Unleashing the Tiger and Winning Your Dog

So When Did This Become a Dog Blog Anyway? 

I’ve been in this house more than six years at this point.  There are immediate neighbors here on my little street.  I know them fairly well.  Some are more open than others, and some are more reserved. 

Down the block, there’s this one lady who I know by face.  Actually I know her more by dog than by face.  Very sweet woman, in fact that’s probably the rub, she’s so sweet that I don’t know her name.

Not knowing names with me is more the rule than the exception.  I am Horrendous when it comes to remembering names.  If I have offended you, I apologies here in print, but I just don’t have the hardware installed in that mush I call my brain to remember a name first time out. 

In the case of the sweet lady down the way, it is more due to her dog than my insultingly bad memory.

You see, her dog is an alpha dog, and probably highly fearful.   This dog is now quite old, grey around the muzzle.  While many people believe the axiom that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, in reality I think that should be applied to the owner and not the dog.

When my neighbor would walk the dog and see another dog on the block, the entertainment would begin.  This dog would begin to growl and prance, basically freak out.  Taking the path of least resistance, my neighbor would do things like hide behind cars, and behind bushes.  Trying to block the view of her dog, she turned into a prowler of sorts, hiding behind a trash can one time.

Getting more and more frustrated, she asked me how I got my dog to behave so well.  First things first, you have to have a conversation with your dog.  You have to be able to tell the dog that certain Dog Behaviors are NOT acceptable.  Charging your neighbor’s dogs is not only rude, but it can get you killed if that other dog decides that it doesn’t like it and is trained “worse” than you are. 

Secondly, you have to take charge of the relationship and set boundaries.  It’s said that a dog, even an intelligent one, has the brain power of a child, but it’s wired differently.  You have to let that “Dogness” out at times to sniff the grass, but if you let it out too long, you’ll never get around the block and you’ll be late for work because you were hiding behind a trash bin and letting little fluffy snuffle that tree too long.

What I told her is simple:  You have to unleash that tiger inside and be the Pack Leader.  I said “you’re one of the sweetest people I know on the Island but you have to gain control and respect of your dog or else you’ll be hiding out for the rest of your dog’s life”. 

“Unleash that Tiger I know you have inside of you!  Grrrrr!”.

Ok, so it sounds cartoonish and silly but guess what?  That silly saying clicked.  I empowered her to do the right thing for the dog. 

I explained that Cesar Millan has this thing called The Touch that he does to break the behavior.  I said that does NOT mean to slap the dog, but merely touch it enough to get her attention.  She didn’t quite grasp that but I pointed at the hair on my arm and said “All I have to do with my Lettie is merely flick a few hairs and she’ll snap to”.  In illustration, I flicked a few arm hairs not even touching the arm and explained how I did it.

I also explained that at the start you may have to rest your hand on the dog’s haunches or neck but at no time am I saying to hit the dog.  Literally all it takes with my dog is a flick not making contact with the body.  On the other hand I have a very good and deep relationship with my dog.  Best to start out light and see how that works.

I could visibly see her gather her strength and get energized.

Closing the conversation I told her that it’s time for her to come out of the bushes and gain a lasting relationship with this dog.   She added that she was getting another dog in the house plus a Parrot, so she had to act fast.

Two days later, I saw her and we were able to get within about 10 feet of her dog without the dog freaking out.  She took the instruction to heart, it’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.  

Clearly.  Her dog would bark at us from down the block at times.  It was a bit odd, to say the least.

Some dogs are more hard headed than others.  In the case of this older Corgi and Akita mix, the dog realized that if the owner wasn’t going to lead, she’d have to and this was the result.   All it wanted was a little guidance and now that it got it, she was a happy dog. 

I know my neighbor is a happier person as a result.   In fact, today we were able to actually have a conversation about current events while both her dog and mine sniffed the grass – at a healthy distance from each other.  Some day I may even learn her name!

All it takes is a gentle guidance and a tiny touch.  Tiger Not Included.

Happy Birthday Kevin – Picture

Happy Birthday, Kevin.  Enjoy your cake and here’s some for tonight!

Sure, it’s a quarter of a cake now.  The icing is “Commercial” and day glow orange.  It’s still fresh and the good news is that there are two other layers in the freezer that can be Iced when you want more.

Scratch Cakes only stay fresh for about 2 days.  After that and you end up with something that really isn’t that good.   So make up three layers, freeze two and serve one.  Three times the fun that way!

So everybody who reads this, say happy birthday to Kevin.  He’ll enjoy it.  Even if you don’t read this on his birthday, go ahead and wish him a happy birthday.  

Fixing Firefox When Curiosity Strikes

I’m one of those people who fixes things.  I guess that makes me a proper Geek.  I know enough how to diagnose the problems (Nerd) and how to fix them (Geek) when I set my mind to it.

Recently I was given a “dead” cordless electric drill.  The thing “Wouldn’t Hold A Charge” so I was told “You like to fix this stuff, here, have fun”.   I did.  I’m that wacky guy who replaced all the rechargeable batteries in a NiCd pack with old Laptop Lithium Ion Cells, a bit of solder and wire, some tub caulk to hold it all together and now I have a perfectly functional if a bit scratched up and ugly Ryobi drill.

If you have a rechargeable appliance around, they can be fixed, trust me.  Don’t toss the stuff, some hacker may be able to make something of it.

The problem happened when I decided that I wanted to see if I could recover my Windows 8 install on my “Daily Driver” laptop.  This is the “Mission Critical” machine, so there’s the first mistake – don’t mess with your “Daily Driver” if it is important.

Dutifully, I unscrewed the bottom on the laptop, swapped in the Windows 8 hard drive, and tried to fix the permissions that broke the install.  After some “Call A Friend” help, and about 3 hours, I shrugged, said it’s dead Jim, I hate Windows 8 anyway, and it gives me an excuse to wipe it and install Linux on a different laptop.

Putting the drive back in place, I screwed it all back together.  Of course I had to check the memory to make sure it was seated properly.  After all it was working but sitting there taunting me like it just NEEDED to be touched.

See where this is going?

Turn on the computer and I saw something I hadn’t seen before in the 3 or more years I have been using it – Windows 7 gave me a “Blue Screen of Death”.  Over the next two days, I was able to get things stabilized somewhat.  The crash was Windows telling me I have problems with the hard drive, and that’s plausible.  I’ll be doing a backup today.  Really.  I will.  Promise!

The problem there is that every time I tried to launch Firefox it would run for a bit then crash.  Regularly.  It crashed every time I loaded a number of tabs at the same time.   Clearly it was not a happy camper.

There is an easy solution.  With most software you have the the option of fixing it all by reinstalling it from the “current” medium.  In the case of Firefox, I surfed http://www.getfirefox.com and downloaded a new copy.  Once reinstalled, end of problem.  I could do this because it was only Firefox that was misbehaving because of my errant curiosity and the oncoming Hard Disc “problem”.

So the moral of the story?  Don’t be curious with your “Daily Driver” Computer.  Even so-called “Experts” can get in trouble.  

That and keep your old hardware.  You never know if you or someone else may get some use out of it.

Besides, I actually LIKE playing with Linux, soldering irons, old “broken” drills, and the like.

Wilton Manors Passes The Spaghetti Sauce Test

I have a test I apply to a neighborhood.

If you can’t prepare dinner without getting into your car, then it fails the test of livability.

Broadly stated, it’s the idea that you should be able to get the minimum services in where you live within a mile of the house.  If you take the “I’ll Walk A Mile” as being the limit that you’d want to walk in order to make dinner, then Wilton Manors almost completely meets that test.

There are some small areas in the West End of town that you would have to go further than a mile to obtain groceries, and there may be other pockets here and there, but easily it is more than 80 or 90 percent of the city that is within that mile limit.

What brought this to mind is that I watched Kevin make Spaghetti Sauce this weekend.  When we make it, it’s from scratch.  You need two kinds of tomatoes, oregano, basil, spices and a lot of time.  May as well make up a lot of the stuff since the recipe is excellent, so we can the resulting sauce.

All of the ingredients are within a walkable 1/2 mile from my house.  There is no reason to get in the car for that sort of thing other than the occasional weather front or laziness.  Since the crime rate here is Roughly Average for cities in the United States, I don’t have to worry about having tomatoes stolen by some rogue tomato thief.

The worst thing I have to worry about is traffic.  Walking along Wilton Drive is bad enough, it is currently a raceway and there’s a big discussion as to whether to narrow the Drive.  The vast number of residents are in favor of it, the businesses on Wilton Drive are largely in favor of it, and the benefits are fairly obvious.  Increased parking will pay for itself within about 2 years as well as lowered speeds on Wilton Drive mean that it’s a greatly more liveable city.  The hope is that it will happen soon and that the sidewalks that are there will be widened since it can be a minefield to walk around the outdoor cafe’s that are crammed in between palm trees and light poles.

What brought this to mind is that I am lucky to live in an exception in the Sunbelt.  Most areas are largely sprawl.  Unmanageable by foot since there are rarely enough sidewalks and the distances are too great to get what you need even if you have a personal shopping cart to wheel your purchases home.

When I chose to live in an area, this sort of urban or newurbanist lifestyle was one of the first things I looked for.  There are always some drawbacks, but living near shops have always given me a huge benefit as a result. 

After all these years of living like this, being able to simply walk out of the door and off to the shops when we forgot the basil or need dessert is something I don’t want to lose.

I am not alone in appreciating this sort of New Urbanist lifestyle.  The property values here last year appreciated where most of the county were either “flat” or declined in a down market.  The inventory of homes for sale in Wilton Manors is so tight that prices are starting to sound more “normal” after years of major losses.

Of course each little area has its own character, this one is one I fell into.  There are other areas that have the same amenities in them, and each of those areas are more popular than those that are lacking them.

I guess that is really what they mean by the old Real Estate Maxim of “Location, Location, Location”.  Luckily, we have our Location in the sun.

Painting by the Blond – Humor

Having done many hours of “Requirements Gathering” as they call it in Project Management, I can appreciate this one.   Ok, sure it’s a “Blonde Joke”, but I’ve had clients in a professional setting that were just like this.

The key is to make sure you really do understand what the person on the other side is saying.

A blonde, wanting to earn some money, decided to hire herself out as a handyman-type and started canvassing a wealthy neighborhood.

She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for her to do. “Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?”

The blonde said, “How about 50 dollars?” The man agreed and told her that the paint and ladders that she might need were in the garage.

The man’s wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, “Does she realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?”

The man replied, “She should. She was standing on the porch.”

A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.

“You’re finished already?” he asked.
“Yes,” the blonde answered, “and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats.“

Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.

“And by the way,” the blonde added, “that’s not a Porch, it’s a Ferrari.”

Hillbilly Choking Remedy – Humor

Ok, if you’re looking for someone to blame or credit for this one, it’s Kevin.  Going through the few joke emails I had left, I read this and it put a smile on my face.

At least the title is mine, what you’d call it is my guess!

On the other hand I wonder if this would work…

Two hillbillies walk into a restaurant.
While having a bite to eat, they talk about their pick up trucks and moonshine operation.

Suddenly, a woman at a nearby table, who is eating a sandwich, begins to cough.
After a minute or so, it becomes apparent that she is in real distress.
One of the hillbillies looks at her and says, ‘Kin ya swallar?’
The woman shakes her head no.
Then he asks, ‘Kin ya breathe?’
The woman begins to turn blue and shakes her head no.

The hillbilly walks over to the woman, lifts up her dress, yanks down her drawers and quickly gives her right butt cheek a lick with his tongue. The woman is so shocked that she has a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth. As she begins to breathe again, the Hillbilly walks slowly back to his table.

His partner says, ‘Ya know, I’d heerd of that there ‘Hind Lick Maneuver’ but I ain’t niver seed nobody do it afore!’

Fairchild Gardens Walkway Display – Picture

When you are in a garden, stop to smell the Orchids.

I had not seen a Rose all day at Fairchild Gardens, that isn’t their thing.  Not exotic enough. 

While I do have a Rose in the backyard, and it needs trimming, I have more orchids back there than that. Besides, Roses will grow in every State of the Union, Orchids are much more fussy than that.

The name I gave this picture is fairly bland, I don’t know the sort of flowers that were growing against the trunk of that tree, but that is part of the charm of the place I guess.   There’s so much going on that the Orchids are merely commonplace. 

By the way, most Orchids don’t have a scent.  The ones in my yard don’t, although I have my eyes open for a Vanilla Orchid and they do have a fragrance.  Beautiful white flowers on a Vanilla Orchid.

Definitely not native species, but still quite nice to see.

The Dog’s Morning Shower

The morning routine is fairly well set in stone.

I get up before six in the morning, get myself mobile and able to walk out the door.

I’m followed by my dog, so I have to gauge how mobile she is as well.  Talk to her a little bit to see if she can actually hear today since she’s 12.  Yes, along with all those other problems, she’s not able to hear well every day.

There are better days than others so that keeps us on our toes.

She can always hear the clink of the ice cube in the bottom of that 32 ounce iced tea glass!

It’s still dark so I am standing on the inside of the door to see if there are any critters about, two legs or four, that we need to worry about.

Since the street is clear, we step through the door into the morning and sniff the air.  I’m cold, it’s 57, she’s loving it.  The beginnings of the morning breezes are stirring and she’s reading the messages that are wafting across the yard in the silence of the dark.

I’m beginning to wonder if she’s going to move out to the yard to relieve herself.  She’s not exactly agile, and she’s been known to root herself in a spot and just groove on things. 

It’s an old dog’s prerogative.

There’s something not quite right.  There isn’t anyone nearby so I can be relaxed with her wandering off across the street but she still hasn’t moved.

And then it clicks what is missing.   It is Thursday Morning.

You see we have twice a week irrigation here.  Thursday and Sunday.

Now it is time for Lettie’s Wake-up Call.

I hear it first.  The hissing of the air running out of the lines to the heads of the sprinklers in the front yard.  Lettie is looking due North toward the new construction and doesn’t suspect a thing.  She’s standing exactly in line with the largest sprinklers in the yard.

I’m calling to her to try to get her free of the impending doom, but it doesn’t help.  Lettie gets a blast of water that shoots through her legs and out the other end all the way to the street.   She leaps into the air a full foot.

Who knew Grandma could do THAT?

Now she comes down, doing a dance over the stream and trying to get out of the chilled water and basically not getting anywhere.

Finally she extracts herself and runs out to the other side of the car with me in tow.  Since she doesn’t have her leash on her at this time of the morning, I’m watching her as she walks out to the neighbor’s yard.  She would walk herself at this point but that just isn’t done.

Shepherding the sheepdog back into the house, it’s time for breakfast. 

The fun doesn’t stop there.  I prepare the first syringe of food for her, and that takes well.   The second one on the other hand ends up badly.   There was a clump of food in the bottom of the syringe and a bubble of air that compressed behind it.  Not being able to get it to go, I push hard on the syringe.   It’s vertical when it finally lets go and now instead of being a fountain of water outside, we have a shower of dog food squirting into the air.

Today’s project:  Clean the dining room ceiling.

Never a dull moment around here.   Hey, could you pass me the paper towels and that spray bottle?  Thanks!

Fairchild Gardens Flowers in Bloom – Picture

When you’re walking around in a tropical garden stuffed full of exotics, you never know what you will discover around the corner.

When I went to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, I was walking with friends and madly taking pictures of everything I found remotely interesting.   There was a riot of color everywhere, beauty literally under each rock.

I was going through my camera’s chip looking for a picture to post and thought “Ooh, Pretty Purple Flowers”.   Sure, that’s a bit pedantic, but accurate.   Then I began to look at the picture itself.

This particular picture became a learning experience for me.  I’m learning how to use Photoshop instead of my Open Source programs like GIMP and Inkscape.   I could have made my little titles in those programs in just a few minutes, but Photoshop forced me to slow down and actually look at the play of the different colors and shading and appreciate the beauty in this clump of flowers.

Funny how Technology and my inexperience in this particular piece of software forced me to appreciate the natural.

Tips for Syringe Feeding your Dog with Chronic Renal Failure

Standard Disclaimer:
I am not a vet.  I am not a health professional.  Consult your vet.  Any advice you find here that is helpful, is merely intended to be that.  Help.

I keep mentioning that “Chronic Renal Failure” simply because as a part of the progression of the disease, the patient will slowly stop eating.  They basically starve themselves to death.

This is what happened with my own Lettie two weeks ago.   She survived because we realized we needed prompt professional veterinary attention.

What happens is that when the illness flares up, the dog gets nauseous and stops eating.  Nobody will last without food and when you’re not metabolizing it correctly because the kidneys are failing, there’s a very short period of time that you can act.

Sunday she stopped eating and drinking, utterly.   Monday she was in the vet.   They rehydrated her with intravenous solutions, and that continued through Thursday.   Her blood numbers for the various chemicals were extremely high, the hydration helped flush that all out.  When the week was done her numbers were either normal or very slightly “elevated”.

Now it is Monday as I write this, a week later.  She’s just taken her first bit of solid food from me and has more energy.   Clearly she is improving.

Chronic Renal Failure means for as long as she remains alive, she will continue to have these episodes and eventually hydration will not allow her to recouperate.  She must be on a prescribed diet that is low Potassium, low Protein, and low Salt.  The prescription food is pretty much despised by dogs so they won’t eat it without being tricked.

Since she’s refusing food, how do you combat that?

I was told after four days of intravenous fluids that if I couldn’t feed her she’s at her end.   I wanted to fight for her but how?  The vet tech Danielle at the excellent Family Pet Center in Fort Lauderdale gave me a can of prescription diet and two syringes.  I was to use these syringes to insert the food into Lettie’s mouth and basically make her eat. 

She is a 47 pound dog, or at least she was before she started losing weight as a result of this disease.   As a result she will need one can of prescription diet a day.   You will want to feed twice a day.   Larger dogs get more food, smaller get less.  Ask your vet how much you should feed.

The first trial I used a fabric Muzzle.   That was overkill.  Here is the list of supplies that I use:

Feeding syringes – five.  35 ML in capacity.  The opening at the end is about the size of a common drinking straw.  35 ML is about an Ounce and about a quarter.  Even if the dog or cat in question is small, you will need a large opening because dog (or cat) food is thick and won’t “inject” easily.  Five syringes will fill with 6 ounces of food by weight with enough “wiggle room” so you can work with the syringes to get them filled comfortably.  For larger dogs, you can get a larger syringe to make your work easier.

Microwave safe Large Coffee mug or mixing bowl of 16 ounces or more.  

Tablespoon to blend the food until all large clumps have been smoothed out – or alternately use a blender.  I found a tablespoon and a large latte or coffee mug to be perfect.

Microwave – you will warm the food to around “body temperature”.   Warm food that is around 100F or 40C will be easier flowing.   Colder food tends to be more firm.

Large light color plastic mat.   You will be feeding the dog on the mat and you will be on the floor.  Why?  Psychology.  You are big, the pet is small.   If you are “on their level” they will be more relaxed.  It really is all about the pet.  Your comfort is secondary, you are saving their lives.  The goal is to be at eye level or close to it with your pet.

Oh the light color is so that you can find any mess later.  A towel can be used but washing a towel after every meal twice a day gets tedious.

Sandwich sized Plastic Bag with a corner cut out.  You want a small, drinking straw sized hole cut in the corner of the plastic bag so that you can work with it like a pastry bag.

Scissors to cut a hole in the plastic bag.

Bowl of water.   The dog may need water during feeding.  You would have a beer or soda with your pizza right?

Dog Collar and Leash.  I find my own Lettie tries to wander off.   Keeping a leash “at hand” slows her down.  When she wanders, you can gently guide her back to task.  She doesn’t really want to eat, you have to help her along.  I basically sit on the leash and reel her in when need be.

Any medicines or pills that need to be added to the food.  

Assembly and Process:

Open the can of food.  I’m currently using Hill Diet I/D food.  She also has Pancreatitis on top of her kidney problems.   The food looks like a pate or a chopped liver paste.

Spoon 6 ounces (1/2 can) into the coffee mug.

Warm the mug and food for approximately 20 seconds.  It should feel warmish to the touch, but not hot.  Remember, you will be working with the food and you don’t want to burn your pet’s mouth as well as your hands.  The food will thin out a little bit and make it easier to work with.

Use the tablespoon to mix the food and break down any large clumps.  It should be smooth when you are done.

Spoon the food into the plastic bag and seal the bag. 

Tamp the food down toward the opening that you cut.   You will be using the plastic bag like a pastry bag.

If you are adding a pill to the food, you can add it after partially filling a syringe, then dropping the pill in the syringe, then finishing the fill.   Make sure the pill is broken small enough to easily run down the nozzle of the syringe.  You’re killing two birds with one stone here by sneaking the pills in the food.

Fill the syringes until you have a little more than one ounce in each syringe.  You will do this by squeezing the plastic bag and letting the food run into the body of the syringe.  Basically you’re decorating a cake.  

Tamp the food down to remove air bubbles.  Squeeze more food into the syringe if you have any leftover room.   I find that 6 ounces fill 4 1/2 35ML syringes.  Place the syringes on the mat.  Make sure the first syringe you feed is the one with any medicine.

Put the collar and leash on the dog and walk her over to the mat near the water and the syringes.  Place the muzzle near the syringes.

Sit down and talk to her.  Most importantly you will want to make sure your “energy” is calm and cool.   If you are hyper and bouncing around, your pet will definitely be the same way.

The muzzle may be used at this point if you have a bitey dog.  My own Lettie is fearful and she is a fear biter, but I was able to do this without using the muzzle and no biting.   If you do use the muzzle, remember to leave it loose enough that the dog’s mouth can be slightly opened.   You will need to get the opening of the syringe in that little gap.

Since I am not using a muzzle, here’s how I do it.

Seated on the ground, I gently hold Lettie’s head from under the jaw.  I show her the syringe and tell her “Hungry” as she understands that to say it is time for food.  Aiming the syringe, I get her to open the lips on the side of her mouth. 

There is a spot directly behind the main Canine teeth, the fangs, that there is a gap. 

Placing the opening of the syringe at that gap, I squeeze a little bit of food into the gap.   At this point the dog’s reflexes will take over.   If your dog really truly hates this process, she’ll clamp her mouth shut or snap at you prompting you to use the muzzle.   In my case, she opens her mouth slightly.   This was the signal for me to push the plunger on the syringe so that she got a slow but steady stream of food into her mouth.  

At this point she would begin chewing and accepting the food.   If you are pushing too quickly, the food will gather in the cheeks and she’ll back away.  This is one of those things in life that you have to “finesse” and find the right speed.   Watch your dog closely. 

I am able to actually get the syringe into the cavity of the mouth and empty each syringe one at a time while she’s eating.   This is after about 3 days of twice a day feedings.

After five days her energy is improving.  She won’t ever be perfect again, she’s just not going to recover.   This will buy some time with her but I understand that there will be another relapse and eventually The Final Decision will have to be made when I walk her to The Rainbow Bridge.

At least this gives us time to adjust.