Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 2451

I wish we'd discovered something more definitive about Dash today. The vet agreed that he wasn't moving his rear legs normally, but couldn't pinpoint a cause. The problem could be caused by a compressed disc in his spine. It could be a very early sign that Dash has a disease like Degenerative Myelopathy. It could be nothing at all. The exam today eliminated some possibilities, but many other possibilities still remain. We took x-rays of his lower spine and hips earlier this month, but I'll need to get another radiograph of his upper spine to eliminate the possibility of a damaged or compressed disc. He definitely hasn't ruptured a disc like Dot did, or his condition would be much, much worse. The vet didn't recommend an MRI at this time, because she said if that Dash has a neurological problem, an MRI can sometimes make the condition worse. I'm not sure how much I actually learned today. Dash is still in pretty good shape for his age, but if there's something we can do to help him, I want to know about it.

Dash is not a good passenger in the car. He becomes agitated and barks incessantly. By the time we got to the vet, I felt like I was going deaf and Dash was wound up like a spring. The vet said that acupuncture might help Dash if I could figure out a way to get him to ride calmly in the car. The acupuncture session would be largely wasted if he arrived full of adrenaline and bouncing off the walls. It's sad that Dash doesn't ride well in the car anymore. He was terrified of car rides when we first adopted him. Gradually, after years of taking him to dog parks and training classes, he began to act normally. Before both dogs got cancer, they loved to ride in the car to go to their favorite dog park on Sunday morning. We don't travel much anymore for obvious reasons. It's just too difficult.

I really hope there's nothing seriously wrong with Dash. After over two years of dealing with serious medical problems, I'm exhausted. Life has changed dramatically for us after both dogs got cancer. When Dot's spinal injury compounded the problem, I pretty much became a 24x7 dog nurse. Dot is such a high maintenance dog at the moment that I really need for Dash to stay healthy for a while longer. The best case scenario is that Dash is just getting older. It is common for breeds like Dalmatians and German Shepards to develop problems with their rear legs as they age. Spot's legs began to give out toward the end of his life and so did Petey's. Dash probably has quite a few good years left, but I want to be careful. I've dealt with so many serious dog problems over the years that anything out of the ordinary makes me nervous now. One way or another, I'll figure out what is going on with Dash.

I had some minor website revisions to take care of today, but nothing to reverse the trend I've been experiencing lately. My workload seems to diminish with each passing month. I know what I need to do, but the effort seems pointless at times. You need to interact with people to get customers. I need to start having lunch with people again. I need to go to industry events. It wouldn't hurt to take a few classes either. The problem is that I don't want to do these things anymore. Enough is enough.

Tomorrow, it's Dot's day to go to the vet. She's been doing surprisingly well lately. She's sleeping better now and occasionally gets up on her own to walk around the house. It's not a dramatic rebound, but she seems to have more energy than she did last month. I don't really know why Dot has good days or Dash has bad days. I just try to keep them both as healthy and happy as I can.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 2450

Don't you hate it when a warning light comes on in the car and you're not in a position to do anything about it? You just keep driving and hope that nothing goes wrong. I was taking Dot to the vet this afternoon when the low tire light came on. Not good. The last thing I need is a flat tire with a sick dog in the car. I hate the low tire light, because I'm not really sure that I know how to change a tire on this car. It definitely wouldn't have been easy today, because the spare is located in a compartment directly under where Dot was sitting. The tire looked a little low when we got to the vet, but it didn't look alarming, so I decided not to worry about it.

Dot got her blood work done and we went home again without further incident. As soon as I got Dot situated in her bed, I drove up to the Land Rover dealer. Since the tires are filled with nitrogen instead of air, I couldn't just go to the gas station around the corner. There's always something that turns simple things into complicated things for me. The dealer checked the tires, refilled them all to the recommended pressure, and told me that nothing was wrong. My service guy informed me that I was lucky to have driven almost three years without the warning light coming on. Evidently nitrogen reduces tire pressure fluctuations, but doesn't eliminate them entirely. Since nitrogen is heavier than air, it's good stuff to put in your tires. Don't expect your local gas station to have any though.

With the warning light extinguished on the dash, I feel a little better about taking Dash for his neurological exam tomorrow. Dot poops in the car, but she's still a better passenger than Dash. I dread traveling with Dash, because he won't stay still and he barks nonstop. Dash barks so loud and becomes so agitated that I'm tempted to wear earplugs. I don't know if he's excited or scared, but he's definitely not a good traveling companion.

When I got my tire problems resolved, I paid a visit to the storage warehouse and renewed my lease for another year. I hate paying this much at one time, but if you pay twelve months in advance, you get an extra month for free. I've had the storage space for so long now, that I'm sure I've accumulated over a year of free rent by paying this way. Even with the extra month, I can't say that the storage warehouse is a bargain. They keep raising the rent on me every single year. The annual increase isn't that large, but over time it really adds up. You'd think they'd have some kind of loyalty program for long time customers like me, but I get the same rotten deal as the folks who pay month-to-month. Storage warehouse companies know that they've got a captive audience. It's so damn much trouble to move everything to another storage space, that they figure that you'll just pay the increased rent. Companies seem to be almost universally greedy these days. Hey, at least I don't need to carry an EpiPen around with me.

The rain returned today. I didn't think the weather was anything to get alarmed about, but Dash didn't seem to agree. I couldn't get him to leave the house this morning, so he didn't get a morning walk at all. The sun reappeared briefly around lunchtime and I was able to take him outside to pee. Then he heard some thunder off in the distance and became scared again. Dash's storm phobia seems to be getting worse. For the most part, all we had were gentle showers today, but Dash still spent quite a while hiding under my desk.

I'm tired of dealing with problems. I'd like an entire week with no problems whatsoever. That's very unlikely though. There are always problems.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 2449

Sunday is when we try to restore some sense of order the the shambles that has taken over our house. Janet took up all Dot's traction rugs and scrubbed the floors while I mowed the grass and later tried to remove all the spider webs and insect debris from the back windows. It's a never ending battle to get rid of the spiders and frankly I think they have the upper hand. I had to take an abrasive brush and a bucket of bleach to remove all their droppings from the window sills. The worst part of removing the spiders is that the spiders don't like it and they end up crawling all over you. I guess our efforts were worth it. The house does look and smell better now. It's a temporary victory though. Nature always wins in the long run.

Although I got plenty of exercise doing housework, I went to the gym anyway. Some things you have to do whether you like it or not. The first twenty minutes I'm at the gym, I'm always on the verge of quitting and going home early. When the initial aches and pains have subsided, I get into a rhythm and realize that it's not that big a deal to go ahead and complete my workout. The most enjoyable part of my routine is shooting baskets on the court. This activity probably doesn't burn up that many calories, but it breaks up the monotony. The last twenty minutes are always the easiest, but there is no sense of euphoria. I never decide to stay longer. An hour and fifteen minutes is long enough.

We felt a little guilty about not giving Dot a proper party yesterday, so I went out and got each dog a skinless, boneless chicken breast and some Pupcakes from Sprinkles. Dot's favorite activity is eating, so I think she enjoyed our little celebration. She eats so slowly now that for the first time ever she didn't devour her cupcake in a single bite. She actually seemed to savor the treat, taking several minutes to consume it.

I need to go renew the lease on my storage warehouse tomorrow. Maybe this will be the year when I finally start to do some serious downsizing. I could start a museum with the stuff in this warehouse. It wouldn't be a very good museum, but there are definitely things you don't see everyday. I also need to take Dot back to the vet to get her blood work done. This was supposed to be done last Friday at the cancer center, but since Dot's oncologist is gone until October, our schedule is completely messed up there now. I'll need to get the tests done at another vet. I think it's going to be a busy week, but it's hard to tell sometimes. The difference between staying busy and doing nothing at all is often arbitrary and a bit fuzzy.

Where did this Summer go? It's almost Labor Day already. It won't be long before I start wondering whether the furnace still works and spend hours clearing bushels of pecans off the roof. I"m looking forward to Fall. Too bad it only lasts about two weeks.

Mandy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 2448 - Dot's Birthday

I feel bad about not doing more for Dot's birthday. We're all getting old and tired. I know Dot is at least 16 years old and may even be 17. It hard to know the exact age of a rescue dog. Usually their birthday is just the day you adopt them.

We used to have elaborate parties for all our dogs, but they seem like distant memories now. The few dog friendly restaurants that remain in town are too far away and I don't think Dot would enjoy being transported in the car anyway. Even if she wanted to go, I don't think we can get two dogs in the same car anymore. Dot needs a lot more room with her injuries and I don't know where we'd put Dash. There used to be two places in town that made beautiful birthday cakes for dogs, but they both went out of business. The cakes were expensive and a lot of people didn't want to pay that much to treat their dog. After trying to make similar cakes myself, I quickly realized that these cakes were a bargain. It's a shame that these businesses didn't succeed. That's all in the past though. Last year, we got them some dog cupcakes at Sprinkles but it wasn't much of a party. They both ate the little cupcakes in about two seconds.

I saw a snake in the back yard this morning, but I wasn't able to catch it before it slithered away. I was trying to lift it up with a stick and toss it over the back fence, but the snake was faster than I was. I didn't want to pick the snake up with my hands, because it looked a lot like a baby copperhead. I don't want to mess with those things. The venom is actually stronger in baby snakes. I don't know why. Hopefully, the snake continued it's journey and is somewhere in the park by now. I definitely don't want Dash to discover it.

We went to a concert tonight because one of Janet's friends was performing. We hear this group almost every year. They are a large a cappella chorus that performs all over the world. When we first started going to these concerts, I wasn't that wild about this barbershop style of singing, but either they've gotten better over the years, or I've grown to appreciate them. The concerts are quite good.

When I used the Scan and Go app at the grocery store today, I noticed that there was a new welcome screen that said "No purchases over $750." I'm never going to buy that many groceries, but I wonder what this message means. Apparently, even though the app has been around less than a month, someone has already figured out a way to scam it. I wish everyone was honest and played by the rules. If everyone were honest, I wouldn't even need passwords on all these apps.

It was really hot today and there were no Summer showers to cool things down. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Winter.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 2447

Nothing went smoothly today. This morning, the cancer center called and canceled Dot's afternoon appointment. Oddly, they called me less than 24 hours ago to remind me about the appointment. Apparently, the Ultrasound technician didn't show up for work this morning. When I tried to reschedule, they told me that Dot's oncologist wouldn't be available again until mid-September. The oncologist was there today, but there wasn't much point in keeping our appointment, since there would be no scan for her to analyze. Last minute changes like this are frustrating since they happen so often. It just reinforces my feeling that the world doesn't work anymore.

This afternoon, our power was out for almost four hours. The power outage was surprising, since there wasn't really much of a storm. There were no high winds and the rain only lasted about 45 minutes. When I checked the power company website, I noticed that there were other outages all over our part of town. I think the traffic lights went out too, since traffic backed up in front of our house rather quickly. Luckily, the power was restored before it began to get dark.

The sudden rainstorm upset Dash, but Dot didn't even seem to notice. She's almost deaf now and I don't even think she heard the thunder. It's weird how many electronic items lose their settings when the power goes down. For some reason, whenever power is restored after an outage, the washer and dryer start running. It's always been this way. so I need to remember to unplug these appliances as soon as we lose power. When the electricity was restored today, the WiFi printer became scrambled and said that three ink cartridges needed to be replaced. The clock on the coffee maker always needs to be reset and automatic shutoff thresholds on the dehumidifier usually need to be reset as well. I have backup batteries on the office computers and phones so I can shut down these items gracefully, but I still think that power outages are way more complicated than they need to be.

At least breakfast was enjoyable this morning. I went back to the hipster restaurant and, as always, I was the only guy without lots of tattoos and a long beard. I noticed a small poster in the window saying that the restaurant had recently been selected "Best Breakfast in Dallas" by D Magazine. I guess the accolades are well deserved.  I've never had a problem with the food in this place. The food is delicious. What keeps me away is that they insist on serving everything on paper plates.  The ironic thing is that the owners are these environmentally conscious guys that put little signs on the tables telling patrons not to use too many napkins because it wastes paper and then they waste a ton of paper themselves by serving everything in disposable paper take away boxes.

The dogs probably didn't even realize that it was National Dog Day today. If they knew, they would  have been even more demanding than usual. Dash was moody today. He didn't want a morning walk at all, but after the thunderstorm was over, he decided to make up for lost time and took a very long afternoon walk. In between, he mostly just hid under my desk as the weather got worse. Dot was sweet and somewhat befuddled as always. I took her outside several times after I returned from breakfast, trying to get her to poop. I was very patient, but she just didn't seem to be in the mood. Five minutes after I gave up and took her back inside, she pooped in her bed.

I'm hoping for a calm weekend. I always hope for a calm weekend.

Cammy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 2446

I ran a bunch of small errands today. Nothing I did was absolutely necessary, but it gave me something to do. I got some astringent at the pharmacy, because after all these years, I still have oily skin. I stopped by the storage warehouse to see when my yearly rent was actually due. I got gas for the car, even though it only needed a few gallons. I picked up some more CoQ10 because my doctor thinks I need to take it. I stopped by the vegan take out place to see if the menu had changed yet. It hadn't. Basically, I was just kind of bored.

The weather has gotten really hot again. The cool, rainy days we had a few weeks ago seem like a fluke now. I wonder if I just imagined them. It's weird how the days seem to suddenly get shorter around this time of year. We're taking our early morning walk in the dark again now. Last year at this time, the walks were kind of interesting because there were lots of planets in the pre-dawn sky. Now, there appears to be nothing. I'll have to check a star atlas to see if there's anything to keep my eye on. I wonder why Daylight Saving Time doesn't end until November 6? This seems later than usual. Morning sunlight will return for a while after the time changes, but then it will be dark on our evening walks. You can't win.

Dash had a burst of energy this morning, so his walk was twice as long as it normally is. I watched him, looking for any signs of stumbling and didn't see any. Everything seemed fine. This was so different from yesterday that it seemed puzzling. Something is wrong with Dash, but I just can't figure out what it is. I did make an appointment for his neurological exam, so maybe I'll find some answers then. For the moment, it was nice to take a long walk again. It gave me a chance to see if anything had changed in the neighborhood. There were a few houses up for sale and a few more under construction. Dash was relaxed today because we didn't encounter many other dogs. We basically had the park to ourselves.

I keep getting e-mail messages from one of my doctors, urging me to sign up for their Patient Portal. I dutifully followed their instructions today and created an account. These electronic records systems are touted as being great for patients, but I'd really rather just have a piece of paper that I could put in a ring binder. A ring binder lets you keep all the information in one place and you don't need to remember any passwords. When I went to my new Patient Portal page, I was surprised to see that there was absolutely nothing in my file. What is the point of a record keeping system with no records?  I have three or four of these Patient Portal accounts with different doctors. I can't remember the password to most of them. Technology marches on, I guess.

I can't decide where to eat breakfast tomorrow. Sometimes when I'm in an indecisive mood, I check the Yelp reviews for restaurants in the neighborhood. I've noticed a general trend. It doesn't matter which restaurant you pick. The majority of the reviews tend to say things like "This place used to be a favorite of mine, but it has really declined lately." That's the way I feel and I'm surprised that so many other people tend to feel the same way. Has quality universally declined, or has everybody just gotten picky and judgemental? I don't know. I think the quality of life in general has gone downhill. Restaurants are just a small part of the problem.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 2445

Two vet visits down. One to go. Remind me to never schedule three vet visits in a single week again. Dot takes so long to get ready and no matter what I do, she usually poops in the car anyway. I spend a lot more time waiting in lobbies than I did several years ago. Traffic is much worse as well. If these excursions are my window into a larger world, the world isn't working as well as it should. All the people I deal with are very nice, but most of them seem just as tired as I am. How can so many people seem so burned out? It just shouldn't be this way.

I wasn't expecting Dot to do as well as she did today, because she seemed stressed out in the car. Her acupuncture session relaxed her and she did much better in the water than she did last week. The technician who helps with Dot's water therapy collects watches like I do and we talked about collecting today while Dot walked. Oddly, this seemed to help her walk more naturally. Maybe she doesn't like people staring at her the entire time and making comments about her performance. At any rate, she seemed sure footed and walked very well today, even though we weren't paying quite as much attention to her.

I think the reason I like to go out for breakfast on Friday's is that it gives me a chance to eat in peace. Breakfast is seldom peaceful the rest of the week. I keep Dot in a small pen near the breakfast table so I can keep an eye on her while I eat. Dash is hovering nearby, waiting for me to feed him the banana I've sliced up for him. Dot gets some banana too, but she is much better behaved about her treat. If I don't feed Dash a small slice of banana about every twenty seconds, he starts to bark. When Dash starts barking, it often gets Dot excited, which can cause her to poop. Today part of her pen was siting over an air conditioner floor vent and of course that's exactly where she pooped. I had to put my breakfast in the refrigerator and clean the vent out immediately before the AC system spread the smell all over the house. Never a dull moment.

I need to figure out how to get rid of some of the stuff in my storage warehouse. The storage space is huge and is getting more expensive every year. The space used to be extremely well organized, but now I'm not even sure what I'm storing. It's a mess. I usually don't even think about the place anymore until the rent comes due for another year, which coincidentally happens next week. Whenever I renew, I think "this is the year I"m going to get this thing under control," but it never happens. If I just sold one thing on eBay every week, I could probably make a good little supplemental income. The problem with selling things though is that you've got to deal with buyers. I can't stand dealing with buyers. I bet I'll be having this same discussion next year as the dust grows thicker in the storage space.

I had another vegetarian dinner tonight. I think I could do this. The meal was delicious. The weak link in this chain is that I'm not making these meals myself. Some very good cooks at the vegan store are making the meals for me. All I have to do is heat them up in the microwave. The trouble with vegetables is that they spoil quickly and when you're cooking for one, it's hard to keep enough variety on hand to keep things interesting. This store has the right idea. They can buy lots of fresh vegetables, use them to create delicious meals, and then then change the entire menu every week, so people like me don't get bored. The only problem is that it could get pretty expensive to eat this way permanently. I don't see how a place like this could stay in business if they charged less though. Vegan take out is not a high volume business in Dallas. I hope this idea makes it. Places I like usually go out of business quickly.

There is absolutely nothing on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope it stays that way. Today was kind of hectic.

Hero is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day 2444

I can't honestly say that Dot got a clean bill of health today at her annual physical exam, but the vet was amazed that she's doing as well as she is. Very few Dalmatians make it this far on their journey through life. Dot has already lived two years longer than any other Dalmatian we've had and she hasn't given up yet. These exams aren't as dignified as they were during her younger years. When the nurse tried to weigh her, she peed on the scale. A little later when the same nurse took her temperature, she pooped. Dot's teeth are bad, she can't walk without assistance, and she tires very easily. It's not all bad news however. Her heart is still strong, her vision is good, and she is still very enthusiastic about eating. We skipped most of the normal vaccinations because she is so old and frail, but the vet still wanted to give her the Leptospirosis vaccine. Leptospirosis is becoming commonplace in Dallas, and it is so easy to catch since we frequently walk in the park.

Today's exam took a while, but I was very pleased with the results. Dot is old and has many serious problems, but she is amazingly resilient. She is a high maintenance girl who is becoming more stubborn by the day, but she definitely hasn't given up yet. There are days when I think Dot is going to outlast me.

Last week's cooler weather lulled me into believing that Fall had arrived early, but I got a reminder today that we're still in the middle of Summer. The sun came out this morning and almost instantly it was twenty degrees warmer. By afternoon, temperatures were in the high nineties again and Dash let me know pretty clearly that he wasn't all that interested in an afternoon walk.

I had some website updates to make today. These modifications aren't an everyday occurrence like they used to be, but apparently people haven't forgotten about their websites completely. Occasionally, a website will go offline and it will often take days before the client even notices. Things have changed. If something is wrong with Facebook, they all notice immediately.

The park is full of Rain Lily's today. These small flowers seem to appear overnight after a big rain and then disappear just as quickly when things dry up. Luckily, they were blooming today, because I couldn't find anything else to photograph. There aren't many flowers left. Pretty soon, I'll start seeing Fall leaves and as soon as the time changes, I'll be trying to capture pretty sunsets again.

We need to do something special for Dot's birthday this weekend. We used to take the dogs to dinner at Cafe Lago, but that dog friendly restaurant went out of business quite a few years ago. Janet and I also used to make beautiful little dog cakes, but I don't even remember how anymore. She would bake a small three layer cake made with apple sauce, eggs, and oat flour. I would decorate the cake with a cream cheese and yogurt frosting. I took a cake decorating class once, and even had one of those special turntables, so I could apply the frosting evenly. Distant memories. All I have the energy to do anymore is buy some pupcakes at Sprinkles.

Tomorrow, we have our second vet visit of the week. We do water therapy and acupuncture on Wednesdays and then on Friday she goes back to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan. It's going to be a busy week.

Mickey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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