Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: pets (Page 1 of 2)

In which I discuss my dog’s health.…ish) update to talk about my dog. Yesterday was dominated by our trip to the vet. For one thing, the trip itself was anything but quick. I love our vet, but she’s all the way out in Bixby (a neighboring town, about a 25-minute drive from where we live). We’d made our appointment for 11 AM, and took pains to arrive a bit early, only to find the place shut and locked. Unfortunately, our phones only work with a wifi connection, so we could neither check to see if they’d left a message about rescheduling nor call someone to find out what in the what was going on.

But since we’d driven so far to get there, we weren’t about to just turn around and go back home, so we waited. About 20 minutes later, the vet’s SUV rolled up and the entire staff piled out like scrubs-wearing clowns, apologizing and explaining that they didn’t know anyone was coming and thought they had time to go get everyone’s flu shots.

We were tempted to get angry and be like, “…isn’t that why we make appointments?” But we opted to see it as an exercise in patience. And it’s a good thing we didn’t pitch a fit, because it turned out that the assistant did indeed call and leave us a message, which for some reason never showed up on our end, telling us that she was moving us to Wednesday because one of Pete’s meds wouldn’t be in stock until then.

Anyhoo. For those not in the know, Pete, our 6-year-old Chihuahua, started having seizures about three years ago. This year, they’ve gotten frequent enough for us to decide to medicate him. Trouble is, he also has elevated liver enzymes and a low thyroid, which the vet believes may be causing the seizures. Either way, since anti-seizure meds are hard on the liver anyway, we have to treat the liver and get it down to normal before we can start him on those.

“You guys go on and see the vet without me. I’m good right here.”

So in addition to a daily thyroid pill, he also recently did an antibiotic regimen for his liver, and we’ve had him on Denamarin (a combination of Sam-E and the active ingredient in milk thistle) for a couple of months now. He’s also taking Val-syrup, a B-vitamin complex with liver fractions.

The vet gave him a check-up and drew his blood (which turned into a somewhat traumatic ordeal for Pete when she had trouble finding a vein), and then we had to wait around some more for the test results. Which is actually kind of fun, because the inside of this place is basically a free-range domestic animal zoo, with dogs and cats everywhere, a baby (and somewhat bitey) Flemish giant rabbit, and even a pot-bellied pig to keep us entertained.

Finally, the results: no improvement. In fact, his liver levels were slightly higher than before, and his thyroid was about the same.

So she renewed his meds and wrote us a prescription for Royal Canin hepatic formula dog food and told us to switch him to that. Problem is, we have strong reservations about putting him on that stuff. Royal Canin/Hill’s Science Diet foods are kind of notoriously not nearly as good for dogs as they claim to be.

After we finally got back home, I spent the rest of the day being kind of obsessive about research. I didn’t find anything that made me feel better about feeding him that Royal Canin stuff. So now we’re considering switching him to a home-cooked diet, but we still need to do more research and figure out if that’s really something we can both afford and make time to do. In the mean time, we’ve switched him over to Blue Buffalo, which is much better quality than that Rachael Ray stuff we’ve been feeding him. The variety we picked out has liver-friendly ingredients. We’ll also start giving him only filtered water, and keep up our efforts to get him slimmed down (he’s lost a full pound since the beginning of the summer. He still has one more to go). We may just keep giving him this food until his next liver check, and then if there’s no improvement, we’ll switch to homemade.

Dear readers, do any of you have experience with this? Have you had to battle seizures and/or liver problems with your pets? Do any of you feed your dogs a homemade diet? I’d love to get your input in the comments.

PS – if you haven’t yet entered to win free copies of both my short story collection Midnight Snacks and the horror anthology Dead Ends, there’s still time to enter!

And in case you missed it from our last trip to the vet, here’s exactly what Pete thinks about keeping his appointments:

Hell, or Oklahoma? (I think that question might get asked a lot.)

So last week was… well, not Hell. But it was Oklahoma in the summertime without air conditioning, which can be easy to confuse for that other place. At any rate, it was one of the most difficult weeks in recent memory, speaking on a purely physical basis, and not much got done that wasn’t taking cold showers and giving the dog cold baths and sipping cold drinks and watching DIY air condenser repair videos on YouTube and generally hating life.

We first noticed that the condenser fan had stopped running toward the end of the previous week. At that point the temps weren’t so bad, so we didn’t panic. We were able to jerry-rig a screen on our patio door (which doesn’t have one built in), open some windows and turn on all the ceiling fans, and between the low-90s temps and the steady breezes, we were comfortable enough that Matt thought maybe he could take the time to learn how to fix it himself. I give him an A for effort and an A+ for tenacity, and I do believe he learned a lot. But by the time Thursday rolled around and it still didn’t work, the breezes all died away and the heat index ratcheted up to 111, he was ready to throw in the towel and call in my brother, who repairs ACs for a living.

Now I’m sure you’re asking, “Jean, if you have a brother who is an AC repairman, why on earth did you suffer with a broken AC for an entire week before calling him?” And there is an answer for that, albeit a lame one, and it is that we were afraid it would be awkward. See, in all the time we’ve lived here we’ve never had him over, and we both hated the thought that the first time we ever invited him over was to fix our air conditioner. Now, in our defense, we don’t know where he lives or what his place looks like, either. I guess we’re not really all that close. We usually see each other at Mom’s house on holidays and other occasions, and we text each other on occasion, and that’s usually enough.

Still, it felt awkward enough that we put it off for as long as we could. Of course, in true big brother fashion, he was happy to take time out of his Saturday to come take care of it. He replaced the capacitor and did some rewiring and got it running again, much to our relief. We paid him in pie and a promise to have him and my SIL over soon to feed them dinner and not ask him to do any manual labor. And thus endeth our week of pain.

But like I said, for the most part, it wasn’t that terrible. We spent a lot of time out on the patio, and on the worst day I took my laptop to the library to get some work done. Poor Matt, though, had to stay home to make sure the pets didn’t overheat. That was our biggest challenge, especially keeping Pete cooled off, because he was really having a hard time with it. Basically, we kept him wet pretty constantly and fed him a lot of ice. Toward the end, I rigged up a bandanna with a pocket to hold an ice cube that he could wear around his neck, which seemed to help.

But that was a week of lost productivity immediately following another week of productivity loss due to me simply feeling like crud all week. So I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I made up a lot of ground yesterday by doing all of the laundry, plus some mending, and vacuuming and other house work. Now I need to get some articles written and finished up while there’s still enough daylight left to do some yard work. After a weekend off, though, I’m having trouble getting the writing gears fired up again, so hopefully writing this post will give them a bit of grease and get me going.

Speaking of writing, it’s been two weeks since I’ve even attempted fiction or thought about the direction I want to go there. Once I’m caught up, I need to sit down and do some serious thinking in that regard. At any rate, I think it’s pretty much a given at this point that I won’t be doing the July session of Camp Nano. But good luck and happy writing to any campers who are.


sashaSasha first came into my life — or rather, I came into hers — in January of 2005, not long after Matt and I started dating. It was my first visit to his apartment, and we were both excited for me to meet his only pet, this dainty little black and white kitty that he’d gotten as a kitten only two years before. She was a cutie, all right, and she clearly adored Matt — and she HATED me on sight.

I spent a lot of time at that apartment over the couple of years that followed, and I tried everything I could think of to get Sasha to like me. Every now and then, she’d seem to soften toward me. She’d let me play with her, trying to catch my hand as I wiggled my fingers over the arm of the couch, or losing her cool (in the good way) over a piece of yarn whenever I brought my knitting over. Every now and then, she’d even let me pick her up for a cuddle.

Except that the games were usually considered “won” once she  managed to inflict pain and draw blood, and the brief cuddles usually ended with her hissing and slapping me in the face. It was abundantly clear that, to her, I was merely “the other woman” and she had no use for me, but I just never learned. Or rather, I was determined not to give up, because it was also abundantly clear that Matt and I would be together for the long haul, so she just had better get used to me.

A few months before our wedding, Matt’s apartment complex caught on fire. Worried that the fire might reach his apartment, he brought Sasha over to my place, and since we were already planning to live there after the wedding, we decided to leave her there and give her time to adjust to living in a new place and get used to my pets — Niblet, my brown tabby, and Fizzgigg, my toy poodle (who I suspect was actually a malti-poo). Fizzgigg had been over to the apartment a few times, so he and Sasha were well acquainted, but this was the first time she’d met Niblet, and, excepting a short time spent at her grandparents’ house and being exposed to their cat, it was her first time having to put up with Another Cat.

Sasha was not a happy camper. We tried to introduce her and Niblet slowly, but somehow, the pet gate between them got torn down and the fighting commenced. Niblet didn’t know what hit her. She was almost twice Sasha’s size, and yet Sasha was a tiny spitfire who kicked her hinder up and down my loft, jumping her at every chance. Eventually, Niblet learned to fight back, and Sasha became less prone to ambushing her, but they still fought like… well, like cats. Once, poor Fizzgigg got caught in the middle and took a claw in the eye. Eventually, they all learned to get along, albeit grudgingly, and we settled in as a family. Except that Sasha still wanted very little to do with me.

2008 brought with it a series of events that once again rocked Sasha’s world. First Fizzgigg, the one family member she seemed to like other than Matt, passed away, and then a few months later we moved into our current house. Shortly after that we got Pete. Sasha spent the first six months or so in our new house hiding behind the living room couch, only coming out to eat. Just as she was starting to come out of hiding for more than just long enough to eat and pee, Boudica showed up and sent her scurrying right back behind the couch. But gradually, she started venturing out, and getting to know the new cat, and she and Boudica eventually became buddies. More amazingly, Sasha even started to tolerate and occasionally even play with Pete. And she no longer fought with Niblet (at least, not often).

And she still didn’t like me much.

Then, something amazing happened. I caught Sasha clawing at the carpet, and Matt wasn’t readily available to get onto her about it, so I had to do it myself. At this point, I had been part of this cat’s every day life for five years, and she still acted like I was an annoying stranger. But once I took charge and disciplined her, it was like a flip got switched, and suddenly she acknowledged that she was my kitty, too. After that, she started letting me love on her, and she even got in my lap a few times (though she was never much of a lap kitty). She even submitted to letting me do things like trimming her claws, and medicating her sores when she developed flea dermatitis.

All the same, though, she was always kind of a loner, and kept mostly to herself. Which is why we didn’t notice the tumor growing inside her armpit until it became the size of a golf ball.

Matt wasn’t available to accompany us the first time I took her to the vet to get it checked out. So it was just her and me in the truck on the way to the vet’s office, her exploring the cab and meowing with a mixture of fear and curiosity, me trying to reassure her while navigating the freeway, and then she ended up in my lap, then up on my shoulder, clinging to me while she watched out the window. She kept clinging to me in the vet’s office in between examinations and medications.

Surgery followed, and we thought maybe that had saved her. Then there were follow-up appointments, and when it became clear that the cancer was back, weekly appointments to get her medicated and hydrated. Matt went with us on most of the subsequent trips, and Sasha quickly got to where she enjoyed the ride, stretched out on the bench between us in the sunlight. With Matt on crutches, I was the one who held her during the exams, the one she clung to once the vet finished poking around on her. It touched me, the way this cat who for five whole years wanted nothing to do with me was holding onto me for reassurance. It also tore at my heart, because I could feel her growing lighter with each passing week as she began wasting away.

We started letting her go outside when the weather became warm. She had been an indoor kitty all her life, so to her it was like a trip to Disney World. It didn’t take long for her to start asking to go out on her own, and she’d just go out and lie down in the grass and sleep, contentedly, in the sun. Sometimes we’d go sit with her, and she’d rouse and go back and forth between us, head-butting our legs, before settling down between us, purring and kneading her claws in the grass. We also started giving her canned food to help keep her hydrated, and she instantly became addicted, following Matt every time he went into the kitchen and demanding her food. She had a voracious appetite for the stuff.

On Sunday, it became clear that her illness was finally getting the better of her. She was walking more slowly, and she couldn’t jump up on the couch by herself, and stumbled when she tried to jump down. That didn’t keep her from following Matt into the kitchen, but she couldn’t eat as much as she had been. By the time we went to bed on Sunday night, we half expected that she wouldn’t make it through the night.

And yet, on Monday morning, she was there to follow Matt into the kitchen. She ate an entire can of Fancy Feast, which gave us hope, and afterwards she begged to go outside, where she lay down in the grass. After a while, when she hadn’t moved, Matt went to check on her, and she couldn’t even lift her head to greet him. I went out with them, and we just sat there with her for a long time, petting her and telling her how much we loved her, what a good kitty she had been, and saying our goodbyes.

But then she found the strength to get up, and we all came back inside. We settled her on the couch, on the quilt she liked so much, and spent the day just being with her. Every now and then, Matt would bring her a bite of food, and she managed to purr as she ate it. Later, we took her back outside to get some more sun.

When we went to bed that night, we both kissed her, and told her again how much we loved her, and that we hoped to see her in the morning. But she left us in the night. Matt found her Tuesday morning in her bed, a bed I had knitted for her and the other cats. We wrapped her up in it and took her out to my mom’s, where we laid her next to Fizzgigg in a part of the yard that serves as a pet burial ground. It’s a pretty, shady spot, quiet and peaceful, with the sounds of the lake lapping against the shore down the hill as background music to the neighbor’s wind chimes.

If you had told me five years ago that I would be so heartbroken to lose Sasha, I might have been a little dubious. Of course I would have been sad, but at that point I still thoroughly thought of her as Matt’s cat, just as she did. But she has been my kitty as much as his these past few years, and especially these last few months. She still adored Matt more than any other human, but she made it clear that she loved me, too, that I was no longer the Other Woman. Somewhere in there, I had become Mom.

Good night, Sasha girl. We love you and we miss you, but you’ve earned your rest. Say hi to Fizzgigg for us, and try not to poke his eye again when you two play together up there.

Easter Sunday

Well, this last week kind of went off the rails after we took Sasha to the vet on Wednesday, where we were told that it would take nothing short of a miracle to save her and that she’s probably only got about two months left. That’ll definitely put a damper on your day, to put it lightly. So the focus now is on trying to help her feel better and keep her quality of life up for as long as possible. Of course, we’re still praying for that miracle, because you never know.

At any rate, for the last few days I’ve only been as productive as I had to be, and Matt and I have both been spending most of our free time pampering and loving on our kitty. We’ve been taking her outside to enjoy the lovely weather, which I suppose to an indoor kitty is tantamount to going to Disney Land.

Yesterday was actually a great day, in spite of everything — I jotted down some scene prompts on note cards in preparation for Camp Nano, then after a Walmart run (the only unpleasant part of the day) we swung by the deli at Harp’s and picked up some fried chicken and catfish and had an impromptu early Easter dinner. On the way out of Harp’s, we met a lovely gentleman who had injured his leg in Viet Nam and wanted to share some prosthesis advice with Matt, which turned into an interesting conversation in the middle of the parking lot, as these things do.

After stuffing ourselves full of chicken and catfish (and fried potato wedges and coleslaw and dinner rolls), we spent the afternoon hanging out in the back yard with Sasha, Pete, and Matilda the turtle (Niblet and Boudica were both content to stay inside and snooze), soaking up the warm weather and semi-fresh air. After we came back in, I made a pair of earrings for a friend’s birthday, and then we got in bed and watched a couple episodes of Justified while I finished up this belt that I’ve been working on for about a month.

Today, we’ve had church, and some Easter candy, and I’m waiting for some boiled eggs to cool so I can devil them and we can have protein munchies along with more Easter candy, to balance out all that sugar. And then I will make some more jewelry, since all my tools are already out, while I catch up on my shows. We might take Sasha outside again at some point, and later on we will surely watch Doctor Who and more Justified (we were planning to watch The Ten Commandments, but apparently this is the year that they finally decided to stop showing it every Easter, for some reason). We could have gone to my mom’s today for a big family Easter to do, but I’m at a place right now (and I believe Matt is, too) where it’s just too hard to be the odd childless couple out on kid-centered holidays. It’s all just too much of an in-your-face reminder of what we’re lacking. But we’ve been enjoying our low-key, child-free holidays surrounded by our fur-babies and the freedom to act like big kids ourselves.

Tomorrow: Camp Nanowrimo kick-off, client stuff, and Sasha goes back to the vet.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Update on Sasha Kitty

So we’re back from the vet, and it’s worse news than I’d anticipated. Sasha’s cancer is back, and so is the infection. She was dehydrated and running a fever, so they gave her some IV fluids and antibiotics and loaded us up with two different kinds of oral antibiotics and some vitamins.

The vet sounded hopeful and said she believes there’s a good chance that by taking care of the infection Sasha’s immune system will become strong enough to keep the cancer from growing and spreading, and then we can figure out what to do from there. And I might end up having to learn how to give her subcutaneous fluids to keep her properly hydrated. At any rate, we’re asking those in our circle who pray to do so for our kitty. She’s a tough girl. She came back from that surgery fighting and we believe she can beat this, too.

The Dresden Files: Ghost Story

Dresden Files Ghost Story

I FINALLY read this book (seriously, y’all, sometimes I almost want to quit writing just so I’ll have more time in my life for reading, which is not easy to come by as it is). It was an enjoyable read, as always, with lots of tugging at the heart strings and wanting to give Harry a big ol’ hug. The ending was pretty much exactly what I expected, although I kept wondering throughout the book how it was going to end up there, and although unsurprising it definitely set up some interesting dynamics for the continuation of the series. I don’t really have anything to add by way of review, just some fan-girl babble that I will place behind a cut because it is somewhat spoilery and also, fan-girl babble.

Continue reading

Our Tornado Closet

Tornado season is here, and if you live in Tornado Alley like I do, that means it’s time to make sure your storm preps are ready.

We haven’t had any majorly severe storms in our area yet this year, thank goodness, but I haven’t let that keep me from getting our storm closet ready. Unfortunately, our house lacks a basement or cellar, and as much as I’d love to, we can’t afford to install a tornado shelter or safe room, so we have to make do with our bedroom closet and a lot of prayer. Continue reading

Survival Crafts: DIY Pet Harness

Recently when putting together a bug-out bag for my pets (more on that in a later post), I realized that I needed harnesses for each of my three cats. We have carriers for each of them, but once we get to our bug-out location we don’t want to keep them crated the whole time, and we don’t know how safe it will be to let them run around unsupervised. But faced with no money to go out and buy three harness and leash combos, I turned instead to my massive yarn stash, and to the Internet, where I was sure I’d find instructions on how to make some harnesses.

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Early Birds

I have a confession: I haven't written anything on Dominion in over a week. There's really no excuse, other than that my mojo has been seriously off since my dog had a seizure last Sunday night and we rushed him to the animal ER. Pete's fine (though possibly epileptic), but that event set off a chain-reaction wherein we had to get up early (oh SO early) on Monday morning to pick him up from the hospital and take him to his regular vet, which took up half the day, and recovering from sleep deprivation took up the rest of it, and meanwhile my husband decided that this was a perfect opportunity to turn our night-owl habits around and start getting up earlier EVERY day.

Y'all. We had night-owl habits because WE ARE NIGHT OWLS. This comes naturally to us, and I don't see any reason to fight nature, especially since neither of us has the kind of job that forces us to do so. But Matt's determined, and he keeps waking up earlier, and when he wakes up, Pete wakes up, and then Pete has to be sure to wake ME up. And as much as I have fantasized about what it would be like to be a morning person and get up early and knock all of my work out and have the rest of the day to relax and do fun stuff, the fact is that I am just not wired that way. It certainly doesn't help that now I'm forced to take a Benadryl every night to help me doze off in time to get a decent night's sleep.

So I'm still trying to adjust to our new schedule, and figure out how my writing fits into it. You'd think that I could simply do my usual routine in the same order, except earlier, and that this would not be a big deal. But for some reason it hasn't been working out that way. But maybe that's just because I spent the bulk of last week feeling foggy and unfocused and pretty much useless. Now it's a new week, and I'm starting to feel normal again, so hopefully I'll get my new writing routine figured out. I guess I need to do the 250 Words A Day Challenge again to get myself going.

In other news, if you're following my blog tour, in the last two weeks I've been interviewed at QuirkyGurl Media, and I answered a drabble prompt for Helmy Kusuma's blog.

And now I’m going to make myself write 250 words and then go do yard work. IN 75 DEGREE WEATHER, Y’ALL! ??? Fall ???

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