Womack Report

April 17, 2015

Getting the dog to take her medicine

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 8:49 am

So, the dog seems to be doing better now.  She’s back to her normal self as far as energy and playfulness.

The swelling on her jaw is gone.  There’s still a fair-sized mass of something on the left side of her head, under her ear, but it doesn’t seem to be causing distress.  I’m honestly not sure what’s going on there, or how long it’s been happening.

The mass that’s present isn’t really obvious when you look at her, although you can tell if you hold her head that she’s not symmetrical.  It feels like a slab of muscle, as far as density and elasticity and whatnot.  Doesn’t seem to be painful or sensitive when I’m handling her.

I’m about to just chalk it down to her having an overdeveloped cheek from sleeping on one side all the time, or asymmetrical chewing, or something.  There definitely WAS something unusual going on Sunday night, but I’m not sure what’s present now is a problem.

Anyhow, I’m still giving her the pills the vet prescribed.  Might as well go through the whole regimen.  Sara doesn’t really like taking these pills, I’ve discovered.  It hasn’t been a problem in the past; usually could just hand her the pill and she’d snarf it down, but she kept trying to spit this one out.  I tried a few more complicated solutions, like sticking in peanut butter, and she was just getting more recalcitrant.

However, I’ve solved the problem.

It turns out that Sara is not above taking bribes, and I am not too proud to bribe a dog.  And she’s strongly, strongly motivated by salmon jerky.

So, treat it like a training game.  Make her sit, give her a bit of jerky.  Make her eat a pill, give her a bit of jerky.  Make her lay down, give her a bit of jerky.  She figured out what to with the pill pretty fast when fish was on the line, and all her objections vanished.

April 13, 2015

Vet update: Inconclusive

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 10:30 am

Got back from the vet.  Basically, they don’t know what’s wrong, but they eliminated a few things.

It’s not a tooth issue, which is good.  Doesn’t seem to be an ear infection, or anything of that nature.

The swollen lump is much bigger than I realized, and most of it is further back on the side of her head.  They stuck a needle into it, and it’s apparently a solid mass, not filled with fluid.  Didn’t appear to be infected.  She’s not running a fever.

There was a little bit of talk of it being a snake bite or something, but she was in my back yard all day yesterday, here in semi-suburban Houston, and it’s hard to see how she could have gotten into contact with a snake.  I suppose she could have picked a fight with a spider.

So, now we’re doing “supportive care”.  Which means they gave her a shot a Benadryl-like drug in case it was an allergic reaction, and a shot of an anti-inflammatory drug, to reduce swelling.  Then they send me home with some antibiotic pills and some steroid pills to give her.  Now, we observe.  They said to bring her back if she doesn’t show improvement by Wednesday.

She did seem to have perked up a bit by the end of the office visit.  That’s before any drugs were administered.  Hard to say whether that’s her feeling a little better, or just her responding to all the attention.

Part of me is a little annoyed, because every time I take her to this vet with a non-routine problem, the answer is some antibiotic pills or steroids and watch her for a few days.  I kind of wonder if this is a dog-owner placebo.  Look like you’re doing something, hope the dog heals on her own.  On the flip side, that’s probably the right answer.  They ruled out a couple of big things that would need to be handled, like a tooth issue.  After that, you either wait and see if it heals, or you roll out the doggie MRI machine.

It would just be nice if everybody had all the answers on tap instantly.  I bet being a vet, or a medical doctor, is frustrating.  If a computer has a problem, I can take it apart and fix it, but computers are simple.  It’s not really practical to take a dog apart and put it back together again.

Dog is sick.

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 7:26 am

Sara is not doing well.

When she came in last night, she was having a hard time picking up her toys.  Took a good look at her, and one side of her jaw was all swollen up.  And she’s generally very subdued.  Not as active and playful as usual.

It’s always hard to tell what’s going on with labs, because they don’t complain about stuff.  At least, not little stuff like, you know, pain.  She’ll complain plenty about being outside in the yard when it’s dark out.

It’s looking a little worse this morning.  I’m taking her to the vet.  The actual doctors don’t arrive there until 9:00, so that’s when I’m planning to show up.  I’m worried that she’s got an abcessed tooth or something.

Not great timing for this, since I’ve got a job interview this afternoon, but not awful, either.  Shouldn’t be any trouble making the interview, it’s just the usual problem where everything happens all at once.  You do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, not when it’s convenient.

April 11, 2015

Chestnut trees

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 2:06 pm

So, Dad looks to have bought four chestnut saplings for the farm at Crockett.

That’s going to be an interesting experiment.  Dr. Kroll, AKA Dr. Deer, would tell you that deer love chestnuts above pretty much all other food, and that it’s what they have spent most of history eating.  Up until the chestnut blight, the proportion of chestnut trees in North American forests was huge, and they were a major food source.

These are Dunstan chestnuts, which are a blight-resistant hybrid species.  If they can get established and start putting out nuts every year, they should be a huge draw for us.  Ideally, they’ll get established, and start spreading, and we’ll get a nice mix of chestnuts through our whole forested area, but that’s a multiple-decades sort of hope.

The trick is going to be getting them to thrive, and keeping the local animals from scraping them up or knocking them over.  Probably need to put a little fence around them for the first couple years, so that nobody tries to scratch his antlers on them.

April 7, 2015

Lawnmower repair

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 11:10 am

Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to get the lawn under control before my homeowner’s association starts sending passive-aggressive letters.

Got halfway through the lawn and one of the rear wheel on my lawnmower broke.  This internal collar component cracked, and the bearings sandwiched between it and the actual wheel escaped.  Didn’t roll so well after that.

This was already a replacement wheel, the originals were plastic and gave up on me a few years ago. I thought the replacements I got, with metal wheels and bearing, would be sturdier.  Apparently not.

Went and got new wheels at Northern Tool.  These are back to plastic, but they seem pretty solid.  And fit a bit better than the metal ones did, which is a good thing.  We’ll see how long they last.  If they make it four years, that’s probably all I can ask.

I’m glad the wheel failures have been on the back wheels, not the front.  It’s a self-propelled mower, so changing the front wheels is much more complicated, and you can’t use generic parts from the hardware store.  I tried shopping around for them once, and even the manufacturer didn’t make it easy to get new drive wheels.  I’m sure there’s a way, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.

Still, I can’t complain.  Got the mower for free, used, and it’s probably fifteen years old now.  Still starts on the first pull.  Can’t beat that.  Keep changing the oil and the air filter, and a small engine will run forever.  I think the only other repair I’ve ever had to do was replacing the spark plug wire.

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