Critter Alley

Critter Alley

Monday, August 29, 2016

We Have a New Site!

We've been cooking up a new website.

Please visit our debut post, where Critter Alley will continue...only under a new name.

To visit, click here. Pretty please?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Need a Break?

On a recent fishing trip in southern Missouri, a cloudy afternoon brought several hours of rain, and by rain I mean a monsoon, which left deep puddles of water everywhere on the ground while raindrops the size of teacups dripped from leaves.

I picked my way across the ground to avoid any ankle deep mini-ponds, before looking up to notice the above pictured sight. An enormous tree was filled with turkey buzzards (several flew away before I could snap this picture). Each big old bird sat on a branch, motionless and silent, with wings spread wide to dry.

Can't you just totally relate to these guys? After being pummeled by a storm, when clouds clear, they shake off the whirlwind to welcome back the sun.

If you're like me you've been doing way too much in the dog days of summer, forever trying to cram in just one more thing. Maybe it's time to take a lesson from our feathered friends.

Sit back for a moment. Relax and recharge.

Even the most powerful wings need a break to stay strong.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What's the Deal?

Yesterday, Winston went back to puppy day care for the first time since before the whole gimpy-leg thing happened two months ago.

He was hopping up and down, excited as a kid heading for the swimming pool on a 100 degree day. Tail wagging, he pulled me toward the door, eager to see his pals. He was happy. I was happy.

I picked Winston up about 5 hours later. He immediately fell asleep. That's what I love about day care. A tired puppy is a good puppy.

We got home, and as soon as I sat down, Winston upchucked all over the floor.

Do you think he and his pals may have over-celebrated?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Extraordinary Day

Yesterday I attended the All Write Conference in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with several members of my critique group, Donna, Sarah, Jane, Marcia, Doyle, Les, and Janet. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this talented group.

My absence gave Winston the chance for his first road trip. Son and DIL took him with them to Perryville, where he assisted by barking at any people who came to view the house they are trying to sell. Winston is great at unwanted snoopervision.

I'm king of everybody's castle!

Attending the conference was well worth the two hour drive. The speakers were excellent, hearing comments from panelists about "the slush pile" made me rethink some things, and the food was scrumptious.

Talking to fellow writers is always a special treat. My friend, Sioux, won a prize for best elevator pitch. I won't repeat it here (this blog is G-rated), but it sure caught the eye of the agent who heard it. Fellow critique members Jane, Marcia, and Janet all won prizes in writing contests. I got lucky and won first place in the essay contest. What a thrill!

Meanwhile several of my buddies and I pitched novels to agents and/or publishing companies. Each writer got five minutes to "sell" their novel. I pitched to an agent and a publisher, and must admit my hands were sweating both times. What a relief when they each said they liked the idea and wanted me to send the manuscript for them to read. Of course, that's not a guarantee of anything, but at least I did it. Now I want a T-shirt that says: I Survived My First Pitch Session.

All in all, an extraordinary day.

Even my sweet little grand-baby had fun on Saturday. He went with mommy and daddy on his first boat ride.

Little Chubs has quite a beach body, doesn't he?

Surveying the lake with Daddy.

What a great day we had! Hope your Saturday turned out to be just as special.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Good Old Days

Yesterday Winston had his third follow-up visit post-surgery. The vet says he's doing well, but told me I should still keep him on leash or crated except when I'm able to closely supervise him.

Oops. He's been off leash since the first week after surgery, with me scrambling around to keep him under control. Hopefully I can keep Winston from self-destruction over another fourteen days because that's when we have our (hopefully) final appointment. The vet says if everything looks good, Winston will be taken off restriction.

Winston, of course, doesn't feel he should ever have been on any sort restriction at all, and is offended over my helicopter pet parent ways.

What do you mean, we can't wrestle?

I think this poor puppy has given up on ever being allowed to have fun again. He hasn't gone to puppy day care, been in a training class, or strolled through delicious goose poop in more than a month.

Geez, Mom, whatever happened to the good old days?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My New Prescription

My mother always told me that time flies by faster than an eye blink. The older I get, the more I realize she was exactly right.

I've been caught up in a big project for which I have a short timeline. Back in 2011, I did a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, and since my retirement in August I've been playing around with actually finishing it. Well, I was playing around. For the past month or so, I've been pushing hard to get it done. My first draft is now complete, timelines have been checked (its an historical novel--though not, I hope, an hysterical one) and now I'm polishing and layering. I've even found an editor who I think will be a perfect fit for me.

The bad news is nothing much else is being accomplished. I'm not writing essays or short stories. House projects have come to a halt. I can't remember the last time I turned on the vacuum cleaner.

Winston, however, refuses to be ignored. He barks incessantly until he gets the attention he wants, which is quite distracting when I'm trying to concentrate. So how do I entertain him? This puzzle is one of my many efforts, though it didn't take long for him to figure it out. Yep, he can now solve the puzzle in under a minute and gobble all the delicious hidden treats.

On the bright side, his bandages are off and we have graduated from wearing the cone of shame or an inner-tube around the neck. However, his leg looks quite pitiful, and strongly resembles a chicken drumstick.

The vet says I'm still supposed to keep him from running or jumping. When I whined about those instructions, he gave me a wonderful prescription.

Tranquilizers for Winston and a couple of stiff drinks for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Give Me a Break!

A puppy needs excitement. A puppy needs adventure. A puppy needs to chase a ball 3.5 million times a day.

Guess who's been trained to be obedient to commands? (Clue: I'm not talking about the puppy)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

One Day Post-Op

We are one day post-surgery,and you may notice that only one of Winston's legs is bandaged. On the morning of surgery, the vet called me and said he woke up at 4:30 am thinking about Winston's case. He told me he had a strong feeling that he should not operate on Winston's right leg, since at this point Winston wasn't having any problems with it. The vet feared that surgery might make things worse for his non-limping leg.

To tell you the truth, I'm kind of glad. Winston is so pitiful with one bum leg, I can't imagine how we (meaning I) would be able to cope with two surgically altered legs at the same time.

As you can see, Winston is wrapped up in a weird way, almost as though he's on the tip-toe of his foot. That being the case, he doesn't want to put any weight on his leg at all, and hops around on three legs instead.

Poor guy. He's pretty miserable, and can't find a comfortable position to sleep. Since he's on a no running, no jumping, no roughhousing, no anything regimen; I try to put him in his crate to keep him safe. This is NOT a popular idea. Barking, and crying, and whining, oh my!

There's only one thing now that makes Winston happy. Food. He may well end up doubling his weight by the time all this is over. When Winston is clearing all the peanut butter from the Kong, he's quiet. This buys me about five minutes to breathe. Five.Whole.Minutes.

Oh, and guess what? In the midst of all the fun we're having, my daughter phoned. Seems her pup tore an ACL jumping on the bed. Now little Tinker Bell has surgery scheduled next week.

When it rains, it pours. Hope you're not getting as soggy as we are.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Paws are Crossed

Today was the day. Winston and I trekked our way across the mighty Missouri for a second consultation with the veterinary orthopedic surgeon regarding his wonky little front legs.

Since both legs are bad, they both need surgery. The vet said we could do one and then do the other at a later date, if I preferred to spread out the cost, but his recommendation was surgery on both front legs at the same time...a double ulnar ostectomy. 

The procedure basically entails removing a small section of the ulnar bone on each leg and inserting some fat taken from Winston's leg in between the two sections of bone. This (hopefully) will allow the still-growing radius bone to grow without being pulled into bowing out even more than it is now because of the no-longer-growing ulnar bone. After surgery, Winston will be in the hospital for 1-2 days and then placed on 4 weeks of rest, while we cross our fingers for success.

Definition of success: Improvement. I've been cautioned that his legs will never be perfect, at least until the veterinary world comes up with a satisfactory knee replacement procedure. The bad news is there's a chance everything could be for naught, as surgery could worsen his condition. Since I think that can be true for any surgery, I decided to press on. 

I must admit to whining a tiny bit to the vet since we've already spent $700+ just for consultations, exams, and x-rays. He must have taken pity on me as he said he'd see what he could do. When he gave me the cost for surgery on both legs, it actually turned out to be far less than what I imagined it would be, although still enough to put a decided dent in the old pocketbook. 

After thinking it over for about a second, I decided to go ahead and have both legs done at the same time. Who needs a second anesthesia and a second 4 week recovery period? Not us! Let's get on with it and hope for the best.

So Winston is scheduled for surgery next week on June 1. Positive thoughts and crossed paws would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Could an Apple a Day Keep the Vet Away?

This morning, a friend asked me if I watch any of the veterinary shows currently on television.

I told her no, because my house is a veterinary show.

There's my son's dog, Brady, who's at my house about half the time. Between his plethora of medications for severe skin allergies and the diaper I have to keep on him to prevent his teeny little marking habit, I might as well be a vet tech.

And now I have Winston. When I brought home an adorable little ten-week-old bundle of fur, I never dreamed about the possibility of mortgaging the house to pay for vet bills.

So far I've spent hundreds on x-rays, ultrasounds, and consultations with an orthopedic veterinary surgeon to figure out why he developed a small limp.

Winston has now been diagnosed with elbow incongruency and premature closure of ulnar physis. In short, he's got rotten knees. And not one rotten knee, mind you. Two of them. One is just a whole lot worse than the other.

The specialist gave me the bad news via phone. He's thinking Winston will need multiple surgeries to "fix" his problems. Of course after surgery, I must keep him perfectly still for 6-8 weeks. Did I mention he's a 7 month old puppy?

We meet to discuss the frightening details next week, and it's a sure bet the cost is going to be astronomic. Worse yet, from what I've read about surgeries for such issues, there's something like a 50-60% success rate. Awesome.

Winston, of course, is oblivious to what anyone says. Despite instructions to "take it easy" he's running everywhere and jumping around like the Energizer Bunny on stimulants.

Yesterday I found him here...

Yes, even the cat tree isn't safe.

And speaking of cats, Bogey is the only critter in my house who doesn't have some sort of weird health problem.

Another score for me in the game of cats vs dogs!