionally. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vector Borne Diseases Part 7: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

RMSF is caused by the organism Rickettisa rickettsii and is spread by the American dog tick and the wood tick.  The name of this disease is somewhat of a misnomer.  Although it can be found in both North and South America the most common areas are the eastern seaboard, Mississippi River valley, and south central US, and it is not as common in the Rocky Mountains.  Spots, or skin rash actually only occur in only about 50% of human patients and is even less common in our canine patients.  Fever, however, does occur in dogs...but that alone is certainly not diagnostic!

In contrast to some of the other tick borne diseases transmission requires only five hours of attachment so is much faster and requires more immediate tick removal.  Incubation period can be as short at two days from time time of the tick bite.  This organism causes multisystemic disease leading to vasculitis, hypotension, shock, bleeding, enlarged spleen and lymph nodes, joint pain, neurologic signs, redness of the eyes, difficulty breathing, cough, and swelling of the limbs and face.  Other clinical signs include depression, anorexia, stiff gait and bloody nose.

Untreated the course of the disease is 2-4 weeks and can result in death.

 Routine blood tests often show a decreased platelet count, mild anemia, increases in liver and kidney values and decreased proteins.  There are many specialized laboratory tests than can be used to aid in diagnosis, this is not an organism that can be visualized in the bloodstream.

Symptomatic treatment is aimed at correcting the dehydration, shock, anemia and bleeding disorders and can be comprised of fluids, blood or plasma transfusions.  Treatment of the organism is most commonly done with doxycycline and response is often rapid.  Prognosis is good early in the course of the disease but is much more guarded later on, especially if neurologic signs have begun.

Fortunately this is a relatively uncommon disease.  Current estimates indicate only 2% of ticks are infected with the organism.  Humans can also become infected via ticks.  Cats are not affected.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vector Borne Diseases Part 6: Babesia

Babesia are another genus of protozoa that infect dogs via tick bites.  In addition to tick bites females can spread the organism to puppies via the placenta and direct dog to dog transmission is possible via bite wounds or blood transfusion.  Once they gain access to the bloodstream the Babesia set up shop in the red blood cells.  The body, of course, notices the intruders and sets out to destroy the infected cells  Sometimes the body gets carried away with this and begins destroying uninfected cells as well creating both a direct and immune-mediated hemolytic (destruction of red cells) anemia.  Greyhounds, pit bull terriers, dogs with previous splenectomies, and those with an already compromised immune system (aka dogs undergoing chemotherapy) are most commonly affected.

Most common signs are those that go along with anemia-pale gums, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, jaundice, etc.  Other signs can include fever, enlarged spleen and lymph nodes, elevated liver enzymes and renal failure.  In addition to the anemia the inflammation associated with this disease can cause platelet counts to drop leading to bleeding disorders.

Diagnosis can be make via visualization of the organism in the bloodstream, history of ticks and compatible clinical signs and by sending off for a PCR test.

Treatment often involves addressing any shock or hypovolemia with fluid therapy, possible blood transfusion pending the degree of anemia and clearing of the organism itself.  There are several suggested protocols for this but currently the treatment of choice is azithromycin and atovaquone.  In addition immune suppressive drugs are sometimes needed to stop the red cell destruction.

Babesia is present worldwide and any dog can become infected.  Prevention is aimed at tick control, reducing bite incidences, screening blood donors and not breeding infected females.  Ticks must feed for greater than 24 hours to transmit the disease so daily checks and use of routine tick control products are helpful.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DIY Part 4

Our kitchen countertops are, at best, blah.  And at one time I'm sure they also matched the kitchen.  But ever since we have lived here the kitchen has had wood floors and cabinets, black appliances, and deep purple and green grapevine wallpaper.  So, white countertops don't really fit.

We wanted to replace them but with the amount of counter top space we have anything we picked was going to cost $2000-$4000.  We also really wanted something with some color in it (green or purple) to highlight the wallpaper and other colors in the house but that left very little to pick from.  And the specials and deals that the stores offered were usually for very limited neutral colors.  So, we put it off. 

We then discovered this product and even though it didn't come in colors it did come in black and was only going to cost us $250.  So we figured it was worth a try and were just about to buy it when we discovered the Giani Granite kits while on the Home Depot website.  Not only was one of the options green, but it was less expensive and less work than the other product.  We decided to give it a go.

First you clean your counters really well and tape everything off.  All the kits start with a dark grey/black base. This layer has to dry for eight hours so we did it in the evening and let it sit overnight. 
No going back now!

Each kit then comes with three colors that you sponge on in layers.  You can alter the look of the final product depending on how much of each color you use and how wet they are are when you apply them as this will affect the way they blend with each other.  The green kit came with a pearl base layer, then green, then white.  We wanted our finished product to be on the darker side so we didn't use the final white layer for accenting.  But as a bonus you can any water based acrylic paint (aka cheap craft paint) to use in addition to or instead of the supplied colors.  We chose to sponge on a metallic gray/silver highlight and then I used a small stiff-bristled brush to tap on some purple accents to tie in with the wallpaper.  When all the paint has dried (about 4 hours) you have to option to sand everything down to smooth the surface and eliminate any points or ridges from the sponging.  Then you apply a clear sealer to protect the paint and make it glossy.  This is the tricky part because if you have too much product there will be lines but not enough and you will leave dull spots.  But you apply two layers (again 4 hours apart) so this gives you the chance to get a feel for it the first time around.  

Finally you caulk all the edges to keep water from getting underneath and this is what you get!
(ok, this one is actually pre-caulk)

We really love the way it turned out.  And the price was unbeatable.  We ended up ordering off Amazon as the kits were $65 there vs. $80 on the product website.  We needed two for our size kitchen but only used a little bit of the second kit so most could probably get by with one.  And I spent all of $3 on paint at Wal-mart and we needed a few ancillary things like sandpaper.  But overall we go this great custom counter for around $150!

We also added on these stick-on decals to our back splash to tie in the new counters with the wallpaper.  They are super easy and can be peeled right off and moved around as needed.  Plus we didn't have to mess with replacing a tile and grout backsplash.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DIY Part 3

When we moved in to the house there was this super handy little nook in the master bedroom.  The treadmill fit great, although was not terribly attractive looking.  But it was convenient and worked for us for many years.  Once the garage project got completed and the treadmill found a happy new home out there, the nook pretty much became a wasteland of laundry baskets and dog paraphernalia.
Classy huh?

So, we decided to do something not only useful, but less "college apartment" like with the area.  I've been wanting to get some bookshelves for the house for awhile, but didn't really know where to put them.  This space seemed like a good option.  We didn't really want wall to wall bookshelves though so we also incorporated a bench with storage space.

We found some reasonably priced unfinished furniture and then spend most of a weekend conditioning, staining, and sealing.  Do you have any idea how much surface area there is on a set of shelves?  A lot.  And after all that work they don't actually look that wonderful up close.  But the books cover most of the imperfections.

Anyway, here is the end result...

We used the trim across the top to make it look more like a one piece unit.  There is a shelf there too, we just don't have anything to put on it yet.  I think it's a big improvement!

And here is the detail we on the trim, just to make the pattern stand out and to add a little color.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

We have a teenager in the house

Happy 13th birthday to my handsome boy!
Unfortunately, February is not a great time to get a good picture, so here is one I managed with my phone while teasing him with birthday cake. 

Other than cake and cookies, I'm not sure his day was that fun. Besides the miserable cold, gray and rainy weather outside, we have been consumed with some remodeling projects inside and the dogs have been cooped up in the bedroom most of the day. I'll have to make it up to him later!

But isn't he cute?