There’s a new way of neutering, and it’s slowly making its way across the country.
This weekend’s stop on the national tour is the New Orleans area, where local veterinarians and animal advocates will get a chance to learn more about ”Zeutering,” which involves an injection into the testicles of a new zinc-based drug, called Zeuterin.
(Warning to the faint of heart, or the faint of scrotum: The process is shown in the video above.)
Zeuterin has been approved by the FDA for use in dogs from 3 to 10 months old, and Ark Sciences says it anticipates the agency will soon approve it for use in dogs of all ages.
For now, the company, and its nonprofit branch, Ark Charities, Inc., are demonstrating the product and training veterinarians in its use in select cities across the country.
In Ponchatoula this Sunday, veterinarians will have a chance to learn more about the treatment at a presentation sponsored by Ark Charities, Inc. and Friends of the Shelter, an organization based in Hammond, according to the Times-Picayune. At least eight area veterinarians will participate, and gain certification to administer the compound.
The shot consists of zinc gluconate and arginine and is adminstered to the testicles, killing sperm-producing cells and reducing testosterone by about 50 percent. Testicles, while shrunk, remain visible. Because a Zeutered dog still has his testicles, each dog injected receives a tattoo on his inner thigh, indicating he has received the procedure.
Unlike traditional neutering, general anesthesia is not required — just a mild sedative. No slicing is involved either, meaning quicker recoveries, less risk of infection and much less expense. It costs about $20.
Zeuterin was used in Japan to control the dog population in abandoned areas after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and it also met with success in controlling feral dogs in the Philippines.
In the first U.S. clinical study, involving 270 dogs, only 1 percent had adverse reactions to Zeuterin, and half of those were attributed to improper administration.
Zeuterin lowers testosterone rates 41 percent to 52 percent compared to neutering, which eliminates testosterone entirely.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, branding, control, demonstrations, dog, dogs, humane societies, injection, male, neuter, neutering, new orleans, non-surgical, overpopulation, pets, population, population control, promotion, rescues, shelters, shrink, shrinkage, surgery, testicles, testosterone, veterinarians, veterinary, zeuter, zeuterin, zeutering, zinc
The west’s version of kudzu — a noxious weed known as Dyer’s woad — is being sniffed out by specially trained dogs as part of a program in Montana aimed at eradicating the fast-spreading, yellow blooming, Russian-born member of the mustard family.
First found in Montana in 1934, the weed, native to southeast Russia, can grow four inches in a week, produce as many as 10,000 seeds, send its roots five feet underground and climb waist high, leaving little room for native plants.
That’s where the dogs come in.
Deb Tirmenstein and her dogs — a Labrador named Wibaux and a border collie called Seamus — joined Montana’s Dyer’s woad eradication project in 2011.
Wibaux, initially trained to find cadavers, and Seamus, who was rescued from a Bozeman shelter, now scramble up and down mountains sniffing out pockets of the weed. When they find some, they get a treat, and the weed gets sprayed with herbicides.
The project grew out of research conducted at Montana State University, acording to an article by the Montana State University News Service, published in the Helena Independent Record.
Montana Dyer’s Woad Cooperative Project started in 1984, and it has seen the weed’s presence drop from 17 counties down to seven – Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Park.
The dogs are just the most recent tool in the battle.
Kim Goodwin, a research associate in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture, started investigating the possibility of using dogs to detect noxious weeds when she was a master’s degree student at MSU.
Goodwin’s research showed that dogs and people complement each other when looking for noxious weeds. People can spot large flowering patches of the plants ; dogs can detect single plants, even before they start sprouting.
“Through our research, we found they are able to detect twice as many small plants as the surveyors do,” Goodwin said.
This year on Mount Sentinel in Missoula the dogs detected about 40 locations that humans missed, said Goodwin, whose original research used German shepherds and focused on knapweed.
Goodwin said she got the idea for using dogs to detect noxious weeds after reading about the ”Beagle Brigade,” which inspects luggage and boxes for the USDA at U.S. airports and ports of entry.
Trainers introduced Wibaux to Dyer’s woad by hiding the weed inside a box with holes in the lid and placing the box next to boxes containing other weeds.
When Wibaux realized she would receive a treat or get to retrieve a ball every time she detected Dyer’s woad, she started honing in on it.
(Photos of Wibaux and Seamus by Sepp Jannotta / MSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, control, Deb Tirmenstein, detection, dogs, dyers woad, eradication, idaho, kim goodwin, labrador, montana, montana state university, nature, noxious, pets, program, research, retriever, science, seamus, sniff, sniffing, weed, weeds, west, wibaux, woad
A fact of life — or should we say death? — in this country is that whether or not you, as a human, get executed for a crime can depend largely on where your trial is held.
The same is kind of true of impounded dogs — one big difference being they get no trial, there’s usually no crime involved, and, having been surrendered or abandoned, they’re more often victims than criminals.
With dogs, most executions are not a matter of justice, but population control; and the likelihood of that fate varies not just from state to state, but from county to county. By and large, a dog’s chance of getting out of a county-run shelter alive depends primarily on what county they happen to be held in.
Just how much of a toss of the dice it can be was shown in a story Sunday by the Columbus Dispatch. It analyzed data from 85 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and found that, in 2011, they had kill rates varying from 1 percent to 81 percent.
Dogs who enter the shelter in Lawrence County, in southeastern Ohio, have less than a two in ten chance of getting out alive. Meanwhile, in Carroll County, in northeastern Ohio, only 1 percent of dogs were destroyed, the lowest rate in the state.
The story included a county-by-county interactive map, showing kill and adoption rates.
It’s some exceptional reporting — the kind newspapers should be doing more of — and it clearly shows that, even when they’re right next door, some places value dogs’ lives more than others, and work harder to place and save them.
Statewide, more than 100,000 dogs are impounded annually in Ohio’s county-run animal shelters, and roughly 30 percent, or 30,000, were euthanized in 2011. (Nationally, it’s estimated that 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized a year.)
“It looks bad. That’s awful,” Lawrence County Dog Warden Bill Click said of the data showing his shelter had the highest kill rate in the state. He added that the county is working to improve those numbers. Lawrence County, like many others, often euthanizes dogs when the shelter gets too crowded.
The best dog wardens, the story points out, are more than wardens. (Is it time to change that outdated term?) They publicize their county shelters, welcome volunteers and visitors, post photos and profiles of their adoptable online and work with rescue groups.
But while some fight daily to keep euthanasia rates low, it seems a lower priority in many counties: 13 have kill rates higher than 50 percent.
Some dog wardens question whether it’s fair to compare the rates of urban and rural dog shelters, saying urban areas generally take in more aggressive animals that have been trained to guard property or fight other dogs, as well as more dogs that have been injured by cars.
But even among urban areas, some county shelters do a far better job than others.
Of Ohio’s urban areas, Hamilton County had the lowest kill rate, at 30 percent. The county contracts with the Cincinnati SPCA, which has worked to reduce adoption prices, extend foster care and bring animals with heartworm and other medical problems back to health, rather than putting them down.
Pit bulls have been most often destined for euthanasia — at least until Ohio dropped its ban and put a new law in place in May of this year that no longer automatically brands them vicious.
Animal welfare advocates have also succeeded in pressuring two counties, Athens and Fairfield, to stop using the gas chamber to euthanize dogs.
They were less successful in Hocking County, where, despite demonstrations and a call to switch to lethal injection, county commissioners decided to continue using gas.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption rates, animal control, animal welfare, animals, carroll county, chances, columbus, control, counties, county, death, death penalty, dispatch, dog wardens, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, execution, gas chambers, interactive, justice, kill rates, lawrence county, lethal injection, life, location, map, news, newspaper, ohio, pets, population, rescues, shelters, survival, wardens
This video — and we warn that you might not want to watch it — shows New York City police shooting a pit bull that was seemingly trying to protect her owner, who was in the midst of a seizure.
It was an act that enraged many onlookers when it happened — on Aug. 13 – and many more in the week since the video was posted on the Internet.
Most early reports about the incident were sketchy, and the facts — even 10 days later — still don’t seem to have fully come out. Other than these:
Lech Stankiewicz apparently suffered a seizure and ended up halfway on the sidewalk, halfway on the street. His dog Star stood by him.
As can be seen at the beginning of the video, a female bystander, apparently wanting to offer some assistance to the man, gets too close and is chased off by the dog. The dog then turns around and runs toward a police officer — one of at least two on the scene by then, both of whom had their guns drawn.
The first officer shoots the dog, and it appears the second one fires as well, leaving Star whimpering and writhing on the street.
The nine long minutes that follow are almost equally disturbing. No one goes to the aid of the dog, no one goes to the aid of the man, and police, whose numbers have swelled by then, seem concerned only with crowd control as both man and dog lay in the street.
Some websites were quick to report that Star had been “murdered” by police — like this outraged account on Gather.com – but she’s still alive.
Star was taken to Animal Care and Control (ACC) of NYC, but that organization saw fit, at least initially, to release no information.
The Lexus Project, which provides legal defense for dogs it thinks are being treated unfairly and is looking into the case, released a statement, but it didn’t say much either:
“We know that so many of you are concerned, worried and outraged about Star. This is an update and although I know you want more but please respect this is all we are permitted to say at this time. Star is very much alive and receiving medical care and holding her own. We will update as soon as we are permitted to. Thank you for your support and understanding.”
The video appeared on the Gothamist website and subsequently has been shown on many others.
Not to jump to too large a conclusion, but watching the video — and the inaction of authorities, other than shooting Star — suggests to me that police may need more training for dealing with dogs, not to mention dealing with epileptic seizures.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal care and control, animal control, animals, control, crowd, dog, dogs, epilepsy, law enforcement, Lech Stankiewicz, lexus project, new york, new york city, nyc, pets, pit bull, pitbull, police, seizure, shoot, shooting, shot, sidewalk, star, street, training, video
What your dog sees as humpworthy may include other dogs (male and female), your child, your ottoman, your favorite pillow, your house guest, a stuffed animal, your leg, or anything else he — or even she — can latch on to.
It’s one of those canine behaviors we humans find less than endearing, downright embarassing and highly confusing; and, as a result, our reaction is usually to bow our heads in shame, holler at the offending dog, or pretend it’s not happening.
So it’s good to see somebody boldy jumping on the subject — and getting across the point, among others, that the behavior is totally normal.
Julie Hecht, who manages Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York City, explores the ambiguous and often avoided topic of non-reproductive humping in the latest issue of The Bark magazine.
“From tail wagging to barking, dog behavior is riddled with nuance. A wagging tail might convey ‘I’m quite scared’ or ‘This is the best day ever!’ Like tail wagging, mounting is far more complex than it may appear, and there is not one simple explanation. But there are some likely candidates.”
Hecht holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior and welfare from the University of Edinburgh, and she’s an adjunct professor at Canisius College. More important than any of that, she’s not afraid to tackle a subject that offends the more prim and proper among us.
So is humping sexual, or part of an instinctual urge — “must … reproduce … now” — to create offspring? Is it a display of aggression, an assertion of dominance, or just a way to relieve some pent up energy? Clearly, it’s not always and entirely motivated by sexual arousal, Hecht notes, for pillows aren’t usually that arousing.
For nearly as long as ethologists have studied dogs, they have taken note of dogs’ tendency to hump outside of reproductive contexts, she writes.
University of Colorado ethologist Marc Bekoff observed way back in the 1970s that young canids — pairs of three- to seven-week-old wolves, coyotes and dogs — were prone to pelvic thrusting, and that females also engaged in some of that behavior.
“It’s what dogs do. It’s a completely normal behavior,” explains Carolyn Walsh, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the nuances of dog behavior in dog parks. “Both males and females mount, regardless of whether [they are] sexually intact or not.”
It can come from a surge of emotion, anxiety or arousal, Walsh explains.
“Dog parks can be quite stimulating, and for those who are highly aroused physiologically, mounting behavior could easily come out. There can be such a buildup of social motivation and the desire to affiliate that some of that energy spills over into the sexual motivation system. You see sexual behavior coming out, but it’s mostly out of context.”
Hecht also interviewed Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist in New York City, who pointed out, “There are only so many behaviors a dog has access to, and dogs do what is part of their species-typical behavior. It is something they know how to do.”
Many dog owners equate humping to dominance and control, but it can also be a friendly and less than lecherous attempt to get another dog to play. It may be a cry for attention, a way for dogs to gauge the bond they have with other dogs, or to test just how much a play partner is willing to tolerate.
“This is the idea that dogs perform potentially annoying behaviors like mounting to test the strength of the recipient’s investment in the relationship,” said Becky Trisko, a behaviorist and owner of Unleashed in Evanston, Ill., who has studied dog-dog interactions in the dog daycare setting.
“It’s like saying, ‘How much will you put up with?’ ‘How much do you really like me?’”
Despite all the dirty connotations we humans attach to pelvic thrusting, with dogs the behavior seems — while stemming from various emotions — to be more of a celebration of life than anything else. Cooped up in houses all day, a trip to the dog park, or even just seeing the leash come out, can get dogs excited to the point that something else comes out. Humping, or even an erection, it seems to me, isn’t all about sex when it comes to dogs — that’s just how we’re prone to interpreting it.
We humans equate it with sexual lust, but, with dogs, humping might just be a natural way to celebrate, like the high-fiving or chest-bumping of frat boys, or that “woo-hoo” noise girls make when they get together.
Looking at it through a less tainted lens, one could even make the argument that the behavior — humping, not woo-hooing — is more charming than it is revolting.
For the dog, joy is joy; and embarassing as it might be for us to see any overlap between sexual pleasure and just plain happiness, dogs don’t seem to get all bogged down in what might be the appropriate expression of their various happy and excited emotions.
Is that dirty? Or is there a certain purity there? Do dogs have their emotions confused? Or do they have it right?
None of this is to say you should try it at home, at the corner bar, or anywhere else. Civilized society dictates we don’t engage in that behavior. It’s only to say we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when our dogs hump.
Rather than punishing a dog for exhibiting glee, it makes more sense to gently redirect the behavior. Watch closely at the dog park and you’ll see that many dogs — the humpees, as opposed to the humpers – do that themselves, with a growl or snarl.
My dog Ace does not tolerate it — whether it’s him being humped, or another dog. He feels the need to break it up, and, should he see one dog mounting another, he will generally rush over and do so.
I’m not sure where that behavior comes from.
Maybe he has become too human.
(Painting by Lachlan Blair, from his father Stuart Blair’s blog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, arousal, barnard college, behavior, behaviorist, boys, canines, carolyn walsh, causes, chest bump, children, civilized, control, cushions, dog, dog cognition lab, dog park, dogs, dominance, embarassing, embarassment, ethologist, excitement, female, girls, glee, happiness, high five, humans, hump, humped, humping, humps, humpworthy, instinct, interpretations, julie hecht, legs, male, marc bekoff, mounting, people, peter borchelt, pets, pillows, play, reasons, reproductive, sexual, socializing, society, the bark, urge, woo hoo
In an effort to keep putting greens pristine, and keep golfers from getting all poopy-shoed, some golf courses, like Rebsamen in Little Rock, have turned to dogs.
That’s where a 12-year-old border collie named Fern has patroled the grounds for 10 years – up until talk began about retiring her in the last month or so, and another golf course requested her services.
“She’s gotten a lot of attention the last couple of weeks because of what’s going on,” said assistant city manager Bryan Day. “I’ve gotten e-mails from people wanting us to loan her to North Little Rock,” Day told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Registration is required to read the story.)
About 200 geese are living at Burns Park in North Little Rock, feasting on the greens and using the grounds as their bathroom. It has gotten so bad that city officials decided to let hunters come in and take care of the problem.
Opposition from animal lovers has led North Little Rock to rethink the plan, and at least consider the far easier and less messy route of getting a dog like Fern.
Border collies are used across the country to keep geese away from airports, neighborhood ponds, golf courses and parks. Generally, all it takes is a prolonged stare from them to send geese on their way.
Little Rock bought Fern for $3,000 in 2001 from a North Carolina breeder. Costly as that sounds, it was far cheaper than the $20,000 in labor the city had spent on repairing goose-related damage.
Her presence alone keeps the geese away — and she’s earned some attention along the way. She was on the cover of Turfnet.com’s 2008 “Superintendent’s Best Friend” Calendar, which features working dogs on golf courses across the country.
Now, at 12, Fern spends her time mostly kicking back in the club house, or going for rides in golf carts. Because there are no more geese, she has it pretty easy. But because her presence ensures the geese won’t return, officials have decided not to retire her, and not to rent her out.
“She’s got 300 acres out here,” Jay Carnes, the golf course superintendent said. “She needs to stay here and be buried here.”
(Photo: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arkansas, border collie, burns park, calendar, control, damage, deterrent, dogs, fern, geese, golf, golf course dogs, golf courses, hunters, little rock, pets, poop, rebsamen, superintendents best friend
In the virtual world, you can, with a few well-placed clicks, pick your house, your car, your clothes, your physique, hair style and persona.
You can go out for a night on the town, in the setting of your choice, looking for love, or a fight, or any of thousands of other adventures — all of which are under your control.
Or you can spend a quiet evening at virtual home with your virtual pet — like a Panda-chow, or a tiger-husky, whose behavior, traits, appearance and even species combination are all changeable at your whim.
The video above is a preview for Sims 3 Pets, hitting the market today.
At the risk of sounding like an old man (one can’t criticize video games or apps without sounding like an old man), at the risk of being told by countless commenters that it’s only a game (yes, I realize that), I find it bothersome (and I don’t just mean that annoying narration).
In a way, I find what Sims 3 Pets does with dogs and cats nearly as troubling as that dogfighting app that led to so much controversy.
It’s a reflection of the same wrongheaded (in my view) mindset that we can do whatever we want to with dogs as long as it (A) entertains us, (B) makes money, (C) makes our lives easier, or (D) is done in the name of science.
It’s that mindset that leads to dogs as fashion accessories, dogs being abandoned when fads change, cruel laboratory experiments, greyhound racing, dogfighting, puppy mills, over breeding and, yes, cloning.
It’s thinking that dogs and all animals exist to serve our whims — however fleeting, selfish or bizarre those whims may be.
“Lighten up dude, it’s just a video game,” you might say. “It’s just a fantasy.”
And you’d have a point.
But (A) experimenting with and exploiting dogs doesn’t just happen in video games; and (B) Sims is not really the target of my tirade, for the game is just the latest rendition of a recurring theme in our society.
Of course, if it weren’t for man’s self-serving tinkering, we wouldn’t have dogs at all. It was man that shaped the wolf into all the diverse shapes and sizes we have now — and I’m not for doing away with any of them.
But somewhere — at least in real life, if not in video games — all the tinkering needs to stop.
We don’t need tiger-retrievers, or panda-chows — whether it’s the result of creative hair-styling and dye jobs, or inter-species experiments, or cell manipulation.
We don’t need robot dogs, or gladiator dogs, or fluorescent dogs, or dogs so inbred that they are unhealthy caricatures of themselves, or dogs created in a laboratory from the harvested cells of a deceased pet.
We don’t need to reinvent the dog, redesign the dog, ressurect the dog or even fine tune the dog. It’s fine as it is, and much of man’s meddling — whether it’s to make dogs more predictable, produce look-alike, act-alike cookie cutter versions of them, or invent new versions that are low-drool or non-allergenic — is an insult to that.
It’s even more of an arrogant pursuit when you stop and consider that the species that probably needs the most work is us. Maybe it’s our inability to control what happens among our fellow humans that makes us so prone to inflicting control over dogs, nature, or whatever else we can.
Here is something I said before, somewhere: If there is even a remote chance of controlling something, humans wanted to control it, preferably remotely.
In Sims 3 Pets, players can create and control over a hundred different kinds of cats and dogs, and can breed and share them with friends providing endless possibilities to create “new and exciting” breeds.
One can customize the pet’s coat, shape, pattern, color; the size of its ears, tail, snout, eyes, and more. You can also choose their behavior pattern, traits and control their bodily functions.
Dogs can even get jobs and make money.
And most creepy of all, pets can be shaped via virtual interspecies breeding, resulting in skunk-cats and panda-chows.
(If you think mixing species, fluorescent dogs and cloning are too far fetched to ever happen, I’d refer you to my book, DOG, INC.: the Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend. They all already have.
It would be too much to ask, given that pesky First Amendment and all, that gamemakers refrain from virtual interspecies breeding.
But wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow limit all forms of novelty dogs — and other bad human concepts like war — to the confines of computerized games?
Unfortunately, that seems out of our control.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, breeding, breeds, cloned, cloning, control, creating, design, designer, dog, dog inc., dogfighting, dogs, domain, experiments, fluorescent, game, greyhound racing, interspecies, laboratory, manipulation, mindset, nature, novelty, over breeding, panda-chow, pets, robot, SIMS, SIMS Pets, SIMS Pets 3, simulation, tiger-husky, tinkering, video game, virtual, whims
The quietude of our sleepy little neighborhood has been shattered.
We are under attack.
I mean hundreds every hour, and that’s just counting the ones that pelt my roof. It started about a week ago, and has been gaining intensity ever since, as if working up to some nutty grand finale.
Ace, who doesn’t like loud noises — and believe me, it’s very loud — is starting to get used it. Only during the worst, like when 50 or so bombard us over the course of, say, 10 seconds, does he look up, wondering what’s going on.
But it’s a daily and day-long event — thousands of acorns, both green and brown, falling from the sky, pelting the top of my car, rattling the roof of my house, pinging off my grill and air conditioner and slamming onto the sidewalk.
In almost every case, they lose their cute little hats in the process.
I’ve lived among oak trees before, but I don’t remember ever seeing an acorn fall, and definitely not anything like the barrage underway on my street.
Huge oak trees line the whole block, and their limbs hang over the housing units. But none of them seem to be raining acorns like the ones hanging over my place.
When I was planting my pansies Saturday, at least five acorns –and usually you can hear them coming, ripping through the leaves on the way down — smashed to the ground at my feet.
I’m hoping it won’t still be raining acorns on Halloween — because given the distance they are falling from, and their hardness, they could do some damage to young heads. Or old heads for that matter.
I haven’t been hit by one directly yet. I’ve had a few bounce off my grill and hit me, and many land at my feet. Ace has also escaped thus far, even though he spends a lot of time laying under the trees in the front yard.
The acorns pose a double threat. In addition to the possibility of getting beaned by one on the way down, there’s the hazard of sliding on those that have already fallen, especially when they’re hidden under leaves.
Most often they just crunch underfoot, but every once in a while there’s a group that are particularly hard and stubborn, and it’s like trying to walk on marbles.
There are those who believe that an abundance of acorns is a sign that the coming winter will be severe — that somehow nature is able to figure out how many acorns squirrels will need to get through the season and, accordingly, instructs the trees on how many they should grow and drop, so that there’s always enough for everyone.
That’s a little too neat and tidy, trickle-down and happily ever after for me to believe.
We can’t and shouldn’t try to dictate and control it. We shouldn’t ask it to change the song. And when we do cut in, we should do it gently and with respect. After all, we we’re lucky just to be invited.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abundance, ace, acorns, america, animals, autumn, bombarded, control, danger, dogs, fall, falling, hazard, nature, noisy, north carolina, nuts, oak, pets, road trip, squirrels, travel with ace, trees, winston-salem, winter
Yesterday, in updating you on Ace’s miracle recovery, we acknowledged in a backhanded kind of way all the prayers and well wishes you sent his way.
Allow us to do it in a forehanded way, too: Thank you.
Ace remains, from all appearances, over whatever it was that seemed to make him lose control of half of his 130-pound body on Monday.
He’s raring to go, darting all over the place when I take him outside, grabbing my hand in his mouth to pull me along for what he’d like to be a long walk. He seems to have totally forgotten the condition he was in two days ago. I, on the other hand, have not, and so, like an over-protective parent, offer up the kind of buzzkill only humans can provide.
“Let’s wait one more day. Slow down. Be careful. Stop frolicking, dammit.”
It’s the main difference between dogs and people. He being a dog, doesn’t let his past, even recent-as-yesterday past, bring him down. He doesn’t let fears of the future dictate his behavior, or maybe he knows better than me that the possibility of being hobbled tomorrow is all the more reason to run your ass off today.
I don’t know if your responses made Ace better, but they absolutely served that purpose for me. (I have more friends than I thought — or at least he does — and lots of them are strangers.)
Through comments left on ohmidog! and Travels with Ace, through personal emails and phone calls, we heard from several dozen people, including a few of those we encountered during the past year as we criss-crossed America.
Our intent in Travels with Ace was not to bog you down with reports of our physical ailments, not to bemoan the obstacles we were confronted with, not to get all cantankerous about the small stuff life throws our way.
Just as we didn’t ignore the country’s warts, we shared our personal bad moments, too – not to evoke sympathy, not to tug at heartstrings, but to reflect reality. The same holds true of our financial condition. Being unemployed was one of things that sparked the trip; and traveling, with the dog, on a shoestring, was an exercise in frugality mandated by the times and my own personal economic situation.
I, like a lot of Americans, and like America, am having trouble paying my bills.
Embarassing as that may be, I’ve admitted it — far more often than my mother would like me to — and I acknowledged again during Ace’s trauma that, short of draining what little remains in the old 401 K and pulling off a heist of some sort, I’m likely not in a position to scrounge up what any surgery he needed would probably cost.
One of the people we heard from yesterday was a woman who offered to pay for any veterinary care Ace needed. We declined her kind offer, given Ace’s recovery. I wrote her back, thanking her, telling her Ace seemed to be doing fine now, and, for some reason, baring my soul. (Apparently, much like a stripper, I will bare my soul for tips, or even the offer of them.) I explained to her how, in selfish pursuit of doing what I want to do, I’ve decided to scrape by without a job, and in the process have become an insufficient provider.
Putting personal dreams above salary and health insurance may be noble, or it may just be stupid. In any event it’s a choice that, for me, leads to some feelings of guilt during times like this week — times that seem to say, “Get a job, doofus.”
I did suggest she buy my book, which would add several cents to my portfolio.
She wrote back: “That’s wonderful news about Ace, John! I bought your book long ago, it’s how I discovered your blog and “met” Ace. It’s a fascinating book, btw, you’re a compelling writer. I understand your reservations about the money – been there, done that, so to speak. Ace is your family though, and by virtue of your blog, he’s my friend, so I hope it will never be necessary but if it should become necessary, I hope you would let his friends help. And pursuing your dreams is a great way to spend a life. Give Ace a good belly rub for me!”
The belly rub has been given, her compliments have been read and re-read (they serve as a belly rub to me), and her email address has been put in a file marked guardian angels, in the second drawer of the file cabinet on the right. (I write that here in case I forget, should I ever need to find it.)
Wrote another total stranger, upon reading of Ace’s improvement, “ …Amen And Pass The Kibble that Ace is doing well this morning. Having read ohmidog! for the past few years, you and Ace are a couple o’ ramblers that I’ve come to care about in that funny internet way. You just about killed me when you described losing your composure when he leaned on you. I know, I know! I was with you, in that moment. I was with you yesterday in the midst of your nerve-wracking vet visit with an IV bag tied to your roof rack. That would be why you’re an award-winning journalist. Big hugs to both of you, and if you’re ever in the upstate NY area, give a holler on-blog beforehand. We would love to meet “our” sweet Ace. Oh, and you, too, of course. You know how it is.”
More belly rubs for me, but, more than that, it was another note that reinforced what we learned during our travels: However down America might be right now, its people, and its dogs, are a resilient bunch; and people still care about people, especially dog people.
Having invited any theories readers might have, I also heard from several people offering guesses on what it might have been that knocked Ace’s legs out from under him
“My vote still goes with ‘ate something that disagreed with him.’ I woke up absolutely dreading this day for a number of reasons. I checked here before I even looked at the news. Now I’m smiling. You guys stay cool, and we’ll keep rolling out those prayers and good thoughts.”
That one was from Anne, one of several from my friend, technical consultant on internetty issues and web space provider in Baltimore, who, though she lost her husband at the end of last month, though both she and her beagle are still working through the grieving process, took the time to pass on her best wishes.
Some thought it might be heat related, and another reader suspected tick paralysis.
“I’m so glad ACE seems to have had a spontaneous recovery! We had a situation eerily similar to what you described with a newfie mix of ours several years ago. Our vet diagnosed tick paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_paralysis), which he had seen kill several dogs over the years. I had never heard of it, despite living in a state where Lyme and such are common. I thought I’d mention it since our vet said there are a lot of vets who aren’t familiar with it due to its rarity. Warm hugs to Ace!”
And, after our initial report on Ace’s affliction, there were many like this — both from people I know and people I’ve never met:
“I’m crying, and my own dogs are wondering why. Much love and all of our support to both Ace and you. Nothing scarier, for me at least, than a sick pup. Please keep us updated. You two are FAMILY.”
The pesky part of me wanted to write back and ask if my room is ready and what we were having for dinner tonight. Here’s the thing — some of my friends, possibly even some of those stranger friends I’ve never even met, would say come on over. However cash poor America is, it’s rich that way.
We send thanks, too, to Dr. Raymond Morrison, Ace’s vet at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, here in Winston-Salem, who went beyond the call of duty — and didn’t charge for it — when I ran back into his office after our visit to inform him Ace was copiously vomiting in the back of my car. He strung an IV bag to my roof rack and had a technician adminster about 20 minutes worth of a subcutaneous drip that seemed to immediately improve both Ace’s panting and his legs.
Once he was back home and out of the car, the ailment seemed to disappear as quickly, and mysteriously, as it had arrived.
That we’re living a somewhat insulated life here — partly by choice, in pursuit of another dream, which is to turn our travels into a book — made all the comments and notes, from old friends and new ones alike, worth even more.
What restored Ace’s legs back to full power may be a mystery, but it’s no mystery what reconfirmed my faith in humanity.
It was you.
(Graphic: Pawprint thank you card available at Etsy.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, america, americans, animals, belly rubs, control, dogs, dreams, economy, faith, finances, friends, heat, humanity, legs, letters, mystery, notes, ohmidog!, pets, recovery, resilience, road trip, strangers, support, thank you, thanks, tick paralysis, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary
I don’t know which one of your prayers or well wishes did the trick, or if it was the power of them combined, or if it was the puking, or if perhaps it was the nap (I think they can cure about everything), but six hours after he could barely walk, Ace was unexplainedly up and running.
“Stop running,” I told him.
But given I was smiling, tearing up and having difficulty working up the stern tone sometimes required for him to obey, he apparently didn’t feel the need to pay attention. Either that, or he was as happy as I was.
Six hours after he could barely stand up, he was ready to romp.
What befell him yesterday morning is a mystery, and your conjecture is welcome, because I’d like to figure it out.
You’ll recall, maybe, that he had some disc problems a few months back. Those, treated with steroid pills, vanished after the second round of drugs. While that ailment didn’t affect his ability to walk, it was clearly painful and led him to yelp out, whereas yesterday he didn’t seem to be in any pain at all.
After sleeping in yesterday — til almost 11 a.m. — he got up to find he couldn’t get up. It seemed to be just one front leg affected at first, but then I noticed his rear leg on the same side was dragging, splaying out, and clearly not following his brain’s command.
The vet, who had recommended he see a dog neurologist, came out to the car, tied an IV bag to my roof rack and administered what’s called a subcutaneous drip to restore his fluids.
During it, I noticed some slight signs of improvement. Ace sat up, and seemed to be putting weight on the bad side. Once back home he seemed even better, though the right front paw still seemed to have a mind of its own, flopping down on the ground in an exxagerated motion.
After the nap, he insisted on going outside, where he proceeded to walk 99 percent normally, run 99 percent normally and pester me to play 100 percent normally.
I calmed him down, insisting that he chill, and told him we would withhold any celebrations until tomorrow — after seeing whether he gets up with the same problems or not.
It was a scary day, and I can’t tell you how many roads my mind went down. Was it going to be something as serious as it appeared, could I afford the tests to have it diagnosed, much less to have it treated? Would it prove fatal? How badly would I fall apart if so, and could I ever be put back together again?
Sitting in the exam room, waiting for the vet, I reminded myself every minute or so that it wasn’t about me. I reminded myself that I’m a cool-headed sort. But inside, I had turned drama queen.
Ace has given me some scares before during our travels, with his herniated disc, when he disappeared through a swimming pool cover, when he jumped over the fence at Niagara Falls. This one was by far the worst, because there was no explanation for it, no precipitating event — just a sudden loss of limb control.
It’s nothing to take lightly, and even if he seems 100 percent today, I know he needs to be checked out by a specialist. Some breathing room to do that would be nice, though.
I am of that percentage of society that places their dog’s health above their own. Lacking health insurance — for me or him — I am also of the ignore it and maybe it will just go away school.
Yesterday was so frightening I made an exception.
While his problem may not truly be gone, I’m glad it’s gone for now. Borrowed time? We’ll take it.
On our way to the car, for the drive to the vet, Ace was barely able to walk, even with me lifting up on his harness. He leaned his weak side into me for support. He’s normally a leaner, but not when he walks. That it is when I first lost it — it being composure.
That simple trusting act, on his part, somehow pushed me over the edge — partly because he did it without thinking twice, partly, truth be told, because of the realization that I lean on him much more than he leans on me.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bond, control, difficulty, dogs, fear, health, leaning, legs, limbs, neurology, pets, road trip, sick, specialist, travels with ace, vet, veterinarian, veterinary, walking