The fireflies in my park are beautiful this summer.

Normally I’m not in the park that late – Aggie prefers her schedule to change as little as possible. But between the heat (pushes to after 7pm) and my evening class (to after 8pm) I get a wonderful view for at least 2 nights a week.

The combo of the growing moon and the fireflies is just beautiful. I can almost imagine that I can’t hear the roads, even from the middle of town. And I can rekindle my fantasy of a cabin in the woods and hearing no “town” sounds, watching fireflies and wildlife drifting through the fields and listening to owls.


The funniest thing happened in the park this morning.

As you may or may not know, it is sopping wet in the midwest. My park is a mudhole.

So this morning, to avoid some of the extreme mud puddles, I had to stay centrally located on the main avenue (that’s the main grassy path that runs right up the middle of the park), instead of taking any of the fun side trails.

Aggie, of course, roamed much further and wetter. She was at the far end of the avenue when I heard a deer coughing and it jumped one way and then another to run from her. She didn’t chase it far; deer are fun, but they are too big to do anything with.

So Aggie came back and was making her way slowly towards me via the tall-grass field on the right – just her tail showing and wagging.

That’s when I saw the deer come out of the trees on the left and stand in the avenue, watching Aggie. Every few moments he (and I don’t know if it was male or not – no antlers right now) would step closer, following her. She made her way across the avenue to the left where a larger opened, grassy field, still sniffing in circles. The deer circled around behind some trees and followed her into the field, slowly moving closer, watching her every move.

Finally, when the deer was about 15 feet from Aggie (about 25 feet from me), she noticed the deer. They both paused, then ran at each other, circling like a bull and matador, before the deer coughed and leaped into the woods.

Aggie didn’t chase long, but backtracked, sniffing in the other direction. And about 5 minutes later the deer was poking his head through the trees again, but didn’t engage Aggie again – just watched.

This absolutely happened, and I wish that I’d had a recorder to prove it – it was hilarious! I have no idea what the deer was thinking.

dog discrimination sucks!

I’m in a newer category of the discriminated-against: the dog person.

I’m not going to claim that I have it worse off than a lot of other people that are discriminated against by race or gender characteristics – that’s just not fair or right.

But dog people are definitely discriminated against. We’re restricted in parks, we’re restricted on beaches, we’re restricted in hotels and by any transportation system, we’re restricted in rentals, we’re restricted in neighborhoods.

I’ve met with more bad people in my life than I’ve ever met bad dogs (and to be honest, I’ve met more dogs total than I have people), but people aren’t restricted nearly as much. Which is ironic because we put “bad dogs” down, but let “bad people” go… I don’t get that! As far as I can see, we need to practice spaying and neutering of humans even MORE than we do of dogs (or cats)! And I’m all for spaying and neutering your pets.

I am currently in a new apartment search – oh joy, so much fun! – which is awful enough, in and of itself. And, no, I really don’t want to buy a house. I’ve looked into that before and decided against the hassle. I still dream of moving away some time (soon, I hope!).

Finding an apartment that’s well-maintained, small and efficient, not too big, but with enough storage, that allows 1 dog and 1 cat (both extremely well-behaved), and 1 person (less well-behaved) and not going to gouge my funds is almost impossible.

And if the owners allow dogs, they often put a weight limit of 35 lbs. Which drives me crazy! If you have a dog smaller than 35 lbs, it’s usually a barker – not always, but very often. It’s as if the smaller dogs have to make up for their size deficiencies. And that makes them BAD neighbors – especially in a complex! You’re better off with a larger dog that is quite and mellow, than a tiny dog with a Napoleon complex.

I moved last summer because of MOLD! The most awful thing to deal with, and I’m still dealing with the repercussions, but not the landlord – as far as I know, Lauren’s still renting that moldy hole in the ground. I actually loved that apartment because of the location, but the mold was SOOOO bad it gave me daily, excruciating headaches. I’m still finding contaminated things and getting rid of them as I find them. By the way, running the fan of the HVAC system just SPREADS mold spores. It does NOT help the situation – which is what Lauren tried to tell me. Mold spores are designed to spread on the air. If you don’t have a dehumidifier and fix the foundation, then the mold is just going to get worse!

I moved to a new place that seemed okay – new management wanted to remake the neighborhood, with responsible renters and comfortable living. But I was “personally guaranteed” quite a few things that never happened. In fact I had a window fall in, in my living room, while I was on the west coast!! And this, after being promised “new windows” last summer.

Thank you, Cory Hake for lying to me!

So, 0 for 2 on my landlords. You would think that bad managers would go out of business, but there is no really good way to let unwary renters know what they are getting into. You can only be so suspicious of people, until you get to know them better. If I assumed that all landlords are lying to me, I’ll never find a better place to live.

I’ve had a really good idea for a small apartment complex in any college town, but I have way to implement it. I’m not going to explain it on my blog, but if I had the funds, I’d be very tempted to look into the possibility of converting a complex to see if it would work. I’d have to find someone who knows the business and run it by them, but part of me just wishes I could show the crappy managers of the world that doing a good job is actually possible.

… on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be on site all the time, either. So…

… back to topic… discrimination against dogs and dog-people sucks! Each dog and dog owner is different. There are good and bad, just like other people. But it’s almost guaranteed that we’re the ones paying the dues, fees, restrictions.

I need to move to a town that really and truly loves dogs… it may be a myth, like the Shangri-la.

Rescue Ink

I get a weekly newsletter about anything and everything “dogs” called “Dog Times Weekly”.

It’s okay. Some things I agree with, some I don’t. It can be pretty interesting. There are editorials about Cesar Millan, the pros and cons of his training style, and alternative training styles. There was an article about his 16 year old pit bull Daddy, that died in March.

There’s some interesting stuff on an older trainer and behaviorist, who has had less publicity named Ian Dunbar. I admit to finding this stuff very interesting.

This week there was a bit on an episode of Dr. Phil, who apparently had an unrepentant, convicted dog fighter on his show recently. He also brought out some guys from a dog rescue group called RESCUE INK that looks like a Hell’s Angels gang.

I had a lot of fun surfing their site. It just cracked me up! I love that they are so “tough”, with their tattoos, muscle cars and motorcycles, but they love their animals too… it was just a fun website to check out.

Anyway, the bikers were quite a contrast to the dog fighter, in both looks and philosophy. And they almost got into in on stage – does that make Dr. Phil the new Jerry Springer?

Still, I’m all for the guys that want to protect the dogs. I don’t care if some dogs WANT to fight, as this Rob Rogers claims. We don’t let kids fight in school; bar fights get the cops called on them. And if you’re training dogs to fight, you’re using dogs that don’t want to fight as bait at some point – so as far as I’m concerned, he has no argument.


So, today I get to welcome my brand new nephews Samuel and Daniel – I listed Sam first because he is the second born, which means he’ll probably always be listed second after this.

Samuel Ryo was born 16.5 inches long and 2 lbs, 15 ounces – wow! tiny! (Samuel’s on the right in the picture).

Daniel Sho was born 17 inches long and 4 lbs, 3 ounces. (Daniel’s on the left in the picture.)

They were born about 8 weeks early; small, but fully developed and don’t need much help except a Daniel needs a little oxygen to dry his lungs.

Mother and twins are doing great, despite the drama today.

I’m so glad that Risa’s sounding happy and healthy, I hope her recovery is speedy.

I wish that I could go out and see everyone now, but my parents are driving west as I write this.

So congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law for being new parents; and thanks to my Aunt Julie, who has been a rock helping them get to the doctor and understanding what he says and asking the right questions; and welcome to the two newest members of our family!!

Casey, Kasey, or KC

To mom she was Caser; to Nathan (a family friend) she was “KC, in the Moor-ning!”; to dad she was KC.

I guess it doesn’t really matter how you spell her name. I think each of us spelled it differently, at different times while she was alive. I spelled it with a “C”, but she wasn’t really my dog.

Oh, my dad will say “until the sun goes down” that Casey was my dog. After all, I brought her home. But she wasn’t. She was dad’s dog, his boon companion and walking partner.

It’s a bit of a story, how we got Casey. Just after Christmas Break, my last year in college, the 18-year-old family dog, Pepper, died of kidney failure. Pepper had been around for 90% of my life at that point, but she was frail and it wasn’t a surprise when mom called me up. It was a Wednesday, January 20th, 1999, around 4:30 pm. I still remember…

At one point my mom hinted that she’d like a lab-mix, and a friend from college told me about a pup at her grandma’s farm. It turns out that M (my friend) had “rescued” an unwanted dog from friends on the east coast while she was visiting. The golden retriever-beagle mix was apparently rather stupid and unliked. I never saw her so I can’t judge. By the time M got her to the midwest, she was pregnant by a black lab – she had 5 black lab pups in late September 1998.

M brought the dog to her grandmother’s farm and since “grandma” was an old-school farm lady, and she didn’t want the dogs she “did away” with the mother and three puppies. There were two left and grandma really only wanted one. So I trucked out there to see her.

This pup wanted nothing to do with me. She was almost 6 months old, had lived entirely on the farm, and was practically unsocialized. But M promised she was sweet, just shy. I couldn’t leave her to be drowned, or whatever. So I gave in… yeah, sucker!

A few weeks later, I packed up the car for spring break and went back to the farm. After 2 hours I finally caught this half-wild dog and I set her on the front seat, where she didn’t move for the whole 2 hour drive. When I got her home she didn’t move, but had to be picked up to be moved around, she was that scared.

Dad took one look at her and told me to take her back.

But in a few weeks, after learning what a leash was, a trampoline, and that no one was going to hurt her Casey was finally named and became part of the family. She was fist Spot (because she was all black), Apple and BC (Black Cherry) led us to Casey…

I was home that summer, freshly graduated and no idea what to do. Casey and I took some obedience and agility training, which was a lot of fun – when she wasn’t running off to sniff, completely ignoring me. Actually, it was all a lot of fun – she loved hiding in the tunnels…

But soon I had to move for a job and Casey couldn’t come with me; not that she wanted to. She didn’t enjoy change. For years dad told me that “my dog” was waiting for me. And I’d always meant to take Casey with me – but by the time I was in a position to do so, she had totally fallen for dad.

And when dad was recovering from bipass surgery, he took up walking all over town – really long distances – and Casey was his partner. People around town knew exactly who they were and would ask after Casey on those rare days when she wasn’t with him, pulling over to the side of the road just to ask.

Casey was a quiet dog, she didn’t bark much; but snorted and snored like nothing I’ve ever heard. She had the perfect black lab head, that cocked just to the perfect angle. She looked like a black lab with her legs cut short like a beagle’s. And her tail was a WMD, knocking into everything, and leaving bruises when she wagged it.

Her fur was soft, like a plush stuffed animal. And she shed it like crazy, leaving drifts of hair around the house and in the beds; on the sofa; on her favorite chairs; on the back porch when we brushed her…

Casey was so sweet that most people loved her at first meeting. She’d sit patiently waiting to be pet and then put a paw up just to remind you that she was there. She could “shake” hands with either paw, switching when you were done with one and offering the other, repeating until she got a treat. And she could hold a Milkbone on her nose until you released her – which she rather hated, but put up with patient dignity.

And she was a sulker – when someone was leaving, and the suitcases were out, Casey could pull out her misery and wrap it around her like a cloak. She would turn her back on the proceedings and face the wall. It was so bad that my brother would put her out the back door just so he didn’t have to face her when he was loading a vehicle to leave.

It’s hard thinking that I can’t pet her silky ears again, or hear her nails scrabble on the wood floor as she preps to jump on the sofa or bed.

It’s interesting how attached we get to critters. They are there all the time, so much so that we forget to appreciate them – often like family. But they add so very much. To a house they add presence. To a homecoming they add joy. To a quiet evening they add company. And no matter that time spent must come to an end, just as with any relationship, there can be only passing sorrow for it. Remember good times, and happy days make all the difference.

Cherish your pets. Like many relationships, and more than most, they are so very special.

all is not lost, for Aggie’s torn ACL

Aggie’s knee has not been well lately. In fact, it’s been down right awful. I hate watching her limp around, trying to do all she used to on three legs instead of four, feeling like there’s nothing I can do. My vet gave not a lot of hope, unless I paid for the surgery – which I cannot afford. In fact, she told me I might as well save up for the other knee, if I could not fix this one.

I met a woman in the park this past weekend – actually, I’ve seen her before, with her three dogs. It’d be hard to miss her because one of the dogs is an ancient golden retriever, that has to stop and take breaks. But Saturday, we were going the same direction, at the same time, so I slowed down to walk with her. This was before Aggie’s knee went really bad again, but going slowly is better for her knee these days anyway.

So we talked alot, about our dogs (of course!); good things and bad. When I mentioned Aggie’s issues, she gave me the cell number of a vet that specializes in accupuncture and sports medicine for dogs.

The next day was Sunday, and by Sunday night Aggie’s knee really swelled up. I called the vet – Sherri – on Monday and made an appointment for Wednesday (today!). She does clincs once a week in my city, because her home-based clinic is 30 minutes south. But there’s a “sports/training center” up here and lots of people can use her speciality there.

We went and I didn’t have much hope. I think that when I spoke to her on the phone she was expecting a different kind of dog – a typical, nerotic, over-weight American pet. Aggie is not that at all. She was highly impressed with Aggie’s physical condition and athleticsm. And Sherri said that it was going to make all the difference in her recovery.

Sherri is pretty sure that Aggie’s hips are just fine and that she hurt her knee stepping in a hole in the park, or twisting too fast. She says that Aggie’s kneecaps, are just a little short for her athleticsm and if she wasn’t the “mighty goddess of the hunt”, then it wouldn’t have been a problem. But because of Aggie’s habit of running down squirrels, it just not quite long enough to keep the knee aligned.

Yes, there are surgeries to correct the problem – specifically TPL surgery. There are lots of people online that say both “get the surgery” and “don’t get the surgery”. And they both seem to believe in absolutes. I think that there’s those that can afford to pay for anything there dog might need and then there are the rest of us. I also think that different dogs are in different situations.

Aggie’s in great condition and that’s really going to help her in the end. She’s at a great weight and strength, and she’s relatively young. There’s nothing to say it won’t happen again, but she can still have a good life.

So, I decided to go ahead and do our first accupuncture session. She’ll have another in a month. Mostly this is to ease discomfort in the other knee – which is getting alot of added pressure from all the limping – and her back, and it will help promote healing in her bad knee. It’s not designed to help the pain in the bad knee because she needs to beaware that its not healed yet, so that she doesn’t overdo it.

I think Aggie really liked the accupuncture. She’s sacked out sleeping instead of right by my side, and lately she’s been needy and clingy, instead of resting like she should be.

I have high hopes that I can at least make her comfortable and that she can still be healthy.

vet visit

DSC00850Yesterday we tripped our way to the vet – again.

Jenner spent the night for a kidney/liver/urinary check. He’s good. Healthy and happy… thank GOD!

Aggie went with us. 6 months ago, for her yearly check, it was actually cheaper to get a “package” deal than to separate everything out. This included 2 vet checks. So we went – it was already paid for. Besides, she’d been limping for a good week; hobbling on three legs sometimes.

It turns out that she’s torn her ACL in her right leg. I’m thinking she actually did this 2 years ago when she slid on some ice, but recently torn it up again.

Surgeries to repair ACLs run between $800 to $1600 or so. Impossible for me right now. Not to mention that I live where stairs are unavoidable. Not good for knee surgery recipients.

She’s doing better this week. I’m making her slow down to walks in the park. But yesterday her hind end collapsed twice. Once on the stairs to the basement level and once leaping into the truck.

I’m looking at more supplements for joints and ligaments. But the vet tells me that her other ACL will probably go.

My poor girl. 

Jenner update

It’s Wednesday and Jenner is much, much better – so far.

Sunday I would have sworn we were on our way back to the vet  on Monday – possibly for the last time. I was very worried and unhappy about it, but just tried leaving the whole thing to God. I couldn’t handle it, at all.

Peggy helped alot that afternoon, when we spoke on the phone. I was very grateful to just talk it out with her.

But then on Monday, Jenner was so much better – playing and eating. He still needs to drink more and more water, but I think his antibiotics started to really work about that time.

He’s been like that for 3 days now. I’m very happy to see him so affectionate and back to wrestling with Aggie. It just wouldn’t have been the same without him around to lord over the dog and demand attention from me.


My poor Jenner-cat spent last weekend in the “hospital”. He had a “blocked urethra” which basically means he couldn’t pee.

This is really, really bad.

With the urethra blocked, the bladder fills and can’t be released. Which in turn stops the kidneys from working. Obviously this is very bad and is a cruel way to die.

And not cheap.

He spent the weekend catheterized to flush his system and came home Monday. It was a quiet, empty house that Aggie and I came home to on Sunday (we went to the parents’ once the vet said that Jenner was safe).

But the next few weeks are dangerous because he is most likely to relapse within this time. And he will have to be continually watched for this condition the rest of his life, and have special – read ‘expensive’ – food.

 One of the difficulties is getting Jenner to drink more water. Just like kidney stones in humans are mostly prevented by drinking lots of water, it helps cats for these blockages of mucus and crystals as well.

I’ve acquired saline to inject under his skin for the next week, from the vet; as well as antibiotics. Jenner’s body will absorb the saline and that will help until I figure out how to trick him into drinking more. Sticking a needle under his skin and getting a cat to hold still as a bubble of saline forms, is not easy.

I bought a drinking fountain, that filters water and is supposed to attract cats because it’s fresh and more interesting than a bowl… Yeah, Jenner’s very suspicious of it and was down right scared of it the first night.

He finally checked it out after 3 days, but it’s not “safe” yet.

It’s funny that my beast of a cat is frightened by a little trickle of water.

But I need him to drink and drink and drink.

If he doesn’t and becomes blocked again, I’m afraid I’ll be out of options.