Monthly Archives: March 2008


I have stressed out my family.

Pax spent most of Saturday afternoon outside. I noticed he wasn’t around, but didn’t think anything of it until he came in around dinner time. All I had to do was look at him to see that he didn’t feel good. He lay down and didn’t even lift his head when I called him for dinner. This is NOT normal. My dogs don’t miss meals. So I called the emergency vet, and they said to bring him in.

He was vomiting and had diarrhea, and he was dehydrated. They elected to keep him overnight to give him IV fluids. They did a fecal test, and he had a bacterial infection. They also did blood work, and it was normal except for one muscle something-or-other that the vet said could be elevated due to trauma — like getting jumped by Aslan.

While the vet and I were talking about trauma, the conversation somehow got around to stress, and he asked if Pax had been stressed lately. Are you kidding? Let’s see…

  • Massive dog fight with injuries about five weeks ago
  • Two weeks of constant management because Aslan wanted to eat him
  • A week being boarded while I was at my screenwriting class
  • A puppy brought into the house for 24 hours

On top of all that, I told the vet, I have been more stressed in the last six weeks than I’ve been in ages and ages…

  • Finishing up my job
  • Managing fighting dogs
  • Getting ready for class
  • Having to move downtown for the class, even though I really didn’t want to
  • Having to board Pax, even though I really didn’t want to
  • Long class hours
  • Bronchitis
  • Dropping class
  • Problems at work that are keeping me from getting back to work in a timely manner

The vet laughed and said that dogs don’t have issues that their owners don’t give them. I won’t go *quite* that far, but in this case, it could very well be true that all of the problems with Pax and Aslan have, ultimately, originated with me.

Of course, Pax being in the hospital didn’t help my stress level, especially when he wasn’t better on Sunday. They did x-rays… and then didn’t call me with the results. I was totally freaking out. A blockage can be life-threatening, and I really, really, really needed to know the results of those x-rays. I finally got Jay to drive over to the hospital with me.

It was good decision. Pax was fine — nothing on the x-rays — but it gave us a chance to take him for a walk and be with him for a while. Not only was that good for me, but it was good for him. He hadn’t eaten since he went to the vet, but he was willing to eat a little for me, which made the vets very happy.

They considered letting him go home with us last night, but he was still having some diarrhea, and they didn’t want us to have to manage it. So they kept him overnight one more night. He was doing well — the diarrhea tapered off, and he ate a little meal in the middle of the night… but then about two hours later he threw it up. So they were worried about sending him home again.

In the end though, we decided to go ahead and bring him home. They weren’t worried about his health — they think he’s fine, just a bug that needs to get cleaned out of his system — they were just worried that we wouldn’t be able to handle vomiting and diarrhea. Well, no worries. He has thus far been fine since he came home. He was a little subdued in the car, but when we stopped for breakfast, he was all over that idea! We gave him some bread, and then brought him home and gave him a little kibble. And a rawhide flip (which may not have been especially god for him, but he was begging for it). It’s about 1:20 now, and he has been sleeping soundly — no diarrhea or vomiting or even subdued behavior.

I’m sooo glad to have him home. Having Pax here makes me a lot less stressed!

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Puppy practice

Last week I got to spend a day caring for a puppy. Since I’ve wanted a puppy for months and months it was a good chance to experience the reality and remember what raising a puppy is like. It was also a good test to see how Pax and Aslan would handle having a youngster around.

On Wednesday, an e-mail went out to the neighborhood: Lorelie had found a black puppy and was looking for the owner. On Thursday morning she followed up. The puppy, she thought, was a young Newfie puppy, and they still had not found an owner.

The idea that this might be a Newfie intrigued me — especially since I had been looking at Newfie puppies on the Web on Wednesday! I e-mailed her and told her if she didn’t find the owner, I’d be happy to take him off her hands. By Thursday afternoon, she had exhausted her resources and asked if I wanted to take over the baby-sitting job.

Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen:

When I first saw him, I guessed, based primarily on size, that he was probably about eight weeks old. But once I got him home, I changed my guess to about ten weeks. He was small for a Newf — about 18 lbs. — but sure looked like one otherwise. And he was ADORABLE.

I brought him home and introduced him to Pax and Aslan. Pax was immediately miffed at me. Both dogs were excited by the puppy though, and it took lots of reminders to be gentle before they were interacting appropriately with him. Pax was actually a little snarky with him at first, and he was definitely unhappy about the prospect of sharing his toys! Aslan treated him like he treats any guest dog… He was excited and interested, but his stress level steadily increased. He never behaved inappropriately to the puppy, but he began growling and aggressing toward Pax.

The puppy was a sweetheart. He was good with the other dogs, sat to be petted, and was almost completely housebroken! We had just one accident the entire time, and that was a moment of “Oh, he wants to go out… Oops.” He actually goes to the door and ASKS to go out! At ten weeks! I named him Zane (which means “God’s gracious gift”), and by the time he left, I was calling him Zany Brainy.

Thursday afternoon and evening were pretty easy. Pax was miffed. Aslan was outside to keep him from jumping Pax. I hadn’t had a chance to puppy-proof the house AT ALL, so I played with the pup when he was awake, keeping him focused on people, toys, and dogs instead of cords, furniture, and non-chew toys. I was a little confounded about what to do with him overnight. I didn’t have a puppy-sized crate, and I doubted that he was going to be happy sleeping in the bed. I was right — he didn’t settle on the bed. So I put up a baby gate to keep him in the bedroom and just crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t get into trouble on the floor. A little belly rubbing, and he fell right to sleep next to the bed.

Jay came up at 1:15. He took the baby out, but also thoroughly woke him up. The puppy knocked over the gate and made an escape right after Jay got in bed, so I got up and dealt with it. Zane was hungry, so I fed him a little and gave him some water, and then took him out again. When we went up this time, he settled pretty quickly and slept until about 5. I got up, played with him, fed everyone around 6, and then (predictably) he crashed. So we went upstairs and got another couple hours sleep. The neat thing was that by Friday morning, Pax had decided that the little guy wasn’t so bad. He not only played with him, but even offered him his favorite toys to tug and play with.

Although I named him, I *didn’t* get too attached. I knew this little guy belonged somewhere, and even though he was adorable, I didn’t want someone else to be missing him. I put the word out about him in several places, but it wasn’t necessary. Lorelie e-mailed me right before bed on Thursday to tell me she had found his owner. It turns out that he isn’t a Newf. Instead he’s half Lab, half Collie. He was from a litter further up Mountain View.

I spent Friday morning trying to get in contact with his owners and finally did so at 12:30. I dropped him off at home at 1 — and he was much relieved to get back to his mom, siblings, and aunt. He, it turns out, is the only one in the bunch with long fur. The others just look like Lab pups. Any way you slice it, he’s going to make someone a nice dog. He was raised with dogs, cats, and very small children, and he’s from good family breeds. I’m not too worried about him, though I do miss him.

After he was gone, Jay and I assessed the experience. We decided that with some preparation, we could probably handle this puppy-raising thing. Our biggest concern was Aslan’s tendency to handle his stress by redirecting to Pax. Obviously, if we bring a puppy home, it will require constant monitoring and managing of all three dogs, at least for a while, and that is VERY labor intensive. I also was reminded just how exhausting having a puppy is. I was sleep deprived after the first night! I would likely need Jay to do more shifts, just so I could have a break and get some rest.

All in all, it was a good experience. Good luck, Zany Brainy. I miss you!

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Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

So, when I go out to feed the horses, I let the dogs out into the front yard. This morning, Aslan decided the front yard was boring and went running around to the pasture… and on to our woods at the far end. I saw him doing it, and called him, but he ignored me. Pax and I went looking for him and couldn’t find him. I thought I heard him over toward my neighbor’s. (He hasn’t ever left our property, but if he were to see a deer or something….)

So I got Jay out of bed and sent him into the woods, and I got in the car to search. Nothing at the neighbor’s, so I went the other way. Ran into the guy whose property backs up to ours and told him what was going on. He said, “I’ll keep a look out. But you should know, there’s a bear out there.”

A big male. He’s seen him twice in our woods in the last four days. Including once this morning. You can imagine, since my dog and my husband were IN those woods at that moment, how thrilled I was to hear it.

So I drove home, and fortunately, by that time Jay had found Aslan and gotten his fluffy white butt back to the house. Now that the drama is over, I really want to go looking for the bear. This is a bad thing.

In other news, one of my favorite managers at work IM’d me today and said, “The senior ID for <project I was working on> wants off the project, and according to Aquent you’re available now.”

Um, excuse me? I told Aquent TODAY that I wasn’t available until 3/31. Besides, I don’t want that senior ID job. That’s a HUGE job, and it’s an enterprise project. High visibility. It needs to be done by an experienced FTE who has all the contacts, etc. This isn’t just “manage your resources” – this position is also responsible for the major chunk of development for the Care side of the project. It’s a suicidal position.

Why am I considering it?

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Cold? Too easy. Try bronchitis.

I spent Friday in bed, felt better on Saturday but not good enough to go to Stewart’s class, and then felt bad again this morning. On my mom’s advice, I went to an Urgent Care clinic this afternoon, hoping for a shot to kill what I figured was a sinus infection. Nope. Doctor listened to my lungs and declared it bronchitis. Nice, contagious, long-lasting bronchitis.

Great. I’m thrilled.

I called John Jacobsen. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to drop out of the class. We work too closely in the class, and if I kept going, I’d infect the whole group. John was a sweetheart about it, and said I can retake the class in the summer. (I hope I can afford to do that, but that’s an entirely different subject.)

I guess tomorrow I’ll go downtown and move out of my apartment, and then come back and bail Pax out of doggy jail. Then I’m going to climb into bed and snuggle with him for two weeks!

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Day 6, Friday

Another short post. Getting out of bed was torture this morning. Everything I did, I had to force myself to do. Good thing I give myself plenty of time, because every task took forever.

The morning class was John’s “The Play’s the Thing.” I really, really enjoy this class. Today we analyzed two scenes, one from Casablanca and one from a piece one of the students is working on. John’s notes and insights are amazing. I hope I can learn to do that.

It’s hard, of course — if not impossible — to do it to your own work, because you’re too close to it. You know what they’re supposed to be thinking and feeling, so it makes sense to you. It takes another reader to really provide insight into your work. Receiving that insight is difficult, because what we’ve written is personal, and criticism feels like a personal attack, but that’s just the reality of writing professionally.

With that in mind, I’ve decided I’m going to participate in their mentorship program and ask John to be my mentor. I was torn between him and Warren — and ultimately, I may work with both of them for a period of time. We’ll see. John’s classes are the ones that resonate most strongly with me, probably because they appeal to the intellectual in me.

This afternoon was Tom’s “On Your Feet” and, this evening, Stewart’s “Personal Connection.” Alas, my cold got the best of me, and I called Jay to pick me up at lunch. (It felt a little like calling my mom to pick me up from junior high.) By the time Tom’s class rolled around, I couldn’t even conceive of sitting up for three more hours, much less being “on my feet” acting. I apologized to Tom, and I’ll send an apology e-mail to Stewart. I hate to miss, but man, I’m just dying now. Even the ride home was torture.

Tomorrow is the all-day writing event on “That Traumatic Event.” It’s a Very Important Day in class, and… I’m not sure I can do it. We’ll have to see how I feel when I wake up. I know I need to go — I know it’s super important. But I also know I’ve got to get well.

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