Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat with Snickers

Today is Trick or Treat day in our neighborhood. I love Trick or Treat day because it is so much fun to see the kids growing up and to enjoy their costumes. Snickers was dressed up as a three legged dog. Most of the kids in the neighborhood know her and have heard her story. But there are still some that haven't seen her. One little girl thought it was very sad that Snickers only has three legs and didn't understand how she could walk. We let Snickers say hi to her and walk her to the curb. Snickers has gotten so strong that she can jump 30 inches onto our bed without help. She has figured out how much of a running leap she needs in order to make the jump. We assure everyone that she is much happier without the leg that caused her so much pain. She is certainly not disabled, only abled differently. Here she is enjoying Trick or Treat as much as I am.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Window Smudges

With a little dog, all the window smudges are down low. That's great if you are a big person like me. Snickers is always looking in or looking out and getting nose prints on the windows. If I don't have nose prints, I have lots of paw prints. If the puppy police were here, they wouldn't have any problem dusting for prints. Snickers doesn't like getting her paws wet in the morning dew, so sometimes walks through the muddy flower beds instead. Then if we aren't fast enough bringing her in, she will jump on the door and leave her prints. A mix of vinegar and water and a little elbow grease will clear this right up.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Snickers Helps with Fall Chores

Time to rake leaves and add them to the rose beds. The leaves break down very quickly and enrich the soil with their mulch. By spring time the little that is left will be worked into the soil for nutrients. During the winter the leaves helps to protect the more sensitive part of the rose's roots. The roses that grow best in my yard are tolerant of Zone 4 weather. I live close enough to Lake Michigan that the grow charts consider this area a Zone 5 but I have lost plants during particularly hard winters and so prefer sticking to the Zone 4 tolerant plants.
Snickers finds the work a little boring and she thinks that it is more fun to tie herself into knots while chasing her tail.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Striped Gopher

Our pest is the Wisconsin Ground Squirrel, also called the striped gopher. It turns out this little guy was just looking for a warm place to spend the winter. He never made it into the house, but was in the downspout and the scratching noise was him trying to make things cozy.
We were able to solve the problem by putting screens on the downspouts to prevent the critters from getting into them. No more scratching noises and nothing has been caught in our trap. Everything is good.
Usually these little squirrels are pests in the garden, enjoying roots, bulbs and other delicacies. In the springs it is pretty obvious if you have these visitors. You will find little trails dug into the grass as well as little burrows about an inch and a half in diameter.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Last year when my brother was visiting he told me that we had something living in our walls. I laughed at him and said he was just hearing the siding contracting and expanding. His simple answer was, "Nope". I've listened for critters ever since and have never heard anything.
Well, last night Snickers woke us with a low growl. Grrrrrr............
We were immediately alert and listening for whatever disturbed her. Suddenly, we heard a coarse scratching sound. Bob thought that perhaps it was my niece's tree rubbing against the outside wall of the house. He got up and looked. But while he was up, we heard it again. This time it was much more clear and it wasn't a branch.
Snickers growled again. This time she sounded even more threatening. Bob wanted to crawl into the attic, but I convinced him to wait until morning. We had a trap in the garage that we would be able to bait and place up there.
So, today we explored the attic. It was a great opportunity to check things out. Everything is intact, no leaks or insect invasion. The insulation appears to be in place. We baited the trap with peanut butter and placed the trap on a piece of scrap wood to prevent it from sinking into the insulation. This would have prevented the doors from closing on any invaders.
I hope we are able to catch whatever is out there! Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Snickers' Helps Plant Bulbs

It's time for fall bulb planting. I have a garden club membership at the local nursery and the bulbs were on sale. I bought 50 tulip bulbs of a variety of colors. Bob thought I should also purchase the bulb planter. Good idea for only $1.75 to members. It made fast work of the bulbs. I planted these bulbs in the bed that Bob and I previously prepared. I distributed them evenly in the planting area and then plugged them in. I had to work fast because Snickers thought that it might be a good idea to move them around a little bit and perhaps take a bite or two.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Terrier in the Leaves

Snickers is really enjoying the fall weather. She finds an excuse to play and enjoy every moment that she is outside. It is cool and crisp outside and most of the leaves are on the ground.
Leaves on the ground are great toys. They hide bunny scent, and ground squirrel tracks. They make rustling noises that cause you to turn and look at what might be behind you. They are a great excuse to hunt and search to uncover whatever is waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How Do You Slow A Rat Terrier Down?

Today, only one day after her dental surgery, Snickers went for a walk. This is after she insisted on chasing her tail around the yard and doing somersaults in the fallen leaves. I'm softening Snickers food with warm bullion so she won't hurt her mouth when she eats, but there is no way she is going to lay around for another day. What do you think of her remaining teeth? Nice and sharp!

I eventually got Snickers to settle down in her bed. I moved it into the kitchen so she could be with me while I was working. This gave Buddy, the parakeet a chance to get out. We need to be careful to keep the two animals apart so Snickers won't eat Buddy.
I found a Red Lion Amaryllis bulb kit at the local nursery, so I used this opportunity to plant it so that I have a nice display at Christmas time. It came with a dehydrated compressed disk of mulch that you rehydrate with some warm water. You can see that Buddy is very interested in what I am doing. I look forward to enjoying this flower in December.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Canine Tooth Extraction

Snickers made it through her dental work. She was under general anesthesia and required an IV. We dropped her off at 7:45 this morning and were able to pick her up at 2:45. She was pretty sleepy, but very anxious to get home. She could barely stand up, but pulled as hard as she could to get away from the vet. I don't blame her. The last time we left her there she lost a leg. This time she lost a tooth. Poor thing. I think this may solve the mystery about why she was in pain. Now that the broken tooth is gone, I expect her to rest easy at night.

Canine Tooth Extraction

Snickers made it through her dental work. She was under general anesthesia and required an IV. We dropped her off at 7:45 this morning and were able to pick her up at 2:45. She was pretty sleepy, but very anxious to get home. She could barely stand up, but pulled as hard as she could to get away from the vet. I don't blame her. The last time we left her there she lost a leg. This time she lost a tooth. Poor thing. I think this may solve the mystery about why she was in pain. Now that the broken tooth is gone, I expect her to rest easy at night.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dog Dentist

Tomorrow is Snickers' big day. She will have the cracked molar pulled. Dogs aren't like people. They won't put up with having their teeth frozen and extracted while awake. She will need to be anesthetized. No food or water after 10pm tonight. My husband is taking the day off work so he can drop her off and be home to pick her up when she is ready. So today, we'll concentrate on enjoying the day. It finally stopped raining, so we can go for a quick walk, then off to visit Grandma. Snickers loves visiting her house because she knows there are always cookie crumbs hiding on the floor.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dog Play

Once Harley and Snickers have finished greeting each other and establishing who's in charge, it's time to play. Harley is great at teasing Snickers. He knows just how long Snickers' leash is and loves to run in and out of jumping range. They are great fun to watch, but they move so quickly it's hard to get a good picture! Snickers looks for Harley every time she goes outside.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Golden Retriever

Everyone has a best friend. Snickers' best friend is Harley, the big gentle Golden Retriever from next door. Our neighbors always worry that Harley is a nuisance to us, but we love him. We had a Golden when our girls were little and they are wonderful dogs to have with small children. They look a little daunting to some people because they are so large. But they seem to have a sixth sense when they are around little people. Even though Harley is a male and much larger than Snickers, our little Rat Terrier is the boss. She loves playing with Harley and they get along beautifully. Snickers is, however, protective of her people and doesn't like it if Harley jumps on us or gets too close. Snickers has been known to chase him out of the yard if we give Harley too much attention. You can see that Harley crouches down to Snickers level as they greet each other.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chicken Soup

This was a good day to make chicken soup. It was cold and windy with an occasional snowflake. I picked up a small roasting chicken and put it in the stew pot to cook. It came with the liver, gizzard and heart in a small pouch. I added that to the pot for Snickers.
Once I saw a movie in which an actor played the part of a starving man. He found his way to a boarding house and was served chicken soup. He burst into tears and described that soup as the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Ever since I've seen that movie I can't eat chicken soup without counting my blessings.
Well, Snickers is no starving dog, but you would have thought she was the way she went after her treat.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Toy

Snickers is enjoying her new hard rubber toy. She is still playing catch even though she has the cracked tooth. We have decided to have the tooth pulled. I think about how teeth feel after they are crowned and canaled, and all the things that can go wrong. A human can tell you if things didn't go well, but not a dog. This dog will get along just fine with one less tooth in her mouth. We have made the appointment for Monday. I have some pain pills for her that the vet gave me. Even before I knew she had the cracked tooth, I explained that I felt she was having some pain. I guess I was right, but was very wrong about the cause. This is a good reason to see your vet if you think your dog is not acting in the usual manner. I'm glad we have experts to help us communicate with our pets.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Broken Teeth

Snickers is not a happy dog today. She got two vaccines and her yearly exam this morning. The vet felt that everything looked fine with the stump, although she seemed very upset toward the end of the exam. The vet thought it was more due to the shot than the exam for the stump because she was trying to scratch the site of the vaccine. She was probably distressed and afraid that I might leave her there again.
We did get some unhappy news. Snickers has two broken molars. One of them is cracked all the way into the root. The tooth will either have to be pulled, or she will need a root canal. I hesitate to put this animal through any more stress than is necessary, so I am leaning toward pulling the tooth. Snickers and I will talk to Bob and then make our decision.
I stopped off at the pet store and bought her a new hard RUBBER toy. We will need to be careful to only give her chewing toys with some flexibility in the future.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Yearly Exam

Tomorrow morning Snickers will have her yearly exam. She needs a new set of heartworm pills and an update on her vaccinations. We want to do our best to keep Snickers healthy. Her stump has healed beautifully, although it is somewhat sensitive. She trusts me enough to lightly stroke the area but then will push my hand away with her snout when she has had enough.
We are really lucky that our rescued dog has such a docile personality (except when she is playing). I have heard other stories of rescue dogs that are just as sweet. They seem to know that they have a second chance. When I first visited the vet, I warned them that she is a rescue and asked them to muzzle her just to be sure that she didn't bite them. She was frightened and was a bit snappy at that time. Since that visit, she has gone to the vet unmuzzled without incident. She is no longer frightened, and even though she needed the amputation, she seems to understand that everyone is working hard on her behalf.
I think I'll give her some human crackers with peanut butter in anticipation of an uneventful visit.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Warm Place In the Sun

Dogs have the right idea. There is nothing better than sitting back on Sunday afternoon, sharing the time with those you love and enjoying a warm place in the sun!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rotator Cuff

I can understand why people with pets are healthier than those without. It isn't just the emotional connection you get with pets, but it is also the fact that they require care and attention. This keeps you moving. A couple of years ago, I suffered a rotator cuff injury. I went through four months of physical therapy to get my movement back. When I was discharged from care, I went home with weights and pulleys and heavy duty exercise bands along with instructions to keep up the good work.
If you are like me, you will understand that I got lazy and did not keep up the good work. Now that Snickers and I play catch, I am feeling the old injury again. This is a good reminder to me that it is important to continue to exercise as I age. This will keep me strong and limber and allow me to go on adventures and play as much catch as I want with Snickers.
The first thing I did this morning was to get back on the pulley system to encourage complete range of motion with the shoulders. This is a great and gentle warm up for the day. Now I'm ready to start another game of boom-a-rang catch with Snickers (right after our walk, of course).

Friday, October 13, 2006

T-Shirt Quilt, Rock and Roll

My youngest daughter recently moved to Arizona. She and her husband both love music. While she was packing, she grabbed an armful of her t-shirts and was ready to throw them out. I asked her if I could have them to make a quilt. She agreed and was rewarded with a brand new quilt for their apartment. I found 2 1/2 yards of a wild cactus print that was perfect with the Doors, Bush and others. Snickers stayed at my side all the while I worked on this quilt. Here are some pictures.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stylish Fleece

The Cockapoo that lives across the street is sporting a new pink sweater. His owner is really proud of how he looks in it and thinks he is cuter than Snickers. I would have to differ with that conclusion. I think Snickers is the cutest dog on the block. Snickers doesn't really care, she just wants to be the boss. The cockapoo is the only dog in the neighborhood that seems to be able to boss Snickers. Perhaps it is because he is a male, or maybe it is because he is a little sneaky about letting his feelings be known. Snickers will be completely off her guard and try to play with this dog, and then finds she gets a nip on the nose.
I think I will have to put the super cute dog sweater on Snickers that my daughter got her. It has little penguins on it and is made of a really thick warm fleece. That should really make the cockapoo jealous!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Biological Advantage

Snickers got the short end of the stick when it comes to biology and her leg, but she is doing her best to give my garden a biological jump start. I decided to rip out half of one of my overgrown planting beds. It is twelve years old and needs some fresh ideas. The weed barrier isn't doing the trick anymore, the plants have become leggy, and one of the larger shrubs is dying.
So Snickers and I went outside, I leashed to the anchor so she couldn't explore the whole neighborhood, and we went out with shovel in hand. Once the old shrubs were dug out, I decided to pull up the old weed barrier. It was covered with mulch that had broken down into soil, and I could see why so many weeds were beginning to sneak through. They were actually growing through the barrier and expanding the holes as they grew. I decided not to put down a new barrier. This way, I'll be able to plant a variety of bulbs wherever I want and then experiment with some "bunch" plantings. I'm thinking of buckwheat, but I have all winter to think about it.
After pulling up the barrier, I had to pause and clean up Snickers droppings so my husband could cut the lawn. I decided to add that to the bed as fertilizer while I was digging; smellier than regular fertilizer, but by spring, it will have become part of the soil.
Here are some pictures of the weed barrier.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Garter Snake

Snickers is really enjoying the sunny day. She finds a garter snake while sniffing around the shrubs and tries to catch it. Fortunately, she is unsuccessful. I don't think she would like the taste! Garter snakes are beneficial in the garden, feeding on insects and slugs. This is the time of year that the live young are born. I think this was a baby, it appeared to be under a foot long. It will find a nice den in the ground to protect itself from the winter cold. These snakes will feed heavily in the fall in order to survive the winter hibernation. Snickers jumped as it slithered into hiding in the mulch. This snake will live to sun itself another day.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Red Roses

Snickers is enjoying the warm fall weather outside in the garden. It seems to help her recovery to get outside in the sun and sniff around just like the rest of the dogs. Here she is amongst the roses.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Natural Hair Conditioner

I'm not able to do my shopping because I am home with Snickers during her recovery. This would be a good time to condition my hair. I'm still thinking about all the "unnatural" ingredients that surround us including the artificial hormones that make their way into our drinking water from the manufacture of plastics. I put on my bifocals and took the time to read the list of ingredients in the plastic bottle of conditioner I hold. It includes such things as ethyl ethers, petroleum, alcohols and various waxes. I know these things aren't good to put in body, so why would they be good to put on my body, then rinse off and put in my drinking water?
When I was going to school, one of my friend's mother used olive oil to condition her hair. Well, why not give it a try? I wet my hair with warm water, then conditioned it with roughly 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil that I worked through my hair. I wrapped my hair in a towel and went about my business. I washed it out about 15 minutes later, and was very surprised and pleased to find that my hair was shinier than it's been for years. It was soft, and the frizzies were gone. This cost pennies, no plastics were produced, and no oil products or alcohol were used. Very environmentally friendly.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Homemade Detergent, a Simple Conservation Measure

Having a dog with a birth defect made me think about the different things that can cause genetic problems. Many of these are just accidents of nature. In Snickers case, it was probably due to inbreeding. But some causes could include exposure to chemicals, radiation, or other materials. So, what could I do this week that might help reduce the chemicals added to our water supply?
Because I am home with Snickers for the week, I thought it would be fun to figure out if I could make my own laundry detergent. My husband and I do the laundry for my in-laws and my sister in-law is very sensitive to perfumes. She developed this problem after having Guillian-Berre, a neuromuscular disease. No one really knows what causes this disease, but she never fully recovered and has a number of residual issues because of it.
I currently have four two gallon jugs of detergent in my laundry room that take up a lot of space. There are a number of mystery ingredients including surfactants and boosters. I don't know what they are, but I do know that these jugs take up a lot of space, there are perfumes,(the clothes don't seem to smell fresh without the perfumes), and whatever is in them, goes into the sewer system and off to the water treatment plant. I always buy on sale, so they were inexpensive. I think they all pretty much clean the same.
So, I went on line and found a recipe for home made detergent. Just type detergent in your search engine and you'll find multiple sites with the same recipe. It just takes three ingredients; 1 cup grated soap, 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup laundry soda. I used bars of Ivory soap which I grated in my food processor. Why put soap through my food processor, you ask? Well, what do you wash it with when you are done grating food? Once I was done grating the soap, I measured it into a large roasting pan (roomy for mixing). Then I added half that measurement of each of the borax and the laundry soda. Both of these are VERY inexpensive in the laundry section of the grocery store. As I was measuring out the dry ingredients, I noticed that the grated soap was "sweating", or giving off moisture. I put it out in the sun to dry a bit. Then after a few hours, I stirred in the dry ingredients.

I only used one tablespoon to a large load of laundry. Yes, it's true! I was amazed at how clean and sparkly and fresh smelling my clothes were. I have very hard water and I think the softeners really helped. I will definately make my own detergent again. Not only do I know what's in it, but it takes up a smaller footprint in my laundry room, is very inexpensive, and I think it works better than what I bought in the store.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Canine Hospice

Snickers is still sleeping quite a bit but she is recovering quickly. We make sure she is getting only enough exercise to stay strong. She is becoming spoiled very quickly and now I need to wean her off lamb back to her regular dog food. We are not taking her for rides because we don't want her to injure the stump while it is healing. Snickers seems content for the time being to be a lap dog. I don't think this will last too long!
Here she is getting a little lap time. The wound is healing very well. A week has passed and in one more week, Snickers will have the stitches removed. She sure has a lot of freckles on her tummy!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Quick Recovery

Snickers is doing great. She continues to eat the lamb and rice and drinks plenty of water. We maintain her on the pain meds, but are able to back off after the first week. She quickly recovers her balance and after a few days begins to play.
The goal is to keep up her strength but not let her jump or run. This is not easy with a rat terrier. I think that the true name of this breed is Rat "Let's play now" Terrier. Snickers is so easy to love. Why haven't we heard more of this breed? It's like having a smaller, more energetic Golden Retriever. I wouldn't recommend her for small children, though, because she does play hard.
After just a couple of days, Snickers is able to squat without help. The Golden Retriever from next door came over to play and immediately realized Snickers was hurt. Snickers cried and yoweled at Harley. It was as though she was explaining what had happened to her. Harley's owners came running over to hold on to Harley so he wouldn't hurt Snickers, but I don't think they needed to. Harley was very gentle and Snickers seemed to like the company.
One little boy was walking with his mother and called over, "Hey, did you know something happened to your dog's leg?"
Yes, we surely do know. I think Snickers is going to turn out to be a good example to children about how much you can do even though you may have a disability.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Long Night

Snickers wakes up as the sedation leaves her system. I have some chopped lamb and rice to feed her. She hasn't eaten all day and is hungry. Once she eats and drinks some water, I am able to give her a pain pill.
Bob has gone to bed and Snickers begins to cry. Bob wakes up when he hears her crying and comes downstairs to try to comfort her. Snickers sees him and tries to walk to him. She is still unstable and stumbles. It is pretty heartbreaking. Once Bob takes her, she settles down.
It is time for Snickers to go outside, but she is too unstable to try to support herself as she squats. I use a long kitchen towel, folded over lengthwise, to wrap under her abdomen to support her as she walks and squats. It works so well that Snickers feels comfortable walking on her remaining three legs and takes me for a tour of the front yard. Once she goes potty, I bring her back in to the house and get her settled back down for some more rest.
Bob tries to leave the room, but she begins to cry again. I sleep on the couch with Snickers, and Bob stretches out on the recliner. She wakes once more during the night and we go outside and walk around with the towel splint. Snickers seems to need to move around, almost as though it helps her to walk away from the pain. I give her one more pain pill and she is able to sleep until mid-morning.
We visit the surgeon about 11am so she can remove the dressing and check the wound. As soon as Snickers sees her, she wags her tail and licks her hands. Even though Snickers is obviously in pain, she seems to understand that everyone is trying to help her. Her whole left hind quarter has been shaved, so she looks quite thin. But the surgeon is very pleased with how the wound looks and how well Snickers is doing. At this point, the dressing will remain off. We take Snickers home until the stitches are ready to come out.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Snickers is taken to surgery at 8am. We know there is no going back. It has been a very difficult decision, but as the surgeon said, "This is a four legged animal and she still has three good legs". Not much consolation at this point...
After dropping Snickers off, I go to work and wait to hear how the surgery went. Snickers is out of surgery and awake by 11am. The tendons and muscles are much shorter than expected. Reconstruction would probably not have worked. I am promised another call in a few hours.
At about 1:30 I receive another call. Snickers is up and has gone out to the bathroom twice. She is doing well. Still no promises to take her home. I agree to stop on my way home from work to check on her.
At 4:30, the veterinarian office calls again. This time they want to know how soon I can come to get my dog!!!! Snickers cries unless she is being held. The surgeon feels she wants to come home and will do much better there. I'm on my way!
Snickers is sedated and given pain meds prior to going home. She is very groggy when I arrive. Her tongue is dangling from her mouth, but she wakes enough to know I am there. Her hind quarter is wrapped in a bright pink pressure bandage. I am instructed on how to administer the pain medication. She can eat if she wants and have all the water she wants.
I pick her up and hold her. She immediately relaxes and goes back to sleep. I plan to stay up all night with her if need be. I pray that this was the right decision.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Getting Ready for Surgery

The decision is made. Snickers will have her left rear leg amputated. She has been walking on three legs and the bad leg is sometimes held at an odd angle to keep it out of the way. She will yip if she bumps it the wrong way. The option is to keep her on pain meds, which could ruin her liver.
We need to give her a pain pill the night before and the morning of surgery, and no food or water after six pm. She will have a two week recovery, so I will be off work the first week and Bob will be off work the second week. The surgeon will remove the leg between the knee and the hip. This will leave a small stump so that Snickers will have better balance of her hind end when she walks. The muscle will be wrapped over the end of the bone to help protect it from injury.
The surgeon wants to keep Snickers over night, but I am encouraging her to let me take her home. I know that Snickers will want to be home. Both Bob and I have experience in ICU, and so we feel we will not be shocked or be too emotional to care for her. The surgeon is hesitant because some dogs will lash out and bite when in pain, but agrees to see how she is at 5pm. She will call me during the day to give me updates.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A New Day

It's a new day in Wisconsin, and the rain has passed. It is a warm, sunny fall day. We are going for a walk! This is the highlight of Snickers day. It is a simple pleasure that brings joy and time for reflection. I can't think of anything better than sharing it with a little dog that can't wait to spend time with you.