Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What is That?

First call of the day: a turkey running loose on Main Street.

The call came in through 911. At first I thought it was just the peacocks. But when I got to Main Street I saw that it was an actual turkey. (Best guess, female. Possibly a juvenile male. Honestly, I'm not good with turkeys outside of Thanksgiving dinner.) She was calm enough to let me get within ten feet of her. Even then she wasn't aggressive, just evasive.

Knowing that nobody would believe me, I took this picture:


To the horror of the complainant, that's all I did. Our city ordinances don't prohibit turkeys strolling down the street.

This job is many things -- lucky for you, boring isn't on of them! I'm sure there will be more crazy stuff to share later. TTFN, -- K

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Baby Trooper

A friend of mine went to visit Trooper and his siblings back when they were babies. When my friend found out that the puppy she called "Moose" is now with us, she sent me some pictures. Below is the litter at about 7 weeks. They're all incredibly cute. Can you pick out Trooper?

Trooper and his siblings
Don't feel bad, I couldn't either. But his breeder could! Trooper was known then as Mr. Purple (as denoted by the purple collar). He's the cutie on the far left.

I didn't meet Trooper until almost three months later. He was 4 1/2 months old when I brought him home. He was still incredibly cute. See:

Trooper on his ride home
I think bringing Trooper in as an an older pup was easier for our schedule. He didn't require the intense care that is needed at 8 weeks. I was able to take 3 weeks of vacation time (I called it Pupturnity Leave) when I brought Jedi home. Hubby was only working part time while going to school and we had 3 adult children living at home. Jedi had constant attention and was never crated for long periods of time.

Things have changed in the past 5 years. The kids have moved out and Hubby is now working full time. Fortunately, Trooper's breeder had worked with him before he came to our home. He knew "sit," "back," "no" and a few basic manners. He was used to a crate and walking on a leash. He was extremely close to being potty trained. He was more independent and could entertain himself for short periods of time. All this made the transition easier.

My biggest fears about bringing home an older puppy were:
  1. It would be harder to bond with us and
  2. He might have problems assimilating into the family.
I couldn't have been more wrong! Trooper absolutely adores me and Hubby and has fit right into the pack. His presence put a little pep in Roxy's step her last few weeks. He and Jedi hold WrestleMania several times daily in my living room (and hallway, kitchen, and back yard). Trooper is smart and has caught on quickly to regular household routines.

Trooper sleeps under my desk while I'm on the computer
By the same token, Hubby, Jedi and I are all madly in love with this goofy, energetic, cuddly puppy. I'll always be grateful to J-Lyn for sending me that email six weeks ago. I look forward to sharing all the Trooper stories yet to come. -- K

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Invincible Snake

The dogs got a new toy that I hope will last for a while -- a squeaky snake from the Outward Hound Invincibles line.


The snake is three feet long and has six large squeakers that are designed to keep squeaking even after punctured. (Too bad Roxy isn't here to test that. She could kill a squeaky in minutes!) The snake is stuffing free and has double-layered, double-stitched seams. Good thing too, as the boys are really stress-testing this toy.


Jedi and Trooper play tug-of-war with the snake. Even funnier is watching Trooper drag the snake across the room to chew on it -- the toy is as long as he is! Trooper is still teething and I think the chewing helps relieve some of the discomfort. I'll let you know if this thing passes the GSD test. -- K


Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Moment of Silence . . .

. . . for the Jedi Mobile

The car in happier days
A couple years back I told you about buying a car for my dog. I liked my Jedi Mobile. Hubby, Jedi and I took it up to Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina when we did our road trip last April. Everything was great . . . then I turned 50.

The day after my birthday I was stopped at a red light, thinking about getting home and meeting RK for a walk. Before the light changed I was rear-ended and jammed into the car in front of me. I was car four of a five car pile-up. Some young twit in a Honda (Car #1) wasn't paying attention -- I'll bet she was texting! -- and didn't notice the light was red. There were no skid marks from her vehicle. (I looked.)

Twit was going at least 50 MPH and slammed into a Mustang (Car #2). The Mustang hit a Jeep (Car #3) which hit me (Car #4) and I hit a Toyota (Car #5). The Jeep had a rear bike rack and a nice Rubicon package on the front. The accessories protected that car from body damage, but did quite the number on me and the Mustang. Both of us were towed from the scene. My car was actually lifted up in the rear and the force of the hit drove me forward. When all was said and done, my front end was under my back end. Yeah, it sucked.


I ended up with whiplash and bruised bowls from the seatbelt. I didn't even know that was a thing! I was sore and nauseated for several weeks. My 50 year old body doesn't heal like it used to. The silver lining -- I have a new dog mobile (along with a new car payment). I found a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan with the Fold and Go seats. I can seat up to seven people, or I can do this:

Not my actual van. Mine is black and has much more dog hair.
This layout is great for dogs. Rarely do I put up the back seats. Even with her bum leg, Roxy was able to climb in and out of the van. She loved car rides, so we gave her as many as possible -- sometimes it was just a trip around the block. The side windows roll down, so she'd stick her nose out the window and grin the entire time. I have a thick blanket that I lay on the floor so the dogs don't get their feet caught in the seat anchors. The inside is incredibly roomy. I expect to be able to fit two large dog crates and everything else needed for a show weekend inside the van. (I'll test that hypothesis in September -- our potential first show!)

I hate buying cars, but I think we did pretty good. (Hubby is awesome.) Before I go, I want to share my car buying tips.
  1. Get a pre-approved loan from your bank ahead of time. It saves a lot of headache at the dealer.
  2. Enterprise Rent-a-Car sells their used rentals. You get the Carfax report and a full dealer warranty. Even the local dealers didn't offer a warranty on used cars.
So now I've got new wheels and a new show puppy. I hope to have new things to share soon. Stay tuned, -- K

P.S. The day after my accident my Facebook account was hacked. My 50s didn't start out all that great. Thankfully, they seem to be improving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More Dog Park Drama

Picture from the condo's website
(I added the arrow)
We have a dog park in my small beach town, and it is a major pain in the butt. I've discussed some of the dog park drama and the lack of dog park etiquette in the past. Well, things have just gotten worse.

When the dog park was built 10 years ago, it was nestled behind some businesses and next to a wooded lot. Great care was taken to keep the dog park patrons away from the nearby church grounds. (Mostly) everybody was happy.

Two years ago the wooded lot was bought and razed. Then waaay too many expensive condos were built in its place. Many people were unhappy.

Condo layout from the site
(The dog park is clearly marked)
The condo developers jumped through hoops to work with the City. The pond in the dog park was enlarged to accommodate the construction. The developers removed the debris that the patrons fussed about. (The site used to be a dump.) The developers also redesigned the south end of the park, adding trees and attractive fencing as part of the deal.

People have been in the condos for about 6 months, and now we're getting complaints from the residents about barking, especially in the cooler early morning hours. Seriously!

The dog park doesn't officially open until 7:30 AM. However, the RFID key card reader lets people in anytime. Surely the IT department could fix that with a simple program update. NO! When I brought it up, you'd think I was asking them to cure cancer. Instead, I had to go in at 6 AM to handle the problem. I spent an hour and a half sitting at the park telling early birds to go get a cup of coffee and come back at 7:30. Most of them were annoyed but understanding.

Just wondering, why would people choose to live next to a dog park if they can't bear to hear dogs barking? I guess we'll call it job security. I've said it before, "Stupid people pay my mortgage." -- K



Monday, July 23, 2018

Trooper's Droopy Ears

I took a picture of Trooper on Sunday and his ears were standing up like Boot Camp Marines. I woke up Thursday morning and his left ear was completely horizontal. My pup looked miserable and was shaking his head.

I was concerned, maybe borderline panicky. If Trooper's ears don't stand up, his show career is over before it even started! Several thoughts went through my head:
  • Was it an ear infection? I couldn't see anything, but it did feel warm. 
  • If he keeps shaking his head he might develop a hematoma. Even if drained early, a hematoma can ruin a dog's ear set.
  • Did Jedi hurt Trooper's ear while they were playing? Was I not monitoring them close enough?
  • Is Trooper just teething? I had heard that teething could drop ears temporarily.
  • Do I need to tape his ear? Sometimes a young ear is "set" (much like a bone) so that it stays in the right position until the cartilage firms up.
Things weren't any better Friday morning so I called the vet. Then I called RK (Jedi's breeder) and asked if she would tape Trooper's ear. I'd rather be accused of overreacting than to miss something that could be fixable.

The vet asked about the position of Trooper's ears before the droop. I broke out my phone and showed him pictures. (I've got quite a few!) The vet noticed that Trooper's right ear is not as perky as it was last week either.

The vet did a complete physical exam. The boy is healthy. His ear didn't seem to have any damage (so Jedi's off the hook for now). The ears were a little dirty, but no inflammation. I left with some ear cleaner and was told to hold off taping for now.

During the exam the vet noticed that all Trooper's baby canine teeth are missing as well as half the molars. Poor Trooper is teething big time. The discomfort is what's causing his ears to droop. Trooper is chewing everything he can fit into his mouth right now. We've given him a variety of approved chew things (as opposed to pot holders, leashes and the remote) to help relieve the pressure. His favorites seem to be a stuffed pumpkin and a bully stick.

So now we wait. I've been cleaning Trooper's ears daily (not easy) and checking his teeth (equally difficult). His ears aren't drooping as much, but they're still not where they need to be. I'll keep you posted! -- K

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pocket Pet Products Worth Using

I've cared small caged mammals for 40+ years, both personally and professionally. Rats, mice, hamsters, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits -- you name it, I've cleaned it. And I've picked up a few things over the years that I'd like to share.

Keeping cages clean is important. Mice and rats aren't known to be clean animals. They pee and poop whenever and wherever the urge hits. The smell of rodent urine can be pretty pungent. And since the rat cage is in my living room, it's important to me that it stays clean. I use Nature's Miracle Cage Cleaner to wipe things down between cleanings. (Rats pee on everything. ick.) I can only find it a PetSmart.

Bedding is important. Years ago we used cedar shavings. They masked the smell of urine pretty well. As time went on, however, it was discovered that the cedar oil was harmful to the animals' respiratory systems. We later switched to pine and aspen shavings. Lately I've discovered something new -- paper bedding! I absolutely LOVE it. It keeps the smell down better than the wood shavings ever did. I find that I'm changing the cage less these days. The bedding is vacuum packed, so the package is deceivingly small. And the bedding comes in a variety of colors so your pets' cages can match your décor. I've found the best price for this stuff is at Walmart.

A favorite of my girls is the Kaytee Sleeper Play Tunnel. It hangs from the top of the cage and there is a 90% chance that a rat is inside it. Unfortunately, my rat Pink likes to chew it as well as sleep in it. (Pink isn't the smartest rat I've ever owned.) I have to replace the tunnel every 6 weeks or so. Good think they're cheap on Amazon!

I find rats to be fun, smart and affectionate. (Except for Pink -- she bites!) It's important to keep them healthy and happy. The things above make that easier for me. Do you have a favorite pocket pet product? -- K

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Another WTH Story

Surprise! Another raccoon story
Last Saturday a guy was riding his bike around the neighborhood with his blind "pet" raccoon on his shoulders. A woman -- who didn't even know this dude -- asked if she and her five-year-old daughter could pet the raccoon. Can you guess what happened?

Baby Mama was able to pet the animal, but when her daughter reached for the raccoon it bit her on the hand. The little girl was taken to the emergency room where they started the very expensive, very painful rabies pre-exposure shots because . . . you guessed it . . . the owner was not licensed by the state and the raccoon never received rabies vaccinations.

Surprisingly, Baby Mama didn't contact Animal Control until Monday -- a full 72 hours after the bite. She was able to give me the raccoon owner's name (Rick Stone) and phone number, but no address. What struck me was how indignant she was, refusing to accept any culpability.

It took several hours, but I was finally able to make contact with Raccoon Rick. He agreed to bring me the raccoon, knowing it was going to be euthanized and tested for rabies. Rick wouldn't give me his address, but told me he would bring me the raccoon when he got off work. We agreed that he would meet me at the police station between 4:30 and 5:00 PM.

He didn't show up.

At 5:10 I called Rick to get an estimated time of arrival. He said he thought it will be another hour. I told him I'd wait. (I've played this game before.) At 5:17 Rick called me back, saying that one of his “idiot roommates” released the raccoon in a local park. I told him that was not good, and possibly criminal. I asked him for his address and his roommate’s name, stating I might be able to help “make things right.” He refused to give me that information. Again.

You're probably thinking "Holy Moly, what a mess!" Don't worry. My Spidey Senses told me the guy was squirrely and I came up with a Plan B hours earlier. (Remember, not my first time.) Dispatch ran his name several ways to look for a local address. I had my contacts at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Department of Health look for an address as well. Each came up with something different. I did my own research online and compared notes. (FYI: Facebook searches reveal a lot of information. If you're going to do dumb things, don't post pictures online.)

I guessed at the most likely address and started scouting the neighborhood. I found a man mowing the lawn and asked if the guy next door had a raccoon. He said yes. I asked him if the guy’s name was Rick. Again, he said yes. BINGO! My FWC guy and I knocked on the door at 6 PM and spoke with the afore mentioned "idiot roommate," convincing her to turn over the raccoon. Just then Rick showed up -- and boy was he surprised! He received two citations from me: One for not preventing the bite, and the other for harboring a potential rabies vector species in the city. THEN FWC cited him for having a wild animal without the proper licensing. Not a good day for Rick.

To be honest, not that great a day for the raccoon either.

Two days later, the test results came back negative. That's good news. However, a child had to endure painful shots and a beautiful animal had to die because people were stupid. Some days this job is so frustrating. -- K

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Saving Elsa


Last week I got a call about weird noises behind some apartments. The complainant said "Maybe a dog, maybe a coyote. I don't know, but you gotta come check it out." I did, and I discovered a 6 foot wooden fence in the woods. Inside the fence was a pit about 20 feet wide, 100 feet long and 5 feet deep. The pit was muddy, overgrown and teeming with frogs and bugs. Lots of annoying, biting bugs. There were 2x6 boards across the pit, making me wonder if this was intended to be a building once upon a time. At one end of the fence was a gate, secured with a rusty chain and a giant lock. At the other end, hiding in the brush, was a skinny German shepherd. I couldn't figure out how the dog got in there. No matter though, my job was to figure out how to get the dog out.
  • The dog was large, skittish and mobile. This was good, as I had time to come up with a game plan. However, she wouldn't come when to me. I had to figure out how to get in the pit, catch her without her biting me, and get out.
  • I found the property owner and got permission to cut the lock. This takes time, but it is very important. The 4th Amendment is real squeamish about government agents -- like me! -- breaking into private property. I love dogs, but I also love not going to jail. Just sayin . . .
  • I called the animal control officers from neighboring beach cities. (My girls!) We're friends as well as colleagues, and help each other all the time.
  • I rounded up a couple strong men from Public Works (my boys!) and asked them to bring a ladder, muck boots and bolt cutters.
  • A couple of the police officers showed up too, mostly because they were curious.
  • I had a large dog trap and canned food on standby, just in case we couldn't catch her. (It's always good to have a Plan B.)
Several of us crawled into the pit with catch poles. Ducking under beams and around barbed vines, we made our way to the back of the pit. The mud was 6 inches deep in some places. Once the dog saw us, she ran (of course) and we had to turn around and try again. It was slow going. This went on for 20 minutes until one of us got a lucky shot and was able to loop the pole around the dog's neck as she ran by.

The dog was skinny and scared, snapping at anybody who got too close. We were able to pull her out of the pit without getting bit and took her back to my kennel. I hosed her off and scanned her. She had a microchip! I was able to trace the chip back to her vet's office. They said bring her in right away.

TL;DR: MICROCHIPS WORK!

The dog's name was Elsa, and she went missing back in December of 2017. At the time she was an overweight 114 pounds. When I found her she was an emaciated 44 pounds, but she was alive! Elsa spent the rest of the week at the veterinary hospital where she was slowly reintroduced to food. She was surprisingly healthy, all things considered. She has just been reunited with her family. The family is overwhelmed and asking for privacy. I totally get it. I don't like to be in the spotlight either.

Anyway, one of the police officers took pictures at the scene (above) and sent them to my boss. Somehow they made it to the department's FB page and the news hounded my office for days wanting an interview. I find bipolar chihuahuas to be more trustworthy than our local news reporters, so I didn't oblige. Eventually there was a tragedy somewhere else and I became yesterday's news. However, I love my blog buddies and thought you'd like the story. It's days like this that make me stay at my job. Remember that when I share the raccoon story later this week. TTFN, -- K


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Goodbye Roxy


I'm sad to report that Roxy is no longer with us. This rescue failure lived a good life and brought a lot of joy to our family. The house seems so empty without her. Maybe I'll share more when I can type without crying. -- K

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Middle Dog Syndrome

A friend loaned us a wagon so
that Roxy can join us on walks
Yesterday morning was difficult for Roxy. I think she was having another vestibular episode. She didn't want to eat and couldn't seem to get comfortable. Hubby and I gave her a steroid pill, turned out the lights and loved on her as best we could. By lunch she was relaxed and napping. She even ate some chicken.

Old dogs come with issues. Bathing and grooming are more challenging (though Roxy has never be easy to bathe, brush or trim nails to begin with). Mobility is more difficult. And making sure Roxy gets outside to go potty regularly is important. She's had a few accidents in the house because she didn't tell us in time. Her care has become more time consuming.

Don't be fooled by the cuteness,
this guy is a handful!
Trooper takes up a lot of time too. Making sure he gets outside to go potty regularly is equally important -- but sometimes it's best not to take him and Roxy out at the same time. (Puppies can be annoying and overwhelming for senior dogs.) We're also working on Trooper's manners training and making sure he doesn't teethe on unapproved items. Trooper is also time consuming.

This leaves poor Jedi in the middle, wondering what's left for him. My mother (a middle child) used to talk about Middle Child Syndrome. According to Wikipedia:
Middle child syndrome is the feeling of exclusion by middle children. This effect occurs because the first child is more prone to receiving privileges and responsibilities (by virtue of being the oldest), while the youngest in the family is more likely to receive indulgences. The middle child no longer has their status as the baby and is left with no clear role in the family, or a feeling of being "left out".
Jedi puts up with it all
I wonder, does this happen with dogs too? Does Jedi feel like this? Hubby has gone out of his way to give him more attention when I'm dealing with the puppy. And I always have special one-on-one time with Jedi at bedtime (both Roxy and Trooper are confined at night, whereas Jedi has free roam.) Sometimes I'll take him with me to run errands after work, leaving the others at home. Despite this, I feel I should do more. Any suggestions? -- K

P.S. Dog Mom guilt is no easier than Kid Mom guilt. This sucks!


Friday, July 13, 2018

How Much?

I'm one of the Admin people for my dog club's Facebook page. I answer all the private messages that come through. Many are from people looking for a GSD. Invariably they ask "How much does a German Shepherd cost?" That's really not an easy question to answer.

Top dollar or pocket change?
If I asked how much does a car cost, you wouldn't be able to answer without knowing the following:
  • New or used?
  • Foreign or domestic?
  • What size?
  • All the bells and whistles or just the basics?
I bet you can think of a dozen more questions as well.

The same is true of dogs. I ask people:
  • Do you want a puppy or an adult?
  • From a rescue or from a breeder?
  • Working line or show line?
  • American, German or Czech? (There really is a difference.)
  • Do you want AKC papers? If so, full or limited registration?
  • Are you just looking for a companion/family dog?
  • Are you going to show the dog in conformation?
  • Do you want to participate in sports like Obedience, Barn Hunt, Agility or Scent Work?
  • Do you want a working dog to herd sheep or do search and rescue?
  • Do you want breeding rights?
  • How long are you willing to wait for a dog?
  • How far are you willing to travel to get the dog?

My first piece of advice to the inquirers is to figure out exactly what they want. Why pay top dollar for a show puppy if you're never going into the conformation ring? And do not look at West German working lines if you have a sedentary lifestyle -- both you and the dog will be miserable.

Most people don't think about the things above. Even more mindboggling are the various things factored into the price of a puppy:
  • Were there extensive pre-pregnancy expenses?
  • How much was the stud fee?
  • Which genetic tests were performed on the parents before breeding?
  • Was it a natural breeding or did the breeder have to pay for in vitro fertilization?
  • Was this a natural birth or a C-section?
  • How big was the litter?

Yes, there are a lot of variables. Things usually not factored into the price include:
  • The thousands of hours (and dollars) spent training, showing/trialing the bitch to prove she's worthy of breeding
  • The time spent combing through pedigrees to find the right stud to complement the bitch
  • The money spent on a previous breeding that didn't take (it happens more often then you'd think)
The price of a dog can vary greatly. I've seen dogs "free to a good home." I've also heard of puppies going for $10,000+. Still, people want answers, not reasons. So I tell them: "In my experience, expect to pay $250-$500 from a legitimate breed rescue; $1000-$3000 from a reputable breeder in this area. If the price is more or less than expected, it's OK ask why. If you don't think the answer is reasonable, then go elsewhere." 

Some people are okay with this answer. Others balk. I guess it's just a matter of personal priorities. I have no problem spending a couple thousand dollars for a well-bred dog, but refuse to spend more than $40 for a pair of shoes. TMI? -- K

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

5 Months

Trooper is five months old today!


Super Trooper
We've had Trooper about 10 days now and he's fitting right in. We love this little goofball. Here are five fun Trooper facts:
  1. Off Position
    Trooper has two speeds: full throttle and off. He can switch between the two at the drop of a hat.
  2. Trooper will eat anything, including lettuce, birdseed, paper towels and his own poop (eeeew). However, peanut butter stuffed Kongs are more to his liking.
  3. Trooper is a "morning dog." He's up early, full of energy and demanding attention. He hasn't figured out that I AM NOT a "morning person," no matter how many times he barks and licks my face.
  4. Trooper is not afraid of fireworks. Every July my neighborhood sounds like the soundtrack of a WWII movie. (Rednecks love their explosives.) Luckily, Trooper couldn't care less about the noise.
  5. Trooper has figured out how to get on the furniture. He likes to climb onto the couch and nap with Roxy. Isn't that cute? He also lies on my bed as I get ready for work.
He heard his name
Trooper is a fun, lovable pup who is wearing me out. I haven't been this tired since I had toddlers. I'm trying to remember to nap when he naps and keep puppy-safe chew toys within reach at all times.

Some pleasant side effects to this super nova wrapped in fur: I've lost five pounds from chasing after him and I pick up clutter regularly! Between waiting for the puppy to poop and picking up poop (so said puppy doesn't eat it --- again, eeeew), I'm enjoying my back yard more than I have in a long while.

Oh, gotta go! Nap time is over. Catch you later, -- K

Monday, July 9, 2018

Those Darn Raccoons

This guy was hanging around Main Street
Last spring I got a strange call. A woman said she heard an awful noise coming from her back yard. When she looked outside she saw a giant raccoon. (It was during the day so she knows it has rabies -- grr). I told her it wasn't rabies, but I would come and take a look anyway. When I arrived we couldn't find the raccoon anywhere. Then I looked up and saw him. It was definitely a big raccoon, and he was climbing up her live oak tree. He looked determined. I told her that he looked healthy, but please call if he comes back down. As I was leaving we heard the "awful noise" again and I realized that there were two raccoons in the tree. Then the light bulb came on. Apparently raccoons are very noisy when the mate.

I had a guy call last week. He saw a mother raccoon out with her babies and "they all gotta have rabies 'cuz they're out during the day!" (Regular readers know what's coming next.) I nicely explained that urban raccoons have learned that food is easier to find during the day and they have shifted their sleeping patterns. Since raccoon had youngsters with her, I would bet that the raccoons were not rabid, just hungry.

Our city is a tree sanctuary. We actually have lots of wildlife, especially raccoons. The city is also an unofficial crazy cat lady sanctuary. We have a large number of people feeding feral cats along with all the opportunistic wildlife -- especially raccoons. (See what's happening here?)

Every year we have raccoons die of distemper. This season of death runs roughly November through April. This season we caught and euthanized 40 raccoons -- four times our normal average. Other raccoons were found dead in the parks or in people's yards. The town was in a panic over sick raccoons and everybody assumed it was rabies. What a nightmare!

I wrote an article for the city's FB page about raccoons and distemper. Points included:
  • Raccoons are susceptible to both canine and feline distemper. Although they both can cause acute illness and death, they are two completely different viruses. Distemper does not affect humans.
  • The disease is more likely to occur when raccoon populations are large or concentrated. Not all raccoons get the disease. Others do, yet live through it.
  • The disease is spread when animals direct contact with body fluids or droppings from an infected animal. 
  • Distemper is always present in the environment, so the best prevention is to ensure your pets are vaccinated. Contact your vet to make sure your pets’ vaccinations are current.
  • Symptoms of distemper may include discharge from the nose and eyes, a rough coat, emaciated appearance, and unusual behavior such as disorientation or wandering aimlessly. Although some symptoms are similar, distemper is not the same disease as rabies.
  • Keep children and pets away from sick raccoons. As the disease progresses, the animal may appear calm, but can become aggressive if it feels trapped or threatened.
  • If you have a sick raccoon in your yard, call the police department. An animal control officer will be dispatched as soon as possible. (Yes, this was written before the idiot decided to kill the raccoon with an axe.)
  • To discourage raccoons, remove attractants like bird feeders from your yard.
  • Feed your pets indoors.
  • Make sure garbage cans are secure and can’t be knocked over or have their lids removed.
  • Sick raccoons may pass through your yard and move on.
  • If a raccoon dies in your yard, place it in a thick garbage bag and dispose of it with your garbage.
  • DO NOT FEED RACCOONS! Providing artificial food sources leads to unnaturally large concentrations of animals and increases the spread of disease.
Think it'll help? Probably not. Raccoons are smart. People, not so much. -- K

Saturday, July 7, 2018

WTH?

Not my beach, not my monkeys.
I was sitting at home on my day off when I received a text from the Chief of Police. It said:
"Are leashed monkeys allowed on the beach?"
That was it. No context.

At first I didn't know if the chief was pulling my leg so I texted back "LOL." Then "Seriously?" She said yes and gave me one of these: 🐵

Two things went through my mind. One, I'm flattered the Chief thinks that I'm a subject matter expert. But then thought number two: "What the hell?!"

I told Chief that primates are not addressed in our ordinance, leashed or otherwise. Also, they're not on the list of prohibited animals nor the list of rabies vectors. I cited the ordinance numbers so she could verify the info for herself. (Hey, I am the subject matter expert!)

Chief wrote back "Thank you." Again, no context. Now I'm going to be looking for monkeys on the beach during my routine patrol. Never a dull day. -- K

Friday, July 6, 2018

Slow Bowl

Trooper's breeder said he was "food motivated." That was an understatement! Trooper attacks his food like he's been in a POW camp for years. He's not food aggressive -- I can take the bowl away -- but he's very enthusiastic. He gulps food down so fast that Hubby and I are afraid he'll bloat

Bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus, is a serious condition where a dog's stomach fills with gas and twists. Quick eating/gulping air is a possible cause. Any deep-chested dog is susceptible to it. I hear stories about GSDs dying from it all too often.

To help slow down Trooper's eating, I got him the Happy Hunting Bowl. It's molded plastic and holds about 2 cups of kibble. The protrusions keep Trooper from inhaling his food. Getting into all the nooks and crannies forces him to take smaller bites. His eating time has gone from seconds to several minutes.

Pros:
  • The bowl has a wide base. Otherwise Trooper could just flip it over and inhale the food off the floor. 
  • There are no sharp, food trapping corners so it's easy to clean.

Cons:
  • It's smaller than I imagined. 
  • The nonslip strips are tiny and keep falling off the base of the bowl. I'm going to have to glue them in before I lose them forever. 

All in all, the Happy Hunting Bowl was worth the $8 on Amazon.-- K

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Take Your Dog to Work Day


Technically, Take Your Dog to Work Day is the Friday following Father's Day. But when you're an animal control officer for a small beach town, the rules are a little more relaxed. Here Jedi and I were sharing McDonalds cheeseburgers for lunch. Apparently, he felt I didn't share enough!


Trooper is still not completely housebroken. We're working on that plus crate training. I've been bringing him to work to help with his training. Luckily, he's cute (and my office has tile floors). He licked the Chief of Police's face and got a free pass for now.

As frustrating as this job can be, it does have some perks. Remind me of that next time I threaten to quit. Later, -- K

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Crazy Poop Calls

Yes, that's poop in a bag.
A couple years ago I told you about Poopmeister, a resident who blew a gasket and started flinging poo like a chimpanzee. We all thought that was a poop story that couldn't be beat. We were wrong.

Last week I received a call from another exasperated resident. Her next door neighbor was hanging bags of poop from the electrical pole between them. It seems that whenever he found a stray pile of poop in his yard, he would bag it up and tie it to the pole. She said she's already cut down three bags and doesn't know what to do. I was empathetic, but had no idea how to help. So what did I do? Drive by and take a picture, of course!

Speaking of pictures, I have a resident who is frustrated with a neighbor's dog. She swears that the neighbor lets his dog poop in her yard. I told her that I didn't doubt it, but we couldn't act on her assumptions. She needed to see the dog "leaving a deposit" before I could write a citation. She never did catch the dog, but she left this on my voicemail:
There are three new lumps of poop in my yard. I took a picture of it. Do you want me to send it to you?
Uh, no.

I had a guy call me because he found poop in his garage. He wanted me to come out and identify the species of animal that left the feces behind. (It was ordinary cat poop. I was so disappointed.) I guess I'm a scatologist now!

Seriously, poop brings out the worst in people. Last month a woman called seething with anger. A Doberman was walking down her street without a leash. The caller wasn't upset about the lack of leash nor the breed of the dog. She was furious because the dog pooped in her yard and the owner didn't pick it up. The caller spent 15 minutes describing the dog owner in detail along with the three houses where he possibly lived. She was adamant that I find the dog owner and write him a ticket. Right now! By the way, she called back 5 minutes later to say never mind. The dog owner had come back with a bag and apologized.

And finally, TODAY'S crazy poop call: A man left a 3 minute complaint on my voicemail. He's said people walking past his house to the beach pick up after their dogs and throw the bags in his clean trashcan. "Today is trash day and now those bags are going to be in there for a week." He's tired of cleaning his trash can and wants a warning put out. He doesn't know who's doing it, but it happens all the time. I called him back, and he didn't like my answer. I understand he's frustrated but:
  • It's the City's trashcan (our logo is on the top).
  • He needs to bring the can in early. If it's on the street, it's fair game.
  • The ordinance states that people must pick up after their dogs -- and that's what they're doing!
  • He can nicely ask the neighbors to throw the poop away, but there isn't anything I can do because they are not breaking the rules.
I should introduce him to Poopmeisters 1 and 2. Maybe he'll feel better. (Probably not.)

One of the insults people like to throw around is "You don't know shit." I just laugh. Not only do I know it, shit pays my salary. -- K

Monday, July 2, 2018

Puppy Has a Name!

Say hello to: 

J-Lyn's Imperial Shadow Trooper


Trooper had been with us for a few days now and his personality has really come out. He's affectionate, goofy and energetic. He loves food, rope toys and belly rubs. He's very good at figuring out how to squeeze into places I thought were puppy proofed so I need to watch him like a hawk. Expect blog posts to be short until we get into a routine.

We're still trying to figure out the "potty outside" thing. He's not fond of sleeping in the crate at night either. I'll continue to share. Happy Monday! -- K


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Roxy in her favorite spot
Roxy gave us a big scare several months back. She was restless and appeared queasy. She wouldn't lay down and couldn't stand straight. She kept walking in circles and occasionally fell down. Scariest of all, her eyes were jumping back and forth. This went on for about 30 minutes. Then the episode passed as suddenly as it came on.

Hubby and I weren't sure if she was having a stroke or if she had a brain tumor. It was 9:00 at night and we were at a loss. We called her favorite person in the whole world (Son #2) and asked him to come spend some time with Roxy. We were up well past midnight just loving on her. I really thought that was our last night with the old girl.

I called the vet's office as soon as it opened Saturday morning. I told the tech that Roxy was a 13ish year old German shepherd and described the symptoms. She said "Oh, sounds like vestibular. Come on in." She didn't sound nearly as worried as I felt.

The vet gave Roxy a thorough once-over. The official diagnosis was idiopathic vestibular disease -- the best possible option under these circumstances.
Roxy left with a bottle of ear drops, steroids (for other old dog issues), shorter toenails and a belly full of cookies. The vet said she looked great for an old girl. (Yea!) We were warned that Roxy could have another episode. Should this happen, we were instructed to keep her comfortable, try to prevent her from hurting herself and give her anti-nausea medicine (i.e. Dramamine) if she looked queasy. However, there was no need to worry.

Idiopathic vestibular disease -- sometimes called "old dog disease" or "old rolling dog syndrome" -- is actually a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance. Vestibular disease is diagnosed after a complete physical examination and other possibilities, like a stroke or ear infection, are ruled out. 

It's called idiopathic because no one can really identify why this happens. As the AKAs imply, it's usually seen in older dogs. It's also more common in large dogs. And if you believe the internet, German shepherds are often affected, though no breed or size of dog is immune to it.

Roxy has had a couple minor episodes since that night, however she seems normal (at least as normal as a 13+ GSD can be.) Oddly enough, I have two friends whose dogs were diagnosed with vestibular disease about the same time as Roxy. Their dogs are worse off than mine. One (an 11 year old German shepherd) has a permanent head tilt now and the other (a 17 year old terrier mix) has lost his appetite.

Vestibular disease is scary and I'm still learning about it. Has anybody else experienced this? Please share! -- K