23 January 2017

We can rebuild her. We have the technology.

Over a year ago, Reese started limping after a trip to the doggy beach. We initially chalked it up to too much running around and merely needing some rest. Alas, this was not the case. She would rest (read: not get her tennis ball thrown every thirty seconds) for a few days, then immediately start limping as soon as we ramped up her activity level. It was time for the vet.

The Dr. Vet poked and prodded her leg and knee, while Reese glared at him. The joint was swollen and clearly causing her discomfort. We tried everything Dr. Vet recommended, such as anti-inflammatories, but nothing produced a lasting result. Finally, months later, it was time to visit Dr. Orthopaedic Vet.

Apparently when dogs tear their CCL (cranial cruciate ligament, the doggy version of an ACL), it is usually degenerative rather than acute. That means instead of a sudden tear and lots of howling, it slowly tears over a period of time. Dr. Orthopaedic Vet further explained that the ligament can't recover from tears, but it can be replaced with string and scar tissue. She couldn't be 100% sure about how badly, if at all, the ligament was torn prior to surgery, but, in her experience, it was torn and needed to be fixed.

After much debate, we chose the less invasive option to fix her knee. Basically, a bunch of fishing wire is wrapped around the knee to hold it together, and eventually scar tissue builds up and keeps everything steady. As the knee heals, stretches and increased mobility prevent the scar tissue from locking the knee in place while simultaneously building up strength.

We scheduled her surgery for as soon as possible. After a night in the hospital, she was very ready to come home.
The blue dangly thing is a leash.

Sadly for her, Reese had two months of rehabilitation in front of her. At first, she was stuck in her crate most of the time, to prevent her from trying to walk around. At first, she was groggy enough to not care.
Zero dragged over his bed to keep her company.
That lasted for about as long as you'd expect. With her normal imperviousness to pain, she wanted to run around and eat tennis balls. However, the doctor said she was limited to five minute potty walks and nothing else. Let's just say the two weeks until her stitches were removed were very loud.

Once the stitches were finally out, the cone came off and physical therapy could begin.

05 January 2017

Star Trekking, across the universe

Because we're super cool, Matt, a second Matt, and I went to a Star Trek convention in San Francisco. It was basically what we expected - standard nerds, some in costume. I wanted to dress up, but Matt (both, really) was boring and flat out refused.

I was planning on getting a photo signed by John de Lancie, who played Q, my second favorite Star Trek character. (For those wondering, my favorite is Garek.) The plan was to buy a picture of Q from one of the vendors. However, there were shockingly few vendors, and only one selling glossy 8x10s appropriate for signing. While mulling over the equally unideal choices, Matt noticed a picture of Terry Farrell from Trials and Tribble-ations, my second favorite Deep Space 9 episode. Anyone noticing a trend here? Anyway, I decided to get that picture as well and get it signed.

Next it was time to meet Q. He was very nice - he asked some questions and listened to my answers. It was almost like a real conversation! The table next to him housed Denise Crosby, who saw my four ponies of the apocalypse t-shirt. She struck up a conversation about it and told me about the Tasha Yar My Little Pony that someone made. She even looked up a picture of it on her phone!

After that encounter, there was only one logical thing to do. We found the hotel's business center and paid $1.90 for a crappy printout of the Tasha Yar My Little Pony.

When I brought it back over and asked her to sign it, she went nuts. Good nuts, just to be clear. She desperately tried to get John de Lancie's attention, but he was trying to ignore her and talk to another fan. After she signed the page, I held it up over the should of the other fan's head so he'd finally see it. At first he was quite confused as to what on earth was going on that required his immediate attention, but he eventually acknowledged the pony and its inherent awesomeness.

Inherent awesomeness.

Now that such a glorious memento is in my possession, I feel the need to create a ridiculously awesome photo album in which to store it. I'm thinking of making it look like a PADD.

Still basking in the glory from my successful encounters the previous day, I decided to brave the microphone and ask Q a question during his Q&A. There were two microphones, each with about five or six people waiting when I got up to the front. I patiently waited my turn as people alternated between legitimate questions and asking for validation on their creepy stalker stories and pet theories.

Finally, the person in front of me asked her question. All that was standing in front of me and 15 seconds of talking in front of hundreds of people was a kid at the other mike. The kid claimed to be 13, but he looked closer 8. And he was dressed like Wesley Crusher, complete with the sweater. I thought to myself, "If anyone is going to ruin my amazing question, it's going to be freaking Wesley."

Well, guess what happened next. While he did not ask the exact same question, it was annoyingly similar. I desperately wanted to yell, "SHUT UP WESLEY!" I even contemplated leaving the line, but I didn't want to be berated publicly by Q. I tried desperately to think of anything resembling a valid question. My idiot brain went completely blank. And then it was my turn to speak.

With nothing else to say, I gave up and just asked my original question. "Which captain did you most enjoy tormenting?" To no one's surprise, he replied that he just answered that question. "I know, but after waiting in line, I at least wanted a chance to ask." And I ran off to hide at the bottom of a deep chasm. Or back to my chair, which was slightly closer.

Thanks, Wesley.

28 December 2016

When good organs go bad

What happens when you combine dogabetes and IBD? Pancreatitis! While the exact cause is not known, diabetes can bring it about. And just for funsies, a previous bouts is a possible indicator of future bouts. Since Zero can't exactly say, "My tummy hurts, I don't wanna go to school today," we discovered the problem the same way anything else is discovered with a dog - through a sudden change in behavior.

Normally Zero eats everything and anything you put in front of him. If it's feeding time at the O.K. Corral, he's front and center waiting by the trough. Except suddenly he wasn't. He was barely moving, just lying in bed. We coaxed him over for food, even brought food to him, but he was completely uninterested. Zero being uninterested in food means time for everyone's favorite thing - the vet!

Zero walked slowly down the stairs and tried to sit by the door, but it was obvious sitting was painful. I wasn't sure if picking him up would make things worse, so we ended up letting him walk to the car.

After an extensive medical history and some X-rays, the vet confirmed that Zero had pancreatitis. He had a minor case a few months before the dogabetes diagnosis, which required an overnight hospitalization, but he quickly recovered. This time wasn't so easy.

Reese was not a fan of leaving Zero behind at the vet. We visited him every day, and every day Reese would stop at the top of the stairs to wait for Zero.
Where's Zero? We can't leave without him!
At home, she went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat much of anything as long as her brother was missing.

Meanwhile, Zero wasn't getting any better. There isn't any miracle cure for pancreatitis. IV fluids, monitoring, and waiting are the basic protocol. Unless the patient refuses to eat for a few days, in which he gets a feeding tube up his nose, down his throat, and into his stomach. In case that's not bad enough, a couple of stitches hold the tube in place on his snout.
Let me out of this cage!

Now that I'm out, let's go home.

About five days in, Zero finally started to turn around. He became more active and even began eating on his own. Much to his delight, the feeding tube came out. One more night, and we were finally able to bring him back home. It took a few more days of rest at home, but he did recover.
Much better.

20 December 2016

Batshit crazy

This happened nearly two years ago. For whatever reason (laziness), I never finished this post. On with the story!

Matt was in the front yard with the dogs when he heard a horrible screeching sound. Of course Reese located the source first, and proceeded to closely sniff the offender. At first, Matt thought it was an injured bird, but closer inspection revealed that it was a bat. A BAT. In the middle of the day. Not good.
Not a bird.
I called animal control, and they sent someone out to investigate. In the meantime, we were supposed to trap, assuming we could do so safely. The bat hopped to the side of our house, screeching all the way. We cornered it into a box, then wedged in a furniture dolly. Just in case the tiny bat grew super strength to move the box, we didn't want a super strong crazy bat chasing us.
Note: I do not recommend wedging things against the gas meter. In retrospect, not our smartest decision.

After merely half an eternity, Mr. Animal Control arrived with his official grabby tool. He informed us that if he had to take the bat with him, it would be euthanized and checked for rabies. In all of Los Angeles County, only around 40 rabid bats are found each year, so odds were against our bat being infected. It would be best for everyone, especially the bat, if it just flew off.

He carefully used the grabby tool to put the bat on a ledge, hoping it would fly off. It just laid there, occasionally hopping or screeching. Mr. Animal Control admitted this was not a good sign, especially with it still being daylight out.
*poke poke* You can fly away now.
Or not, apparently.
It did the same thing when put on the ground. Well, Mr. Bat had his chance. Conveniently, we had a plethora of boxes lying around, so Mr. Animal Control used one to take the bat away in.

Good-bye! Never come back!
Now that the bat was safely in a box, Mr. Animal Control started asking questions about the dogs. "How close did they get?" "Is there any chance one got bit?" Apparently bat fangs are so sharp and tiny that not even humans always notice when they get bit. Finding a bat bite on a dog is like finding a needle in a haystack. In other words, time for booster shots!

As soon as he left, we took the dogs over to the vet. They were both current on their rabies shots, but standard procedure is to give them booster vaccines on day 0 and day 30, just in case. Unfortunately, standard procedure also involves notifying the county about a possible rabies case. Boo.

The county put both Reese and Zero under a thirty day quarantine, even though only Reese was ever actually within chomping distance of the bat. We had to send in official copies of both dogs' pre-existing and booster rabies certificates. Without proof of prior vaccines, the quarantine would be 180 days. The only good part was that we could do quarantine at our house, as opposed to some horrible county facility. Yay for small miracles?

If we got lucky and the bat tested negative for rabies, the quarantine would be lifted immediately. Of course, that did not happen. About a week later I got a phone call saying that the bat tested positively. Only 40 cases a year, and one had to literally land in our front yard.

Everyone managed to survive being cooped up in the house. We received an official letter from the county saying that the dogs were free to roam the streets again. Reese and Zero got their second round of boosters. Apparently their bat encounter was big news at the vet. Every time we went back, someone would ask us if these were the bat dogs.

01 December 2016

Zero's grand Thanksgiving adventure!

Due to Reese's surgery, Zero came with us to the east coast for Thanksgiving. We save our quadrillions of miles/points/generic-flight-units for Thanksgiving upgrades (and international travel), since it's the worst time of year to fly. As such, poor Zero was forced to experience business class from under the seat in front of him.

Not so luxurious down here. :-(
To add insult to injury, the passenger to our left had a fluffy golden retriever service dog with a big bag of treats. Not only was Zero stuck in the bag, he had to watch the other dog scarf down delicious nom noms. The last straw was when the service dog put the treat mere inches from Zero and ate it practically under his nose. Zero clearly had enough. "GROWL! GRRR GRRR! CHOMP!" That sufficiently enticed the service dog to eat in the aisle.

Zero was super excited to join us for Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Due to his incredibly strict diet, Zero was only allowed a few iotas of turkey, but he was happy enough to eat his normal food. After dinner, he was the only one still interested in more food.
Matt was only temporarily dead. He's since been reanimated.

On Saturday, we headed into New York for a night of glitz and glamour. Zero took his first train ride!
Choo choo!
He wasn't exactly a fan of all the rocking back and forth, but, contrary to what he says, he did survive.

We checked into our room at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park and took Zero for his evening constitutional through the park. Afterwards, he made himself comfortable for the evening.
The sneaky ear up means he's actually awake and ready for further excitement.
He chilled in his nest while we met a friend for drinks at the hotel bar.

The next morning, after his breakfast and walk, we moved his nest into the bathroom. Just in case something went wrong with his insides, we wanted it to be more easily cleanable.

Matt and I braved the high seas freezing cold harbor to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island like proper tourists. We'd both been there before, though not for years.
Matt's the one in green.

When we returned to the hotel, Zero had a nasty surprise in store for us. Apparently something freaked him out, enticing him to chew his way out of the bathroom.
The pile on the right is only some of the wood shavings he created.
Zero's been left alone in plenty of hotel rooms before. He didn't touch a thing in the Extended Stay, but ate the finishings in the freaking Ritz-Carlton. Clearly he has expensive taste.

Matt punted him out of the seventh floor window. I laughed, yelled, and eventually called the front desk to request that a manager come up.

After a very long twenty minutes that was supposed to be spent driving to the airport, the loss prevention manager arrived. He surveyed the damage and determined that it was merely the molding, not the actual door. He also kept mentioning how we're super awesome for actually telling them about the damage instead of trying to hide it behind a pile of towels. I took both of these as good signs.

Despite his behavior, we did take Zero back home. He even was still allowed another go in business class. Hopefully he enjoyed it, as it is certain to be his last. 

As of today, Thursday, we haven't heard anything about how much the door destruction recompense will be. I'm still optimistic that it will be covered by the standard pet fee.