Dogs, Cats and Other Phenomena

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dogs and Heartworm

Just went to my regular vet to buy cat food for Callie when I figured I should also get the heartworm for Nikki as I used the last of her puppy pak. I was surprised to learn that she needs a blood test first. Seems it takes 6 months for heartworm to show up so they don't bother doing the blood test. They give the preventative stuff. When the initial puppy pak runs out, it is important to take in Miz Pup for the blood test. I'll buy her heartworm medicine then.

So in case you haven't done this for your pup yet, get the blood test and get your dog on the preventative medicine. From the Humane Society:

It's a devastating, debilitating illness found in every corner of the United States. So why, despite the fact that the disease is easily preventable, are millions of dogs, cats, and other animals across the nation heartworm-positive?

According to Dr. Amy Attas, V.M.D., founder and owner of CityPets, a veterinary house call practice in New York City, pet caregivers often don't realize that heartworm is something that could affect their pet. Others are deterred by the cost of the preventative medicine.

But, despite their constraints, caregivers simply can't afford to wait until this indiscriminate illness strikes their pet before taking action.

"Heartworm is a common disease, and treatment is costly and dangerous," says Nancy Peterson, issues specialist for Companion Animals at The HSUS. "Educating pet owners about heartworm prevention is good medicine."

Hope for Heartworm Positive Hurricane Victims

Of the thousands of animals that have been rescued and triaged by animal shelters this hurricane season, it is estimated that up to 80% are heartworm positive. To help provide a clean bill of health to these pets, The HSUS has teamed up with the ASPCA, the Humane Society of Greater Miami & Adopt-A-Pet and American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to create the Hurricane Heartworm Treatment Program.

Grants of up to $500 per animal are available for heartworm treatment at AAHA-accredited practices. To be eligible for the treatment the animal must have been rescued by one of participating 200 shelters nationwide.

For more information about the program, visit the AAHA web site.

Attas agrees. "This is a devastating, even fatal, disease that we can safely and inexpensively prevent. Without prevention, animals are exposed to this disease which, in its early stages, has no symptoms."

Heartworm is transmitted to animals through a bite from a mosquito containing the infected larval form of the heartworm. When an animal is infected, the heartworm larva can grow and develop into worms. These worms live inside blood vessels within and surrounding the heart and lungs. The adult worms mate inside the blood vessels, and their offspring—which are called microfilaria—circulate in the bloodstream. These microfilaria can be picked up by another biting mosquito, and then passed to another animal.

The disease can be easily prevented, but it does require a visit to a veterinarian. Dogs must be tested to ensure they don't have heartworm before putting them on preventative medication. By federal law, heartworm preventative medicine is only available through a prescription. Pet caretakers should consult with a vet to discuss their pet's individual needs.

Vets may tailor medication depending on the type of pet. Although cats can be infected, heartworm is typically more serious in dogs.

"Cats can also become infected with heartworms, and in some cases the disease progresses in the same way as it does in dogs, where the worms settle in the blood vessels and heart," says Attas. "However, because the parasite is not as well adapted to cats, sometimes the immature worm is unable to complete its migration."

Another consideration is geographic location. In some parts of the country heartworm is much more common in certain areas than in others.

"Although heartworm infection has been found in dogs in all 50 states, it is much more prevalent around the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts," says Attas. "The temperature and humidity in these regions support mosquito populations, which are the vectors that transmit this disease."

Once infected, animals with heartworm can be treated if the disease is caught in time, but there are several drawbacks.

"The treatment, although effective, is painful, expensive, and can have side effects," says Attas.

If the disease goes untreated, the results can be fatal.

"In dogs, the adult worms live in the cardiovascular system and cause a great deal of physical damage. Severely affected dogs develop heart failure because the physical presence of a large number of these worms can actually obstruct blood flow through the heart. Untreated heartworm disease causes serious cardiovascular complications which can be fatal."

Pet caregivers can start making heartworm prevention a priority by scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian in their area.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Birthday Fun Plus Nikki's "Gift"

Today was rather an eventful day. It didn't start out too promising ... up at 4:30 a.m. to take Callie to the vet for radiation. Trying to find a hiding cat at 4:30 a.m. isn't too much fun and also vacuuming up a spider in the hallway isn't my idea of a rollicking good time either. Dragged poor Callie out from behind the couch and off we went. Came back home, went to bed and slept rather badly. Headache. Got up too late so couldn't spend too much time with Nikki. Put her outside with a big chew while I took a shower.

I was in a hurry as I had to pick Callie back up, return home and then meet my sister and her daughters at the old Lido theatre in Newport Beach to see the movie, Pride and Prejudice. I looked out the dining room window and was horrified to find that Nikki had decided to make me a birthday present. She had totally ignored the chew I had put out there for her and was EATING MY WELCOME MAT!! Thanks but no thanks, Nikki! I brought her back inside and left the clean up for later. I hurriedly took a picture of it through the slider screen.

Luckily, the rest of my birthday day was far more pleasant! I met Cathy, Angie and Allie and right away they gave me a button to wear that said, "30 and Loving It!" Works for me! We saw the movie ... I hadn't been inside that theatre in years. It's a very beautiful Art Deco theatre and when the lights go down, the fish motif mural, painted with fluorescent paint, lights up. Plus, they serve herbal teas, coffee, etc. Rather nice concession stand.

We ate next door at a very cute diner-like restaurant. I had scampi over a bed of fettucine. Very good. Got lots of nice presents off of my Amazon wish list, including a book about a true-life murder. When they wondered why I wanted this book, I explained that the murder had taken place back in the 80's around the corner from my house. In fact, Cathy and I had grown up with the original inhabitants, the Donovans. I wonder if Tommy knows what happened in their house after they moved?

I was surprised with apple pie a la mode delivered to me by singing waiters. Stuck in the middle was a BIG, BLACK CANDLE with my true age on it. Aargh! :-)

All in all, a very nice birthday thanks to my sissy and my nieces. Got a phone call from Mari and her hubby singing happy birthday to me - very nice - plus emails from people wishing me a happy birthday, so that was great too.

Oh, when I came back home and let Nikki out, she immediately picked up the pieces of the welcome mat in her mouth. I had to clean it up right there and then, otherwise she would have been swallowing those pieces. What a kid.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nikki & Kayla, Together Again

The Mad Twosome got together again for 2 hours of rollicking fun on Sunday! (As you can see, Nikki is thankfully back to her old self, after NOT ingesting a grocery bag.) The two really get along great and have the best time! They go non-stop ... playing in the pool, rolling in the dirt, running into my kitchen and getting mud everywhere, jumping up on Robin and me with their dirty paws, wrestling, chasing each other, skidding across the concrete patios .... Ah yes, it's a dog's life!

Here is Kayla checking out my back gate. Something intriguing must have been on the other side of that gate! She was pretty cute when they were leaving. We were in the front yard and suddenly Kayla began barking at something only Kayla saw. Nikki looked around, trying to find this scary thing Kayla was barking at - she wanted to bark too, you see! Nikki was puzzled over her friend's behavior. (Yeah, like SHE'S never barked at herself in the reflection of a TV or window.)

I threw a chew into the back yard, thinking that the two of them could chew on it together (like they did at Kayla's house), but this time Kayla would grab it and run around the back yard with it. I kept thinking how one shouldn't run with scissors in your hand .... Hey, same thing, right?

Kayla's pretty smart. Robin said that when they got off the freeway, Kayla began to whine as they got closer and closer to my house. Seems Kayla recognized her surroundings and was eager to get to her buddy's house! Additionally, when Kayla and Robin left, both dogs were a little upset. Nikki tried to get into Robin's car with Kayla, which was pretty funny because she doesn't always enjoy getting into a car. And they both whined.

I was hoping Nikki would be asleep for hours after her play date but nope, she only had a short nap! She must be building up her stamina.

Anyway, took lots of pictures and videos of course. Plus I made an 11-minute short featuring last week's doggie rave. (Rave of 2.) Oh, and today Nikki is 32 weeks old.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Big Scare

I've been wondering how much Nikki weighed and wanted to get her on a scale soon. The good news is that Nikki weighs 53 lbs. and is still growing. (She won't reach her full height until she's a year old and it will take another year or two to reach her full weight. Nikki will be a BIG dog!) The bad news is that I had to rush her to the vet today, so that's how I know how much she weighs.

When I got up this morning, I immediately saw that Nikki was acting very subdued. Since she sometimes is a bit slow to wake up, I didn't think too much about it. But an hour later, she was still very subdued, almost as if she was depressed. She didn't eat anything, but she doesn't always eat her kibble right away. But when she turned her nose up at a treat, that's when I knew something was wrong. I mean, this kid doesn't say no to a treat.

I threw the ball around for her a bit, thinking perhaps she was bored. She perked up a bit but didn't play very much and didn't run hard. And again, wouldn't take any treats or food.

Yesterday, while she was in the back yard alone, she had gotten into the construction crew's stuff and shredded a grocery plastic bag. When I came outside to get her and saw what she had done, I was very worried. After all, if she had swallowed part of a plastic bag, it could kill her. So I put that together with her lethargy and appetite loss and figured I better call the vet.

They advised me to bring her in right away, so I did. Jan and I were supposed to go to the movies this afternoon, so I called her and told her what was happening. I didn't know if I had to cancel or not. We ended up canceling it right then. I was bummed about that because I haven't been to a movie since I took my mom to the movies in 2003.

Nikki sure perked up at the vet's. All those people and smells! The vet looked her over. I asked if I was overreacting and he said no. Anytime a Golden Retriever pup doesn't eat, that's cause for concern. They x-rayed her but plastic doesn't always show up. The doctor only saw gas. He gave her a shot to settle her tummy and I'm supposed to pill her too. If her appetite doesn't come back by Tuesday morning, I'm to take her in and they'll do a barium. Vet bill was almost $170. (Plus Saturday I took Callie to the vet, today I took Nikki to the vet and tomorrow I take Callie in again for radiation.)

I also called Rock Bottom Construction and left a message, asking that they get all their stuff out of my back yard. My back yard should be a safe haven for Nikki. I really try hard to have a safe environment for her so this was rather upsetting.

I bet it is just an upset stomach ... looking back, I bet she had too many treats yesterday. I took treats on her walk as part of her training. Next time I'll bring kibble.

But talk about stressful! And Callie is so thin!! Not good. She isn't eating her regular food. She did want the cooked chicken that I bought today so I fed her some. Not too much as I didn't know if it would upset her stomach. The other 2 aren't eating much either. Food is going to waste.

The good thing that happened today was that Nikki (who seems a bit better) was so much more docile! I put on her leash and we went into the den. Max was sleeping on my mom's throw blanket which was on the sofa. Nikki didn't even see him at first. She sat at my feet and played with her bed. (The one she ate.) She turned it over and sat on it. She was pretty good and for the first time, Max, Nikki - and also Callie - and I shared the den. Sometimes Nikki would get the urge to chase the cats but I held on to her. I hope to try it again tomorrow! I thoroughly enjoyed this quieter, calmer Nikki. Even though she liked the smell of the chicken, she actually didn't give me a hard time while I was eating my chicken and rice. Nice to get through a meal without having to shove her out of your lap.

Nikki still hasn't eaten kibble yet but she did eat a small portion of a healthy treat.

Wish us all luck!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Monster That Ate Her Bed!

You see this bed? This bed was new. This bed was just bought last week. It became Dog Fodder today.

Everything was going so well. Nikki had chosen the bed herself at PetsMart. It was warm, cozy. Just perfect on these chilly fall nights. Nikki played with the bed when I had it on the den floor, so I put it in her crate instead. Took out those uncomfortable sheets and towels that had been her bedding.

Did she appreciate this kind and loving gesture on my part? No, I fear not.

It all started about noon. Nikki had been taking a nap but began to cry to go outside. When I walked into the kitchen, my heart stood still. Very briefly. There was Nikki, looking up at me with those big brown eyes. Surrounded by little pieces of Styrofoam that were everywhere. Just everywhere.

Somehow, this ingenious pup had managed to unzip the bed and then tear at the Styrofoam inside. She ripped about half of the bed.

I let Nikki out. She drank water ... any thoughts on why she was thirsty?

I cleaned up the mess. Zipped up the bed and put it into the den. Tonight, Nikki began tackling the bed. I think she'd make a good football player.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nikki, My Little Goof & Callie, My Brave Girl ...

Ah, the Nikkster was in rare form last night. She backed out of her car harness in the Petsmart parking lot and then almost backed out of her collar too! Luckily, a woman helped me get her under control and she tightened Nikki's collar. (See, I took her to Petsmart the day before to be groomed and they put the collar on too loose.) Talk about scary. I had to drop everything and grab her so she wouldn't take off. Again, was I lucky that lady stopped to help me!

Another mistake I made was getting to Petsmart too early last night ... 1/2 hour before training. I thought she'd get there and calm down, but I don't it quite happened that way. I was worn out before training started!!

We worked on Sit with distractions and Come with distractions, also Heel, Leave It and Drop It. I had brought her new Big Mean Kitty toy (really cute!) to class but that didn't distract her enough. Luckily the teacher also had brought toilet paper rolls. Nikki covets paper. I could be reading something and she'll leap up and tear it out of my hand. She did that to the election booklet. Anyway, when we first practiced Come, she stopped to grab the TP rolls but then later, she came when called. I need to work on that one with another person.

Oh, and guess we're no longer going to use Let's Go when we walk, but Heel. Heel is more formal and you start on the same foot as the side she's on. So it's Heel (walk 5 paces or so), then Sit (clicker, treat), OK, Heel. OK is the release command. The clicker is the same as saying Yes. Good idea to click and say yes at the same time as you won't always have a clicker in hand. Nikki tends to sit in front of me and that isn't good enough. So I have to make her sit on my side. Then she gets the clicker and the treat.

Took Callie in for more radiation today. Luckily, we don't have to go back until Saturday. I think she's not eating as much and she keeps blinking and has more eye discharge. I'm sure it's related to the radiation. Again, she lost weight. Callie is happy to be home. Very cute. On the way home, I opened up her cat carrier and petted her with my right hand while I drove. When we were almost home, she rested her head against my hand. What a little love.

Joey Bear still sneezes a little bit. Max and Callie are fine, however, as far as sneezing goes!

It's been threatening rain all day but we've had nothing but a few sprinkles. The gardener hasn't shown up in weeks and Noe (the guy who needs to finish the construction job) hasn't shown up yesterday or today. I may put a sealer on the stone to bring out the color. Guess there are different sealers to choose from ... have to ask if there's pros and cons to applying the sealer.

Went to Dunn Edwards to pick up new paint combo books. Unfortunately, the new ones won't be out for another 2 weeks. But they'll have even more combo books in January. Darn. I think Travertine might be too dark for the body. I might be interested in Cashmere for the Stucco and Coral Clay for the siding. Whisper for the trim. Not sure about the accent ....

Well, how's this? Cashmere for the stucco, Coral Clay for the siding, Swiss Coffee for the trim and Burnt Crimson for the shutters, etc. Also, there's this possible combo: Barley for the stucco, Whisper for the trim, not sure about the siding ... but it would be 2 shades darker than Barley ... and Woodlawn Green for the shutters, etc. I really like the Burnt Crimson but wonder if it's too close to the door color? Woodlawn Green would go with both combos. The Cashmere combo is more subtle, more taupe. The Barley is more on the browns and tan side and is brighter. Barley is darker than Cashmere. But keep in mind that I need to tie in my gray roof with my paint choice. This is vital.

Feedback please!

Trying to start my children's story but am having a hard time deciding if it should be a practical story or a whimsical one. Not easy to decide tone, what "person" to tell the story in - and age group!

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Kids

Today was a day of ferrying around my 2 girls. Callie went in for her 2nd radiation treatment at 5 AM and 7 1/2 month old Nikki went to get a much-needed bath, her nails trimmed and her teeth brushed at PetsMart.

I must admit, Callie has lost weight already! I noticed it when I was petting her and sure enough, she weighed .75 lbs. less. I don't think she ate much today. I'll have to try to encourage her to eat tomorrow, if I can. I'm not sure if her eyes feel OK - her left one bothers her. I wrote a note about it when I checked her in, but not sure what was thought about it.

Nikki did pretty good. She's excitable so she jumped around when they were trying to bathe her, etc., but she's a good girl. It was funny, last Tuesday when I took her to class, I stopped to purchase items. (PetsMart has a good racquet. Every time I go there for training, I buy something!) Anyway, I was busy at the cash register and a little girl stopped to pet her. Nikki was great with her! Well, today, two very little twin boys (that have their own big dog) stopped to pet her and she was great with them! They jumped but it didn't bother her. Luckily, their mom was watching. Nikki just loved the attention. I'm so happy that she appears to be so good with kids.

What can I say? She'll do anything for treats and attention. Mommy? Who's that?? That's my girl! :-)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Callie, Joey Bear & Max

Well, Callie had her first radiation fraction yesterday. I took this picture after getting her home because I wanted to show the white marks - as you can see, the marks are V-shaped and have the texture of Wite-Out. You see, the radiation is done in between those marks. They can't get the machine to do it any smaller so her whole nose is getting radiation. That means that her little nose will not be in good shape by the end of the month ... she'll have mouth ulcers and other yucky stuff. Poor little thing.

We're supposed to keep the white marks on so they don't have to re-do them, but I wasn't too successful with that. I always clean the cats' eyes, so I bet I wiped away part of the marks! Oh well. I think they charge for that too. I'll learn.

She has to go every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday for 4 weeks. Which means tomorrow, both Callie and I have to get up around 4 AM and drive in the dark to the vet. Not very much fun, especially for her. They put her under briefly. I believe that just the treatments alone will cost over $2,000.

The second picture was taken Saturday morning ... it was chilly and the kitties were seeking some warmth. Max scratched his way to get under the comforter while I was in bed. Later, I found Joey all snuggled up in my comforter, so I just had to take his picture.

I took several pictures of the cats playing with my dangling lens cap. Here's one of Joey and Max. Cute, aren't they?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Callie, House, English Comedies, Ugh.

I have to take Callie in tomorrow morning for her first radiation treatment. I wish this all wasn't happening. She's such a little doll - loves to sit on me and purr, attacks my feet, gently, and is generally very loving. So this is weighing on me very heavily. I think she's going to feel lousy afterwards. And it will probably burns her face.

We have to be there at 5 AM, which basically means getting up at 4 AM. Another UGH.

The pilasters are almost done, thank God. They're looking good. I had a landscaper stop by to talk about an estimate, etc. He said that they were doing a good job.

Today wasn't a good day really. I need to really start working on my other issues, such as finances and writing and graphic design .... Ugh. Fear. Feel overwhelmed. Feel alone. Not fun.

Don't really have a lot to say. Should be in bed already. I fell asleep on the couch with a cozy blanket on me, watching my English comedies on TV - Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Waiting for God and Fawlty Towers. They're on channel 50. You know, I totally slept through Are You Being Served, which isn't a favorite of mine anyway. So saw bits and pieces of my shows. Callie slept on me, which was nice.

As for poor Nikki, I keep trying to set up play dates for her but no one calls me back. OK. Whatever.

Oh, and a big birthday is coming up - a lousy one - and that ain't helping. And my parents are gone. My mom was lucky. When she hit this birthday, she had both her parents, her husband and her kids. Not at all the same for me.

Am I feeling sorry for myself?? You bet! :-0

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Intermediate Training for Miz Pup, Etc.

Yes, last night, Nikki and I went back to PetsMart for our Intermediate Training. Actually, my little goof did surprisingly well. I actually got her in the car without balking (her, not me) and off we went! We got there early on purpose, as I wanted her to calm down before training started. She did, so I put the Gentle Leader on her. Just then, the rest of the pups showed up - 4 large dogs, I believe. There was one little guy, but since he thinks he's a large dog, he does OK. Another one barked a lot and was a bit overwhelming in general for Nikki. The one that was close to her in temperament was a female lab. I could see them becoming Buds in the future.

Nikki greeted all of them and her Gentle Leader came off; it had been too loose. So we adjusted it and got it back on her after she calmed down. Then we all walked up and down aisles, practicing Sit, Wait and the clicker. She did pretty good! The Gentle Leader really changes her behavior.

At the end of class, I mentioned to the trainer about what my sis had suggested about getting Nikki her own pet bed to sit on as I planned to buy the bed that night. She said yes and that we were actually going to have a class in it! Wow, so that's cool. I guess we're to bring the bed or blanket and have them Settle on it. So we went over to the pet beds, the trainer picked one out and put it on the floor. Nikki immediately went on the bed and snuggled in it! So Nikki chose her bed. (Naturally when I put it down on the kitchen floor, she decided to play with it instead and pull on it with her teeth. O-K.)

Nikki was so tired out by the end of the class that she didn't have the energy to jump up on this young girl that began petting her. She just leaned on her and enjoyed it. I was so surprised ... I mean, Nikki hasn't been around kids very much. I told the girl that Nikki really liked her, which made her feel good! It was very cute. People walked by and said how cute Nikki was.

So back into the car for us. I got in the back seat and tried to coax her in but she balked! So I got out, and somehow she got her front paws in the car, so then I got the rest of her in.

Nikki thoroughly enjoyed herself and conked out pretty soon after we got home!

The construction crew is back today. I don't know about the color of the concrete ... it's such an important element, especially as it would be impossible to fix without spending lots of money. As for the pilasters, they're getting closer to finishing. Finally.

But if you take a look at the planters, I'm not sure I like the color so far. We'll see how things go. Talk about confusing. So will acid washing lighten it? I think I need to look up information about colored concrete. If any of you out there have had experience with it in the past, please tell me what you know about the process.

Oh, and the gardener didn't show up today. I was sure he was supposed to turn up last week and he didn't. Then I got a bill stating that they came on the 19th, but I'm trying to remember if that was true or not. Grrr. I remember after my father died, the grass (or shall I say the weeds) got about a foot high, yet they were charging us as if they had been to the house. Same gardener. I'm trying to wrack my brain here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


The penny has dropped ... I think. Looks like Pebble's # is 641 and so is the color for the concrete that Jeremy wanted me to use. So it's just a matter of mixing it according to the color chart, which obviously the worker knew nothing about. The other colors that had been under consideration have an entirely different number.

So now the question is, how light will the planter cap dry? It will take longer there because there is no direct sun. The guys didn't show up today. I love it how they tell me first. I'm assuming that they'll come back when the concrete is dry. But they're still working on the pilasters. I would have thought they would be done by now. They can't be that hard to do!