controversies, dogs, ethics, healthcare

The surprising judgment that comes with seeking advanced veterinary care…

The featured photo is of Arran and Bill, just a few days ago… As you can see, they love each other very much. Arran is glad to be here with his favorite person. I’m glad we can afford to treat his cancer and keep him comfortable for a little while longer. And I’m grateful that living in Germany allows this outcome for us.

A month ago, I wrote a post about our decision to treat our dog, Arran, for B-cell lymphoma. I was inspired to write that post after reading an article in the Washington Post about the cost of treating major diseases in pets. The article in the WaPo was written by Kim Kavin, whose dog, Blue, was diagnosed with cancer. She decided to pull out all the stops to treat Blue, and it cost a lot of money. Blue initially responded to the treatment, but then suffered a relapse when the cancer came roaring back with a vengeance. Kavin’s piece ran in the paper, and lots of people had negative opinions about it. I felt badly that she was getting so many brutal comments, so I wrote my own post about our decision to treat Arran.

At this writing, Arran has had six chemo treatments. If we hadn’t done these treatments, I feel pretty sure he would have died by now. When we started the chemotherapy on October 13th, he was starting to get sick. He wasn’t eating much, and looked very sad. He spent a lot of time sleeping, and could barely manage a short walk around the block. Now, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, jumps on the furniture, and tears things up. The chemotherapy hasn’t made him feel sick. The only thing I’ve noticed is that he sleeps a bit after he gets Vincristine and/or Endoxan. But he doesn’t have diarrhea or issues with vomiting. He hasn’t lost his fur. He doesn’t even have to take medication every day. And you’d never know he has cancer.

What has his treatment cost us so far? So far, we’ve paid for six weeks of treatment, which consists of weekly IV pushes of Vinistrine, a chemo drug. He takes two Endoxan pills per week– on Thursdays and Saturdays. Every other day, he takes three 5 milligram tablets of Prednisolone. This regime will continue for another two weeks, and then it will change to one that is less extreme. Total cost here in Germany? Still less than 1000 euros. And he feels much better with a great quality of life, while we’ve been able to enjoy his company for a little bit longer. I think he’ll make it to his tenth anniversary with us. That’s all we could have ever hoped for.

This was Arran’s first chemo bill. It covers two treatments. As you can see, it’s very reasonable. The following week, we were billed another 445 euros for four more treatments.

A couple of days ago, The Atlantic ran a story titled “How Much Would You Pay to Save Your Cat’s Life?”, by Sarah Zhang. The story was about the veterinary hospitals in the United States that give cats kidney transplants to save their lives. Their owners shell out $15,000 for the surgery, which involves using a donor cat’s kidney, implanting it in an often elderly cat. Many times, the owners end up adopting the donor cats, too, as they are typically young and healthy and in need of a home. As it is for most humans, cats can get by just fine with one kidney. In one case, the prospective donor got adopted anyway, when the cat that needed a kidney passed from heart failure before the surgery could be done.

It was noted in the article that kidney transplants are the only transplant surgeries available to cats. The donors are not killed. Apparently, transplants are not yet available for dogs, because “the canine immune system is unusually reactive, leading to kidney rejection.”

Zhang wrote about a 16 year old cat named Strawberry who got a new kidney. Strawberry’s owner did not want to be identified, as she feared backlash from people about the cost. The surgery alone costs $15,000, but with travel, follow-up care, and other costs, it can end up being twice as expensive. And Strawberry’s owner didn’t want to deal with a bunch of negativity about her choice to spend that money. Zhang writes that she interviewed a dozen cat owners who had opted for the surgery and also wanted to remain anonymous. One person quipped, “I wouldn’t think of saying to somebody, ‘Wow, that’s an expensive car,’  But people seem pretty free to say, ‘Wow, you spent a lot of money on a cat.’ ”

I remember the very negative and judgmental comments on Kavin’s article in the Washington Post. I expected to see similar comments on The Atlantic’s article. Much to my surprise and delight, The Atlantic’s readers seem to be a lot more open-minded. Or, at least they aren’t as full of judgmental bile about what people will spend their money on, as well as the mistaken belief that cancer treatment is always unpleasant and leads to sickness, as it often does in humans. And one person wrote a very astute comment, which I think really highlights why people tend to have strong reactions to other people’s choices to treat illnesses like cancer in their pets. Facebook user Isaac Suárez wrote:

The issue is not “is a cat’s life worth saving.” A cat is a companion, to be loved and cared for. There is no shame in wanting to preserve this bond and prevent unnecessary suffering.

Rather, the judgement comes from the fact that some have $15k to burn on pet care while the vast majority of people don’t. I know many people who’d happily pay the price to help a friend; I know very few who have the money to do so.

Sadly, a cat with kidney failure is just one of innumerable occasions where the stark class divide of our country manifests. Instead of talking about “are cats worth the price” we should be asking “why is the price so high” and “why do some people have the freedom to make this choice when the vast majority don’t?” As with many topics covered by Atlantic, the question is misframed and a valuable opportunity to address a visceral and important issue is sidestepped.

Another Facebook user liked Isaac’s comment, and responded thusly:

Brilliant and eloquent response! Its heartbreaking that so many must choose to have their beloved pet euthanized because the treatment cannot be afforded or people take on a hideous amount if debt in order to save their pet. Either way, there is a great deal of needless pain.

I also really related to Isaac’s comment, especially as an American who lives in a country where healthcare and veterinary treatments are much more reasonably priced than they are in the United States. If Bill and I were living in the United States, Arran’s treatment would no doubt cost a whole lot more. It would probably be undertaken at a high speed referral center, rather than at our local vet’s office. And we would be paying much more for his medications, as well as every single thing that would be done for him. We love Arran very much, but we’re practical people. He’s already an old guy. I can’t see us spending many thousands of dollars to keep him going. But in Germany, we can easily afford the treatment, and it makes him feel better. So he gets this comfort care at the end of his life, which will allow him more time with us, and give the vet more valuable experience treating lymphoma. It’s a win-win.

Arran and Noyzi welcome us home two weeks ago. You’d never know Arran has cancer, thanks to canine chemo. Isn’t this a result worth paying for? Especially when it’s pretty reasonably priced?

Many Americans resent how some people can afford to provide such advanced care for a pet, while human beings are going without care because they can’t afford it. And yet, so many people continue to vote for the same leaders, who do nothing about this problem. The United States is among the richest countries in the world, yet so many Americans lack the ability to pay for their own healthcare, let alone that of their pet’s. But a lot of us would never bat an eye at buying the latest iPad or tennis shoes. We don’t roll our eyes when a neighbor takes a trip to Hawaii or buys a Tesla. A pet can give a family intangible things that an iPad or a Tesla never can. Why should anyone be ashamed to spend money on their best friends? And why should anyone feel the need to judge someone negatively for making that choice? It’s not as if that person who can afford the advanced veterinary treatment for their dog or cat is going to be paying for their neighbor’s treatment.

I am probably not one of those people who would opt for a kitty kidney transplant, especially on a cat who is 16 years old. But now that I’ve experienced giving a dog chemo, I might opt to do it again for another dog… if I think the dog is well enough to be treated and wants to fight. I would probably pay a fair amount for that option, even if I’m living in the United States, where it will undoubtedly cost a lot more. Here in Germany, it’s a no brainer to give chemo a chance, although not all dogs respond the way Arran has. The response depends a lot on the animal and the type of disease. In Arran’s case, he is resilient, and he has a type of lymphoma that responds to treatment. We have the money. Why not treat it? What makes it any different than treating him for heartworms or diabetes or any other disease that people don’t think twice about treating in their pets? And if someone else has the ability and the desire to pay for advanced treatment for their cat, who am I to judge them? I’m not involved in the aftermath of that decision, and it’s really none of my business.

Anyway… I found Sarah Zhang’s article thought provoking on many levels, especially since we’re dealing with a pet who has cancer now. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, but he’s the first one we’ve been able to do anything for… and it really does feel good to do something. I can see, every day, that Arran is glad to be here. No, it’s not fun for him to get intravenous medications every week, but that’s only for about a half an hour. In a couple of weeks, he’ll be getting the IV meds less frequently. We’ll see how long he can make it before it’s time to let him go. I’m just glad we have the luxury of being able to prepare for the end, and enjoying every minute with our beloved Arran. If we weren’t in Germany, I’m not sure we’d have that. This shouldn’t be something that other people judge us negatively for doing, simply because our healthcare system is so fucked up and prices for humans and animals needing medical care are so ridiculously high. It seems to me that Americans ought to be demanding lower healthcare costs. I know that’s the way I’m going to be voting from now on.

Standard
communication, dogs, Germany, social media

No need to shoot the messenger…

This post could just as easily work in my travel blog, but I am currently working on my latest travel series, and I don’t want to break it up with this post. Also, I like to keep things as non-controversial as possible on that blog. This post could wind up being contentious.

I currently live in Germany. I live here courtesy of Bill’s employment. He’s a retired Army officer who found work here after he finished his Army career. I had wanted to come back to Germany because we had to leave early when Bill was last posted here with the Army. He was actually posted to Germany with the Army twice, but we didn’t know each other during his first stint, which was back in the late 1980s. Anyway, even though I had wanted to move back here to Germany, I didn’t bank on us doing that. I actually had expected us to buy a house– probably in Texas– and settle there. In retrospect, I thank God that didn’t happen. My opinion of Texas has taken a huge tumble since 2014.

When we moved here in 2014, I never expected we’d still be here in 2022. Granted, yes, we did move from Stuttgart from Wiesbaden… and although I was a bit angsty about the move in 2018, I’m now very grateful we moved. Moving helped me make some changes in my Facebook habits. I quit following most of the military groups, for instance. I have found that it’s given me a lot more peace.

For many reasons, I don’t really fit in with the military crowd, even though I was raised by an Air Force officer and have spent my whole life around military folks. I tend to have more liberal political leanings. I am older, and don’t have children. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have several college degrees, which isn’t necessarily a rarity among today’s military spouses, but having a lot of formal education is less common than it is common. A lot of people, especially in the military community, find me obnoxious or annoying. I suspect it’s because a lot of them have trouble dealing with strong and/or opinionated women, especially when the women are also formally educated, and especially when they are professionals. It is what it is.

Last night, I witnessed a professional woman working in the military community being berated. It was kind of a perfect storm– a woman who is passionate about her work as a professional dog trainer was trying to do a good thing. She ended up upsetting someone, who– I think– got his panties in a huge wad over something that, in the grand scheme of things, had little to do with him. The dog trainer really did appear to be trying to do the right thing, and the guy she inadvertently upset took her comments very personally and made a big stink. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in Facebook groups that involve the military, although in this case, I don’t think the man involved was ever in the military. However, he was kind of acting like some of the worst offenders in some of the military groups.

As we all know, it’s holiday time. That means a lot of people are wanting to travel. For those of us who have pets, travel can be difficult, especially when it involves flying to the US or other parts of the world. Many people in the US military community have limited incomes or want to travel on a whim. These two things can make them inadvertently break German laws regarding dog ownership. A lot of Americans will ask for people to come to their homes to feed and walk their dogs, rather than boarding them, or having the dog stay with someone, or having someone stay at their home. While this is not something I would ever feel comfortable doing myself, I know a lot of people in the States are perfectly okay with this arrangement. However– it’s against German law to leave dogs alone for hours on end.

A couple of people in our local pet group posted requests for people to come let their dogs out and feed them. The dog training lady, who is American but has lived in Germany for years, pointed out that simply having people come to the house to feed and walk the dog is illegal here. On one post, the original author was grateful for the clarification and open to suggestions. But then there was another post. See below:

hello! I will be in the States Dec 5-9.

We need someone to come take our dogs out to the enclosed yard DEC 6/7/8/9 to poop and pee and get some loving around 12n 1300 each day. (30min or so). We live in

Nothing more than inside playing with the 3 and making sure all

go out into the yard for pee & poo

The dog trainer lady, understandably, thought this was yet another solicitation for someone to just come over to feed and toilet the dogs. So she left a comment.

HBB= home based business. I also agree that the initial post made it sound like no one else would be home. I have a degree in English, so I don’t think I have an issue understanding grammar. A lot of people in the military community don’t have both spouses working and would travel together. This gent obviously doesn’t have a household like that, but that wasn’t clear from the initial post.

So anyway, the dog trainer lady then made a general “blast” announcement. She didn’t call out anyone specific in her post, and what she wrote wasn’t incorrect. See below:

Hello everyone,

I have met the most amazing dog owners who I work with in this community and I think the majority are absolutely wonderful.

However, as a professional dog trainer and behaviourist, it’s important that I try to inform as many dog/pet owners as possible that it is very unhealthy and cruel to leave your dogs alone at your home when you are out of town. It is not enough to just have someone stop by to let them out and feed them!

There are other options to board or have someone stay at your home if you plan enough ahead.

The gentleman who got upset with the trainer for misunderstanding his situation apparently felt “seen” and shamed. So, amid the people who were praising the trainer for her informative post, he added his own comment.

Oh wow. 

READ MY POST and use the grammar you learned in school. 

We have lived in Germany over 6 years. 

We know how to take care of our dogs and again, anyone can look at my original post and detect the difference between “I will be gone” and “We need help”

We are not stupid. 

Get a life.

I don’t quite understand why it was necessary to get this pissy over the dog trainer’s post. She didn’t specifically call the guy out, and there have been multiple requests in the group for people to come to community members’ homes and take care of their animals without actually staying over. Moreover, what the trainer wrote isn’t wrong. If someone feels “seen” or “judged” by what she wrote, maybe they should take a look at themselves… or realize that sometimes your actual meaning will get lost in what you write in a Facebook post, even when you do your best to be clear (which I don’t think this fellow did). It doesn’t mean someone is stupid or uneducated, nor does it warrant “shooting the messenger”. They had a miscommunication. It happens. That doesn’t require acting like your sandy undies are lodged way up your ass.

I felt the need to leave a comment, so I did… and I have to admit, I was a little nervous in doing so, because people tend to think I’m “uppity” or whatever. This was my comment:

I don’t think she’s calling out anyone specific. It’s pretty common for some folks in the military community to leave their dogs at home and just have people come by. It’s not an uncommon practice in the US, and some people just do what they always do at home.

I’ve lived in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden for ten years total, and I have seen people do this in both places. There’s no need to take things personally or shoot the messenger. The fact is, she’s right. It’s not legal to leave your dog alone for hours. She’s not wrong to point it out. Maybe her post will help prevent someone getting in trouble with their neighbors, landlord, the police, or all three. 

It’s also not legal to spank your kids here, but mention that in a military group and see how quickly things go south! 

Other people left comments lamenting how expensive and difficult it is to find appropriate pet sitters for when they want or need to travel. I totally understand that. To one lady who commented on that issue, I wrote this story:

I get it, however, there is another solution to this wanting to travel/lack of pet care situation. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, we used a boarding facility that was fabulous. In the five years we were gone, the lady who made it fabulous left. A new person, who was nice but not very competent, came on board.

It didn’t take long before that facility, which had once been highly regarded, fell into severe disrepute. My husband actually knew a guy whose dog DIED in their care. I knew someone whose dog got hurt and had to be euthanized. Other people’s dogs got very sick because they didn’t take care of them properly. This was especially true for any dog that needed medications, or other special care. Lots of people, understandably, quit booking there. 

So we switched facilities, as did a lot of other people. That led to having to book our spots ages in advance, if we were going on a cruise or somewhere on a plane. 

You know what we did? We started bringing our dogs with us. It was pretty great, too, because we found places we never would have gone to if we hadn’t brought our dogs. One of my favorite vacation memories is of a rabbit and snail farm in rural France. It was a really cool place with alpacas, goats, horses, and an awesome donkey named Antoine. We never would have gone there if not for our dogs coming with us. We had a great time, and so did our dogs. One of those dogs is now at the Rainbow Bridge, but I have great memories of him in France with us and the awesome donkey. 

Last week, we went to Ribeauville for the sixth time to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Why? Because one of our dogs is currently having chemo and I didn’t want him to be boarded. But I still wanted to celebrate our milestone anniversary. So he and our other dog— a mammoth sized street dog from Kosovo who takes up the whole back end of our Volvo— came with us. It was the Kosovo dog’s first trip, but I knew where we were going was very pet friendly. We went, had a great time, and our chemo dog got care from us, while the street dog finally learned to poop on the leash.

Pet boarding is always going to be tough. It’s not as bad here as it was in Stuttgart, when that place went into disrepute. When it comes down to it, though, it’s our responsibility as pet owners. The lovely thing about Europe is that, if need be, you can take them with you. And if anyone wants the link for where we stayed in Ribeauville, just let me know. The landlord is VERY pet friendly and his wife won’t let him have a dog.

She wrote that she has a very large dog, so she can’t travel with the dog so easily. I get that… and I understand that sometimes situations and circumstances lead people to adopt dogs that might be hard to travel with due to their breed, size, or other issues. But when it comes down to it, it’s our responsibility as dog owners to follow the laws. Many Germans, especially in military towns, already think Americans are irresponsible pet owners. The practice of leaving dogs alone for an excessive number of hours (more than five) doesn’t help repair that image. I do empathize, though. Especially when someone is single and has a dog, but has to work a lot. I am home almost all the time, and in all of the German villages where I’ve lived, someone has commented on my dogs’ barking. The most recent comment came from my next door neighbor’s mother, who is also a neighbor. They have a labrador who barks all the time, too.

Other people tried to diffuse the situation a bit. But the guy who was pissed at the trainer wasn’t moved, as you can see below.

Actually, she didn’t call him irresponsible. She said the practice of leaving a dog home alone while you vacation is cruel and irresponsible. And it is. But he hadn’t yet clarified his situation when she posted that comment. Then she advised him to be clearer about his situation, which obviously really upset him.

I would have thought that this would be the end of the spat, but no… the guy posted again– another separate post about how insulted he was by the situation.

Thank you for everyone who responded to my post about needing someone to visit & play with OUR dogs for MY trip to the states the first week of December.

WE have found someone who can take OUR 3 doggies out for the days I will not be in town and my partner can’t make it home during the day.

SO unfortunate others weren’t able to read my intent in my original post but I’m thrilled with those that stepped up to help. Whilst my initial punctuation was not correct, my grammar was.

Oh, and again, HBB business owners should never try and insult potential clients publicly. Get your facts straight before you call pet owners irresponsible.

Have a great night all!

Mmm’kay… well, I don’t know about how this came across to other people, but I don’t think the dog trainer was insulting him, personally. She was criticizing the practice of leaving dogs home alone for too many hours, which many Americans are guilty of doing. Here’s another post that appeared last night, as proof:

Please delete if not allowed but there has been hours of what sounds like 2 dogs barking and crying. This is not the first time this has happened (last time it occurred all night until 730am). The barking is coming from the area surrounding the playground at the top of Arizona/Virginia/Texas Strasse. As much as it is loud and makes it hard to sleep, I am genuinely concerned for these dogs.

It’s 12:50 am right now.

The dog trainer obviously didn’t know the guy from Adam when he first posted, and his initial post wasn’t that clear that someone would be home at night. But he took what she wrote as a personal insult, when it probably wasn’t meant that way at all. And then he turned into a proper jerk with the above comments in a follow up post, highlighting his grammar as if people are intellectually delayed and need the emphasis. I didn’t write this thought in his post, because I have no interest in engaging with someone that thin skinned, but my response to him would be that I would hope a dog trainer running a home based business in Germany would care enough to know the local laws regarding dog ownership and point them out, even if potential clients are “offended” or insulted. And honestly, I would not want this guy as a client, because he obviously has a pretty short fuse and is unreasonable. There was no need for this situation to blow up in the way it did. Imagine his reaction if something were to go wrong when he hires someone to take care of his dogs. He’s probably very litigious. He would not have liked Max, our sitter in Stuttgart, who was very free about lecturing us, sometimes unnecessarily. Yes, it was annoying and kind of insulting at the time, but he wasn’t wrong to do it. He had our dogs’ welfare in mind, which is a quality I highly regard in someone who makes their living taking care of or training dogs.

Should the dog trainer been a little more careful about her comment being seen as an accusation? Maybe… because obviously, some people are going to take offense when none is really intended. He clarified the situation, and she recommended that he add that to his original post so people wouldn’t make erroneous assumptions. He could have just done that and been done with the drama. Instead, he chose to get really offended and go on the warpath, insulting the dog trainer by insinuating that she’s uneducated. In the process, I learned a lot about him that wasn’t very flattering. He’s evidently a very rude person, which is interesting, given that according to his profile, he’s made his living in customer service.

What makes this worse is that someone else piled on with the pissy guy, agreeing that the dog trainer was “shaming” and lording her profession over “parents of fur babies”, who love their dogs but don’t always follow host nation rules. It’s the same kind of shit I’ve gotten in a lot of military groups, because as a woman and a “dependa”, I am supposed to just shut up and color, rather than express an opinion or be myself. I think the person who made the comment about being a parent of fur babies is someone who has bought into the mindset that no one should claim to be an expert, because it makes them feel inferior. Seriously… this is a thing in military communities. People get threatened by professionals and/or educated people, especially when the person who is educated is a woman. Military communities tend to be quite sexist.

I really didn’t think the dog trainer was “condemning” anyone in her “blast” post. Her comment to the pissy guy was a little less friendly, but my guess that came from the frustration of seeing a bunch of people asking for drop by dog sitting, rather than having someone stay with the dogs. Granted, she misinterpreted his initial post, but I can see how that happened. His initial post wasn’t absolutely clear. I got the same impression the dog trainer did.

To be clear– the original poster– the pissy guy– does not appear to be military affiliated. But his adversarial attitude is one that is very common in military groups. It’s not productive. And it added fuel to a post that, in my opinion, really should not have been controversial at all. Instead of just leaving a reasonable response and extending some grace, he got very offended by what he saw as a stranger insulting him. The woman who sided with pissy guy is still arguing about what the local laws are. She insists that dogs aren’t to be left alone, crated. I can tell her that the Germans in my neighborhood don’t hesitate to say something when dogs are howling, even if they, themselves, have dogs that howl and bark. 😉 It doesn’t matter if the dog is crated. If your dog is making a lot of noise and you have uptight neighbors, you might wind up hearing from the police. So knowing and heeding the laws is a good practice, even if it’s not what you’d do at home in America. And if a professional dog trainer doesn’t know, and/or isn’t advocating for following the laws, that’s a much bigger issue than “insulting” or offending potential clients. Just my opinion. 😉

Anyway… this kind of ridiculous crap is why I now avoid military affiliated Facebook groups, except for the one I run… which doesn’t tend to be very controversial, since it’s about food and wine. But even in that group, sometimes I have to clean house.

Standard
disasters, dogs, Ex, music

“I was a fool to care”…

We’re back from our few days of whimsy in France, capped off by a concert by James Taylor. We came home last night from the show to find that Arran made a big mess. First, there was a pile of crap on the rug. I cleaned that up, as Bill discovered the mess he left in the basement, after breaking through the flimsy barrier Bill tried to erect. We keep some food in the basement, because like most German houses, this house lacks a proper pantry.

Arran got into noodles, old taco shells, chocolate drink mix (which he didn’t seem to get much of, thankfully), and graham crackers. There was chewed up cardboard and plastic everywhere, as well as drink powder, smashed pasta, and other assorted debris that we cleaned up at 11:00pm. Then, I discovered a pee spot on the same rug Arran has designated his own private indoor Klo (German for potty). I don’t know why, but he always chooses my favorite rugs to befoul. The funny thing is, it appeared that Noyzi had nothing whatsoever to do with the mischief making. He was in his bed when we got home, apparently long asleep. He saw me, wagged his tail, and asked for a belly rub.

Arran has always done this kind of stuff, given an opportunity, but the steroid meds he takes make him even hungrier and more determined than ever. Fortunately, he seems to be suffering no ill effects today. Bill usually does a very obsessive job of “beagle proofing” before we go out anywhere. He takes everything up from under the counter and puts the stuff in the bathroom or on top of the counter. And he makes a point of putting the most dangerous stuff in cupboards or high shelves.

Arran tried very hard to make up with me after trashing the basement and befouling my rug.

Unfortunately, we had forgotten about some stuff in the basement that’s been there awhile. We don’t have a door to stop Arran from going down there, though we do use a baby gate. He managed to push past it, even though Bill parked a crate of beer behind it. I guess we’re going to have to build a wall… or maybe invest in a Schrank (portable cupboard). It’s a good thing I don’t go out that often.

In spite of his raid on our dry goods, Arran seems to be fine today. He slept through the night and eagerly ate his breakfast. He could tell I was pissed at him last night, and snuggled next to me, because obviously he couldn’t help himself. Poor guy. We got the bills for his last four chemo treatments. They came to about 445 euros. Added to the first bill, which was under 300 euros, I can still say that German chemo for dogs is very reasonably priced. And even though Arran is naughtier than ever, it’s restored him to his old self… at least temporarily. So, we’ll take it and try to enjoy him, even though he really can be a little shit sometimes. But then, that’s part of his charm.

Now, to address today’s blog post title…

As I mentioned last night, Bill and I saw James Taylor perform. This show was originally supposed to happen in February 2022, but COVID numbers were too high at that time, so it was postponed until November 8. Then, James got COVID and had to cancel several shows. Luckily, Frankfurt wasn’t cancelled, but it was postponed. So we went last night and had a really good time. I see from Setlist.fm that James cut a few songs from the show– songs he did in Stuttgart, which was the last show he did before he got sick. Still, it was an excellent concert, and we were happy with the songs he did perform. There was no need for him to do more, especially since I could see that he was probably still a little fatigued from COVID. He still seemed a little pale and shaky to me, but it didn’t stop him from singing, playing, and jumping around the stage like a younger man. And as a fan since, at least, the late 70s, I left the concert hall very satisfied. I was particularly impressed that he took the time to sign a lot of stuff for his fans. I chose not to try for an autograph myself, but I enjoyed seeing how happy he made some of the other concertgoers. James Taylor obviously loves what he does, and that is a joy to see. He’s a lucky man, but we are just as lucky to witness him doing what he was obviously born to do.

One song James didn’t play was one from the 70s called “I Was a Fool to Care”. This song, from Gorilla, an album he released in 1975, was performed at a show in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2015. He looks a bit haler in the video below…

Here, he has a full band. Last night was a more pared down production, but I was in the second row, which was a great experience.

This song is about unrequited love– a man realizes that the woman he loves is not really worthy of his love. She lies and cheats. He’s heard about it through the grapevine, but brushed the warnings aside, even though she’s not a good person. He loves her anyway, even though it’s obvious she’s a liar who is using him, playing him for a fool. I’m not in a situation like that. Thankfully, I managed to find a good partner, and we love and trust each other. However, we both came with baggage… and that includes people on either side of our families who probably aren’t worth so much of our love and attention. It’s hard, though, not to care, if you are naturally a caring, decent person. Or even if you care about other people’s opinions of you…

Recently, I wrote about how my husband’s former wife has “targeted” his stepmother for financial “assistance”. I first noticed it (this time) in the spring. I write “this time” in parentheses, because Ex has a history of using people. She has used Bill’s stepmother repeatedly. In the past, nothing has really been done about it, because Ex has a way of shell-shocking people into being silent. However, we have been on the receiving end of complaints about how ungrateful and unkind Ex is. We have seen, personally, how she has used Bill’s father and stepmother for money and material goods, as well as manipulative tools/flying monkeys against her victims. And now, since he reconnected with his daughter, we’ve heard that this shit has been ongoing with a number of victims, some of whom are elderly and/or infirm.

At least one of the things Ex has been accused of doing is a felony. If she was to be caught and prosecuted, she could be heavily fined and/or spend several years in prison. Ex’s husband works in healthcare, and she has had elderly relatives living with her. She also has two children in the home who have different levels of autism, for whom she receives money from the state. I don’t know if either of them take medication, but I do know that at least one of the elderly relatives was prescribed opiates. And Ex allegedly helped herself to them, which is illegal and potentially dangerous.

As I write this post, I’m remembering that around the time she was bugging SMIL, Ex was also talking about getting a dog for her son. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t cause too much alarm… except that dogs can be exploited for drugs, too. As I was looking up laws where Ex lives, I ran across a 2017 article from the Washington Post about people who use their pets to get prescription meds. I don’t see a gift option for this article, so below are a few excerpts:

Last year in Virginia, a dog owner took his boxer to six veterinarians to get anti-anxiety pills and painkillers for his own use before he was caught, according to Fairfax County police, who said the owner was eventually charged with prescription fraud.

In Kentucky in 2014, a woman was accused of cutting her golden retriever twice with a razor so she could get drugs. And in the early 2000s, a man in Ohio allegedly taught his dog to cough on cue so the owner could get hydrocodone.

Such cases are believed to be rare, but authorities are working to cut off the supply of abused drugs. The Fairfax County Police Department recently published a brochure showing veterinarians how to spot a “vet shopper.”

The clues include: new patients bringing in seriously injured animals, requesting certain medications by name, seeking early refills of prescriptions and claiming that medications had been lost or stolen.

The Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine issued emergency regulations in June limiting the duration of prescriptions that may be ordered for controlled substances. A vet may provide a seven-day supply and a seven-day refill only after reevaluating the animal.

For chronic conditions, the vet may prescribe an opioid for six months but must see and reevaluate the animal before prescribing more.

I absolutely do think Ex is capable of this kind of fuckery. I’d like to think she isn’t– as she comes across as a very nice, reasonable person online, or at least that is the image she tries very hard to project. But again, I know people who know her, and I’ve seen the literal scars she’s left on Bill. I don’t know if she’s abused anyone else in the way she abused my husband, but I do know that people close to her have been burned. She continues to do this stuff, though, because people allow it. It’s easier to look the other way than call the cops.

Some people seem to think there’s nothing we can do about this situation. As I have mentioned more than once, I totally disagree. However, I don’t think I’m the one who should make the report, because I’m not the one who has seen the evidence firsthand. Moreover, SMIL and I don’t have much of a relationship. From the beginning of my marriage to her stepson, she has treated me like a homewrecking interloper. I am neither of those things; however, I am also not a doormat. So I don’t get too close to her, because frankly, I don’t have to, and I don’t really want to. SMIL isn’t my responsibility. Frankly, I find her immature, manipulative, and disrespectful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens to her. It also doesn’t mean that I never hear from other people who do have a close relationship to her and love her very much. I don’t want to see SMIL being victimized. She isn’t malevolent; she’s just very insecure. And I know that she is loved by many people.

Personally, I think it’s time legal action was taken, but I also know it’s not my call to make. So maybe I am a “fool to care”. Why waste time even thinking about this? It’s not my problem, and some people already seem to think I’m a heartless bitch, anyway. I can’t win, so I might as well do whatever causes me less grief. But because I’m not actually a heartless bitch, I do write about it, which seems to make some people feel like they need to conflate their experiences with ours. These are different people in different states, and what worked or didn’t work for some people might or might not work in this situation. Moreover, it’s just not helpful to tell someone who is concerned about a problem that nothing can be done. Especially when you don’t actually know any of the people involved.

I understand that sometimes, people do this because they’re frustrated, or they tried to do something in a similar situation and were dissatisfied with the results. There’s every chance that the same thing might happen in this situation. Or, maybe it won’t. Or maybe nothing will happen. Anyway, I just don’t think being dismissive or skeptical is useful. I just fear that at some point, what Ex does is eventually going to be egregious enough that someone will be forced to take some action. There could even be a tragedy involved. And if something tragic happens, it’s highly likely that people will wonder why no one ever said or did anything about Ex before the issues managed to get to that point.

We can’t win, can we. So maybe we really are fools to care. Or maybe I am… because it’s not really my problem. So, I think I’m going to write on my travel blog… and then go read more of Michael Cohen’s latest book.

Standard
anniversary, dogs, France

Fire and Rain… in Ribeauville…

Today was our second full day in Ribeauville. We were supposed to spend another full day here, but James Taylor has caused us to leave tomorrow. It appears that his Copenhagen show went off without a hitch, which means that Frankfurt will probably be going on, as planned. So, tomorrow, we will pack up and go back to Germany and, in 24 hours, I suspect I will be sitting in a second row seat, listening to James play and sing. I know not everyone appreciates James Taylor, but he has gotten me through a lot.

Today, I thought we might go to Riquewihr, which is not even 2 miles away. But we ended up not going there, Instead, we had a very sumptuous and filling lunch, then bought some wine and goodies for Bill’s daughter and grandchildren. I would have liked to have gone to Riquewihr, only to pick up wine and maybe some Madeleines. Also, last time we were there, we had lunch in this restaurant, where I had the most delicious potatoes. I would have liked to have gone back for that… but I don’t even know if that place is open, since the Christmas markets are just around the corner.

It’s actually nice that it’s so quiet here right now, since we have the dogs. No one else is staying in the apartments, so the boys are not bothering anyone. And they’ve been very well behaved, anyway. Yesterday, they howled for about a minute before they quieted down. And Noyzi finally figured out that he needs to do his business on the leash. This was very important, because it’s the only way he can go on trips with us. He doesn’t mind being boarded at all, but I think he’s liked this outing. There is also every chance that we’ll be bringing him to the USA with us at some point, so he needs to learn that it’s okay to go to the bathroom on a leash.

This will probably be Arran’s last visit here… but one never knows. He’s been really surprising us over the past month. And this town is so easy to visit, especially when we just want a quick break from home. I envisioned a fancier holiday for our 20th, but this has worked out well. We feel at home here. I won’t have a lot of exciting stuff to travel blog about, but it’s been a beautiful visit, just the same. We’ve had lots of rest, too… and, the beauty of tomorrow is, we rented the apartment until Sunday, so there’s no rush to leave tomorrow morning.

I actually felt motivated to write a rant earlier today, but I think I’ll wait until I get home. I don’t want to shave my Alsatian wine buzz… I feel very fortunate that we have this ability, to just go to France when we feel like it, and hang out in one of its most beautiful areas. It’s a blessing, and I don’t want to spoil it with a complaint.

Today, we had sunshine, and we had rain… hence the title of this post… especially since we will (probably) be seeing the man who composed that song tomorrow night.

Standard
dogs, France, travel

A quick hello from France!

It’s already 5:00pm, and I’m just now sitting down to post on my blog. I can’t even say it’s been a particularly busy day. Last night, we had dinner at one of the few Ribeauville restaurants we’d never tried. It also happened to be one of the few places that was open right now. Our “host” says that a lot of the local businesses shut down around now, because the Christmas markets are about to start. When the markets start, they will be working very hard, so they take a break beforehand.

Isn’t that crazy? In America, you’d never see half a town shut down because of upcoming Christmas markets. But then, people in America don’t have the same concept of work/life balance as the French do. In a couple of months, a lot of them will shut down again, because it’ll be January and DEAD.

We often come to Ribeauville when it’s the low season. Although this is our sixth time here, we have only been here once when tourism was a thing. I remember we were relegated to a tiny gite, because the one we usually rent was booked. I don’t mind that a lot of places are closed, as long as a few restaurants are open so we don’t starve.

Noyzi took all day to pee. He’s not used to going to the bathroom while on his leash. Bill said it was a two minute stream. He still hasn’t pooped yet. I’m sure that’s coming soon. Hopefully, it will happen outside.

We took a walk this morning, then had a big lunch with a bottle of wine. When we came back in the mid afternoon, I was really sleepy. So I tried to read… and sure enough, I was soon in dreamland. It was a very nice nap, but now it’s dark outside.

Arran has been to this town a few times, although his last visit was in 2018. When we arrived here yesterday, he knew exactly where to go, and was leading the way. I know he has cancer, but you’d really never know it to look at him right now. He’s doing very well.

It looks like James Taylor’s show is going to happen on Saturday, so we will cut this visit short. I think it will be a good thing, if only because Noyzi will probably really need to poop. He usually gets poop zoomies before he goes. He can’t do that here. But he’s enjoying himself, and I think he’s loving seeing a new town in a different country. This is a good place to teach him how to travel. Maybe we can bring him along more often, although he really loves being boarded. Arran, on the other hand, would much rather be with us. I could tell, yesterday, that he was so glad not to be going to the Hunde Hotel.

Ribeauville is a sight for sore eyes. I’m glad we came here to celebrate our 20th anniversary. This morning’s croissant alone, made it worth the trip. I may write something more substantial tomorrow, but today, I just felt like enjoying the break and taking a nap with my favorite boys…

Standard