Dog Care in Today’s Crazy World

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Most of us expect to begin taking medication at some point in our lives, particularly those of us with small children. What many of us don’t expect, however, is for the family dog to begin taking medication. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first generation to actually provide dogs with things like health insurance, plastic surgery, organ transplants and dentures.

When I was a kid, our dog seemed content eating table scraps, chewing on car tires and barking at the hot water heater. Those things were referred to as character.

Now, of course, these things are referred to as unbalanced, and require psychological treatment, a diet plan and regular nightly flossing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t provide our pets with the kind of health care they deserve. I’m just saying that I should have the option of being covered under my dog’s health plan, which — with its dental coverage — is far superior to my own.

A few weeks ago, I took our Labrador to the vet after a series of “accidents” in the middle of the night. I believed this was the result of either a) our dog having an incontinence problem, or b) the cat dipping our dog’s paw in warm water while he’s sleeping.

Our vet said the only way to be sure was to obtain a urine sample from our dog for testing, at which point he sent me home with a plastic container roughly the size of a shot glass. As I feared, our vet explained that the sample had to go DIRECTLY INTO it in order to eliminate any chance of contamination.

There was never any question that I’d be the one stalking our dog with the shot glass, trying to catch a free pour until I either got the sample or was reported by a neighbor to the SPCA.

I should add that our dog has always been a little jumpy, and a week of being stalked by someone trying to steal his urine hasn’t helped.

After obtaining the required sample, I took it to the vet for testing and had my worst fears confirmed, which is that our dog does indeed have better health coverage than we do. I also learned that a dog’s incontinence problem can be solved through a very simple, easy-to-follow combination of prescription medications, with one pill given once every other day, and a second pill given twice a day, every other day, but not on the SAME day as the first pill. After a month, the sequence is then reversed and continues until the incontinence stops completely, or both you and your dog are so confused that you don’t care WHO pees on the floor.

Being that I am an organizer, I came up with a plan to keep track of everything by color-coding the pill bottles, then color-coding the calendar to match the correct sequence. As an extra precaution, I also created a spreadsheet that can be checked-off each night and, if necessary, used as a back up in the event that we all go color blind.

Of course, none of this really mattered because our dog refused to swallow his medication.

When I tried sticking the pills in his favorite treat, it worked great. But it sort of defeats the purpose of having a prescription discount when you’re spending $40 a month on cheddar cheese.

That’s when I, the dog-wrangler, decided I could force our dog to swallow his pills by placing them on the back of the tongue and poking them down with my finger.

In retrospect, this was clearly a bad idea.

On one hand, I can tell you our dog did swallow his pill; on the other hand, I can also tell you most of his stomach contents from that day.

This brought me back to the cheese option, which I’ve stuck with for the last several days. While this has made giving prescriptions to our dog a lot easier and helped with his incontinence, the high rate of cheese consumption has created a different kind of problem — which has prompted a return to the vet.

And I’ll tell you right now that if he wants a sample of THAT in a shot glass, he can do it himself.

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I thought my house was safe!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have a German Shepherd as part of my family.  Before we had this charming little lady, we had another Shepherd.  In the 13 years I have been with my husband, we have always had a German Shepherd.  As our family has grown, and our houses have changed, one thing has remained the same; every time I want to get a home alarm system, I am told not to waste my money.  There is no better alarm in the world than a good guard dog.  This is a fact.  She will bark to tell us when friends arrive, she will bark to let us know the neighbours have let their dog out, she will bark when the mail arrives, and she will bark especially fiercely when my in-laws walk in.  (I swear I had nothing to do with that)  The truth is, our door is hardly ever locked, because I always figure that if someone can make it past our shep, then they have earned whatever ill gotten gain they can find!  And then it happened.  The one thing that none of us ever expected.  A break in!

We were sitting in the family room two nights ago when the dog suddenly ran down the stairs to the basement.  She went so quickly in fact, that I thought she fell down the stairs, possibly having had a seizure.  When I asked my son, who was sitting much closer to the dog than I was, what happened, he said that it looked like she was chasing something.  After a minute or two, she came back upstairs and lay down in her usual spot, so we figured that maybe it was one of those hideous bugs with the 10,000 legs.  Five minutes later the exact same thing happened.  Being a big believer in letting the men be the heros, I sent my husband and son down to the basement to see what all the fuss was about

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And there they found it, right underneath my work desk, a little field mouse.  Apparently there is a tiny hole on either side of the stairs where the baseboards don’t quite fit, and if you were to get into the skeletons of my home you would see that those walls lead directly to the garage.  Well, as much of an animal lover as I am, I am not a fan or rodents, especially in my house, but man, that little bugger could move!  As fast as he was, my husband and son did manage to corner him, eventually removing him from the premises.

As for my big, brave, watchdog?  Well, I think we’ll let her stay at her post.  She may not have caught the intruder, but at least she alerted us to his presence.  As she sits waiting expectantly at the top of the stairs like she has since the incident, I’m glad she doesn’t realize the holes are plugged and her friend is not coming back!

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Rekindling and old love

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I owe a big thank you to 23 Thorns!  I recently read a blogpost of his which reminded me of all the wonderful books I have sitting on a shelf in the basement.  Books which I spent hours, days and months searching for, back in the days when there was no internet, and if you wanted to source something out you had to call various places….with a telephone!  I can distinctly remember sitting in my little office on a snowy canadian winter’s day, calling a bookstore in Nairobi trying to find a copy of “The Maneaters of Tsavo”.  It took me well over four months to source that book out, and the moment it arrived in my mailbox, the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness” was released, and along with it a new re-print of the famous Col. John Henry Patterson book!

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I filled a library with wonderful books of African history in just this manner, and the few times I was lucky enough to go to Africa, my favorite thing was to pore through old bookstores looking for lost treasure.

I know what I am about to say is not politically correct, but I especially love the books on the white hunters who came and settled the land.  So many of them turned into conservationists as time went on, their stories are truly inspiring and to this day I can lose myself in the pages of some of those books.  While most girls my age were crushing over the latest pop star, or movie idol, I spent my time drooling over the likes of George Adamson, Robert Ruark, Colonel Patterson, and Peter Hathaway Capstick.  The thought of sitting under the african stars, in front of the crackling fire, with sounds of wildlife all around is to me the stuff dreams are made of.  So I thank you 23 Thorns.  I thank you for writing something that got me up off my chair, away from my computer, and down to the basement.  I took a good long time looking over my treasures, and brought a few back upstairs with me.  And while I wait for the never ending Canadian winter to leave, I am happily transported to the African night, listening to the crackling fire, hearing the lions roar over the cicada’s songs, and living in a simpler time.