Saturday, August 30, 2008

Swollen Pearl

Why oh why do dogs get themselves in so much trouble?

I suspect that Pearl was chewing on some plant she shouldn't have or trying to catch some critter she shouldn't have--but I'll never know for sure.

Last night, at around 9, when I called the dogs in, Ruby came bounding in like she has been since I declared her Beta Dog (I'm the Alpha Dog, Pearl is the Gamma Dog). Pearl did not bound in behind her.

I clapped my hands--my signal to tell them it's time to come in. Nothing.

I could see a whitish lump in the distance--not moving. I turned on the outdoor light, and the lump looked more like a dog. But the dog, or lump, made no sound.

Oh God, I thought, something bad must have happened.

I walked out to the lump and, yes, it was Pearl, wagging her tail, but clearly not wanting to move. I pet he, but she did not respond with the usual licking. I felt her nose: still cold. I felt around for injuries but could find none.

So I picked her up (which is no longer easy) and took her inside, putting her in the sleeping area she shares with Ruby. She easily walked over to her spot and plopped onto the floor. Nothing wrong with her walking abilities--no limp or anything. She looked at me with that sorrowful look dogs get when they know they have done something stupid but are too stupid to figure out what it was.

When she turned to face me, I noticed that she seemed swollen around the muzzle and eyes. I felt around her mouth, inside and out. I checked her teeth and gums. Everything seemed pink and healthy--except that she wouldn't open her mouth. I tried gently prying her jaws open and got them open a little bit. but could feel that she either didn't want them open or could not open them herself. I could see her tongue clamped between her jaws--it was also pink and healthy looking.

So I called Billy C and asked if anything like this had ever happened to one of his dogs. He said Dil had had something like this once and was over it the next day. Vivage thought that it might be a spider bite, bee sting, or even rattlesnake bite. She wanted me to take Pearl to the emergency vet.

I know enough about all of the above to know that if it were serious venom running through her veins, Pearl would be showing other signs of illness rather quickly. But I called the vet, just in case.

The nice vet lady who answered told me to just watch her and see whether things got better or worse and, if they got worse, to bring her in.

So I decided to give it an hour.

About 45 minutes later, Pearl, had regained use of her jaws and was almost her old licking and slobbering self.

This morning, she bounded out of the house with Ruby and seemed pretty much back to her old self.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Apneate

So I have trouble sleeping.

I wake up in the night. I start to think. Suddenly, I get caught in this vortex of the day's issues and I juggle them in my head, trying to solve them--but never solve them. Sometimes, I just wear my self down and fall back to sleep. Often, I juggle the problems until morning.

I also snore pretty badly. I have most of the symptoms of sleep apnea. I usually wake up a couple of times a night.

Since lack of sleep can effect a whole lot of things badly, I finally got my doctor to refer me to respiratory therapy.

I went to this workshop yesterday to receive a diagnostic machine that would monitor my sleep at night. The trainer showed us how to wear it and what to wear with it and answered all of our questions.

We were instructed to strap ourselves to our machines and try to record at least five hours of sleep. The problem for me was that we were told to sleep on our backs, which I never do.

I took a pill before bed, lay there for about an hour, then fell asleep. I awoke about an hour and a half later. And I just lay there--first thinking about the device and it's monitors wrapped around my torso, taped to my finger, and stuck up my nose. Then, I started ruminating on the day's problems.

And I tried to make myself comfortable on my back, but I couldn't.

So I just lay there.

I tried my breathing meditation, shifting my neck, rearranging my pillows--nothing worked.

Finally,at about 2:15, I took the gizmos off and soon went to sleep--still fitful, but at least it was sleep.

I managed to keep the gizmo on for about five hours, so I hope that tells the doctors something of what they want to know. But I'm going to call my doctor on Monday and ask for e re-referral and perhaps a stronger sleep medication as a one-time deal. I don't take my current prescription regularly--only when I think I'm going to need it--but I think that maybe I've built up a little resistance to it.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Our Riverside Ukulele Liberation Front has been going on for over a year now--I think a year-and-a-half.

Yesterday's meeting had a loony kind of feel to it. I t was probably the largest meeting so far. We started off small and our numbers swole to the gills.

The theme? Summertime. Only I brought a summer tune that wasn't really a summer tune except it was a Beach Boys tune: "Help Me Rhonda". I made copies of this song because I had procrastinated and, at the last minute, it was the only song I could find.

So, we get in tune and we have this new guy and I think we better play an easy tune because this guy is really new so I pull out "This Land Is Your Land." The problem is that most of the people had no copy of--summer attendance being what it is, many of those who showed up were not there at the last couple of meetings. So, we shared as best we could and it seemed like music.

After we played that song into the ground, Anna passed around extra copies of her song from last week--"one More Bottle of Wine"--and we gave that a go. Nobody had ever heard it except Anna. Again, it seemed like music after a couple of runs.

It was so hot (we meet in a the basement) that, at one point, I began to feel a little light-headed. I didn't say anything. I jut kept throwing down beverages and just played most of the time.

At this point, there about 12 people and we were running out of stuff that we had enough copies. I was about to start with "Help Me Rhonda," when Joanne--this nice lady from the Claremont scene--came scootin' in and passed out five or six songs that she had brought.

We worked on those awhile and everybody had fun, so what the hey?

A former student of mine showed up with her ukulele. I hadn't seen her for a couple of years, so it was a nice surprise.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My Dogs' Cat Fights

When I got my two new dogs spayed, I thought that, among other things, it would help solve the problem of their fights. It hasn't. These two dogs, from the same litter, get into these fights where they squeal and growl and sound like they are really tearing one another apart. Every time I go out to stop them, I find that Ruby (the brown dog, a little smaller) has pinned Pearl (white and brown and a little larger). They freeze in that position, until Ruby is sure that Pearl is finished, and then separate, lick one another, and come running to me, tails a-wagging. No blood, no injuries.

Ruby did this at home too with her siblings--even Zombie, who is much larger and a male. At a doggy party we had last year, where five out of six of the litter had been reunited, Zombie would assert himself as Alpha dog--except with Ruby. Ruby would kick his ass every time.

Every pair of dogs I have ever had, or seen, has gotten into fights at one time or another. But they have always looked and sounded tame compared to what I'm talking about here. And sometimes, there have been minor injuries. Joey used to get into fights with Gloria and later Roscoe. But I always thought it was because she was the smaller dog in both cases.

My neighbor asked me about it a week ago, and I told him what I have just told you--that the fights always sounded a lot worse than they were. But I decided that I really needed to see what I could do about it.

I looked up a solution on the Internet and found that I was a part of the problem. I am the Alpha dog of the pack. Ruby is 2nd in line--she has obviously been so since birth. Pearl, while larger and better looking, is at the bottom of our pack. I found this out by reading this article.

Being a compassionate human being, I always tried to make it up to Pearl when Ruby was rue to her. For example, when I would give them both chew toys or dog biscuits before bed time, Ruby would always take Pearl's away. I would give Pearl another, and Ruby would take it away. This could go on forever an I would wonder what Ruby thought she was going to do with all of those chew toys and treats and why she couldn't just share. So I just started giving Pearl her treat first. This created some confusion in the order of my pack. Ruby had been certain of her dominant role, but Pearl had gotten signals that maybe she was the 2nd in command here.

Ruby tried to explain this to me several times, but I hadn't listened. Every night, after getting her chew toy, Ruby would play this game with me where she would bring me her chew toy and dare me to try and take it from her. I would grab at it and she would pull away. When I did get a hold of it, she would clamp down harder and we would each tug on it for awhile until she let go. I'd try playing the same game with Pearl, but she wouldn't struggle, she'd just let me have it in much the same way that she would let Ruby take it.

After I began paying more attention to Pearl, making sure she got her fair share of the attention and goodies, I noticed Ruby acting funny. First, she was reluctant to come in the house at night. Pearl would come bounding and Ruby would just sit outside wagging her tail. I thought she might be sick, but she didn't show any symptoms of anything.

She didn't even play the chew toy tug of war anymore.

So the article linked above says that, as Alpha dog, I'm supposed to recognize the pecking order in my pack. I should always treat Ruby with the respect she deserves--give her treats first, pet her first, everything first. Pearl, alas, should always be second.

I have been trying this for the past couple of days and, while there has been one fight, they seem mellower. Ruby has started playing the game with me again. Pearl, I think, is trying to figure out where she went wrong.

The other thing is that I, as Alpha dog, am supposed to make it clear to them that fighting will not be tolerated. The article offers suggestions, but the difficulty is that the fighting occurs when I'm not around and stops when I come outside. So, its hard to punish or scold them when they ceased the behavior.

So, I am working on it.