The never-ending quest of the bug swatter

by Lorin Michel Sunday, March 15, 2015 10:52 PM

“It’s a bug hunt.” Those were the words spoken by Bill Paxton’s character Hudson in the James Cameron penned (and directed) flick Aliens. The line was an acknowledgement that the mission of the intergalactic marines, sent to a distant planet to check on colonists who had gone mysteriously silent, was to find out what type of creature had absconded with the people. The bugs, for anyone who has seen the film, were the biggest, nastiest, scariest and ugliest creatures ever to grace the screen at that point in cinematic history. They made cockroaches look damn near cuddly.

“It’s a bug hunt” is also the line that my husband, bug hunter extraordinaire, uses whenever he’s stalking some flying thing that has had the audacity, the gall, the misfortune, to enter our home. Kevin can’t stand having flies in the house. Or moths. And especially mosquitoes, which, believe it or not, are actually quite plentiful in the desert, especially after monsoon season. We can be sitting on the couch, sipping a glass of wine after dinner, watching our latest obsession and binge on the telly (lately all bingeing has been British) and a moth will flit by.

“Pause that,” he’ll say as I am the keeper of the remote most evenings. As soon as the image on the 55” screen freezes, he rises and gravely begins his hunt. It usually starts in the laundry room because that’s where the fly swatter hangs. He retrieves his weapon of choice and returns to the great room, his eyes expertly scanning the room in search of the offending insect. When he spots it, he zeroes in with laser-like focus, waiting for it to land so that he can swat.

Flies are the worst because they’re the fastest and they always seem to sense impending splat. Kevin will raise the swatter and as it is swooshing through the air, the fly departs, which, without fail, elicits some sort of expletive from my husband. The hunt begins again.

We do not get to resume the show until the bug is dead.

Yesterday we had the back door open for quite some time. Cooper, as I’ve mentioned, has been dealing with a fairly severe case of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. Yesterday he wanted to go outside and after he wobbled and stuttered his way through the door, he managed to get himself down on the patio where he proceeded to stay for hours. In order to keep an eye on him and in order for me to remain in his view, we left the door open. I pointed out that the flies and these other really annoying bugs that are a cross between a moth and a fly and a mosquito would be entering the house undeterred. Kevin gruffly acknowledged that he’d deal with the offending creatures later. Cooper was more important.

By last night, after Cooper had come back in and the door had been closed, we had flying objects everywhere. Kevin suited up. Backwards baseball cap – check. Flip flops – check. Fly swatter – check. He hunted and swatted for an hour. Finally, he deemed the house safe for humanity and we sat down on the couch to watch the second episode of American Crime. We had gotten about 20 minutes in.

“Pause that,” he said as he rose, fly swatter in hand. A moth had begun circling the lamp.

“If you hit that thing on my $300 hand-painted lamp shade, I’m going to swat you,” I deadpanned from the couch.

The moth sensed its imminent demise. It flitted and it flew, Kevin the bug swatter in hot pursuit, swinging his swatter in the air, trying to hit the thing before it even landed.

“Perhaps you should get a gun,” I mentioned. “Then you can just sit on the couch, take aim and blow a hole in the drywall.”

He stopped and turned to me. He appeared to be thinking about it. Then a fly went by and he was back on the hunt. It’s a bug hunt, a never-ending one, but Kevin Michel, bug swatter, is on it, a quest to save humanity and our home from anything with wings. Thank dog.

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Well, he was on sale

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:31 PM

We got Cooper about eight months after we lost Maguire. I was still devastated by the loss of my big beautiful honey bear but I was hopelessly lost in the house. Anyone who has pets understands the emptiness of the home when you return and they’re not there. We used to schedule our return trips from vacation so as to arrive in time to pick Maguire up from the pet motel. In later years, we hired a pet sitter so he was already home when we returned.

I started looking on the internet, at Pet Finder, for a dog. I didn’t tell Kevin because as far as he was concerned, there was no other dog other than Maguire. I’m not sure if he would ever have come around on his own; I forced it. I found Cooper, named Andy at the time, one night while searching. He was in Westlake Village at a rescue group called Labs & Buddies. For a week and a half I returned to the site to look at him. I think I was secretly hoping that he’d be gone but he never was. One day, I finally told Kevin that I had been looking at other dogs. I felt, somehow, like I was cheating on Maguire and confessing my sins. Kevin simply looked at me. He wasn’t mad, but he wasn’t thrilled. I showed him the picture. His deadened response: “cute.”

I kept talking about getting another dog, asking what do you think of Andy? He didn’t think much. He really didn’t want another dog. We didn’t fight but he was belligerent. I told him how empty I thought the house was. That of course another dog would never – could never – replace Maguire. This wasn’t about replacing. It was about sharing the goodness of our lives with a less fortunate animal, providing a good home. I told him, finally, that I was going to get a dog. He didn’t have to have anything to do with it. I knew that once we had another dog, he’d eventually fall in love. He just needed a little prodding.

We went to visit Andy on a Thursday late afternoon before we went to the Wineyard for wine tasting. He was hyper, attached to Laura who ran the rescue group. Kevin remained unimpressed. I didn’t fall in love immediately but there was something about the little guy, something so desperate that he broke my heart. Over wine we decided to take him.

On Friday, we picked him up. As Kevin took him for a walk, I paid the adoption fee. Laura, also a lawyer, had done all of the paper work. I signed what basically was a contract stipulating that I would love, care for, and adore our new friend. I got out my checkbook, prepared to write a check for $300. That was the cost of adopting a rescue, and I was fine with that.

“Why don’t you just give me $200?” Laura suggested. I wrote the check and we brought our boy home.

We’ve had issues over the last couple of years, mostly behavioral. We came to know that he had been passed between foster homes for at least a year and a half if not more. He had been adopted once only to be returned. He wasn’t an easy dog, but he is a worth it dog, and we – including Kevin – love him.

We tease him sometimes and tell him that he was on sale. Not for sale, but on sale. On sale is usually reserved for the things no body wants. Lately he’s had some health problems, and last night I joked that he was on sale and that he was kind of a lemon. Then I kissed his nose.

He may have been on sale, and he may sometimes be kind of a lemon, but as the saying goes, when you adopt lemons, you make lemonade. We make it every day.

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Veterinary medicine

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:33 PM

Once upon a time, in the year 3000 BC, there lived a man named Urlugaledinna. He was known as the expert in healing animals, and he began the practice of veterinary medicine. Like much of medicine it remained medieval for hundreds of years until a Frenchman by the name of Claude Bourgelat founded a veterinary school in Lyon in 1761. It was after witnessing the devastation caused by a cattle plague that Bourgelat decided to devote his life to finding out why, and more importantly, developing medicine so that it wouldn’t happen again. He did, and it didn’t.

In England, the Odiham Agricultural Society, founded in 1783, worked to promote agriculture and industry. A founding member named Thomas Burgess began studying more humane ways to treat sick animals. By 1790 the official profession of veterinary medicine was recognized. And thank dog.

When I had Tori, my beautiful tortoise-shell colored cat, and lived in woodland hills, I discovered Dr. Stan Kunin and his Veterinary Medical Center. He took care of my girl and when she got cancer, helped me through the decisions I had to make. When it came time to put her to sleep, he's the one who did it. I was a wreck. We went into one of the back rooms and he told me I could stay with her as long as I wanted. Then they had an emergency and suddenly, there I was with my lifeless little girl while Stan and his team worked to save a dog that had been hit by a car. The juxtaposition was wild; the symbolism couldn't have been stronger.

When we got Maguire, the first place we took him was to see Stan. When our little guy got sick and he was diagnosed with Parvo by the emergency pet clinic it was Stan who called us the next day to say it had been a false positive. We took Maguire there for years for checkups and shots, after he was attacked by a neighborhood dog, whenever he just wasn't right. It was a longer drive by then since we had moved farther away but it was worth it.

After awhile he got to be too old to make the journey and Stan recommended a vet in our area who made house calls. Her name was Lorraine Watson and she, too, was great. When we lost our boy, she was one of the first to send a card. Inside she included a small doggie angel pin. He had crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Over the years, we've visited many veterinary offices, we've gone to the 24 hour emergency per hospitals. Whenever we move, one of the first things I do is find the nearest pet hospital. Then I find the closest people hospital. Priorities.

Our Cooper is sick and has been to the local vet twice now in less than 48 hours. He was weirdly lethargic over the weekend and I called on Monday. They saw him that night (our new vet, Acacia Animal Hospital, has extended hours, until 8pm Monday thru Friday) but they didn't really know what was wrong. Last night we were up with him several times as he got sicker and sicker. This morning we went to see Dr. Laudonio at Acacia. He doesn't really know what's going on since there are no outward or obvious symptoms. We did blood work. Now we wait. It’s hard because, as the vet said, animals don’t always follow the text book to let us know what’s wrong. We have to guess sometimes; we have to hope. 

I am so grateful to people who dedicate their lives to the practice of veterinary medicine. They help our animals, our pets, our furry family members when we can’t. Kevin and I don’t know what’s wrong with Cooper. We just hope that it’s something treatable. Maguire was relatively healthy right up until he wasn’t. He was over 15, long past his expected life expectancy. Vets and the hospital helped us when we couldn’t help him. Same with my beautiful Tori.

Tonight, while we hope that our Cooper starts to feel better, while we wait for the results of his blood work, I sit here in celebration of all the vets I’ve had care for my pets. If I was someone who prayed, I’d pray for my little red-furred boy. I’m not. So instead I’ll just think positive thoughts that he’ll be wagging it out loud soon thanks to good veterinarians and veterinary medicine.

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Paw prints and then

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 13, 2014 9:50 PM

It was raining here this morning when I took Cooper for a walk. We knew it was coming in. My weather app said as much. Plus the west coast got hammered a day and a half or so ago and the storm was moving east. It was a nice rain, just enough to make both he and I wet but not drenched. It’s the kind of rain I used to love to run in back when I was a runner. I miss running in the rain. Fodder for another post.

By the time el puptart and I returned, we were both fairly drenched. He shook and Kevin wrapped him in a towel, rubbing his fur to dry him off. I shook my head to fling out some water and headed for the bathroom and the hairdryer. Cooper, sensing where II was going, pranced ahead leaving wet paw prints on the floor. I smiled.

I’m a sucker for paw prints. I suppose most pet lovers are. The perfection of the tiny or sometimes not so tiny pads that hold water and leave a trail even inside, even for a short time until they evaporate.

Yesterday, we noticed tiny paw prints on the face of the fireplace in the great room of the new house. Vertical paw prints. I’m not entirely sure how that was possible but there they were, in a cluster. Some were perfectly formed, others had slid together as if whatever was trying to scale the wall in order to get inside the hole just above the fireplace was using all of its little might to heave and pull itself to safety. Mike remarked that he hoped some little creature wasn’t somewhere in the walls. If it gets sealed in inadvertently ir’s screwed.

We’ve seen all sizes of paw prints at the house, some obviously a dog, some more suspect. Coyote maybe. Or bobcat. Mike says there are bears out there. I haven’t yet seen anything remotely the size of a bear’s print, but yikes.

Paw prints appear on cars all the time. I love when you see the prints across the hood of a car and on the windshield, the telltale slide. I can imagine cats or raccoons getting on top of a car just to slide down. Like an amusement park for the wilderness.

It always makes me smile when I see the paw print stickers people put on their car windows. It’s as if they’re signifying solidarity; showing their love of the furred ones to the world. I always want to honk and say “heck yeah.” I don’t because they wouldn’t know what I was honking about and they’d think I was a nut, which of course I am, for animals.

When we lost Maguire, my sister and niece gave me a sterling silver necklace featuring a small silver triangle. Inside the triangle is a paw print. On the back is Maguire’s name. I wear it all the time in memory of our beloved boy, the one Kevin nicknamed puppy feet when he was little; he of the large paws.

There is a popular meme known as footprints in the sand, about god and walking beside and then carrying. I prefer the idea of paw prints in the sand and everywhere. That’s about dog to me.

Paw prints bring me comfort, they make me feel safe, they fill me with love, even when they’re on the floor in the house, even when they’re muddy. They fade or are washed away, but they are the stamp of my dogs, past and present. They are their way of saying “I was here; I still am.” And that’s always worth celebrating.

Rental cars and stuff

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, November 25, 2014 9:30 PM

On Thursday, Thanksgiving, we’re embarking on a road trip. About a 10 hour road trip.

Pause while Pam cleans up the coffee she just spit out of her mouth.

We’re driving to Paso Robles, on the central coat of California, to go wine tasting. It’s the first vacation we’ve had in a while, at least two years and perhaps more. We’ve been away but it was mostly to visit family. The last vacation we had may have been the long weekend we spent in Paso when I turned 50. That was nearly three years ago.

We rented a car today to make the trip. We did this for a number of reasons. First, it’s cheaper. Our Range Rover weighs nearly 6000 pounds and thus doesn’t get great gas mileage. It also takes only premium gas which is more expensive. A rental car takes cheaper gas, and because it’s a car, not an SUV and thus lighter, it gets better mileage. We rented a 2015 Nissan Altima. It gets 38 mph, about 600 miles per tank.

Second, it’s less wear and tear on our car. And since it’s cheaper why put the miles on our tires? Why put the miles on our oil? Why put our car out there in the elements when it can stay safely behind and we spend less money?

The car is, coincidentally, the same color as our Rover. A deep metallic red. The interior is black, also like the Rover’s, only this interior is cloth. It doesn’t have satellite, but we have cell phones we can hook up to the aux and listen to internet radio.

On Sunday, we downloaded the Tunein app so that we can tune into the Bears/Lions game on Thursday and the Packers/Patriots game on Sunday. We have all of our cords.  We have our USB cigarette-lighter, 12V plug. Everything works; we’re ready. Let the listening and road-tripping begin.

We’re doing laundry tonight. Tomorrow I’ll make the twice-baked potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. We have everything else we’re in charge of as well, including pears, cranberries and goat cheese. We have rolls. And packets of gravy in case we need it. We have snacks for the road. We don’t do fast food when we travel. We try to eat healthy. So I have ham and cheese to do rollups. I have raisins and grapes. We’ll take water.

Cooper will need to be packed, but he should be pleased to have the entire back seat to himself. We might take up some room on the floor, but he doesn’t use the floor anyway. He’ll be able to get in more easily because the car is very low to the ground, much lower than I would have thought. He should just be able to step in and up, settle himself down on the blankets we’ll put on the seat and watch the desert go by.

We have a rental car. Tomorrow it will be full of stuff. Thursday we’ll leave around 6 am. Can’t wait.

A busy busy day

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 15, 2014 7:47 PM

I was gone last weekend so that means the amount of stuff I have to do today has compounded exponentially. I don’t know if that’s the right word but it sounds good and intelligent so I’m going with it.

Last week at this time, I was writing my blog from the backseat of my sister’s Jeep Grand Cherokee as we sped along toward Maine. Down Maine as the locals say. On our way to see Gregg’s new house in South Berwick, just over the border of New Hampshire. It was cold. You could feel winter in the air. It was just over the horizon, waiting for the opportune time to make an appearance. Today, it’s cool here, too, but nowhere near what it was seven days ago on the other coast. It will probably get to 70º today before it gives up. Last week, back east, the high was about 48º.

Last night I started on my growing To-Do-This-Weekend list by going to the grocery store. Because I was gone last weekend, we had almost nothing in the house. The cupboards, as the saying goes, were bare. I have gotten in the habit of going to the grocery store just once a week and doing a big order. The weekend before I went to Nump’sha, I had bought stuff for Kevin and I and then also stuff for Kevin to eat while I was gone. I cook every night; I knew he wouldn’t cook for himself. He ate it all. This past week, I employed some supreme creativity. Finding things in the freezer I could use along with other things in the pantry and in the vegetable drawer to make meals.

Today I am busy busy, which is exponentially busier than simply busy. Two busys are not necessarily better than one but there you go.

I’m going to the tile store to check on a slab of granite that was supposed to come in as well as to see about them ordering a particular type of tile they told us they could get forever ago but that we thought we might be able to find somewhere else cheaper. We can’t. I’m hoping they can still get it. Otherwise we’re back to square foot one for what we want to put on our vanity counters.

I need to go to another tile store that has black honed granite which we want to use for the back splash in the kitchen. Honed is non-shiny. I share that because it was news to me. This particular tile store also has the tile we want for our showers. I may order them both while I’m there.

The sun sets on a busy busy day in the OP

I have to go to Floor and Décor, the new flooring superstore, to buy two stone sinks. They have the best price, and believe me, we’ve looked. We need one for the guest room, another for the ¾ bath.

I need to go to Home Goods. I’m still in search of mirrors for the vanities in the master bath. I haven’t yet been successful but last week when I was in Home Goods with my mother in New Hampshire, I saw some that were actually pretty cool. With any luck the one I’m going to here will have something similar if not identical. If they do, I’m buying two.

I have to go to Dunn-Edwards to look at and hopefully buy paint samples for the interior of the house. We’re looking at a light desert sand; no white. But finding the right shade is important. Can’t be too yellow or too orange or too brown or too white.

I’m starting everything off by washing my two rovers. The Range Rover is already in the driveway, waiting. It’s filthy and I don’t like my car filthy. I’ll wash it, then move it to the street so it can sit in the sun a bit and have the water evaporate. No matter how much I dry that car, water still manages to ooze out. I have long said that it holds water like a woman. I can say that with some understanding, as I am a woman.

The other rover, Master Cooper, will be next. He needs a bath and a trim, especially since we’re going out of town in a few weeks. He needs to be handsome, and he needs to be clean. He’s good when he gets a bath. I’ll suds him up, rinse him and towel him off. He’ll race around the back yard celebrating himself and all will be right with the world.

It’s a busy busy day here in the Old Pueblo and I’m living it out loud.

25 days

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 1, 2014 8:45 PM

Once upon a time, the countdown to how many shopping days until Christmas started around the first part of December and progressed at a frenetic level until it became like a countdown for a rocket launch: Uh oh, 5. No, 4. OMG, 3. You are so screwed 2. And fuggedaboutit 1. Now along comes Overstock, a website that I’ve been frequenting lately because I’ve been able to find some amazing things for the house at equally amazing prices. They have a Countdown to Black Friday 2014 clock. As of right now it says:

26 days : 14 hours : 33 minutes

I love this time of year and can I just pause right now to be among the first to wish you, dear readers, happy holidays. I’ve written before about my love of the season, how I adore the music (as long as it’s more along the jazzy side) and the movies. I love the weather; I even love shopping, something I don’t love at any other time during the year.

But a countdown clock to Black Friday? Come. On.

This is why many get disgusted. The commercialization of Christmas and the holidays in general gets more and more out of control every year. The build up becomes such that you almost can’t help but be let down when Christmas day rolls around and everything is over by 2 pm.

Years ago, my mother used to get very into Christmas. She would spend so much time preparing for the holidays. Shopping, baking cookies. She even used to do her own Christmas cards. She loved to decorate the house, and especially loved to decorate once we moved to New England where more traditional exterior lights are not just the norm, but dictated by town ordnance. In New England, and especially in Amherst where my mother lives, everyone puts white candle lights in their windows. Rarely do you see lights strung along the rafters, but if you do, it’s done in good taste. Those lights are often white as well. Wreaths made from the fallen bows of pines and wired with pine cones that have also fallen adorn the doors. It’s very Normal Rockwell. You half expect to see a horse drawn sleigh going through downtown.

What you actually see are Volvos and Range Rovers, with lots of horses under the hood.

By the time Christmas afternoon appeared, she would start to get down. By evening, she’d be depressed. The Christmas’ never quite lived up to Rockwell’s imagination. She finally came to the realization that no one lives like a Rockwell painting, and from then on, she’s been fine.

We have long set our own traditions. Living out west, we’re rarely with family so we’ve made our own west coast family and it’s populated with our closest friends. Justin has always been home, and we always have a lovely Christmas morning, and then usually go to Roy and Bobbi’s for dinner. The next day we go wine tasting. It’s a way to extend the holiday.

This year, Roy and Bobbi are coming to spend it with us. We’re so excited. It will be a new tradition; one we hope to continue.

And at Thanksgiving, all of us are going to Paso Robles to go wine tasting. This is a new adventure, too. For years, we always had Thanksgiving at our house, where all the “stray dogs” – people who didn’t have family, or who had family they didn’t care to be with – would come. This year, we leave on Thanksgiving morning to drive to the Central Coast of California. Have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, and start wine tasting on Friday and Saturday. It will be Kevin and I (and Cooper), Roy and Bobbi, and Diane and Gene. The perfect holiday.

So we won’t even be around for Black Friday. Overstock’s clock will continue to tick down (26 days: 14 hours : 16 minutes) and rather than frantically shopping, we’ll be enjoying good friends. In 25 days. And on Black Friday, we’ll make it Red Wine Day. That’s living it out loud in holiday style.

Happy birthday birthday to me

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 26, 2014 8:47 PM

Guest post by Cooper

Hi, it’s me Cooper. I haven’t done a guest post in a long time but I thought today would be a good day to do one. So did my mom. That’s because it’s my two year birthday and my eight year birthday. Not many puppies are lucky enough to have two birthdays on one day. Well, maybe they are. I guess it depends on a puppy’s parents and I have really good parents finally. It took me a really long time, but two years ago I got mom and dad, my best parents ever.

Mom says it was two years ago tonight, right about this same time cause it was in the afternoon, when they drove to pick me up. I was on sale, not for sale. That’s what dad says. Nobody really wanted me. My first family had given me away after they had a baby. I didn’t have a problem with the baby but the baby must have had a problem with me. I thought they should give the baby away but those parents didn’t agree so I got given away. Then somebody else adopted me but they only kept me for a little while and then they gave me away too. I was starting to think something was wrong with me.

Mom saw my picture on her computer. She called a lady and then she and my dad came to meet me. The next day they came to take me home. I just thought I was going to someplace else where I would live for a little while. But then, I started to like it here. I always had toys. And I had a bed. And there was always water in my bowl. Plus my mom was always kissing on me. I don’t think I ever had anybody kissing on me before.

I really wanted to stay with mom and dad and I got a little overprotective and so I got in trouble a couple of times when I’d see another golden retriever and think that maybe mom and dad were going to like that dog better. Actually I got in a lot of trouble. I started to think that if I didn’t start behaving better, I might have to go away again. I didn’t want to go away.

Mom said from the very first day that I was in my forever home but I don’t think I believed her. My dad wasn’t very happy either. I heard my mom tell him a couple times that it could take up to two years for me to finally feel like I wasn’t going anywhere ever again. I wanted to be a good boy. I just didn’t know if I knew how.

Me with my birthday cookie, sniffing the box. What is this?

Me with my nose in the box

Cookie gone! Me licking up the crumbs. I like birthday birthdays!

I think I know how now. I just be Cooper. I’m good at being Cooper. I really like being Cooper.

I’ve been Cooper for two years today. It’s my Cooper birthday. Mom said they don’t know when my real birthday is because it wasn’t in the paperwork, whatever that means. I don’t remember ever having a birthday. Probably because no body ever celebrated it before. Mom said I was six when they got me so that means I’m eight today, too. So I’m having two birthdays. Happy birthday birthday to me. I really like it here. I think I’m here forever.

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Listing to starboard

by Lorin Michel Saturday, October 18, 2014 8:16 PM

Last week, Cooper decided he didn’t like his food anymore. Or at least he started acting like he didn’t like his food anymore. How did we know this? He stopped eating. Maguire was always a grazer, munching a little bit here and there, and only finishing his food at about 3 am when he realized there was absolutely no possibility of getting any chicken or cheese or pizza bones. We have to make Cooper sit and wait while we put his food into his bowl or he’s eating it as it’s pouring from the scoop. We attribute this to the fact that he was a rescue. From everything I’ve heard and read this is very common in rescues because they’re not always fed regularly and when they are, they often have to fight to get their fair share because all of the rescues are eating at once. The survival of the biggest and most aggressive.

Because Cooper has gained some weight, he’s on prescription food. It’s dry and it’s low fat and until about last Monday, he was having no issue scoffing down a cup in the morning and another at night. But then, he decided he wasn’t going to eat anymore. Right around this same time, I also noticed that the right side of his mouth was off, literally. The rear jowl was hanging down. He was drooling badly. He started holding his head cocked to the right. Something was wrong.

We got some canned food and started mixing a little in with his dry food. That seemed to solve the eating problem. He powered through every bowl and then rubbed his face on the wall in the kitchen as usual. We refer to it as Cooper’s personal and very large napkin. But better the wall than the couches. He started playing with his toys again. But his mouth was still weird and his head was still listing to starboard.

I called the vet to make an appointment to have him checked only to be told that they couldn’t see him until Saturday at 9:30, unless it was an emergency. We decided it wasn’t really an emergency. He was eating. He was playing with wubba. He was going for his two-walks-a-day without incident.

I told Kevin that I wondered if maybe it was a bug bite. When Cooper goes out into the back yard, which is several times a day, he loves to flop down on the grass, roll onto his back and proceed to writhe and wiggle, having the time of his life. Mouth open to celebrate. I wondered if maybe something had flown into his mouth, or if he had tried to catch something flying by only to have it catch him instead.

Cooper, on his back, living it out loud

This morning Kevin left early to go look at yet another piece of equipment for his shop. I think this was a jointer, which we already have, but this one might have been better (it wasn’t; he didn’t end up buying it). I busied myself in the house, changing the sheets on the bed, finally cleaned the guest bathroom, and putting the clean sheets on that bed. Cleaned up the kitchen. At 9:15, I got Cooper ready to travel.

He’s been very good in the car lately. He climbs his steps onto the floor in the back, then hops up on to the seat. Getting him out is a bit more problematic. That entails lifting him out and depositing him back onto solid land. Hopefully without throwing my back out.

Off we went. Got to the vet, weighed him (he’s lost five pounds on his prescription food) and then went into the exam room where Dr. Olson examined him and discovered absolutely nothing wrong. She said she thought based on my description that maybe it was a bug bite or sting. She didn’t have an explanation for the right-hand lean, offering that it might be something called old dog idiopathic vestibular disease.

This happens when the part of the brain responsible for balance gets a little off balance. The dog, in turn, is off balance, acting like he’s drunk. Symptoms include a head tilt (check), an unsteady gait (no check), circling in one direction (no check), eyes moving rapidly from side to side (nope), and sudden vomiting (huh uh). Dr. Olson said that if it was idiopathic vestibular, it was an extremely mild case. Regardless, it always tends to get better on its own so there was really nothing to be done.

I wondered if maybe Cooper was taking Arizona politics to heart but decided he was still my little democratic boy. I just need to work on getting him to list to port.

The healing power of the scrambled egg

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 8, 2014 10:36 PM

Cooper hasn’t been his normal hound dog self when it comes to eating, which is, I suppose, an insult to hound dogs and I don’t mean it that way. I love all dogs equally. Well, maybe not chihuahuas, but still. Hound dog usually implies aggressive, in your face, power eater. This is how Cooper usually eats. He powers through his food. We have to make him sit while we put the food into his bowl or he’s already eating it as it’s pouring from the scoop. The last few days, though, he’s been largely uninterested. With the exception of his Zuke’s hip action cookie (with glucosamine and condroitin), he’s hardly touched it.

I worry. When my boy starts doing something out of the ordinary, out of character, and out of routine, I get concerned. Dogs are all about routine. The walk happens at the same time each day. We go on the same route. We come in the same door. We go to the same place so the leash can be removed. A drink is had while food is being scooped. All of this has happened. It’s the food being scooped part where the routine begins to change.

I put food in his bowl last night, topped with the hip cookie. He ate the hip cookie. This morning, the food was still in the bowl so I put a hip cookie on top. He ate the hip cookie. Worried.

He’s not acting sick at all. He trots along quite merrily on his walks, doing his usual sniff and pee and go. He’s been playing with his toys. He races through the house carrying wubba and then whips the poor guy back and forth a few times, throwing him up in the air. Sometimes he catches wubba, but not always. This, too, is fairly normal.

So this morning, because of the worried thing, I decided he had to have something to eat other than glucosamine and condroitin, so I did what any dog-mom would do. I scrambled him an egg. It’s morning after all.

There’s something about a scrambled egg that just seems to heal the soul if not the tummy, especially where dogs are concerned. When we had Maguire and he would be having an off-day, I always scrambled him an egg which he would scoff down. If he was really sick, I would boil some chicken. It always seemed to calm his stomach. When he had his seizures and was still in the emergency hospital, I boiled some chicken and took it to him. I think I convinced myself that he would eat it. I thought that if he did, then he would get better. He had never turned down boiled chicken in the 15 years we’d had him. He turned it down that day, and we lost him several days later.

Cooper is not nearly as sick as Maguire. In fact, I’m not sure he’s sick at all. But there’s something off, and in my capacity as puppy mom, I figured that it could maybe be healed with a scrambled egg.

Just one egg. A touch of half and half, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, scrambled up in just a little bit of butter. It’s bland. It’s warm. But it’s comforting. Cooper sat and watched me scramble. He waited while I put the concoction on a plate and waited a bit more while it cooled. Then he slurped it all up, ran his face against the wall to wipe his whiskers, and settled down for a nap. I have no idea if it will help him feel better. For all I know, he’ll hold out for the boiled chicken for dinner.

Like his predecessor, he has me completely wrapped around his little paw. And unsurprisingly, I’m just fine with that.

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