Kathy Diamond Davis

Name:
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Author of the book "Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others," 2nd edition published by Dogwise Publishing. Canine Behavior Series at www.veterinarybehavior.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills

Tonight my regular Bible reading brings me to Psalm 50. In the New Living Translation, verses 7-15:

"'O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the most High.
Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory."

The last verse of the chapter, verse 23:

"'But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.'"

The commentary in this Bible doesn't say much about these verses, except that the people had forgotten what the blood sacrifices stood for. There is much packed into the words, mysteries.

Clearly we can't make an "easy bargain" by simply taking no vows to God that must be kept. Surely part of what we vow is to be as Jesus said, Love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. Living up fully to that would be impossible for anyone.

We're instructed to call on him when we are in trouble, he says he will rescue us, and we will give him glory. In the last verse he tells us the sacrifice of giving thanks to him pleases him, and that he will reveal his salvation to us if we keep to his path.

There's the difference between law and grace, that no one can perfectly keep to the path of God, but Christ has made the impossible to be so.

Life contains so much fear and anxiety. Reading Temple Grandin's books "Animals in Translation" and "Emergence" reminded me of the fears and how relentless they can be. There is no human solution to that fear. In "Animals in Translation," she says something to the effect that humans seem to be hard-wired for religion. She writes a lot about evolution, but I believe in creation, by whatever means God chooses to create and in whatever time frame.

Mysteries. I don't understand. But I don't have to. God keeps the brain and gives me whatever access I need when I need it and have faith to ask. Thank God. Thank God for everything in my life, from the weight loss to the old car still running to my beloved Gabriel feeling well to Believer's level-headed sweetness. I don't deserve it all. I am so grateful.

Beagles

I've been working on notes for a basic article about Field Trials for Beagles, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds tonight. The rules I read didn't refer to guns or horses at the test, so I visited the AKC website to see if I could find more information. The site has some interesting video clips and photographs. Lots of Beagle baying on the clips. I saw horses but no guns. Looks like some of the officials are mounted but not the handlers. Looks like they do any gunshyness testing separately.

The non-AKC Hunt Tests have titles that are not AKC, and appear to be held by the Basset Hound folk but open to the other two breeds. I expect they will progress to AKC titles. Beagle clubs that put on AKC events seem to have their own grounds and clubhouses and to maintain a population of rabbits on the property because rabbits don't work well when brought in just for an event.

I recently did a couple of pieces on Pointing Breed Field Trials and Hunt Tests, which are more complicated than these--or at least the rules seem to be. Perhaps that comes of humans feeling they can evaluate the pointing performance more precisely than the trailing work done by the rabbit dogs. The bird is more visible than the rabbit, I expect.

Interesting to contemplate how the two sports affect game, too. In both cases the game is cultivated and conserved in order to make hunting events even possible. Shooting the birds is part of the pointing tests, but pursuing the rabbits seems to mostly end with letting them go in the trailing events. More dogs are in the field and closer to the game that would be shot, so perhaps safety is the reason.

I made a cell phone call today and received one, testing the speaker phone as well as the microphone and earpiece, so I'm all set. Last night I found references in the manual to keeping the phone 2 cm from the body when carrying it, to reduce risks from exposure to the radio waves. Ugh.

Well, back to work here on an article for Friday. And maybe a little more surfing on rabbit hunting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Text Messaging

My cell phone arrived from Virgin Mobile today and they responded quickly when I activated it through their website. That was after I first charged up the battery. Then I practiced sending text messages to the phone via email and reading them, and sent one from the phone to my email. I still have a lot of things to figure out on it, very complicated options and manual, but so far I like it.

I don't much care for the belt clip case, because you have to unsnap the phone from it to answer it or open for any other reason and access controls. Next time I'll know to choose my cell phone case in person rather than order one online. Hubby might like it, though, if he winds up getting this model of phone.

I'm carrying it in my zip-up hoodie pocket, and it would work in other pockets, too. Since it flips shut, the main thing to protect it from is banging against anything metal or being dropped. Buttons can't get accidentally pressed with it closed, other than the display light. The display goes blank when the phone is turned off, so you can tell if it's off or on.

So far I've spent a dime, for one text message. Receiving them is free, so I didn't get charged for the ones I sent from my computer. I sent my mother the email address so that she can email text messages to my phone. For now I think I'll leave the Voice Mail not set up. I'd rather people leave me messages via email or my home phone answering machine, where it doesn't cost me by the minute to access them. That may change later, but I notice people who have voice mail on cell phones and at home tend not to return calls quickly. I think checking all that is just too much hassle.

I read Temple Grandin's book "Emergence" in the last couple of days, and in that one she explains more about how autism has affected her, starting in childhood. I read Robert Parker's "Cold Service." I think I'd have liked it better as a short story and much better as a movie.

I'm reading Carol Goodman's "The Lake of Dead Languages." Not very far along in it, but so far it's enthralling. The language is a real pleasure, and the setting feels real to me. It's like places I've been in younger years.

I like that my cell phone number will be portable. When we changed our home phone to digital service a couple of years ago that number was portable. I've made a special effort to keep my same email address for all the years I've been online, too. I like the idea of a permanent cell phone number. That makes me feel good about the company I'm doing business with.

And now, back to my book.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Training and Teaching and Learning and Thinking

I posted this to a dog list yesterday and wanted to remember parts of it, so I'm posting it here, with some changes:

I've been thinking more about thinking in pictures and thinking in words--and believe it or not, my head has not yet exploded, LOL. I do think in pictures sometimes--we all do. I often hate it when I think in pictures, because they can be terrible images. Dreams are often this way.

And there is this "process" I work for with my dogs that I've never had words for, that may be actually taking them up into a level of having some ability to think in words. I've described it at times as trying to develop the dog's higher brain, to take their thinking above the level of instinct so often and so reliably that they develop the ability to override their own instincts. I think this is a level of training. Some training probably happens on an unconscious level, both for dogs and for humans. But the training that excites me, I call teaching/learning, and it involves thinking. Maybe at that point our dogs are able to think in words to some extent. I look for it to happen in my dogs, and I work for it to happen. You can't force it, you have to nurture it. It starts as, a little pilot light, and then if you have the right dog and the right rapport and the right head on your shoulders, it becomes a furnace burner you can turn on and up as needed.

I think we can all benefit from noticing when we are thinking in pictures and when adding words or subtracting words would help. One observation many trainers have made is that some humans who have insufficient dog experience when young and have a lot of education seem almost unable to make the leap from human language to dog language. One of the joys of my life is spending my days immersed in dog language because they are with me as I work and rest and play.

Some of it is verbal. I think that is something that Temple Grandin did not know about dogs when the book was written. I have been shopping for cell phones and service recently. I've been reading the manuals online to decide which to buy. I found myself in the night "learning" how to operate the phone I've ordered. This has happened to me with other items, too, such as the timers I wear to keep myself from burning the house down by forgetting I'm cooking, and the digitally-tuned portable music players that help me function. And I mustn't forget about the new digital cable controllers we've just adjusted to in our house. My brain practices this stuff in my sleep.

For those who have learned a foreign language or studied math or anything else that calls on you to interact with a new "system," a new "program," in order to get it to do something you want it to do--you dream about it. I remember going to an evening of French-speaking as a teenager with my French teacher and some people from France, and I dreamed in French that night. For that matter, many is the time I've dreamed about dog handling and awakened with a solution or an improved skill.

I think the dogs surely experience the same thing. And the more you do it, the more capable your brain becomes of doing it. I'm determined to learn to use my new cell phone for text messaging. I want to get my husband on the Internet in the next year, and on a cell phone, too. We have aging parents who feared learning new technology, and we're seeing how limited and fearful that can make a person as they age.

Trainer Margot Woods (author of "Mud Heaven," clearly wA well able to develop Wrap's potential, whether it was the way someone with different physical abilities at a different point in life would have done it, or not. Where there's a will, there's a way. I'm going to be doing it again in the not-so-distant future, too. I'm hoping for a few more years with Gabriel, but past losses have driven it home to me that I don't get to decide that. It is looking like Tervs who can dodge the cancer bullet might get the years I want for him. He's short and agile and smart and easy to handle, all of which favors a successful old age, too.

My fervent wish is to have some more years to enjoy his sweet presence while honing my assistance-dog skills with Believer, before training my next. But I have to think about the balance in the pack and the companionship of another dog for her, too. "Somebody else" could surely do a better job with Believer than I do, and "somebody else" could surely do a better job than I will with my next dog. I can't let that keep me from having the dog I need and training the dog in the ways that work for me and make me happy. Life is too short for that, time too precious to waste trying to "prove myself" to everyone else.

I became vividly conscious in school of the difference between taking full advantage of the learning opportunity vs. putting full efforts toward getting the highest grade. It is not possible to do both 100%. In school I compromised, trying to take it beyond going for the grade but also keeping my eye on that ball. Now, I make the learning choice whenever possible.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Going Mobile

I decided to get a cell phone for emergencies. I don't see myself using it other than to take care of necessities when I don't have easy access to my home phone, so I got a prepaid plan.

I wanted to use the Sprint network. They seem to have good coverage in my area. I emailed them and asked how to do prepaid on their network. They emailed back in about an hour, quite a surprise. They said they do not offer prepaid service, but they recommend Virgin Mobile, a company that uses the Sprint network.

I checked the Virgin Mobile website carefully, and didn't think I wanted to go that way. But after sleeping on it, it sounded better. I discussed it with hubby and he thought it was a good idea. You have to buy a phone, and pay a minimum of $20 for airtime every 90 days to keep it active. You do not lose any of your minutes unless you let the account expire. The first 10 minutes of talk on any one day are 25 cents a minute, and further minutes that day are 10 cents a minute. That covers long distance within the USA as well. Text messaging is 10 cents to send, free to receive, and it can go to or come from an email address rather than a cell phone.

As I thought about the awkwardness of carrying on a conversation while out for a walk or shopping or driving, I don't think I even want to use a cell phone that way. I'm not out much, after all. Maybe someday I'll need that, but maybe not. It's nice that this number will be portable if I wish it.

I ordered a flip phone, after spending hours researching specs, instructions and reviews. It looks to be the easiest to carry and maybe the most reliable of the choices. I should get it Monday. Then I charge it and then I call or go online to get my new phone number so I can activate the phone. Instructions are on the site.

Lots of the people on this system are kids, but not all. It's a fast-growing service. If cell phone service does go unlimited, I bet they will go to that, too. There will be intense market pressure on pricing in my area in the near future, so I can probably upgrade fairly inexpensively if I decide to.

I think hubby will want a cell phone, too. We'll see!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Toenail Saga Continued

It was two weeks ago that Spirit snarled and left, me too tired to work her through accepting nail trimming. I do them weekly. Last week I used the Halti hooked by a leash around my foot and to my belt, and another line to her collar on her other side, and kept putting her back into position until I got at least a cut job done, though not the side-trims I prefer to add. Good reason for adding the trims, because in one of her leaps out of my lap she got my forearm with a long scratch that still has a scab, ouch. I do not like to leave sharp edges. I am not able to Dremel due to the respiratory effects, or file because it takes such finger grip to hold each toe for filing.

We've been piling the honey on her food, which has her eating better and perhaps a little mellowed. Today I got her tied right to start with, and it went better. Got all the edges cut, and got her to eat while I worked. That mellows her, too. And distracts her from trying to battle me.

Beevy has been getting a little fussy on nails lately, which is not like her, and the trimmer has been harder to use. It's a Miller's Forge, and I haven't found anyone who sharpens them. So the last time I replaced one, I bought two. Pulled the unused one out today, and it did work a lot better. So maybe that was the problem. A duller trimmer would squeeze the nail harder. Not that I'm cutting down that much, doing it weekly.

I ordered another backup tonight, and also a Resco guillotine-type. I don't like those, but at least you can change the blades, so I'm going to try that kind again. This one comes with padded handles, and I need that. My hands are so sore from the arthritis these days. My vet much prefers the guillotine-type, and he and his staff surely trim a lot of nails.

I ordered the one for big dogs, probably not the one I tried before. Heck, I may still have that old one, too. I tend to clean and oil stuff like that and store it carefully in its original box and keep it forever. It was the pet shop owner where I got that trimmer who told me about edge-cutting the nails to remove sharp edges. I got real serious about doing that after receiving a corneal abrasion from an accidental collision with a recently-trimmed dog toenail. And now this long scab on my arm.

Those of us who have dogs on the bed and in our laps need those nails done well. And the dogs need them short enough that they don't slip on smooth floors, if they have to walk on such floors. I always took nails very seriously when my dogs were working as therapy dogs, but with Believer an assistance dog, she has more contact with the public now than ever. And all the dogs are handled by hubby and me and health-care providers at the very least. No one needs to get cut by a toenail.

I finished "Animals in Translation" last night, and I think the main thing I got from it is how much fear affects animals, how much fear they tend to feel. Probably more fear than pain. My ability to calm them and relieve their fears is probably one reason they get so attached to me. My vet is extremely good at that. The author, Temple Grandin, says that the visual, nonverbal thinking process leaves the autistic person so vulnerable to fear that she would not be able to function without antianxiety medication.

Today Believer had a little trouble being sure she was finished pooping outside, so I called her over and had her walk between my knees, lifted her tail, parted the hair with a plastic bag on my hand and checked her. She was all clear, so I told her and released her. I watched her face as she walked away. She grinned. She felt watched over and cared for. This is how I see my dogs respond over and over to being physically tended.

The book also talks about the way touch--both restraining and soft touch--affects the brain. I realized it's yet another reason my daily combing of my dogs in my lap has such profound benefits. I am helping their BRAINS. Wow.

Animals in Translation

Like many dog people, I checked this book out of the library because the hype is that the author has special knowledge of dogs. Well, surprise, surprise, that is not the case. This information is just not correct. No, purebred dogs are not more destructive than mixed-breed dogs. No, mixed-breed dogs are not healthier than purebred dogs. No, Collies are not stupid because their skulls are narrow (neither are Tervuren). No, purebreds are not responsible for more dog bites than mutts. (What happens is that a breed label is slapped onto a mixed-breed dog, because the forms the authorities fill out require it.) No, not all Labrador Retrievers are destructive chewers. And no, domestic dogs of quite a few breeds and mixes are not unable to do a long stare. On the contrary, it's a common ability in dogs. Dogs are also capable of a lot more sophisticated problem-solving than she says they are.

She seems to know a lot more about livestock animals, though since I don't know those animals I can't judge as well. The information she gives on brain research is interesting, but is interspersed with speculation. You have to read mindfully to discern what you want to accept and what you don't.

Science about what goes on inside the mind of an animal is a mess. Observations are of more value, but it depends on who does the observing and how accurately they describe it. This is a thought-provoking book, but I hope people don't buy into her ideas about dogs.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Gabriel's Great Recovery

Tuesday night right after eating his 9 o'clock meal, Gabriel went down. He couldn't even stand up with support at both ends. He was flailing side to side and tilted. His panic relaxed when I spoke to him, and he was able to respond to my voice enough to stop trying to walk/crawl when I calmly said "Stay."

We rushed him to the veterinary emergency hospital. He couldn't be walked a step, so my husband had to carry him. He's a Belgian Tervuren, weighs 54 pounds and is 11 1/2 years old.

I bothered my vet at home by phone, because I was pretty sure he would want me to. One of the first things he asked was whether there was side-to-side eye movement. The emergency vet was thinking along the same lines, and Gabriel's diagnosis was vestibular syndrome.

Dogs who go down with this typically take from a few days to a few weeks to recover, and may have recurrences. They gave him valium and wanted to keep him overnight. I took a good look at his stress level and the chain link cage with concrete floor and a towel under him where he was confined.

I asked why he needed to stay, and they said to keep him from hurting himself flailing around. I pointed out that he's a skittish dog (very sweet--never, ever offered to bite anyone throughout this--but sensitive to movements, fear, etc.) and wasn't going to be able to relax there. They said they would keep him sedated. He's 11 1/2, and so are his liver and kidneys. Not a great idea to give him unnecessary drugs.

I know they thought I was just a clingy owner, when I kept saying he was my partner and I could keep him calm at home. But at the very beginning of the episode at home it had been clear that I could in fact instantly calm him. So we took him home. The emergency vet said to give him one drowsy-type Dramamine when we got home and 1-2 every 8 hours after that. And of course he needed to go to his vet in the morning.

At home he didn't want water and didn't urinate when we supported him outside on both ends, but he was able to stand with that support. I braced both hind legs with a hand in front of each one where it meets the body, and hubby held his front up with the padded nylon harness.

Hubby stayed with Gaby on the sofa keeping him calm until I got ready for bed, and then carried him in, settled him on the bed, and I attached his harness to my belt with a 4-foot leash so he couldn't jump off the bed. We've done this before for his bulging cervical disk, so he is comfortable with it, and slept like the sweet darling he is. He wasn't "out," but sleeping.

We got up at 5 and hubby picked him up and carried him outside. Gabriel could stand, and he urinated out there twice. Then I took the leash while hubby fixed dog breakfasts. Gabriel was pulling hard to get to his eating spot, walking fine. There may have still been a little head tilt at that point, but no staggering at all. This dog has both a bulging cervical disk and osteoarthritis in the hips, so clearly he was feeling okay. Hubby had been planning to come home from work to carry him into the vet's office, but obviously that was not likely to be necessary, so we left it that I would call and let him know.

I stayed up and kept Gabriel tethered near me until around 8. By then it was clear he could walk fine, so I left the harness on but took the leash off. He pooped outside, and I saw him lift a hind leg to urinate. His vet appointment was at 10, and he merrily bounced up the steps into the building. I had to be very careful to keep him from making the jump up to the exam table.

He has had a yeast infection in his ears recently, but the vet was able to view both eardrums and said both are intact and the ears look okay. I do have Desenex powder in there, which has cleared up the infection but kept the emergency vet from being able to see the eardrums. Possibly the ear infection triggered this. We'll probably never be sure.

The vet had me give him 1 Dramamine every 8 hours for 1-2 days, and then discontinue if symptoms did not return. They didn't. He stayed just fine. The emergency vet had prepared me for the typical situation with this condition, including a possible very long-term head tilt. Recurrence is certainly possible. My vet said it's unusual for a dog to recover this fast, but he has seen it happen before.

I can't lift Gabriel, and if I could at all, I probably couldn't with him all twisted up and his head waving from side to side like it was. Besides the side-to-side eye movement, he had side-to-side head movement, and we think perhaps that's because of his tendency to move his head rather than just moving his tongue (to drink or to lick a person) or his eyes when he looks at things. He moves his whole head, which may have contributed to his neck problem. He was curled in the direction of the bulging cervical disk and flailing the neck so much that I greatly feared a flare up of that problem, but it hasn't shown at all. One reason he is so used to the harness is that we attach his leash to that, never to a collar. He's so highly trained that he works just fine that way.

Hubby asked me that night how I would be able to handle it if Gabriel couldn't walk for a long period of time. I said, let's just take it one step at a time for now. And then he woke up fine. I feel like I needed a miracle and I got one. I'm grateful to God for his loving care of Gabriel and of us.

The other dogs were fine with it, especially Beevy (Believer). As I was calming Gaby, she was licking my ears. I didn't worry about that, just let her do it. I think it calmed her, and probably me, too! Maybe even Gabriel. She does adore him, and she used to regurgitate food and share it with him. I haven't seen her to that recently, but she is sweet with him and motherly with the whole family.

We've been through a lot with the two old dogs recently, and we knew it would probably be this way. I'm just so grateful Gabriel is still with us, and happy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Miss Testy Redux

Today was toenail trimming day again, and I got to Spirit's turn with a plan. She goes to the vet's office in a Halti and does well in it. I had thought to try using some sort of table set up with her, but then had the idea of continuing with her on my outstretched legs with her head down by my feet as usual, only adding the Halti.

The Halti only closes the dog's mouth properly when pulled from above. Pulled from below, the action is unpredictable. If she really did plan to bite me, I wanted to remove that temptation. So I put the Halti on her, attached a 4-foot leash to it, hooked it under my water shoe with the nice rubber sole, and then securely to my belt.

She still managed to get up and start to take off like last week, but the leash stopped her. This put the leash at the wrong angle on the Halti, and I worried it would slip off. So I took another lead, a long one, that I had also brought in to try, and hooked her collar on the other side, looped it around behind my waist and wound up with it around my wrist. Now I had something else to restrain her that pulled in the correct direction and from her other side.

She STILL managed to get up, but she could clearly tell she wasn't going anywhere. Each time she got up, she willingly crawled back into my lap and then I had to turn her around. Must have done that six times. Exhausting!

I trimmed every nail, but didn't take the time to edge-trim, so they have sharp edges, and my arm got a 3-inch scratch from one of her pop-ups before I added the leash. Not a deep scratch, just feels annoying like a sunburn. I gave hubby the 6" bastard file with the handle, and I'm hoping he can manage to file the edges. I think he'll be motivated by a scratch or two when she's cuddling with him. It hurts my arthritic hands too much to do that filing.

I suspect adding more honey back into her diet is going to improve this problem. I also think she'll cooperate better next time when I put the restraints on, because she now knows she can't beat them. In case it sounds cruel to restrain her like that, she's a dog who stresses easily, and that did not happen. She took treats while I worked on her, stayed in my lap for more treats afterward with the restraints removed, and immediately after I finished, ate her dinner with gusto.

A big dog who can't be handled doesn't have much of a life expectancy. This "cat scratch" on my arm makes me think my crazy Spirit has nine lives.

I got a new assignment for RubberStampMadness on a couple of great cards. I love writing for them.

"Young Blades" is on the TV in here. It's on PAX, and this is a good episode. A happy ending, ahhhhh.

Yesterday I had so much to do that I gave up on pedaling and tonight I'm determined to do an extra hour. That's actually a treat, more time to read. This library book, "Mr. Lucky," by James Swain, is interesting so far. I'm taking a break from "Relic," by Preston and Child, to read it so I can return it.

Too much email today, and not pleasant. I keep putting lists on "no mail" lately. The days aren't long enough.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Saga of Miss Testy Continues

Spirit, aka Miss Testy, hates having her toenails trimmed. She's afraid of walking on slick floors, and at age 12 it may be uncomfortable anyway, though her fear dates from early life. I like to keep nails short by weekly trims, and her behavior at toenail time gives me a reading on her nerves.

Nerves not doing so well right now, which is no surprise considering her outbursts. This time when I started to do nails, I was sleep-deprived, and not up to struggling with her. Normally she's fairly tolerant of the hind feet, which I do first, and then starts pitching a fit when I reach for the first front foot. When I get her past that one, she's okay for the rest of the nails.

This time when I reached for just the first hind foot, she flipped out of my lap, turned and snarled at me with a snap toward my arm and a look into my eyes that appeared serious. Of course I don't know what she was thinking or why. Normally I would not let her get away, but I was far too worn out to take her on, so I decided to take it up another day. It's bad enough to let the dog leave when she knew I wanted her to stay. Far worse to struggle with her and have her overpower my restraint.

We're increasing her daily raw honey, which seems to help get her to eat her food and in the past has improved her cooperation and nerves for toenail trimming. I'm going to try having the Halti on her first. If that works, we'll stick with that awhile.

If the Halti doesn't work, I could try a muzzle, but I think a better idea would be to set her up on a table with a regular or improvised grooming noose attached to the Halti. I don't want a closed muzzle, because she gets so worked up that she could overheat. So if the Halti isn't enough when restrained, the appropriate muzzle is probably a basket type.

I could just let her nails grow out and be done with it, but I'll try to work her through the problem. I'm going to skip this round and just catch her on the next one when I do the other dogs. I'm concerned about the fact that she "got away with it," simply because it's better for a dog not to see that as an option. It seems the best way to fade that from her memory is just to take up at the next time as if it never happened. That also gives the honey a week to take effect. Probably not long enough (I think it takes several weeks), but better than nothing.

I've been investigating cell phones for us, prices and coverage and phones and plans. I expect we will soon see subscription services available that do not charge by the minute, though they may require contracts. One thing that's happening in my area is intense competition, and it appears that more is on the way shortly. It doesn't look like a good time to get locked into a 2-year contract.

So, if we get one at all in the near future, it may be a prepaid one. And that looks so iffy on charges that I'd rather just not bother. There are too many catches, such as roaming charges. I don't need any more aggravations!

I also learned that the digital phone through the cable company will sometimes function when the power is out or there's otherwise a problem, by using a corded model. So next time that happens, which I hope will be never!, I need to try one of our corded phones and see if I can get through that way.

We had an excellent chat for our DogRead authors Yvette Van Veen and David J. Perks for their book and workbook "Meeting Milo" at the www.doghobbyist.com site. Christie Keith of that site (www.pethobbyist.com is the main site, lots of animals included) offered to run chats for those of our Dog Read authors who want to do one. This was the first, and a wonderful turnout.

I'm reading in the book of Job now on my annual reading of the Bible, and it's one of my favorite books. Today's reading includes chapter 19, verses 25 through 27, in the New Living Translation:
" 'But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought.'"

Job spoke these stirring words of faith after losing his great wealth, his many adored children, his health, and hearing his three close friends tell him this must all be because he did something terribly sinful (he didn't).

The book of Job is the perfect example of why it's important to read the Bible in context. There is a lot of falsehood spoken in the book by Job's friends that sometimes gets quoted as Biblical truth. Most of us can relate to what happened to Job. When things are going well, many people who know us think we're lucky or blessed. When things are going badly for us, many who know us think we must have done something to deserve it or cause it. That's how people cope with their own fears that bad things happening to others might happen to them, too. We look for "why" it happened to the other person, and decide on an explanation that demonstrates why "it couldn't happen to me."

Since that last cable installer was here, my computer had a different window pop up when I hit Control/Alt/Delete to make AOL shut down. It was complicated and scary-looking, and I was happy last night to figure out that it was just a different view in that program. I switched it back to the simple, familiar window that lets me click to end the program, and I feel much better. They should NOT change the settings on a person's computer. No, no, no, they should NOT!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Miss Testy and the Deputy of Testy Control

Recently I've done the dog combing in the wee hours of the morning/night three times. In between, I did them one late afternoon. In the daytime or early evening, Spirit is pretty orderly about taking her turn for grooming without trying to pick a fight with Believer. The wee hours are another story. I think it has to do with her medication. The blood level may dip around then.

The first of these three nights I did Spirit last as usual. As she started to jump up on the bed she was slow to jump up, eyeing Believer and acting edgy. Believer saw that and met her halfway, big fuss right on top of my outstretched legs with the sheet over me to catch the dog hair. It took me maybe a minute to get Believer lying on my right side, facing away and chewing her bone, and Spirit on my lap in position for grooming. I spent another minute or so giving Spirit touch and voice to settle her, and then groomed her with no further problems.

Second night I decided to try doing Spirit first as I have sometimes done for toenails. I forgot to start by ordering the other two off the bed and signaling them to stay off by laying the special walking stick across the side of the bed. Oops. Beevy jumped up onto the bed, Spirit went ballistic and we were off to the races. I held onto Spirit, got the magic stick onto the bed and proceeded with grooming. As usual, there were no injuries either night. The back of Spirit's neck was a little damp where Believer held her to keep her restrained.

Tonight I took the dogs in the more familiar order of Gabriel, Believer and then Spirit. I made quadruple sure that Beevy was settled with her toy before I called Spirit up. She had three toys, actually, and apparently needed at least two of them.

When I called Spirit up, she was ready to rumble, but I was just a little bit more ready. I watched each of them for any sign of attention to the other, and directed that attention right back to their own business. In Believer's case that was "Toy," and in Spirit's case it was eyes away from Beevy and body reclined in each correct position for grooming.

Spirit kept trying, including when I released her. I had to stay on her to get her aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way off the bed the opposite direction from Believer, so she didn't grab that one last chance to start something.

They clearly love to wrestle with each other sometimes, but I have to wonder if Spirit enjoys picking these fights. Or does she feel compelled for some reason to try it? Believer always meets her with just enough force to restrain her without hurting her. Beevy's motives I understand. She is keeping pack order.

Obviously Spirit lacks self-control, but is there also some satisfaction that comes from these confrontations that eludes me? Does she "need" to keep testing the protection of Believer's leadership to make sure she is still safe, that Beevy is still strong enough to hold the line? Or is it mostly just nerves because of the time of night? We do see a difference in her aggressiveness when her medication has the TSH level well down in the normal range vs. when it gets too high. Is it that sensitive to how many hours since the last dose?

It was gratifying to be able to prevent an outburst tonight. Trial and error can be a wonderful thing. Spirit is hard to feed these days, too. We have to crate her for meals to give her time to eat without the other dogs having too much chance to swipe her food when we get busy and distracted.

At age 12, surely some of her parts are not what they used to be, though it's hard to find anything wrong with her. We suspect some laryngeal change, but nothing the vet can elicit on exam or that shows on x-ray. She did just fine with anesthesia and intubation for surgery a month or so ago.

We would have done bloodwork anyway, but also wanted it and the x-rays because her weight was down some. We've been feeding her up--a lot--since then, and she's gaining, so that's likely contributing to her slow eating. We feed her four small meals a day so that her system doesn't have to handle too much at once.

Hubby just said he thought he smelled dog poop in the house, so he got a flashlight and looked around on the floor. Then he shined the flashlight for me as I lifted each dog's foot and tail and we inspected all three of the furries for the dreaded poopfoot, or anything hanging behind. Nothing. Then I went into the kitchen to wash a dish left from last night and noticed I'd left the stove on Low for about 8 hours. My sense of smell is destroyed, so I asked him to go check if that was what he was smelling. It was. I guess that says a lot about my cooking.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Daylight Savings Time

Prowling around the house looking for clocks that need resetting always reminds me how inconvenient Daylight Savings Time is. The hardest part is locating instruction manuals to figure out how each device needs to be adjusted. The time change messes up people's sleep and throws off exercise schedules along with so many other routines. What a bad idea. I hope it gets discontinued. One thing it does show, though, is how well people can adjust to things as a community.

I've started reading "The Relic," by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Just 20 pages in, I'm intrigued. So far I've liked everything of theirs I've read. This is for the Murder and Mayhem list.

The cable seems to be working on all the TVs and boxes now. My VCR recordings have all gone smoothly, and I've been taping on both TVs every day. Hubby loves the DVR/cable box. The only down side is leaving the boxes off from midnight until 6 a.m. so they don't miss their update signals. During those hours I can only watch tapes.

A couple of the cable techs said the boxes will receive their signals some other time as long as they are turned off at some point during the day. But three of them told me the about the signal being sent one time during the hours between 12 and 6. Three to two, seems safest to leave them turned off.

Last night I had a lot of trouble getting my post to the blog to save, but finally it did. While waiting, I checked to see what my other options are for places to put my blog. Lots of choices. So there's no reason to risk messing up my computer if a site doesn't work smoothly. I hope I don't have any more problems and can just keep it here.

Time to read and pedal, and watch the rest of this Starz movie. Creepy one.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Dog Training Rant

I feel like ranting tonight about the sad state of dog training. People are so confused about how to teach a dog safe behavior that they wind up setting no boundaries for their dogs at all. We used to train with a plan, flexing it to fit each individual dog. Some of us still do. But for too many people, there is no plan, in spite of reading books and going to training classes and hiring private trainers. Unable to figure out the needs and wants of humans, the dogs are having nervous breakdowns. Where will it end? Rant over--for now.

The movie "Hudson Hawke" was on cable the other day and I'm running the tape I made of it. Lots of famous faces.

My Bible reading today takes me into chapter 13 of Nehemiah. I remember pastor Charlie Graves preaching from verse 25, something I might never have otherwise noticed. In confronting some of the men of Judah who had broken marriage laws, Nehemiah "beat some of them and pulled out their hair." Quite an image.

After Brother Graves had retired, I encountered him in my neighborhood one day when walking with Believer. I knew he would enjoy knowing, so I told him, "Brother Graves, this dog's name is Believer." He looked at her with a big smile and said in his big, warm voice, "Well hello, Believer. I'm a believer, too!" That was a special moment for me. Maybe as meaningful as any (other) sermon of the many I heard him preach.

Friday, April 01, 2005

No April Foolin' Please!

I'm still recovering from the cable installation, so it is my sincere wish to have no surprises that require any actual effort today. I don't want to do anything more strenuous than pedal my pedal exerciser here at my desk while reading Mary Higgins Clark's "No Place Like Home" from the library.

Believer and I got out yesterday for the first time since I got so faint during the cable work, because I felt it irresponsible to drive a car any sooner. We went to the library to pick up the reserve book and to the dollar store for some new knit shirts and a cap to shade my eyes from the sun.

I'd have loved to shop longer, but didn't want to take unnecessary risks of triggering a reaction. My balance was terrible when walking, but I didn't feel dizzy in the car. Believer worked nicely. She gets more businesslike in her assistance work all the time. And I do my best. I really want us to be an excellent team in every way.

Next time I'm there I want to take a closer look at some feather boas in the toy department. It would be fun to pose Beevy in one and take her picture. That is, when I feel well enough to explore my digital camera. It makes me nauseous with the current ear problems just to think about peering through the viewfinder and maneuvering my head around to line up a shot.

We're starting an interesting topic on DogRead today, the children's book "Meeting Milo" for very young children to teach them how to approach dogs safely. There's an activity and workbook, too. Not a lot to read, but much to discuss. Talking about it this time of year will, I hope, spare some children dog bites as people start to get outdoors more and so many dogs are in estrus and having pups. The whole warm season--which in my community is a long season--is higher risk for dog bites, but Spring and Fall seem to be the worst.

Time to pedal, and then sleep. My dogs think it's time to eat, but then they think anytime is a good time to eat. Daylight Savings Time will throw them off, but not as badly as in some households. We shift the timing of their four small daily meals around, anyway.