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Vet stuff, White Rock Lake park

I am still trying to catch up our latest happenings here; we’ve been so busy the last few weeks that I haven’t had much time for the site or the Blog.

Lots of trips to the vet, as usual; Wednesday had her surgery to remove her bladder stones yesterday and is home recovering. She seems to be feeling OK, but is still on pain medication. The vet sent her home with one of those soft blue E-collars and she looks sort of like a clown with it on…I’ll have to get a picture. Since she is now on a special diet, and so is Olive, (more on that in a moment) we have decided it is time to get tough and take away the ‘all-you-can-eat kitty buffet’. We’re starting with structured meals of dry food and once things are stabilized plan on getting them onto a bit more natural diet. The cats are not amused. If I stop posting log entries after this it can be assumed that we were murdered in our sleep in a bloody feline revolt.

Olive–who we’ve always referred to as ‘the healthy one’ up till now–has been having an outbreak of skin lesions and then suddenly developed a very inflamed, ulcerated anal area. Our new vet feels that, based on the symptoms and her history of having adverse reactions to everything including Benadryl, that she has an autoimmune condition. He thinks it is Lupus. He probably was surprised that Joy was relatively unfazed by this news; but with the year we have had with these animals, very little would shock us at this point. Olive is now on Prednisone and trying a ‘low allergen’ diet. Luna, our new rescue rat, also went to the vet this week to be treated for her mites, and is feeling a lot better. We’ll need to wait on introducing her and Willow until the treatment is finished.

Also on the veterinary front, we found out that one of the vets at the clinic we used to go to was arrested for animal cruelty for bludgeoning his neighbor’s miniature Dachshund to death when it came on his property! I am not going to mention any names here, but the story may still be up at the Dallas Morning News website. We were shocked that a vet could do something like this — and apparently it is not the first time he’s killed a dog, the last time it was a Lab and he claimed it had lunged at him. This was not the vet we used to see, but he did do Simon’s first femoral head ostectomy. Yet another reason we are glad we quit that place.

Last weekend we took the dogs to White Rock Lake Park. They had a good time except it was awful hot, even at dusk when we went there. At one end there is a concrete ramp into the water (I guess it is a boat launch?) and we took the dogs down onto it to cool themselves. Lilly promptly slipped on the green fuzzy algae that coated the ramp and fell on her side in the water. She wasn’t hurt, and decided that it was so nice and cool in the water that she just laid there on the ramp with only her neck sticking out for several minutes. It’s the first time I have ever seen her stay in the water willingly. Lindsy, on the other hand, loves water…she couldn’t wait to get in. She marched right out onto the ramp, walked off the side, and promply disappeared! Apparently there is a pretty abrupt drop-off. Joy reeled her in (she was on her flexi of course) and she was OK, just a little startled. I don’t think she’s ever been in deep water before. She snorted out water for several minutes and looked rather embarrassed about the whole incident.

Lilly also found a big patch of nasty, smelly black mud in a ditch near the lake. I don’t know what demons possessed her to wade into it up to her belly, but this resulted in her again being taken back to the ramp to rinse her legs off. Both dogs also got baths as soon as they got home and my car still smells a little swampy. Overall they had a great time and would have had even more fun if the weather was cooler. I can hardly wait for fall. There is a ton of stuff to do with the dogs here, so different from where we moved from…

Our new rats

We have new furkids: two rats, Willow and Luna!

The beginning of last week, a man came into the pet supply store where Joy works to buy supplies for a rat that, amazingly, he had found running around outside in his backyard. Joy mentioned that she’d had rats before and what great pets they were, and a day or so later the man’s wife called offering her the rat. Like us, they have two dogs and three cats, but theirs were all very interested in the rat as a possible meal. After brief discussion, we were on our way over to their house to pick up our new rat. Yes, I am still highly allergic to rats, and no, we didn’t really have a good place to set up a cage, but we really missed having a pet rat in the house and still had our big cage with all the accessories–even an unopened bag of bedding–so decided we were just meant to have another rat.

Now, I’m not sure why, but from the description, we had just assumed that what the man found was a large white male rat. When we got there we realized instead that he had a four or five month old female white rat. Since she was considerably smaller than an adult rat, and the cage we have is designed for a large rat or chinchilla (wire spacing too wide to keep her in) we now needed a cage. Off to Petco we went. After lots of debate we headed to the checkout with what we thought was a nice cage…but then realized the only door was in the top and there’s no way we’d be able to easily fill food bowls, etc. So we took it back to the aisle we’d found it in, and off to PetSmart we now went…

The selection of cages there was worse, and we were ready to give up when we spied a decent looking cage way up on a shelf along the back wall. Joy went to the front counter for assistance with bringing the cage down. After a few minutes, a bored-looking teenager wandered over. We explained what we were looking for and she looked up at the shelf fifteen feet over our heads and said, “naw, those are all BIRD cages. All of the rat cages we have are over here.” gesturing at the small animal supply aisle we had just left. I replied politely, “no, not all of them are bird cages, that one is a hamster cage. See the hamster wheel inside it?” and she peered dubiously up at the shelf again. “oh…you’re right. But you don’t want a hamster cage, you need a rat cage. We don’t recommend hamster cages for rats. Our rat cages are all over here…” another wave back to the small animal aisle. The truth of the matter, I suspect, was that getting the cage down from the shelf was going to be a major pain in the a** and way more effort than she cared to exert. I mean, its not like she was a SALES clerk and we were there to BUY something or anything like that…

[Ok, I think I have that little bit of bitchy sarcasm out of my system now.]

We again politely insisted that we wanted the cage up on the shelf, not one of the big rat cages, as we already had a larger rat cage and just needed something for the rat until she grew into that cage. At this point I was ready to just walk out of there — it really shouldn’t be that hard to buy a cage in a store that sells cages — but it had become a battle of wills between Joy and the clerk. Joy won. They had to raise someone up on a forklift to get the cage down, and off we went with the (ouch) forty dollar cage for our ‘free’ rat.

Willow was very happy with her new cage, which has two levels and a big curved top, and now our thoughts turned to the issue of her solitude…rats do not do very well as single pets, they are much happier if they have a companion. We decided that Willow needed a friend, and since we don’t want a whole colony of rats and can’t afford to spend hundreds on a rat neuter, that would mean another female rat about her age. This proved problematic. Apparently our search coincided with some sort of Great Female Rat Shortage in the Dallas area. We ended up with Luna, who was a rescue of sorts. I will save the details for Luna’s story that I am working on.

New counter on our site, rat

I have several things to catch up on for this week (not the least of which is the fact that we once again have a rat! ) but for now just a quick explanation of the new hit counter. We had a nice one provided by Bravenet but when I updated the main page and viewed it a few days ago I found instead a giant ugly box with a tacky ad in it. Apparently they have updated their services and are no longer providing the free counters with all the bells and whistles…oh well. I am testing out another counter from GoStats, we’ll see how that one works out.

Sunday trip to the park

Because Joy now works most weekends, I spent most of this past weekend working on the web site. I am finally getting all the critter pages up. Once those are done there’s a lot of other stuff I want to add such as a page with info on the dogs’ new diet…but anyhow, yesterday I was putting together some captions for pictures and suddenly happened to notice that I was sitting in complete darkness. It’s not unusual for me to get so wrapped up in something I am working on that hours pass unnoticed, but since a glance at the clock showed it was three in the afternoon I knew something was up. After looking out the window and seeing big, black billowing clouds and the trees whipping back and forth, I quickly shut down the computer. I don’t take any chances with that — even with everything running through a UPS — as I have had two modems and a motherboard toasted by lightning in the past.

After the storm passed, I decided to take the dogs to the park up the street, since the temperature had now dropped a good ten degrees or so. They had a great time and came back covered in mud and sticky seed pods. Lindsy got to wade out into the duck pond and drank a bunch of nasty pondwater before I could reel her back in…yech! This was Lilly’s first real walk in about three years and I was worried it would be too much for her, but she was fine and doesn’t even seem to be stiff and sore this morning. It is so wonderful to see her actually able to enjoy life again!

Scanner not working

I’ve been working at trying to get the rest of the critter pages up and finally dragged out the dreaded giant box of pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far scanning because our scanner isn’t working. It was brand new a little over a year ago and we almost never use it (even less often for photos) so I am not sure when it was last working. The pictures come out real hazy, which I discovered was because the underside of the glass is fogging up when I turn it on. I’ve never seen one do that before. Weird. I am going to haul it in to work with me to see if there is any difference, since the air conditioning at work keeps the place at arctic temperatures and I think the humidity is lower. I guess I will have to limit the picture galleries to whatever I already have scanned, for now.