complaints, dogs, social media

People love to dump on a good story.

Last night, as we were about to tuck into take out Thai food, Bill noticed he got a call from the vet. He also got an email. I was immediately thinking the worst, since I figured no news is good news when it comes to medical or veterinary stuff. But no… it turns out the vet who did Arran’s surgery on Monday was contacting us to let us know that the mast cell tumor she removed was low grade (a two, but a low two) and had excellent margins. She also wrote that she would call us today.

Naturally, we were glad to know this. I’m not surprised it was a low grade tumor. Arran had one in 2015 on his head that was graded 1.5, which meant it had very well differentiated cells. A 2 is not as good as a 1.5, but the grading system is kind of subjective anyway, since it involves individual pathologist’s opinions. Arran’s tumor was in the skin and we got him in to the vet the day after I discovered it. So I would have been surprised if it was deemed high grade.

Nevertheless, I was marveling that the vet called us on a Friday night AND sent an email. When we lived near Stuttgart, both of our dogs, Arran and the late Zane, had mast cell tumors. I remember getting the news for both of them at the next appointment. The one time that didn’t happen, Bill had to call for the results. I liked our vets down there, but they were a lot more conservative and not quite as high tech as the ones up here are.

So… feeling kind of happy about this news and wanting to share our good experience, I went off to the Pets of Wiesbaden group. I know a lot of people in there are looking for vets. Many of them are military folks who are finding out that the vet on post isn’t the best option for anything but the most basic of care. Really, it’s best to have a local vet, even though it may mean dealing with language issues.

I posted about Arran’s good news and that we’re happy with our vet, who happens to have a great reputation anyway. Then, along comes some lady who wants to write about how great Tierklinik Hofheim is. I inwardly groaned, because this happens all the time. Someone posts about something with a specific idea in mind. Someone else comes along and craps on it. I fought the urge to post a bitchy response. Instead, I wrote that I know Tierklinik Hofheim is excellent, but I wouldn’t want to trouble them for a mast cell tumor removal, which is a pretty run of the mill procedure.

Tierklinik Hofheim is a very highly regarded veterinary specialty clinic in Germany. In fact, when we lived near Stuttgart, our vet down there even recommended them over the more advanced facilities in Stuttgart. Tierklinik Hofheim is a good three hour drive from where we lived at the time, but if it came down to it and I needed state of the art experts, I would go there. In fact, now that we only live twenty minutes away from it, we have used Tierklinik Hofheim for emergencies. Arran hasn’t been there yet, but Zane went a few times before he died. They really are outstanding, but they had nothing to do with my original post. I wanted to post about my happiness with our vet. If someone asked for a specialty vet or an emergency vet, then yes, I would absolutely want to post about Tierklinik Hofheim.

This is a pretty common phenomenon, I guess. We all like to chime in on things, and sometimes in the course of doing that, we lead things astray. Sometimes, we take things in an unappreciated direction. I remember one time, a woman got upset with me for pointing out that men can be victims of domestic violence. She wanted to paint the narrative that domestic violence is strictly a women’s issue. While I don’t think I was wrong to point that out, she was upset that I was kind of changing the subject she had introduced. I remember she gave me a ration of shit over it. Now that I think about it, maybe she was right… although as someone whose husband was a victim of domestic violence, I kind of bristle when someone tries to paint women as the only victims.

The musician Janis Ian recently posted an article about “conversational narcissism“. I just recently started following her again after unfollowing her for awhile. She had written about the Holocaust and a bunch of people were engaging in “whataboutism”. Like, they brought up slavery in the United States, or other cases of genocide. Janis rightfully got annoyed about it and dished out some shame.

I have to admit, Janis has a point. People can become thoughtless and self-centered when it comes to social media. We’re probably all guilty of it sometimes.

I’ve found myself changing the way I post… most of the time, anyway. For one thing, I make a conscious effort to try not to post anything but positive stuff on other people’s pages. It’s just not worth it to me to post my real thoughts about some subjects and get into drama with people. Most people aren’t interested in having a real discussion. They just want to post their opinions and aren’t interested in being challenged or arguing about them. Since I have pretty strong opinions, I try to only share them on my space. That way, if people get upset, it’s their own fault. Most people who know me, know I don’t mince words very often. In fact, just the other day, I noticed in my memories that four former friends had posted…. they are former friends because they got offended and blocked me. Three were Trumpers who were upset because I compared him to Hitler, and one was a lesbian who was upset because I expressed appreciation for Mike Pence. At least three of them were on my page when they got offended. Go figure.

For another thing, I try to stop myself from going off topic when someone posts. Like, for instance, this morning I read a post from a woman who rescues dogs from countries like Romania, Cyprus, and the like. There are very serious stray dog problems down there, and the dogs don’t get the best care before they get rescued. Basically, the woman’s post was about how some dogs end up with fleas or parasites that don’t get properly treated before they come to Germany to their new homes.

I was about to post about how our new dog, Noyzi, came from Kosovo and is completely healthy. But I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t a relevant point. She was writing to those who adopt from her. Noyzi didn’t come from her rescue, so my comment that he was healthy when we got him is irrelevant. And, by the way, he’s damned lucky to be so healthy. Kosovo has the same kinds of issues Romania, Cyprus, and other stray heavy areas have. Even the lady who brought him to us advised us to have him tested for diseases like heartworm infestation, leishmaniasis, and hepatitis. Noyzi lived in a big pen with lots of other dogs. He got basic vet care, but the care down there doesn’t compare to what’s available up here.

After reading about the plight of rescue dogs in Romania, I moved on to the Washington Post, where I read what many considered to be a “cute” story about a woman whose obese cat was stolen, along with her rental car, and returned with the help of a self-proclaimed pet psychic. I was kind of amused by the story. Back in the early 00s, I used to watch Sonya Fitzpatrick’s show, The Pet Psychic, on Animal Planet. I even read her book. I don’t know how much I believe in pet psychics. I suppose it’s possible one can communicate with animals in such a way… but like a lot of people, I’m a little skeptical. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

Anyway, I could tell the story was meant to be “feel good”. Many people were reacting to it in such a way. I had a little trouble not shaking my head when I read that the woman’s car was stolen while the cat was in it because she’d left the motor running while she went to take a quick pee. She thought she’d locked the door, but hadn’t. So naturally, some shithead came along and stole the car, along with the cat and all of the woman’s belongings. But I didn’t leave a comment, because clearly other people did. No need to crap on the story myself.

Then I looked at the comments, and there were all sorts left that were not really the point of the story. Like, for instance, one person was upset about the cat’s weight… a hefty 19 pounds, because she eats fresh fish every day instead of dry food. Others wanted to add their two cents about traveling during a pandemic. Incidentally, I also noticed in the story, the reporter was so careful to mention the COVID-19 precautions that were taken for the trip. Why is this? Because you just KNOW that if she hadn’t mentioned face masks and COVID-19 tests, people would be bringing that shit up in the comment section. So few people can’t simply read something and not make it about virtue signaling, shaming, or showing everyone else how smart, considerate, or how “above you” they are.

I was kind of tickled to see that the pet psychic in this case, name of Nancy Mello, was actively commenting. She even left her contact information. I’ve got no quarrel with that. Maybe she really can speak “cat” fluently. And if she helped get the cat home, that’s all that really matters, anyway. I’m glad the story had a happy ending. Hopefully, the lady learned her lesson about leaving a car running, especially when your furry friend is in there. But I sure don’t need to say that, since so many other people are saying it. It was a fun read, anyway, and that’s what matters.

I guess my main point is, nine times out of ten, it’s best to start your own thread if you have something to say that isn’t on topic. Having said that, I admit it’s something I work on every day. Sometimes I fail. My other point is, it’s probably best to keep criticism and negativity off other people’s pages. I think of my Internet spaces as my homes. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and be rude. At least I wouldn’t do that intentionally… and at least I wouldn’t do that today, now that I’ve kind of left the id somewhat. I might have done it when I was younger… like, when I was 46.

Anyway… I’m glad Arran’s tumor wasn’t so bad. He still has a huge gash on his leg where the tumor was removed. The vet up here was a lot more aggressive than the one in Stuttgart was. That’s basically the way mast cell tumors are supposed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, if they don’t get removed completely, they can recur with a vengeance. Hopefully, he won’t have any more of them. And I’ll try not to be annoyed by those who want to pimp their vets on threads I start about pimping mine.

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dogs, memories, obits

A year without Zane…

We had kind of a scary day yesterday. Our dog, Arran, didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He had a tragic look on his face, seemed to have trouble jumping, and when I touched his back, he yelped in pain. Arran is ten or eleven years old. He’s always been very healthy, but he’s not getting any younger. We also had a rather active weekend. He got walks and went with us to our visit to a winery on Friday night, as well as a day trip to Kallstadt, which is where Donald Trump’s grandparents were from.

Bill was worried enough about Arran yesterday that he took him to Tierklinik Hofheim, which is a really high speed veterinary facility near us. Our former vet down near Stuttgart told me, back when I was struggling with our other dog, Zane, that Tierklinik Hofheim is one of the best veterinary hospitals in Germany. I used to worry about how I would get Zane there, if he needed their services. It’s a good three hour drive from where we used to live. Now, we only live about twenty minutes from Hofheim, and about a year ago, Bill took Zane there and got the devastating confirmation that he had canine lymphoma.

We had hoped for one last month with Zane, but he was gone a week after our regular vet told us she suspected the disease. August 31, 2019 was a sunny, hot day. We found Zane that morning, exhausted and curiously bloated. It turned out he was bleeding internally from a ruptured tumor in his spleen. By noon, we had said goodbye to him. It was very sad for Bill and me, but as dog deaths go, particularly from cancer, it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been. Zane had a good last week. He was able to eat, bask in the sunshine, and even take a couple of walks.

We have now lost three dogs to canine cancer. Zane’s death, while certainly not easy, was much kinder than the deaths of his three predecessors. Our first rescue died of a very rare mycobacterial infection that required special testing by the Virginia Department of Health. Our second had prostate cancer. Our third, wonderful MacGregor, died of a spinal tumor. All three of those dogs endured excruciating pain that was barely touched by pain medications before we helped them to the Rainbow Bridge. I did not get the sense that Zane suffered pain as much as he did exhaustion and discomfort.

It was a terrible shock to lose Zane so quickly after finding out how sick he was. Zane was always a very special dog to me. I’ve loved every dog we’ve had, but Zane and I had an incredible bond. He was like a ray of sunshine most days… always friendly, mostly laid back, often hilarious, and happy almost all the time. He loved to play games and had a comical side to him. He also loved to snuggle, especially in my lap, and he loved running and playing, even though he was kind of fragile and needed a lot of veterinary care over his almost eleven year lifespan.

This is all Zane.

I usually get a new dog about a month after losing one, but this time, it’s taken a lot longer for a lot of reasons. We tried to adopt a new dog a few months ago, but he escaped before he managed to come into our home. I knew he was doomed as I watched him run away. We live close to two Autobahns, and the new dog, who was from Sardinia and apparently not very socialized, didn’t know us. Sure enough, he was killed before twenty-four hours had passed.

Bill and I are now expecting to bring a new dog into our home in about a month. The new dog is from Kosovo and, for now, is known as Noizy. I’m not sure if we will change his name. I don’t always change my dogs’ names when I get them. It depends on how fitting they are to their personalities. I have heard that Noizy isn’t actually very loud, either. Anyway… I expect Noizy will also be special because all dogs are in some way. I have yet to regret adopting a dog. Even the one we tried to adopt in March ended up doing something positive.

First off, the lady who runs the Tierpension where we board our dogs when we take trips thought of Bill and me when a German family “dumped” an elderly cocker spaniel named Maxl. Maxl’s human “dad” had died, and his “mom” was unable to take care of him. Family members brought him to the Tierpension and asked the staff to help them rehome him. Maxl had some health issues that were neglected, plus he’s about twelve years old. A couple tried to take him, but Maxl was too “stinky” and, for whatever reason, they decided not to take him to a vet but, instead, brought him back to the Tierpension.

Since Bill and I had already committed to taking in Noizy and I know that Noizy will probably cause angst for Arran, we declined to take Maxl. However, I did share Maxl’s information in one of several Facebook groups I joined because of the dog that escaped. I had been wanting to spread the word and ended up staying in the groups. A group member in the Pets of Wiesbaden group decided she could take in Maxl, and within a couple of days, he was in his new home. If not for the dog who got away, I probably never would have joined that Facebook group because my experiences with Facebook groups in Stuttgart had kind of soured me on them– especially the ones affiliated with the U.S. military.

And secondly, there’s Noizy, who’s about two years old and was found wandering the streets of Kosovo when he was a small puppy. He’s missing most of his tail and part of an ear. His rescuer thinks maybe some kids mutilated him. I haven’t met Noizy in person yet, but I’ve seen many pictures and videos. I have a feeling we’re going to get along fine, although Arran may not be too happy to have to share us with a new friend.

As for Arran… he seems somewhat better today. We are going to take him to the vet. He’s due for a checkup anyway, and we’re going to update some vaccines that we stopped giving after he had a mast cell tumor. Zane also had mast cell cancer and that was probably what led to the lymphoma, but Zane’s mast cell cancer was much worse and more active than Arran’s was. Arran just had one lone tiny tumor that was low grade. That was five years ago, and he’s not had another since. Zane, on the other hand, had lots of lumps and some systemic involvement. He held on for three years until lymphoma took him– lymphoma often strikes dogs who have had mast cell tumors. It’s not recommended to give vaccines to dogs who have had mast cell cancer, although we have kept giving the rabies vaccine because it’s the law. Since both dogs had mast cell tumors, we stopped most vaccines for both of them. Arran hasn’t had another tumor, so he’s probably alright to get boosters now.

I still think about Zane every day. The house has seemed kind of empty with just one dog around, although it’s also been peaceful and Arran has kind of morphed into a better behaved dog. But Arran is mostly Bill’s dog. Bill is Arran’s favorite person, even though Arran does his best to pay attention to both of us. All you have to do is look at the many photos I’ve posted of Arran and his habit of worshipping Bill every day. I don’t need to be worshipped… neither does Bill… but it would be nice to have a dog of my own to snuggle while Arran basks in his love for his “daddy”.

Hopefully, Noizy will like me as much as Zane did.

Anyway… for those who are curious, here are a couple of videos I made to remember Zane. They show his progression from adorable “teenaged” pup, who was originally named Einstein and fresh from Atlanta Beagle Rescue, to venerable old man living in Germany and acting like a brilliant canine ambassador. We were very privileged to know him and have him in our lives from December 13, 2009 until August 31, 2019. Sometimes, it even feels like he’s still hanging around.

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dogs

Misterjaw Flea…

Yesterday, after dinner, Bill and I decided to take the dogs for a walk. The weather was beautiful. It was sunny, but not too hot, and there was a pleasant breeze. This time of year, the sun doesn’t go down until well after 10:00pm, so we had plenty of daylight. The dogs were delighted to have both of us walking them. Nowadays, that’s a rare treat for them.

As we were walking, we started talking about dogs of the past. I’ve loved all of them, but probably my favorite of the lot was Flea. We got Flea in November 2003, about a month after we lost our very first beagle mix, CuCullain (CC). On October 12, 2003, CC died of a nasty mycobacterial infection. They are exceedingly rare in dogs and our vet had never before seen a case of it in her long career. We ended up taking CC to a speciality hospital in northern Virginia, where we spent a couple of thousand bucks we didn’t have to find out that the situation was hopeless. We’d only had CC for sixteen months and we were devastated to lose him. He was part husky and had beautiful blue eyes.

CuCullain… our first rescue. He was a great dog, but we didn’t have him long enough.

Flea was everything CC was not. Feisty, temperamental, loudmouthed, and vain, everyone in the neighborhood knew him and where he lived. CC, by contrast, was known for being sweet, quiet, gentle, and having startlingly blue eyes. CC also used to shed like a husky.

Of the five dogs we’ve rescued so far, Flea was the closest to being 100 percent beagle. He was someone’s hunting dog before he was rescued, half-starved, afflicted with Lyme Disease and heartworms, and covered in fleas and ticks. A lady spotted him standing on the side of a road in Chester, Virginia. She picked him up– actually, Flea was very good at hitchhiking, and he was gorgeous and charming. The lady nursed him back to health, though she neglected to have both parts of his heartworm treatment done.

Flea and MacGregor in 2oo8. MacG is the one looking at the camera. Flea hated having his picture taken.

When we went to Richmond to pick up Flea– she had named him Fleagle after the Banana Splits’ beagle– he was obviously trying to overtake her busy household. Although he was much smaller than her other dogs, he would regularly challenge her large male shepherd. He adored the lady’s toddler aged son. We took Flea for a walk/test drive, and he surprised us with his energy and boldness. His rescuer told us he needed to be “top dog”, and live somewhere where he could “be a star”. She was definitely right about that. Flea was the smallest of our dogs, but he was also the most alpha. Sometimes I wonder how Arran would have reacted to Flea. I think Flea would have kicked his ass. One of our former vets hated Flea’s name and said we should change it, but I think it actually suited him perfectly. He was just cool enough to pull it off.

MacGregor was an adorable puppy when we brought him home to keep Flea company. Flea terrorized him at first, but then they became best friends.

Flea was a bit blue when he became our dog. He liked having other dogs around, and got really bad separation anxiety when he was alone or not the center of attention. He also missed the little boy. He would have loved it if we’d had a son for him to play with. Flea loved kids– especially boys. I remember he would bugle for me if I so much as left his sight. After a few months with us, we had him tested for heartworms again and learned that he was never fully treated for the disease. We got him healthier, then picked up our dog, MacGregor, who is probably Bill’s “special” dog– although Arran runs a close second. Once we had MacGregor, Flea totally changed. MacGregor was perfectly happy to be second banana, and that was just what Flea needed. Once he had a sidekick, he was a lot less anxious about being left alone. He turned into a great family dog who was super protective of me and also liked to play canine pranks.

As we were walking last night, Bill chuckled and said, “I remember when Flea used to purposely sneak up behind you and startle you.”

It’s true. Flea was just like Misterjaw… “Gotcha!”

Flea had the personality of a shark. He liked to sneak up behind me and scare me out of my wits! This episode is actually not unlike Flea’s story, only Flea was a dog rather than a shark.

I’d be sitting at my computer, hard at work writing something. He’d saunter into my office, silent as a church mouse. He’d sit down and watch me for a minute. Then, just when I was in the middle of a thought, oblivious to his presence, he’d let out a sharp yelp. I’d jump, then turn around to give him a dirty look and a sharp word. Bill watched him do this many times in the six years we had Flea. He thought it was a riot. I’m sure Flea was amused, too.

In the summer of 2009, Flea was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We were living in Germany and our former vet in Herrenberg– same one who treated Zane and Arran for the past four years– told Bill that Flea had cancer. We took him to Stuttgart, where they did an ultrasound and x-ray that confirmed the presence of cancer. It was July. Ever since then, I’ve kind of hated July. It seems like the worst things happen in July. I’m always relieved when July is over, and I generally dread its onset, even though July is also the month my dear husband came into the world in 1964. It’s also the month in which Bill will become a grandfather again, when his daughter has her baby girl. She chose July 9th to be induced… the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death.

A couple of days before we lost Flea to cancer. We lived in Georgia. MacGregor was standing guard. Three years later, Zane would do the same for MacGregor when spinal cancer overtook his body.

We managed to keep Flea going for another four months after he was diagnosed with cancer. He made it back to the United States with us and died on November 18, 2009, two days after our wedding anniversary. The night before we had him put down, he’d lost the ability to walk. Even still, he didn’t want to die and made it very clear to us, although it was obvious he would not live much longer as the cancer turned him into a skeletal version of himself. Of the dogs we’ve had euthanized, Flea took the longest to give in. I was beside myself with grief when we lost him. He was such a little character– full of self-confidence and spunk. He reminded me of a canine version of George Jefferson. Flea was also instrumental in our getting to know our neighbors in our first German neighborhood, when he fell in love with the next door neighbor’s little boy, Robin.

Flea only visits me in my dreams now, with the occasional “Gotcha!” Flea’s successor, Zane was born exactly one year prior to the day we lost Flea. He’s going to be eleven years old this year. I worry about him all the time, especially as he gets lumpier. There are times when I would swear Flea jumped into his body to visit us down here on Earth. I feel the same way about Arran, who sometimes behaves a bit like MacGregor used to. So far, both of our dogs have had mast cell tumors, but they’re both plucky and fun loving. Zane isn’t quite as spunky as he used to be, but his eyes are bright, his coat is shiny, and he still loves to take walks. And sometimes, when he’s feeling especially jaunty, he’ll sneak up behind me and bark “Gotcha!”, just like ol’ Flea used to, back in the day.

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