October 24, 2014

White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army nuzzled Taiko and let out a collective sigh of relief. They had been impatient as we paused on the sunporch to remove our shoes and to clean off Tai's feet. He had just returned from his follow up visit with Dr. Julia and his blood work was normal; the slight anemia issue seems to be gone although we are going to keep him on a multivitamin. Thankfully, our boy with the really bad elbow was given the OK to return to his regular dose of glucosamine to slow the inevitable deterioration of the joint.

Earlier, Taiko looked up at Steve when we entered the vet's office. The parking lot was full but the waiting room was nearly empty. All of the exam room doors were closed. "What's up?" he seemed to ask as Margaret, his favorite tech, hurried out from the back to take his lead and head back into the lab to draw blood.

When she returned Tai to us, she indicated that Dr. Julia would be out to see us in the lobby as soon as the blood work was analysed. The usual protocol is that we go into an exam room. In no time our amazing vet was out giving us the thumbs up and telling us all was back to normal. We quickly discussed the upper respiratory infection that half the White Dog Army seemed to be battling.

"It is everywhere," she said. "Like a Fall cold. Let's not give antibiotics; I prefer to let it run its course in three to five days. If they need it, use Robitussin Baby cough syrup. Chicken and rice if tummies get icky. Except Puff, I will go back and get something for her; we don't want her fighting anything respiratory. Here are also some drops for Taiko's eye, looks a little inflamed, he might be starting an infection in a tear duct or maybe scratched the corner of his eye."

Before she turned to go, I asked about the emptiness of the waiting room. "There is a bad parvo outbreak," she told us. "Oh, no socialization for Zsofia until it is over. Stay out of parks or places other dogs go. We are being extra careful here in the clinic. Asking folks to wait with their pets in their cars, washing everything down with bleach, carrying the young ones. Cindy came up with a great shoe cleaning system using a litter box and bleach soaked rags that we all step in as we enter and leave the exam rooms. Cannot be too careful with this. Wipe off your shoes and Tai's feet before you go into your house. Not to panic but to make sure Zsofia is safe; she still has one more booster to go."

I have been told that this outbreak is actually larger than just Albuquerque, and includes most of New Mexico and Texas. In the interest of increasing awareness, the WDA wants to share these facts about the disease; knowledge is a powerful tool in the fight for good health...

From Pets.WebMD.com: Parvo is a acute, contagious disease that dogs and cats can get. The disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces. Parvo can be carried on the dog’s hair and feet, as well as on contaminated crates, shoes, and other objects. Parvo affects dogs and cats of all ages, but most cases occur in those 6 to 20 weeks of age. Following an incubation period that averages four to five days, the acute illness begins with depression, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some dog have no fever, while others have high fever (up to 106°F, 41.1°C). Pups with severe abdominal pain exhibit a tucked-up abdomen. Diarrhea is profuse and contains mucus and/or blood. Dehydration develops rapidly.

Suspect parvo in all pups with the abrupt onset of vomiting and diarrhea. The most efficient way to diagnose parvo is to identify either the virus or virus antigens in stools. An in-office blood serum test (ELISA) is available for rapid veterinary diagnosis Puppies and dogs should not eat or drink until the vomiting has stopped. but require fluid support during that time. This can take three to five days. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent septicemia and other bacterial complications, which are the usual cause of death.

The outcome depends upon the virulence of the specific strain of parvovirus, the age and immune status of the dog, and how quickly the treatment is started. Most pups who are under good veterinary care recover without complications.
Prevention: Thoroughly clean and disinfect the quarters of infected animals. Parvo is an extremely hardy virus that resists most household cleaners and survives on the premises for months. The most effective disinfectant is household bleach in a 1:32 dilution. The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed. it is important to isolate young puppies as much as possible from other dogs and from potential sources of infection until they complete the parvo vaccination series at 16 weeks of age.
Currently, recommendations are for a booster a year from the initial vaccine series and then revaccination every three years.


October 23, 2014

White Dog and The White Dog Army surprised me this Throwback Thursday with a Nuka Angel Marie tribute dinner featuring swordfish (one of our Florida girl's favorites) and carrot cake with LOTS of cream cheese icing (probably the one food Nuka made sure they had plenty of over the Bridge). This week is the first anniversary of her leaving us to follow Quinn.

White Dog and Puff shared stories of when our crabby deaf lady arrived, named Angel...and YoYoMa shared with the newer members what a fashionista she was.

"Nuka hates when you think of her last days," WD told me. "She would do anything to see your tears turn to happy memories." And so for my Beautiful Ugly Duckling who is now a stunning swan whose beauty ALL can see, I send a smile and a kiss on the wings of her song, Bonnie Rait's Make Me An Angel


October 22, 2014

White Dog complained. "You NEVER have a camera or a cell phone at hand to capture these awesome White Dog Army moments." I started to apologize for not having a photographer's instincts but caught myself. "Really?" I replied, "Did YOU know I was about to have front row seats for the WDA Cirque de Bow Wow?"

It must have been something in the air because for a while this morning all of the White Dogs were as full of spit and hellfire as Zsofia, the baby. And EVERYBODY wanted to play. Taiko was seriously concentrating on nudging one of the twenty-five stuffies his sister had scattered across the floor. He seemed intrigued with the connection of stepping on Snakey and it making different noises.

Sachi was pacing along the backs of the two red chairs at the window, like a tightrope walker. He leaped the distance of the end table that stood between them each time. Did I mention he was barkbarking as he paced?

YoYoMa, who was lying on the sunporch, heard the mailman first and came inside spin in excited dervish circles as he called out the alarm. White Dog joined his chorus as she stood on the arm of my chair lunging cantilevered toward the door by her back toes and catching her balance just in time to haul herself back. I was certain she was going to launch herself into space.

Puff had been awakened from a deep nap by the ruckus and was moving half awake across the room when Zsofia came in at top speed, chased by Bella. Zso was loping full-out at zoomie speed and Bella was mere inches from her tail. They charged around the coffee table and I saw Puff's eyes go wide.

There was no time for her to get out of their path. Zsofia was going to crash full speed into my little old lady. I felt Puff stiffen and brace for impact....

...except it never came.

Zsofia, now 20 lbs and as tall as Taiko with LONG legs and youthful reflexes LEAPED over Puff and cleared her by an impressive distance.

Bella, my Tiniest Dancer, managed to twist herself at nearly a ninety degree angle and squeeze along the sofa--barely ruffling Puff's tail furs. Both she and Zsofia came to a skidding halt at the far end of the kitchen.

Puff continued on to the hallway.

And every dog acted as though this incredible four minutes of sensory overload happened every day with a matinee on Sunday. I realized I had been holding my breath and squeezing my hands into balls of positive energy; slowly I let out my breath and unclenched my hands.

"That was simply splendid," I told the WDA, They looked at me and yawned.

Just a quiet note of remembrance on the day after the one year anniversary of Nuka's passing. Not a day goes by that I do not miss your wiggy waggy self and my arms ache to hold you once again snuggled like an infant. I know you could not live without Quinn and I thank you for sending Bella to me to ease my pain. Forever, Nuka Angel Marie, forever Another White Dog.


October 21, 2014

White Dog sighed for the four millionth time and then jumped down. "Stop, momma! There is no easy solution here. We are under virus attack." And so we were, of course it was Steve's late night and it was thunder storming to boot. But the weather was not the culprit.

We could not access an internet connection through any of the hosts. The folders on the desktop would not open. We were in a continuous loop that asked us if we wanted to restart...and when we did, we were asked again. Arrrrgggghhhh. AND not only was it Steve's late night but he is the middle of a final class project for his MBA due this coming weekend and really had no time to spare fussing with computer demons.

Of course, all our work lives inside the electronic box. Plus we need to keep contact with our Blog and FB friends. Plus plus I do most of my Paws To People work via computer. Did I say Arrrrrrgggggghhhhh?

This morning Steve greeted me, with the fact that he had taken the time to fuss with my computer, including a restore of System 8.1 back to October 9 and that things seemed to be working now. White Dog and I showered him with kisses of gratitude...and the others joined in just because they all love kisses and cuddles.

So here in brief synopsis is what you all missed:

Sunday was dreary and drizzly. the White Dog Army was bummed because they had been promised a trip to the Park. NOW all that they could do was play inside games, drill and practice skills...and oh yeah, eat treats...
Monday we were invaded by computer demons AND thunder storms. We all huddled together and wished for Steve to come home and for the miserable day to be over.
Today Steve, our hero, conquered the beasts living in my machine and we are once again connected to the world. The sun is out. The day filled with light and promise. The White Dog Army excitedly cheered when we noticed Bella, our shyest girl, PLAYING with a stuffie for the first time ever! She has come so far in just the past few weeks in terms of being more outgoing and less timid. Her Gotcha Day is approaching in just two weeks and we are thrilled at this progress.
Paws crossed all is now fixed with the computer and we will be back to visiting and daily blogging.


October 18, 2014

White Dog greeted us at the door. The rest of the White Dog Army pushed and shoved behind her. "Well?" they all wanted to know.

I did not even have to ask. I knew they all were dying to hear about the Pumpkin Feelie Heads that they had helped invent and engineer for this year's Howl and Growl Adoption Event at the Pumpkin Patch.

Although they did not like not being able to go...or even send an ambassador...the WDA understood that we were next to the Great Dane rescue group which does not crate its often nervous adoptable dogs and that the event draws lots of costumed children, many on sugar highs and filled with over enthusiasm. There was some relief that they would be spared...except Zsofia who REALLY wanted to go. "Little One," White Dog told her, "maybe next year. You would be a lunatic and momma would be unable to focus on telling people about Paws To People because she would spend every moment worrying about you or keeping you from mischief."

Last summer, at our annual Advisory Board meeting, the Breast Cancer Resource folks gave an excellent presentation that concluded with the passing around of three boxes. Each contained a rubber model of a woman's breast. The object was to feel the breast to find the hidden lumps of different sizes within the "tissue." One of the attendees, feel in love with this concept and became obsessed on how P2P could use a model to educate about lumps and bumps. She threw the challenge at me for the Howl and Growl Event that she organizes. Obviously, a more family appropriate model was needed...and one that did not cost what these professionally made models in special display boxes did.

So White Dog, our resident engineer, and I sat down and came up with a rough concept. The rest of the White Ones helped decide how we would depict various body conditions like tissues, blood, brain matter. Then we debated how to represent the general idea that lumps and bumps came in different sizes and shapes and felt differently. Oh, and we had a typical small non-profit's budget of $10 to do this.

"Keep it light and fun," YoYoMa advised. "Play on the icky gruesome Halloween theme," added Bella. "But make it like a mad scientist thing," Taiko threw into the conversation. "You know, with rubber gloves and stuff." "Yeah, if you make it for the kids, the grownups will play, too, because everybody likes this kind of fun." Puff shared. "And while they squish and feel, they can learn," Sachi concluded.

So we sent Steve on a shopping mission with a list: 4 plastic pumpkin heads, 4 pairs of bright yellow cleaning gloves, oil, eggs, oatmeal, rice, caramels and grapes. While he was gone, Zsofia helped me find heavy black plastic yard bags, the duct tape, packing tape, scissors, buttons, and whole walnuts.

It was like a night in the laboratory as we all gathered together. All that was missing was the lightening storm raging outside (Thanks dog, Yo thought).

Into the pink pumpkin head went cooked oatmeal which had grapes hidden within...

The orange pumpkin was filled with dry rice and soft caramels...

Green, held raw eggs in which walnuts floated...

And the purple was filled with oil and a handful of buttons.

"OK when do we eat the oatmeal and the eggs," Zsofia asked, jumping up and nearly knocking over the lab. "You DON'T," WD snapped, stopping Yo's tail mid wag.

Next came the part where we needed the special skills of our resident architect. The pumpkins needed to be completely closed with black plastic so that it formed a closed sock to reach into the heads and feel around...without being able for anyone to view the contents.

Steve cut cone shapes from the corners of the bag and thrust the point into the pumpkins. Then he duct taped the top edge of the pumpkin, rolled the plastic down a few folds and attached it to the pumpkin. Momma, ever practical, insisted on over taping the edge again sealing both plastic and pupkin with clear packing tape to reinforce the connection so there would be no seal failure as hands pushed in and plunged around over and over.

"What do you think?" Steve tested each pumpkin and thrashed around in the mitten to make sure the system would hold. "Good!" "Better take both tapes and some extra bags," White Dog advised. "You never know."

So here is what we ended up with...and people loved it. Puff was right, more grownups than kids wanted to try and their guesses about what they felt was interesting. The WDA howled at the multiply given response to the rice filled pumpkin..."Is it cat litter and poop?"

And in the course of the laughs and squeals, we had the opportunity to remind people that we can't always tell with our eyes when there is a problem. It is important to hug our pets and feel them and massage them...to know their bodies. Not all lumps and bumps are bad...some are little fatty tissues or cysts...but some are reason for concerns...and all are flags to ask your vet.


October 17, 2014

White Dog tried to trace the ancestry of the Water Buffalo horn chew that for the moment lay unattended in the middle of the living room.

Candace bought it when she went to the pet store to pick up more dog food. She gave it to Skye who chewed it for a couple of minutes. Daisy nosed her aside and took over nomming.

When Zsofia sneaked in for a "What's New" visit, she stole the water buffalo horn and ran out to the yard to hide it. She could not stand having a secret that no one else knew so she brought it into our house...

...where Sachi batted it away from her and claimed it. Zsofia didn't like this one bit and spent a lot of time telling the Little Man that she thought he was an opportunist.

While THEY were arguing YoYoMa calmly walked over and took it away. He laid down by the watching chair to enjoy the prize.

White Dog sounded the deliveryman alarm and Yo leaped into action as second in command. While all were in WDA frenzy mode, Daisy snatched the horn and hopped onto the couch. Zsofia stretched faaarrrrr under the couch and came out crunching...something. That got Daisy's curiosity and she jumped down to see what was hidden under that was so good. Zso went up...and claimed the horn chew.

She enjoyed lying on the couch gnawing her prize but lost her grip on it. It went tumbling to the floor...where Yo smoothly swooped in and reclaimed it...Every one ignored the chew when they heard the sound of the duck jerky bag. It was treat time!

After treats as all of the pups settled into positions for post-treat naps. Sachi seized the opportunity and nabbed the horn and curled up around it...

When he shifted in his sleep and left the chew exposed, Bella crept out from under the chair, took it quietly into her mouth and darted back under into her fortress.

Later, the horn had resurfaced and was sitting in the middle of the room...waiting.

I am not sure whether we should buy more of these horns to chew or if the sharing and stealing makes the game (and even a temporary win) sweeter.


October 16, 2014

White Dog threw herself into my arms and rolled her eyes. "What next?" she asked. "This summer it was ants, then spiders, and now a MOUSE?"

The White Dog Army rushed over to crowd around us, unsure of how to react to the news Michael had just brought from the basement...except he called it a rat! When Steve went down to investigate (thank goodness he is feeling better), he caught a quick shadowy glimpse of a tiny black mouse as it scampered into hiding.

The family reactions were varied. Puff was all ready to go hunting and Zsofia was a student ready to learn from our once nearly feral girl. YoYoMa was OK with the newcomer as long as it didn't try to eat his food and stayed in the basement. Sachi liked the idea of a live toy to chase and bat at. Taiko lived with mice and all kinds of critters in the backwoods of Kentucky as a forgotten boy tied out and mostly left to fend for himself; he was not thrilled with sharing his space again. Bella asked me to hold her.

White Dog wanted the little beast gone! Now! She stared at Michael. "What? I don't have any food under my bed." he protested. "I cleaned up that mess a long time ago!"

Debate among the humans ruled out sticky traps. "Not humane," said Candace. "It is slow tortuous death."  No snap spring traps. "High maintenance, hard to find the right bait, and messy," Steve argued. "I don't want dead a mouse in my room," Michael wailed. "NO warfarin poison," I said. "Even if it is confined to the basement where none of the WDA goes, I won't take the chance. Plus if our Huntress happens to catch him after he ingests the poison, she will be poisoned as well."

Peppermint Oil! Seems this scent that reminds us of Christmas and deters spiders also is a mouse deterrent we learned from an internet search as we brainstormed. The scent has to be refreshed frequently but it is safe and humane.

Quickly we devised a strategy of spraying heavily in the upstairs first, to keep the rodent from coming up into the kitchen and dog areas. Steve and Candace got to work spraying behind the stove, frig, under the baseboards, in cabinets, It was smelling pretty festive despite the true purpose. The bathroom, the vents, the thresholds and window sills all were heavily dosed.

Then the march started down the basement stairs, each was sprayed. The White Dogs followed as far as the gate at the top of the stairs, supervising and yipping threats down the stairwell to the tiny intruder.

After a while, the humans returned and set aside their spray bottles. "Now what?" Michael asked. "Now we hope the little guy takes the hint and finds somewhere else to live," Steve answered. "Woo, wooo woo woooooowooooo!" Zsofia sang to the stairway gate. "Or else!"


October 15, 2014

White Dog and YoYoMa were about to join Bella and I in the office for some serious blog visiting when the call came. It was Steve.

This is his late teaching night when he returns home after 11pm so a call at nine was unusual. "I am on my way home," he announced. "Why?" I asked as the White Ones pressed closer to hear; their tails were wagging. "No wait, I didn't mean to sound like I wasn't glad that you are coming home..."

"I feel awful. The headache that was starting when I left has mushroomed into a screaming pounding throbbing monster so powerful that light hurts my eyes. And I can barely breathe, I am all stuffed up."

"Oh-oh, sickies," I shared with the White Dog Army and Candace. "Do you want some soup or do you just want to fall into bed?" "I'll try some soup and will try to do quick dog walks, too."

I hung up after soothing hurry home wishes. "Dad is sick," I told everyone. "Candace, just to be safe since you can't get sick and still go to work, maybe you and the girls should call it a night. I'll update you tomorrow." She was already gathering her stuff. The White Dog Army was prepping for nursing mode...getting glasses of water ready to promote hydration...laying out a quilt for cuddling on the chair as soup was served...making sure their treats were within easy reach so Steve would not have to get up unnecessarily.

They even remembered to be more subdued in their greeting when Steve came through the door. His forehead was clammy and breath smelled sour. Before pets or kisses, he grabbed a tissue. The WDA followed him into the office to change clothes and then herded him to a comfy chair.

"I am pretty sure our blog friends will understand," WD said a little sadly. "Dad needs us."


October 14, 2014

White Dog used to jump down from our chair and throw a mean look over her shoulder when one of other members of the White Dog Army came into my lap. Time has softened her stance. No one yet usurps her spot on the arm of the chair but she tolerates the occasional intrusion onto my lap. She has come to realize, I believe, that her act of kindness does not take away her status. She is patient when Sachi or Bella or Zsofia...and now Daisy or Jupiter sit with us.

Puff is one pup WD never has worried about demanding lap time. Puff is just not that kind of girl. It took her weeks to even trust me enough to let me pet her when she first came to us. Now she tolerates being held long enough to have her tummy skin moisturized in the morning and to receive a quick kiss on the head; then she asks to be returned to terra firma. And in cases where we must administer medicine or clip nails, she sighs and stares intently at the floor letting her wish be clearly known.

She is more than happy, these days, to sit devotedly at my side (but only in the front room), to place her paw on my foot and sit in the quiet congeniality of being old. Still Another White Dog patiently sits in front of me to be brushed and groomed; she actually seems to enjoy this attention. She will line up to gently accept treats from my fingers...or head rubs as she leans against me. But sit on my lap... no.

On November 19, Puff The Magical will celebrate her 4th Gotcha Day with us. NEVER in that time has she asked either Steve or I to pick her up to cuddle...until this morning.

I almost missed her request, at first it was so tentative. But she asked again with more demand and her look conveyed a genuine desire. I reached down expecting her to scoot away but she moved into my arms. I choked up as my heart filled with amazement.

Four years. I was grateful for how far our Girl had come just in reining in her feral-ness and learning to trust that when we reached out she had no reason to flinch or run. I was willing to accept her terms of affection and to not press her beyond her comfort zone. I understood that she would probably always hold something back...to protect herself and to not be vulnerable.

But this morning my sweet beautiful feisty old lady decided that maybe it was finally OK to lower her shields, even for just a few minutes. It may never happen again. But it happened this morning. And it felt REALLY good.


October 13, 2014

White Dog clung to my shoulder as though she were carved from my bone. It was a day of neediness that seemed to affect all of the White Dog Army, including our extended family, Skye, Daisy, and Jupiter. There was a chill in the air and a sense that soon we would be living in the early dark and colorless days of winter. Everyone wanted to huddle together but even more than that, each wanted to be held and wrapped in personal reassuring warmth.

I was surrounded by nine eager faces, each pleading with eyes and wagging tails to be placed in my lap. Heads pushed under my hands for the comfort of ear scritches and soft massages. I failed in having enough hands, legs to press behind, or laps.

The best I could offer was rotated lap time, head rubs spread out across the pack and LOTS of warm, comforting conversation. Eventually, Puff and YoYoMa took up positions at either side of my two feet and curled up. Bella poked her head out from under the chair to rest it between my heels; and Zsofia claimed the space across both of my foot/paws. Sachi squeezed in between Puff and Zso. Jupiter and Daisy climbed into my lap. Taiko stood off to the edge for a while before finally overcoming his claustrophobia enough to lean over Puff and lay his head along my thigh on the chair. Skye was too shy to force her way in; she forlornly curled up in the pillows on the couch and watched out of the window for her Mom (who was at work).

"Speaking of work, " I whispered to the settled White Ones. "I am not getting much done."

White Dog, who I thought was snoozing, answered me. "Momma, believe me when I tell you there is nothing that you could be doing right now that is more important than making this group feel calm, safe, secure and loved. You will have time to to clack on your keyboard and shuffle papers, but right now, you are giving a piece of yourself in the name of love. Look at those faces. Look at mine. Today we need you just to give us extra love and attention...and we are all so grateful."

I kissed the Little White Dog of My Heart and rested my head against her. Suddenly the mess on my desk seemed pretty trivial...and so did the press of my bladder.