Tag Archives: pet

A day and a half

You’d think, with a new home just yearning for cleaning and new coats of paint, that that would have occupied our time today.

Not so, if you are Frank and me.

The plan for today was to head sometime this morning to the DMV to get our NY state licenses and to register our cars and get NY license plates.  Generally this is a chore that could have waited a couple weeks but our NJ licenses had just expired and Frank’s car registration had also expired at the same time.  We figured it would eat up a couple hours, minimum, but that it shouldn’t kill the whole day.

Only, we got a bit of a late start, so with eating breakfast and doing some random little things, we didn’t leave to go to the DMV until about 11:00 a.m.  Well, at least we’d beat the lunch crowd…

Only, we didn’t count on having to rescue a couple of dogs.  We were driving down a busy road and came upon a Bassett hound meandering on the shoulder.  Knowing this dog shouldn’t be here, we pulled over and I got a look at the dog’s tag, and also discovered that he had a partner in crime who was currently ransacking someone’s garbage.  They were relatively clean dogs, and it didn’t seem like they’d been neglected or out on their own for very long.  One of their tags had a street address which we discovered, thanks to our handy dandy GPS device, was a few blocks away from where we were, but the other side of the busy road we were traveling on.  The dogs were both sweet as pie, so despite eye rolls from Frank (who is — I shall spin it nicely — more practical than me regarding such matters as stray dogs and wounded kittens) we herded them both into our minivan, and drove them home.  Only the owners weren’t home, and there was nowhere to safely leave the dogs.  I wasn’t going to just let them loose.  We tried calling the phone number on their tags and it went to voice mail — only the voice mail was full so we couldn’t even leave a message.

A bit later and we were in the parking lot of the SPCA.  Since no good deed goes unpunished, I was holding both dogs, found myself standing off balance for a split-second, at which time both dogs decided to make a bee-line for the same imaginary awesome spot they just had to get to NOW.  I ended up dragging both knees across the asphalt of the parking lot.  So I have my first matching pair of skinned knees since I was about eleven.  (Well, there was the nasty rugburn I got on both knees when I was like 18 (I’ll let you use your imagination for the ‘how’ on that one)… but rugburn doesn’t leave you to pull bits of gravel out of your wounds.)

We got the dogs inside as I bled from both knees, to find out that these dogs’ owners regularly let them roam free, and they are regulars at the shelter.   The workers knew the dogs by name and had their home number, work numbers, and cell numbers all handy.

I was so livid.  These were sweet, gentle dogs and they both had great personalities.  And I pondered aloud to Frank that if I saw these dogs loose again, I might be inclined to ‘lose’ their collars and turn them in at a shelter in the next county, with the instructions to call me if they weren’t claimed in whatever time period you have to allot for a dog to get claimed.  He was actually inclined to agree with me, as he was quite enamored with the golden retriever.

Let me tell you — if you have a Bassett Hound named Bentley and a Golden named Oliver, you better start treating them better.  They are great dogs and do not deserve an untimely death at the hands of the next Toyota Land Cruiser to speed by.  I know from talking to your neighbors you have a son and I’m sure he would be heartbroken to lose his dogs forever to such a fate.  I’m not quite sure why you felt inclined to get two big dogs when you have hardly any backyard at all, but obviously the practical matters of home upkeep are a bit overwhelming for you so dog ownership perhaps is not your cup of tea, either.

So all that, and we hadn’t even been to the DMV yet.

FIVE HOURS LATER — we finally had my license done and car registered.  Frank’s stuff is another story entirely.  Against the actual guidelines the DMV has in place, the competent staff therein put his full middle name on his license, thus rendering the name on his new license a non-perfect-name-match from him title and his insurance card.  So the DMV then started insisting that Frank had to get a new insurance card printed with his exactly-matching-his-new-license name.  Only, because our insurance company apparently follows DMV guidelines better than the DMV, their computers will not let them physically create insurance cards with his name as the DMV put it on his license.  So, not only would they not let him register his car, his license has to be fixed, too.  Thus, the saga that was our day-from-DMV-hell is not even over yet.  We have to go back to the insurance office tomorrow, and they are going to call the DMV and talk to the head-idiot over there and try to help us get this all straightened out.

Now the incompetence and screw-ups are one thing.  Be polite, say you’re sorry (even if you don’t mean it).  I understand, you work at the DMV which probably means you’re never going to become an astronaut or sports legend or MC Hammer groupie like you dreamed of as a kid.  But for Pete’s sake, DMV people… would it kill you to maybe drop the holier-than-thou, condescending attitudes and maybe just do your shit jobs with just a little bit of pride and efficiency!??

I know it’s stereotypical to deride the DMV… but honestly before today I’d never had a ‘bad’ DMV experience.  Living in Buffalo, NY, then Albany, NY, then in NJ for 8 years, I’ve had my fair share of waiting in line and killing the time and messing up a form and having to fill it out again.  The waiting is par for the course, the cryptic regulations (especially now, thank you Homeland Security!) are not unexpected.  I have never, though, EVER dealt with a more negative, smarmy, self-righteous, unhelpful group of people than I encountered at this DMV office.  Still now, hours later, I am appalled and have a certain amount of empathy for violent postal workers.  Despite everything that was screwy with our documentation, despite the goofs on both sides of the formica counter, had the people ‘helping’ us not been so power-trippy and rude and just downright nasty, I could let it go.  But here I am, reliving it and getting incredibly pissed that I have to go back and endure it again tomorrow.



The kids and I were outside with Bailey yesterday.  She’s an energetic dog, and thus occasionally in the out-of-doors (and luckily, very rarely in the in-of-doors, since she is not a small dog) likes to go on a mad tear.  This basically involves running in a circle or back-and-forth as fast as her legs will carry her for about 20 seconds.  Then she’s good.

Yesterday, she got just a little too exuberant, and hurt one of her back legs.  I’m waiting it out right now, because even though she wouldn’t bear weight on it right after it happened which was a little scary, she was much more willing and seemingly able to bear weight after a minute or two.  She’s still favoring it a bit but seems to be OK.

In dog years, she’s now about 42.  Since I’m on the cusp of middle age, I can sympathize with her.  It’s hard to give up those youthful days when you could do whatever you wanted to your body and have it give you barely any negative feedback.  Oh Bailey, those days are gone for both of us, I think.  Now is the time of warming up and stretching, of pacing ourselves, of going to bed a little earlier, of rethinking that third glass of wine.  (OK, maybe Bailey isn’t drinking much wine these days.)  It’s sort of funny, once you know better, your body isn’t up to the challenge anymore.

Good dog

Today is Bailey’s birthday. She’s 42.

Well, in dog years, anyway.

Bailey joined our family in 2002. I’d grown up with dogs but had never had MY OWN DOG, and Frank had never had a dog at all, so we figured we should get a dog of a breed with a reputation to be ‘easier’, as far as dogs go. We went back and forth and decided on a golden retriever. It seemed like a safe choice – smart, easy to train, good with kids.

I wanted to put a puppy picture here, but most of our pictures are in storage, and back then I was film-only. So this is the best puppy picture I can offer for now. The big black dog was my Grandpa Bill’s dog, Rocky.

Dog ownership has had its trying moments. Like for the while when we couldn’t figure out how to stop Bailey from jumping. (Somehow we got the idea to cross our arms, look up and ignore her, and it’s like magic!) Like when she had a spate of urinary tract infections – let me tell you, it is not fun trying to get a urine sample from a dog (but a pie tin, slid under at the right moment, works well enough). I lost more than one pair of beloved shoes to her puppy teething phase. And, as retrievers tend to be, Bailey certainly has her share of dependency affection and hyperactivity exuberance and destructiveness energy, but nothing anyone could call abnormal for a golden. She brought a bit of chaos to our generally quiet and predictable lives, and our days were better for it.

This is Frank and my brother, Mark.

But she has been a great dog. She is really smart, and was a cinch to housetrain. With just a bit of work she learned a lot of other useful stuff too, like sitting and staying and crating up. She’s a great dog for car trips, she isn’t at all anxious in the car, and stays relaxed throughout the trip (with occasional bouts of excitement to be going somewhere).

And then the kids came along, and she has proven her great-dog-ness in spades. In her they have a playmate, a jungle gym, a pony, a confidant, a partner in crime, a pillow, a teddy bear, and a guardian all in one big, furry package. She tolerates every bit of toy stealing and ear pulling and being sat on and and stepped on and laid on and jumped on with the patience of a saint, and still all she asks for return is an occasional cuddle and bowl of food.

With Lane when she was a week old.

With Lane last month.

As fitting for a family member, we will celebrate her birthday in a small way. We ordered her this ‘cake’ – it was Lane’s idea. She picked out the design, too.

Yes, I know, it’s a cat – there was a dog picture in the flyer right next to it. I even pointed it out and said “Don’t you think a dog picture would be more fitting? Bailey’s a dog, after all.” Lane said, “Yeah, but she likes cats too – like I like cats!” I couldn’t really argue with that logic. So, tonight after dinner, we’ll all have a piece of cookie cake and we’ll toast Bailey’s health.

So, Happy Birthday, Bailey! And thank you, for being a great dog. I hope we have the pleasure of your company for another six years.

Hard choices

I talked to my dad yesterday about Ginger. He’d talked to the vet, and what he found out isn’t great. Not the worst news imaginable, but not great.

The lump is definitely a malignant tumor. It is definitely in her jawbone. It is, however, a non-aggressive cancer, which the vet explained meant that this cancer wouldn’t get in her lymph nodes and spread all over her body. It would isolate itself on her jaw. There is definitely a viable treatment, which is to remove part of her jaw. They aren’t sure how much they’d need to remove just yet, but it sounds like we’re talking a substantial bit, like a third of her jaw or more. The vet says she should adapt to this just fine and lead a normal life. However, she naturally will be disfigured, missing part of her jaw and all, and there’s no guarantee that the cancer wouldn’t come back. And, since she’s ten years old, fairly on in years for a Labrador Retriever, there’s no guarantee something else couldn’t hit six months from now.

My dad is going to talk to the surgeon who would do the operation in a day or so, to really get some details cleared up, and ask some additional questions. Right now, he’s left with the tough decisions that many dog owners face: where does he draw the line? Should he go into debt to prolong Ginger’s life by what may be only a few months or a year? How much cost is too much cost? And is all of it fair to Ginger?

I’ve told him, were it Bailey, my dog, chances are, unless the costs meant Lane or Jake couldn’t go to college, I would probably do the surgery… but if the tumor came back, in three months or three years, I would not do it a second time. And at the same time, I told him Ginger’s getting on in years, she’s had a good, happy life, and if the surgeon tells him this surgery is going to cost more than his property taxes, that no one would blame him for deciding not to do it, and just letting Ginger live happily for the few weeks or months she might have before the lump starts to interfere with her ability to eat and drink.

Ugh, this is the part of dog ownership that nobody likes. 😦

Out of surgery

Dad’s dog Ginger ended up getting surgery today to remove what the vet is now calling a tumor, though we have not yet heard if it is malignant or benign.

Ginger’s ten years old so just having surgery presents its worries, but so far the word is that she did well in surgery and is doing well in recovery.

More news as it comes in.