Silver on Skin

A few funny things happened this weekend.

I bear Malcolm’s ashes on my right hand now as my necklace broke this weekend on his anniversary.

And then inexplicably, my laptop played Bob Marley when it was closed and shut down.

I do not presume to understand the cosmic implications of anything I do.  I miss Malcolm.  There’s nothing more to me than that.
2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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Professional Loser

I hope everyone had a safe and happy transition into 2014. 2014! How did this happen? It seems like just yesterday I was sitting on the edge of Lake Union at the turn of the millennium, looking out over the Space Needle and wondering whether it was going to go dark and topple into the water (it didn’t.) The thought of 2014 seemed very far away at the time.


Old and Boring


I would have thought 14 years would bring a vast amount of wisdom and insight into my world, that I would be me but wizened, like Gandalf. Instead, I feel just like that kid from 2000 except with nicer electronics and a sudden worry about sunscreen, with all the same personality flaws and unanswered existential questions I had back then. What did I know? We still navigated by Thomas Guide, for god’s sake. I would have said, hmm, 2014, I will probably be set in my career, old, and boring by then.

I admit, we were old and boring this New Year’s Eve. We went to a neighbor’s house where there were about 5523 small children running around, and because we’re on the West Coast it’s easy to pass out a bunch of horns at 8:50, watch the ball drop in New York and have everyone in bed by 9:30. That is not what makes me old and boring. What makes me O&B is that I was totally fine with that plan.

I met a couple with kids the same age as mine, and they were very nice. “I hear you’re a veterinarian,” the man said. “Where do you work?” I explained that I worked with a home visit hospice practice, and he said, “Oh wow. Hard stuff. We just lost our cat.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “When?”

He looked at his watch, then his wife. “Hmmm. 5 hours ago?”

And I paused, because he seemed mildly bummed but generally pretty nonchalant, and I guess by now I’m used to people like me who tend to melt into a chasm of grief and despair for at least 10 hours, or in my case, a month, when their pet dies. But they weren’t bad people or horrible pet owners, they just knew the cat was 17 and on her way out so this was a natural part of the process for them. They had a different sort of relationship with their pet. I keep forgetting this is how it is for a lot of people.

Expert Loser

I have a few goals this year, some simple, some a little more challenging and unexpected. One of those goals, probably the main goal right now, is to finish the book I’m due to deliver by March (gulp). Right now it feels like a pile of viscera, just me spilling my guts out all over the keyboard about Emmett and Kekoa and how their lives and loss affected me, and it was hard to relive but I always took comfort in the fact that so many know what that particular type of loss is like.

Then I talk to people like these folks from the party, and think, oh my god, this book is going to bomb.

So I have a backup career, you know, like continuing to be a veterinarian and all. Lately, my thoughts have turned more to hospice care, since that is my current focus. I have some goals there too, to better understand and define what I can do as a veterinarian to help people through the loss of a pet. People who may be adrift in their grief surrounded by people like the guy at the party from yesterday have a really hard time when they don’t know that they too are perfectly normal, that profound grief is normal. We vets turn these people loose a lot of the time and leave them to fend for themselves. We can do better, at least I can, and that is where I am going to start.

I have, in the last 14 years, become much more of an expert on loss, so at least I have something to work with. I am an Expert Loser of Pets, which I guarantee was not on my future goals list in 2000 but that’s life for you. Much of our resolutions are based not on gain but on loss, shaking off all the garbage stuck to us like lint over the year previous: weight. Exes. Negativity. Addiction to reality TV. We gain much by learning to let go with grace, so in that respect, being good at losing is actually a decent thing to want to accomplish. 

Welcome, 2014.


Taking lots of pictures of Brody is, as always, a goal as well.


Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Shelter Sunday: K-9 Lifesavers / Washington, DC

Meet Lucky! This handsome young Terrier / Beagle Mix is living near our nation’s capitol with the support of K-9 Lifesavers. Here’s what he wrote on their website. He’s an exceptional writer for someone who has no thumbs! Hi there, My name is Lucky and I am a total sweetheart. I was adopted from K-9 […] Dog Blog

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Nice Flea photos

Check out these Flea images:

Flea Country USA (duck trip but he was feeling shy this morning)

Image by Jon Haynes Photography
Flea Country {american flag} USA is empty and cluttered with empty cardboard boxes

Flea beetle on Bindweed – Longitarsus pellucidus 1d

Image by Dluogs
Flea beetle (scale in mm). Possibly Longitarsus pellucidus, a species commonly found on Convolvulus arvensis but also on Calystegia sepium. Earlier I had suggested it might be Longitarsus exoletus. For a more authoritative picture of L. pellucidus, try… . In addition, gives a gallery of Longitarsus species to compare.

Found on Bindweed, probably Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) but possibly Large Bindweed (Calystegia sylvatica). 30 September 2010, Shawford, near Winchester, UK.

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Check Your Dogs Vital Signs

Your dog’s vital signs are easy to take and can provide advance warning of any health problems that might be affecting your pet. When checking your dog’s vital signs be sure to include the following tests:

Your dog’s temperature should normally range between 99.5° and 102.5°. If your dog’s temperature goes above 103°, there is a problem. It’s easy to take your pet’s temperature with a lubricated rectal thermometer. A better option that’s less invasive is to use a thermometer designed for reading your dog’s temperature inside one of its ears.

Checking your dog’s pulse is important, but first find out what is a normal pulse for your breed of dog. Pulse rates can vary between size and breed. Once you know what’s normal, you can check your dog’s heart beat in either of two locations. One is inside the upper thigh on your dog’s rear legs where you’ll find the femoral artery. The other is on its chest behind the left leg. To take your dog’s pulse, count the beats per minute for 15 seconds then multiply by four. Normal heartbeats fall within a range of 60-150 per minute.

Respiration, or breathing, is another indicator of good health. Do this when your dog is relaxed, not after it’s been playing or running around for a while. When you have determined the normal respiration for your dog, it will be easy to spot any future changes in its breathing. The average range is around 10-30 breaths per minute, but this number varies according to the breed and size. Do a 15-second count of the breaths then multiply by four to get the one minute rate.

Another health indicator in your dog is circulation of the blood. Just like humans, a dog’s blood has to be carried efficiently throughout its body in order to deliver the necessary nutrients to the cells. Check your dog’s circulation by lifting its upper lip and pressing your finger on the gum line above the canine tooth. When you take your finger away, count how many seconds it takes for the gum to return to its normal pink color. More than a couple of seconds indicates a problem and you should call your vet as soon as possible.

After completing these health tests, do a hands-on and visual check of your pet. Run your hands over your dog’s joints, back, and belly for signs of discomfort or swelling. Check the eyes and ears for any signs of infection or parasites. Be sure to check the paws because they are a perfect place for foreign matter to get trapped.

Water is necessary for all life forms. Be aware of your dog’s water intake every day as it can provide life-saving information on your dog. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if you notice a sudden and significant increase in your dog’s water intake. A simple way to check for dehydration in your dog is to pull up some skin around its neck and then release it. It should fall back right away if the dog has enough fluids in its body. If your dog is dehydrated the skin will lose its elasticity and take longer to return to normal. Any sign of dehydration in your pet can be life threatening, and is a warning to immediately call your vet.

A compassionate owner will make their dog’s life comfortable and enjoyable, always being sure that their dog is healthy and safe. This is the greatest gift an owner can give to the most loyal friend one will ever have. A loving dog is truly a gift from heaven and should always be regarded as a possession to be treasured.

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Jan 18, Fussy eater, Diabetic, Insulin, Blind, Lack of Hair Growth…

Teddy is on Hills w/d. He is the fussiest eater on the planet so we mix in Hills z/d (about 2 large tablespoons), otherwise he will not eat. His daily
Dog Food Blog | Best Dog Food Guide

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Pillow pet armor

Squishy armor.
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Thousands Sign a Petition to Help Two Cold Dogs in Michigan

I hate to start off a piece by stating the blindingly obvious, but for a lot of the country, it is COLD outside right now. The Northeast and Midwest are facing a brutal winter that’s colder than anything seen in the U.S. for 20 years. Even in places like Atlanta, where they’re used to having relatively mild winters, people are looking for the thickest, warmest coats they can find. (Side note: Before we even get into it, no, this extreme cold does not mean that climate change is a myth made up by rogue scientists and political pundits; please look up the difference between climate and weather before commenting.)

For hardworking dog writers like myself, the cold weather means a lot of stories about cold dogs. Just this morning, Michael Leaverton wrote about a dog who froze to the ground; yesterday, I wrote about how 40 dogs were seized from a puppy farm in New York because they were left outside with little protection.

Today, the news gives us yet another story about dogs stuck out in the cold. An online petition is asking Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell to remove two German Shepherds from their owner because the dogs have been left out in the cold. As of this writing, the petition has gotten almost 3,800 signatures since it was launched on Jan. 8 (which is a day ago, as of this writing).

The story of the petition shows the odd nature of politics on the Internet. Even though the dogs live in Kalamazoo, the petition was started by Sharon Rushen, a resident of New Jersey. Rushen was inspired when Kristan Daniel used Facebook to write about her concerns regarding her neighbors' dogs. She also contacted local television station WWMT, which did a story on the dogs and talked to their owner, Donnie Anderson. And then, as they say, the story went viral.

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Kristan Daniel speaking with WWMT.

Temperatures in Kalamazoo are hitting minus-40 if you factor in wind-chill factor. Anderson told the news crew that his dogs were very well taken care of, and that they were born outside and stay outside. When police checked out Daniel's complaint about the dogs, they said that Anderson was in compliance with the law, which requires that dogs have enough food, water, and shelter to keep them from losing body condition.

Daniel told that "I think there needs to be stricter laws for specific weather conditions like these. I don't think any pet should be left outside. It's just too cold."

Nevertheless, she has very mixed feelings about the petition.

"I think it's great but I don't want people to think I'm doing this because it's my neighbors, because it's more about all animals," she said. "I just feel like for all animals, something needs to change."

She also alleges that this is not new for Anderson, and she claims that one of his dogs died last year and remained in the cage all day before the body was taken away. (The petition alleges that the dog froze to death, but I can't find a mention of cause on Daniel's Facebook page.)

The social media campaign does seem to be having an effect on Anderson. Yesterday, Daniel wrote on Facebook that he had taken the dogs in and given them fresh straw in their cages when he came out in the morning.

Like I said at the beginning, it is really, really cold outside these days. Forty below is nothing to sneeze at, and I think most people would recommend bringing dogs inside when the temperature drops that low. Daniel also alleges that although the dogs have food and water, both have been frozen by the cold.

But is a petition to the governor, started by a woman in another state, going after the problem with an awfully big stick? The petition says nothing about making the changes that Daniel mentions; it's all about getting the authorities to take two dogs away from one man, Donnie Anderson. That seems like an awful lot of sound and fury that, in the end, accomplishes little. It's genuinely good to see people showing concern for the health of dogs, whether they're in the neighborhood or far away. But if you petition only for one or two dogs at a time, it will be a very long time before real change gets made.

Via MLive and WWMT

Read the most talked about news on Dogster:

The Scoop | The Scoop

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Wow. There was a lot of great information in this …

Wow. There was a lot of great information in this post. Some dogs really do get a bad rap, every pit or rot I've ever met was just the sweetest dog. In fact, when I got bitten, it was by a golden retriever, which I always thought was considered a gentler breed. Thankfully, Darryl Isaacs ( helped me with my recovery. But that's beside the point, thank you for the post, it was most enjoyable.

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The Cat Needs a Lozenge

It started innocently enough, my son asking Penelope a question about her feet: “Penelope, how many fingers do you have?”

And without much thought, I answered for her, in a high pitched Muppet voice: “None, I have 20 toes.”

And thus began one of the kids’ greatest sources of entertainment for the past two weeks. He argued with her for a while, about why cats have four legs instead of two arms and two legs. In this case, Penelope was right. But sometimes she’s not, like when she insisted that cats were permanently excused from school due to a 1960 Act of Congress declaring they already knew everything there was to know. She is opinionated.

Like most pet owners, I sometimes imitate my pets saying something, but never has it evolved to this degree. Penelope has a distinct personality, for sure, and plenty to say. I don’t even pay attention to what she is saying half the time, the material just kind of writes itself. She’s a saucy thing. I’m just the translator.


The kids look forward to this now, which, had I known was going to happen would have picked a voice less damaging to my vocal cords. “Penelope!” they yell after school, barging into the front door. Sometimes they are actually looking for the cat. Sometimes though, my son will appear in front of me accusingly. “I said, PENELOPE!!! Where are you?” and then I sigh, and say, “Right here!” or, if I’m smart, “Hiding somewhere in the house! Come catch me!”

Penelope only has about 5 minute in her before her voice needs a rest. She is, after all, new to this talking thing.

Last night, my daughter was angry with me for reasons that only nine year old girls understand, something to do with Animal Jam time restrictions. I was persona non grata. I was sitting on her bed wondering if I was going to be able to get a goodnight hug when in walked Penelope.

“Hi Penelope,” she said.

“Hi,” she answered.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for mice,” she replied. “Seen any lately?”

“No,” my daughter laughed.

“I think you’re holding out on me,” Penelope replied, and just like that Animal Jam was forgotten and I got my hug.

All these years with pets and I’m still learning how much they enrich our lives. Thanks kiddo. Penelope is now the new intermediary. Please tell me someone else talks for their pet like this too, so I know I haven’t entirely gone off the deep end. :D

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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