Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Aging Giant

Mabel is eight years old. When you are a giant breed dog that means you are somewhere around seventy in people years.  (You might think of dogs' aging as faster by the pound.)

Mabel's gait is a bit stiffer these days.  Clearly, her back hurts sometimes.  For a while, aspirin eased her discomfort.  Eventually though, we had to get a Rx from the vet for something stronger.

Speaking of the vet, a few weeks ago, it seemed like Mabel was drinking more water than usual.  This may be symptomatic of any number of things:  dry food, medication side effect, urinary infection, diabetes, Cushings disease, Pyometra, something else, or even nothing at all.

Mabel was due for a physical in April anyway.  So, on a crisp February afternoon, I was juggling a jar of urine, a bag of poop, and the other end of a leash attached to a very reluctant Mabel, heading through the door of our local animal hospital.

Results of the exam:  urine fine, poop fine, blood not so fine.  Turns out Mabel has some extra baby red blood cells.  With nothing else in the tests suggesting a clear reason for these results, the vet uttered the c word. We should look for a "mass".

A few days later, following a six hour fast,  Mabel reported back for her Xray.  She's a big gal so they had to take three views to see all of her abdomen.  (You get used to it.  As with age, with big dogs everything costs by the pound.)  Results:  Mabel has arthritis of the lower spine (we didn't need an Xray to tell us that).

Though the vet was determined to find a "mass" and sure it had to be on the spleen, there was no mass visible on the Xray.  Well, says the vet, we've got an ultra sound!  We can get a better look.  The mass might be hidden behind the spleen or within it's folds (The spleen is like a tongue, you see.  It can sort of undulate, change position).  OK, I say, poor Mabel is still drugged, let's go ahead and search for the "mass" with the ultra sound.

Results.  No mass.  (But it's gotta be there!)  "Sorry," says the vet, "Mabel is so wide I just couldn't see everything.  Here's a referral to Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Small Animal Division" (Wait!  Small Animal?!  Will their ultra sound be able to access Mabel's wideness to find the mass that just has to be on Mabel's spleen?!).

Reality check.  The ONLY diagnosis offered is spleen mass.  The treatment choices are:

1.  Do nothing.  The dog will live out his life for however long that may be.

2.  Cut the dog open, still don't find a mass.  Remove the spleen (the problem has to be the spleen!).    If the dog survives the surgery this might buy him a few extra months of life.

3.  Cut the dog open, find a mass on the spleen (it has to be on the spleen!).  Remove the mass along with the spleen.  If the dog survives the surgery and the mass is benign, this may buy the dog a few extra months of life.  If the mass is cancerous, start chemotherapy.  This may buy the dog a few extra weeks of life.  Or, do nothing more and the dog may live a few fewer weeks of life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 33

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Today we visit an old topic.  Stonehenge.

You know, that grassy knoll in the UK with a bunch of really big rocks?  Some say it's a calendar, some a cemetery.  Some believe aliens placed the rocks there for some nefarious purpose.  Others suggest it's a Druid temple.  There is ever new speculation sprouting to explain these big rocks. 

What is the latest new theory?

It's a portico.  The roof is gone now, but
it was originally simply somebody's
 back yard patio?

Hostmaster:  incorrect.
It's a game left behind by
giants?  Like dominos?

Hostmaster:  incorrect. 
 This latest idea of what Stonehenge
was used for comes from a British historian,
and art critic who says since ancient Brits
always worshipped the sun and moon from
an elevated alter, then obviously the stones once
formed a complete circle upon which a wooden
 platform sat.  Other "experts" reject this
 theory saying there is no proof.  Some of these
 experts seem to be mostly annoyed that a
 guy who isn't an archeologist is offering up a theory.
This ought to be good for tourism, anyway.
You are so disrespectful.  These
ancient people have freedom of
religion too.  This could raise
awareness about tolerance for
moon worshippers.

Hostmaster:  oh boy.

I got a better idea. Let's use Piltdown Man
to raise awareness about
 scientists that cheat. 

That's not a bad idea!  Alert the
Global Warming Deniers!

Hostmaster:  so ends another round.
Round 33
Fluffy/Molly  15
Bryan/Cyndi   13

Friday, March 13, 2015

Being At Large

It has been seven months since I retired from walking other people's dogs.  When people ask, "what do you do?" the answer used to be easy.  "I am a dog walker."  Now, the answer is less clear.  I've taken to declaring that I am "at large".

Still, though at large, I've not been idle.  Most of the walls in the house have been washed.  Alas, the previous owners smoked, so it's going to take at least one more go around to create a palette upon which all those pretty paint colors that have been chosen can adhere.

Garden planning is revving up.  An area of the yard was prepped last fall.  The seeds I ordered have arrived, some can be started soon.  This is my first try at starting seeds indoors under lights.  Happily, Malcom has a stash of light bulbs he will share, for he loves tomatoes. 

There are, of course,  some wonderful advantages to being at large here at the new homestead.  This winter, that unused pair of snowshoes that had been stowed among my belongings for over thirty years have been dusted off and put to use in my own backyard.

New vocabulary word!  Sasturga, a noun, plural sasturgi.  It means ridges of snow formed by the action of the wind.  I have tread upon the sasturgi.

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 32

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Our question comes from the highly evolved domain that is social media. 

Facebook offers 58 gender identity options for their users to describe themselves.  Apparently, 58 just isn't enough to cover all the variations.  So one more option has been added. 

What is this 59th option?

This is confusing. It seems to me that 
if you can't find a way to describe your
gender with 58 choices maybe it's time
 to leave that question blank.
Hostmaster:  good answer, but incorrect.
I saw a list of the 58 options.  It's
hard to imagine they left out any
 possible variety.  Maybe the
 59th choice is, "whatever I feel
 like at the moment?"
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
You are such bigots.  People who are transgendered
or don't follow narrow minded ideas
of sexual identity are treated terribly.
It's time they were given social
recognition for their labels.
Uh huh.  Demand recognition
for newly created labels while defaming
 those who chose traditional labels. 
Hostmaster:  do you have an answer Cyndi, or do you want to pass out some raise awareness ribbons first?
You are so hateful. 
Many people are suffering
because they can't choose a
bathroom they're comfortable with.
Most buildings don't
have enough space for
59 bathrooms.
Hostmaster:  Fluffy?
Since the multiple choice didn't pan out,
 maybe they switched to fill in the blank?

Hostmaster: correct.  So ends another round.
Round 32
Fluffy/Molly  15
Bryan/Cyndi   12

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Breed Profile: Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is not originally from Labrador, but from Newfoundland.  His original job was to help fishermen pull their small boats into the harbor, drag fish nets out of the water, and to retrieve waterfowl.

 Not used so much by fisherman anymore, today's Labrador Retriever is employed as a hunter's helper,  a guide for the blind, assistant to the disabled, show dog, law enforcement, fly baller, search and rescue, agility, and game for most any activity involving his people.

The Lab is a cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic, amiable dog.  He is slow to mature, so owners must be ready to endure puppy style attitude well into the dog's second year.  Exuberance aside, given proper instruction, Labs tend to be patient and trustworthy around children and other pets.  Their keen desire to retrieve things can be channeled.  If it is not, prepare for the inevitable.  The dog will "retrieve" your slippers from the floor beside your bed before you step into them.  The dog will "retrieve" unidentifiable objects from the yard and bring them into the house.

This high energy dog needs exercise and activity to keep him from creating things to do such as chewing the sofa.  Speaking of chewing, Labs tend to be very mouthy.  Provide appropriate toys for them to chew and teach them what is and is not ok to put their in their mouth.  

The double coat of the Labrador Retriever comes in black, yellow and chocolate.  The outer coat is short, straight and dense, the under coat is soft and water resistant.  Yes.  Labs shed.  In abundance.

Lab Manifesto

- you've heard I'm easy to train.  That is true as long as you keep the treats coming and are willing to repeat yourself (and the treats)

- if you are looking for a mellow dog, get a Mastiff

- my otter shaped tail is a weapon that I don't mean to use but cannot help but use.  Please don't yell at me when my inherent joy causes my tail to sweep glasses off the coffee table, slap adults on the thigh or little kids in the face

- I like everybody so if you want a watch dog, get a suspicious character in here, like a terrier or a goose.

Some Lab Facts

Life span :  12-14 years
Height:  21.5 - 24 inches
Weight:  55-80 pounds