Coffee heat rising

Love Under a Coyote Moon

Urban coyote

It was a long night.

The Human woke in the wee hours of the morning — very wee. The Dog dozed while its creature tossed and turned, worried and fretted, got up twice to gulp down various tablets: aspirin, allergy pills, whatnot. Turned on its magical noise-making lightbox and poked away at the little black pedals arrayed across its surface.

An incipient sore throat conjured visions of covid-19, God help us all! Is this just a residue of the choking fit that visited in the afternoon? Or maybe an allergy? Or…or…what?

I get up, stumble down to the medicine cabinet, and scarf down a Claritin. But…but…but…I’ve already dropped a Benadryl. Took  one of those along about 7:30 p.m., in hopes of staving off a not-atypical allergy-mediated sore throat and runny nose. By 12:40 in the morning it should have kicked in, and I don’t think it would wear off in just five hours.

Holy shit!! I’m coming down with the covid disease. Right? That’s gotta be it.

Sleep is now out of the question.

Couple hours pass. Waking hours. The Claritin does nothing.

At 3 a.m., I get up and drop an aspirin. But I know now I’m dooooomed! No question of it, DOOMED! What other explanation is there but covid covid fucking covid! Ten days before I could manage to prize free an appointment for a shot!

Is that not typical? I ask you: how typical is that!

Give up trying to sleep.

Along about 4:30 a.m., the Human is pounding at its little black pedals when we hear a noise. A weird noise. It’s coming from outside the bedroom’s east wall, loud enough to resonate through the slump block. Like…bleating.

A sheep? There’s a sheep out on the sidewalk?

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

Sheep? Seriously? Goat, maybe? Do goats bleat?

The neighborhood does have several remaining agricultural properties, land banks and tax dodges for their owners and pleasant rural-looking pockets in the midst of an increasingly gentrified zone abutting an increasingly tough and ugly slum. One person still keeps a few critters, among them an overgrown Vietnamese pig that has been known to escape.

Do pigs bleat? No…I believe in any language pigs oink.

Cat? Naaahhh…cats yowl.

Dog? Whatever this noisemaker is, it ain’t barking. Besides, if it were a dog, Ruby would be up and at’em. She’s profoundly uninterested.

Javelina? Hmmm… Javelinas make a kind of grunting sound, but I don’t believe they’re known to bleat.

Fox? Foxes can make a variety of interesting sounds, being clever little critters. But none of them sound like a sheep.

Delinquents? Since when have teenagers begun to bleat while TPing the trees?

“Ruby! Hey! Ruby! Wake up!”

Dog eyes the human wearily. Now what?

“Listen to that! What is that?”

Dog lifts head off mattress.

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

You woke me up for THAT? It’s a sheep, you ridiculous creature. Put away the freakish computer, turn off the damn light, shut up, and go to sleep!

Human continues to peck at the computer. Before long, the bleating ceases.

Not too very much longer after that, Dog stirs and notices the sun is bleaching the eastern sky. She arises and demands food.

Human and Dog stumble out to the kitchen, where Human sets a dish of food on the floor. Dog feasts, then goes on about its business.

As the sun marches toward the zenith, Dog and Human set out for their daily stroll through the neighborhood. As they pass the east side of the house, Human spots a skiff of gravel scattered across the sidewalk. The gravel top-dressing on the side yard is roiled up a bit, right outside the bedroom wall. A few doggy-looking footprints are visible.

And now by the light of day, Human remembers: It’s mating season for coyotes. This is February. Sonoran desert coyotes whelp in March (or thereabouts). The serenade we heard at 4:30 in the morning was the Song of Coyote Love.

This means two things:

  1. Soon we will have coyote pups abounding in the ‘Hood, wherever Mama Coyote can find a quiet and secluded place to den. A-n-n-d…
  2. This means Ruby-Doo will be at some risk for the next several months.

When coyotes are whelping, they try to clear their territory of other canids. This is because competing coyotes, as well as wolves, will kill the pups when they find them. A coyote actually will come over your wall to take out your dog.

And that means Ruby will have to be watched every time she goes out in the backyard. Over the next three or four months, she cannot be let outdoors alone to putter around, as is her wont.

Few years ago, a couple of my neighbors — a gay couple — were lounging in their living room having a cocktail before dinner. Their greyhound was perambulating around the backyard, where the men could see them through the living-room window. All of a sudden they saw a coyote come right over the back wall! Unfortunately, this was not the wiliest of moves: the animal was no match for an 80-pound hunting dog.

The grey took after the coyote. It managed to escape over the wall as the two men watched in awe. The hound was unfazed.

A few days later, one of their neighbors happened to mention that, gee, he’d found a dead coyote laying in the front yard.

Welp. A corgi a greyhound does not make. Ruby would be no match for a coyote.

Coyote image: By Frank Schulenburg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46976005

PLEASE! Keep your dog under control

NOT your child!

Yeah, I understand: Your little “furbaby” and my churlish hound “just wanna pla-a-a-y-y.” But because you’re a bit stupid about your dog is not an excuse to put yourself, two (or more) dogs, and me at risk. To say nothing of putting your kids in harm’s way.

Just back from a quick morning doggywalk. Understand: my dog weighs 23 pounds, though she thinks it’s 123. She looks harmless…but no dog is harmless. No matter how vividly you imagine it’s your furry little kid and no matter how much you believe you’re a pet “parent,” it’s still a dog. It is not a four-legged child.

Even if you love it as though it were your child, it’s a dog. Even if it’s your only friend on this earth, dammit, it’s still a dog.

And dogs? They behave like dogs. They do not behave like two-year-olds, they do not behave like nine-year-olds, they do not behave like your thirty-year-old best friend from high school

They behave like dogs.

If you’re not willing or able to learn how dogs think, well…consider this: maybe you shouldn’t have a dog.

Absolutely NOT your child.

So we’re strolling along a neighborhood lane over in the direction of Conduit of Blight Boulevard. As we approach a corner, along comes a merry family group: two young boys, about 8 or 10 years old, zipping along on scooters as they accompany their dad, who is being dragged down the sidewalk by two large dogs, about 80 to 90 pounds apiece. Though both dogs are on leads, they decidedly are not under control: they are not at heel — they are pulling this guy up the road.

The instant they spot Ruby…well, you can imagine the doggy thought process:

Hey! Predator alert!

Dayum! That thing is coming at our pea-brained human pets.

Ruby, being a corgi, fears nothing. She sees these things as wolves come to stalk her own pea-brained human. She stands them down and prepares to charge.

Get it! Get that damn thing before it catches one of the brats!

I’m on it! KILL!

Nope. Still not your child.

Both dogs charge me and my dwarf pooch, which I immediately pick up off the sidewalk by way of (no doubt futilely) protecting her from the attack. She responds to the charge by trying to lunge at the guy’s dogs.

As he tries to set the brakes by hauling on the two dogs’ leashes, they drag him forward and pull him across the path of one of the boys’ scooters. The boy rolls helplessly into the mêlée and instantly is entangled in the leashes.

He tumbles off the scooter and face-plants on the sidewalk.

The other boy dodges out of the way with about half a second to spare. The dogs, confused by this distraction, stand down.

Mercifully, the first boy climbs to his feet, apparently unhurt, and hops back on his scooter.

The problem here — besides the obvious stupidity of the adult human specimen — is that even though these were big dogs, neither one of them was obedience trained. Nor, we might add, was the human: obedience training is a two-way process.  The guy had two big, powerful animals barely under control in the presence of two children.

You would think that a grown man, even if he doesn’t give a damn about some old lady and her puff-ball corgi, would at least consider the safety of his own children, wouldn’t you?

No. Because, one presumes, Americans are stump-dumb stupid about dogs.

All dogs, even small ones that you can pick up and carry out of harm’s way (maybe…) should be obedience-trained. When you get a pooch from the dog pound or the rescue society, the first thing you should do is take it to a vet for a health check. Second thing, which you should do on the same day, is hire a trainer to help obedience-train the animal and to teach you how to handle it. That’s a real trainer, not some salesperson down at the Petsmart. Ask the veterinarian for a referral.

When you get a puppy from some rescue or breeder, right away start learning how to teach the critter, humanely, to coexist with humans. Consult with your veterinarian or with a trainer about the first steps you need to take toward leash-training and obedience training the pup, and when. Then, when the animal is old enough, hire that trainer to help you obedience-train it.

And bear in mind…the first step to common sense is understanding that it’s not a child: it’s a dog.

How may I kill you? Let me count the ways…

So What Happened with Ruby the Corgi?

Canine Parvovirus

Well: for starters, she does not have parvo.

As for today’s veterinary adventure: the folks at East Maryland Animal Hospital are awe$ome!

Learned about this group from La Maya, who used to take her pipsqueak dogs there. I’ve felt that like all vets, they push their services a little too goddam hard. BUT: I used to take Anna the Gershep there, and they were good with her. Radically expensive, but in those days it didn’t matter because I had…you remember…a JOB.

I stopped using them because they really are too expensive for a retiree’s pocketbook. Yesterday’s adventure, which resulted in several tests and a bottle of antibiotics, set me back $400.

Feeling desperate for a someplace anyplace to take my poor miserable little corgi, yesterday morning I called this outfit. To my amazement, they arranged for me to bring her in THAT AFTERNOON and, not only that, they let me go in, too!!! No eight-hour waits in the parking lot — can you believe?

The vet, one Dr. Marten, was SO nice!! She said she doubted the dog had parvo, but if I wanted they could run a test that only takes a few minutes. Given the presence of Rattie here at the domain — and given the proclivity of Rattie’s kin for carrying all sorts of diseases among which is numbered parvovirus — I said that would be good.

They ran a couple of other tests more specific to varieties of canine enteritis, including the alarming HGE. All of them came back negative. They trimmed the long hair-fringe around Ruby’s acid-singed butthole and applied some soothing salve. Injected some fluids to fight dehydration. Prescribed a medication that the vet thought would beat back the gastric infection that most likely is making the little dog so sick. And gave me a bagful of Hill’s fancy belly-soothing canned dog food.

Little dog is crapped out on the bed just now. What exactly started this episode escapes me, since she was never fed anything out of the ordinary. Hope she’ll be OK.

Day from Hell to Wrap Up the Year from Hell

Come Saturday: something is wrong with Ruby the Corgi. She’s emitting ruby-colored liquid poop. Literally: cranberry-colored collywobbles. And barfing blood, too, so it appeared last night.

This, of course, starts after dark.

My son’s emergency vet said they were closing. I found another emergency vet halfway across the city. My son came with me. When we got there, we were informed we would have a two- to three-hour wait, and we had to stay in the car.

Not so much, said I.

We drove to Alta Vista, a venerable old veterinary where I used to take my dogs and cats, which now operates at night as an emergency veterinary. There, we found a SIX- TO EIGHT-HOUR WAIT!

Finally I just said no, we are not waiting eight hours with a sick dog in the car. If she’s going to die, she’ll be better off dying at home.

Sooo… That was just gawdawful.

Come Sunday morning, Dog still has red diarrhea. Apparently this is not as bizarre a manifestation as it sounds, and in fact may not be life-threatening. It looks like if I can just get her into a vet, there’s a med that can treat it. She seems not to be as sick as she was Saturday night, so I have some hope that she may throw this off. A similar rumination appeared at another website.

She survives Sunday night, anyhow. Come Monday, the instant 9 a.m. rolls around I’m on the phone listening to the honored Dr. Bracken’s INTERMINABLE advertising blurbs on the hold button. This guy is the best vet in the city, and has been for decades.

Finally, finally, finally I get an appointment at 2:30 in the afternoon. Meanwhile, wouldn’t you know, I’ve got a dermatologist’s appt at 11 a.m. Or something: can’t read my handwriting. Call and cancel that, since it’s an hour’s drive in each direction, which I would like not to add to the 30-minute trudge (one-way) to Bracken’s office.

This, I figure, will mean another quarrel over the food I give her, which is the same as commercial dog food only without the artificial fillers and crap. AND it’s not made in China. She’s thriving, just like three other dogs thrived into old age on the stuff, and I do not appreciate the high-pressure pitch to buy the canned goop & kibble the vets sell in their lobbies. I guess I could just go yessir yessir, buy a can of the stuff, and donate it to the Humane Society. That would be easier than trying to defend myself, I guess.

Like everything to do with pets in America, veterinary practice has become a vast, predatory business. Individual practices are being gobbled up by huge, national conglomerates that do, really, predate on customers. They try to high-pressure you into all sorts of unnecessary products and treatments, to the point where, if you’re paying attention, you sense that about nine times out of ten you can’t trust what they’re telling you. Bracken so far is still an ethical, independent practitioner, though I know he’s reaching retirement age and I do think he may already have sold his practice to one of those operators. The give-away is that godDAMNED series of blatting sales pitches and scare stories on the hold button: those are characteristic of the conglomerates. An independent vet doesn’t subject his customers to that. Nor, I suspect, can he afford that kind of answering system.

At any rate…

Monday passes, and, amazingly, Ruby gets better. Never do make it to the vet. I withhold food but put down plenty of water. She guzzles water and then guzzles some more. And by noon she has completely stopped barfing AND firehosing out the rear end. The day proceeds, and she remains stable.

I give her a few bites of boiled chicken mixed in with some cooked rice. Nothing happens.

It looks like she had some kind of enteritis and was able to throw it off. What would cause that, I do not know, though I suspect a bird (or a human) could have dropped something mildly toxic into the yard. Thank god it wasn’t rat poison.

We have this baleful admonition from one of the first and biggest chain veterinaries going on about how urgent it is to get the dog treated. “These diseases can range from mild and self-correcting to severe and rapidly fatal.“  Looks like we’ve got “self-correcting” here. “Mild” is not a term I’d use, though. Banfield, I don’t trust, speaking of corporate massively profit-making veterinary boondoggles. Of course it’s in their interest to scare the ess-aitch-ai out of you.

Hmmm… In the “larn somethin’ every day” department, now I come across this: hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. HGE, for short. Interesting…something I hadn’t heard of. Didn’t know there WAS anything left in that category! 😀 Merck Manual seems to indicate that blood tests are needed to diagnose this alarming and mysterious ailment, because a bunch of other ailments produce similar symptoms. Evidently the main treatment is “prompt” administration of IV fluids.

Right. After a six- to eight-hour wait in your car…

Parenteral antibiotics effective against Clostridium spp (eg, ampicillin 22 mg/kg, IV, three times daily, or metronidazole 7.5 mg/kg, IV, twice daily) may be considered, but it is uncertain if this is needed in all cases.

In a prospective study of dogs with AHDS and no clinical indices of sepsis, treatment with amoxicillin-clavulanic acid did not affect mortality rate, duration of hospitalization, or severity of clinical signs. This might suggest not all cases of AHDS are due to primary bacterial infection or that the bacteria involved may not be susceptible to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid.

Hmmm…she drank lakes of water Sunday night and Monday morning — meaning that yes, she probably was dehydrated.

As of Tuesday morning, no sign yet that she’s about to croak over, though. The diarrhea has stopped. She trotted outside as usual to pee, then trotted back in the house begging to be rewarded with a treat for accomplishing this human-bedazzling treat. I gave her a tiny piece of the boiled chicken. Now she’s back on the bed and snoozing again, waiting for the human to quit poking at the glowing box it likes to balance on its lap.

If this is what she had (has??), then it’s spectacularly lucky she threw it off…if she did. We’ll see…apparently this thing can come back on them some 10% to 15% of the time. And evidently it can carry them off, pretty damn fast.

Meanwhile, sez the same source, the signs of this ailment are so similar to parvo that it takes a blood test to differentiate them.

Parvo???!?

But she has had the parvo vaccine…hmmm… We’re told dogs of any age can get it and the vaccine doesn’t necessarily work 100%. It sez here…

According to Los Angeles veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, “Every day that goes by allows the [infected] dog to produce more antibodies, which bind with and inactivate the virus. Survival becomes a race between the damaged immune system, which is trying to recover and respond, and potentially fatal fluid loss and bacterial invasion.”

This, from Whole Dog Journal. Though that august publication is given to holistic approaches — and of course, it’s journalism, not the higher reaches of science — it is a useful and apparently fact-checked rag. Over some years of sporadic reading, I have yet to find anything truly wrong in it. Quoting Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, an expert in veterinary hematology and immunology:

…sometimes, the parvovirus vaccine fails to work as intended.

First, she made clear, no vaccine produces 100 percent protection 100 percent of the time. “Vaccination is not a sure thing,” she explained. “It certainly improves the odds that an animal will be protected from disease, but it does not guarantee this. There is no way, even with the best vaccines, to be sure that any given individual’s immune system will respond in the desired way to protect that animal.”

Not all dogs have perfectly functioning immune responses, and, similarly, not all vaccines function perfectly, either. “There will always be an occasional case of a ‘vaccine break,’ which is what we call it when a vaccine fails to protect an individual against an infectious disease challenge,” said Dodds. “However, when a break occurs, if the animal has been appropriately vaccinated, it will usually experience only a mild form of the disease.” Dr. Dodds speculated that this is the most probable explanation for what happened with the infected puppy mentioned above.

“While there are some rare exceptions, where an appropriately vaccinated animal nonetheless experiences a lethal form of the disease, it is far more typical that such an animal will experience only a mild form of the disease and will recover quickly,” she said.

Holy shit!

Not seeing any reports of a parvo contagion in the county this fall. However, in October an outbreak occurred in Washington State…and of course, this being Christmastime, half the ‘Hood has relatives down here visiting in their RVs. It’s been quite a while since Ruby had that shot.

I’ll call Dr. Bracken’s office again this morning and see what they say about it. I have a feeling that discretion may be the better part of valor, though: the less disturbance the better at this point.

This morning she hasn’t had a BM — which means she’s not showing any diarrhea…yet. She hasn’t barfed since Sunday: this is Tuesday. Just now she demanded to be fed…but then, she’s a corgi. Corgis can eat under the direst circumstances: they do not lose their appetite. Ever. Just gave her a tiny serving of boiled chicken and rice. We shall see if it stays down.

Godlmighty. Do you suppose this Spate from Hell is ever going to come to an end???

 

Dogs, Scofflaws, and Penitentiary Gray

Penitentiary Gray: the color of 2020?

One of the disorienting characteristics of Old Bat-hood is that your home is decorated in outmoded styles and colors. It stays that way because you like it that way. But occasionally gazing upon the latest fashion is…well…yes, disorienting. 😀

The dog and I got a very late start on this morning’s doggy-walk. Last night’s chill persisted for some time after dawn, plus the human is in an even lazier mood than usual. So it was after 10 before we set out. By then, almost all the dog-walking hordes had come and gone. The city is laying down black oily stuff over the cracks in Richistan’s neighborhood lanes, so we detoured to the park. This is usually problematic, because during the doggy-walking hours the place is overrun with dogs, many of them in the company of morons who ignore the large signs that read DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH. The latter — dogs, not morons…or rather, dogs as well as morons…are running loose unattended and can be quite a nuisance if they choose to pick a fight. Which inevitably one of them will.

But late in the morning, the park was almost empty, except for a cluster of parents with small children frolicking on the playground equipment and sharing their covid germs with each other and with their relatives. Quite lovely: quiet, peaceful, green…a perfect doggy-walk.

We got about four-fifths of the way around the park before we ran into the obligatory moron: some woman with not one but two big mutts running loose. One of them spotted Ruby and immediately charged her, followed by the moron’s other loose dog. Ruby being a corgi and therefore unafraid of anything, charged back. Within seconds, a dog-fight was about to start.

I hauled Ruby to the street and hollered CALL YOUR DOGS to the moron. She managed to deflect them as I crossed to the other side of the road. “What part of the law can you not understand?!” I hollered at the bitch. The human one, that is. People are SO frickin’ stupid!!!!!

The thing that pisses me about this is that I pay for that park with my taxes, too. Every year my property taxes go up. Last year they were wayyyy on the high side of what I can afford, leading me once again to contemplate the probability that I will not be able to live in my home for the rest of my life. If I’m going to be made to pay ruinous taxes, I should at least be allowed to use the facilities those taxes pay for — to use them safely and without harassment from scofflaws.

Oh well.

Have you noticed that The Stylish Color of 2020 is — appropriately enough — penitentiary gray? It seems as though every freshly painted house in the city is painted the shade of Sing Sing’s walls. Just hideous! Started counting them at the far side of the park. By the time we got back to the Funny Farm — about a third of a mile — I’d spotted TEN (yes: 10) penitentiary gray houses.

Gray and white is the new avocado green and gold. 😀 People decorate the inside with gray and white, too: every refurbished house has gray floors, gray walls, and white trim and cabinets.

Neutral colors were the style when I moved into this neighborhood, during the late Middle Ages, and they persisted for a good 20 or 30 years. My house is painted a bland shade of desert-floor gray-brown, with smart white trim (that, at least, has not gone out of style). Most of the neighbors’ houses are cream-colored or beige. Whatever dark prison gray is, it’s certainly not bland.

Here’s one that someone thinks is “awesome“:

And it no doubt would be, if you buy everything at Ikea and so can afford to redecorate when you get tired of it…in about a year or two. 😀

 

Of dogs and cops and copters…

Ruby the Corgi has been under the doggy-weather for several days. She has the collywobbles, and this morning she barfed. That will mean an expensive and stressful trip to the vet…especially since veterinarians here are not letting the hoi polloi even step into their waiting rooms. You have to wait in the parking lot until they come out and collect your animal.

Picturing the terror that will inspire, I’ve already put off getting Ruby’s teeth cleaned. And I do NOT want to drag the poor beast in over an upset stomach.

Sometimes the doggywobbles will clear on its own, just as human collywobbles will eventually go away. Sometimes…not. And we have those damn rats out there…the question is, could she have picked up a bug from one of those fine disease-carriers?

Complicating matters, something made me really sick in the same department. I suspect it was some shrimp I bought at Sprouts… It didn’t seem to be spoiled, but when I opened the bag the thought crossed my mind that those tired-looking things had been frozen for an awful long time. It seems to me I let her lick the plate after I’d eaten that meal…something I normally don’t do. But I recall that one evening, in an unusually mellow moment, I set an empty plate down for her. And this was within the time frame — if the shrimp made me sick, it could’ve made her sick, too.

I still have some imodium purchased while it was legal to sell it. Apparently, you can give it to a dog. But who knows how much would be the right amount? She only weighs 23 pounds. If one tiny pill will plug up an adult human, how many shavings off one of those pills is right for a dawg? You also can give a dog Pepto-Bismol, but liquid gunk is one helluva lot harder and messier to get down a dog’s throat than a pill coated in butter or hamburger is.

Speaking of the imodium protect-you-from-yourself gambit, I see the stuff is still for sale on Amazon. How exactly that can be escapes me. It’s supposedly illegal to sell the stuff in our parts. Apparently some morons use the stuff to get high. Therefore all the rest of us must be punished.

***

Argha! Cop helicopter just roared in and started circling a couple blocks north and east. God, how I hate the constant cop helicopter buzz-overs. This is the main reason I daydream of moving to Prescott or Yarnell or Patagonia…places where they can’t afford to buy helicopters for the local law enforcers. Most of the time, all the doors and windows are locked — and all the exterior doors now include steel security doors with hardened deadbolts. So frankly…I’d just as soon not know when a perp is frolicking around the ’Hood.

Down at my son’s house it’s even worse…the cops are constantly overhead hollering down at perps or telling people to go inside and lock the doors.

Phoenix… What a place this is! Especially when you consider how many people move here because they think it’s going to be better than California. Six o’ one, half-a-dozen of the other, folks!

Well, I might as well go drown out the serenade of the helicopter blades with the song of the vacuum cleaner. And so, away...