Friday, June 29, 2007

Wandered into some trouble

Around 6:30 Sunday evening, my husband was working in the yard, and the dogs were outside off their leashes. We don’t have a fence, but Suzie has lived with us long enough she knows where the boundaries are. Duncan though, hasn’t learned them yet. My husband turned his back to look for something in the garage, and apparently he was turned around for longer than he thought. In that time, Duncan wandered into the street and got hit by a car.

The neighbor saw him get hit, but didn’t know whose dog it was until my husband went looking for Duncan and asked him about it. “Yeah,” he said, “I did see a little white dog get hit by a car and then he bolted.” They went looking for Duncan, and realized that Suzie might follow them into neighbors’ yards so my husband brought her back to the house. He went looking some more, and when he still didn’t find the dog he turned towards home to tell me what happened and to ask for my help to find Duncan. When he got to the door, Duncan was there waiting to be let inside.

About 7:00 he told me that “my little one” as he said, had been hit by a car, I was in disbelief. Because I didn’t see the dog, at this point I had no idea how badly he was hurt or even if he was alive. My face drained, my chest felt like I’d been punched, and at first all I could think about was how I was going to tell the Humane Society about it. They had asked for a picture and a brief update after he was home with us for a while, and how could I possibly tell them that we’d allowed this to happen?

Duncan made it up the stairs and ran to me. I checked him over and he didn’t seem to have any serious injuries. There was some blood, so I put him in the sink to find out how bad it was. It was just a scrape, and otherwise he was fine. My husband went back to the neighbor's to report the good news. The neighbor was really mad at the driver, who didn't even slow down. Duncan had been in the lane for so long that the driver either hit him on purpose or had his eyes off the road for way too long. He told the story of his terrier that was killed by a car on that road just a few years ago, during the Super Bowl no less so that day turned really sad really fast.

Over the next couple of hours, I spoke with my mom and read some articles on the web – the potential for internal injuries got me worried, and I started looking for signs. He was acting like he was in pain, laying down a lot, and his eye was twitching a little.

So by 9:00 decided to take him to the animal hospital. There are lots of vets in our area who use the words “animal hospital” when they name the practice – so I thought there would be a lot of nearby options for treatment. But when I called around, all of the after-hours recordings were sending me to just three 24/7 emergency rooms in the area. One is on the shore an hour away, one is in South Jersey 45 minutes away, and one is in Philadelphia (across the river, past a $3 toll, and in the next state) that was only 40 minutes away. So we went to Philadelphia. I was really surprised that there was nothing closer than this.

On the way there, I explained to my husband that I was glad we were going. Even though we were pretty sure he was fine, and we knew it would be expensive, it was worth it to know he was okay. I would have worried about him all night otherwise. And I explained how much I had invested in this dog, both emotionally and financially. We had looked for him for a long time, I had driven a long way and taken time off work to go get him, we had paid a lot of money to adopt him, and I was really attached at the heart.

We got there a little before 10:00. After they took him and determined he was not in immediate danger, we had to sit in the waiting room for a long time waiting for a more thorough exam – lots of other animals were coming in that night that were in very bad straits. One dog came in very sick and bleeding out, and he didn’t make it. The teenage girl that had brought that dog was just bawling in the lobby, very distraught over her sudden loss. I told my husband that I would act that way too if our dog died.

“Really? You’re that much attached?”
“Yes, remember how I told you there was a lot invested in him?”
“I didn’t know it was THAT much.”
“Yeah, it’s that much.”
“We need to get a fence.”

It was tough to sit in the waiting room and watch all the other anxious owners, and to see all the animals that were really bad off. It was a very tense two hours.

But the vet told us our dog was unscathed, a little bruised, his bloodwork was normal, and he sent us home with a course of anti-inflammatory meds. He advised us to watch Duncan’s breathing over the next day or two because sometimes those problems only show up over time. Whew! $135 later, at about midnight, we were out of there.

And then in the car on the way home:
Hubby: “And we need to get him microchipped.”
Me: “We sure do. We don’t want him to get hurt or lost.”
“I worry more about YOU than him. If he got hurt or lost, now I know how much crying I would have to deal with!”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Our new adopted quadruped mammal

On Tuesday I checked my email and read about a Cavachon in a Humane Society shelter in northern New Jersey. We've been looking for one of these dogs for months, and were about to resort to paying a breeder over $1000 for a puppy. But wouldn't it be great to help a doggie who needs a home, and save money to boot? So we kept waiting and our patience paid off:

He's between 2 and 3 years old, and his previous owner named him Rocky. We changed his name to Duncan. He was brought to the shelter because his human parents were working too much, leaving him alone 10+ hours a day. He cried all day every day, and was becoming destructive. We don't have that problem, so he's perfect for us! Here he is an hour after I brought him into the house:

He's a bit timid and behaves as though he's probably gotten smacked in the past. Duncan is a very mellow boy. He loves to curl up behind my knees and rest his adorable chin on my ankles. There's almost nothing more endearing that a doggie could do! My mom's dog is a 3-year-old field trial labrador (HIGH energy) is just tormenting him. She wants to sniff him, mount him, and otherwise demonstrate her dominance. We have been able to keep her under control with close supervision, and by separating them when we're away. We'll start working with them both this weekend, with the aim to make them buddies -- on equal ground with no aggressive dominance and no fearful submission. It might take more than one weekend, but we'll get there. We have to!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Our new bikes

The latest exciting thing to happen in our house is that my husband and I got new bicycles. Good ones, bought at a bike shop and not the Wal-Mart. Finally I'm starting to get the exercise I really need! We usually ride for 20-30 minutes most days of the week, which is plenty of exercise to keep my heart healthy and hopefully to lose some weight.

One of my favorite things to do is to lead him onto streets that he doesn't know, and get him to admit that he has no idea where we are. And then just around the corner he sees a landmark he recognizes, and now he knows how to get home. I teach him new streets every time we go out! It won't be long before I'll have to take 40 minute rides with him in order to keep finding new streets.

We look like total dorks I'm sure. We both wear helmets to protect our wise brains, and we just bought some proper clothing last weekend. It's no fun to bike in cargo shorts that keep riding up your legs the whole time. And in a T-shirt that sticks to your back when it gets sweaty. So now we've got some high-tech stretchy breathable fabrics to ride in.

The bikes we picked are called Comfort Hybrids, which is a combination of beach cruiser plus racing bike plus mountain bike. They took some key features from each type of bike and put it all in one. They're from a company in Europe called Specialized. I was disappointed when I checked Consumer Reports (AFTER the purchase, of course) and saw that my bike was rated lowest of all the hybrid bikes they tested. Mostly it was because of the shifting that it got low marks. I'm starting to have difficulty with my shifters, but it seems like an adjustment is needed and not a whole new bike. I'm just outside the return period though, so it makes me a little nervous to be having these problems at this point. Really, I hope it's just an adjustment.

And the other exciting news in our house is the discovery of a great recipe. It's a copycat recipe to duplicate the Mustard'n CurryTM sauce at Chicken Kitchen. We loved that place in college, but they don't have any of them where we live now. We're still tweaking the recipe, but if you want a copy just send me an email.