Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sally's Big Break--Part 3

Paula called later to tell me that they were on their way to an emergency veterinary hospital. It was clear that Sally had at least a broken leg. She needed an X-ray and who knows what other medical attention. The dog's unfortunate sojourn was already getting costly before they even arrived at the vet hospital. Prior to Sally's overnight incarceration, the pound staff administered a battery of vaccinations, installed a microchip tracking device, and applied the Frontline flea treatment (I think if Sally were wearing her license, the staff might have foregone all the shots). So to gain Sally's release, Paula had to pay for these services and post bail, which would have been higher if Sally had not been licensed. All totaled, the pound earned the better part of $200 for its efforts to care for our pooch.

At the vet hospital, x-rays revealed that Sally had broken two bones, the radius and the ulna, in her right forearm. She was medicated and outfitted with a heavy splint, wrapped in pink adhesive tape, that she would have to keep on for 6-8 weeks. Sally would need subsequent check ups, of course, with our regular vet. But on the Saturday morning visit that started this story, Emily and I did not take the dog in for a scheduled check up. In fact, she had been in the office for a visit earlier in the week. No, this time we made an unscheduled "emergency" trip to the vet because we woke up that morning to discover that Sally had somehow completely removed her splint.

Sally had spent the night on Emily's bed, and she and Emily were still lying in bed. I had been up for a while, and I figured it was time to put the dog out. When I approached Emily's bed, Sally saw me coming and rolled over in her obsequious way. I started to pick up Sally, but she yelped loudly. It took me several seconds and more yelps to realize that her injured leg was uncovered and the splint was lying nearby on the bed. Now I was the one yelping. Poor Emily had to hop out of bed and assist me in taking the dog to the vet. Paula, meanwhile, would have to attend a memorial service for a friend from CSUS without me.

Our mission was to get to the vet before the drop-in office hours turned into the low-cost vaccination clinic. The doc came in to the examining room some time after 9am. She was a bit surprised to see Sally's handiwork. The doc said she would need to put a new splint on Sally's leg but it would take some time to do it--because the crowd would be coming in for vaccinations in a few minutes. She told us to leave Sally with her and to come back in about two hours. The clinic officially closed at noon, and it was possible that they could finish all the shots by 11:15 or 11:30.

The vet office is down on McHenry Avenue--not far from where McHenry begins at "five points" on the edge of the downtown area. So we figured we wouldn't go all the way home and then come back. Instead, we ate breakfast at Jack in the Box (why can't they clean up their restaurants?) and browsed around a few stores, including the motorcycle accessory shop that's on McHenry. We went back at 11:15 and found the waiting room lined with pit bulls, chihuahuas, cockers, and kitties. The only dog I would give two cents for was the border collie named Patrick. Most dogs enter the vet office in a mild hysteria and approach hyperventilation for the remainder of their visit to the vet. Patrick showed no sign of worry and patiently waited for his name to be called (actually, I think he was disgusted by the embarrassing behavior of his fellow canines). In fact, when the vet's assistant came out and called Patrick's name, he sprang to his feet, went to the assistant, and waited for instructions. Good dog.

Emily and I had to wait for every four-legged patient (yes, I think they all had four) to get his or her shots before we could get Sally. At noon, one of the assistants locked the office door, and the last of the pets escorted their owners out of the office. A few minutes later, the doc came out with Sally, set up with a clean, new splint. The new splint was lighter, less bulky, and it allowed more movement. But Sally would have several more weeks in the splint. The doc was nice, though. She charged us only for the splint, not the office visit, because as I mentioned before Paula had brought Sally in to the office earlier in the week.

Coming soon: our not-so-exciting conclusion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dr. Dan's Action Steps to a Better Future

Today, friends, I will show you that I am not just a critic. I want to build a brighter tomorrow for all of us and our children. Enjoy.

Dr. Dan’s Action Steps to a Better Future:
1. Elect politicians who are named Russell or Curtis. Or Russell Curtis. Or Curtis Russell.
2. Pass a constitutional amendment protecting our right to bear meat. (keep government out of my kitchen!)
3. Ban the use of the word “boob” as a derogatory term.
4. Establish a nationwide system for collecting post-consumer vegetable oil for the purpose of refining bio-diesel. And convert fuel facilities for the production and distribution of bio-diesel. And forget ethanol.
5. Recruit superheroes not only to fight crime but also to teach school and work in the head-start program.
6. Require all country music radio stations to play Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Dolly Parton regularly.
7. Pay me to correct the grammatical errors and misspelled words in all public signage (stores, public transportation, restaurants, etc.).
8. Be yourself—unless you are a bad person.

Trust me, and God bless America

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dan's Big Ideas for Improving America

Dear Readers: Today, I’m giving you a break from the story of Sally’s unfortunate experience. I’m in the mood for some social commentary, so below you will find my plan to save American culture.

Dan’s Big Ideas for Improving America

1. For crimes against humanity, the following people and groups will forthwith be banned from all forms of media:
• Anyone named Trump.
• Anyone named Hilton.
• Anyone who has ever appeared on Fox News.
• Anyone who has ever competed in a beauty pageant.

2. Jon, Kate, plus any reality show that exploits children will be immediately cancelled.

3. Any “reality” TV show that allows two contestants to cry in one episode will be put on probation. These people need to realize that it’s reality, not real. A second offense will result in cancellation.

4. Gavin Newsome and Sarah Palin will be forced to live in the same house for one year with no contact with the outside world.

5. Instead of firing teachers during the current economic “downturn,” politicians will be sent home without pay, without their perks, without their expense accounts.

6. Sexual dysfunction medications will no longer sponsor sporting events or the telecasts of these events.

7. Anyone who follows the advice of Dr. Phil will be forced to live with the consequences of their stupidity.

Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sally's Big Break--Part 2

Note: Despite the complaints of certain readers, the author stands by his use of the word "stupid" to describe the dog in question. He points to the fact that the dog becomes hopelessly lost when she drifts more than 30 feet from her house--editor.

One Friday afternoon, I invited my buddy Mike to stop by after work (he works just down the street at the old folks' prison) to show me his new motorcycle. At about 3pm. I got out my motorcycle because Abbie decided she was going for a run to my mom's house about a mile away (she has since moved, again). I hopped on the Suzuki so I could check on her throughout her route to Grandma's house. I then rode back home, parked the motorcycle in the driveway, and waited for Mike to stop by.

When Mike rolled in a little after four, Paula, Emily, and Sally came out front to join in the fun. I set out some chairs, so Paula, Mike, and I could relax okie-style and examine Mike's Kawasaki. Mike and I also enjoyed a tasty adult beverage. Emily played B-A-L-L with Sally in the yard. Abbie called not long after Mike arrived to tell us that she was going to run home from Gran's house. Paula suggested that Mike and I use our bikes to make sure Abbie was safe on the way home. We caught up with Abigail as she headed north on Viader Street in the deluxe neighborhood of "Dutchhollow." We rode alongside her, which she loved (not really), and then we tooled around the neighborhood a little while before meeting up with her again. Later, Mike and I realized we were lucky that no one in Dutchollow called the police about the two old guys prowling around on motorcycles and bothering a young girl as she tried to jog down the street. So Abbie returned home safely, and we sat around admiring our motorcycles and visiting.

Around 5pm., we decided that Mike should go home and return with Linda, his taller half, after she got home from work. We would have a barbecue at the Schmidt House. Mike rode off, and I put my bike away and closed up the garage. As we, all of us, headed inside to get ready for dinner, I heard Paula ask, generally, "Where's Sally?" My attention was directed elsewhere, so I guess I assumed that Paula or the kids would account for the dog. Later, we would learn that Emily thought the dog had gone back in the house earlier--which would have been Sally's typical behavior.

I went to light the gas barbecue some time between 6:30 and 7:00pm. Since it was dinnertime, I called out to Emily to see if she had fed her dog. Right then, someone, it might have been Linda, asked the fateful question: "Where is Sally?" A quick search of the house and yard revealed that Sally was not at home, and suddenly our peaceful evening of sipping wine and eating good food was disrupted.

Seven people (me, Paula, Mike, Linda, Emily, Abbie, and Abbie's friend Sabrina, who was spending the night) went looking for the mutt who went missing. Emily and I set out on bicycles. Mike and Linda went in style in their Acura. Abbie and Sabrina walked, and Paula tried to talk to the neighbors. I knew that the last time she drifted off I found Sally down the street, east of our house, by the duplexes. Unfortunately, just a little farther in that direction is the very busy Dale Road. We looked all over the neighborhood for that stupid dog (!), and we asked everyone we saw if there was any sign of Sally. Finally, some of the extended clan of the Indian people across the street came out of their house and said that earlier in the evening they had seen some people trying to catch a stray dog over on the other side of Dale Road, near the parking lot of the Kaiser medical office. I hopped on my bicycle and searched that area, but there was no Sally there at that point.

We eventually ate dinner, and then Paula and the kids began the process of making lost dog signs and placing a lost dog ad in the newspaper. Throughout the evening, I was impressed by Emily's calm demeanor and her confidence that Sally would be found. There is a lesson to be learned in losing a dog, but I resolved not to make a big deal of it. I remembered, actually, that when I was about Emily's age I took considerable blame for the death of a dog (who was hit by a car) because a backyard gate apparently wasn't latched securely.

Paula and Emily were up early the next morning. First, they worked on the lost dog signs, and then they left for the dog pound (I know there's a fancy word for dog pound, but that's what it is.). When I got up and around, I posted the lost dog signs in the neighborhood. Mostly, I went up and down Dale Road, putting signs on light and power poles. Even though at that point I was beginning to wonder how much easier life would be without our peculiar dog, I rode my bike home and printed a few more signs. After those were posted as well, I returned to the house--just in time to get a telephone call from Emily: "Sally's here, Dad. Someone brought her to the pound last night."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sally's Big Break--Part 1

On any Saturday morning at the low-cost vaccination veterinary clinic, dozens of very interesting people line up with their dogs and cats to get them inoculated. And by "interesting" I mean any of the following: weird, strange, loud, poor (not surprising), eccentric, etc. We take our pets there for their shots. If I had a dollar for every double negative I heard while I sat in the waiting room on a recent Saturday morning, I might be able to bail out General Motors. The interesting people probably thought my daughter Emily and I were the strange ones because we were sitting there in the waiting room without a dog or a cat. The other patients and owners did not know that Emily's Sally, our goofy terrier-corgi mix, was already in protective custody, again.

Before I tell Sally's unfortunate story, I should tell you about Sally. Sally was a rescue case who came to us to be Emily's dog about 8 years ago. She was 1-2 years old at the time. Though she has been a relatively trouble-free and low-cost pet, Sally has a few quirks. To wit, her stomach is more sensitive than a geiger counter--which means she never goes on trips with us (camping and so forth)--which also means we always have to find a dog sitter (usually my mother) when we go to the mountains or anywhere else.

Sally's weak stomach is exacerbated by the fact that she is a known poop eater. I won't say much more here, except this point: there's barf and then there's poopbarf. The good thing about Sally's stomach is that she's not usually interested in table scraps--because she pays for them later, I suppose. Sally is happy with her dry kibble (Target brand) in the morning and very happy with her canned Alpo (the slices not the ground stuff) in the evening. So, Sally stays at a svelte 15 pounds.

Sally does not seems to care about much. She likes attention, but she's not a lap dog. Sally doesn't get excited about going for walks, either. She does, however, exhibit a terrier-like compulsion to chase her B-A-L-L. Luckily, the dog isn't much of a speller. But if you even breathe that word, Sally starts barking, begging you to throw the B-A-L-L for her to chase. She will chase it and retrieve it until she is exhausted and you have to make her stop and drink water. At least Sally is good about bringing the B-A-L-L back and giving it up for the next throw. I don't know if anyone trained her to fetch (I doubt it), but we certainly did not.

Sally also came to us "crate trained," which means she can be put in her little dog kennel over night or during the day when we are gone for a few hours. I had never had a crate-trained dog before, but it's crazy how attached Sally is to her tiny home. In fact, she prefers her crate to the great outdoors. If we say, "Sally, let's go outside!" she will hop up off the couch and make a bee-line back to Emily's bedroom, where her crate is located. We lock the wire door on the crate, and Sally stays there, apparently content, until we come home. Sometimes, we come home and forget to let her out because she doesn't make any noise in her cage.

Because Sally rarely wants to go outside, she in fact spends very little time outside. And she's not comfortable outside. Occasionally, Sally will come out into the front yard with us to chase her B-A-L-L while we're doing something else (shooting baskets, for instance). If we don't throw the B-A-L-L for her, Sally will run to the front door or the door inside the garage and beg to get back in the house.

Our job is to pay attention to when Sally needs to go back in the house. Unlike other dogs, she has neither the ability to just hang out with us on the lawn nor the skill to know where she is in the great wide world beyond the front door. Sally gets disoriented outside her tiny environmental sphere. So, even though she never wants out, she will nonetheless drift off without close human supervision. In other words, Sally's rather stupid.

Well, that's really where this story begins.