Save the date, my friends, I just don’t know what it will be!

I will be sending nice email invitations to friends, relatives, and colleagues of mine. You can’t save the date, because I don’t know it yet. The book publication date is August 28, 2018. I don’t know how many you are supposed to invite, and you have to have enough books on hand to sell and sign, but I want a big party. I’m one of those people who worries that she invites people to a party but no one comes. They will, and I think I do a reading. I’m used to speaking, as I had a full career in teaching, a business, and multiple volunteer positions. I broke my piggy bank and chose a publicity package. My VISA is now a limp noodle. Tax deductible. I bet I get a refund.

My book, Drinking From the Trough, A Veterinarian’s Memoir, is in publication right now. I can’t believe how fast She Writes Press, the publisher, moves the production. SWP promotes the works of women authors and puts together the book with their ace designers, while their partner in publication, Spark Point, does the men’s side, as well as all the publicity packages. I hope I got that right, I’m still a rookie. Spark Point also has webinars. I did one on the SWP side, and it was very informative. I’m just an idiot as to how to set the whole thing up, and whether you can listen to it later, not in real time. Need to get my head out of my *&(, because there is a publicity one coming up end of January.

I’ve chosen a cover with Judy, my writing coach, which will be done soon, then the cover designer does her thing. It is going to be spectacular! After that, another designer chooses what the book will look like inside. We don’t think of what it takes to be a readable book, but it is a big deal. Being as ignorant as I am, I just shut up and nod my head yes. The book is finished, has yet to be proofread, and I am so excited I often send Judy several emails at a time. Then she knows intuitively that I am excited.

With my risk of getting a bite wound (going to the total hip and trashing it) while practicing vet med, I no longer practice. I do keep all my profession memberships,licenses and malpractice up to date, read journals, and am available for charity work, and to be an extra pair of hands if needed.

Last week, I got an LLC, just to make my taxes extra work for my CPA, John, nicest man and fastest tax guy I know.

It is said that people have several careers during their working lifetimes, so I have a new career-full time author.

I think there is a reason for everyone, and perhaps fracturing both my hips, 13 years apart, has given me time to work at home, take care of the pets, and live in quiet companionship with the three senior cats and Ivy, my Golden doodle, who is now 15 months old.

Blue jeans, a new phone, and a clean, fluffy dog

 

Freedom!

Yesterday, Ivy had an an appointment for a “fluff and buff” with her personal groomer, April, the owner of Spa 4 Paws. This was the second time I’ve driven, but the first time I put jeans on. I was using warm up pants, as I had a vicious blister from the bandage over my surgery site that when discovered, and tape removed, erupted like Mount Vesuvius. It was so gnarly looking, I went to the ER thinking it was an ulcer, MRSA, or flesh-eating monsters. Being able to wear jeans is wonderful! I have pockets, comfort, and don’t look or feel like a patient from the hip lagoon.

I live geographically the farthest away from the spa the drive it is worth it. April is the best at grooming doodles, and she is the only one in town who still does cats. Poor Frank is due for a grooming, but I can’t manage a cat carrier now with an 18# Mr. Kitty inside), I decided to do some banking, and go to Verizon while Ivy was relaxing with a chai and the morning paper while she was having a mani-pedi. I keep my phone in my left back pocket. When I hit the deck on the 27th of last month, the phone looked cracked, and people told me they couldn’t hear me well.

These phone contracts last for two years. The last time I bought a new phone was in 2014, so I was overdue. Why can’t Verizon, who puts our a lot of junk email just tell me it was time for a new phone? I chose an iPhone 8, a plain cover, a cover for the face of the phone, and bundled with a new type of charger that stays plugged in. Sell, sell, sell, that’s all they do at Verizon. When you get home, you just put the phone on top of it and it charges. Cool. I looked this morning at the phone, and it was still only half charged. Then I realized it was upside down. Oops!

The stores no longer set your phone up for you, so you have to go into the abyss of the    1-800 numbers. The young man at the store, yes, another Skippy, gave me the number of a place that keeps offering you deals. So I went to the black hole of  411, and got a real operator, who gave me the correct number.

A nice woman at Verizon helped me set the phone up-1.5 hours. The phone is sitting on the charging pad, now charging properly.

The Verizon store, which moved from its old location to the new, refurbished and still empty mall, is still a snake pit of people who don’t care. I got there when employees were coming in. Because I am on crutches, I asked if I could come in and sit down. “Oh no, that would violate our security policies.” Like I’m going to steal something chained to the wall and run away with orthopedic hardware flying away. So I stood in the wind until the store opened, 10 minutes later. I asked for some water, and was told there was a fountain in the back of the store. “Do you have any cups to bring me some water?” “Oh no, we don’t.” Hey lady! Go to Costco and buy nine million cups for a buck and give the temporarily handicapped some water.

When I escaped the dungeons of Verizon, I figured Ivy would be ready to be picked up. My old cell was disabled except for 911, so the spa couldn’t call me. Ivy was ready, a shampoo-smelling, clean and fluffy dog. April was proud that she had a bandana that matched the colors of my dog.

We got home, and Ivy went to sleep, and I had lunch after the Incredibly Long Phone Call to Set Up the Phone. I figured I deserved some reading time, so I started Joe Biden’s new book, Promise Me, Dad. It’s a good read. A normal day for a person who is not normal at the moment.

 

Linked Essays and Home Depot

When I read the email cover letter to send in the sample of my manuscript for Drinking Out of the Trough, I read that it was referred to as a collection of “linked essays.” Huh? What is that?

Linked essays are those that relate to each other by subject and through a timeline.

While all essays weren’t in perfect order, I could see that they had a natural progression with regard to a timeline. That was the reason for going to Judy’s house with her crazy long dining room table, and sorting out the essays. As it turned out, the essays were mostly in chronological order. Had I known what linked essays were, it probably would have confused me more that the simple directions of adding photos to this blog. I have an IT person, who is quite brilliant, but darned if I can follow the directions. I will work on this today while it is hot today.

My submission to the publisher I want is done. I only have to wait. Judy says this publisher has a pretty fast turnaround, so I’m not going to send more entries to other publishers until I hear the outcome of my submission.

So today, before going to the dog park, I decided to have Ivy practice for her next lesson in her Canine Good Citizenship class, which is meeting this week at Lowe’s. We went to Home Depot. What a great little dog! Ivy, who loves everybody, started jumping up and down on her hind legs to meet the nice employees who thought she was the cutest thing they’d ever seen (she is). I asked the to let her sit first like a lady, then love on her all they wanted. Ivy was in doggie heaven.

Next, we started shopping. We looked at granite countertops, light fixtures, and other hardware items. I had to call her back to heel a few times, but she did this right away. We practiced sit stays, and down stays with me circling her while she remained in her stay. When people just wanted to walk by, I told her to “Leave it,” and she complied. It helped that I had treats in her treat bag hanging from my shorts. Good distraction technique if you ask me.

What I was most proud of was when she saw a woman running a huge machine to clean the floor. Ivy didn’t even react to it.

All in all, it was a successful trip.

The dog park was crowded. All her friends were there. Boy, can that 34-pound puppy run! Fast. Ivy is fast enough to catch up to a black poodle she likes. Ivy is mostly poodle, so it makes sense that she is as fast as one. But she’s only nine months old. We spent about an hour and a half there, and it was time to come home so she could drop down into a deep sleep. She is out in her dog pen now, sleeping like she’s dead. I’ll hold a mirror up to her nose in a minute.

Have a great Father’s Day.

 

 

Dances with Kittens

Have you ever looked closely at a veterinarian’s hands and arms? If you have, you would see tiny lines of scars on them, a memory of the cats that have scratched them. I myself have plenty.

I have two scars that I actually cherish. When Cowboy Joe was coming out of anesthesia, he was a little goofy, and raked the back of my wrist with his back claws. There are two long, thin scars, memories of a strung-out kitten. It’s a memory from a cat I dearly love, so I am happy to look at them. At the time it happened, 2004, I was not amused. Since my cat was loopy, I understood.

The other scar I treasure was put in place by Pruney, the cat of my life. While living at home with my mom after college, I decided that Pruney, an inside/outside cat, should wear a collar. Many cats wear collars just fine. Pruney-not so much. She managed to get the collar stuck in her open mouth, and when I got her off the window screen where she hung onto dear life, she raked the same wrist with her two canine teeth. After over 40 years, I can still see the reminder that not all cats can wear collars. The last cat I tried a collar on was Kitty Alexander, our 20-pound tuxedo, who promptly got hung up on a door hinge. I had to unhook him. Now, I know how collars should fit on animals. No mistakes there. It’s part of what I teach my clients. These were just two freak accidents, and since Pruney was my last outdoor cat, there really is no need for collars on my cats. And a heads up to our humane society, I don’t license them, either, when they get their rabies vaccinations. Bad Mary.

In practice, my favorite part of well kitten visits is to educate people about how to care for their cats properly. The most important part of this lesson is, “How Not to be Killed by Your Kitten.” You see, people like to have Kitty chase their fingers across the room, or wave their hand back and forth on the carpet. It’s so much fun to see him get so riled up he can’t think, and runs around the room like he’s possessed. Bad idea. Kitty gets the idea that, 1. It’s OK to bite the finger when he catches it, which is instinctual, and 2. It’s OK that human body parts make great chew toys. They are not. NEVER use hands to play with your cat or kitten. Instead, have a toy or string that they cat catch and play with. For strings and similar items, be sure to put them away when you are finished playing, as the strings could be swallowed by an unsupervised cat and wind up stuck in his intestines and will have to be surgically removed.

The same play rules are true with human feet, except Kitty will add hiding for pouncing on and biting the feet. If you like being attacked by an unseen ball of fur, by all means, go for the foot fetish. It can, however, be very painful in the sensitive area of the top of the foot. Picture Tiger lying in wait until you come home from work, looking at the mail when, WHAM! You are attacked from below-a direct hit to the ankle.

Also be that cats like to climb things, like the drapes. Bad Kitty. This behavior is reinforced by thinking it’s cute for Kitty to climb up your pants with his razor sharp claws.

So what to do if your cat is the Kamikaze who actually gets to you even after you stop playing with hands and feet? First, don’t physically discipline an animal, ever. The cat is only acting on its instinct of preditory behavior. Second, you have only three seconds to react until the devious act is out of Kitty’s mind. Fill an empty soda can with small rocks, and have it ready to shake at Kitty when he is bad. Making a hissing noise is cat talk for “Look out, I’m going to get YOU”! You can also turn and walk away, play time is over, period. Be strong, even if he wants to start playing with you again. Nope-game over.

What’s more fun than playing with a kitten? Nothing! But be aware of safe ways to play with your little furball so no one, you or Kitty develop bad behaviors and gets hurt.

Cleaning the kitchen floor

I am going to let Franklin keep you posted on Earl. Can’t do it myself right now.

I will report that I now have to clean the kitchen floor. Not because Earl is gone, but for the first time since 1983, I don’t have a dog. Our cleaning lady fully washes the floor once a week, but in between we do spill stuff.

The other day, I spilled some popcorn someone had brought to us. Usually I just leave it there. “Here, Tipper, a snack for you!” I realized that no longer could I rely on a canine garbage can to pick up dropped food.

I guess this is going to be a learn as I go process.

Dogs chained in pick-ups: unenforceable?

Our county commissioners have tough issues regarding enforcement of dogs in the back of trucks. Commissioner Steve Johnson, a veterinarian, agreed that dogs should not be loose in the back of trucks, but said the county can only go so far in telling people what to do. I concur.

Veterinarians see injuries inflicted on dogs by dumb people who think it’s cool to have their best friend riding in the back of the truck. It’s not cool, it’s negligent; but who is going to enforce idiocy? Animal Control is plenty busy.

We were driving back from the airport on I-25 behind a pick-up that had a sheepdog chained in the back. The truck hit a bump, and the dog flew out, hanging by his neck. Fortunately, the chain snapped, and the dog skidded off the road. It took a few minutes for the truck to stop and come back. By that time, my sister, my husband, and I were helping the panicked dog. It was OK, except for road rash on all four paws, and some missing claws. It could have been far worse. The drivers were told where the CSU hospital was, but all they did was put the dog back and drive off without so much as a thank you.

If abuses of animal owners were to be imposed 100%, Larimer County would have to make a new Department of Animal Stupidity. I don’t think this is within the budget. The dogs lose.

 

 

Through good times and bad

There is more grim news today about difficult economic times and family pets. Local shelters are seeing an increase in surrenders of family pets due to finances.

One local columnist who focuses on animal behavior wrote today about how a local shelter is about to go under due to lack of funding. She asks for support for this shelter.

I commend the efforts of any legitimate group for rescuing and caring for animals abandoned for any reason. However, I struggle with the attitude in our society that a pet is a disposable asset to be surrendered when inconvenient to keep.

One of the articles today discussed how much it costs to own a pet per year. This should be considered before getting a pet. If there is not enough money to care for a pet, do not get a pet. Volunteer at a local shelter, set up a dog walking business, pet sit, or do anything to be around animals that for whom you don’t have to bear any financial burden. You may discover a new source of income!

I have previously discussed how college students dump their pets at the end of the school year, leaving helpless dogs and cats to fend for themselves, usually unsuccessfully, and about horses being abandoned in tough economic times.

I am not in a financially disastrous position where I have to think of cutting costs and focus this on my pets. I cannot imagine someone so desperate that they would surrender their best friend to save a few bucks. Perhaps the pet was not their best friend. Imagine your noble, loyal dog, King, who worships you for the food you give and the balls you throw for him. He guards your home and protects your kids, happy to be paid with praise and tummy rubs. Now, fast-forward to tough finances, and imagine King staring at a stranger from inside a chain link cage, trying to wag his tail to show how friendly he is, hoping beyond hope that someone else will love him and keep him through good times and bad.

Dogs running free in wildlife areas: not cool

I have posted several times about dogs off leash. Please bear with me for two more descriptions of dog owner idiocy.

We had a lovely day of riding yesterday at the local state park. I rode Scoot, the Gentleman, and Earl rode Hannah, the Baby. We celebrated the Baby’s ninth birthday, which is actually today. Coming into the park, we noticed a woman riding a horse with a dog tagging along, running here and there. It has been a long time since we had seen such blatant disregard for a natural area. I called the ranger, but she was busy with something else. She stopped us on the trail to apologize for not getting there in time. While chatting, we saw another couple down by the reservoir with their dog off leash. Since that area is county jurisdiction rather than state, the ranger couldn’t do anything about it.

As we rode along, we noticed the couple had moved onto the trail we were using. We also noticed the ranger stopping her truck to get out and give these people a ticket. Bravo! We passed them, silent but gleeful.

Other than the scare we could get from a wayward dog, I think of the serious dangers to dogs when owners think it’s cool to let their dog run loose in the wild, free to be.

First, there are rattlesnakes all over our natural areas. While this is not the time of year to see them, many the curious pooch has been a victim of an irritated rattler, not always with a happy outcome.

Second, there are two packs of coyotes in the park. Right now, they are bearing their young. Generally, they don’t bother domestic animals, as there is ample food supply for them. There was an article in the paper the other day about urban coyotes and how they do like to munch on Fluffy the cat, or mix it up with Fido the pup. One roving coyote which attacked a local dog regularly received food tossed to it out of the drive-up window of a local fast food joint. I guess it thought it was entitled to living fast food.

Third, there are some really big kitties up at the park. I’m talking about mountain lions primarily, also called pumas, catamounts or cougars; bobcats, and the rare lynx. I’ve never seen one, but while riding our old mare, Marcie, heard one roar. I thought it was a boat motor from the reservoir until I saw Marcie’s ears go into predator alert. Marcie and I heard the roar twice. Later, by the water, we heard boat motors, and I knew we had come close to a mountain lion.

I’d love nothing more than to see the Wonder Husky run wild and free. I would also curl up and die if anything happened to her that could have been prevented by using common sense and obeying posted rules. 

Are your pets covered if you die?

Have you given a thought to what will happen to your animal friends after you die? This is a really important topic that many people don’t want to address.

I had to change my will, trust actually, because two people to whom I would have left pets died. One was my friend, Jean, whose illness and subsequent death I have discussed many times on this page. In the event that my husband was not able to take our pets, Jean was to get whatever dogs or cats we had at the time. When she passed, I changed my trust. Our horses were to go to our trainer, but he died suddenly and unexpectedly in June 2007 at 52. The horses will now go to a young woman we know if my sister doesn’t wish to take the horses. No one takes better care of animals than my sister. She even rescues cats with her organization  FACT

When Jean was first diagnosed with cancer in summer 2007, she immediately gave her dog and cat to friends. She knew that she would be immune-suppressed from chemo, plus it would be difficult for her to care for them. As her personal representative (executor), I followed through on her hand-written request to give some financial support to the people who now had Mango the dog and Colette the cat. I cut them a check after consulting with Jean’s brother on an appropriate amount. The nice couple, Marcy and David, set up a fund with the money to be used only for Colette and Mango.

Even if you provide for your pets after you die, things can change along the way. Be sure that you keep up to date on where you want your pets to be after you pass. Also be sure that the people you want to leave your pets to actually will take them.