Coffee heat rising

“Another Beautiful Day in Arizona…”

Yep: “Another beautiful day in Arizona! Leave us all enjoy it!” That was the catch phrase of the late, great Arizona Governor Jack Williams, an accomplished if less than perfectly literate local politician who came up as a radio announcer. In spite of last night’s mostly dry thunderstorm, temps here have run upwards of 112 degrees. Once I glanced at the thermometer in the back porch shade: 115.

Plan of the day: Install a new bed in the now-unused middle bedroom, which was the TV room until off-the-air TV was taken away from us. Now it just sits there…but, I’ve noticed, because the room is directly below the central air-conditioning unit and so gets air fresh out of the fridge, it is the coolest room in the house. The plan is to get an inexpensive but reasonably comfortable twin bed and sleep in that room during the summer months. Then switch back to the more spacious and comfortable queen-sized bed in the master bedroom for fall, winter, and springtime. And so into the heat and on the road.

I whip into the mattress store where, in the past, I’ve bought excellent products for decent prices — not rock-bottom, but far from “luxury” prices.

Holy shee-ut! EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLAH for a regular twin-size mattress, box-spring, and frame.

I kid you not! That is what I paid for the queen-sized bed I bought when the old one wore out, just a few years ago.

Jayzus.

Out of that place, I do stagger.

Should I venture across the street to Bed Bath & Beyond, there to snab a set of sheets for this spectacular purchase?

I think not. In the first place, my experience with BB&B is that they tend to be overpriced. In the second place, they tend to be underqualitied. I decide, WTF, to drive out to Costco and grab a set there.

This was very, very stupid. Extraordinarily stupid. Gold-medal-winning stupid!!!!!!!

Best way to get out there?  Across Lincoln, the northernmost main drag south of the Phoenix Mountain Park, then up 44th through lovely Paradise Valley, and zip! into the parking lot.

Almost sounds sane, doesn’t it?

Eastbound on Lincoln at 24th street, the main road that disgorges central- and central/east traffic onto Lincoln, some nitwit has contrived to have a fender-bender in the fast lane. Traffic in all three lanes comes to a stop as the very pretty young woman driver gets out to try to cope…and is swarmed by Heroic Gentlemen charging to her rescue.

This would have some charm if it weren’t 111 degrees outside just then. In the shade.

So the Damsel in Distress and all of her many Knights have the traffic dead stopped. I’ve been around this block before, though, and so am wily enough to dart left into the entrance of a (spectacularly ritzy) gated community, where I can hang a U-ie and head back in the direction I came from.

Now I am westbound when I need to go east.

But on the way, I think WTF, I’ll just fly into the Macy’s at Biltmore Fashion Square. At this time of year, they’re bound to be having a white sale.

And yea verily, that they are!. Have you ever noticed that when a major department store puts stuff on sale, it’s because said stuff is junk, serious junk, that NO ONE in their right mind would buy? Today, this is true in spades. You would NOT believe the crappiness of the hilariously dreadful crap on offer.

Onto the freeway. Northerly northerly northerly and OFF on Cactus, eastbound.

Easterly easterly easterly, past the Fry’s. If I had any sense I’d derail this trip to go in there and buy a set of cheapie junk sheets, but…

a) I have no sense; and
b) I figure that kinda cheap junk may last through three launderings, if we’re lucky.

Hang a left on Tatum. Northerly northerly northerly…FINALLY reach the Costco. They will have sheets. They always have sheets. Right? And they’re excellent quality sheets, the kind of thing you can hand down to the next generation as heirlooms.

Well.

No.

I frikkin cannot BELIEVE it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Costco does not have regular-size twin sheets! The only twin sheets they have are for extra-long mattresses.

Stalk out into the parking lot. Eyeball the Penney’s next door. They’re closing that Penney’s, because they’re about to tear down the shopping center and replace it with an apartment development. Whooo knows? Maybe they’ll have sheets. Maybe even sheets on sale!

Hike across the broiling asphalt, dodge into the Penney’s.

They’ve shut down the escalators. You can’t even GET to the bedding department. And noooo, I’m not getting onto a crowded stuffy stinky elevator in Time of Plague.

Make my way upstairs and find, in the bedding department, one of the most superbly certifiably stupid CSR’s I’ve ever met, in 55 years of department-store shopping. OOOOhhh this one is dumb. I cannot make her understand that no, I do not want something that does not fit, and noooo I do not want something with a weird busy little pattern that looks a lot like E. coli organisms under a microscope. All I want is a set of twin-size sheets in a plain boring color. Gray would do. White would do. Beige would do. No, bright pink will NOT do. And absolutely positively the Escherchia coli germs will not do, no way no how.

😀

Back in the car.

On the way out of the shopping center, stop at the Target. Why the hell not? Couldn’t be any worse than what we’ve already seen, eh?

There I meet the cutest li’l gay guy, who also is shopping for bedding. He is similarly disgusted. But he does point out a few sets that…uhm…do not offend too much.

Grab one of these and fly out the door. Price is around 80 bucks. Yes. For a set of freakin’ Target sheets!!!!!!!!!

Stumble back out. Dodge a few fellow homicidal drivers in the parking lot (would those be “homicidal parkers”?), make it back onto Cactus, and start driving. Westerly westerly ever westerly. Migawd, it’s STILL hot!

No. Make that “even hotter.”

Here at the Funny Farm:

  • It’s 81 in the master bedroom. It’s 84 here in the family room.
  • It’s 80 in the bedroom where I propose to install this fine new bed, but for some reason it feels a lot cooler.

That’s with the thermostat set at 79, as low as I figure I can push it without risking bankruptcy.

And as I sit here scribbling, in comes an email from one Priscilla Castro of the dermatologist’s office, wanting to discuss the results of the latest effing biopsy, one she made of a mole that has resided on the side of my nose for as long as I can remember. They’ve decided the thing is malignant. This, of course, means ANOTHER endless trip to the far west side for MORE surgery. Hot diggety dawg.

I call back instantly. “She’s not at her desk,” says the airhead who answers the phone. Odd. She was there 30 seconds ago when she emailed me.

Airhead says she’ll call me back. I explain, for the 89 berjillionth time, that they CAN NOT REACH ME BY PHONE because I block all incoming calls from area code 623 because I get rafts of nuisance calls from telephone solicitors EVERY DAY spoofing the 623 area code. As usual, the phone kid doesn’t even faintly understand what I’m saying. Sheeeeeee-ut!

By now I’m tired, I’m beyond hot, and I simply have no more patience for stupid.

I’m also kinda scared. One of the things they took off was on the side of my nose. It’s been there for years, to the point where I objected that it couldn’t be much or it would have made trouble by now. Stephanie (derma-tech) said it was “vascularizing,” whatever the hell that means. I think I would’ve noticed if it had changed, since I paint my face almost every day, and that entails hiding blemishes under layers of paint. But if she found cancer in it, they’ll be chopping up my nose. And that will require plastic surgery to repair. And THAT will entail endless trips the west side, disfiguring butchery, and several unpleasant procedures to fix. Email “Priscilla” to clue her that unless she can call me from a phone that doesn’t have a 623 area code, she’ll need to email me.

Shortly, Priscilla calls. She says I need to come in, let them cut the roots of this thing off my nose, and then they will repair the (considerable!) damage with plastic surgery.

I have a friend who’s had a quasi-malignant thing removed from his nose, followed by plastic surgery. “Repair” is not quite the word. Though he doesn’t look terrible, nevertheless you can tell that something pretty drastic happened there. I do NOT want my face cut up and then patched back together, not unless it’s absolutely, positively, unavoidably necessary.

A night passes. Daylight dawns. And I snap out of that little panic long enough to remember my Medical Motto: ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION!

At the Mayo, I’ve been assigned a dermatologist, for reasons neither he nor I could grasp. A week or so ago, I traipsed out there and met with him. Liked him. We were both puzzled. I left, thinking “huh!”

Sooo….what could be a better source of a second opinion than the Mayo Clinic, eh?

Yesterday — Saturday, natcherly — I emailed him through the Mayo’s annoying DIY Web “portal” lashup and asked if we could make an appointment, and may I have the Avondale dermatologist send him the results of the biopsy. Of course, I haven’t heard back. I do hope to hear from him tomorrow, and sincerely DO hope he’ll agree to review this little fiasco.

Meanwhile, we still have the Rat Situation.

This, if anything, is getting worse. Over the past couple of days, I’ve stuffed piles and piles of steel wool into the crevices and openings around the side yard deck, of which there are a-plenty. These have become little doorways to Rattie’s nest under there.

Ruby has developed chasing poor Rattie into an Olympic sport. This morning the little dog was standing patiently by the back door.

Human opens door.

Dog ambles quietly out to river of rocks (a decorated drainage ditch, now home to Rattie since we blocked off her entrances to the side deck).

Rattie, alarmed, leaps up.

Dog launches into the chase!

Rattie shoots across the yard, just under the speed of light.

Ruby flashes after her.

Rattie dodges into the cat’s-claw vines.

Ruby saunters back to the door, expecting a Doggy Treat for having orchestrated that spectacle.

This, while entertaining in a predator-ish way, is not really a good thing. Roof rats carry a wide variety of exceptionally malign diseases, which they can  transmit to dogs as well as to humans: murine typhus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, and plague.

{sigh} I’m awfully afraid the only way to get rid of Rattie, short of poison, is going to be to pull out the cat’s claw hedge. And of course, that will mean every bum who wanders up the alley can peer into my yard. And into my pool, where he’s likely to get an eyeful of the local scenery.

So, later this morning I obtained the name of an exterminator from one of the neighbors on the ’Hood’s Facebook page. Will call him the first thing tomorrow morning — Monday.

In passing, she remarked that she preferred to communicate by email than over the FB page, because some of the neighbors work themselves into a state of high moral dudgeon over the prospect of killing our cute little rats. She remarked – confirming my own observation – that the neighborhood is now overrun with rats.

As these shenanigans are en train, I happen to venture into the front yard, where I notice…hmmmm…what?? The mound of gravel-covered dirt that was piled over the stump of the dead ash tree I had cut down, lo! these many years ago, has been pushed aside and dug up. There are little holes around in there.

WTF?

Rats?

That’s what I suspect. But…on closer observation, I see several holes in the depression where the stump has pretty much disintegrated. These are larger than the holes Rattie typically digs. Gopher?

Hm. Yes, we do get the occasional gopher here in the ‘Hood.

A-a-a-n-d…my scheme to block Rattie out of her nest under the deck has failed. Just this minute I hear Ruby YAP and thump against the Arcadia door: her signal for the Presence of the Rat.

dayum!  Leap up, RUN with Ruby to the garage’s side door, and let her rip!

She shoots out like a rocket, patrols the base of the deck…but Rattie is long gone. However, she finds a new hole: Rattie has managed to burrow out of (or into) her nest under the deck.

That, I’m afraid, tore it: now I know I’m going to HAVE to get a professional exterminator. Tomorrow I’ll call the neighbor’s guy.

This, of course, is going to mean Ruby will have to go somewhere else. We can’t have dead and dying poisoned rats laying around the yard, nor can we have poison bait laying around where Ruby holds sway over the backyard. I guess I’ll have to put her up with M’hijito, or else board her somewhere (expensively).

Ohhhhhh gawwwd…pleeeze don’t hurt our little ratties! Aughhh! How do people who are that stupid ever learn to put their pants on, much less acquire a $500,000 to $1 million shack???????

Ain’t a-goin’ nowhere, lady!!!

Rat Wars: The Battle of the Runway

Have you ever seen anything so cute?

Mwa ha ha!!!!  

Just in from today’s engagement in the Rat Wars.

This should be good…I hope.

Well. It’ll be good if it works.

😀

And ohhh yeah: I’m pretty sure it will work.

The trick will be to make Ruby mind her own business…except, o’course, harassing Rattie IS her business. Few things does Ruby enjoy more than chasing Rattie at a full-out, dead run.

So Rattie — being a rat, as roof rats in general are — likes to move around on her personal Rat Superhighway. This is a track fairly close to cover, so that the li’l critter can zip along within steps of shrubbery, woodwork, or whatever she can get under in the event of a cat, a hawk, or a corgi. Or if need be, she can climb straight up the side of the block wall. {Yes, they really are amazing little critters!}

Unless it’s a corgi…

She’s been living under the fake-wood decking on the west side — with, I presume, a fair number of her progeny, boyfriends, and whatnot. By way of getting from her castle to the citrus trees, she trots along the footing of the west (solid block) wall. Once at the building’s corner, she can zip under the nearest orange tree, and voilà! Fine dining in a leafy hotel suite!

This morning I take into my furry little head to stuff vast quantities of steel wool into all the cracks and crevices around that decking, then block entry further by setting rocks and bricks along the facings where those packed cracks exist.

Ratty has dug a grand entrance for herself on the north side of the thing, and really, all the way around there are places where I believe she can wiggle under there and squirm back out.

One of these gateways opens almost directly onto the Rat Runway, conveniently enough for Rattie.

Whilst in the process of doing this little project — it is so hot and wet out there that even that little bit of effort results in water pouring off your forehead and flooding your glasses — it occurs to me that I could make Rattie real sick and possibly even kill her simply by sprinkling the Rat Runway with diatomaceous earth (we humans know that as DE, right?).

This stuff is not good for you, for your cat, for your dog, or — interestingly enough — for your pet rats. If swallowed, it rips up  your (or their) innards. Breathing it’s not good for anyone, either.

If I were to sprinkle a skiff of DE along the Rat Runway, she would inevitably trot through it and get it all over her little paws and her fur. When she licks it off: RiP, Rattie.

Hence, said Trick: to keep Ruby away from it.

That will mean not letting her go out there unattended.

However, within the next few days it will rain — we are, after all, coming up on high monsoon season, July & August. One good storm will wash the stuff into the ground. But until then, Rattie will have plenty of time to get it all over herself and track it into the nest.

At any rate, I do have some low wire garden fencing, which I can set in the quarter-minus parallel to the Rat Highway but some feet away from it, so she doesn’t realize what’s up but Ruby can’t get into the layer of DE. That will blockade Ruby from getting very close to the DE Trail.

There are, I figure, several other steps one can take to repel Rattie.

Sprinkling a skiff of DE under those cat’s-claw vines, for example. But to do that, I’ll have to come up with some fencing that can be run all along the base of those plants, so as to keep Ruby out of the stuff.

Later.

This project is one that will consist of several smaller projects, any one of which will drain all of a given day’s energy.

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???