Fans And Flip-Flops

After my recent complaints about chilly summer weather, the heatwave arrived yesterday, and is set to last until late Saturday evening.

77 degrees (F) on Wednesday, 80F already today, and a possible 91F tomorrow. (I am going back to the pre-Celcius values, as they still seem more relevant to me.)

Naturally, English people are panicking about sunstroke and sunburn, hydration, adequate sunscreen creams, and not leaving dogs in hot cars.

I took Ollie out much earlier today, and it was still very warm despite that. Ollie’s fur is thick of course, so it must feel like he’s wearing a padded jacket in this weather. He was able to cool off in the river, then I took him into the shade of the woodland area for the rest of the walk.

As for me, I was wearing shorts and a straw sun hat, so no issues. I was pleased to see another bright sunny day. In the house, it is windows open, flip-flops on my feet, and a small ‘doughnut fan’ blowing on me as I sit at the computer.

Making the most of that three-day heatwave.

Ollie: Treatment Complete

Yesterday, Ollie had the last of the medication for the current round of treatment.

He has had a lot of tablets, both antibiotics and steroids, as well as daily ear drops for some time now.

We finally managed to get him to swallow the tablets with no fuss, by concealing them in a small chunk of Brie. He lets me give him the ear drops without resistance, though he flinches every time I insert the tube deep into his ear.

I would flinch too.

His fur is slowly growing back, but some of the bald patches are still clearly visible. The head shaking has stopped, and he has been sleeping and eating well.

Once the steroids are out of his system by the weekend, I can start to give him his Arthritis tablets again. Despite being stiff-legged now, he still manages his walks.

Earlier this week, he even chased a Muntjac deer into some reeds by the river, and the animal escaped Ollie by running through the water and leaping out onto Hoe Rough.

On the 12th of February, Ollie will be 10 years old. Around 80 in human years, for his breed.

You can bet he will get a birthday tribute!

Ollie’s Treatment Review

This afternoon, I had to take Ollie back to the Vet for his review of the recent treatment for the ear and skin infections.

My poor dog had started to shake his head again yesterday morning, and was ‘dropping’ his right ear constantly.

After the Vet had dug around in his ears long and hard enough for Ollie to start growling at him, the Vet concluded that the right ear was still infected, but the left was clear. He was pleased with the re-growth of fur, and declared that the skin was no longer infected.

As the Prednisilone Steroids had finished, he suspected that Ollie could once again feel the itch in that right ear. So he is back on those tablets for another ten days, accompanied by antibiotic ear drops that I will have to administer once a day. If things haven’t improved after those ten days, I have to take him back again.

Ollie was not happy at all, and couldn’t wait to get out of the Vet’s. But he had to wait until I had paid the £81 bill. ($111)

Back at home, he slurped down a whole bowl of water, then accepted a small treat from Julie for being good.

Now he is sleeping soundly beside me.

Ollie: A Dog On The Spectrum

Ever since Ollie was ‘grown up’ by the age of two, he has been exhibiting behaviours that make us think he is on the Autistic Spectrum. Or at the very least, suffers from chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Despite him being a wonderful well-behaved pet and companion, he lives his life by a rigid routine that he cannot stand to have broken or altered. I wondered if dogs can actually be diagnosed with these human disorders, so looked it up.

Yes, they can.

So why have we come to this conclusion about our beloved pet? Here are some examples of how he behaves every day, seven days a week.

When he comes in from the garden in the morning, he gets a treat of Schmackos. These HAVE to be eaten in the living room on his rug. If the rug is in the wash, or not there for some reason, he cannot eat his treats. After walking around with them for some time, he wil drop them on the floor, and not return to them until his rug is back in place.

At lunchtime before our walk, he gets some slices of cooked meats which contain the tablets he has to take, then four small cubes of cheese followed by a twisty dental stick that helps keep his teeth clean. The cheese and the dental stick HAVE to be eaten on his bed. If his bed has been moved into another room, or a different place, he will take the food to wherever it is, and eat it on the bed.

If Julie is at home, he will then go and sit by her and raise one paw, in the hope that she has something extra to give him. When she raises her hands and says “No more”, he walks over to his rug and lies down, carefully licking his front paws to clean them as if he had been eating with them.

After we have eaten our dinner in the evening and gone into the living room to sit down, Ollie brings each of us a toy. But those toys are not for us to play with him, they are ‘offerings’. He drops them in our laps, then looks expectantly from one of us to the other, in the hope that we will exchange his ‘gift’ of one of his toys for a treat of some kind. When nothing appears, he slumps down on his rug and goes to sleep almost immediately.

Around 10pm every night, he stands up and walks over to me, to indicate that he wants to go out into the garden. On his return thirty minutes later, he gets his final food of the day, a Bonio biscuit. But he CANNOT eat that biscuit unless both of us are in the living room, and both sitting down. If one of us is doing something else, or is in another room, he will parade in circles around the coffee table with the large bone-shaped biscuit in his mouth until he is certain that we are both sitting down and not leaving the room. As soon as we are, he eats the Bonio at great speed, but only on his rug, nowhere else. Once again, if his rug is not there, the biscuit remains uneaten until it is.

If I go to bed, Ollie wants to go to his bed too, and before I go into the bedroom I have to place his bed in its usual spot in the kitchen. I usually go to bed a lot earlier than Julie, but Ollie doesn’t care that she is still up, perhaps watching TV. He runs straight to his bed as soon as I close our bedroom door, and doesn’t move until morning. On occasions when I have been ill or unwell, and have gone to bed during the day or very early in the evening, he seems to sense something is wrong, and sits outside the bedroom door until I appear, however long that takes. He won’t go to his bed if he thinks I might be coming out before morning.

All of these habits have been rigid for almost eight years now, and never change as long as we are at home in Beetley.

When we go to stay with a friend or relative, or take Ollie on our annual holiday, the break in his routine almost shatters his world. Anyone who remembers his glum expression in the holiday photos I posted can see that. It takes him a week to work out we are not going home, and by that time we are usually packing up and leaving. Without his rug to eat treats on he hardly touches them, and as we can only take one or two of his toys and not the whole huge box of them, he ignores those too. Walks on the beach are no substitue for his regular Beetley Meadows, so he will stand on the sand crying or whimpering.

It’s probably not possible for him to have any treatment for this, and I doubt I would bother anyway, as it is all part of his particular canine personality. According to what I read online, dogs like this are born with those disorders, and unlikely to change.

I wouldn’t really want to change Ollie, so that’s okay with me.

Spicy Food = Mad Dreams?

As someone who dreams a great deal and can usually remember most of them, last night was a new chapter in my dream experience.

Late yesterday afternoon, we had a professional contractor come to the house to clean our carpets. He was here for two hours, and did a great job, at a very reasonable price. But the carpet had to dry thoroughly, preferably without us walking in and out of rooms onto it. The man suggested we leave it for one to two hours, so at 6:30 pm, we decided to drive into town and eat at a restaurant.

We chose Spice Fusion, an Indian restaurant, and by the time we were ordering food, we were both unusually hungry. I had something of a craving for garlic, so as well as ordering a fairly spicy- but not too hot- chicken dish, I added a garlic naan bread, and a portion of garlic rice. It was all delicious and filling too, so by the time we got home, we were ready to relax for the evening, and the carpet was bone dry.

A friend once told me that eating spicy food makes you dream more, and those dreams are more vivid. I remember countering his argument with the fact that most Indians, Asians, and Mexicans eat spicy food every single day, and usually much spicier than we are used to in the west. I proposed that the inhabitants of those countries would dream permanently, and perhaps suffer from tiredness as a result.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour, and I was asleep in moments.

Then the dream came. Just the one dream, but a continuous one, with the rare aspect that I went back into the same dream after waking up at 3am. It was vivid, played out in real time, and colourful too. I had a pale blue car in the dream, and a lady involved in the dream had bright red hair.

It involved having to look after someone’s dog. The red haired lady had apparently just divorced and could not take the dog to her temporary accommodation, but would collect it when she moved into her flat the following week. The dog was a curly-haired black dog, of indeterminate breed. None of the dream happened in a familiar location, though in the dream it was well-known to me.

At some point, the dog ran away as I was walking it, and that made me wake up to discover it was still only 3am. I turned over, and had some trouble getting back to sleep. But when I did, I went straight back into the time-line of the dream, trying to find the dog. After telling the very upset lady I had lost her dog, I vowed to find it by placing posters all around the town. As I was doing this, a couple told me they had just seen two men putting a small curly black dog into the front of a pickup truck, and that the vehicle was stopped at the traffic lights in the distance.

I started to run in that direction, only to see the lights change to green, and the pickup pull away into the traffic stream. I carried on giving chase, hoping to catch up with it when the traffic slowed.

Then my wife woke me up, to tell me it was almost 9:30 am.

Perhaps my friend had a point about spicy food.

Ollie’s Ears and Skin: An Update

As you may remember, Ollie had to return to the Vet this afternoon for the second dose of ear-gel to combat his ear infection, and to get the results of his blood test to see if he has an underactive thyroid.

He had the gel in his ear, and then I was told the results. His thyroid function is completely normal. Usually, that would be good news, but this means he cannot have the tablets that are well-known to almost stop recurrent ear infections. So if he gets one again (or rather when he does) we will have to rely on the gel to cure it.

The vet checked out the bald patches in his skin where the fur is falling out, something that has also happened a lot in the past. He concluded that they are ‘Paintbrush Lesions’, a dermatitis associated with infections, and best treated by being washed with medicated shampoo. They are called ‘Paintbrush’ because when you scrape off one of the small scabs, the result looks like a tiny paintbrush.

So, his last trip to the Vet for now. Until the next time.

It was very busy there today, and also a sad visit. One man brought in a small dog that had to be put to sleep, and he was so upset he couldn’t wait with the dog while it was injected. He rushed out to his car in the car park telling the receptionist he would come back another time to pay the bill.

Then a couple came in, the man telling the receptionist, ” I have come to collect my dog”. He emerged from a treatment room carrying a small box containing his dog’s ashes, and was very tearful.

Ollie had another stressful trip, and is sleeping soundly next to me now.

At least I didn’t have to bring him home in a small white box.

Dog Language

We all know that dogs can’t talk, but instead have their ways to show us how they are feeling. Using posture, tail movements, and occasionally barking. We can often manage to translate a lot of that into understanding their moods or desires.

I found these three graphics on Pinterest, and they all seem to agree on what our best friends are trying to ‘say’. I recognise so much of this from Ollie, and if you have a pet dog, or have ever owned one, I am sure you will find it familiar too.

Ollie’s Holiday: Ice Cream For Dogs

On our recent holiday, we noticed that almost every cafe was selling a new formulation of ice cream for dogs. Ollie has enjoyed ‘human’ ice cream on a few occasions, as well as the residue of a few yoghurt pots. But we are aware that he is older, and less active now.

With that in mind, he was treated to a doggy ice cream on holiday, but just the one. It includes some crumbles of dog-biscuit, and Ollie devoured it, giving it his seal of approval on a warm afternoon.

(These are full-frame 35mm equivalent photos, reduced by 50%. But you can click on them twice to enlarge for detail.)

More to come of Ollie on his holidays!

A Non-Summer Summer Dog Walk

Summers in England cannot be guaranteed. Ask anyone who lives here.

But this summer has been the worst for a long time, especially in the East of England where I live, which has languished under gloomy cloud cover for what seems like months. Yesterday, It was dark while I was making breakfast, and the sun hadn’t appeared by the time I took Ollie out for his walk, at 1:40pm.

The temperature was only 16C (60F) and it was unusually windy for August too.

Since he had his Vet treatments on Wednesday, Ollie has improved immensely. He was pleased to get out over to Beetley Meadows, and it wasn’t too long before he was running into the river for a refreshing drink. As we walked around the riverside path after, the shoulder high nettles were on the move. Stirred by the wind, they seemed to be reaching out to others across the path, in the hope of stinging me as I passed by.

Like some kind of anchored monster, their tendrils waved in the breeze, almost as if they sensed my arrival. I had to weave in and out of the extended nettle heads, stopping occasionally to bash down some of the most impassable ones with my trusty dog-walking stick.

Oblivious as ever, Ollie trotted on, sniffing and marking. But he had no canine companions yesterday. Local dog-walkers were either away on holiday, or not willing to chance the possibility of rain.

When that rain arrived, it was nothing to speak of. Little more than tangible moisture in the air, followed by a few very determined individual drops that had escaped the heavy clouds overhead. Not even enough to wet my uncovered head.

After less than ninety minutes, Ollie’s enthusiasm waned, and I sensed he was preferring the idea of his dinner, to more walking. So we headed out of the alley at the far end of Beetley Meadows, with Ollie sniffing and marking the spots he had missed earlier.

I was left reflecting that it hadn’t felt much like a late-August dog walk. More like late March.