Dog Ramp Revisited

We did some work on the dog ramp again. Nothing major, just added a railing. But the railing is about shin high to us so it is odd.

Joella does this thing we call “the bunny hop”. She barks and raises up so her front feet leave the ground. It’s just an inch or two. The more excited she is, the higher she goes. It’s funny to watch. Anyway, I was out back, on the side of the house with the dog ramp, and she was up there watching me. I can’t remember what I was doing. Anyway, she starts doing the bunny hop thing. She stumbles and her front foot slips off the top of the deck and she almost falls off.

We recently got a new riding mower (insert Tim Taylor ‘more power’ grunt) and I’ve been parking it in the back of the house. Joella loves to chase the lawnmowers and, not surprisingly, so does Mike. So I was using the new mower in the back near the dog ramp and saw Jo jumping and barking at me. Then she stumbled and almost fell off the edge again.

Then, a few days later, she is trying to come into the house but the boys are playing and they hit her. She falls down and nearly goes over the edge again.

We took the hint. We got some decking to make a nice wide railing and we put it up today. We wanted it high enough she could not fall but low enough they could see over it. We may later add a higher railing for human use but it’s not anything we are rushing to do.

This is Lorna standing on the ground as we put in the last piece. You can see how high the deck is on that side. It is even further down on the other side, where they do their looking and barking.

This is Lorna, Sam (the big guy), and Mike. Sam will no longer be able to jump from the ground up onto the deck (yes, he can do that with ease) but I think he’ll get over it. The railing is about chest high to him so it will be good. For some reason, Jo just would NOT come over to it. She didn’t want to so by george she wasn’t going to.

Finally, using her favorite treats, we get Jo to stand at the railing to make sure we got it good for her. We had to resort to measuring her and hoping we got it right because she just would not get near it when we were starting. Yes, she is a Princess. It turned out to be a little higher than we wanted but it will be fine.

We left an opening at one end because there just was no way to put in the railing without some redneck engineering. But when they do their barking and stuff, they are further down. We’re going to be watching to see if they move to that section just because there’s nothing there. (oh, and that’s my new lawn mower. A Cub Cadet.)

And here’s the finished thing. (click for larger version) And no, that railing at the end is not crooked. It is level. We think it is because the post on the left is higher than the post on the right so it looks tilted.

To refresh your memory (or to see what you missed)
Starting the ramp (12/7/09 – wow. has it been that long??)
Learning about the concept of “square”
And angles
Putting the boards down
Finished at last! (12/17/09)
Photos of it done (it snowed on 12/18 and covered it for over a week)


We lost PopCorn today. She’s been off her feed for quite some time and we’ve spent a small fortune trying to figure out what it is and get her to eat. We decided to have her teeth cleaned and perhaps one pulled to eliminate them as a cause. But her blood work was still way off and another xray shows the odd place in her abdomen has grown.

The first xrays a while back showed maybe something there, probably not. She was horribly infested with some sort of parasite so we treated her for that and, for a while, she got kinda better. Then she regressed. We treated with a more aggressive de-wormer since she was still testing positive. We used an ulcer medication, some antibiotics, and something else.

Then we tried an ultrasound and the area still showed something, although nothing definite. Her liver blood work was fine as was her kidneys. We changed to a stronger (and hellaciously expensive) antibiotic and yet more dewormer (she was still freakin’ positive!).

PopCorn did well for a few days then again, stopped eating. That sound so mundane doesn’t it? Stopped eating. Lorna, bless her heart, has been quite creative in trying to get Pop to eat. Baby food, boiled chicken, broth soaked dog food, expensive purposely bland canned dog food, hell, we even tried cat food!

So we decided to get her teeth checked. We knew several of them were bad but we put off treating it due to the risk of anesthesia. We dropped her off last night to let her settle (she gets car sick). They did blood work again to check the anemia and white blood cell counts. The anemia was very bad. 25 if that means anything. The white blood cell count was lower, but still kinda high. Dr. Knepshield did an abdominal xray again and saw that the suspicious place had grown. The stomach was now pushed out of place and the liver seemed to be as well. We were given the option of doing exploratory surgery but we all knew the cancer had returned. We were expecting it and was surprised it had been nearly a year and a half since it had first appeared. Oddly, her liver results were still normal.

After discussing it, Lorna and I decide it just wasn’t fair to Pop. If she was eating, then yeah, we would have waited longer. But she wasn’t. She was also getting quite grumpy and we’ve gone through the biting dog scenario before.

So we went in, spent some time with her, discussed it some more. PopCorn wasn’t helping at all. She was actually bouncy! We looked at the xrays, discussed it some more, then decided it wasn’t fair at all to Pop and we let her go.

Dr. Knepshield did an autopsy for her own education and called me with the results. Yes, it was cancer. It had abscessed and was spilling into her abdomen. It was attached to her liver. If we had chosen to do the exploratory surgery, they would have removed the mass and that lobe of her liver but…the rest of the liver wasn’t very healthy at all. We may have given Pop another week, probably less. It feels good, in an odd twisted sort of way, to know we did the right thing.

And so PopCorn has gone on. She went to chase butterflies on the hill. She never knew Zeus so we sent her to Maggie and Sparky instead.


My desk sits in front of a window. I can see the birds at the feeder and up in the trees. We have two regular bird feeders, a thistle sock, and 2 suet baskets. During the day, I can see a wide variety of birds and they keep me entertained. I keep a foldout pamphlet thingy around for NC backyard birds but I keep losing it. For example, I can’t find it now to tell you the name so you can get one for your area, too. (I sooo need to clean off my desk) It has drawings of the birds so you can identify them. I got an app for my iPod Touch called iBird South. It’s supposed to just have the Southern birds in it but it really has all of them. Glad I didn’t spend the money for the US one, eh?

Anyway, about 2 months ago I am sitting here, writing of course, and a flash of color catches my eye. I look out and see this odd bird. It’s brightly colored like a finch. I switch glasses and realize it’s not a goldfinch. It’s a parakeet. We actually managed to catch him the next day but the S.O.B. escaped when we opened the carrier to give him some food. Every day I sat here and watched him. He was an assertive snot and liked to chase the other birds off the feeders whenever he was eating. I named him Floyd.

Last week, after much planning and rigging, we hung a hamster cage from one of the hooks, took down the two regular feeders, and put food inside the cage. The idea was for him to get used to going in there to eat. He finally did and, after watching him for two days, Lorna managed to catch him.

A friend of ours took him in and we were pleased Floyd was now safe. He wasn’t afraid of Annie, our young cat and twice she’d come very close to catching him. We knew he would be okay this summer but come winter, would he know to migrate? We debated a long time about whether we should catch him or not.

Sadly, Floyd died the next day. Patti did some research and found that sunflower seeds cause parakeets to accumulate fatty deposits around their hearts. Combined with the other much-lacking nutritional needs, Floyd was a dead bird anyway. The cool weather had probably helped him since it kept his heart rate down. Floyd’s other problem was he was banded and, based on the color of the band, he was born somewhere in the 90s. So for a parakeet, he was an old man.

We buried Floyd out near Lorna’s mediation spot.

I miss him. I look out and see birds all day but there was no determining which one was which. But Floyd was different. I knew it was him. I knew how many times he was at that feeder or this one. I knew which song was his. No, I don’t want a parakeet now. I think it is sad he had to be re-caged, even just for a night. I wish I could have taken him back to where he was supposed to be. It was good he got to experience freedom and I’m glad he chose our place to live.

Speaking of birds…

Almost two years ago, Lorna and I were outside working in the yard when she saw this fairly large bird land in our bamboo. I grabbed my camera and got several decent images of it. We have no clue what it was. We were making it rather nervous so we left it alone and went inside. An hour later, it was gone.

Because I have so many pictures of it, I’m doing the “read more” thing so the page doesn’t take long to load for those who don’t want to see them. Not that it would hurt my feelings any. Well, maybe just a little.

Continue reading

Update on Princess Joella

Got a call from our vet today. The ortho vet said that maybe perhaps there might kinda sorta be an itty bitty fracture on her foot. But compared to the inflammation and that small bone out of place, it would not make the treatment any different. Because this is Jo’s good leg, we are going to be keeping it in a splint for SIX weeks. She is not going to be happy.

Because of the snow and the mud and her falling into both every day, we’ll be taking her in later this week to have the splint changed. It is rather dirty and if it is getting overly wet, that moisture is on the inside, irritating her skin. We briefly discussed an actual cast but decided the weight would be too much.

It is a really simple splint covered with gauze and vet-wrap.

This was her other bandage after her surgery a year or so ago. Much larger.


Joella, my retired Service Dog, had surgery on one of her back legs a while back. Nearly a year ago I think. Anyway, she’s been doing fine from that but this weird winter weather we’re having is making both of us feel the pain. Then last week she started walking funny with her back legs and started falling down. So since Lorna was taking today (Friday) off, I made an appt. for Jo at the vet’s.

They changed the appt. back an hour but with everything else we had to do, the extra hour gave us a chance to rest. Just as we were getting ready to go, it started snowing. Nothing new and different around here (and most of the nation it seems!) but when it started to actually lay, we opted to take Lorna’s Subaru instead of My Truck. Besides, it was lower to the ground and easier to get Jo up into it. We had no trouble going there, some white spots but not bad. Poor Lorna’s been driving so much in it lately! But by the time we were done and leaving, it was pretty nasty out.

But I’m ahead of myself. We love our vet. Dr. Knepshield at Charlotte Street Animal Hospital and all the gang there are, like, the best. Dr. K got down on the floor with Jo and started messing with her legs and…we wound up muzzling Jo. It hurt that much. That and she wasn’t happy, didn’t want to be there, and she hates to have her feet messed with. Hates it. So on went the muzzle. What Dr. K found was that Jo had a toe that was up really high and the entire foot was odd. Because of the first round of x-rays that showed something but we weren’t sure what (Rotties are prone to bone cancer), they knocked Jo out and x-rayed her again.

There’s these tiny little bones in dogs’ feet called sesamoids. We humans have them too and, actually, the kneecap is one. Anyway, one of these tiny bones was out of place. She sent the x-rays off to the ortho vet (the same one who did Jo’s surgery) for consult but we won’t hear back until Tuesday. These bones can come out of place because of a fracture (which she didn’t see) or from an injury that inflamed the foot and the bone becomes displaced because of the swelling. If this had happened to Jo’s bad leg, we would have noticed it immediately because she would not put weight on it. But because she cannot stand on just the bad back leg, she was forced to walk on both back legs. And because they both hurt and she was constantly dancing to not walk on either one, that’s why she was falling down a lot. I can sooooo relate.

The good news is that Jo’s hips look fine for a dog her age! No change at all from the previous x-rays. Her bad leg (the ankle) looks the same, no better no worse, so that’s good. And other than the foot, her other leg looks the same too. So this is excellent news.

The bad news is that Jo has a cast on her foot. They put on a special cast that allows her to put full weight on it and it is rounded to help her walk. But a stoned Jo with a cast does not a walking dog make. They gave her the anesthesia to knock her out plus a heavy duty pain killer to deal with the pain she’d have from them manipulating that foot so much and from the extreme tenderness she’s having with the bad leg. She was so stoned, they had to carry her out to the car on a stretcher!

Now back to the weather. The roads were bad. Mostly slush but some icy places and, of course, all the people getting out of work and trying to go home. What normally takes 20-30 minutes tops took an hour and 45 minutes! The traffic was unbelievable. We finally got out of the traffic near our last turn (at Leicester’s only red light) when the minivan in front of us also turns. We give him plenty of room to make the hill (it’s a horrid hill in this kind of weather) and…he doesn’t make it. We sit and watch him sit and spin. Finally, with me hungry, Jo whining, Lorna’s patience at a minimal, we go around. That little Subaru just went right by him, not a single spin or slip. We hated to leave them like that but, well…. Anyway, we made it home, got Jo and me in the house, and all is well.

I’ll have pics of the girl tomorrow. She wasn’t at her best tonight (she was so freakin’ stoned).

Mike’s Website/Blog

I have too many websites. Really, I do.

Anyway, Mike’s website/blog/whatever (aptly named Mike’s Doghouse) is alive again. He and I are going to re-try our training for him to be my service dog. We had so many delays earlier but it worked out in the end. He needed time to mature, to find himself I guess. He’s still young but the time is right. I won’t post a note here every time I post a note there but I figured I’d tell you here that I was also back over there as well as here. You get all that?