Broken heart

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
Anatole France

Rest in peace my sweet sweet girl. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better friend.

Casper, July 2000 – 12 July 2010

Hanging in there

Casper is hanging in there. She has many hours where she’s just tired, some where she won’t eat, some where she’s vomiting, but she is still able to get around on her own and sometimes seems like her old self. The vets don’t seem hopeful at all but are willing to work with me. I am learning what I can online (fortunately I found a helpful group when she was diagnosed) and requesting medications, but a lot of things just aren’t available here. A couple of European members of the online group have given me some tips but it sure would be easier (not to mention cheaper) to get supplements and supplies in the U.S. Customs restrictions prevent shipping a lot of items.

Her blood values continued to decline even on IV at the vet for almost four days. This was the first time her phosphorus went high, and her creatinine is four times the upper limit of normal. I chose to bring her home because she couldn’t stay there indefinitely, she wasn’t getting better, and the scariness of being away from home is of course a significant factor for my old, shy dog. Quality of life can’t really be great when she’s in an e-collar after chewing on her IV line (leaving her with a swollen, painful leg) and she can only see me for an hour a day, not at all on Sunday, and I don’t believe anyone is at the clinic overnight when they don’t have emergency cases. If her numbers can stay where they are, she might limp along for awhile now that we’re cooking for her and giving medicines and subcutaneous fluids. (Pretty much no one does that themselves here but they were willing to sell me the stuff to let me try. I’m glad I’ve done it before! Plus one of the vets here is from Michigan so she’s sympathetic to American-style vet care.) She could still crash in a couple days, but others with dogs this sick take it one day at a time, so I’ll try.

I was also referred to a holistic vet and I’m considering that approach. I’m a little afraid to jump right in and I wish he were more available for the supplements I’m familiar with rather than going through the entire process, partly because I feel I’m desperate for certain items I can’t get on my own, just to see if there’s a chance she will make it for awhile, and I just can’t concentrate enough to answer a bunch of questions about her background when I fear that dog left last week anyway when her condition worsened. Maybe I just can’t get the analytical side of my brain (that might be the only side) to shut off. Focusing at work has been a challenge but I’m thankful David is at home to keep an eye on her and help during the day.

She hasn’t played with Walter since she came home but she did do her wag-and-bark at David and Walter wrestling, so that’s something, and she’s barking at the doorbell and meeting me when I come home. Walter is being gentle with her, mostly.

I’ve nursed a lot of rabbits and guinea pigs through illnesses, but I feel rather novice now. I’m glad I learned to take charge with vet care and make decisions comfortable for my situation and wishes. The vet reviewed quality of life markers as well and those basics are helpful when things look bleak. It still surprises me how much her ups and downs can affect how I feel all day.

Good thoughts needed

Casper has been in the hospital since Thursday and is only getting worse. I’m bringing her home tonight but I don’t know how long she will be with us. Please send good thoughts for her and that I’ll get through it.


Thar she blows

Yet another perfect-weather day (never hot, never humid!), so I took Walter for a walk past Charles Fort about 9 p.m. while Casper napped at home. We saw some kind of navy cruiser in the harbor; I called David to tell him what he was missing (he watches all those boat and plane shows on the military channel), so he took a picture of it from our balcony. Cheater. My picture is closer to the action, anyway.

EDIT: We have been told this is an Irish navy ship named the Orla, a patrol vessel who does drug busts and customs stuff, I guess.

Also, you can vote on how it’s my fault that Arliss had a bad case of blueberry poopy butt at her blog.

Does Egon drink Guinness?

Our second day in Dublin (last weekend) included a trip to the Guinness brewery. Here’s how a conversation went after seeing the old flower ad above: How do you define flourish? Then looked up fleur de lis. That’s the symbol of the Three Musketeers. They were in Slumdog Millionaire: what were their names? Athos, Porthos, and had to look up the other one. Aramis, but can only think of someone in Ghostbusters… Harold Ramis!

Ireland is a country in love with its courgettes and aubergines. Now, I thought I loved zucchini and eggplant, but darn it, I’m getting tired of them. At home every token veg dish is pasta and here it’s pasta with aubergines or some other variation of aubergines with courgettes tossed in for good measure. Hasn’t anyone heard of BEANS? I miss beans.

There are no screens in the windows. Cheerios taste like sugar cereal here and are marketed by Nestle, not General Mills.

The letter Z is pronounced zed here. We have a lot of abbreviations and acronyms at work, so I hear zed just about every day. And I always think of General Zod from Superman II.

I found this handy from Wiktionary: (Latin script letter names) letter; a, bee, cee, dee, e, ef, gee, aitch, i, jay, kay, el, em, en, o, pee, cue, ar, ess, tee, u, vee, double U, ex, wye, zee/zed. But I’d also like to note that H is not aitch here, but rather haitch, so it’s p-haitch at work and spelling my name includes haitch in the middle too.

I’m sure it’s not dominating the US TV and water coolers like it does here, but the World Cup is going on in South Africa right now. The Irish folks at work said they would be rooting for the US since they didn’t want to root for England. We get a lot of British TV so I’m seeing a lot of support for England as it is. David and I watched the England/USA match last night and I still think soccer is boring. Somehow the US is considered to have “won” even though it was a tie game. And there was this horrible buzzing noise from the crowds the whole time. Oh well, I’m going to have to live here longer to understand this one.

Some good news from the States:
California bans plastic bags
Pet-friendly license plate will be available next year in Indiana!

Albuquerque bans companion animal sales in pet shops: “Since the ban started, animal adoptions have increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent.”

And yes, I get almost all my news from Facebook.

The Bad Santa of leprechauns

We are in Dublin for the weekend. Casper came home tired but well from the vet and we seem to have found a good petsitter, so we went ahead with our holiday weekend plans. We are being boring in the hotel room right now but overplanning makes us cranky, so down time is good. We tried to fight it out from laptops with online Battleship but couldn’t get an interface that worked, so now I’m blogging and he’s working on an invoice.

Pardon the repeat first picture there. I’m not smart enough to figure out the gallery feature on this site.

Gallery: First we have the dogs earlier this week, in a picture that should be captioned, “No, we didn’t poop up here!”
The rest are Dublin pictures: a creepy statue with really long legs and huge feet. David finds Starbucks and is ecstatic (despite the way he doesn’t look ecstatic). Then we have streets and shops of Dublin. Dinner: boxtys (boxties?) at Gallagher’s Boxty House, which was a little touristy but they had vegetarian boxtys (kind of a potato pancake thing from the northern counties) and I’m just not likely to find those in most pubs. The food was really good.

On to “Why go Bald,” another bunny ad, and finally David jaywalked without me while I was looking the other way and then there was too much traffic to join him. I took a picture of him way over there, abandoning me, but that crazy giant guy (we’re calling him German) decided to be a ham as well.

We got into town in late afternoon, so mostly just wandered at St. Stephen’s Green and into Temple Bar for dinner and drinks. Hopefully tomorrow will hold more specific tourist visits.

Doggy hospital again

Casper’s in the hospital again on IV, but doing reasonably well. She had the same symptoms that landed her in the emergency clinic in December. Still waiting on bloodwork, but hopefully she can come home Friday. Let’s hope her kidneys are hanging in there! She was very excited to get some turkey breast when I visited her today. She has a Spiderman blankie.

I’m really glad I established them at a vet the first week they arrived. Walter’s been pretty sad today without her!

Close to home

It’s kind of comforting to call the U.S. and hear the familiar ring tone. They are different over here, a double-ring, lower tone (you may remember hearing it in a Pink Floyd song). Plus I don’t understand how I’m charged for various types of calls here and can see how people waste money based on their calling habits and not paying attention. That it matters whether I call a cell mobile vs landline is a strange distinction for me, not to mention nights and weekends applying to my landline as well, and the toll calls that Skype can’t call even if you are stranded in yet another country with a cell that doesn’t work and need to contact your airline. Fortunately I am not much of a chatter and Skype is good about 98% of the time.

I guess you could call this a lazy weekend. We slept in both days (I think David is a bad influence) and while I planned to get us out of the house today to go hiking in Tipperary, he wasn’t too enthusiastic and I caved. He would have gone, but I’m not sure it’s better to force it. But this counts as the first weekend since I arrived that I didn’t go do something. Next weekend is a bank holiday (long weekend, though we don’t get tomorrow off like the States!), and we’re planning to go to Dublin or somewhere else a little longer distance than the usual daytrip.

Yesterday we did some shopping in Cork, but it was pretty unsatisfying because I’m still not good at figuring out how to shop here, David’s still learning how to drive on the left, I had to learn all over again how to pay for street parking in Cork city (you have to buy this lotto ticket thing in a shop and scratch off your time, rather than pay the parking box like every other town), and I don’t need to spend all day sourcing dog food and hangers. We did walk into town (Kinsale) with Walter in the light rain today and ate food from the chipper at a bus stop shelter along the water, which was a nice way to pass the time despite how it sounds. Walter is so weird about food that he spit out the chips (fries) we tried to give him.

Walter is on one of his hunger strikes again. He hates most dog food (and half of people food) and our usual tricks (spoon feeding, mixing crappy “tasty” wet food, coddling, warm broth, ketchup) are not working very well. The only thing he consistently likes is Casper’s expensive, kidney disease-specific canned food, which really isn’t enough nutrition for a young healthy dog anyway. The dog food selection here is pitiful compared to home. Pitiful, and three times as expensive. The fancy food here is Royal Canin, which I still consider to be shitty, but it’s the best you can do. Heaven forbid your dog has allergies to beef-based foods in the first place.

Going up Breakheart Hill, a shortcut from Kinsale town to where we live near Summercove, which is treacherous after a little rain because the moss on the path gets slippery slippy. David took Walter off lead to avoid having him pull us down. It’s easier to go up the hill than down when it’s wet, and thank goodness the rail is there. (Walter is in the pic if you look in the greenery.)

David took this picture of me to make fun of my rain hat. However, it is his rain hat for backpacking. He just thinks it wasn’t raining hard enough to warrant wearing it. I pointed out that he was wearing a baseball cap, to which he responded he needed a haircut (which I have to give him and then clean up the mess from the clippers, and he always wants to do it in the house). Later it rained harder and he said he was now glad I was wearing the rain hat. (insert eye rolling)

This is how they keep track of a crack’s progress

You would think this is Home Depot. The color scheme and layout are nearly identical, although they don’t stock quite as many items. Instead of Spanish subheadings on the signs, the alternate language is Gaelic.

David feels at home in BQ and is trying to build a desk but has no saw. Yet. Here he’s waiting for his four free cuts.

Hee haw

A few weeks ago I went to a donkey sanctuary in Liscarroll, Mallow. Strangely enough, there are donkey sanctuaries all over the UK and there are commercials on TV to sponsor a donkey’s care in other parts of the world. Mostly I was lonely to be around some animals. The views over the fields were beautiful and the occasional hee-haws would inspire responses all across the fenced facilities. There was also a random castle in town (fifth picture) and some farm animals had been confined to the castle courtyard at one point recently.

After Liscarroll, I stopped at Kanturk Castle (pics 6-7). I liked the view of the fireplaces in the tower with all the floors missing. Lots of crows living in the castle.

The last three pictures are from Mallow, where multiple castles are in various states of disrepair. As castles deteriorated or were damaged, they kept building new ones next to the old ones. Some punk kids were causing trouble in the ruins and had left a lot of trash rubbish around, so Mallow didn’t impress me much but the ruins were kind of eerie on a gray afternoon. There is a community of white deer living at the property. Apparently you and seven of your friends can rent the ‘newest’ castle for €16,000 per week. The place didn’t look ready for tenants though; a lot of the upstairs windows were open and I imagined a crow-filled Nancy Drew mystery location.

Cycling the hills

Just a quick note to report we are still alive and the dogs are finally pooping in a recognizable manner. Casper’s age is starting to catch up to her. She’s having a hard time getting up from the floor so we help lift her rear, and David re-suggested the Collie Trolley (mostly because it sounds funny, but it started when she was falling down the basement stairs at the Indy house). She still likes to wrestle with Walter and seems happy, but it’s hard to see her get old and not be able to take her on walks into town, let alone up the cliffs Walter gets to see. I guess she never has been much of an explorer so she’s probably happy being at home anyway.

I’m working on finding a pet sitter so we can plan our adventures. The wish list (outside Ireland and Northern Ireland) includes:
-Iceland (we always intended to go there even before there was a job in Europe or a volcanic eruption)
-Glasgow (David has friends there)
-Prague (everyone says this is fabulous)
-Germany somewhere
-Paris because I figure I should

That ought to keep us busy. I figure we’ll go to as many as we can afford and make time for, plus we’ll have to see how much we hate each other after the first few trips! I feel like I’ve gotten Italy, Spain, and the UK mostly out of the way for this round.

I rode my bike to work today for the first time here. It’s less than five miles but dang the hills are hard. I’m a little worried about the way home! I need to tighten my rear brake and get in better shape as the first orders of business. I wonder how many car trips I have to replace with my bike to offset all the air travel we have planned…