Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hoover gets a pacemaker

Talk about crazy. On Thursday Hoover seemed to be having seizures. I first witnessed it about 3:00 in the afternoon he seemed to lose control of his legs and fell to his side on the ground within seconds he was trying to get up then standing and staggering the bolting off like something startled him. Now keep in mind that Hoover is not quite a year and a half old, very active, prone to weirdness, adorable, and sweeter than sugar. So I call the vet I love who wasn't in and then thinking this could be serious I called my backup vet and got him in for the last appointment of the day.

The vet drew some blood to run some tests, took a chest x-ray, and did an ekg (which had to be sent via phone to a cardiologist who couldn't get to it that day). While listening to his heart the vet said "something is not right". Apparently Hoover heart was beating way too slow. Like 42 beats per minute. Normal is 70-120. While this seemed odd the vet said she needed to get blood work back and get the results from the ekg.

So I take Hoover home and he seems OK but a little tired. He goes about his business and while we watch him more closely than usual we aren't really worried.

Friday morning the vet calls to say Hoover needs a pacemaker. WHAT!? I'm thinking do they even do that for dogs? Now Hoover is acting really out sorts, breathing funny and just lying around. I'm trying to stay calm and be logical. My first thought is if this were a human member of the family I'd be getting a second opinion. So I call the vet I love and tell her I'm freaking out and she gives me the number of a canine cardiologist. I call. He's on vacation until June 9th. Well that's no good. They give me the number of a cardiologist in NJ. I call and he's out of the office for the day. I call my friend back and she gives me another number. I make contact and they tell me that they wouldn't recommend a pacemaker with out other tests but if he does need a pacemaker they don't to that procedure and they refer me to the two places I've already called. I tell them no dice at those places and they say bring him in, let's get things rolling and see if we're really looking at a pacemaker case.

Print out map

Get Hoover together

Get Hoover in the car (with Hubby help)

Drive like a semi-controlled maniac to a vet hospital an hour away

We get there and they take Hoover immediately. I am now weeping semi-uncontrollably. They are so nice (Katonah Bedford Hills Veterinary Center I highly, highly recommend them). When I tell them Hoover is terrified of large dogs they take him to a private room for his tests and them to a private carpeted room (very amazing if you know what a sick dog can do on carpet) so he is in a quiet place where nothing will scare him. His heart is now beating 24 times a minute and things are getting critical.

They start making phone calls to find a cardiologist who can see Hoover NOW. They find one in the city (NYC) tell them I'm coming. They print me off a map with directions and warn me that I should stay call so Hoover stays calm because he could go into heart failure. Driving into Manhattan while staying calm, I might be able to do that if it is the Upper West Side of Manhattan on a slow day with no pressure. So, of course the Animal Medical Center is on the Upper EAST Side and I'm feeling MUCH pressure. Have I mentioned that I have been weeping uncontrollably on and off since about ten in the morning and my contact lenses are getting fuzzy.

So we get in the car and I start off directions in hand chanting to myself that I am calm and everything is going to be fine. But inside I'm freaking out and on the verge of total panic and on top of that my heart is breaking. How can this dog that is still just a puppy and was running around like a wild thing be on the verge of death?

Just a little over an hour later and amazingly still outwardly under control I arrive at the Animal Medical Center. Now I must tackle the problem of parking and I'm prepared to abandon my car in an illegal spot to get Hoover quickly inside. I'm thrilled to find that they have parking with a valet! I literally jump out of my car, give the keys to a man walking toward me, grab Hoover out of the back seat (calmly) and run into the building. I get to the registration desk and tell them I have Hoover and they should be expecting him. One girl turns back and calls out "Does anyone know about a Hoover coming into emergency?" From the back I hear "Oh, Yeah. That's the dog that could drop dead at any minute." I burst into tears.

Two interns come out and take Hoover and I'm given forms to fill out. I call my sister who lives in the city to tell her where I am and what's going on hoping she could come before I have a complete melt down. By this time my contact lenses were so cloudy I didn't know how I'd get home and I'm thinking of course I'm going to be taking Hoover home because this is all too crazy to be true.

After what seems like forever I'm taken to a room where the doctor is going to talk to me but really it is so I'm not freaking out everyone in the waiting room with my non stop sobbing. My sister arrives! Thank you! She is the voice of reason and logical thinking in stressful situations. The intern comes in and starts to explain that Hoover does indeed need a pacemaker and that he needs it quickly. Getting the pacemaker will give him a chance to have a normal long life. Then the cardiologist comes in (Dr. Bond, Betsy Bond) and she says that in 30 years of practicing she has only once seen a dog Hoover's age with this condition. Basically there is a block preventing the signal from one part of his heart to the other part that tells the heart to beat. (That's my scientific understanding of the situation.) The pacemaker will tell his heart when and how many times to beat bypassing the block. I didn't know it but while she is talking to us the rest of her team is starting to prep Hoover because once I say yes (and of course I'm gonna say yes!) they are starting the operation. The other thing is that this is going to cost a LOT of money but there is a angel who loves Hoover who is going to take care of that.

We ask to see Hoover before they start and the wheel him in on a table. He already has shaved spots on his paws and his eyes are weird like he's not really there and for some reason his head is pointy. I again burst into tears as if my only working function is the ability to leak water from my eyes. I pet him and kiss him on the nose and they wheel him off.

No point in hanging around they say. Go home and we will call you when it is finished to tell you the results. Through all of this I never think Hoover will die. It isn't a possibility in my mind. So we go to see if my car can stay there (where miraculously they did actually have valet parking and I hadn't given my keys to a random person walking toward me.) But my car cannot stay there and I can't see well enough to walk through New York City let alone attempt to drive so my sister drives us to her apartment on the other side of the city.

We are thinking of where to park and my sister says let's just see if there is a place by the apartment. Well, the parking fairies are smiling on us because there is a place right n front of her building where the doorman can help but keep an eye on it. And since we have to ask him to fit it into the spot he will have to remember who's car it is.

Later I get the call from the Vet that everything went great and Hoover can probably go home the next day. And I burst into tears. I then go to bed and sleep like the dead.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hooked on hatching

I have become obsessed with hatching eggs. I recently bought the new incubator pictured above. I'm very excited about this incubator. It has a much larger viewing window and has been preset to hold the temperature at 99.5 degrees. My first thought was that I would stop using the old incubator but then I decided to hatch guinea hens and chickens so I use the old one for the guinea eggs.

Here is the new incubator loaded with Maran eggs that I ordered through the mail from a breeder in Texas. The eggs are gently rotated back and forth like the mother hen would do while she sits on them. With my old incubator I rolled the eggs at least 3 times a day by hand.

I want to raise chickens that lay very dark brown eggs and from everything I've read it seems like Marans are a good breed.

There are also some Araucana eggs in their from my own hens. I still want to have some blue and green eggs too.

It takes chicken eggs 21 days to hatch. Guinea eggs hatch in 28 days. I check on the eggs several times everyday. Even after hatching 6 different batches of eggs I still get a thrill out of seeing the first signs of a chick starting to break out of the egg. I love being able to see the moment when the chick finally breaks the egg open. They lay there wet and exhausted, looking nothing like the adorable fluffy chicks you think of. Chicken chicks seem to take much longer to break out of their eggs. Guinea chicks burst out of their eggs not too long after you see the first "pip" in the shell. I have had chickens the took more than 24 hours to break out of their eggs.

Blogging frustrations

I'm still trying to figure out how everything works here on Blogger. I've learned how to tinker with the html so that I could make things the size I wanted, like pictures and having the blog fill the whole page.

One thing I can't seem to fix is if I start a thought one day and finish it up a day, or a week, or a month later it posts as if I did it all on the day I started and it is put back in the order. That can really get me crazy. For instance the post about hatching eggs in the incubator was started on the day one of incubation. But I finished writing it the day before they hatched. (I plan on posting all about the hatch soonish but I need to upload the pictures first.)

I have some great (in my opinion) movies of cute things but for the life of me I can't seem to get them to play on my blog. I have spent many hours trying different ways to get them on but nothing has worked so far. I haven't given up. I hope to have some entertaining things up soon.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on how to fix things let me know. I'd love to get comments on what you think of the blog even if you don't know how to fix my problems.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


There is a veterinarian that lives just down the road from us. Actually she and her husband are both vets. In case you haven't noticed I like animals. Veterinarians facinate me. For most of my childhood I wanted to be a vet and I don't know when or why I veered from that but I didn't veer too far really.

Anyway about the puppies. Once I happened to pop in at the vet's when she was doing a neuter on a dog and I said I'd love to watch. After she instructed me what to do if I started to pass out she proceeded and I was facinated. So when she called me to say she had an unexpected Cesarian section coming in and no assistant available and would I want to help out I jumped at the chance.

I hopped in the car and I was there in minutes, so excited I was almost bouncing off the walls. I got there before the pregnant Boxer patient. So again with the instruction of what to do if I felt faint (She must have had a bad experience with someone). The patient arrived and the woman who brought her was a very experienced breeder who had been through a few Cesarians.

Lucy, the Boxer, didn't even look pregnant. She was sedated and put on the table, hooked up to anesethia and the operation began. There was surprisingly little blood. As the puppies were pulled from the uterus, I was shocked at how big they were. They came out in a sac that was much stronger than it looked. The sac was slippery, slimey and hard to break open. I found I was being to careful and the pups were not as delicate as I wanted to treat them. I'm a quick learner and it was a situation where instructions were being shouted (kindly) in rapid succession. There was nothing I wanted more than to get these puppies off to a good start so I did what I was told as best and quickly as I could. At the end there were five incredibly large pups and one small runt. Five girls and one boy all breathing (very important) and nursing.

It was such an amazing thing to witness. I was on a high for the rest of the day. The vet said it was fun to see someone who was so excited about the experience. I guess after performing so many you get jaded. My hope is I preformed well enough that if she ever finds herself in a jam again she'll call me up.

Sorry no pictures of this one. I was so excited that I flew out the door without even thinking of it. Anyway I was all covered in amniotic fluid and my hands were icky. The images are forever in my mind.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dove's nest

The other day I noticed a tiny egg in the herb bed. My first thought was to look around and see if there was a nest nearby that the egg had fallen out of. Well, considering the herb bed is right in front of the sun room window there really wasn't a lot of places for a bird to make a nest other than the roof and the gutter. So no nest in sight and I'm thinking would a bird have made a nest right on the ground, right by the house, right by the driveway? No. But, yes it turns out that a dove did think this was a good place to lay some eggs. Now there are two eggs there and I see her sitting on them whenever I walk or drive by.

Momma dove is very alert. Even when I thought I was being sneaky and peaking through the sun room window to take pictures of her, she was totally on to me and never took her eyes off me. I did manage to get these pictures.

So I'm hoping she can manage to survive, hatch, and raise these babies. I would love to watch the whole process play out. But I know she has Hoover, four cats and the elements to battle. I'll keep you posted.