I Am Eating All the Paczki.

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A Paczki. Shortly before I ate the crap out of it.

That awkward moment when you’re like, oh I think my dog may be dying.

That moment was at 7 this morning, when Karmann woke me up by freaking out: air licking, frantic pacing, refusing to sit or lie down, trying to eat the whole yard when we went outside, finally puking up mucous and foam.

Oh shit. She’s bloating. Is she bloating? FUCK. Fuckfuckfuck. She is. Oh. Is she? Surely, this isn’t happening.

So I called my preferred emergency vet, playing it cool, all, “oh, hey, I’m trying to figure out if I have an emergency . . . ” and was told in no uncertain terms to get her to an emergency facility as quickly as I could in the interest of caution because yes, it sure does sound like she’s bloating. Is she a big dog with a deep chest? Bring her in. Definitely bring her in.

It was rush hour. It was snowing. There were three known emergency vet options: my preferred place–the one I called–which is on the other side of the city, another place I trust also on the other side of the city, and there is a small, national chain place quite near my house. I’m not a huge fan of the latter. I have nothing against them, and no reason to distrust them, I just have considerable anecdotal reasons to trust my preferred place implicitly.

I made the decision to tackle traffic. My thought was that, if she really were bloating I KNEW they had the facilities to handle it. Thinking ahead to worst possible non-death outcomes, I was more confident in their surgical/stomach tacking abilities.

It was a stupid decision. 45 minutes later, stuck in un-moving bumper-to-bumper traffic I was still many miles from the point I expected traffic to clear, which was itself still 15 minutes from the vet center.

And Karmann was not doing well. She was crying, pacing, roaching, licking, and puking up more foam. As soon as I was past the center barrier I pulled a U-turn and headed back toward the small place closer to my house.

While I was in the middle of playing Pittsburgh Drift on snow-covered roads, Karmann farted.

And farted some more.

And then she burped.

Very sad Karmann in a very gross car says no Paczki for her right now, thank you.

Very sad Karmann in a very gross car says no Paczki for her right now, thank you.

By the time we got to the emergency vet, she was substantially improved. Which meant that I got to run a gauntlet of vet techs telling me how fine she was and how happy she looked and how no, of course she wasn’t bloating, and was I sure I still wanted to see a doctor when my dog was so obviously well?

To those techs, I extend my heartiest fuck you.

We saw the doctor and he confirmed that he could feel a lot of gas, but no distention or blockage. He also confirmed that she was likely epically nauseous. So she got IV anti-nausea meds and a shot of Pepcid.

And once Nutter was ready to go home he suggested that we both take a nap. Apparently 45 minutes in traffic, bawling at your dog not to die, please, leaves one a bit worse for the wear.

I’m sure there are myriad inappropriate ways to act toward or around someone who has just spent their morning assuming their puppy was nigh to perishing. From experience, I can list a few–just in case it helps any baby techs out there:

1) Don’t act as though the woman with the anteater eyes and hoarse voice is a lunatic when she walks in, talking about how her dog has been in awful distress until just 10 minutes ago. Don’t laugh and tell her her dog is “happy.” Whether or not her dog is actually happy, I assure you that she is not. She is imagining your head on a platter with an apple garnish, and considering kicking you in the shins.

2) Consider waiting until aforementioned woman is checked out and on her way before two of you launch into an awkward conversation that flips between your torrid attraction to the vet and the effects of probiotics on your colon.

2a) Scratch that. It’s probably never an awesome idea to flip back and forth between the hotness of your boss and the state of your intestines. It’s almost certainly not productive, in any event.

I still feel like I spent my morning in the Twilight Zone.

On the way home, Karmann resting, finally, in the back, I stopped for Paczki. Because near death experiences demand fat and carbs in gross quantities. I immediately shoveled in a custard, and when I remembered the foam puke I still needed to clean out of my car’s seat latch, chased it with a chocolate buttercream and a nap.

And when I woke up from the nap I cleaned up some water yack, which reminded me of the foam puke that still needed cleaning. So I ate a bagel and drank a root beer.

All your carbs are become mine.

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That’s . . . Better?

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Beds: an acquired skill

The new, appropriately-sized beds came yesterday and, as illustrated, were met with considerably more suspicion and difficulty than I would have expected. Karmann really likes a bolster bed, and so of course I’m the Mummy McNasty because I refuse to keep those fur-trapping hellsacks in my house anymore. I thought the poofy Orvis beds would be a good compromise because the puppies make a puppy divot and then the sides squish up in quasi-bolstery fashion. Yet I can still vacuum them It’s a nest! A puppy nest! What could possibly be better than that?

KARMANN: A bolster bed.

Mrrrmph.

Cal, for his part, initially found a suitable–if sad–workaround, and decided instead to rest on what has heretofore been his naughty step. Generally, if Cal is on the step, you can expect to find some sort of surprise–a trash can raid, or very special puppy nuggets somewhere they certainly aren’t supposed to be.
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Thankfully, they seem to be getting the hang of the newest bed hotness, and things are looking a little less Titanic-y, and ever so slightly more comfortable. Though Karmann, who is the reigning queen of beating bedding into submission, has for some reason refused to figure out that she can beat this bedding, so she isn’t nested so much as plopped in a manner she can abide.

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They both sort of look like they’re falling off the face of Floofy Mountain.

Woob

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Behold, The Woober. Formal name: Cleo. Cleo is momma’s kitteh, and a splendid one at that.

Three years ago, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma fibrosarcoma and, at 13 years old, underwent an awful surgery to remove a giant tumor along her spine. Recovery was dreadful, and the prognosis was not super: most cats experience a recurrent tumor within two years. So when Woober made it three years, she was already ahead of the curve. Which just made it extra devastating when, shortly before Thanksgiving, she got her freaking recurrence.

But she was in good shape, and the vets recommended a second surgery after a CT scan, to make sure there was no organ involvement.

There was organ involvement. The tumor, which grows in greedy, finger-like protuberances, already had a hold of her lungs, which changed everything. Putting her through another surgery, when the inoperable tendrils in her lungs would be the limiting factor in her ongoing existence, suddenly became the least humane option. So mum chose to make her comfortable for as long as possible, and I frantically searched for a photographer to memorialize her as the bright-eyed, sassy kitty she’d always been.

That is how I found Jenny Karlsson. Who is AWESOME.

Jenny worked with me to set up a guerrilla photo shoot while my mum was at brunch, and produced so many amazingly Woober-ish photos of the Woob–some of which we framed, many of which she arranged into a fabulous photo book. I gave the framed prints and book to my mum for Christmas, and have nailed down the title of Greatest Daughter in the History of Ever. Seriously. It’s mine.

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Shortly after the failed attempt at a second surgery, Woob was thrown into crisis. She could not keep food in or down, wasn’t drinking, and was fading quickly. She spent a night at the vet’s, getting IV fluid. The following morning we were told that there was nothing they could do for her, and they sent her home with her central IV line still in, well-taped, because it had been hard to get it in and the assumption was that she would need it, for euthanization, within the next 48 hours. So why put her through the pain of insertion all over again. The vet did say that, on the off chance she spontaneously recovered, it would need to be taken out by the third day.

Three days later, my mum was at the vet again, having the line removed because ain’t nobody kicking Cleo off this mortal coil before she is good and damn well ready. And ready she most certainly was not. She started nibbling at baby food, and then snarfling, and before long had reclaimed her title, Queen of Boiled Chicken, and was back to yowling at mum at 5am when her food bowl was rudely discovered to be empty.

Since then, Woob has been good. Last week her tumor ruptured, which is what happens when they aren’t removed, but she is keeping it clean, and doesn’t seem to be any worse for the slight ickiness–no pain, and nothing better get between her and breakfast.

I am insufferably optimistic about her condition. “No, I’m sure she’s fine!” is my standard response every time mum mentions a behavior change or quirk. Of course she’s fine–she has to be. Because Woob started out as my cat and I cannot really cotton to the thought of her not being around. Which is to say, I am a giant ball of internalized goo and panic because I know what’s coming and I hate it and, seriously, fuck you, pet death. And also fuck you cancer.

Fuck.

If you would like to read the story of Woob, and how she came to be, Jenny has an awesome blog post about her into which many amazing pictures are sprinkled HERE.

It is a whole story about a closely-related critter and it does not involve a single poop anecdote.

Bed-lam.

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Karmann recreates the floating door scene from Titanic

Calvin has been living better through chemistry since his vet added as-needed Trazodone to his regimen of daily Prozac to help his separation anxiety. But while it seems to make his time alone far more sufferable, he still gets nervous when he knows he’s about to be left alone. And so it came to pass last month, as I prepared to leave on errands, that he scaredy-peed all over the grossest of the living room bolster beds. The bed that had been with Karmann almost as long as Karmann has been with me, and which had been washed so many times in its first four years of life that the cover had become mangled and shrunken to such an extent that it had been un-removable (and therefore un-washable) for the last three years of its service.

Truly icky. It was summarily tossed, and not without a bit of rejoicing.

Since The Peeing we have been dutifully carrying one of the bedroom beds downstairs every morning and back up every evening whilst I sought an ideal, long term living room bed solution. My criteria: 1) attractive, 2) easily de-furred between washings, 3) entirely washable cover and pillow, 4) bolster-free (see also, criteria #2), and of course 5) cozy for pups.

When, last week, we forgot to bring down a bedroom bed and entered the living room to find Cal snuggled into the remaining living room bed, with Karmann on the floor, plastered against it, we knew we had to act. And I was developing neck strain from carrying a giant pillow up and down the stairs while also herding dogs and cats.

I checked Orvis and found a very excellent bed that met all of my criteria PLUS my favorite, nondelineated 6th criteria: SALE! We ordered two.

And so we have come to the point of this meandering post. Orvis. I direct your attention to the picture above. In that picture you will find my 53lb dog DESPERATELY CLINGING to your large (accommodates dogs up to 70lbs!) bed, turning herself into Superpuppeh in an attempt to stop her ass end from sliding off the back of what is–let’s be honest–a very nice, high quality, king size human bed pillow.

That cotton square accommodates dogs up to 70lbs??? What? Did you only test it out with morbidly obese English Bulldogs? Or perhaps morbidly obese Lawng Legged Baygles? Because Calvin, the 32lb wonder fits into it perfectly–and really, it’s about 32lbs of Karmann that fit comfortably. The rest hangs over, dangles off, and otherwise clings in quiet desperation. I mean, look at my poor girl’s face! Resigned, confused, trying really really hard to like it but falling short and, pretty clearly, feeling very bad about her failure to be excited about the newest bed hotness, all while Calvin (out of frame and looking somewhat aghast)–substantially less than 70lbs-worth of Calvin–is curled up comfortably, with the excess bedding smooshed out to the sides so that he can rest his little chin.

Calvin: Relaxed. Supported. Happy of chin.
Karmann: *I won’t let go, Jack! I won’t let go!!!*

Orvis made my puppy sad. 😦

It also made my Schmoopie somewhat nuts. Because there ensued a surreal 10 minutes or so of back-and-forth in which I pointed and laughed while he kept exclaiming, “It fits up to 70lb dogs!”

ME: That is pathetic.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: She is falling off.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: She’s literally–like, in the real, dictionary definition of literal, literally, and not in the ironic amplification sense–hanging on for dear life.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: It’s the size of a pillow. She is longer than the bed.
(Karmann readjusts so that she is lying diagonally across the bed, clinging to a corner)
SCHMOOP: That is the picture of comfort!
ME: That is the picture of sadness and disappointment.
SCHMOOP: Well . . . it’s supposed to fit up to 70lb dogs . . .

I may have taken some creative license there, but you get the point.

So the beds are boxed for return because looking at the sight on the daily will hurtle me into a deep depression faster than my incurable unemployability. And yes that’s beds, plural, because about the only thing Karmann shares readily is her bedding, and the pups have worked out some sort of amenable, complicated exchange system, such that returning just one bed for a larger size would ensure that Karmann was still forced into undersized bedding about 50% of the time when Cal takes over her plus-sized pillow.

I just assume that the giant, more expensive beds will no longer be on sale. Dammit.

Small Victories

There are two things in particular that I love about dogs:

1) Every day is a bright and shiny new awesomeness. No matter what may have happened yesterday, a new morning is always happy and exciting. They do not understand ennui, and leave the kittens and I to suffer our existential angst without them.

2) They have–and thus force me to have–a very narrow definition of victory. For Karmann, victory is finally enticing Calvin to play for 15 seconds; for Calvin, victory is a walk in which he does not see another living thing. For both, victory is securing the green bed, because the green bed is the hotness.

Right now, for example, I am mightily victorious. I am celebratory and wild with achievement because it has been four hours since Calvin has had a bout of explosive liquipoo and that is twice as long as the interval that preceded it. Prepare the champagne!

I was awakened at 11:30 last night by an unsettling THRRRRRRRPPP-burble noise, immediately followed by a foul, paint-peeling fog of sulfurous horror. I didn’t immediately link the noise to the stench but it didn’t take me long, either, and it is a uniquely awful thing to lie in bed, warm and half asleep, and contemplate the propulsion of shit that will await you when you flick on the light.

But I put on my big girl pants and confronted it.

And I gagged–quietly! So as not to wake Schmoopie, who apparently turns his nose off when he goes to bed.

And then I laughed–quietly!–because despite the fact that I am the go-to human for late night potty emergencies, Calvin persists in his awestruck worship of Schmoop. This apparently led Cal to his side of the bed in search of assistance. But if the sound of poo being forcefully ejected from a dog, and it’s accompanying reek, cannot wake the Schmoop, then Cal’s notification system–stoicly standing and staring until you figure out he’s in distress, stood no chance. So the poop touched down about three feet from the slumbering Schmoopie.

The following ensued:

More gagging
A trip downstairs for cleaning supplies
The rustle of poop bags and garbage bags and paper towels as I picked up, wiped up, sprayed down, wiped again, and sanitized
Much spraying of various cleaning chemicals–wood floor cleaner, Lysol
Another trip downstairs for Febreeze
Copious Febreezing of wood floor
Decreasing concern about waking Schmoop because Christ on a cracker how is sleeping through this?!??
Another trip downstairs for Febreeze Air Effects
Loud sighing
Copious Febreezing of the air
Another trip downstairs to hermetically dispose of the waste (by putting it on the back balcony where it is freezing and could be forgotten about for an as yet to be determined period of time)
The sink-side equivalent of a Silkwood shower for me

By the time I returned to bed, the entire cleanup had lasted about 20 minutes and made the bedroom smell like a lemony-Pet Freshy-clean lineny sewer main.

And yet there Schmoop lay, blissfully unaware of the decontamination procedures that had taken place a mere meter from his head–where both his ears and nose are located–softly snoring and peaceful.

HOW DO YOU SLEEP THROUGH A POOSPLOSION AND THE SUFFOCATING APPLICATION OF SANITIZING AND DESTINKING SPRAYS??? My nose hairs were melting and running down my face and he looked like something off a box of Sleepytime tea.

And thus passed the remainder of our evening–with Schmoop sleeping, and me not sleeping even one little teeny minute on account I had to take Cal out every 45-90 minutes, all night, without fail, until 6am when we finally made it two hours. And now here we are approaching five hours and I’m very sincerely considering a small party or, barring that, a really epic nap because I am far, far too old to be pulling all-nighters.

Cal is mostly fine. At no point has he acted sick; I believe this is the part where I realize that his little gut can’t quite take multiple all-beef meals in a row. Poor Pookie.