Personal Life, the dog

Happy Graduation

IMG_2768A year after he first started Basic Obedience Training, Dasher graduated with his second class last night. He took top honors in the night’s games in two areas: Longest Stay (only the remote control squirrel broke him!) and Fastest Recall. I’m very proud of him, and yes, he looks adorable in his graduation cap (which was provided for pictures by PetSmart, where he took the class).

Wait, did I say it took him over a year and two different classes to graduate a six-week class? I did. In between starting one class and finishing the second, he had 2 surgeries, had to start medications to control seizures, undergo months of surgery recoveries, and finally, take physical therapy to regain muscle mass and tone. This dog is not only cute, he’s a survivor.

Personal Life, the dog

Because There Just Aren’t Enough Puppy Pics on the Internet…

…and because my pup (hey, he’s not two yet!) is so ridiculously cute. And spoiled. Here are puppy pics for your holiday cheer:

It's nice to have a friend to nap with.
It’s nice to have a friend to nap with. Good owl.
Drop that ball already! I'm ready for it. Grrrr!
Drop that ball already! I’m ready for it. Grrrr!
Sleeping with a toy in your mouth is so comforting.
Sleeping with a toy in your mouth is so comforting.
A bone, a pad, and the hot sun. Bliss.
A bone, a pad, and the hot sun. Bliss.
Why they call me "Bat Ears."
Why they call me “Bat Ears.”
Hmmm, this "oral fixation while sleeping" seems to be a trend.
Hmmm, this “oral fixation while sleeping” seems to be a trend.
Personal Life, the dog

A Thanksgiving Never to be Beat…I Hope!

Yesterday passed in a flurry of cleaning, and cooking, and otherwise making ready for guests at dinner. Everything clicked, nothing broke, or burned, or mysteriously went missing. The guests arrived, bearing beautiful, bounteous hostess gifts–including the most gorgeous poinsettia (in a hanging basket!) I’ve ever seen.pointsettiacool

Said guests are a husband-dearest’s co-worker, his wife, their teenage soon, and their beagle. The family is from Germany, and they’re still awaiting the closing on their home in their sparse apartment. Also, this is their first American Thanksgiving. What better way to celebrate that bounty and goodness than by sharing it with someone experiencing it for the first time?

So, anyway, all was going wonderfully. We retired after dinner and dessert to the lanai, to enjoy the mild evening outside. Dasher kept running in and out, looking, I think, so see if perhaps some turkey had fallen yet onto the floor where he could eat it. Until one time he ran out and husband’s co-worker said, “Oh, look. Blood!” Sure enough, Dasher left a trail of messy, bloody paw prints in his wake.

It was dark outside, so I picked him up and carried him inside to see–only to find a bloodbath all over the tile floor–living room, dining room, and kitchen–and dotting across the rugs and sofa. It was like looking at a horrific version of The Family Circle cartoon when you followed the dotted line to see where the kids had gone on their “direct route.”

We cleared out the sink, put the dog there, and washed his paw, trying to find the source. It just kept bleeding, and bleeding, and I couldn’t see where it came from. Out came the bandages, gauze and wrap, but it kept bleeding. Whereupon we had to ask our guests to please stop cleaning up the blood and leave so we could take the dog to the university’s vet school emergency room!

They were very understanding, of course, but still! What an introduction to Thanksgiving. Maybe for some families, bloodshed and emergency room visits are the norm, but I can assure you for us, it’s really not.

In good news, it turned out to be a ripped-off toenail that bled, um, profusely. They snipped it off, stemmed the bleeding, and sent us home, poorer but relieved. To clean up not only the detritus of dinner, but the remaining bloody mayhem, and start the washing machine going on bloody rugs and rags. It was a long night, and an early morning.

So, I wish you a Happy Black Friday, if you’re the shopping type, and a Happy Day of Rest if you’re not (but still off work), or at the very least, Happy Friday. May this day be yet another thing for you to be thankful for, come next Thanksgiving Day.


Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life, the dog

Of Pindo Palms and Golden Dogs

Pindo Palm
Ripening fruits

There are two pindo palms in my yard. They are also known as “jelly palms” because in the past folks made jelly from the pectin-rich yellow-orange fruits. These palms bear lots of fruit on a flowering  inflorescence, and because I have two of them, and because I like making jelly, I’m giving pindo palm jelly a go (using the recipe on that second link).

(If you are here looking for info about toxicity to dogs, don’t fear: these fruit aren’t poisonous. They may cause an upset stomach in some people, and in some dogs, and too many will certainly give a dog an upset stomach. The pits are large, so they might be harder for smaller dogs to pass–use your best judgement on that. But I feed my little guy [26 lbs] the pitted fruit often. Also, red belly cooter turtles love the fruit.)

Today I pitted and cooked about 2.5 cups of pindo fruit in water to make juice. There will be more fruit ripening soon, and I’ll wait until then to cook a batch of jelly from it. Once I do, I’ll post pictures and let you know how it goes. With luck, it will taste “like the tropics,” as one site claimed.

Dasher’s medical concerns are still a big thing. He blew out his second surgery when 2 separate aggressive dogs charged him in three days, and he retreated from both in a big hurry. sigh. Instead of us charging into Surgery #3, I requested physical therapy for him, to increase his atrophied muscles, and wow, has that ever been successful! His muscles are noticeably larger, and he’s starting to bear weight on his “bad” back leg. And, even better, his patella is moving up and into position as the muscles and tendons tighten and strengthen. We may just avoid another patella surgery after all!

The face of the Golden Dog?
The face of the Golden Dog?

Part of his “at home” exercise has been swimming, which he absolutely loves. I never thought he’d be a “jump into the deep water like a Labrador” kind of dog, but he totally is now. He even dives in head-first to get those toys below the surface!

Then he slipped on the wet concrete, and landed on his shoulder. Of course, he bruised his muscles and limped a few days, but seemed to be getting better. When we returned from our trip, however, his limp had increased.

At first, the vets thought it was simply a case of his walking funny to accommodate his injured rear leg for so long, which was straining his shoulder. Once his rear leg healed, his shoulder injury would go away too. What a relief.

Now, however, the theory is that he just might have shoulder dysplasia. That’s like hip dysplasia–where the hip bone is deteriorating–but in his front shoulders. Both of them. If so, it would eventually require–you guessed it–surgery.

See that pile over there? That’s me in a quivering mass of denial and mental anguish at just the thought of more surgeries on this poor, poor dog!

This got me thinking that, besides being a medical mess, poor Dasher is the dog literally worth his weight in gold. But is he? Well, I tallied it up yesterday, and he’s (fortunately) falling short, for now. I’m not sure what the total of his bills is, but to be worth his weight in gold as of yesterday, we’d have to had spent $540,560 on him. We are nowhere near that, thank all that’s good.

We are, though, extremely thankful for the pet insurance we got with him, and that we continued paying into once it became apparent he’d need surgery (during our free month’s trial). Trupanion has paid 90% of his seizure expenses (after initial deductible), and 90% of his two surgeries for his patella to date (after that deductible). This is quite a chunk of cash, let me tell you! And they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

I kind of laughed at the thought of pet insurance when we got Dasher. After all, he’s a dog–a puppy, even! But it was free for the first month, so I shrugged and signed up. And now, wow. My dog, unfortunately, is the poster child for why you should really do this if you can. We did, and I am so glad.

I get that not everyone can afford pet insurance. I also understand that for a healthy dog, it might not pay off in the long run. I sure hope that our next dog doesn’t ever come close to covering his/her monthly co-payments. But I am going to get it if I can, that’s for sure.

That’s it in a nutshell here. Dog and palms and carrying on with life as we know it. As the Queen would say, Keep Calm and Write On.

goals, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing

Enter Title Here

^^ That prompt in my title bar seemed as likely a title as any. As is so often the case of late, life seems somewhat fractured into odd bits, that, strung together, compose my life. Let’s go over some.

Dasher. Well, his “final” appointment after the second surgery was Tuesday, but I already knew the outcome. He’d been charged by 2 larger, aggressive dogs in three days, and both times he’d retreated backwards and sideways precipitously, yiping in pain. On the morning following the second charge, he started gimping about three-legged once more. Verdict: patella out of alignment, flowing out freely and not remaining in position. Sigh. Now we’re trying some physical therapy, hoping that by increasing muscle mass on his emaciated rear left leg, he might increase muscle and tendon tension enough to hold the patella in place (once it’s put there again), or at the very least, that it will give another, more extreme surgery a better chance of holding, post-surgery.

Still, he’s a tail-wagging kind of boy. His at-home therapies include: walking over water noodles, walking backwards in a straight line, alternating sits and stands, and holding up his “good” rear leg for a few seconds, forcing him to carry weight on the weaker leg. At the UF vet school hospital, he gets an underwater treadmill. You know how walking with your legs in shallow water drags, slowing you down and forcing you to work harder? Same idea here. Only his legs are in the water, so he works harder to walk, strengthening his muscles.

While all these things they can do for animals are really cool (I got a tiny tour “backstage” to glimpse some of what they can accomplish–it was pretty amazing, let me tell you!), I certainly wish I wasn’t needing to know anything about it, and that my dog hadn’t needed the first surgery, let alone a potential third one! C’est la vie.

The proof copy of next month’s Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet came. It was so amazing, looking at this gorgeous layout, reading the table of contents and seeing my name and my story there.  I found the Editor’s Letter lovely and moving. It really highlighted my the feelings of being overwhelmed at being a part of something so wonderful. Huzzah!

Editing and Submitting. Yes, I’ve been plugging away at this, and yesterday managed to submit two more stories into the world, where they now wait patiently in their queues. (Oddly enough, both stories are SF and both titles start with “D.” For reasons unknown, this amuses me.) This brings my current submissions to 8, and leaves four stories in my “second round” editing pile, and four in the “first round” editing pile. Not bad, not bad. But regardless, my inner slave-driver tells me that, however much I work, it’s never “enough,” that I have plenty of time that I fritter away. Sigh. Brains: Can’t live without ’em, much as I’d like to sometimes.

Novella series. I’m currently working on the outline for the third (and I think final) volume of the urban fantasy series I plan on writing and self-pubbing. But…I’ve hit some kind of mental snag. I can’t seem to get past a certain point, which also happened with Book Two’s outline. Eventually, it came to me, so I’m confident I’ll overcome whatever mental barrier is halting me here, as well. But it would be really nice if it came sooner, rather than later (hint, hint, subconscious mind!).

Guests and travel. My sisters are arriving for a visit on Monday, and I’m preparing for that. Also, Spousal Unit and I will be visiting friends and former neighbors soon, and I’m looking forward to that. Ah, the chaos of travel balanced against the joy of travel. But travel usually wins over staying home–for me, at least.

Heat. Yes, it’s been hot lately. And humid. And dry. The rain has gone mostly around us, except for a few hot, flat splats four days ago as I spoke to a neighbor, and a sudden short burst of rainfall Friday, which quickly was evaporated off the sizzling hot roadways, sidewalks, and rooftops. At least the plants got a quick shot of relief. (Not enough, though. My potted plants still needed watering twice that day.) How hot? We’ve had 100°F on the weather app, and the car I was in, after driving some while and coming to stasis, registered 104°F. Guh! I love going barefoot, but let me just say that at these temps, concrete and/or blacktop in the sun actually burns my tough feet. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Watermelon. Watermelon is in full, glorious season here. It’s utterly amazing. So succulent and sweet. It’s what’s for dinner when it’s too hot to think. And Dasher thinks watermelon is pretty tasty, too.

And there you go. Some relevant bits of my life, along with some not-so-relevant bits for good measure. Happy Sunday to you!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life

Temporary Distractions

Life is throwing me many distractions, the biggest one right now being the health of my dog. After his latest seizure, the vet has come to suspect Dasher may have a liver shunt. In other words, blood doesn’t go through his liver and get purified of the body’s toxins, but instead goes around it, keeping the toxin load until it stews his brain, causing seizures. Even now, he’s at the vet’s office, getting an ultrasound to check for shunts.

On one hand, this would be wonderful, since finding a cause means finding a potential cure. But that cure would be surgery. Again. Right as he’s recovering enough to be active after his latest knee surgery. It’s only May, and he’s already had surgery twice already this year, plus seizures, and many, many vet trips sprinkled in between.

Also, there’s a chance the surgery wouldn’t be successful, or entirely successful. Which would mean a greatly shortened lifespan–maybe in the months.

But all this is potential, as nothing is known at this point in time. And the ultrasound may prove inconclusive. And (insert more wheel spinning here).

Instead of dwelling on all that, I want to show you some beautiful things happening now. Distractions of a good kind. So, here are photos:

First gardenia blossom off the tiny shrub planted last fall. Yes, it smells wonderful!
First gardenia blossom off the tiny shrub planted last fall. Yes, it smells wonderful!
Hibiscus flower, going great guns in blossom. This colored flower lasts two days, making it a real treat.
Hibiscus flower, going great guns in blossom. This colored flower lasts two days, making it a real treat.

Update: the ultrasound came back clean, so it looks like instead of surgery, Dasher gets another drug added to his mix. Not sure if this is a good thing or not. But hey, no surgery–so yay!

Dasher finds a lap in the pool. Naturally.
Dasher finds a lap in the pool. Naturally. (Yeah, I can’t quite stop thinking of this happy, happy dog.)
Tiny figs! The first ones one the potted tree we're keeping away from the squirrels.
Tiny figs! The first ones on the potted tree we’re keeping away from the squirrels.
goals, Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life, Writing

Tidbits from Home

Dasher the dog had his 10-day suture check-up, and the surgeon is pleased with the results  so far. Which means that neither the dog nor I are dead, or maimed, from those days. This is certainly worth celebrating! Also, he’s off the painkillers whose side-effects included “seizures.” Since his development of seizures messed up the first surgery, and the second had to wait until the anti-seizure meds took full effect, repeating this painkiller for a week meant that no, I did not much sleep at night, waiting to hear the sounds of my dog seizing in his crate. (*shivers!* It’s a terrible thing!)  All in all, time for a mini-celebration, I think! Fortunately, the weather agrees, and Dasher is lying in the lanai, sunbathing and blissing out, while I type away in the shade here at the table. A pretty fair celebration, to my mind. 🙂

In totally unrelated news, a Carolina wren has made a nest in the hanging basket spider plant on my front porch. I discovered this when I went to water the plant and something tiny rushed out,  scaring the tar outta me. Once I realized it was a bird, I climbed on a chair and peered inside the pot. The nest is woven over with a roof, and four tiny eggs rest inside. Now I need to figure out how to water the plant while not harming the eggs/babies, or peeving mama too much. (hint: suggestions welcome!)

At the farmers’ markets, the seasons are slowly changing. The lettuces are thinning, slowing down. The strawberries, which burst out early this year (or so I’m told), are still going strong, and the tomatoes are starting to appear. Even the varieties of oranges are changing, as the late-maturing ones replace those that ripened early and are now gone.

In my own garden, the lemon tree still clings to about a dozen growing, enlarging green fruits, and new blossoms are set to burst open into sweet-smelling delights soon. Tomatoes are growing tall and setting blossoms, while basil sprouts are still growing with extra care in a starting medium. My garden-bliss is waxing.

My writing is experiencing changes, as well. I’m close to the end of the first draft of “the novel that will not end.” Considering that this was meant to be a 90-day novel and, due to a great variety of reasons, turned into a year-long novel, this is a relief. It’s also, I continue to remind myself, not a failure. Most novels take time to write, especially as I had to fight my “short-story” tendencies. A novel is very different from a short story. Right now, I’m caught between the two, and it’s an uncomfortable place to be. Novels have always had my heart, but a good short story can resonate just as much as a longer work, and be so much faster to read (and, usually, to write).

And speaking of the novel, my characters are calling me to come, finish their story. They want to be out of the terrible place they’re in, and I want to free them from it, as well. For once, we’re in harmony. And the dog is drowsing.

Happy last day of March.

Personal Life, plain silliness

Sleeping Contortions

Just thought I’d share that my dog seems to enjoy sleeping in contortionist positions. Very odd, but he seems comfortable. Somehow.

sleepsweird1 sleepsweird2








No, these weren’t “waking up stretches,” either. He stayed in these positions for quite awhile. That second one–it looks painful! Apparently not, but then again, he’s a dog; he enjoys licking his butt, too. 😉

That’s all. Happy weekend.