Shit Begins: Lymphoma Suckhole Pt. 1

poop

This is Part 1 in an ongoing series about Mortimer, Original Critter, who has been diagnosed with feline hepatic lymphoma. Read more about that whole pile of shit here

That’s how all this started: With poop. How else would it start in my house?

Technically, that’s not true. It was the absence of poop that got this ball of suck rolling downhill in highly uncontrolled fashion.

The following is as condensed a timeline as I can give, from weirdness that I now understand to be relevant to diagnosis. It’s probably very dull–it’s a goddamn timeline of my life over the past couple weeks. But if there is one thing I hope it can illustrate, it’s that the symptoms of this horseshit can be extremely subtle. I pay such close attention to my critters that you could reasonably accuse me of helicopter pet parenting and not a single (probable) early symptom couldn’t be easily explained by normal circumstance of life. So if you have a cat with lymphoma and you feel like the biggest asshole of all time for not picking up on it earlier, I am here to tell you that this shit does not play fair.

Continue reading

*unintelligible swear words*

This is a terrible picture because this has been a terrible week.

 

Mortimer, Original Critter, has lymphoma.

That’s why he looks very angry above: he was, at the time, 12 hours out from his first chemo, had significantly diminished liver function, hadn’t eaten in 3.5 days, and was suffering mild encephalopathy.

Fuck cancer.

I’ve decided I’m going to chronicle whatever the hell happens from here on out mainly for people who, like me, take their cat to the vet for some vague weirdness only to be told, after several hours and multiple bags of chips that, actually: lymphoma. And especially for people who then frantically wipe the grease and crumbs off their fingers to google “cat lymphoma prognosis” and wind up with far more depression and confusion than they had while trying to wrap grey matter around the understanding that time with their kitteh is now finite in a painfully specific way.

 

I’ll do a couple background posts and then, hopefully, post many updates over the next few years.

If you’ve come across this in your Googlage and are wondering how to proceed, let me state right up front that I have no idea or recommendations beyond strongly suggesting that you consult a veterinary oncologist. I can only share what we’ve decided, why we decided it, and how everything plays out.

So, the following are relevant to our specific situation, based on discussions with our veterinary oncologist:

Mortimer:
12yo neutered male domestic shorthair. Former barn kitten. Has lived the spoiled life since 8 weeks of age. Indoor only. Fed only the fancypants-est food. Grain free for the past 10 years, raw-fed (prey model home, prepared frozen, and prepared dehydrated) for the past 3 years. Sees a holistic vet for yearly checkups. Gets only rabies vax. Has been the picture of health, if a bit on the portly side, his entire life.

Diagnosis:
Hepatic Lymphoma with super giant intestinal lymph nodes and a shitty liver. I believe that is the highly technical terminology. Will also accept: Fucking shit. That’s what we have.

Options:
Chemo, or imminent death from liver failure.

Decision:
Chemo. Madison protocol. That’s 2 months of weekly treatments as an outpatient, followed by 4 months of treatments every other week.

Prognosis:
Since liver failure is a pretty significant complicating factor, prognosis is uncertain and depends entirely on:

  • Mort’s ability to tolerate the chemo
  • The responsiveness of the cancer to the treatments
  • The ability to return the liver to somewhat normal functionality.

In general, cats tolerate chemo in this application quite well. Lymphoma in cats cannot be cured, therefore treatment aims to improve quality of life and, ideally, achieve remission. This means that side effects are kept to a relative minimum and this treatment protocol cannot, in any regard, be compared to the level of sickness commonly induced by chemo in humans. If remission can be achieved, then Mort could get a couple quality years. Median survival rate is 1.5 years.

I cannot stress this enough: The goal of treatment is to use the chemo to make Mort feel better. Not to make Mort violently ill in the short term, with long term hopes of beating the disease. Since the  disease cannot be beaten, there is no point in causing suffering.

I do not intend to present as any sort of authority on the subject. I am just a seriously freaked out person with a very sick kitty and if anything that we (Schmoop, Mort, Other Critters, and I) go through in the course of whatever is to come can provide any sort of comfort then I might as well share it.

Blog will remain blue for the forseeable future, mainly because making it all black (LIKE MY SOUL) would be super hard to read.

Fuck Cancer.

Read Part 1.

Wimp.

You will note two things in this photo: a (completely adorable) wimpy dog, and a dog bed that, despite being laundered just one week ago, is comprised mostly of dog fur and stink.

Karmann had a 6 month checkup today, and I was glad because her presumed arthritis has notably worsened in the interim months. She often picks up her right front leg, and her rear legs occasionally shake after a long walk, or going up steps.

Right off the bat, she was a complete weirdo: hiding behind my legs, plopping herself down into tiny, shy bean and refusing to get up, generally behaving like a dog at the vet and not at all like Karmann at the vet. Most dogs realize, “Vet. Crap.” Karmann thinks it’s an afternoon social hour thrown in her honor by those minions she seldom sees. Or, at least, she did. Until today. Even the vet was confused.

So I immediately began explaining her leg anomalies, assuming that chronic discomfort was to blame for her bizarro behavior, and a check revealed pretty severely restricted range of motion in both back legs. The vet assumed arthritis, but suggested getting films “to rule out any other bad stuff.” When I asked her what other bad stuff, she lowered her voice and said, “bad stuff that we don’t want to talk about if we don’t have to.”

Take ALL THE FILMS, doc. All of them.

Vet soon returned and immediately said there was no bad stuff. She wanted to show me the pictures, so she pulled them up on the screen and said, reaffirming my very great affinity for her, “The first thing we notice, is that she really, REALLY has to poop. *points to poop* That’s a lot of poop. I’d take two bags. Beyond that, we see some arthritis but not as much as I expected, given her discomfort and range of motion sooooooo . . .  she might be a wimp.”

That is her official diagnosis: midly arthritic wimp.

I immediately recalled the time she (also mildly) strained her ACL, as a bombastic 2 year old, and limp-ran as though her leg was partially detached. So there is precedent for this diagnosis, in hindsight.

The leg shaking could be a result of her discomfort, thought it is mostly likely some nerve/muscular degeneration as a result of her age. When I asked if it was the little old lady dog version of what happens to little old lady people, I was told yes, basically.

So we are getting back on the acupuncture train for the, er, palsy, as well as the arthritis. Medicating for the arthritis is tricky, given her Addison’s, as she can’t take NSAIDs. She’s been on a level 2 joint supplement, and we will increase to level 3, add Curcumin twice daily, and she has Tramadol for days that she seems particularly uncomfortable. Actually, we’re giving her Tramadol for a day or two, to see how she does, so that I can (hopefully) see a baseline of comfort that I’ll then aim for with supplements and acupuncture and, possibly, chiropractic.

In other news, I will be selling blood plasma to pay for my dog’s holistic therapies. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not wimpy about needles.

So. Michael Vick.

There is no picture associated with this post because, try though I might, I could not get either of my dogs to stand still long enough for me to take a picture of their asshole. Also, I felt weird trying to take a picture of a dog’s asshole.

But speaking of dog anuses: Michael Vick is a Steeler!

I’ve dribbled out my opinions over the course of the past two weeks, but for posterity, I’m going to consolidate them all here, according to the argument they were formed to refute. If you’re looking for a well-reasoned think-piece on the nuances and subtleties of the human capacity for forgiveness, keep looking. This isn’t it.

Let’s begin with my favorite: “Why weren’t you complaining when Ben was accused of rape?!!???”

I mean, first of all, Random Internet Person, how do you know I wasn’t?

90% of people asking this are fans who justify their ongoing fandom with the fact that Vick didn’t hurt a human, he hurt dogs. And hurting dogs isn’t nearly as bad as hurting a human. The implication being that hurting a human–in this case, allegedly raping a woman–is really, super terrible. Which, of course, it is.

And yet, they are still fans. Of the team. With the alleged rapist. Nay, they are not only fans, they are Fans Who Have Taken Up the Mantle. They are carrying the “You’re in Steelers Country” banner proudly into an onslaught of people who think that attaching jumper cables to a dog and then throwing the dog into a pool is completely fucking reprehensible, effectively announcing that they are totally fine with both rape allegations and dog electrocution.

So, to you 90%, I ask in retort: Why are YOU still a fan? Have you absolutely no moral ground you aren’t willing to cede for a Sunday afternoon of watching men run into one another repeatedly? My god, what does this question say about you?

The remaining 10% of askers are very busy accusing the Vick haters of being racist. To those 10%, I say . . . actually, yeah, some of them probably are racist, because there are a lot of racist shits in the world who will latch onto anything to justify their complete horribleness. But I’m hazarding that most people opposed to Vick are really more like me, in that they are completely willing to scream swear words at people who admit to personally “dropping a dog” (as in: to hang said dog), regardless of race, color, or creed.

“They’re just dogs! Why isn’t anyone this worked up about [list of all the things they care about more than dogs]?

Here’s the thing. I care about shit. Other people care about other shit. If we would all just act more on behalf of the shit we each care about, I’m willing to bet that pretty much every major concern in the world would be addressed.

But then, the people asking this don’t actually give all that much of a shit about the thing(s) they would rather Vick detractors give a shit about. What they actually give a shit about is justifying their fandom, and pretty much the only way to justify cheering for a person who ripped out every single one of a dog’s teeth is to make the opposition look as bad as possible. And what’s the easiest way for a pedant to make someone look like a monster?

Accuse them of not caring about starving children.

Starving kids. That’s the thing I’ve seen tossed around most frequently as being more shit-worthy than dogs.

Here is a list of some things that suck: starving kids, pedophilia, starving grown-ups, sexual assault, domestic violence, misogyny, racism, bigotry, rainforest depletion, human trafficking, homophobia, human-driven extinction, climate change, cancer, terrorism, incurable disease, mental illness, homeless animals, homeless people, factory farming, war, vivisection, the refugee situation in Syria, underfunded schools, Nickelback, drought, Alzheimer’s, forgotten veterans, sexism, lack of clean drinking water, AIDS, blood diamonds, murder, black market arts trade, genocide, female genital mutilation, torture . . . etc.

Attempting to care equally about every single thing on that list–let alone every single thing in the world that sucks– is ENTIRELY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. We are humans, and we work with a limited set of resources, whether it be money, time, or mental stamina. It is impossible to give equal shits about all of the shit-worthy things in life. And so what we do–let me stress this: WHAT WE ALL DO–is we pick the things that resonate with us, often for reasons that defy logic, and, assuming we are good people, we do what we can for the things that we can.

If we’re assholes, we just sit around asking other people why they aren’t doing more.

“He served his time!”

No. He didn’t. He dealt down to a charge of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture and served nary one day in jail for picking a dog up by its back legs and beating it on the ground until it was dead.

“You should forgive him.”

Setting aside the fact that I couldn’t forgive him, even if I wanted to (I don’t want to), because he did nothing to me, isn’t that missing the point of forgiveness? Can the terms of forgiveness be dictated by a third party? If I “forgive” someone because someone else tells me to, is that even forgiveness? Doesn’t forgiveness have to be freely given? You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I suppose I could forgive him for offending every single moral fiber of my being . . . but I choose not to. It offends me. He offends me. I choose not to forgive that offense to my sensibilities and, inasmuch as it sounds like the taunt of a second grader, it remains true that you can’t make me.

“It was 8 years ago. Get over it already.”

I am on my way over to your house with a well-seasoned fighting dog. I’m going to make it fight your puggle, despite the fact that your puggle will, most likely, have no idea what is even going on. I will find this funny, and I will laugh as my dog mauls your puggle.

Once your puggle has been mortally wounded and can no longer entertain me with his pain, I will have no use for him. I will need to get rid of him. I will do this by driving my car around back, next to your above ground pool with the Steelers floatie in it, whereupon I will connect jumper cables–to my car battery and to your nearly-dead puggle’s ears. I will throw your puggle into the pool and laugh as I watch his last salvo, scratching and biting at the pool wall as he is slowly electrocuted.

Then I will tell you I’m sorry, calmly collect my jumper cables, and drive away.

I expect, in eight years time, to receive an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. If I do not receive said invitation, I’m going to be very upset. Because your puggle was just a dog and it’s been eight years, for christ’s sake, and I said I’m sorry. It’s not like I allegedly raped anyone, so get over it already. You should put this much effort into things that really matter.

Like starving children.

“Cal! Wanna go out?!”

 

No.

 
That’s what I said. And this ^ is what Cal did. 

I interpret it variously as:

“Actually, no. I don’t want to go out. And, frankly, I don’t understand why she (*studiously ignores Karmann, who really wants to go out*) does, either. It’s very hot, and there are people out there. At this time of day traffic will be bad, making it difficult to cross the street, not to mention the cat that’s been tormenting us, invisibly, for the past several days. So no. No I will not be going out there until bedtime pee break, and even then, I’d prefer you instruct dad to make it quick.”

Or,

“Lalalala I can’t hear you lalalalalalalalala”

But also, possibly,

“I guess this means you’re going to start writing that blog thing again? Great. I’m enthused. Tell me more about the impending trip to puppycamp.”

Conversation with Karmann

  

Karmann: Mom. Mom we have to talk.

Me: Yes?

Karmann: You know I have Addison’s, right? 

Me: I am aware.

Karmann: Right. Yeah. I know cause I was there when the vet told you.

Me: Indeed you were.

Karmann: I was also there when she told you that any kind of stress–happy exciting stress or bad scary stress–would likely require a bolus of Prednisone SO WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!???

Me: I–wha-??

Karmann: You took me to the vet on Thursday and I was both excited and nervous so I became a total spaz over the weekend and where was my bolus? Mom! Where was my bolus?

Me: But you’ve been doing so well managing stress that I didn’t even–

Karmann: Out! Take me out! My intestines have yet more mucuos I need to evacuate! YOU DID THIS. 

(Take Karmann outside, wander futilely as she sniffs around, uncomfortable. After 10 minutes, return to the house.)

Me: Awwwwww, Nut. I’m sorry.

Karmann: You did this. Shape up.

Me: 😟

Karmann: Oh hey, and before you go back downstairs, I just want you to know–when you accidentally gave me Cal’s Trazadone? And I was stoned all day? And you laughed?

Me: Yeah, I am REALLY sorr–

Karmann: I remember. Just know that. I remember. 

Rating the Beagle-ish

From this Healthy Pets article, 10 Beagle Fun Facts (as they pertain to Calvin the beagle-ish):

1. They’re thousands of years old

They mean the breed, of course, which is interesting from the perspective that humans, in thousands of years, have not been driven absolutely batshit insane by their vocal proclivities and neuroses. Cal would have us all believe that he is a mere 5 years old, but I will also accept the possibility that he is timeless and will somehow be involved in calling forth the apocalypse.

2. The first beagles were miniature

At 21″ tall, Cal is–by beagle standards–immense. By Cal’s sleeping preferences and apparent level of self esteem, Cal is also a pocket beagle. Teeny tiny.

3. Beagles have white-tipped tails

Check!

4. Beagle means “loudmouth” in French

Check check CHECK CHECK CHECK OHMYDOG CHECK.

5. They’re very popular in the US

Cal thinks this is terrible and cheap and he’d like to see this change. He is a very lovable fellow, but only after a protracted getting-to-know-you period in which, preferably, no eye contact is made. He once maintained absolute stoic silence and noble comportment as a very charming 7 year old girl pet him and attempted to wheedle her mother into adopting him. The mother was not taken with Cal’s chilly exterior and they were thus proven unworthy. This, he feels, is the direction in which beagles, as a breed, should be heading.

6. Snoopy is a beagle

Cal does not think it would be very fun to strap on goggles and fly an airplane. In fact, he thinks that sounds dreadful.

7. Queen Elizabeth I loved beagles

Cal is deeply suspicious of the monarchy, stopping just short of describing himself as an anti-monarchist. While he does appreciate its historical and romantic aspects, he fears it might be a bit superfluous and overly ostentatious in this day and age. That does not mean that he won’t accept a Prince Charles and Princess Di commemorative plate as a 6th birthday gift. He’s not some troglodyte, after all. And he’s sure the Queen took wonderful care of her tiny beagles.

8. Beagles in the White House (LBJ had 2–Him and Her)

Cal is appalled by LBJ’s lack of creativity in naming. He’s also appalled by the lack of beagles in the White House currently, as such residence would be a disposition befitting the breed as he conceives it. Thanks, Obama!

9. Barry Manilow loves beagles

Calvin likes Copa Cabana. Win-win.

10. The US Department of Homeland Security has a Beagle Brigade to find smuggled contraband agricultural products

Cal believes he should have a Homeland Security Brigade to keep people, unknown dogs, and the occasional wind-blown leaf away from him.

Now I Am Become Death

IMG_3794

Living room, just after sunrise on a Wednesday. Kelley drinks tea on the couch beside Schmoopie, who is eating oatmeal. Squirrels frolic in the trees just outside the back windows.

KARMANN: I see tree kittens. I see tree kittens. I see tree kittens! I see TREE KITTENS!!! I SEE TREE KITTENS OH MY DOG I SEE THEM THEY ARE THERE AND THEY ARE FROLICSOME!!!

CALVIN: I guess she sees tree kittens.

KARMANN: (to Cal) I DO I SEE THEM GET OVER HERE!!!

CALVIN: sigh

MORTIMER: (ninja moves)

KARMANN: (incomprehensible shouting)

Panic ensues as the household is overtaken by shouty dogs and swatting cats. Humans emerge victorious after several minutes of chase, and Schmoopie returns to couch, holding puffy and irritated Mortimer

MORTIMER: That’s right. I control this shit.

KELLEY: You destabilize this shit, is what you do.

MORTIMER: Exactly, mom. Exactly.

KELLEY: Who are you? Shiva?

MORTIMER: (looks away) This conversation has gone too far.

Sadpants Puppies and the People Who Take Them Out to Pee Every Ten Minutes

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Solitary Convalescence

We had a pretty decent snow storm on Saturday: snow, ice, everything freezing, nobody clearing the roads because Saturday. It was a good day to stay inside, and that’s exactly what we did at Chez Critter. In fact, it was such a good day to stay inside that my dear beagle-ish, who is way beyond his threshold of tolerance for cold white crap between his toes, decided to do his part to render the outdoors entirely unnecessary. He peed and pooped as soon as he hit the basement enroute to morning outside time and, once finished, looked at me (wearing one snow boot and a look of great consternation) like, “No worries. I took care of everything. Back upstairs?”

There was one post-breakfast puke incident, in which it appeared a dog–I surmised it was Karmann, as she looked a bit sad–apparently exploded in the hallway, right where the gaps between the floor boards are greatest. But, emesis aside, we were all able to slide into a nice, cozy, “so glad we don’t need to go out there!” Saturday routine pretty easily. Dogs and cats napped, people vegged, all was well.

You’d think, by now, that I’d know that warm, safe, comfortable feeling to be a harbinger of critter doom, but I am apparently the eternal optimist. So instead of quaking in fear of what unnamed horror lay before me, I just chilled, unsuspecting, until around 8pm, when Karmann became agitated.

I assumed it was her now-requisite post dinner pee, so I took her outside where she squatted quickly and for a very long time. I felt happy that this was clearly a need met, and we returned to the house. Karmann laid down. I settled in. Schmoop and I continued the movie we had paused.

And then, five minutes later, Karmann was back at it, grumbling and shouting in a manner that typically suggests she needs to poop. This would be the third poop of the day, which is weird for her,  but sure, whatever, pup. Let’s go for a walk.

We went for a walk.

And Karmann squatted.

And she squatted some more.

And I gently jogged her around the baseball field in half a foot of snow because, usually, all that squatting means her hips are bugging her and she can’t comfortably assume poop position.

And she pooped, and we carried on.

And she squatted.

And squatted.

And she waddle-squatted.

And I realized something was very wrong indeed.

So, if any of my neighbors are reading this, here is the explanation I’m sure you’ve been waiting for: I was sticking my head under my squatting dog to see what, if anything, was happening. As it turns out, nothing was happening. Which was good for my under-dog head location, but bad for my dog. So we hustled home, with Karmann tugging and sniffing and squatting and, now, whimpering, and me thinking about that post-breakfast puke and the fact that Karmann had actually been pretty subdued all day and, come to think of it, she did drink a lot of water.

By the time we got home, I was pretty sure she had a UTI. I took her inside, told Schmoop I thought something was up, then went out with a flashlight to inspect the site of the epic post-dinner pee. There was no pee. Note: I’d just like to give a little shout-out to snow for making my life easier and being quite helpful in this one, very limited, context.

I told Schmoop she needed to go to the vet, and we set out to shovel and de-ice the driveway. Because snowstorm. Note: I kinda sorta rescind that shout-out, snow, because you were a pain in my ass in this other, much larger, context.

I took her to the emergency vet that I don’t particularly like but had the advantage of proximity, because I figured a probable UTI was straightforward enough that it didn’t warrant risking life and limb to spend twenty minutes on frozen highways to get to my preference. By the time we got there, she was a hot little mess: shaking, panting, whining, tugging to go outside. She hid from anyone who came to pet her.

They got us into the exam room and she immediately peed on the floor. As the tech filled a syringe from the puddle, I could see that it was bright pink. The vet came in several minutes later and informed me that their urine wouldn’t be picked up until Monday, though they were pretty sure it was a UTI so let’s start her on Clavamox. I explained that she’d had UTI’s before, but never this acute, and he suggested x-rays to make sure there were no issues with stones, since the urinalysis would take forever. I agreed, eager for peace of mind because oh my god, I do not do critters peeing blood very well at all, as it turns out.

No stones, but $125 well-spent, given the behavior I was about to go home to.

Karmann spent the better part of the night needing to go out every five to ten minutes to leave little dribbles of what looked like pure blood. If you’re wondering, no. No, there is no real point in coming inside when you’re operating at those intervals. Because as soon as you remove your coat and soggy boots, you are putting them back on. I do not recall having ever seen Karmann so agitated and clearly uncomfortable.

Because I had to do a nine mile run on Sunday, and because we weren’t sure how long this was going to last and he would not be able to do it Sunday night before work, Schmoop volunteered to stay downstairs with Karm so that I could go to bed and get some sleep. All the brownie points are become his.

I may have laid in a bed, but quality sleep was not a thing that happened for either Cal or I. He would get up at intervals and tap his way over to the gate at the top of the stairs, disrupting whatever level of dozing I’d accomplished. And I could hear the door going all night. Eventually, when we traded shifts Sunday morning, so that Schmoop could go to bed, he said the intervals could be expanded to about thirty minutes, so long as she was being scritched.

The wildcard, as it turned out, was Cal. He had been crazy excited to get downstairs to her, only to be greeted with curmudgeonly indifference. He took the bed she wanted, so she would pace and beg to go out every ten minutes. And the staring. Oh, the staring. Eventually, stupid human got the gist and I sent Cal upstairs to sleep with Schmoop, so that Karmann could convalesce in peace and solitude. She sacked out pretty quickly after that, and napped for a couple hours before she needed to go out.

Antibiotics are on board and clearly working, though she’s still snoozy and in no mood to have second choice of beds. Cal seems to have caught on and is waiting for her to settle before selecting his own resting spot. I’m hanging out with them and staring at Karmann to make sure she’s still breathing and seems comfortable, because I’m a lunatic.

But I’m a lunatic who accomplished a nine mile run in laces-high slush after minimal sleep and a night of a blood-peeing dog, so I’ve got that going for me, at least. Running for Critters stops for no horrifying medical events, human or canine.

In Which I Ramble About Deer and Assholes

"You're going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long"

“You’re going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long”

I have nothing against hunting. For food.

When taken by a responsible hunter (i.e. permitted, law-abiding, property-respecting, good shot) wild game is one of the most humane sources of animal protein currently available. Unlike our factory farming system, which sentences animals to a life of unspeakable horrors, game animals are more or less bopping around their native habitats, having about as good a life as they can in a world run by people until, ideally, they are quickly and quietly dispatched.

I also have a not insignificant amount of respect for people who interact with their food systems in a way that I don’t, can’t, or won’t. I believe there is much to be said for the hunter who understands, and respects, that he or she is taking a life in order to sustain their own, and then proceeds to put every bit of the animal to use with a near psychotic efficiency.

That said, I have everything in the world against hunting for sport. If your idea of “sport” is stalking a thumb-less and unarmed vegetarian creature while you, an apex predator, are stuffed with beer and strapped to the gills in miniaturized explosives well, I’d like to introduce you to “golf.” Because golf is more sporting than that shit.

And in the name of sweet sweet reason, don’t plaster Facebook with photos of you drunkenly holding the head of your still-warm quarry. One, that is disrespectful—if you do that, you are officially hunting for “sport” even if you eat the damn thing. Two, I just assume that every male who does this is suffering a serious case of micropenis. If you have to kill a deer because it is literally or metaphorically better hung than you are, check how you’re living. And get a hobby. I suggest an actual sport.

Based on the aforementioned opinions, I have a hierarchy of hunters. At the top of that hierarchy, more or less above reproach, is the subsistence hunter. You do you, man. And thank you for not contributing to the US’s deplorable animal husbandry standards. Beneath subsistence hunters—like way, way beneath them; so far beneath them they’d need an extension ladder to lick a subsistence hunter’s bootheel—are the “sport” hunters who all need to read a fucking book.

And beneath even them, down past the Treacherous in what, I’m sure, would have been labeled the Twentieth Circle of Hell (give or take) if only Dante had had a bigger excavator, are the Inhumane Fuckwits.

King of the Inhumane Fuckwits is the canned hunt-er.

This makes the entire municipality in which I dwell—bastion of soccer moms, upscale shopping, and vegan groceries—the official barony of Inhumane Fuckwits. For you see, those soccer moms have become very worried about their soccer vans toting their soccer children as deer run rampant! Hurling themselves into traffic! Launching themselves through windscreens! Mayhem! Destruction! Carnage! There is blood in the streets and its up to the soccer moms’ ankles because deer.

So the precioussssssssss (fuck them) have instituted a canned hunt, which they are calling a deer cull, recently approved by the PA Game Commission (fuck them, too.) This allows them to set up paddocks, spread corn, close the gate, then shoot the captive deer. Not only is this a stupidly ineffective non-solution to the problem, it’s unspeakably cruel. Deer have nothing on us. They don’t have a second amendment and are therefore without firearms, they can’t really bite us to death (not effectively, anyway), and they’re the exact opposite of intimidating. There was that one guy, on When Animals Attack, who was boxed by a deer but, injuries notwithstanding, I think the overwhelming majority of the population just laughed at that. Or maybe that was just me.

This canned hunt removes their only means of defense–the ability to run away–so that people can quickly and conveniently shoot them in the head. And, to add insult to mortal injury, it does it by luring them into the situation. It’s not like the deer just happened to be standing around in this pen so someone closed the gates. Nay. It’s winter. They’re hungry. Inevitably, they find this Xanadu in the snow, where the floor is literally paved with dried corn and BLAM! Someone shoots them in the face. And the last ones to go get to freak the hell out while they watch the other deer get shot in the face.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with that, fuck you, as well. The Humane Society will see you out.

I obviously have a problem with this “solution”, but I also take issue with the underlying premise that anything at all needs to be done about the deer. We have a lot of them, that is true. We also have a fair amount of green space in the community. If only someone could have forseen that parkland attracts wildlife. Woe betide us. But then, I’m guessing that green space and an overall bucolic vibe are likely two features that attracted many of these Inhumane Fuckwits to the Lebo over, say, Larimer.

In addition to a lot of deer, we also have relatively low speed limits. I’ve seen far more deer on the residential, 25MPH, streets than I have on the primary roads—which stands to reason: it’s quieter. Much more chill. They wander around, fairly unmolested, eating people’s Hostas. There are no Hostas on Banksville. So, I mean, I hate to bring up the elephant in the room (please don’t shoot him!) but uhhhhhh . . . if you’re driving 25 MPH or less, pray tell me: why can you not avoid bloody, deadly collisions with large mammals?

Oh right. It’s because you are actually traveling almost twice that speed, but it’s just plain easier to blame the deer than it is to take responsibility. And also, I know you paid your landscapers a lot to maintain those Hostas.

Let me pause here to emphasize that I, in no way, mean to diminish the safety risk posed by Pennsylvania’s crazy pants deer population. Deer-vehicle collisions are at best scary, and at worst, deadly. But in a mostly residential community, with pretty rational speed limits and good distance from the closest interstate, there is no way that they should be as out-of-control scary as our little hamlet would have it seem.

Speeding is a known issue here. Drive half a mile through this community and you’ll lose count of all the “Drive like your children live here!” signs you will pass. As a runner, I have been very nearly run off the road twice, and actually hit by a vehicle once. I’ve been running off and on since 1998, in four states and five cities, and this is the only place I’ve ever been concerned for my safety. Here. In a community that markets itself on its walkability. Which is to say, Mt. Lebanon: you all drive like assholes.

When I pointed this out on a Facebook discussion, I was summarily told “not all drivers!” and also that pedestrians need to take responsibility for not being visible enough. Legitimate overtures could be made to take “It’s your fault!” as our community catchphrase. Isn’t it possible–just possible–that this asshole attitude, combined with the speeding, might have something to do with all your freaking deer collisions? Perhaps we don’t need a deer cull so much as a driver reeducation camp. Because even if the deer cull works (it won’t) these people are still going to need something to break them from their texting-while-driving stupor and a runner works just as well as a deer. Will we then ban runners? Or just shoot them?

Since I acknowledge that there are a lot of deer, and that we are but one community in the midst of a state-wide deer overpopulation issue, I’m not averse to the notion that something, perhaps, should be done. I will at least humor that notion. My first favorite response to overpopulation of deer is allowing the natural coyote population to return to healthy levels.

Except that one time that people in Lebo starting seeing coyotes, they freaked the hell out and wanted to kill those, too. If there’s one thing Lebonites dislike even more than deer eating their Hostas, it’s coyotes eating their Morkiepoos. So obviously that won’t work.

Well, ok. What about sterilization? That was one of the plans under consideration. Does would be tranquilized and sterilized in a mobile surgical suite. What on earth could be wrong with that?

Not fast enough. All the deer would remain alive. An entire deer generation-worth of Hostas would still be eaten. Natch.

So you see, an inhumane eradication procedure was really their only option. Won’t anybody think of Mt. Lebanon? The deer have made them be mean. It’s so sad.

Apparently, the deer have also rendered them terminally stupid, because here’s the thing: once they shoot all the captive deer, freeing their streets and thinning the herd, do they sincerely expect surrounding deer won’t move in? Are they going to build a fence? Do they suspect that the Upper St. Clair deer, and the Scott Township deer, and the Dormont deer will hear what happens in Mt. Lebanon and just . . . stay away? Do they honestly believe that deer even know where the boundaries of those communities are? I know Lebo thinks it’s the center of the universe and that everyone knows it, but I gotta say, I think the deer give about as many fucks as I do.

The deer want the space, we have the space. The deer aren’t going anywhere unless you build a bubble (true fact: there is not presently a bubble over Lebo to contain its rarified air. I repeat: won’t anyone think of them?) So all this really does is begin an endless cycle wherein portions of our green space are turned into mammalian massacre pens.

And you just know someone is going to bitch about having to look at the blood-soaked ground.