Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 1720

We went out to dinner tonight. This wouldn't have been a big deal if it weren't for the fact that it's been almost a year since Janet and I have gone to a restaurant together. This year has been so filled with work related stress and dog emergencies that going out to eat has been the last thing on our minds. On most evenings, all we really wanted was a good night's sleep. Since we have a three day weekend and both dogs are much better now, it was a good night to get out for a while. We went to P.F. Chang's using a gift card that had been sitting around the house for ages and had a very enjoyable evening. Since everything was just fine when we returned, it's probably time we got out more.

Actually, everything was just fine for the entire day. There was a hint of Fall in the air when we took the dogs on their morning walk. Although it warmed up later in the day, this morning was just about perfect. Dot has a good night and didn't pee in her sleep. When this happens, Janet and I get a better night's sleep as well. Since I slept well, I was surprised to wake up with a painful foot. At first I though I needed new walking shoes, or at least a new set of orthotics. Then I notice a big bruise on the arch of my left foot. It looked like I had dropped something heavy on my foot. How could I have dropped something on my foot yesterday and not even remember it? I have no memory of dropping a heavy object on my foot yesterday, but the foot tells a different tale. Maybe I dropped a tool on my foot while I was fixing the screen door. Maybe the picture frame I broke hit my foot before it hit the floor and shattered. You'd think I would remember something like this, but my mind is a blank.

The pain in my foot gradually subsided as the day progressed, so I went ahead and went to the gym as I had planned. I still need to go workout more than once a week, but all things considered, I'm doing pretty well. Probably walking the dogs several miles each day and doing chores around the house that most people reserve for their yard guy helps keep me in shape more than these weekly gym visits. I still need to start going to the gym at least twice a week though.

Janet sewed another waterproof pad for Dot to sleep on this afternoon. We have three of these over-sized absorbent pads now and there are better than anything available commercially. The front is a soft, absorbent terry cloth fabric and the back is a waterproof oilcloth like you would use for a tablecloth. We have already washed these things at least a dozen times and they work great. This wouldn't be the first time we've invented a product when none was available that met our needs. We'll never get rich from these endeavors though. When you design something for an audience of one, that's usually as far as it goes.

Tomorrow is the first of September. The dogs get their monthly heartworm pills and we get a rare Monday without the usual getting ready for work rituals. By the end of the month the worst of the Summer heat will be over for another year. The days will get shorter and I will start photographing sunsets again instead of wildflowers. I like these repeating rituals. This year certainly hasn't been what I expected, but it still feels familiar.

Domino is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 1719

I only had one thing to do today. I was going to fix the screen door. I've done this dozens of times before, because screen doors don't last very long with Dalmatians. In the past, dogs have jumped right through the screen when they saw a rabbit in the back yard. Typically, the damage isn't this severe but the metal mesh always gets damaged eventually by scratching paws, wagging tails, and simply bumping into the screen over and over again. It was time for a new screen today.

I thought this would be an easy job, but I was wrong. Unbeknownst to me, they stopped making screen wire in the correct size since the last time I fixed the door. I couldn't even find anything close, so I had to buy a much larger screen and cut it down to size. I keep forgetting that my Mid-Century Modern house is really sixty years old. Doors have gotten larger, along with just about everything else. When I got the screen sized properly, I realized that I needed staples for my staple gun. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that nobody makes staples that fit my old but very nice Swingline stapler. All the staples are made to fit Arrow staple guns now. My sturdy, American made staple gun had become a relic. Home Depot had an entire aisle full of staples and nails, but nothing for me. I finally found a single box of Swingline staples that looked like it was from the 1950's in my storage warehouse, but this is going to be a problem in the future. Fixing the door was never this much of a problem before. It made me feel old. I had a hard time even getting the screen door off its hinges because of the carpel tunnel in my left wrist and my dislocated right shoulder.

I did eventually manage to get the door fixed, but in the process I broke a pretty brass watering can that I've used for years to water house plants. I knocked the can over when I was positioning the door on a nearby table to attach the screen and all the braised brass joints just fell apart. One little tap and the spout and legs just fell off. Later, when I was picking up dog blankets to wash, I knocked a picture frame off the wall and broke it too. It was that kind of day.

Dot had a better day than I did. There were no accidents at all. It's strange that today was normal, because last night she peed all over one of her waterproof mats while she was sleeping. Maybe it was just because we slept in a bit later this morning. She probably would have made it through the night if we had all gotten up at 6 AM like we do on a work day.

I watched the latest Dr. Who episode while I was getting the bed ready for another unpredictable night. I don't know if Dot's bladder will leak tonight, but I do know that Dr. Who needs some better writing if this season is to be a success. Peter Capaldi could still be a great doctor, but he needs better scripts. In my humble opinion, tonight's show was a poorly conceived mess. I felt like I was watching a parody of Fantastic Voyage. I'll still watch next week though.

Janet has a weird weighted hula hoop that she sometimes uses to exercise with in the back yard. I tried to use the hoop while I was messing around with the screen door this afternoon and I couldn't keep the thing spinning. How embarrassing. I would have thought using a hula hoop was one of those basic things like riding a bicycle that you never forget. Who knows. Maybe I can't ride a bicycle anymore either.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 1718

I thought I'd do something useful today, so I decided to clean the teak outdoor furniture in the back yard. I had a bottle of special cleaning liquid and made the mistake of reading the fine print on the back of the bottle. Before using this product, I was supposed to put on rubber gloves, wear protective eyewear, and dispose of any clothing that inadvertently became exposed to the product. The warning message also told me to cover the ground under the bench I was about to clean, so the product wouldn't seep into the soil when I rinsed the furniture off with a garden hose. WTF? If this stuff is this dangerous, why was it sitting on a shelf in a hardware store begging to be purchased by idiots like me. Needless to say, I didn't open the bottle. I only read the label to make sure the cleaner would be safe around dogs. I never dreamed it would be hazardous to my own health. The last line on the warning label included the number for the poison control hotline, just in case something went wrong.

With my plans to clean the patio furniture thwarted, I decided to go ahead and finish my August writers group essay a few days early. The prompt for this month was "windows," but it could just as easily been kangaroos. I'm not particular about what I write about. As my regular blog readers have already learned, I often write about nothing.

The weather was strange today. We woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof. By the time I had gotten dressed and made the bed, the rain has stopped. I took the dogs on a nice walk and then went out for breakfast. Almost as soon as I returned home again, the rain started again. It went back and forth like this for most of the day. One minute it would be bright and sunny, and the next minute there would be ominous dark clouds on the horizon. Everything worked out well. The dogs got both of their walks. I was able to run all my errands. And the plants in the yard still got some much needed water.

Dot had a good day. There were no accidents at all. We woke up in a dry bed and the day proceeded normally from there. I still can't figure out why Dot would be completely normal one day, and pee all over everything the next. Dot does appear to be getting better, but her progress certainly isn't linear. There are still good days and bad days, but the good days seem better than they were two weeks ago and the bad days aren't as bad. I wish I could take Dot along with me the next time I see my urologist. Maybe he might be able to explain what is going on.

I'm looking forward to having a three-day holiday. We don't have anything planned for Labor Day, but that's OK. Doing nothing is always fine with me.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 1717

The year is winding down. Most of the wildflowers in the park have been replaced by seed pods and odd looking fruit. These will provide the seeds to begin the whole process again next Spring. Most of the flowers we see on our walks are actually weeds. One of the most common is Horse Nettle. The small white flowers with the bright yellow stamen are ubiquitous in the meadows below our house. In the Fall the pretty flowers are replaced by clusters of small yellow fruit that resemble cherry tomatoes. Farmers and ranchers often call these things devil's tomato, since they are poisonous. One more thing to steer clear of with the dogs.

I got a letter today telling me that the only remaining store in Texas that specialized in selling astronomical telescopes will be closing at the end of the month. This store joins a long list of fascinating small businesses that I've enjoyed patronizing over the years. The Observatory has been around for over 15 years, but I guess it finally succumbed to the same pressures that have caused many other small businesses to shut their doors. The stores that sold model trains were the first to go. Then the independent camera stores and retail lumberyards disappeared. Even though it never gets dark enough in Dallas for serious star gazing, I used to like visiting the telescope store. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronomer. I never had a good grasp of math, which explains why I went into advertising instead, but I still have a fondness for nice telescopes. I'll miss this unique store. It's just not the same buying things on eBay.

Dot had an excellent physical therapy session today. We started interval training again and she did just fine. Her weight has stabilized at 53 pounds and her rear legs are definitely getting stronger. There is still a tremor in her left rear leg when she is standing still, but it doesn't seem to affect her mobility. For a senior citizen, Dot is really quite remarkable. She can still keep up with Dash, who is probably five years younger. We may have to learn to live with the incontinence issues though. We still haven't tried medication, but this doesn't look like it is going to clear up on its own. Dot doesn't even know she is peeing on things, because she is always asleep when she has an accident.

This week has gone quickly. This entire month has gone quickly. It's hard to believe it will be Labor Day on Monday. I'm already looking forward to my breakfast outing tomorrow. It is supposed to rain on Friday, but hopefully I can get the dogs walked and have my breakfast before things get messy. I don't mind designing websites in the rain, but walking dogs in the rain is another matter entirely.

Mandy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1716 - Dot's Birthday

Dot had a big day. We started the day by returning to our regular route for the dog's morning walk. I walked Dot and Dash together and Dot had no trouble going the full distance. We walked a lot slower than usual, but nobody was in a hurry. Dot also got to go back to training class this evening. This was the first time she's returned to the class since her surgery and she seemed to enjoy the outing. We didn't do all the exercises, but she seemed eager to participate in some of the easier routines. When we got home, we all had cake.

I'm still not sure how old Dot is. Janet says she turned 13 this year, but I thought she was 13 last year. Maybe it's like a woman's 39th birthday. Dot might end up being 13 forever.

I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before.  It's easy and it's delicious. When I was worried about my blood sugar levels, I stopped eating wheat products for over a year. Since grain converts to sugar during digestion, cutting bread out of my diet brought my blood sugar levels back to normal very quickly. I also lost a fair amount of weight. All this is good. The only problem was that I have always loved bread. Now that my liver is functioning normally again and I have significantly improved my chances for avoiding diabetes by eating a healthy diet, bread has become a bigger temptation than ever. I haven't pigged out on French Toast with Maple Syrup yet, but I do enjoy the occasional sandwich. Even though this morning's grilled ham and cheddar sandwich was delicious, I'll be back eating my oatmeal tomorrow. Dot won't be eating cake again for quite a while either.

I wish I was was busier at work, but it's probably been good that things are slow now. I've spent so much time this Spring and Summer caring for sick dogs and driving them back and forth between various vet appointments that I don't know where I would have found the time to do my normal workload anyway. Tomorrow is another physical therapy day for Dot. She's gotten strong enough now to do a full twenty minute workout on the underwater treadmill. It's amazing how well she's doing physically. You'd never know she was a senior citizen until you saw her pee all over the house. If we can ever resolve her incontinence issues, I think Dot will have made a full recovery.

I need to order a full set of ink cartridges and a new maintenance tank for the large format printer tomorrow. I've managed to use up all eight cartridges just doing cleaning cycles to keep the printer from clogging. Since the cartridges cost $57 each, I wonder if it is worth the effort. It's kind of insane to work so hard to keep this cranky printer running properly. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a gallery show again, but I probably won't. I may never make a huge print again. It's nice to have a good printer just in case though. I may not do much these days, but I'm certainly well prepared.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 1715

Today is National Dog Day. I was curious how this holiday originated and quickly discovered that creating your own "national day" has become somewhat of a cottage industry. Creating recognized national days has become a hobby for some and a calling for others. It is remarkably easy to create your own special day. You or I could do it if we had the inclination. The woman who created National Dog Day in 2004 has also created National Cat Day, National Living Room Day, and National Farm Animals Day. Although there are only 365 days in a year, there are already over 13,000 officially recognized national days. This all seems kind of weird to me. Here I had been thinking that National Dog Day was a real holiday and it is just a totally made up event created by a woman who likes holidays.

My own important dog day is tomorrow. It is Dot's birthday. Our best guess is that she will be 14 years old tomorrow. I say this because we've been telling people she was 13 all this year. It's hard to know exactly how old a rescue dog is. When we initially adopted Dot, we thought she was about three years old. Our vet thought that this was a good guess. She was fully grown at the time and her teeth looked like those of an adult dog. We may be wrong. Dot could be older or younger than we think she is. August 27 is not the day Dot was born. It was the day we adopted her. It is still a very special day. Especially this year. When Dot had a 105 degree fever a few months ago and was clinging to life in the ICU, we didn't know if she would make it to her next birthday. The fact that both of our dogs survived cancer this year and are now healthy and happy again makes this a very good year. We will definitely celebrate tomorrow.

I spent more time taking Dot to her physical therapy session today than I did working. It's time consuming being a dog's rehab nurse. Dot did great on the underwater treadmill and walked a full twenty minutes. She is strong enough now that I've started walking both dogs together again. We had an enjoyable pre-dawn walk this morning and another not so enjoyable, but very necessary, walk in the afternoon heat. Dot really got her exercise today.

We used to bake the dogs a special three layer cake on their birthdays. At some point in the past, I even took a cake decorating class and became quite adept at decorating fancy dog cakes. Neither of us has the energy for that sort of thing anymore. I don't think we've baked a dog cake in over three years. These days, we either go buy a cake or do nothing at all. In truth, the dogs would rather have a nice juicy piece of chicken than a cake anyway. We'll conjure up some sort of a celebration.

I wish it were Friday tomorrow. I actually wish every day were Friday. I could make that happen easy enough by just going out to eat for breakfast every morning and picking up something tasty for dinner at Whole Foods or Central Market. This seems all wrong though. Once a week is a treat. Every day would be an indulgence. We can't have that. Indulgence has always been my personal road to ruin.

Cammy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 1714

I went up to visit my watchmaker today. I guess the guy is still a client, although I haven't really done anything for him in years. When I was still an active collector, I was a frequent visitor, bringing the watchmaker a steady stream of new acquisitions to repair, evaluate, or just take a look at. I used to tell people I collected watches because they were smaller and easier to store than cars. That was only partially true. The real reason guys collect things is so they have something to talk about with other guys who collect the same things. I used to love visiting with the watchmaker. We both were interested in European cars and mechanical things. I had other friends with similar interests, but few of these people collect things anymore. Life eventually gets in the way. Unless you are very rich, the pressures of putting your kids through college, paying medical expenses, and dealing with a somewhat unforgiving economy gradually make any collection almost irrelevant. The watch I brought in for repair today was only a token gesture. I could have easily brought in twenty more in a similar state of disrepair, but what would be the point? I don't really need these things. There's nobody to impress anymore.

Somebody asked me today if I still did personal portraits. They way they asked led me to believe this was to be more of a favor than an actual job. I decided to be honest for a change and tell them I wasn't interested. I've grown weary of lugging hundreds of pounds of lighting gear and equipment around for nothing. Now that everyone has become an Instagram expert, people tend to think that photographers like me just take pictures for fun. Nope. It used to be a great business. Maybe it still is for a few.

I was going to brag about how well Dot had done today but I just noticed that she has peed on the carpet again while I've been writing the blog. It was her first accident of the day, but she could have definitely picked a better place. I had waterproof pads all over the place. I don't know how she managed to find the one place that wasn't protected. This is my day these days. No wonder I've lost interest in collecting things and taking portraits.

The weird thing was that it really wasn't a bad day at all. We had a great walk early this morning before the weather got hot. I actually did enjoy talking with the watchmaker, even though my interest in watches has waned a bit. I think I've become quite good at taking care of sick dogs, but I'm really tired. I'm ready to go to bed, but there's one more thing to do. I need to waterproof the bed first.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 1713

I highly recommend the occasional lazy day. Today was just what the doctor ordered. We slept in later than usual, but not too late to give the dogs a leisurely early morning walk while it was still cool outside. We had an equally leisurely breakfast and then I watched last night's Dr. Who Season 8 premiere while Janet went to the gym. I didn't realize the show was going to be two hours long when I taped it, but I didn't have anything better to do this morning anyway. Peter Capaldi was actually quite good as the doctor. I enjoyed the show and think I'll enjoy the new season as well.

Dot had a good day. Things aren't progressing in a predictable linear fashion, but it is clear that she is making progress. We almost made it through the night without an accident and probably would have if we hadn't forgotten to take up her water bowl early like we have been doing lately. Considering that she tanked up on water at 11 PM when we got home from the concert last night, she did pretty well.

I'm spending more time outside with the dogs lately. Mostly I go outside to warm up, since it is so cold inside. The temperature isn't that cold in the house, but I think my skin has grown sensitive to the cool air constantly blowing out of the air conditioning vents. It's weird. The temperature is usually 72 degrees when I wake up in the morning, but I feel warm since I've spent the night warming up under blankets. Later in the day, when the indoor temperature has risen to 77 degrees, I'm freezing. I don't think my body retains heat well. Maybe I'm a reptile.

When I'm outside watching the dogs, I usually lay on a bench and stare up at the canopy of trees over my head. It's amazing how much activity there is up in the tree canopy. In addition to the ubiquitous squirrels, there are large butterflies fluttering around, lizards climbing up and down the tree trunks, and at least ten different species of birds. I even saw hummingbirds the other day. There is hidden beauty high up in the trees, while down on the ground there is only the irritating possum, tearing up our lawn.

I made it back to the gym this afternoon. When I only go once a week, I feel like I'm tearing my muscles apart. It is only when I'm able to go at least three times a week that I can establish a rhythm and feel like I'm making serious progress toward building myself up again. Maybe now that both dogs are getting healthier, I might be able to visit the gym several times a week like I used to when I first joined. It's hard to believe I've been going to this gym over a year now. Time flies. I feel like I joined just a few weeks ago.

I wonder if I'm going to be busy next week. I don't get much advance warning about upcoming projects these days, so I never know. I do know that Dot has a birthday this Wednesday. We ought to have a big celebration. You wouldn't know by looking at her today, but just a little more than a month ago we weren't even sure if Dot was going to make it until her birthday. We've really come a long way.

Hero is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 1712

I took my car to the Land Rover dealer to get a new safety inspection sticker after we ate breakfast this morning. I enjoy going to the dealership. They know me there, they have fresh coffee, and they always wash and vacuum the car, no matter what they are doing to it. The Land Rover dealer is kind of like the Apple Store or Design Within Reach. It's the absolute antithesis of Walmart.

Dot had a good day. She made it through the night without an accident and even though we were both too busy running errands to take her outside every two hours, there were very few accidents inside the house. It was virtually a pee free day. Dot has been making such good progress lately that we decided it was OK to leave the dogs for the evening and go to a concert. Dot was fine while we were away, but I don't think she approved of this plan. When we checked the nanny cam to see how she and Dash were doing, she apparently spent the first hour barking. When Dot is barking and Dash is still asleep, it usually just means that Dot is mad. It is only when they both are barking that I begin to worry.

We went and saw the Richtones at the Eisemann Center this evening. Janet has a friend who sings in the group, and we usually go to their Fall concert every year. I never thought that I'd like barbershop style music, but I've grown to like the group almost as much as Janet. A chorus of 120 women singing acapella Lady GaGa hits is actually pretty impressive.

The possum has been coming back almost every night this week to tear up a new patch of St. Augustine grass in the back yard. I think the possum is still looking for grubs, but he's not finding any. We did a pretty good job of treating the yard for grubs in the Spring, and I still haven't seen any signs of them. So far, the lack of available grubs hasn't deterred the possum at all. This irritating creature seems determined to tear up our lawn one square yard at a time until he finds something tasty to eat.

I hope I remembered how to set the DVR to record the new Dr. Who season premiere this evening. We were at the concert when the show initially ran, but if the DVR actually recorded anything, I'll get a chance to watch the premiere tomorrow. I always think I'm not going to like the show anymore when the doctor regenerates and a new doctor takes his place. Peter Capaldi is a lot older than all the other recent doctors, but I'm sure he'll suck me into watching the new season, just like all his predecessors have. Apparently, Jenna Coleman will be leaving the show soon, so there will be a new companion as well.

I can't think of a single good reason to avoid going to the gym tomorrow. The weather looks good. Dot is getting better. I'm more or less caught up on my work assignments. It looks like it's time for a good workout.

Mickey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 1711

I had a nice breakfast this morning at my favorite restaurant and picked up some groceries for the weekend on the way home. I wasn't gone long, but by the time I got home, Dot had already peed on the floor. I try to convince myself that we're making progress, but I'm probably just being hopeful. Some days it actually seems like Dot's incontinence is getting worse. We'll give it two more weeks, but if things don't start improving by then, we'll probably have to resort to some sort of medication. Should we try Proin or Incurin? I just don't know at this point.

Since I wasn't all that busy, I decided to get a haircut this afternoon. Usually when I go to the mall, I feel compelled to visit the Apple Store or maybe buy a new pair of jeans. Today, no store called out to me. I ignored them all. I even walked right by the Apple Store without being tempted by something in the window. This is almost unheard of for me. The combination of huge vet bills, diminishing client needs, and general lethargy have put an end to my acquisitive tendencies. I don't need new gear for work anymore and I don't seem to desire new gear for pleasure. Maybe this is a good thing, but it feels strange. Cars, technology, gadgets, and tools have defined me for so long that it's weird not to crave these things anymore.

I can't figure out why Dot seems so strong and active in the morning and so weak and tired in the afternoon. She is eager to do all the things she used to do, but seems to use up her day's allotment of energy on her morning walk. Maybe it's just old age, but maybe it's something else. I wish there was a clear explanation for all the changes that have happened since her surgery. She seems happier and much more comfortable since the tumor was removed, but she also seems older and tires very easily. Dot is not going to get any younger, but I still hope she is able to make a full recovery. After we've come this far, it would be a shame if she wasn't able to enjoy all the benefits of being cancer-free. She deserves to be able to run again and sleep all night without waking up in a puddle of pee.

I have an appointment at the Land Rover dealer tomorrow morning to get my car safety inspected for another year. It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since I traded the Defender for something newer. The new car isn't really new anymore, especially after a "happy tail" episode with Dash on the way home from the vet where he shook his tail really vigorously and sprayed a fine mist of tiny blood droplets all over the headliner.

It's almost time to waterproof the bed for the night again. I'm a little disappointed that Dot isn't back to normal yet, but she's doing the best she can. It's up to us to do the best we can as well.

Lance is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 1710

I've been asking my veterinarian friends how they treat incontinence in dogs and almost every one of them has given me a different answer. Some prefer to use estrogen products like Incurin. Others would rather use Proin, which is actually a type of decongestant called Phenylpropanolamine. There are herbal remedies, surgical solutions, specific exercise regimes, grain free diets, and a host of other alternatives that may or may not be effective. It's frustrating that nobody seems to agree on the cause of Dot's incontinence or the best way to treat it. For now, I just try convince myself that she's getting a little better, one day at a time.

Dot is certainly improving physically. We had a nice walk this morning and she was able to go almost twenty minutes on the underwater treadmill today. I was real pleased with her progress until I got home and read another article that said too much exercise could actually cause incontinence in some dogs. I feel like I'm dealing with an information overload. There are way too many things that might be causing problems and no simple solution.

There were quite a few website problems to deal with today. One client thought she had malware on her site. Another sent me a bio to upload that was so long it could have been a short novel. Everyone is worried about getting a bad review on Yelp. Increasingly, I am being asked to do things that have nothing to do with design. I try to roll with the punches and adapt to changing times, but this certainly isn't what I started out doing.

I'm getting to where I hate to even turn on the TV these days. The news is a continual barrage of riots, Ebola virus scares, terrorism atrocities, forest fires, floods, and unbridled stupidity. No wonder so many people are poorly informed. You just don't want to know about a lot of this stuff. It's too depressing. My solution is to watch a lot of old Top Gear and Dr. Who re-runs on BBC. Other people prefer Netflix or Candy Crush Saga. Anything is probably better than the sobering reality that we are all on the verge of complete chaos.

At least it's Friday tomorrow. I'm going to have a delicious breakfast and get a haircut. I'm hoping that Dot is going to make it through the night without peeing on something. Surely something good will happen tomorrow. When I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed the meadows were filled with little white Rain Lilies that just appeared out of nowhere. That's kind of how life is. You get a bad thunderstorm that scares the dogs and then a few days later there are all these pretty Rain Lilies.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 1709

Dash spent the day at the cancer center getting re-evaluated. Although he got an excellent report and is still cancer-free, his oncologist wants to continue his chemotherapy regime for at least two more months. I was hoping that he might be finished with his treatment today, but I guess two more months will be OK. The Palladia drug seems to be very effective and doctors are enthusiastic about using it for the types of cancers that Dot and Dash have. I asked if Dot would need the Palladia too, and it doesn't seem to be necessary in her case. Her tumor has finally been positively identified as a gastrointestinal stromal tumor, which responds well to Palladia, but the oncologist still thinks the tumor was removed early enough that it had not metastasized yet. The Palladia pills do not appear to have any side effects on Dash. The only side effects are on your wallet. The pills are quite expensive.

Both doctors I talked to today seem a bit puzzled about Dot's incontinence. They said if it was just caused by the IV fluids she received while she was in the ICU, it should have cleared up by now. Everybody thinks we should wait the full six weeks before considering alternative treatment, but it's starting to look like this might be more complex than we initially thought. Incontinence can be caused by old age, neurological problems, and a host of other issues. The trauma of surgery might have triggered an underlying condition that was already there. I read an article about incontinence in dogs the other day and found at least six different very plausible reasons why Dot might be experiencing this right now. It is all very confusing.

Dash is doing better with Janet as his trainer than he was with me at dog training class. She continues to take him to the Wednesday evening classes while I stay home with Dot. Both dogs are very sensitive to our own attitudes. Maybe Dash can tell that I was never that enthusiastic about school and class myself. I've never liked people telling me what to do. I'm glad he is doing well however. Maybe he'll eventually start winning ribbons again. Dash is a very smart dog. During his first year at training class he won all kinds of obedience ribbons. Then he got bored and didn't seem to like the exercises anymore. Maybe it was me who just got bored and didn't like the exercises anymore.

This week is going quickly. I really need to get a haircut, but I can't seem to find the time. It definitely won't be tomorrow. Dot has another physical therapy season tomorrow and believe it or not, I've still got work to do.  Maybe I can find time on Friday. If I had to choose between getting a haircut and going out for breakfast though, I'd definitely go for the breakfast.

Blackjack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 1708

I've been sleepy all day. Dot woke me up about 3 AM needing to go outside and then I had trouble getting back to sleep again. After three uneventful nights of restful sleep, I thought we had put most of Dot's incontinence issues behind us. Evidently not. Rehabilitation is not an exact science. There are still good days and bad days and today was not one of the better ones. When we went for our physical therapy session later in the day, I asked the vet why Dot appeared to be regressing. She said Dot probably just drank too much water later in the evening yesterday and said I should start withholding her water around 7 PM until her kidneys started concentrating urine normally again. Maybe it's as simple as that. Actually, I did let Dot drink water later in the evening last night because I thought she was back to normal. I need to remember to be patient.

It wasn't all bad news though. Dot had another good day on the underwater treadmill and continues to get stronger. I walked the dogs together again this evening and Dot had no trouble keeping up with Dash. Physically, she's doing great. She just pees all over the place. Despite the lingering incontinence issues, I'm still reluctant to give her estrogen. It would be so much better if she can resolve this on her own.

Sometimes it seems like these dog problems are never ending. Exactly one year ago Dot was having some serious issues with seizures. We managed to get those issues resolved and then Dash got sick. Dash appears to have made a complete recovery from his cancer, but he's still under treatment. In fact, he goes back to the cancer center tomorrow for another evaluation. We're hoping that Dash's oncologist will give us the green light to discontinue the chemotherapy. They're going to do an ultrasound tomorrow and if everything looks good, he might be finished with his cancer treatment entirely. We'll follow the doctor's recommendations though. We've come this far and Dash is doing well. If he needs more treatment, that's what he'll get.

You'd hardly know it was Janet's birthday today. She left for work early after we each walked a dog around sunrise. We still don't walk them together in the morning, because Dash likes to walk much further than Dot can manage in the mornings. When Janet came home from work later in the evening we had chocolate Sprinkles cupcakes and opened presents. Then it was time to waterproof the bed again. Our birthdays may not be glamorous anymore, but we've got a lot to be thankful for. Both our dogs have survived some pretty serious illnesses and are happy to be alive. We're also managing to stay reasonably healthy ourselves. We're all survivors. At this point in our lives, that's enough.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1707

Today was a mixed bag. I walked the dogs together again for the first time in over a month. I had to slow Dash down a bit, but generally everything went fine. I'll try this again tomorrow. If I can go back to walking both dogs together, it will simplify things a bit. We won't have to get up so early every morning and Janet can go back to her regular schedule. I was so pleased with Dot's progress that I became over confident and let her roam around the house unsupervised while I was eating dinner. She promptly peed on the carpet in the bedroom. I was surprised, since we'd just returned from a walk and Dot hadn't had any prior accidents today. I guess it's hard to predict when a dog with a weak bladder is going to need to go. Maybe she just drank too much water with her dinner. I'm not going to let a little pee dampen a great day. Dot is still making fantastic progress. Last night was the third night in a row that we all slept peacefully and woke up in a dry bed. Dot had lots of energy today and was eager to take her walks. Hopefully, tomorrow will be even better.

I took care of most of the weekend's unfinished errands today. After a trip to the post office, the pharmacy, the bank, and the grocery store, I went to Sprinkles to get cupcakes for a birthday celebration. I've never been to this store when there wasn't a long line. Even at 2:30 in the afternoon on a workday there was a long line. I was gone longer than I expected, so I thought that Dot might have had an accident while I was gone. Nope. No problems at all. Unbeknownst to me, she was saving it up for dinnertime.

I've more or less lost interest in collecting things, so I don't visit eBay much anymore. I keep getting notices to change my password though after the big security breach, so today I finally got around to changing it. Out of curiosity I checked a few of the categories I used to follow. Nobody was bidding on anything and prices were much lower than they used to be. All my collectible treasures had fallen out of fashion. I guess it makes sense that nobody would collect film cameras anymore when you can't even buy film for them. The same thing probably goes for model trains. Why would you be interested in trains if you'd never ridden in one? Even though there were bargains galore, I wasn't tempted to bid on anything. I just felt old.

Dot has another physical therapy day tomorrow. It's too bad she can't just go to the gym with me. It would sure save time if she could work on strengthening her legs while a worked on strengthening my shoulder. I guess I shouldn't worry about running out of time though. I've got plenty of time. I just can't figure out what to do with it.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 1706

We had another peaceful night with no incontinence accidents. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be a peaceful day. About 5:30 AM a big thunderstorm rolled in that seemed to meet the dog's storm phobia threshold. Once the thunder and lightning started, all bets were off. This was going to be one of those all day rains with very few dry interludes to take the dogs outside to do their business. Even though I could tell they needed to go, Dot and Dash wouldn't even stick their head out the back door. Dot couldn't hold it and ended up pooping on the living room floor. Dash stubbornly refused to go until the rain stopped. About an hour after breakfast there was a brief break in the storm and I took him out to the park. Luckily, he did his business quickly, because a huge thunderclap sent us both running back to the house within minutes.

The weather was so terrible that I didn't even bother to go to the gym. Traffic is a nightmare when it rains in Dallas and I'd just as soon avoid it whenever I can. Instead of working out, I got out the Stratocaster and played guitar for a while. I need to get the guitar out of the case more often. Like many things I used to do well, I really need to practice. It doesn't help that the carpal tunnel in my wrist has gotten worse. I couldn't play for a full evening anymore. The wrist just hurts too much. I was thinking that shooting baskets at the gym was helping my carpal tunnel syndrome, but apparently different muscles are used playing guitar. Even though I didn't have the guitar out for a long time, it's was still enjoyable to play a little blues on a rainy day.

After I convinced myself that I was no longer guitar hero material, I did what any geek would do on a rainy day: I updated software and recharged batteries. When all the computers and tablets were up to date, I vacuumed the house. Since I hadn't cleaned anything since before Dot's surgery, the carpets were filthy. I guess it makes sense to clean the carpets whenever you wash the dogs. Both get dirty at about the same rate. Everything is clean now. We've got clean dogs, clean sheets, clean carpets, and clean towels. It won't last long. As soon as Dash discovers how soft the ground is in the back yard after all this rain, he's sure to dig a big hole.

The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow. If it is, I'll finish the list of errands I was planning to do today. There are bills to pay, prescriptions to pick up, a refrigerator to restock with fresh vegetables, and maybe a trip to the gym. It looks like it is going to be a busy week. Janet and Dot have birthdays this month as well.

It's almost time to get the bed prepared for another unpredictable night. This whole ritual is strangely reminiscent of camping. I'm not sure exactly when we can trust Dot again, because she's not talking. Waterproofing the bed sure beats replacing the mattress though, so we'll probably continue adding the waterproof layers long after we really have to. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up becoming one more insane thing I continue to do forever without questioning, just like sweeping all the water off the roof after it rains. Yep, I've got to do that tomorrow too.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 1705

Yay! Dot made it all the way through the night without an accident. I think she was as happy as we were to wake up in a dry bed this morning. I'm not sure whether last night was just a happy accident, or whether Dot has finally turned the corner. All I know is that it was sure nice to get a good night's sleep for a change. Hopefully, things are getting back to normal. I'm still going to waterproof the bed tonight though. There's no point in being overconfident.

Getting her incontinence issues under control isn't the only sign that Dot is getting better. She gets stronger every day. Our daily walks continue to get longer and we are beginning to get back to many of our old routines. Dot is eating normally now and gaining weight. The tremor in her left rear leg isn't as pronounced and she can negotiate steps fairly normally now. Considering how old she is and how serious her condition was, it's kind of amazing to watch her make such a full recovery. The tumor must have been bothering her for quite a while, because she acts like a giant burden has been lifted. She's still going to need quite a bit of physical therapy to regain her strength, but she doesn't need to worry about regaining her happiness. It's pretty obvious that she's happy right now.

Both dogs got a bath today, which probably explains why it rained this afternoon. Whenever the dogs are clean, something happens almost immediately to get them dirty again. Dash is worse about getting dirty than Dot, because he loves to dig holes in the dirt. I would have blamed the holes that mysteriously appeared in the yard last night on him, but I knew he was sleeping in the bed with the rest of us. I shouldn't have worried about the dogs getting dirty. Neither of them like to go out in the rain anyway.

The sudden thunderstorm was pretty bad in some parts of the city, but luckily we didn't lose our power like some in other parts of town. By sunset the rainclouds had moved north and I was able to give both dogs their regular evening walk. It was actually a pretty normal day. I went to the grocery store, did a few chores around the house and then we had a nice dinner. The washing machine was quieter than usual today. Hopefully Dot will have another normal night and there will be no need for lots of laundry tomorrow either.

It's looks like I'll have time to go to the gym again tomorrow. I certainly need the exercise, but somehow a long nap sounds a lot better.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 1704

The day passed surprisingly quickly, considering how little I actually got accomplished. I had a pleasant pre-dawn walk with the dogs. When the sun came up, I had an equally pleasant breakfast at my favorite restaurant. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but Dot's incontinence seems to be improving a bit. We almost made it till 4 AM this morning before she had to go outside. There were no accidents during the day either. I don't tempt fate though. I still take Dot outside every two or three hours.

It's amazing how quickly the temperature rises once the sun comes up. We start the day in the low 70's and end it in the high 90's. There's an equally big difference between inside and outside temperatures. I'm usually too cold inside and too hot outside. The dogs seem to feel the same way, so we spend the day going outside to warm up and then back inside to cool down again.

My two errands for the day both involved staying in compliance with the law. I got new city tags for Dot so she's legal for another year. I usually get the tags when she has her annual exam, but we had to postpone the exam and accompanying shots because of her recent surgery. Hopefully, the new tags should put an end to the late notices I've been getting from the city. Next on the list was getting a new registration sticker for my car. The government isn't good at many things, but they're ruthlessly efficient at making sure your dogs and cars are registered.

The dogs are going to get a bath this weekend. Dot has peed on herself far too often and Dash is just dirty. At this time of year, some of the native grass in the park becomes covered with a sticky substance that inevitably gets on the dogs as we walk along the trails. Maybe these plants regenerate by using dogs to spread their seeds far and wide. It sure is a mess though. After very walk, I have to clean all this sticky stuff off their legs and paws before we go inside.

Another thing that happens at this time of year is that the possums return to the yard and start digging big holes in the grass. I don't know what they're looking for, but they sure make a mess. It's hard enough keeping the grass growing in the August heat, but this week's assault by hungry possums has just about decimated the St. Augustine grass in the back yard.  I try to keep the lawn watered, but sometimes I think that the soft, damp ground just makes it easier for the possums to dig.

It would be nice to sleep in late tomorrow morning, but I doubt that we'll get the opportunity. Once I get up to let Dot out at 3 or 4 in the morning, it's hard to get back to sleep again. We're making progress though. We've gone from 2 AM to 3 AM and now 4 AM. Pretty soon we might just make it through the night.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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