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Posts Tagged ‘Dog’

The Phoenix I knew, before leaving in 1970, is no more. The northern suburbs now stretch all the way to Cave Creek. My brother and sister-in-law moved to Cave Creek eleven years ago. When I practiced veterinary medicine, never certain I practiced well enough or long enough to really be good at it, there was nothing between my clinic on 32nd St. and Bell Road and the town of Cave Creek, seven or so miles north. I had a few clients in Cave Creek so I drove those miles on a two-lane road full of drops down into washes then up again. Today the road is divided, two lanes to a side, no dips and the previously empty desert is full of subdivisions and strip malls. Compared to the eclectic neighborhoods of Seattle and Edmonds, the subdivisions are monotonic, ersatz adobe style, flat or tile roofs, varying shades of tan. It is early spring in the Sonoran desert and the cacti are getting ready to bloom, some already have. If I lived in one of those subdivisions, even though I still have positive feelings about the desert, I think I would need a trail of bread crumbs to find my house after a couple of glasses of Malbec.

 

The biggest change though is the shear number of people and the resulting traffic. I took Alexis to see where my clinic was and the building I built is still there. Here is a photo of the Paradise Animal Hospital in 1962:

My beautiful picture

Now the place is a Mexican furniture, knickknack and pottery store. We went in and most of the rooms of the clinic had been reconfigured and obviously repurposed. The indoor kennels have been removed and the openings to the outside runs closed. The outside runs have been removed. My old reception area is now a private office, my old office full of knickknacks for sale. Just for fun I peeked in the restroom. The fixtures have been replaced but the door to my old darkroom was still there, closed. I opened it and the room was empty but still painted black! Here is what the place looks like now:

clinic & charlize

Charlize couldn’t have been less interested.

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We’re on the road again, Charlize and I, this time with company. Alexis and her two Yorkshire terriers Mimi and Zsa Zsa are making travel even more fun. We left early Wednesday morning, the 4th of February. We crossed over Snoqualmie Pass in spitting snow but the road was clear. On the eastern slope the snow was heavier with spotty dense fog all the way to Yakima. Near Cle Elum in a patch of light fog the traffic was heavy and moving too fast for the conditions. I moved into the passing lane to get around a slow moving semi. A car came up fast and tailgated me. I watched in horror as a black SUV traveling west veered onto the median and went airborne flipping sideways at least three times, with parts of the vehicle separated and airborne. It landed on its wheels shuddering. There was only the soft median to pull onto and the car was still on my tail. There was a long line of cars on my right. I slowed and the traffic following swung around me. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw that three cars had pulled off onto the right shoulder and all the drivers were on their cell phones. I was already too far away to get off the highway safely then get across to the median to offer any aid. I have Googled several times but can’t find any reports of a fatal accident at that location on that date. It was not an auspicious way to start our trip.

We pulled into Boise, ID that evening and checked into our first of many La Quinta Inns booked because of their dog welcoming policy. The receptionist offered dog treats, we call them “cookies” and at the mention of that word all three dogs commenced spinning. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the Alavita an Italian restaurant in downtown Boise only a few blocks from the State Capital Building. We decided that all the customers in suits and ties were lobbyists. If you are in Boise this restaurant is worth the effort and then some. Alexis and I always order different dishes and then share, it doubles the experience.

The next night we were in Ely, NV after a day of empty highways and empty spaces. We gained an hour back after losing it in Idaho. We got settled in the room then caught up with the local Ely Times and the Sherriff’s blotter, interesting stuff going on in tiny Ely. We tried to identify a place to eat but the choices were so limited we elected to eat some fruit we brought from home; the huge salads we consumed at lunch would tide us over.

All three dogs are now experienced car travellers. Whenever we stop they stay in the back of Whitey until their leashes are in place then take advantage of the first non-paved location we can find to do their business. Charlize taught the other two to take advantage of every opportunity.

Las Vegas, after a short drive, was Las Vegas. We walked the old part of downtown experiencing the low-rent Las Vegas. Then checked into our La Quinta before cleaning up and going to the “Strip” for some serious people watching and dinner. We discovered Vegas people watching to be a unique experience, on many levels. The casino staff people are interesting to observe since it appears their every action is calculated to obtain a gratuity. The slot machines draw an intense set of focused characters mesmerized by computerized spinning, flashing images. Blackjack players seem more social, more relaxed but still focused. All excitement focuses on the craps tables.

We wandered through the Cosmopolitan, where we took advantage of their free public parking, then the Bellagio. Mega casinos but we were there just observing. The problem was to try to escape the cigarette and cigar smoke. Apparently the people of Nevada are in denial about the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke. Maybe the casino workers have to sign some sort of legal document recognizing they are working in a hazardous environment and give up their right to sue. Our hotel was non-smoking though so perhaps the casinos have special dispensation.

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Lately I am beginning to think that Charlize is upset with me. I think she’s worried that something I wrote, information I believed would be helpful, is being used for nefarious purposes.  Because the reach of the Internet is global the potential harm is spreading, and she’s worried about dogs and cats everywhere.

Antifreeze poisoning is a significant problem in dogs and cats, one of if not the most common cause of animal poisoning. Back in January 31, 2012 I posted an article on this blog that was also published in MyEdmondsNews. The article was entitled: “Why do dogs and cats drink antifreeze and how does it kill them?” My intent was to educate about the lethality of antifreeze, how to keep from exposing your pet, the signs and symptoms of poisoning, what to do if you suspect your pet has been exposed and the treatment that can only be provided by your veterinarian.

Since that article was published this website has hosted almost twenty-three thousand visits. A small percentage of those visits were from folks who follow my writings but the vast majority of the visitors reach the site via search engines. I don’t know the exact numbers but a disturbing percentage of those visitors used, and continue to use, search terms such as; how to kill a dog or cat with antifreeze, how much antifreeze to kill a dog or a cat, the best way to kill a dog or cat with antifreeze.

The website provides daily statistics about the articles that were accessed. It is a rare day when the antifreeze article is not the most visited, apparently by folks trying to find out how to rid their neighborhood of a pesky dog or cat. Many of the inquiries come from countries with stray or feral dog and cat problems but it is still disturbing that people are going to the Internet to find out how to poison animals.

So, what to do? I would like to believe that this article has saved some animals from a horrible death. Antifreeze kills by forming crystals in the kidneys that destroys kidney function, not a pleasant death. Quick response and appropriate treatment by a veterinarian is the only way to save an animal thus exposed. However, if the information is perverted, used to poison animals should I leave it on the site? Mine is not the only site that provides information about antifreeze poisoning.

OK, too heavy? The argument is that free access to information is not and cannot be bad, only the use of that information in a bad way.  Of course, Charlize is not really upset with me, especially not with something I wrote. She has yet to read any of my essays, although sometimes I read portions of them to her.  When I do so she provides unequivocal support rather than critique, constructive or otherwise. It would be wonderful if she would provide me with advice about what to do about this.

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Seems I can’t stay away. I’m back in Denver visiting old friends who have made a special effort to welcome and include me in their lives even after a fifty plus year hiatus of minimal contact. Some of their friends are people I knew back when CSU was still Colorado A & M and we were all young and unbelievably ignorant of life.

Denver is now a cosmopolitan city and my friends participate in many of the activities that make it so. Their lives seem very different from mine in quiet, artsy Edmonds. I’m certain I cannot live here full time. I have come to rely on the moist air, overcast days and lush green, not to mention my son and his family who I am already missing after only twelve days, but the Mile High City is a great place to visit. Maybe I am destined to just wander then return to Edmonds only to wander again. Not so terrible a thing to contemplate.

During the last few months Charlize has developed some troubling behavior. When she is on leash she is extremely aggressive to other dogs when we encounter them while out walking. I have been using the techniques promulgated by the Dog Whisperer on his TV show and we are making good progress. If I spot another dog before we are too close I put Charlize in a “sit” and make her pay attention to me. This prevents her from getting her “ruff” up, snarling and lunging at the other dog. What is remarkable about this aggressive behavior is that when I take her to a dog park she is not aggressive to the other dogs at all.

My host recently adopted a Maltese/Pomeranian that might weigh five pounds before she shakes off her bath water. When we introduced Charlize and Chloe I put Charlize in a “down stay”.  She wagged her entire hind end and although Chloe was a little apprehensive and slightly aggressive at first they are now getting along with no problems and have started to play together when the spirit moves. Chloe hides under a chair or couch, where Charlize can’t reach her, then launches preemptive strikes with a quick retreat to safety. Charlize seems mostly bemused at this behavior but seems to be getting the idea that it is a game. Occasionally she responds and lands one of her big paws knocking Chloe off balance, but only for an instant. The little dog is almost cat-like in her ability to ability to instantaneously regain balance, change directions in the air and leap onto surfaces twice her height. A couple of mornings ago the two of them shared a plate with a taste of leftover quiche, fun to watch.

A few days ago I went on line and found an off leash dog park not far from my host’s home. Charlize and I have been there several times now. This morning it was already in the high eighties, supposed to reach mid-nineties today, bright sunshine, clear air and high altitude. There were a dozen or more dogs when we arrived shortly after eight AM, some of them already old friends. As usual Charlize was completely focused on her ball. She races after the ball when I chuck it more than a hundred yards using the plastic throwing stick. She ignores the other dogs and if not the fastest she is the most focused on the ball. So far she has outraced all other dogs to retrieve her ball. She also ignores the other dogs as she retrieves but holds the ball in her mouth until she catches her breath then drops it for me to throw it again. If someone throws a ball for one of the other dogs or even if they intercept her ball and throw it, she ignores all but her ball and only if I throw it for her. When she brings it back she continues to ignore the other dogs even when they try to interfere with her progress back to me. No aggressive behavior at all in response to the challenges by any of the other dogs. Good girl!

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Screaming at a toddler not to touch something hot can be effective, sometimes, but not nearly as effective, long term, as allowing that curious mind to experience pain. The same is true of dogs, although they seem to have slightly more built-in survivorship skills than toddlers do, with one exception I can think of, dogs and porcupines. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled porcupine quills from the muzzle, nose and face of the same dogs. They never seem to learn.

Maybe it’s the chase. Rabbits, squirrels, all those creatures that run and rarely get caught are a source of pleasure, dogs love the pleasure of the chase. Porcupines are disdainful. They scurry, but not quite fast enough to avoid the catch. Maybe they enjoy the reverse chase, knowing they will prevail.

Roger was a Boxer dog who never learned. The first time I saw him his head was as big as a soccer ball, filled with porcupine quills and swollen with inflammation. After anesthetizing the poor guy I spent almost two hours laboriously pulling quills, one at a time, out of him. I saw him at least three more time, maybe more, not nearly as loaded with quills, but obviously not hurt enough to learn, or maybe he had ADD. He was not the only dog I encountered with a similar problem when it came to porcupines.

The same phenomenon does not seem to exist when it comes to Cholla cactus, called the jumping cactus. During our recent travels, my dog Charlize knew to avoid getting close enough to that troublesome plant to experience it and I don’t recall treating the same dog more than once for a Cholla encounter. Charlize does love to chase small creatures. She has come amazingly close but has yet to capture one, but we haven’t run into a porcupine,…yet.

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I would never have anticipated it. Charlize is probably the friendliest, most calm dog around strangers I have ever been responsible for. When we arrived at my son’s home in San Diego she met their Golden Retriever, Bentley, for the first time. I’ve known Bentley since they got him as a puppy. He’s a lovable lug, typical of the breed, a vacuum cleaner when it comes to food, with a happy go-lucky, what-me-worry, outlook on life. He outweighs Charlize by at least twenty pounds, maybe more.

When we first arrived the two of them dashed madly around the house, narrowly avoiding breakage. We turned them loose in the immaculately planned and executed backyard that mimics a Mediterranean villa garden. They rushed about, banging into each other, tearing up the lawn with their toenails and having a grand time.

After a short while Charlize noticed one of Bentley’s toys, grabbed it, ran off to the corner of the yard and lay down with the toy between her front legs. Bentley stood stock still, not understanding, making no effort to retrieve his toy.

After awhile we all went indoors, including the dogs. Now Charlize had access to a cornucopia of toys and took advantage of the opportunity. She gathered several of Bentley’s chew toys and deposited them on a spot, carefully chosen, on the floor. Bentley went over to retrieve one of them and she rushed over, growling, and chased him away. After she deposited all the toys she could find on her spot she again lay down with the toys between her front legs and dared him to try and take any of them. He didn’t respond to the tease, just stood, cocking his head from side-to-side, trying his best to understand.

Then it was time to feed the dogs. To avoid any confrontations Bentley was given his food in his regular place inside while I fed Charlize outside on the patio. As I said Bentley scarfs up his food like a vacuum cleaner. Charlize is lady-like. She eats slowly, actually chews each mouthful and frequently does a little walkabout then returns for another mouthful or two. She rarely eats everything in her dish, leaving a few kibbles. Her mother must have taught her that proper manners dictated leaving a little food on your plate. As usual she left some food in her dish and asked to come inside so I let Bentley out to cleanup the leftovers. He got within two feet of her dish, his intent obvious, and Charlize rushed in, shouldered him aside with a low growl and swiftly dispatched the remaining kibbles. My mild mannered companion harbors a mean streak.

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The Start

I was holding her close, cradling her head in my arms when she died. As I write this, it was thirty days, three hours and thirty-six minutes ago. April 23rd we would have celebrated fifty-three years of marriage. I’m coping, sort of.

“Well,” she said, pulling the nasal tube flowing oxygen out of her nostrils, “pretty soon you’ll be able to get a dog.” That happened the week before she passed.

Bear, our last German shepherd died six years ago, we didn’t get another dog.  That is the only period in my life that I can remember, being dog less. Rosalie developed balance problems and we were worried that she would trip or fall over a dog, thus dog less. She knew I missed having a dog and her statement out-of-the-blue was an example of her dark sense of humor. I told her to stop talking nonsense.

The last six months all my prayers were that the end would be fast and with as little pain and discomfort as possible. The diagnosis was stage four-lung cancer. It came on January 4, 2012. The oncologist told us the average statistics were survival for three to six months. We practiced positive thinking and prayer and with her typical quiet determination, Rosalie made it to six months, then eight, then ten and counting. She tired easily but appeared normal to all but me, and our two sons. She needed supplemental oxygen in mid-December and on Dec. 27 the oncologist suggested home hospice care. The hospice people showed up and enrolled her on Jan. 2. She died two days later.

Charlize, pronounced Charley, is a rescue dog, another German shepherd, about three years old. She’s been with me since January 15. We are two injured beings who need each other. The first two days she was apprehensive and distraught but every day since we have bonded more and she is calming. I keep her with me all the time. She is housebroken and vehicle broken (yeah), and fetches a tennis ball like a retriever, good exercise for her and saves my gimpy ankle. On February 1 Charlize and I will embark on an extended road trip. We will meet new friends, both people and dogs, and should have some interesting tales to tell. You can follow our adventures here.

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