April 29, 2010

Walk these streets...

Tonight I figured on a nice leisurely stroll on our crescent, maybe two times back and forth. Y'know, wouldn't want to tax the poor guy (Rory, I mean. Norm's busy swearing at invoices and receipts - it's that time of year). Rory wasn't having any of it. With the leash snapped on he assumed we were going to the park so that's where we went. We stayed topside away from the water and other dogs where he'd probably over exert himself. So I was his only playmate.

That means I get the play-bow.

"Wait, I smell something!" Check out those ears...it was pretty windy.

Going to investigate...under a close and watchful eye. Note the shaved belly. Ultrasound works better that way.

Rory is a sniffer. Serious sniffer. I'm considering an intervention but might wait till he's feeling better.

"Geez, it looks pretty far. We don't have to go all the way, do we?" That length of path is actually our normal 'short walk' - the one we take when the weather isn't great or when I'm feeling lazy. Today was the extra-short version.

Heading home. Not much can compete with the sight of your steadfast companion racing to catch up to you.

Just before we left the park, Rory stopped in contemplative greeting of another sunset shared with a curly-red-haired girl who loves him big like the universe.

April 28, 2010


I can't remember my own darn login for Google. I set up a new account, but that doesn't help me if I can't access my Blogger profile in the first place. So, I'm signed in on momma's. She says that while I was in the hospital she learned a lot about the internal workings of dogs. What she forgot to tell you was that she learned even more about the human heart.

Wiggle, wag, wag, bounce, poke, sniff, sniff, sniff, gobble, poke, bounce .... zzzz zzzz zzzzzzzz

....Love, Rory

April 27, 2010

Rory Update #3

Today’s quote of the day is brought to you by Rory’s veterinarian. “Things are looking really good”. Rory is still eating small amounts of food every four hours and has been drinking water and it is all staying down. Physical examination doesn’t produce any signs of pain or feel like any obstruction in his abdomen. Best of all are his kidney function indicators. His blood urea nitrogen has gone from 25 down to 7 (normal range is 2-9) and his creatinine has gone from 213 down to 176. 124 is a high normal but it’s going down! This means his kidneys are starting to do their job again. The vet strongly believes that because this was so sudden in an otherwise young and healthy animal that it was quite likely something Rory ate – either poisonous or rotten. The intestinal bleeding seems to be diminishing and blood work shows that Rory is not anemic. Although acute kidney problems resulting from ingestion of poison or bacteria can cause intestinal bleeding, there is a remote possibility of a tumour in the intestine, so I’m erring on the side of caution going ahead with the ultrasound as scheduled for tomorrow. The ultrasound can also rule out the unlikely possibility of a physical abnormality of his kidneys.

The vet said all of this and then of course became the voice of caution and reason. While it’s all good news, I’m not to get too excited (uh, sure, okay). But if things keep improving then Rory can come home tomorrow. He’ll stay on metronidazole, some doggy Pepcid AC, sucralfate and for a while he’ll have to eat some food that is gentle on his stomach. Judging from the vet’s description of what is now coming out of the other end of Rory, I’ll be picking up some probiotics too.

As an aside, it’s really quite amazing the amount of knowledge a person can pick up about things they never thought they’d need to know.

Norm and I will go visit Rory again tonight. I have no doubt that all the good thoughts being sent Rory’s way are making a difference. Thank you!

April 26, 2010

Rory Update #2

Norm and I just got back from a visit with Rory, which included taking him on a four block round trip walk in the fresh evening air. He's put a bit of weight back on, fluids most likely, but looks that much better than yesterday. On a dog without fat any difference shows readily. My 102 pounds of wiggly-sniffing-poking-bouncing-smiling dog was only 86 pounds on Sunday. He is also blowing coat - likely from being in a strange environment, so what once was a gleaming coat of red is now looking thin and patchy. Nothing we can't deal with eventually. Right now the goal is to keep making improvements in blood chemistry and keeping food down. His "bun" and creatine won't be measured again till tomorrow so nothing new to report there. He has had three tiny meals today, all eaten enthusiastically and all kept down. He was alert, curious and full of nose pokes when we visited, though he tired easily from the walk. He's on two types of antibiotics, something for his stomach - the name escapes me but the human version is Pepcid AC, another thing to coat his esophagus, stomach and GI tract, and an anti-nausea medication. Pardon in advance to the squeamish among you but he is also passing stool, which is a good sign too - it's black which means it has blood in it (processed) but at least it's coming through. Ugh though, talk about the worst smell EVER.

He is of course charming the socks off of the vets and staff. Very tolerant of being prodded and poked, he's patient and just a generally good-natured, easy-going soul. But we knew that already :)

I whispered in his ear all the encouragement you are sending his way. I know he hears you.

Rory Update

First the good news: Rory's new x-rays from today compared to yesterday show a shift in gas patterns which means things are moving along in his intestines - this is good. He so far today has kept down two small meals (both of which he ate with gusto) - this is also good. The not-so-good news: his 'bun" and creatine (these are indicators in his blood that his kidneys are not filtering toxins) haven't lowered, so the vets will continue with fluids in order to support kidney healing and hope for eventual lowering of these indicators. Antibiotics continue. His hydration levels are back to normal with the help of IV fluids. Nothing back yet on tests submitted to lab for leptospirosis, giardia, e.coli, salmonella, beaver fever and a whole raft of others. The internal medicine specialist who took care of Rory today is suggesting that the kidney problem is secondary or the result of some other problem: toxin, poison, bacteria: something Rory might have eaten. As terrible as that sounds, it is better than yesterday's suggestion that the kidneys were the primary problem - in cases like that there isn't much they can do, the prognosis for those dogs is not good. In cases of poison or infection, they can at least help fight infection and provide hydration and nutrition while the body and organs try to heal. Thanks so much for all the positive energy - it means a lot to us!

April 25, 2010


Thanks for all the well-wishes for Rory - I just finished visiting him at the animal hospital and you can bet I passed them on. Here's where some people excel at blogging and I fail: I didn't want to write about this at all. But as Norm pointed out, it IS Rory's blog. For those of you who don't know, Rory was sick for a couple of days, and after a trip to our regular vet on Saturday morning, things got worse and it got to the point where he needed to be hospitalized in the early hours of Sunday morning. The emergency vets are suggesting kidney failure but aren't certain of the cause. What they have told me though is that what seems so sudden to me may have actually been there all along but his body was able to manage things. Sometimes symptoms for kidney problems don't show up until they are down to only 25% function. So they are checking for infection and tomorrow morning they will do an ultrasound to "see" what his kidneys look like. In the meantime, they are getting him rehydrated, which is taking quite a while. Starting on Thursday night he wouldn't even look at food (and for Rory here's where the alarm bells start). He was able though to keep small amounts of water down but by Saturday night things weren't at all better so off to the hospital we went. I just came back from a visit and he is definitely perkier and the levels of toxins in his blood (this is what should be cleaned out by his kidneys) have dropped a little bit. He even ate some food while we were there, here's to hoping he keeps it down. We took him for a walk in the sunshine and then brought him back so they could keep plugging fluids into him.

Anyway, we don't actually know much for certain right now but I thought I'd post while I was still relatively cheered from visiting with Rory who on the outside does seem better than he did early this morning. The atmosphere in the house without Rory is solemn to say the least. Two people sitting around waiting. And waiting. And worrying. How can you do anything else?

April 18, 2010

The Foyer: Before and During

The front entrance is still awaiting a set of French doors to the hub room. In the meantime, why not tackle the entrance itself?

Here's a view of the front entrance from the hub room - this is before the hub room was finished - see the interior window, complete with blinds? Weird.

This is the direct opposite view of the previous shot...now with the hub room finished...the window has been removed, stud added and drywalled from the other side. Warm and welcoming entry, no?

It is definitely warm (and I like to think I'm a pretty welcoming hostess if you're prepared to ignore the construction). The radiator gives off heat during the winter like IT'S the boiler. As grateful as I am for that, I'm not keen on the many layers of paint covering the radiator. In order not to add to the problem, the cover must come off. I was originally going to have it sandblasted and then sprayed, but now I'm thinking about getting Hammersmith to make a custom cover. They did a bit of work for Norm in our last house. A small bit in comparison to this house where I also want them to build our hoodfan for the kitchen.

There are places that make all types of radiator covers - and we'll be back when we get to the living room's baseboard heaters. This is nice, but probably too deep and would interfere with the glass when we get the hub room doors in. I'm thinking something copper or brushed steel. Hammersmith will work from a sketch too: here's one idea.

Here's Rory giving the pre-work tool inspection. I really have to find a place where he can put that nose to work. He MUST sniff absolutely everything.

Sniffing takes a lot of out of dog. So does supervising. Note the yawn.

Cover off.

These shelves, and the lovely yellow acrylic insert are on the left side when you walk in, opposite wall from the radiator. Obviously dated, but they would have to go in any event since my experience is that any surface area becomes the default repository for whatever you walk in the door with. (Another good reason not to use the deeper style of radiator above - a key shelf is one thing, but if you can put your groceries on it it's too big.)

Even getting rid of the acrylic helps! These shelves, like all the casing and baseboard in the house, are solid mahogany. We'll repurpose the wood. Somewhere.

All gone. It opens right up into the living room. We'll not be wanting it quite that open, so we're looking at a glass waterwall. Think something like this only smaller scale.

The base the shelves sat on is hollow (making for relatively easy installation of the central vacuum inlet last fall) and it currently holds a planter box. A south facing yard with low maintenance perennials is one thing, I don't think anybody wants to see me torture plants inside a north-facing entrance. The light fixture is new, purchased in Edmonton for a pretty deep discount. The old one went to my cousin's cabin - rustic to rustic I say.

The other source of light is the skylight. Or whatever it is. Again with the acrylic covering inside, then a square tunnel of mirrors out to the roof. One of the mirrors has to be replaced and the cover has got to go.

April 8, 2010

Now THAT'S more like it!

Here's the Calgary weather I know. Callous disregard for the brave bits of greenery that dare show themselves before May (and sometimes even after).

April 5, 2010

Springing Forth

Back in mid-March I spent a weekend out in the back yard putting together my lasagne garden. If you were here helping me lug compost from the bins at the far end of the yard to dump them in the new garden (then to discover that ants had taken up residence in the compost bin) you are a true friend. You know who you are. You get the first jar of salsa. And there, tucked safely in the corner where the sun room meets the back of the house we discovered shoots of green with tiny buds that by today had blossomed into the sunshiney brightness that only daffodils possess. And I don't even really LIKE daffodils. But hey, it's a flower and it's growing in my yard! Without any assistance from me. Which is probably all the better given my track record with plants and such. What's a lasagne garden? Since my thumb isn't naturally green, and since the thought of turning sod wasn't getting me so excited I bounced out of bed on Saturday mornings, I thought that if there was going to be a vegetable garden out back, there had to be a better way. Lasagne gardening is also known as sheet composting and there are books and websites - all of which I hope aren't leading me astray. We have layers of wet cardboard (a good use for some of those packing boxes), leaves, compost, topsoil, leaves, compost, etc... all sitting moistly under a heavy tarp, cooking away until the end of May. It's where I hope to plant some heirloom tomato seedlings and a few other things that are currently germinating on top of the boiler or already sprouted and sitting in the kitchen window. I've put the garden where we are planning to eventually put a patio. My plan is simply to move the accumulated garden soil to another suitable location in the yard. Like maybe where the sunroom is now. In the meantime, I've done us a favour because the grass where the patio is supposed to go will be gone. Voila! Now we can install patio stones. I'm thinking slate.