Slow Day at the Crazy Critter Castle

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Karmann waiting patiently for activity on the Squirrel Superhighway

I am icing a recently afflicted Achilles’ tendon that’s threatening to derail my running for critters plans, while binge watching Dawson’s Creek. I’m on the second episode, where Jen goes to the dance with Noel from Felicity and unfortunately forgets to wear pants. So embarrassed for her.

The critters, meanwhile, are mostly lounging in interspecies, sun-seeking nap groups.

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Save Karmann, who seems to be practicing her telepathy as she stands willing squirrels to run across her field of vision so that she can lose her mind and alert the household to their frolicsome presence.

Just another really tough day to be a critter.

Yesterday I . . .

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Pooping everywhere is exhausting

- Had a tour, for which I was getting ready assuming that Schmoop would be taking the pups out while I did so.

- Did NOT adhere to my standard Calvin Anxiety Mitigating Routine because see above.

- Discovered Schmoop had NOT taken the pups out, but rather decided to go get bagels.

- Departed the bathroom to discover stoop poop.

- Proceeded downstairs for cleanup materials and discovered hallway pee.

- Suspended personal preparations in order to clean up two anxiety-related accidents, worked up a sweat, cursed Schmoopie and his damn bagels, became grumpy.

- Ate a bagel after initially refusing bagel out of spite because if it weren’t for the damn bagels I’d have had a lot more than 15 minutes in which to eat a bagel.

- Went to work while contemplating bagel-related Möbius strip of suck.

- Came back eight hours later and began critter feeding preparations.

- Opened kitchen door to take puppies their food and was whacked in the face with poop stench.

- Discovered dining room poop.

- Cleaned up dining room poop and fed puppies.

- Enroute to living room, noticed hallway had dreadful smell, still.

- Discovered stoop poop AND pee.

- Questioned, deeply and profoundly, what my life had become.

- Cleaned the third batch of inappropriate excrement OF THE DAY.

Today I . . .

- Went for a ten mile run having only eaten a spite bagel, 2 meatballs, Cheeze-Its, and a bacon burger the preceding day.

- Spent 7 miles wishing for death.

- Sat passively on the couch while Schmoopie cleaned up YET MORE STOOP POOP WHAT EVEN IS HAPPENING HERE????????

* * *

An epilogue for anyone who may be thinking: House train your freaking dogs, lady!

They actually are.

They were? I don’t even know what to think anymore.

Both pups were fabulously house-trained. But we moved out of the south last summer, and apparently if my dogs had cars they would have those stupid “G.R.I.T.S.” and “American by birth, southern by the grace of god” bumperstickers. Since they are bumperless, they lodge their cultural dissatisfaction through wanton household elimination. This explanation is also known as THE SOUTH WILL HAUNT ME FOREVER, DAMMIT.

Thats one explanation.

The other is that the move caused some stress, which coincided with Karmann developing arthritis, which led to some mobility-related accidents on the stoop, which led to more stress, which caused some anxiety-related accidents on the established-as-potty-zone stoop. All of which coincided with the traditional layout of the new-old house (i.e. not the Househunters preferred “open floor plan perfect for entertaining” type of soul-sucking new construction that we lived in while in Georgia, where asking a perfectly able-bodied Augustan to walk upstairs to the master bedroom is–PERISH THE THOUGHT, but I digress.)

All that basically means that we can’t see the front door, where the pups were trained to sit for potty notification purposes, from any other room in the house. More importantly, I think, they cannot see us. I believe this has caused a notification crisis. If we happen to be present in the front hallway (unlikely) or kitchen when the mood strikes them, they will sit at a door. If we are not, I think they just think, “oh well hey, we have that section of carpet on the landing so . . . “

We’ve been trying since the fall to teach them to ring a bell on the door, but for reasons I cannot fathom they don’t seem particularly interested in learning this new skill. Probably because the stoop is so much less work.

And that is why I bitch incessantly about the out-of-control indoor elimination. I am not used to it, it is not normal (though it is frequently hilarious, because if I didn’t laugh I’d cry) and my dogs are not just totally untrained ruffians.

At least, not in this specific situation.

Schmoopie’s Critterful Moment

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So, not infrequently, my critters get up to shit. And by shit I literally mean they usually do so in some inappropriate place, at some particularly inconvenient time, and the household devolves into madness as humans scramble for cleaning products/cats/dog/etc. Mercifully, this usually happens when we are both around, though I think I can claim without a martyr’s complex that when it happens with one person present that person is usually me. It’s just statistics: I’m with the critters all day, so I’m more likely to be the lucky one. This should not be a surprise, since I basically started this blog to record all the daily and apupcalyptic weirdness in which the critters are perpetually ensconced.

Yesterday, I went for a run while Schmoop hung with critters. The general mood, at the point I left, was increasingly bizarre, so I skipped out the door (and into the rain) gleefully, knowing that I would have a bit of a reprieve. Tra la la!

When I returned, a scant half hour later, the smoke alarm was blaring, a beagle was tearing through the house, and Schmoop was in the kitchen yelling at Karmann to move. From the strained timbre of his directive, she was noncompliant. I froze, wondering if my entrance had been heard above all the excitement, and calculating the likelihood that I could slip back out silently for “another run” by which I mean a trip up to the bar for “a beer” by which I mean many beers.

Just as I was slowly backing away, Schmoop came dashing out of the kitchen and up the stairs, grumbling as he passed that Cal had shat on the stoop and he’d just come in from a doggy potty break wherein Karmann had pooped and then, upon returning to the warm, dry indoors, parked herself right at the top of the basement stairs, indicating that she, you know, needed to go out, and could I deal with at least one situation. Apparently this all went down while he was in the middle of making me dinner.

I took the dogs out while Schmoop dealt with the smoke detector, which had no good reason for going off save that Calvin had pooped right beneath it. So either our smoke detector is a poop alarm, a sentient and malevolent device that seized upon a moment of human frailty, or the batteries died. WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

This episode came at the end of a very nutty few days of twice-daily prednisone for Karmann’s Addison’s. Said therapy clearly helped her, with the super added bonus of turning her into a kinetic pee machine, and thus the household hominids were especially delicate.

Nutter is feeling boatloads better on the once-daily dose, and is finally capable of doing something other than staring at us, pacing, and peeing–she can now rest comfortably AND ALSO be frisky when the situation demands it. And she’s convinced that most situations demand it. Going to the kitchen? PLAY! Going to the bathroom? PLAY! Going upstairs? PLAY! Brushing teeth? PLAYPLAYPLAY! Which leaves me to wonder about how long she’s been feeling under the weather. Because the dog I have now is the Karmann of two years ago: high energy, insanely affectionate, ready to go in .005 seconds. For those of you who have only spent time with Karmann in the past year, and are inevitably thinking, “but that describes the Karmann I know, so what could have changed . . . ?” I can say only that you have seen nothing. NOTHING. This Karmann–2 years ago Karmann–is nuttier than you could possibly imagine. She is indefatigable. She actually bounces. She is made of such raw energy that you can almost see her molecules vibrating. Come see her now. Better yet, come take her for a weekend. I’m exhausted.

Her improvement has also had a, um, wonderful (?) effect on Cal, who was so stupendously happy last weekend that he spent Sunday leaping for kisses and wagging his butt and dancing for grandma before all the amazing excitement made its way to his colon, where it was transformed into another round of frantic liquishitting. Even bouncing, kissing happiness causes systemic skepticism in the beagle. I have no idea how to maintain a perfectly unexciting yet casually pleasant household, which seems to be the only state in which he can function normally.

This past week we also (finally) managed to feed whole, bone-in pieces without initiating doggie world war. Usually, feeding whole chicken wings or thighs–the pieces we’ve previously tried–results in World’s Sweetest Puppy Karmann turning into a crazed and evil hellhound who resource guards THE WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE from Calvin. So we stopped trying. Goddess knows we have plenty of inherent crazy in this house without having to bring it in from outside. And then, this week, we found the answer: duck necks. Karmann likes duck well enough to eat it, but not well enough to commit beaglecide. Score! The only downside is that Mort patently refuses to eat duck in any form, and we have to cut them into large chunks for Karmann, lest she redecorate the living room with duck necks. I will roll with these challenges if it means I have a non-murderous form of zoobie cleaning available to the puppies.

In Running for Critters news, I ran 9 miles last Sunday and I ran in the rain yesterday–and probably will have to do so again today. I don’t want to brag but that pretty much makes me a super heroine.

Critters Are Freaking Hilarious and I Love Them

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With all apologies for the recent spate of dreadful photos, such as the above snap of the calm after the storm. My actual real camera is still MIA post relocation.

I sort of feel bad.

Most of my posts are about the puppies and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that this is a negative reflection on the entertainment value of kittens. Rest assured, our feline overlords are holding their own in the household’s pan-species race to induce a collective WTF face from all available humans, resident and guest alike. I think puppies get the edge, though, because they are larger and their ridiculousness is much more physical. Whereas the kittens’ funny is often brought via the catastrophic failure of their covert, ninja-based skill set, the pups are just sort of unwittingly entertaining.

Dogs are really just smallish, furry clowns.

Example: this morning.

Schmoop and I were awake, but lying in bed howling over clips from The Tonight Show (and no that isn’t a euphemism for anything; Bill Cosby is still almost as funny as my pups.) The puppies awoke to jocularity and, seizing the emotion of the moment, began bouncing around the perimeter of the bed, only the tips of their high wagging tails visible from our plushy perch. Even this little, teeny-tiny thing–bouncing tail tips of prancing puppies–is enough to get me laughing, because it’s so freaking relatable.“Oh hey! You’re awake, we’re awake, it’s a new day and everyone is laughing and happy so let’s get this day STARTED, humans!!” Who doesn’t want to start a day laughing?

So Schmoop and I laughed heartier still, because Bill Cosby AND happy morning dogs.

Pertinent fact: puppies have their own beds on the floor of our bedroom. They are not, nor have they ever been, allowed on the bed and, usually, neither of them seem to care a whit. I would get none sleeps with another human, two cats, and two dogs in the bed, and then I would be cranky and homicidal and I don’t know if you’re allowed to blog from lady jail. Also I don’t think they have hamburgers-on-demand there.

Karmann, sponging our humorous energy, then rested her chin on the bed (difficult, given the height of our pillowtop and the relative shortness of Karmann’s legs), glorious nose pointed ceilingward.

So we laughed yet more, because puppy lips.

Which is when Karmann, sensing a ripple in our bed defenses, decided to make her move: paws up on the bed and shiny happy smiling puppy face all up in mine. If “happy” or “joyful” or “ecstatic” are lacking dictionary illustrations, I volunteer my Karmie’s “I’m almost on the bed!!!” face. I, naturally, did what any responsible dog steward would do in the face of such a transgression: I cracked up and told her how pretty she was and scritched her nose while laughing. That is obviously tantamount to permission, so she started futilely trying to hurl her ass end up on to the bed, which yielded a bouncing happy smiling doggy face and more hilarity still.

We then straightened up and told her to get down and she returned herself to the floor to continue her prancing.

About 30 seconds elapsed, and Schmoop and I turned to face each other while laughing. Once Schmoop’s back was turned, his worshipful Beagle-ish decided that he could no longer refrain and, taking advantage of Schmoop’s back-of-the-head eyelessness, he made his move.

The thing about Calvin is he does very few things directly. He is sort of like a liqui-Beagle. He can be seated on the floor, accepting head scritches one minute, and the next thing you know he is curled up on your lap and you’re confused because how the hell did even get there? He got there by defying gravity and pouring his body up, one crazy millimeter at a time, so slowly you don’t notice until it’s too late and awwwwwww lookit how cozy he is!

So Cal’s move consisted of this same upward pouring mechanism: first a chin, then a leg, then he’s on his side as he brings the other leg up, and then presumably he is levitating because he is somehow sneaking the entire side of his body foreward as though he has no bones and is in that crazy anti-gravity shack in Muir Woods–just slowly oozing his way up and over to you, sideways.

That, alone, is funny. What took it to the next level was that he was forced to execute the pouring with a seriously perturbed Karmann dangling from his collar because, hey, if she ain’t allowed on the bed, ain’t NO PUPPY allowed on the bed. To save the morning’s glee, we issued a cease and desist to Calvin, and he receded from the bed in reverse pour order.

Only to come over to my side of the bed and try the whole thing all over again.

This broke Karmann, who attempted once again to haul him down from his upward slink. And when that didn’t work, she released his collar and gave the single, saddest, “but why aren’t you doing what I want???!?” high-pitched squeal-bark. To which Cal responded with increased dedication to the task at hand. Beagle was on a mission.

You know those dog vs. wolf experiments with a piece of meat in the locked crate, and the wolf tries to problem solve while the dog just looks at their human like, “I am just a poor widdle hungry puppy make this happen, human.”? I have basically seen that in person. Because when Cal refused to give up, and Schmoop and were too busy laughing derangedly at the beagle liquidity before us to deter him, Karmann sat herself down on the floor next to the climbing hound and just barked.

And barked (and we laughed.)

And barked some more (while we cackled.)

And kept barking (I believe I was actually guffawing.)

And barked still, in the most obvious, hilarious fit of self-righteous indignation I have ever witnessed outside of an internet forum.

She was so frustrated and pissed off and DAMMIT WHY IS NOBODY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS????? WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FAIRNESS???

I died. Because as relatable as their morning optimism was, this was even moreso. I mean, who hasn’t been so pissed off at inequitable treatment that they just wanted to sit down and yell? I think I experience that feeling almost hourly during an election year. And while I never wish to insult my doglets by implying that they are human, I have absolutely no doubt that they have similar emotions. Yet seeing those emotions played out with a limited vocabulary and lack of thumbs is–however uncharitably–freaking funny. 

I would never intentionally set up an unequal situation for the puppies (or the kittens, for that matter) but when it happens on it’s own I find it impossible to do anything but laugh and publicly humiliate them with a blog post.

Poor boogies. Such abuse.

 

Kitten Curtain Deathmatch and Other Pleasantries

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The kittens have the sort of relationship that would make Dr. Phil raise an eyebrow. One minute they love each other and are snuggling adorably,the next minute they sound like a small herd of rabid elephants stampeding through the house on a murderquest. Rabid, quacking, yowling, screaming elephants.

Occasionally, they use props. Mortimer really liked it when we were painting the dining room, and a plastic tarp thrown over a kitchen island-turned-buffet created an amenable murderers cave. He would hide beneath the buffet–behind the tarp–and wait for an unsuspecting Puppy, Nigel, or human to walk past, greeting all with the ninja paw, or sometimes even a full kitten lunge-and-retreat. By the time painting was complete, the tarp was shredded. In times without painting projects, though, a bed, human, or piece of furniture will provide suitable cover for whichever kitten is on the offensive. They take turns being the aggressor.

Yesterday, they used the delightfully old timey window treatments left by the previous homeowners, which we have been reluctant to replace because critters destroy everything, as staging for their battle royale. For ten or so minutes they alternated hiding behind the curtain, and deathmauling the curtain hider, while I watched and giggled and calculated the survival rate of whichever kitten crashed through the window and onto the driveway.

As usual with kitten shenanigans, it’s all fun and games until someone gets a claw stuck on some fabric. In this case that someone was Mortie, at which point Nigel became bored and left the striped cat to sort his dilemma alone. Brute force prevailed, and I now understand where the mystery tear on one of the other panels came from.

To the neighbors wondering if this is some sort of crack house with the torn and lopsided window panels: not my fault! *points frantically at nearest kitten*

To the commissioners who want to raise my property assessment: this is totally some sort of crack house!

To any police who might have read the above and are now planning a SWAT infiltration and DEA bust: just kidding! (Unless a commissioner happens to be reading over your shoulder.)

***

In Karmann news, the vet confirmed Addison’s based on cortisol tests, and then did a full blood work up only to discover some things which supported Addison’s, and others that were exactly the opposite of what they generally expect. Given that she is my puppy and I have been informed by two physicians, independently, that various anatomical bits are “not exactly where the anatomy books suggest they should be” this is not particularly surprising. I grow ever more convinced that we somehow share DNA, or are swapping places. I have not personally had any interaction with a Zoltar machine lately, but who knows what Karmann gets up to when she isn’t busy pooping every 20 minutes.

Since “supportive” outweighed the “huh?!?” We are treating her with a short course of a low dose of prednisone and observing her closely. If she improves, we will take that as confirmation. If she doesn’t, I suppose there will be a considerable amount of head scratching. Either way, she’ll have another blood test at the two week mark.

So far, on day two of the prednisone, I can’t see any improvement. I can, however, see a lot of pee–increased urination being a known side effect of prednisone, albeit one I don’t recall her having during treatments in the past. And she doesn’t seem to get much warning, either.

KARMANN: *sleeping*
(15 seconds pass)
KARMANN: ohmygodtakemeoutNOWWWWWWWWW!!!
*pees on stoop*

I assume she’s just trying to not pee until the next regularly scheduled pee, but then realizes late in the game that that isn’t going to work. And unfortunately, when it happens in the middle of the night or at the ass crack of dawn she is thwarted by humans, who require things like pants (and the half asleep, blind, bumbling location thereof) to go outside. Natch.

She still seems off, to me–like she’s agitated not in the sense that she’s cranky, more like she just doesn’t know what to do with herself. Which makes me sad. Because I tell her we are going to get her better but it’s taking a really freaking long time and she just keeps feeling weird in the meantime. But then I suppose I need to give the prednisone more than 36 hours.

I hate being patient.

***

I also hate port-a-potties.

Which is why, if you are reading this and thinking, “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh maybe I’ll donate to this broad’s fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League . . . Or maybe not. I mean, she’s kind of funny-ish. At times. I’m getting, like $.50 worth of entertainment out of this. Can I donate $.50?” I am here to tell you I’m sorry, I’m off my game, and YES YOU CAN! You can certainly donate $.50. And if 70 of you donate $.50 (that’s a total of $35 for my fellow MFA’s out there) between now and April 1 I will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven VIP passes for the marathon and a VIP pass means NO PORT-A-POTTIES!

It also means private changing rooms. Very swanky.

Granted. If I do not raise $35 by April Fools Day–which is also Calvin’s birthday, no pressure–I will still run, and I will pee in a wee plastic hut, and I will change in a giant room with hundreds of other sweaty females while averting my eyes.

I WILL DO THAT FOR THE CRITTERS. I will publicly undress for them. I will do that.

All you have to do is give $.50.

Squishable Sunday

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Things I learned this week

1. Sleep is awesome (confirmed.)

2. Karmann does, in fact, have Addison’s

3. Running after eating half your body weight in andouille sausage is a BAD IDEA. Unless of course you think you might need to direct someone to your location, in which case you could tell them to follow the smell of sausage and sweat. I personally prefer GPS or even cross streets.

4. Using an untested trail system, with reviews stressing how awful the blazing is, is probably never going to yield the type of long run you’re aiming for.

5. Kittens are adorable sleepers (confirmed.)

Bad Hair Day

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It’s not the most flattering cut, if we’re being honest.

My sad, half naked, slightly clipper-burned puppy is *thisclose* to a diagnosis and, thus, to feeling better.

Addison’s Disease.

Probably. Her ultrasound yesterday found wee itty bitty adrenal glands. The vet sent out some bloodwork, and we should have confirmation/more information on Monday.

While I’m not thrilled by the likelihood that she will have to deal with chronic illness requiring somewhat finicky medication and management, the prognosis for well-maintained Addison’s is a normal, full, and happy life. Which is awesome, and also the prognosis that I required from the universe. I thank it for complying.

In a nutshell, her adrenal glands are freeloaders. They just sit there at the top of her kidneys, sucking up space and refusing to do their damned job–which is secreting cortisol and aldosterone to manage electrolyte balance as well as metabolism, and biochemical stress response. As a result, she develops all manner of symptoms–urinary, gastrointestinal, muscular, neurological–while her adrenals hang out all, “lalalalalalalalala life as a gland is grand lalalalalalalalala!” And “What, me worry?” And “Think I’ll have a nap now! Doing absolutely nothing useful is exhausting!”

Bastards.

If confirmed, The Nut will be maintained on daily steroids, and will possibly require prednisone “boosters” during periods of stress, either good or bad. And I will therefore have to learn what happy things are systemically intolerable and adjust meds accordingly, since even things like happy fun playtime can stress her slackass adrenals.

I am so mad at those stupid glands right now, threatening to make my girl’s social events unpleasant for her. But I am also over the fracking moon at the prospect of finally having a diagnosis and a course of treatment, because the last month of sickness and not knowing and helplessness has SUCKED EPICALLY for every living creature in this house, most especially my Karmie Monster.

Who is super adorable, naked tummy notwithstanding.

*squish*

Sometimes it’s Really Hard to Be a Puppy.

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It’s hard to be a puppy when kittens steal your bed, for example.

And it’s really hard to be Karmann lately, as something in her gut just ain’t right. She’s been on meds for her intestinal irritation while the vet makes it through a drop-down menu of tests to find out what is happening to make her intestines intermittently fill up with gas. The latest was a fecal exam for parasites, which was negative.

We spent a chunk of last night’s witching hours at the emergency vet due to another episode of gastric distress. Same as last time, except no traffic, and no Paczki for me as it was 4am when we returned and also I think they are extinct due to Lent. I am once again sitting on the couch putting off the cleaning of vomit from my car’s driver’s side back seat latch. Say what you will about Karmann, the girl is consistent and her aim is spot on–what didn’t make it into the seat latch she rather kindly deposited in the back seat storage pocket. I stuffed both with Clorox wipes last night before dragging my be-Benadryl’ed butt to bed. Are those things absorbent at all? That would be nice if they were.

Her regular vet is now lining up an ultrasound. Hopefully quite soon. The emergency vet last night said it could be any number of things, from IBD to Addison’s Disease to parasites that don’t show up in fecal exams (whipworm, anyone? Mmmmmmm!) to cancer.

This will bring our household Critters With Ultrasounds percentage up to 50% and my sleep quotient down to None Of The Sleeps.

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Sad panda Snugglepuss is finally resting comfortably–if a bit dejectedly.

Squishable Sunday (on Monday)

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At least 50 times a day I look at a critter or two and am overcome with the desire to gather them all unto my bosom and and just squeeze. Because they are so freaking adorable they make my eyeballs pulse.

In Running for Critters news, I have only the following dramatic interpretation of my week in running:

“Oh yaaaaaaaaaaay! I’m finally back on track and actually excited about this 7 miler that I have on Fri–OH MY GOD PLANTAR FASCIITIS.”

Eff.

Rather than sidelining myself, I bought new shoes for my long runs (racing flats which, for all those who know my affinity for minimalist shoes, essentially feel like footshmallows to me) and have been stretching and massaging. Hoping some TLC will help.

But what I really need is a nap.

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