Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Silver Surprise

When I adopted Silver, no one was sure whether she'd been spayed. The paperwork from her first rescue group's vet said this:
No spay scar seen or palpated, but mammary glands have no development and vulva is small and sl[ightly] recessed. All 5 vets here suspect pet is already spayed. None of us have ever seen an intact retired greyhound off the track--all are fixed very young. Pet is tattooed and suspect spayed.

SEGA's vet couldn't find a scar. Neither could my vet, and he laid down on the floor with his head under her to see if a scar was visible when she was standing normally (rather than when people were lifting her leg to take a look). No one wants to recommend opening up a dog, only to find that--Oops! Someone's been here already.

But if you were paying attention to the title of this post, you've already figured out where this tale is going.


Silver is the outraged possessor of two pairs of canine panties--in purple and hot pink. Not surprisingly, she resents having her long greyhound tail pulled through the hole in the pants. (But you can distract her with dinner.)

Ideally, bitches are spayed midway between heat cycles. Most rescue groups don't have the luxury of following that timing since they need to get the ladies spayed and on their way to new homes.

But Silver is already in her new home, with a boy who has better sense than to mess with the living embodiment of the expression Let sleeping dogs lie. (She can be irritable even when her hormones aren't on the rampage.) Besides, Sam was neutered more than nine years ago; even if he had the will, he wouldn't have the way, so to speak. This means we'll be able to wait until the ideal time (three months after the onset of her heat cycle) for the spay.

Poor baby. She's already unhappy about having to be muzzled pretty much all the time to keep her from licking and chewing at her front leg. (We're trying different meds for that leg.) Now, in addition to muzzling her front end, we're "muzzling" her back end, too.

The leg she's been chewing, licking and scratching since July. Steroids and antibiotics haven't made any impression.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sam is sick


Sam is sick.

X-rays have shown cancer in his lungs. This is probably a secondary cancer that has metastasized from some other cancer we haven’t discovered. There’s nothing we can do about the cancer we know about, and there’s no point in putting him through extensive exams to find the primary problem.

So far, he seems to feel fine. He coughs a little, then goes on trying to impress Silver with zoomies in the living room. He eats well; and although we’ve had a few nights of restless, interrupted sleep, the new meds (diazepam and gabapentin) seem to be helping him relax better through the night. (And since I no longer need to worry about liver damage, I’ve stepped up the meloxicam for his arthritic back--which is why he jumps and spins like a two-year-old.)

The thought of losing him so soon after losing Jacey makes me want to cry--so I just don’t think of it more than I can help. My job at this point is to keep him comfortable and spoiled. (“Spoiled” does not include kitchen trash can privileges, Sam.) I’ve promised him and myself that I won’t let him suffer if I possibly can help it. There’s some risk that I might come home one day to find that the primary cancer has reared its ugly head, but I just have to hope I’ll be handy when he needs me. At least there’s no indication that he has osteo, which could cause painful broken bones when I’m not home.

Sam is eleven and a half. He’s slept at my side every single night for more than nine years, and I love this boy more than words can say.

Silver and Sam
Silver and Sam

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day, Sam!

SEGA once posted this picture of an adoptable dog.


I lost my heart.

And my mind.

Stat K Sam was a two-year old breed snob with a monster prey drive. (Sam's slogan: If it's not a grown greyhound, it's dinner.)

I owned Oreo at the time and was fostering. I couldn't just dump my foster and snatch up Sam, so Sam went to a foster home where they were looking for a dog to compete in agility with their other greyhound. They soon began to worry that omnivorous Sam, off-leash during an agility run, might go after another dog. And Sam really wasn't agility material: he ran into a tree in their front yard.

Meanwhile, another SEGA member fell in love with my foster. I let her take him home, and I "volunteered" to foster Sam so his then-foster-parents could hunt for another agility dog. We all swapped dogs, and I brought Sam home. That was 5 October 2002.

Oreo was horrified. She put up with the other foster dogs, but Sam was crazy and had no off switch. And he totally ignored warning growls from her. He'd look away from her--not confrontational at all--and continue to do whatever was annoying her...like using her as a pillow:

Oreo & Sam

After Oreo died, Sam welcomed Jacey, who let him pretend to be the boss for about four days before she corrected his delusion. But even she was patient with him when he turned her into a pillow:

Sam and Jacey sleeping on the sofa

Jacey's gone, and now there's Silver--who doesn't tolerate Sam very well yet. (Just wait till cold weather. That's when Sam's pillow-maneuvers really get going.) We have had one almost-cuddly occasion--but Sam was on the bottom. And asleep:


Sam's prey drive has never slackened. I used to have a bird feeder outside my living room window. Sam would look out the window at the birds and squirrels, and he was fine with that. But one day there was a cat outside. Sam screamed, reared back, and put his foot through the glass. Fortunately, he didn't hurt himself (and he thoroughly scared the cat).


I got the window fixed, then bolted Plexiglas to the inside of the window frame. The cat came back. Sam threw himself at the Plexiglas, bounced off(!), threw himself at it again, bounced again, and I got to him before his third attempt. I got rid of the bird feeder.

These days, as a nice old man (he's 11--born 10 May 2000), Sam's prey drive is tempered by the knowledge that Mom isn't going to let him eat squirrels, birds, and other dogs. Sam mostly just drools at the sight of dinner-on-the-hoof, and walking Sam no longer is like walking a hooked marlin. (Mea culpa: I stole that descriptive phrase from another source.)

Sam still loves squeaky toys,

his vet,


peanut butter,

and roaching.

He's a complete mama's boy, and I love him to pieces.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Green Apple Lace


I've finished the Summer Mystery Shawl KAL pattern from Wendy D. Johnson.

My changes: used US8 for the lace cast-on, used US6 for the shawl body, which has one extra 48-stitch repeat. The blocked size is 50" x 25" (127cm x 63.5 cm). The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll, in Granny Smith. It's a small shawl, or a nice-sized triangular scarf. It's being offered for auction to raise funds for GPA/Tallahassee, the greyhound rescue group that functions out of Jefferson County Kennel Club, where Jacey used to race.

(But Sam's the greyhound in the photo. Jacey's coat is too busy to be the backdrop to a lace shawl.)

I finished the knitting on 8 June 2011. The auction runs June 12-20. The auction site is here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Morning (late--I slept in)

My day off. I'll be knitting a lot, and watching Doctor Who on On-Demand.

Although the photos don't really show it, there's been lots of progress.


That's the shawl from the local LYS. This is through the first chart; two more lace charts to go, then a knitted-on border chart. This shawl gets longer with each row, so it won't be moving fast.


The tobacco-colored shawl, through chart 2. Chart 3 is next: 24 rows repeated four times. The cheering part is that each pair of rows is shorter than the rows before it.


The apple-green shawl, also through chart 2.

Some of the people who have done extra repeats on the pattern (to make the shawl longer/wider) have started running out of yarn. I've done extra repeats on my shawls, so I may run into trouble on the green one. (I'll be fine on the brown--plenty of yarn for that one.) But the apple green yarn was purchased more than a year ago, and the company no longer makes that color. If I run out, I may have to invent a new ending for that shawl (or scavenge around on Ravelry to find more--or frog the shawl and reknit with no extra repeats). I'm going to work on it now; if there's going to be a problem, I want to know asap since I'm trying to get a shawl finished for an auction if I can but I also need a shawl for my sister's birthday. (If I can finish the apple green shawl, it will go to the auction and the brown will go to Iris; if I can't finish the apple green shawl, the brown still will go to Iris, but I won't have a shawl for the auction, which is in mid-June.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Sam's having a bad day. When his back is bothering him, he frequently tries to shake, as if he had a coat full of water. That shaking hurts, and he stops the shake quickly...until he tries again a minute or two later. That's been going on today. So he had a muscle relaxer about 3pm and a meloxicam at dinner. He can have another muscle relaxer at bedtime.

This morning, I finished the first five chapters of the novel I'm proofing, and sent them back to the author. Since then, I've been knitting. I've got the apple-green shawl through Chart B; the brown shawl is now half-through Chart B. Chart C has been released, and it's going to be a bear: 24 rows on each repeat of the chart, and I need to work it four times (I think). The one consolation is that each pair of rows is 4 stitches shorter than the previous pair of rows. (Pictures Monday or Tuesday...I hope.) Chart D (the last one) is due out on Thursday.

On the other shawl, I haven't even started the third clue; the fourth (final) clue was released today. I'm planning to work on that shawl later tonight, I think, even if I haven't finished Chart B on the brown.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching up

I'm going to try to keep up with some regular posts, even if I don't post much. But this will be a wordy catch-up post...

Birthday Bath
Baths on Sam's birthday

The Dogs

Sam's 11, now. Jacey's 8. Sam got back the weight he lost over the winter and he looks great (he's back to 64.9 pounds after a scary 58 pounds in February). He had a bad back spell last week, though. I'm not running to the chiropractor with him: this new pain came only a couple of weeks after his last visit (and he's sore in the same area she treated), and getting an appointment and getting him there is not something that can be done on short notice. (He was fine when I left for work that day; in obvious pain when I got home...and it was Friday night, with me working the next day and unable to get him to the vet or the chiropractor.) Anyway, now we have a standing prescription for meloxicam (anti-inflammatory) and methocarbemol (muscle relaxer), and I can get the prescriptions refilled when necessary at the Walgreen's around the corner. The meloxicam is scary (the drug sheet is an entire page of tiny print with dire warnings; he can't have more than half a pill in 24 hours--and I've already cut all the pills in half so I don't get confused). The methocarbemol is less terrifying and works quickly and he can have more, more often. I think methocarbemol will be our friend--and will mean I don't wind up sleeping in the floor with him. (After he took the methocarbemol the first night, he still wouldn't get into my bed so I laid down in the floor with him. I woke up a few hours later and looked for him. He was sprawled in the middle of my bed. I made him move over so I could sleep there, too.)

Jacey looks great, but she's had a few more of those Spacey-Jacey events where she doesn't respond to her name and doesn't seem to know where she is or what she's doing. The vet thinks she's too young for doggie Alzheimer's (I agree), so we're figuring it may be absence seizures. She's a bit old to be developing epilepsy. Other possibilities include a brain tumor, but that's not something we'd be able to treat, so there's no sense in spending a fortune on an MRI to diagnose the problem. The events only happen for a few minutes, and then she's fine. She's miserable while it's happening (her tail is tucked), and it's a bit alarming to see a dog that can't figure out what to do with food. (If you put it in her mouth, she opens her mouth to chew and the food falls out. Then she just stares at it.) There's no logic to when the events happen: it's not low blood sugar or anything else predictable. Happily, Sam leaves her alone when it happens; sometimes a dog will attack another dog that's suffering a seizure.

Freelance Work

There's been a lot of it lately, which is all good. I get to do it at home,* on the sofa, with a ball game on the television and the dogs at my side. (I just watched the Braves right-fielder leave a full-body divot in the ground in Pittsburgh when he dove for a catch...and caught it.)

I've also acquired a new client, a novelist. I'm not editing her writing; I'm just proofreading and catching words misused.


I've been doing lots of baby stuff lately, including a test-knit on a baby sweater pattern. The pattern isn't difficult, but I've had nothing but trouble, including major gauge issues. (For those of you who knit: my gauge knitting flat is massively different from my gauge knitting in the round. The sweater body is knitted flat, and the sleeves are knitted in the round. So far I've knitted four sleeves--and this is not a sweater for an alien child.) So, to get the taste of failed baby projects out of my mouth for a while, I've started three shawls--two of one pattern and one of another. The patterns are all Mystery Shawl KAL patterns: (KAL = knit-along). The designers tell you what weight of yarn to buy and how much, what size needles, and what size the finished shawl should be. Then they release the pattern, a few rows at a time. One pattern has more than 700 people working on it at once. The clues (the charts) released so far cover the first 26 rows; I've knitted through 14 rows on each shawl, and I need to get going so I can catch up. (The next chart comes out on Thursday, and it's 76 rows. The designer is trying to provide enough to keep knitters busy over the Memorial Day holiday, but I don't get any extra time off.) I'm knitting one version in a lovely tobacco-colored yarn, the other in an apple-green yarn.


The other mystery shawl pattern, which has an unusual set-up, now has three more charts released. There aren't as many people knitting that one--the designer is fairly unknown and just works and designs for a local yarn shop. But these patterns are scratching my itch for lace-knitting and breaking the baby-knitting curse...or at least postponing my next baby project long enough that the curse may evaporate.


*My most recent cable outage was not Comcast's fault. AT&T ran a line to a neighbor's condo. When they buried their line, they cut mine. (And they left a trail of little orange flags that said "ATT/D" on them.) Anyway, my cable signal is back--at least until Comcast comes to bury my new line and accidentally cuts AT&T's line and AT&T retaliates. Meanwhile, I know a nearby McDonald's and a Chick-fil-A that have wireless in their dining rooms, so I can get freelancing back to my clients from there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DIY: Dog Grooming 101

New Message
Why I don't have to groom my dogs* at home...
Greyhounds don't have enough hair to cut!

A blogger who has two Scottish Terriers--one a new rescue--was asking for advice about clippers so she could groom her dogs at home. I posted a nice, long answer (you know how wordy I can be)--and her spam filter ate my response. (The response included an Amazon link to a suitable pair of clippers. That link probably pissed off the spam filter.)

To prevent a repeat occurrence, I'm posting my message here--links and all, and I'll let Mary come here to find the info. (Take that, you pissy spam filter!)

So here goes: Scotties don't have super-thick coats, and as long as the dogs are being brushed and combed regularly, Mary, you can get by well with a single-speed Andis Clipper. (Most groomers are fans of Andis clippers for their reliability.) For Scotties, you won't need the extra power of a two-speed clipper. You'll want to avoid clippers with fixed blades, and go with one that has interchangeable blades. (The clipper at that link comes with an interchangeable #10 blade. Other blades can be ordered separately.)

Clippers with detachable blades can use blades from another manufacturer. Thus, Andis, Oster, Wahl, Laube, etc.--blades and clippers can be switched around. (I use Andis clippers with blades from everyone.)

You also will want a set of detachable snap-on combs for your clippers. Like the blades and clippers, snap-on combs from one company work with clippers made by another. The combs don't fit all blades (some blades are longer than others), but they will fit over any #10 (like the one that comes with the clippers). Most combs have springs in them to keep them on the clipper. To attach a comb, put the bottom/back latches against the bottom of the clipper blade. Push the comb "forward" (compressing the spring) until the front part of the comb slips over the front of the blade. To remove the comb, push it forward until you can disengage the comb from the front of the blade. You can do all this while the blade is on your clippers. It's much easier to do it that way than to do it on a blade that's free in your hand.

I know you have a diagram of the pattern lines for Scotties. For the dogs' heads and ears, you can use the #10 blade as it is. This will give a neat, tight result.

Always use the clippers with the grain of the dog's coat! You can brush hair against the grain to make it stand up for better clippering. But if you clipper against the grain, you'll be cutting the hair noticeably shorter than it is when cut with the grain. A #10 against the grain will be the equivalent of a pre-surgery shave at the vet's office--way too short for a pet cut.

For a slightly longer length on the dogs' backs, you can use a short snap-on comb over the 10 blade; you'll use a longer snap-on comb to blend from the back into the skirt and down the legs. Use the 10 blade (without a comb) to trim the sanitary area and shave around the pads of the dogs' feet to get rid of excess hair there. The dogs' hair should be clean, dry, and combed out before you begin the haircut.

Watch the temperature of the 10 blade. The longer it's used, the warmer it will get. Test it against the inside of your wrist, just like you used to test baby formula. (Using a single-speed clipper means the blade won't get hot as fast as it would with a two-speed.) You can buy coolant sprays (like Cool Care), or you can just take breaks while the blade cools down (put it on a piece of ceramic tile to cool it more quickly), or you can buy an extra blade and be prepared to swap between the two. You can continue to use a warm blade under a snap-on comb because the comb will touch the dog--not the blade. But be sure the blade is cool when you're using it against the dog's skin (for the head, ears, pads, and sanitary). Keep blades clean and oiled so they cut well (brush loose hair out of the blade with an old toothbrush; oil for the blades usually is included in clipper kits). When even a clean blade won't cut well, you can send it out to be sharpened. If a blade has been dropped or banged up, teeth can break off, so check the teeth before you begin any cut. A blade with a broken tooth can be used under a snap-on comb, but it cannot safely be used against the dog's skin.

You will also want a couple of pairs of shears (i.e., scissors). Thinning shears are great for blending along the edge of the skirt. Straight shears are good for trimming and shaping the tail, trimming the eyebrows; a really short pair of shears is nice for edging the ears. (Edging the ears is tricky. Safest method is to put your thumb and finger on the skin of the ear, slightly extending past the dog's skin. Then trim against your thumb and finger. That's the safest way to ensure you aren't going to cut the skin.) And don't forget to leave that traditional tuft of hair at the base of the Scottie's ear!

If you have a PetSmart nearby, feel free to drop in and ask for advice from the groomers. (Hint: Don't drop by on a weekend, when they're slammed. But maybe a quiet evening...) Ask them where they send their blades and shears for sharpening. Maybe ask them to show you how to put on the snap-on combs, if my description didn't make sense. I don't know how private grooming salons feel about potential customers going into do-it-yourself mode, but PetSmart groomers usually don't mind customer questions; since PetSmart also sells clippers and shears, it's good customer service to answer questions. (P.S. Barbers and beauty salons also have to send blades and shears out for sharpening, so you might get a good reference from one of them, too.) Around here (metro Atlanta area), sharpening generally runs about $6-$7 a piece--maybe a little less for blades, more for shears. New #10 blades run about $20. Try to avoid dropping blades or shears--it can knock them out of alignment or even break them outright. If your shears bend the hair instead of cutting it, it's time to send the shears off to an expert for adjustment and sharpening. Also, most PetSmarts have grooming salons with windows. You might not be lucky enough to be in the store when they're grooming a Scottie, but watching through the window as a Schnauzer or Westie gets a haircut might be useful.

Never cut out mats with scissors. Use the clippers and your #10 blade if you can't comb it. Be careful with the clippers anywhere there are thin folds of skin: under the arms, along the tuck-up, on the ears. (Clipper ears from the center of the ear-leather toward the edge, then edge the ears with shears.)

So this is sort of Grooming 101. If any of my readers has a question, just ask. If you stumble across this post more than three days from today, your post won't appear until I "moderate" it; but I'll get an email notification, and I'll answer you as soon as I can.

*The red-fawn greyhound in the back is my boy Sam, nearly 11 years old. The "cow-doggie" in the front is my girl Jacey-Kasey, nearly 8 years old. Sam has been with me for eight and a half years; Jacey has been here for nearly five years.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I have Sprint cellphone service. My phone comes with Sprint Navigation, a sometimes useful GPS-type service.

The service has its quirks.

Today, I was trying to locate Batteries Plus. (I needed a new charger for my camera battery.) I knew more or less where the place was (it's "south of the Big Chicken," which is how directions are given here in Marietta). So I'm "south of the Big Chicken" in a shopping center, and not finding the Batteries Plus.

Sitting in the parking lot of this shopping center, I pull out my cellphone, activate Sprint Navigation, and tell it to search for Batteries Plus. It finds the listing, and I tell it I want driving instructions. It tells me "Drive point-two miles."

Now, I'm in a parking lot, I'm not facing an exit, and the lot's not that big. Clearly, it wants me to drive on Highway 41, which I already figured, but I have no idea whether I should turn left or right out of the lot. I mentally flip a coin and opt for right, a right turn being much easier.

And that's the right--er, correct--choice. I'm heading south on Highway 41. "Destination is point-two miles ahead on your right." And as I get closer, I get, "Turn right." Oddly, it doesn't tell me what street name I'm supposed to be turning onto. This usually would mean that the destination is right there--on Highway 41. But it isn't. "Destination is on your right," the phone insists. And as I keep driving south, looking for an invisible store, I get the fatal ding-ding-ding. That means I've pissed off the Sprint Navigation Goddess by ignoring its instructions and doing my own thing. "Calculating new route. Proceed point-1 mile and make a u-turn."

Now I'm not sure why I want to drive another point-1 mile in what Sprint Navigation is convinced is the wrong direction, but I'm not suicidal enough to make a u-turn from the far right lane (remember, I was looking for Batteries Plus on my right)--across 4 lanes of Highway 41 traffic--just so I can appease the Navigation Goddess. (Oh, did I mention that it's lunchtime? And that this stretch of Highway 41 probably contains at least 25 restaurant/fast food establishments--everything from Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q to the Big Chicken itself?)

I do--eventually--manage a u-turn. I stay in the left-most lane, now headed northbound on Highway 41, looking for Batteries Plus on what had been the right side of the road, but now is my left. The Navigation Goddess chimes in with, "Continue on Cobb Parkway--" [that's Highway 41's alias; all roads in Georgia have to have two names--it's how we entertain the tourists]-- "Continue on Cobb Parkway point-three miles. Your destination is on your right."

What? I'm looking for Batteries Plus--not some intergalactic wormhole that shifts from one side of the road to the other, thereby always remaining on my right. The place sells batteries--and their chargers--not interdimensional travel options.

At this point--finally--Sprint Navigation actually has got the correct location. Batteries Plus is, indeed on my right. And, oh joy, they have my charger in stock. I now can recharge my camera battery, the old charger having apparently drifted through the intergalactic wormhole that isn't on your right when you're heading south on Highway 41.

Of course, Sprint Navigation wasn't through screwing with me for the day. It tried--three times--to send me back to a store I'd just left when I asked it to give me directions to another branch of the chain. I click that I want directions to Hobby Lobby in Kennesaw; Sprint Navigation gives me directions that start "Make a u-turn" (that's never a good sign), and tries to take me back to the store in Alpharetta. I know how to get from Alpharetta-to-Marietta-to-Kennesaw. But I suspect there's a more direct way to get from Alpharetta to Kennesaw. I never found it, though. I drove for a while, got tired of hearing ding-ding-ding! Calculating new route from the Navigation Goddess, and turned the damned thing off.

Today's blogpost is brought to you by Nehalennia, the Germanic goddess of navigation and commerce. I think she's taken up residence in my cellphone.