Saturday, January 27, 2007

Power of Reflected Light

I just took the dogs out. It's a clear, clear night, unusual for us in January. Moon is about 2/3 of the way to full.

I noticed the moonlight is bright enough that the power line to the house is throwing a shadow tonight. Moonlight is reflected sunlight. If the moonlight is that powerful, what kind of metaphor could that be for me? Even if I'm still fearful of letting my own light shine, maybe I can let a little reflected light from the rest of the universe shine through or past or off of me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Watching Animal Control Court

I went to Animal Control Court today to see how it is run, since there is a good chance I’ll be going there next month to testify about the neighbor’s dog Sadie attacking mine. Sadie is owned by Blonde Streaks. Blonde Streaks had to go to ACC today because of a complaint made by Mr. Volatile, another neighbor. This session promised some interesting emotional outburst possibilities because after Sadie attacked Mr. Volatile’s dogs, Mr. Volatile followed Sadie home and kicked a hole in Blonde Streaks’s front door. That part is a whole ‘nother trial, not in Animal Control Court.

The hearings officer is a lawyer with a strong interest in animal law (and who happens to own several Belgian Tervuren – perhaps my case would be even stronger had Sleek been the one Sadie nailed, esp. because Hearings Officer is Sleek's co-owner's personal attorney). Dress among most of the defendants and complainants was distinctly casual. Hearing Officer wore professional clothing, and the Animal Control officers wore their uniforms.

Blonde Streaks slumped into her chair and made a number of comments that led Hearings Officer to tell her to wait until it was her turn. AC read the appropriate parts of the statutes into the record. Hearings Officer asked for clarification on the definition of “vicious behavior,” which was given from other statutes. Mr. Volatile told his story and mostly stayed to the facts, rather than the emotions. Blonde Streaks had her time for rebuttal and had to be drawn back to the issues at hand (e.g., the door kicking is not relevant to the AC case). Blonde Streaks admitted Sadie had gotten loose and accepted responsibility for that. She said they have gotten rid of their second dog (neighborhood rumor says this dog was Sadie’s puppy) which she said belonged to her son (aka “Wheelchair Man” to the neighborhood). AC mentioned that in terms of legal responsibility, because Blonde Streaks is head of household, she was the owner of the second dog. Blonde Streaks thought about protesting that part. Blonde Streaks mentioned how Sadie could not be vicious because she lives with and has not harmed 18-month-old twins, and children aged 9, 8, and 4 years. Blonde Streaks also mentioned that if Sadie was going to be considered having shown vicious behavior by fighting with Mr. Volatile’s dogs, then shouldn’t Mr. Volatile’s dogs behavior be considered vicious because Sadie could’ve been hurt by them. Hearings Officer was unimpressed and soon cut the discussion off. Blonde Streaks’s appeals were all rejected and her fines were held at the initial levels (total of $200). Blonde Streaks replied that she had no money to pay, and Hearings Officer told her to work that out with Animal Control.

Blonde Streaks stomped out, and Mr. Volatile, his wife Bleached Blonde, and I left a few moments later, accompanied by an AC officer to ensure there was no altercation between Mr. Volatile & Blonde Streaks in the building. Fortunately, Blonde Streaks was gone by the time we reached the elevator.

We all are hopeful that at the next hearing, when my case comes up, that Sadie will be declared a Dangerous Dog and Blonde Streaks will be told to remove her from the city. The timeframe for that is 96 hours.

Keep your fingers crossed! Meanwhile, Fluff continues to grow her hair back and is doing okay around other dogs. (You will notice she was not invited to attend the big dog show this past weekend!)

Monday, January 22, 2007


In honor of Blog for Choice day, here's today's off-the-cuff writing.

I believe in choice for a number of reasons:

A woman's body belongs to her. As such, she has the right to determine whether or not she wishes to become a mother and when.

If a woman doesn't want to have a child, why would one think she would be a good mother to that child? Eighteen years is a long time to live with someone who would rather you had not been born.

Birth control education and availability is a disgrace, especially for those who are young or of limited means.

Abstinence works for some people, doesn't work for others.

Abstinence is not an option for those who are raped, forced by partners, etc.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Faintly Stunned

I've received two emails today from people who've just lost their dogs to hemangiosarcoma. Both dogs were in late middle age and much loved companions valued for their beautiful souls. It's time to go hug my dogs and be grateful that I am watching them go into old age.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friday will be Interesting

In the morning, it's a trip to Animal Control to make a formal report on the dog that chomped Fluff. After talking to a few neighbors, we need this dog controlled or removed from the neighborhood. Although it will be my word against theirs, the number of complaints and visits from AC is likely to go against them. I'm also willing to parade Fluff's background if that helps make the point. She's been responsibly handled since I got her. She has earned titles in 3 sports (obedience, agility, and canine musical freestyle). She's 11 freakin' years old, for heavens' sake -- she is not out there looking for trouble!

In the afternoon I finally will meet Sleek's breeder. The breeder and Sleek have not seen one another in at least 8 years (since I've had Sleek). I'm curious to see if Sleek remembers her. Some say they never forget their first human "mom," and she certainly remembers her previous owners from before me. Whenever the 3 of us are in the same room/area, Sleek is not happy until we're all in conversation prximity. Then she smiles with satisfaction at having so many people she has loved close together. Since Sleek has developed a heart murmur, I want to ask her breeder about Sleek's mom's medical history. More information would be good!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sense of Betrayal

I've been feeling like death warmed over for the past couple of weeks. I did pretty well, moodwise, through Christmas, and then I started to slide. Even the past week of cold, mostly clear weather (both temperature and lack of precipitation are unusual for us this time of year), which I love, hasn't been enough to bring me to functional. I had blood drawn for a thyroid test last week and received the results today.

My thyroid, which has been slowly meandering downhill in function, has pretty much tanked. T3 was at the lowest point of "normal," and T4 was so low it was out of range.

I feel betrayed by my body. I know it's an irrational reaction, but it's there. I should be happy. But no, I'm pissed off because my body says enough is enough, you are gonna have to give me a pill pretty much every day for the rest of our life. Meanwhile, low/non-existent thyroid (even with non-prescription supplements, btw) is possibly a major contributor to my depression, effortless but unnecessary weight gain, lack of energy, scattered thoughts, easily broken and prone to falling out hair.

In some ways, with a low thyroid diagnosis, all those things are no longer my fault, no longer my character failings. Everything up there, except maybe the hair, I have taken as signs of my weakness, my not-worthiness. I'm having trouble grasping this emotionally. For anyone else, I could say, "Yes, of course. You're low-thyroid, so of course those things would happen to you. How exciting that you've found a cause and can do something that will help you feel better." With myself, I get pissed off that my freakin' thryoid gland had the nerve to up and quit on me. On me! And then another voice insinuates itself into my head asking, "So, what did you do that made your thyroid quit? Must've abused it, huh? Didn't take care of yourself, did ya?" Meanwhile, yet another part of my brain is trying to figure out ahead of time how to act when the thyroid level rises. What will it be like to have energy? What will I do with it? What should I do with it? Is that what other people would do with it? How will I relate to other people? Will I want to? Where will I get the skills? What if I'm still depressed afterwards? That part of my brain is not keen on living in the moment, because it's hard to meet everyone's expectations if it doesn't plan ahead.

Welcome to my head, land of "you can't win." Well, I can't win in my head, and normally we don't let too many other people in. There's not much room what with all the observers of thoughts and observers of other observers running around.

Fortunately, I had a counseling session set up for this afternoon, so I was able to deal with some of the crud written above. Even if you can't tell, a lot of that was written after much of the emotion had been released. Now I worry about the emotion coming back and tackling me again. That's in addition to the whole "I've been unemployed for 9 months now. What do I plan to do short-term and long-term to develop an income?"

I guess we know whose blog had better remain anonymous to the IRL folks. I'm pretty much a "know me, know my dogs" woman, so the pictures are pretty much a dead-giveaway to the IRLs, anyway.

I would like to receive feedback on this post, if you'd be kind enough to leave it. Writing style or content or both, your choice. If you can't comment here for some reason, my email address in my complete profile. Thanks!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I took the girls for a walk tonight, about 8pm. We headed up the street to avoid going by Sadie's house, then walked around the park. On the way back, I chose to go in a way that would have us go by Sadie's house.

When we were about one house away we heard some voices there and then some jingling that might have been dog tags. Fluff stopped, then came back to me and pressed up against my leg while I assessed the situation. We turned and walked a block out of our way rather than risk another altercation. Fluff looked much happier about that choice than she did when she heard the tags.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Tone of Voice

As I said, Fluff had to go to the vet yesterday. Fluff is kind of a nervous, timid little dog in real life. She's not too bad, but she is not a very confident dog.

It's interesting to see how Fluff reacts to tone of voice. If the vet techs or the vet comes in cooing and telling her in soft, sad voices meant to reassure that she's okay, this won't hurt a bit, etc., she becomes much more nervous and uncomfortable. She can tell a lie as well as anyone else.

If, on the other hand, the vet or tech comes in and speaks to her matter-of-factly, "Hi Fluff, this is what we need to do with you today. It may be a little uncomfortable, but I'll try to get this over with as quickly as possible," then she's much better. She is more cooperative and less squirmy than she is with the babytalk folks.

I've started telling the vet's staff this as soon as we go in and as each new person comes in the exam room. It's helped a lot. I still remember one time years ago when a couple of vet techs wanted to take a blood sample and started creeping up on Fluff and cornering her. She threatened to bite until I asked the techs to back off and let her cool down. Once they went to her in a calm, controlled way, she was fine. I think that was one of the last times she felt threatened enough to try to defend herself. These days she will try to dodge the people but her mouth is firmly shut. She never threatens, even on the day she had to have 3 grass seeds removed from one ear. That meant about 6 trips down the ear canal with either the light or the forceps or both. Her ear really isn't big enough for that to be comfortable for her.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Poor Fluff got chomped last night. We were walking down the street toward our local park so we could play in the snow (Fluff and I love snow, short-haired Sleek not so much, but she was up for a walk). Three doors down, the neighbors kids were out playing in the street. They dashed across the street in front of us as we passed their house, apparently bolting into the house for whatever reason. Unfortunately, they didn't shut the gates to the yard or the door to the house, and Sadie got out. Although we were past her yard, she charged us and Fluff rose to the challenge.

Sadie, for the first of the many times she's challenged us, came in for the bite. Fortunately for her, she backed off when I bellowed (note: if you are going to scream during a dog attack/fight, use a low-pitched, high-volume voice. This is definitely a time for the alpha bitch roar. A high-pitched shriek is more likely to be heard as wounded prey screaming). You don't want to be attacking my dog when I've got on boots and heavy clothes. I will kick another dog in the gut to try to get it off my dog, and I will kick to injure/incapacitate. I'm glad that wasn't necessary here. As it was, I had a sore throat afterward from the bellowing.

The kids came out to apologize, although no adults did. I let the kids know that if there were vet bills (and there are), the bill would be coming to them. That rather stunned the oldest kid (probably about 10), but one hoped it would make a point. Alas, I drove past the house this morning, and the gate the dog came through yesterday was open, leading me to wonder anew about this family.

The bite was on Fluff's face. There are multiple puncture wounds through her lip (some are completely through the lip, into her mouth), although it's not as bad as it could have been. She has very thick hair on her face, and nothing came very close to her eye. The bad news is that she's more convinced than ever that other dogs may be out to get her, so she starts warning them away from her in a belligerent manner that makes her look aggressive. It looks like it's time to start desensitizing her again. Sigh.

The question now is what to do about this. The dog (Sadie) does not appear to be human-aggressive, although a person certainly could be bitten trying to break up a dog fight. I feel bad because I think she's an American staffordshire terrier, and I hate to feed the hysteria that these dogs can arouse. She's big enough and strong enough that she could kill a good many types of dogs. I know I'm more cautious about walking that direction, knowing there is a decent chance she's out and unrestrained, than I would be with many other breeds of dogs. The fact that I've seen her loose so many times calls into question the responsibility level of the humans in the household.

I fear I'm signing the dog's death warrant if I report the attack to Animal Control, esp. given our local Humane Society (which shares space with AC) has a notorious bias against her breed. I also fear her owners would just get another dog who might be less willing to break off when someone bellows or who is more interested in getting something started in the first place. I believe if this is the first reported incident, then AC will lecture the owners. If, however, other people have experienced and reported incidents, then the likelihood of confiscation and destruction increases. Again, she's not a bad dog. She has irresponsible owners. I don't like that she will be the one to pay the price for those owners.

What to do, what to do.

Meantime, Fluff went to the vet today. No stitches necessary, but she'll be on antibiotics for 5 days. It turns out that the punctures going fully through the lip are a good thing because they'll drain better while healing. The vet is a little concerned about the possibility of an abscess because there are salivary ducts nearby and not much skin/flesh around to work with if an abscess develops. Fluff is generally healthy, though, so I think she'll pull through just fine. Her face is a little puffy, but she's eating and drinking normally (although I'm cooking her food instead of feeding her raw food this week), and has a normal temperature.

Update: I did call Animal Control, and apparently I'm one of many in the neighborhood who has called. Now we're getting into another dilemna. This is where draconian anti-dog legislation begins -- with the ineffective enforcement of existing laws. If they're not going to enforce existing laws, how are they going to have the money and people to enforce the new ones? The draconian legislation only hurts those who will abide by it, and they're the ones who generally were responsible and didn't need it in the first place.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I took the girls up to the agility trial at the fairgrounds today. It's been several years since either of them competed in agility, but we went to a fair number (ha!) of trials there in the days. We weren't competing, but I took each dog out to walk around the site individually.

Sleek went first. She was bred and born to dog shows, probably going to her first ones when she was 3 or 4 months old so she'd be comfortable there when it was time for her to show. She loves walking around looking at the other dogs and trying to solicit petting and/or food from people. Even though it's been years, Sleek still was very happy to be out and about and watching everything. The building is unheated, so we mostly had to keep moving, although we did sit long enough to watch our friend Camera Woman run her dog. Then I took Sleek back to the car and took Fluff into the building.

Fluff definitely remembers the place and remembers agility. She was quite aroused going in, pulling hard on her collar and with her tail somewhat raised and stiff. She was good enough around the other dogs. We talked to CW briefly before she got ready to run her next dog and again after they ran. It was funny to watch how Fluff fell back into behaviors she had done when at trials in the past. Although I'm sure she could smell that I didn't have treats with me, she reacted to any movement of my hand toward a pocket with behaviors we used to practice, like sitting, lying down, giving strong eye contact. Her response to cues was very good, too. This behavior on her part was sustained for probably 10 minutes or more, which is a long time to have premium behavior without a reward beyond, "What a good girl you are!"

They both are very good girls.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Doug Firs

I took the girls for a walk today at the state university extension. They have a really nice area where the dogs can be off-lead semi-legally. There is a wide path that leads from the upper open field to an area that is being restored to a more natural mix of plants. The path between the two areas goes down a hill with many large Douglas fir trees on it.

Last month we had a bunch of windstorms on top of a very wet November. This combination led to several of the Doug firs deciding to lie down. They just uprooted themselves, big trees about 1.5 to 2 feet in diameter and 60 feet or more tall. Often two side-by-side trees went down, probably because the first took second with it. First, it's startling enough to see half a dozen very large trees down in a short walk. Second, the size of the root balls is shockingly small for such big trees. These big trees had rootballs that were maybe 10 feet in diameter and 6-8 feet deep. That's it!

I think perhaps the Doug firs are pack trees. They like to grow together, and they support one another. Does the one in my backyard get enough support, I wonder. My neighbors have several dougs, so I hope that is enough to keep mine happy. Certainly it's grown quite a bit in the time I've lived here.