I got lost today too. Yawn. I’m so predictable.
I knew I would get lost yesterday—that’s why I brought Peter, to scrape me off the roof of the car, muffle my screams and find someone to ask directions—but that vet is over in darkest Suffix, for heaven’s sake, where you can drive for miles without ever seeing anything but sheep, trees and the occasional motorway overpass. Today’s vet is only in Steep Dribbling, where I’ve been several times to ring bells*, although it’s out of my usual range. Steep Dribbling is small. It has a church, two pubs, an actual functioning village post office which makes it rare and favoured, and the widget factory. It’s a very top end widget factory—these are not your cheap everyday plastic widgets—and it has grounds. You can’t even see the factory from the road, only the lavish swirl of drive** and more trees (no sheep though). It’s just that once you’ve taken over your small village to build your widget factory, there’s not a lot of village left. To get lost in. I managed.
The British habit of burying entire small city-states behind the confusing nomenclature of ‘industrial estate’ is not popular with me, multiple-PhD-holder in the Art of Getting Lost that I am.*** At least when the street address includes ‘Unit 5617’—as it was concerning a yarn shop Fiona and I visited not too long ago—your suspicions are aroused. When the street address is merely, say, Destroyer Avenue, your first thought probably isn’t that this must be an industrial estate based around naval battles of World War II† and you may just drive straight past a large sign by the side of the road saying GRAF SPEE or BISMARK without the faintest inkling it has anything to do with you.
Fortunately I’d left with plenty of time to get lost in.††
. . . And at this point I had better perhaps have a sudden attack of discretion. I have a little problem with authority anyway, and I have a long sordid history of HAAAAAAAAATING doctors who know better than you do merely because they’re the ones with the ‘MD’ after their names. Or possibly DVM. Diagnosis, I say to myself. We’re hanging on in the hopes of a diagnosis, or at least of eliminating all the possibilities that the current cutting edge of technology††† can examine for us.
At least herself didn’t bite anyone today. She really was badly out of it on Monday night, because they put needles into her today and took blood and all sorts of indignities, and I was told she behaved very well. (I did warn the vet I spoke to that Pav had been having a rough stretch in more ways than one.) She was glad to see me again, but she doesn’t appear to be too traumatised. Yaay. I won’t hear any results—other than that the sonogram didn’t show anything that shouldn’t be there—till next week some time. And if she still has the runs, which she does, I can take yet another faecal sample in to have it re-re-tested for everything tomorrow.
She was absent from us for about eight hours. We missed her. I stopped in Mauncester on the way home first because I had something to pick up that had probably grown cobwebs waiting and second because I needed cheering up and what better way, barring chocolate and champagne, than to spend most of an hour pawing through the used sheet music at the back of the little music store? But when I got home hellhounds were all, But where is that blasted puppy? And I was, whimper, whimper, I’ve left her with STRANGERS and they’re DOING THINGS TO HER.
The urge now to get horizontal with the three other critters in the room is becoming overwhelming. I went to bed beautifully early last night, went to sleep instantly and . . . was woken at about 5 a.m. by Pav doing her Protecting Us from Burglars and the Scum of the Universe thing. I so was not expecting her watchdog facility and have not yet learnt to turn over and go back to sleep, especially when I’m a little farther along the anxious and distracted spectrum than usual. So if you’ll excuse me. . . .
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* Note that I can’t even remember the last time I was in a bell tower. Moan.
** Which sweeps up from the main road through two large square blocks of brick-and-flint wall. This makes me chuckle nastily. Having just paid for half of a comparatively small block of brick-and-flint wall I know painfully how much the frellers cost, brick by brick and flint by flint. And it amuses me that even a high-end widget manufacturer decided not to do anything more impressive in the local traditional building style except a pair of a kind of quadruple-sized gateposts.
*** Peter says he’s going to buy me a SatNav. Oh good. Another piece of technology to be gotten the better of by. I have very mixed feelings about Fiona’s, which is the only SatNav I have much experience with. Maybe I’ll make it laugh and it will feel sorry for me. That could work.
† You may instead think that it’s to do with a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 word fantasy series you don’t want to read.
†† I did yesterday too. We were still late. But we were whizzed in the blender of the gods twice yesterday, first when both Google maps and the frelling road atlas were behind the times in terms of recent re-laying-out of roundabouts and crossroads and slip roads to superfluous industrial estates and so on, and second when we FINALLY got to the correct frelling village—which I think is in southern Italy, which would explain a lot—we had another occasion where the big roadside billboard is blaring MADAME TUSSAUD’S WAX MONSTROSITIES so you stamp on the pedal to go faster, and the sign you want is about the size of your hand, painted dark green, and hidden under a tree.
††† Five hundred bleeding quid to cross the threshold—that’s before they’ve done anything except give you an appointment—and leave your pound of flesh in the bucket by the door. And if my insurance doesn’t pay for at least some of it I am so screwed.
In the first place THAAAAAAAANK YOUUUUUUUUUU MOOOOOOOOOOODS!!!!! You are STARS! STARRRRRRRRRRRRRS!
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So. How has my week off from the blog been?
I’ve been to three different vets so far this week. I’m going to a fourth tomorrow. Life is so exciting.
Other highlights of the past eight days include that hellhounds were just barely beginning to view food as a friend rather than an enemy again, and essaying the occasional mouthful without rushing across the room immediately after and hiding behind the sofa in case it came after them for this impertinence . . . when the hellterror came into the final, full-standing-fertile stage of heat*, and the hellhounds’ tiny little minds exploded with the rush of hormones to what passes in a dog for the cerebral cortex AND THEY STOPPED EATING COMPLETELY.**
They can’t afford to stop eating. Again. More. Longer. They already look like toast racks because first they were ill and then they weren’t eating because they had been ill, and this is always the way they behave after they’ve been ill. Or experienced any other disturbing stimulus. The sighthound’s first defense is always to STOP EATING.
So I’ve been FORCE FEEDING THEM. Try to imagine how much fun this is for all of us.***
Monday morning the hellterror went outdoors and produced a gigantic mushy sloppy glob. Nooooooooo. Because this is her pattern: this is how it begins. By the evening, while she doesn’t geyser with force the way the hellhounds do, it was the same substance even if the delivery system was a little different.
When I took her out yet again at midnight . . . she actually looked like she was having trouble walking. PANIC. I rang my new vets’ emergency service and was told to bring her in. Another nice young vet, this one male, Discussed the Situation and . . . I think poor Pav had just really really had enough and was feeling ghastly and was just coming to the end of the fertile phase of her first heat so while she put up with his fondling her abdomen when he went away and then came back she growled and snapped at him. I’ve never had a dog that bites. I was tired and stressed myself, and worried, I was completely nonplussed—and clueless. We got a muzzle on her, my little Jekyll and Hyde, and if anything could have made me feel even more miserable, that was it.
I brought her home again and she went comatose. It was TERRIFYING. I . . . um . . . didn’t go to bed Monday night. I didn’t understand what was happening, it’s been a bad several months, my hellhounds won’t eat unless I literally poke it down their throats†, I was totally losing my hold on reality and reality was sucking big time anyway, why would I want to have a hold on it? So I just stayed up, reading some of my backlog of 1,000,000,000 magazines, sitting on my stool next to the Aga, and glancing at the hellterror crate occasionally. Got through a lot of magazines by the time it was eight o’clock and the day shift was back on duty at the vet’s.
I took her in again at noon. She’d stopped being comatose†† by then, but she was still rivering. Aaaaaaaaand . . . my new young engaged-with-the-problem vet? Is now talking to me about how it’s IBS. It’s not something in the environment that we can, you know, find. It’s IBS. Just like the hellhounds.
THREE dogs, the third one seven years younger AND entirely unrelated AND a different breed . . . ALL have IBS†††? I know truth, that ratbag, is often a whole lot stranger than fiction, which has to pretend to mind its manners, but . . . REALLY?
Pav also tried to bite this vet. I was not in good shape. I hadn’t had any sleep the night before and I am tired of sick dogs—and being patronised by vets. I burst into tears. I don’t think this did me a lot of good in the ‘reliability of owner’ category in the clinic records. And I feel like I’m being told It’s All My Fault. I am a nervy, anxious paranoid person with IBS . . . and have created three nervy, anxious paranoid hellcritters with IBS. WAAAAAAAAAAAH.
Pav has a new appointment with the fancy internal-specialist vet tomorrow morning. The fancy internal-specialist vet that my old vet wanted to send me off to after one round of basic lab tests came back negative because the only other possibility was ‘stress’.‡ We’ve had one round of slightly more comprehensive lab tests with the new vet . . . and I’m being sent off to the fancy internal-specialist vet again.
I got some sleep last night. I woke up this morning in a temper. I rang my old homeopathic vet’s new office and they could fit me in this afternoon.‡‡ Which meant finding his new office. I took Peter so I would at least be getting lost with somebody.
We got lost.
But we got there.
And I have to go to bed, because I have to get up early tomorrow morning for our next veterinarian adventure.
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* I haven’t had to deal with a bitch in heat in years and I’d forgotten the details, or possibly the details are more prominent on hellterrors. But for most of the year the exterior genitalia on your average bitch is a tiny little vaguely pointed bulge^, as seen from behind, where their hind legs meet. I knew it swelled when the bitch goes into heat, and sometimes it changes colour—and, of course, it drips. What I hadn’t remembered—although it doubtless varies from bitch to bitch and breed to breed^^—is that as it swells it turns outward and up. To the rather creeped-out human at the other end of the lead it looks like it’s saying F**********CK ME. Which, of course, it is.
^ They pee out of the same hole. I assume that the geography within that single external opening is sufficiently clear that a hopeful penis won’t take the wrong fork.
^^ Sighthound bitches are famous for whistling nonchalant little tunes while they go into and come back out of heat without anyone noticing. People who want to breed their sighthound bitches can be extremely frustrated by this.+
+ Hint: Be suspicious of a whistling bitch.
** On second thought, don’t try. No need for any more of us to be this wretched.
*** They also moaned a lot. Mooooooooan. Moooooooan. I always knew that having an entire bitch around two entire males was going to be challenging and it’s hard for me to tell, because of everything else that’s been going on, how drastically I need to change my coping mechanisms for next time.
† Then you slam the jaws shut, tip the head back and rub the throat with your other hand, supposing you have a free hand, while intoning, Swallow. Swallow, you effing argling *(&^%$£”!”!!!!!. Then you do it again. And again. And again. And . . . Did I tell you about getting liquid wormer^ all over the kitchen? That may have been this weekend. I’m not too good with liquids, although if it’s just water, no big, and even if it’s water with electrolytes, so the floor is a little sticky, so? But wormer . . . the label of which reads DO NOT GET ON YOUR SKIN OR CLOTHING . . . unh. Well, we had semi-pulverized dog food all over the kitchen too. Darkness after a brief manifestation of disbelieving shock goes all stoic and resigned and lets you maul him, but Chaos has a quite astonishing talent for squirting food back out the sides of his mouth even when you’re sure you got it into the back of his throat AND you have his mouth clamped shut. Arrrrgh. Blasted gappy carnivore teeth.
^ Special extra-strong wormer, in case whatever this is is worms, instead of the usual wormicidal tablets, which are a lot easier to manage.
†† The day vet said that what the night vet had given her was opium-based and it might have caused this effect. He couldn’t have told me?! All he said to me was that it was a muscle relaxant, to stop her gut spasming.
††† Or IBD. They seem to call it IBD over here: Irritable Bowel Disorder instead of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
‡ See: It’s all the nervy, anxious paranoid owner’s fault. Yes, well, paranoids really do have stuff blamed on them, just like they have real enemies.
‡‡ I stopped going when he got so overextended you couldn’t get hold of him when, as happened to Darkness, his prescription had made things worse. Life is too frelling short. But I’ve thought about him increasingly often over the last several months and he’s taken on another vet and some support staff which ought to make that end of things better. The other end of things however is that his new office is over an hour away.^
^ Remind me to tell you the Saga of Wolfgang which is the only thing that has gone right this week.
Chaos is better. For the moment.
Darkness is worse. Apparently someone in this family must be geysering, and Darkness has taken on that responsibility. I had nearly twenty-four hours when everyone was almost normal and then it all went horribly wrong all over again. I made it to the monks Saturday night. I did not make it to St Margaret’s last night. I was planning on going. I took the hellhounds out for a final pee twenty minutes before I had to leave—and Darkness began geysering.
Neither hellhound is eating.*
Pav got me up this morning three hours after I’d finally got to bed after Darkness’ last rush. This time when I heard her yell I hit the floor running. Which meant I got there in time, but it also meant I did not get any more sleep.
I didn’t ring the vet today because I couldn’t bear to hear how long it’s going to be before we get the next lot of lab results back, especially because I’m sure there won’t be anything in them and we’ll have to decide what to do next.**
I can’t believe the way this—whatever it is—just keeps on getting worse.
I’m not getting any work done. I need to get some work done because while food is a minor expense, vet bills are not.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t write a proper blog tonight.
* * *
* With reference to a conversation on the forum about getting your dog to eat by offering him—or her—something your dog sees you eating, and what a seriously bad training model this is . . . yes, it is, if you have a normal dog that eats normally. When things go badly awry the rules change. If I could get the hellhounds to eat by giving them something I’m eating . . . I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d be delighted.
** I did, however, receive a home visit from my curate. Pastoral care. What a concept. I told myself he’s used to people under stress^ who haven’t done a lot of housework recently and possibly weren’t really good about it even when things were okay.
Join a church: it’s part of the system that then someone has to give a rat’s ass what’s happening to you.
^ Although probably not three-dogs-with-diarrhoea-of-mysterious-origin stress
Pavlova has the worst diarrhoea I have ever seen.*
Well, she did. I HOPE it’s wearing off. I’m also reasonably sure it’s circumstantial rather than part of the whole ghastly current business but in terms of timing . . . I told you we had another overnight guest last night. Guest arrived in time to go on a hurtle with Pav and me before dinner. We were deep in conversation** coming back to the mews along the broadway, but I have Puppy Owner Peripheral Vision and was on her—I was sure—before she swallowed. She’d picked up a big disgusting*** wodge of (mostly) dirt and grass clippings† . . . and then promptly did it again because they’ve mowed the broadway and there were great tumuli of the stuff. We came home on short lead, neither of us in very good temper with the other††.
I didn’t think (much) more about it—she does manage to gag down refuse and debris occasionally, usually to no ill effect.
Meanwhile . . . Chaos has been downgraded one small step from geysering to fountaining, but it continues to be a trifle hard to predict when I can leave him long enough to . . . well, get some sleep, say. It was another long night last night. I had just decided I was going to try the going upstairs and lying down thing††† and had put Pav out—who had a pee and came directly indoors again, and, any more, she’s usually right about this, so I didn’t even argue—and had crated her and was upstairs brushing my teeth when I heard her yell and start throwing herself around. Please, I thought, carrying on brushing. Frelling cool it. And thought no more about it.
Till I went downstairs one last time to shut the hellhounds’ crate door and . . . the smell.
Oh . . . God.
I cleaned her up. I cleaned the crate up. I gave her fresh bedding. I put more used bedding in the menhir outside the kitchen door—how fortunate I have an old-fashioned, non-PC machine with a BOIL setting—I went to bed.
For about two and a half hours.
I came downstairs knowing by olfactory warning what I was coming down to. But even the poison cloud hadn’t prepared me for . . . what a good thing her crate is the moulded-plastic kind with a nice deep threshold. She had made an island of her bedding in the sea of . . . containing small floating fragments of grass. . . .
I unscrewed the crate lid and took it off. I was going to have to anyway, for clean up, and there was no way I could get her out without . . .
She bounded cheerfully over the side and rushed to the kitchen door, wagging her tail, waiting to be let out to . . .
Yes. Well. In terms of life with critters it doesn’t get a whole lot worse. I used up a roll and a half of paper towels, two pairs of one-use latex gloves, about a third of a squeezy-bottle of sink and surface cleaner, and I threw out the sponge with the gloves. Her day crate is now so clean it sparkles. I’d got her travelling crate in from Wolfgang since I did not want her underfoot, and this time, when she yelled, I jumped to let her out.
My garden looks like a war zone.
. . . and at this point Chaos did what is becoming his new standard creepy-crawly thing that means Take me out pleeeeeeeeeez. And in taking him out I discovered that some MORON had parked IN the frelling archway into the mews courtyard . . . WHAT. THE. F . . . It’s two o’clock in the frelling morning, okay? But I could hear the distant noises of partying, so the trick was to get a direct line on this—so as not to bang on the wrong door at 2 a.m.—but sound echoes so.
I found them. Does that car belong to one of you? I said, politely, under the circumstances. Which car? said another moron. There are too many morons in my life. The one that is blocking the archway, I said. Oh, he said, oh yes, I’ll get her to move it. Thanks ever so, I said.
So the good news is that I got out.
The hellterror is so outraged by Lack of Food that I’m assuming this means she’s fine. Chaos is still fountaining. After that minor improvement he has gained no more ground, or, um, whatever. He’s escaped hospital for another day, but barely. He is drinking water without my shooting it into him, but he is not eating beyond the occasional scrap of chicken dropped under his nose. As soon as there are more than one or two scraps, and, worse, they’re diluted by the presence of a bowl it’s all over. Darkness is also starving himself, just for laughs, I guess.
I am not laughing.
I need sleep. . . .
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* And I’ve seen a lot in the last almost-seven years.
** Although my end was somewhat broken and incomplete from making frantic little dives after Pav on her long extending lead before she tied us to a tree or each other.
*** But not nearly as disgusting as some of the other things I’ve fished out of her mouth bare-handed.
† The kind of wodge that will not fall out if you hold hellterror upside down and shake.
†† And I’m pretty sure I could see my companion crossing ‘puppy’ off the life list.
††† And remaining rigidly awake, straining to hear whimpers from downstairs.
I don’t know if I have good news or not.
I went to bed last . . . er . . . this morning at a little short of 7 a.m. Sic. But I wanted to get Chaos frelling stabilised and I knew I wasn’t going to sleep anyway if he wasn’t so I might as well go on playing stupid games on my iPad*.
But he actually had a long drink on his own four feet out of the water bowl at about 6:30 and I thought GREAT I am going to BED.**
About four and a half hours later ( . . . moan) when I came downstairs again he was glassy-eyed and limp, flopped in the dog bed like a piece of trash someone had thrown down. I hastily started the squirting protocol again thinking that the round the clock thing is a major ratbag for anyone who’s trying to do it alone . . . not that this is news, and I can hear hollow laughter from some of my readers, but stuff that is in your face right now is . . . well, it’s in your tired, heavy-lidded face right now.
Pretty much the first thing he did after the glint returned to his eye and he was inhabiting his body again was . . . go outdoors and geyser.
But he was still clearly better in himself than he’d been yesterday*** so I dithered for a while and eventually rang the vet. When she finally rang me back† she gave no impression of a woman in a hurry stooping to do an importunate client a favour, but talked me through exactly what was going on and agreeing that I could keep him home one more day . . . but if he is not SIGNIFICANTLY better tomorrow, he’s still going in to critter hospital.
He didn’t eat lunch of course but neither did Darkness (sigh). And he’ll still swallow when I squirt††, spoon or smear things into/on him†††. I’ve also settled on a couple of homeopathic remedies—one the basic for fluid loss, one pertaining to the specifics of the situation which I will spare you—which I’m pretty sure are helping.‡ But it’s more stuff to pry his mouth open for. Poor Chaos.
He was still geysering on his two-minute afternoon hurtle. The vet said that given how bad an episode he’s had it’s going to take at least several days to settle down but by the end of today there should be some thickening going on. Well. Um. Maybe. Minimally.
And then all suddenly . . . he wanted dinner. He came out of the dog bed and begged for scraps with Darkness. And when I gave him his stock-and-meat-mush he ate it right up. . . .
Darkness didn’t eat his dinner. MOAN. And while I’d be on tenterhooks anyway because this is the first (semi) solid food Chaos has had in three days . . . Peter and I have another overnight [human] guest and my mind was not totally on critters, and while I wasn’t looking he nailed most of Darkness’. I had NO intention of letting him eat that much, nor any kibble at all, till tomorrow earliest. MOOOOOOAAAAAAN.
So I’m waiting anxiously to see what happens. He has spent way too much of this evening awake—dogs are supposed to SLEEP after meals—and I fear what this may mean. We did go out for a geyser about an hour ago, but it was quite a little geyser, several hours after dinner, so that illegal food is not all rushing through him. I’m hoping that at least some of it is getting, you know, digested.
He’s crashed out now. Looking perfectly content, although the sticky-outness of those ribs belies this rather. And what the freaking hell is Darkness up to? He’s still losing weight, he’s just less acute, at the minute, than Chaos. Whimper. I have one meal left today with which hellhounds and I can torture each other. At least I seem to have an on-the-job vet.
* * *
* I’ve tried a couple more unsatisfactory word games. There’s one that tells you what words you’re supposed to find on the grid and . . . why? Ugh. I know I’m playing games because I have no brain and I need distraction, but that’s a step too far into zombie territory for me. And then there’s one that keeps a little list of the words you do find and when your time runs out presents you with a much longer list of the words you could have found. First couple of games I thought, oh well, I’m generally no frelling good at games anyway, no big. And then I happened to let my eye linger on one of the lists and discovered (a) you CAN’T find all the words in the list because some of them require you to skip over grid squares in a way that playing the game specifically disallows and (b) they have a somewhat CREATIVE view of the English language.^
Has anyone played About Love, Hate and the other ones? I’m attracted to the notion of an ‘undo’ button.
^ Although even the satisfactory ones can be a trifle whimsical. Word Abacus mostly accepts proper names but it doesn’t take Gail. Or Doug. And it takes some pretty borderline non-English words like père. But it doesn’t take séance. What? I was really proud of séance.
** Outrage among hellhounds that they weren’t allowed to come upstairs and sleep in my office while I take my bath. Which they usually do, except when I’m worried about what one of them may do all over the carpet when I’m running water and don’t hear him.
*** I’d run out of honey at the cottage—sacrilege, I know, but these things happen—so I’d lifted his lip and sprinkled a little of the Organic Raw Sugar^ that I use in my tea on his gum. That got him going, that I was insulting him with SUGAR.
^ It’s still bad for you, it’s just bad for you in a straightforward way with no dependent clauses.
† By which time I was out with Darkness, who took standing around twenty minutes on a street corner as all part of the current weirdness of being hurtled by himself.
†† Any of you in a position to have to squirt a critter: you know that you don’t literally squirt it down their throats, right? Because you run the risk of getting it in their lungs which can cause an extremely nasty infection. Cats’ faces are so much flatter, and they’re so much likelier to bite, I’ve found squirting them rather challenging upon occasion. But a dog is easy, so long as he swallows, you’ve got that little pouch of skin at the corners of dogs’ (comparatively) long narrow mouths. This would still be true of the hellterror. Dunno about the really crushed-in face dogs, like Pekes and pugs.
††† Darkness will clean up errors in honey aim
‡ But an acute like this, the ‘picture’ can change really fast—faster than I can keep up with.