Belated Sunday Musings On A Wednesday

I have only just realised that I didn’t post any Sunday musings on the 23rd. I must be slipping! So here are some midweek ones instead.


Having just got used to our newer car and starting to enjoy it, a sudden crop of warning signals appeared on the dashboard as Julie was driving to work one morning. This naturally alarmed her, seeing a large orange spanner, an orange exclamation mark, and text advising of some kind of pollution problem. So she rang the dealership. They said it was safe to drive, as the warnings were orange, not red. Then they booked it in for the next morning for diagnostic inspection. As Julie had to go to work, she took her old car, and I drove the newer car to get it checked. They examined it while I waited, and declared that it needed a part in the exhaust sytem that controlled the exhaust emissions pollution. They could fit one in thirty minutes. Fortunately, the car is still within its short warranty period, or the bill would have been almost £350. As it is a parts-only warranty, I still had to pay £44 (plus tax) for labour. We have only had the car for seven weeks, so I am hoping we don’t see any more orange lights for a very long time.


Talking of cars, Ollie is now starting to use the folding steps to get into the back. On a trip to the Vet yesterday, he ran up without too much coaxing. But we still have to stand either side of him, or he will leap off the steps sideways. But no amount of cajoling will make him use them to exit the car, He still insists on jumping down.


The Vet pronounced that Ollie’s ear wax problem is greatly improved. One more week of ear-wash, and she doesn’t need to see him again for this issue. As it was a ‘return visit’ with no presciption necessary, we got a ‘discount’ on the fee. It still cost us £30 for her to tell us that though.


I hope you are all having a good Wednesday, wherever you are.


Ollie’s Vet Visit

We were able to get a quick appointment, so took Ollie to the Vet about his ears yesterday afternoon. A different Vet saw him, and she wanted him up on the examination table, rather than examine him on the floor. That was a struggle, as he has never had to stand on the high table in the past.

At least he went up the new dog steps to get ino the car (with some persuasion), even though he took them two at a time, and almost crashed into the back of the seats when he ‘landed’.

There was good news. The ear problem is not an infection. (That’s a first) It is irritation cased by the build-up of wax low down in his ear. So no antiobiotic gel is required, only a special formulation ear wash to break down the wax. Twice a day for two weeks, then a return visit to check on the progress. The Vet even said we could use olive oil, to save the cost of the ear wash, but as it was not very expensive, we took it.

That was the cheapest Vet trip we have ever had since Ollie was born, (less than £50 in total) and hopefully will get to the root of his current problem.

Easter Sunday Musings

Trying out Ollie’s new folding ‘dog stairs’ didn’t go well. As anyone who read my post yesterday will know, we decided to take him to Thetford Forest. Ollie cannot differentiate between different types of cars, so once the hatchback was open on the new car, he wanted to get in. Even with Julie and I standing each side of his new dog steps, he wasn’t convinced. So I put his lead on, and made him try the stairs. He scrambled up in such a panic, he managed to gouge out two nasty scratches with his claws. Our otherwise pristine new car is now slightly damaged, but we cannot really be angry with our dog. We had to get a towel for the second attempt, and laid that over the paintwork. After much encouragement, he took the steps two at a time, and finally settled into the back with no more damage.
When we got to the forest car park, he flatly refused to use the stairs to get out of the car, and jumped down instead.
Ollie’s expensive car stairs remain a work in progress.


Otherwise, it has been a quiet week. The Easter holiday required a change of plans for my shopping trips, but other than many closures today, the main shops are open, albeit with reduced hours.


Ollie has to go for his booster jabs next week, but I have yet to make a Vet’s appointment because of Easter closures. While he is there, I am going to get his ears looked at again, as he is ‘dragging’ his left ear. And on one occasion this week he refused to eat any dinner, a sure sign he is not feeling well. The Vet has told me in the past that his options are limited for those ear infections. He is too old for surgery, and the antibiotics have been so numerous they are beginning not to take effect. I hope something can be done, but I am not hopeful. Seeing Ollie in pain breaks my heart. Julie got him two new soft toys as an Easter gift. He now has a small lamb and a rabbit, and has enjoyed playing with them.


The weather is set to change tonight. Rain from the West coming in, and a wet Monday is forecast, as is the rest of next week. That is very traditional in England. The weather at Easter is notoriously bad, whatever date it falls on.


I hope you are all having a happy Easter, wherever you are.


The Last Sunday Musings For January

The weather warmed up after the recent ‘big chill’. We went from -7C one night, to +4C the next day. Still cold, especially in the wind, but nowhere near as bad as the previous weeks.


On Thursday the heating engineer returned by arrangement, this time to do a complete service of the heating system. We only needed one new complete part, a condenser, and its partly-perished hose. He even called in a colleague to help realign and tighten the flue pipe, securing it solidly into the system. Before he left, he looked at the main bedroom radiator, which had a ‘stuck’ thermostat. Two minutes later, and that was working too. I didn’t even have to pay him anything that afternoon, as his company will send me a detailed invoice by email, in due course. It was a great service all round, and I really don’t care how much the bill will be, as the heating is working better than ever.


Ollie began shaking his head again on Thursday evening, and we knew that he would have to go back to the Vet’s. When I rang them on Friday morning, I was pleased to be offered an appointment that same afternoon. Ollie was prescribed the same treatment he had last time, as it had worked so well. But this time he has to be checked over in ten days, to ensure that the swelling has gone down inside his ears. He hates me putting the tube into his ears, and sometimes gives me a warning growl. So we worked out a system where Julie shows him a treat, then holds his head still. When it is over, he gets the treat and soon forgets his discomfort.
If only we could be as resiilient as dogs! (Doughnuts would work as my treat.)


Julie has not been into work at all this week, due to a persistent cough and sore throat that made her lose her voice and kept her awake at night. Naturally, she tested for Covid, but was negative. And this time, I didn’t catch it! (Whatever it was…)


I am wishing you a happy and peaceful Sunday, wherever you are.


Ollie Update

I know many of you like to be informed about what is happening with Ollie. Well, something new has happened. As if our poor dog hasn’t suffered enough in his almost 11 years.

With us both living with full-blown Covid, Julie elected to take Ollie for his walk today. That saved me going out in the freezing rain when I was feeling like death warmed up. On her return, she was concerned. Ollie had tried to poo as usual, but he had trouble passing it, and eventually just started to bleed copiously from his rear end. It didn’t seem to upset him unduly, but naturally worried us and we didn’t want to be faced with an emergency over the Christmas shutdown period.

So Julie rang the Vet and arranged that they would see Ollie under Covid rules, with her wearing a mask. She got an appointment for 4pm. The Vet did the usual examinations, and had an immediate diagnosis. Colitis. Ollie has an inflammation of the colon, caused by the interior version of the frequent exterior skin infections he gets every year.

She managed to put Julie’s mind at rest. It is very common, and easily treated. A prescription of antibiotics, and feed to be changed to small amounts several times a day, instead of one big meal.

Now everyone in this small house has something. Even our beloved pet.

Autumn Sunday Musings

The leaves are falling, but there is little variety in the colours as yet. Despite a few very cold mornings, we have enjoyed some lovely late sunshine in Beetley this week. As of today, we have not yet felt the need to turn on the central heating.


Recently, I have cut back on the time I spend on the computer. To give that some structure, I avoid using the computer after 6pm every day. That is why you will often not see any replies to your comments until the next day.


Despite treating him with the usual drugs and ear-drops bought from the Vet, Ollie’s ear is still not clearing up. He is shaking his head a lot, and still hanging his left ear. So I have made an appointment for him at the Vet, yet again. The earliest I could get is next Wednesday morning. Let’s hope they can come up with something to ease his discomfort. He had his bath and claw-clipping at the groomer’s on Friday. I like to think it makes him feel better to be clean and fresh for a while, but I seriously doubt he cares at all.


The political fiasco in Britain continues to make me shake my head in despair. Liz Truss has now sacked her Chancellor, Kwazi Kwarteng, and appointed a former Health Minister in his place. She is about to do more U-turns on the recently announced tax policies, and the media is already writing her off, certain she will not survive pressure from within her own party. Serves her right for wanting a job she is so obviously incapable of doing.


It has been another quiet week, which suits me perfectly. Next weekend will be much busier, as we are visiting relatives in Essex for a few days.


Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful Sunday.


Ollie Looking His Best

Yesterday, I took Ollie to the groomer at 2 in the afternoon. She took one look at the amount of fur he was shedding and said, “I’m going to need an extra thirty minutes, so pick him up at 3:30”.

That was okay, as I had stuff to do.

The first trip was back to the Doctor’s, where my wife works. I had to hand in a ‘sample container’, and she was at the desk when I arrived. However, she needed someone else to book it in, as she is not allowed to deal with anything to do with her own family.

After that, I had to drive to the Vet in Swaffham, to collect Ollie’s regular prescription of Arthritis tablets. I went the back way, along the country lanes and through nice little villages. It made a refreshing change to avoid the busy A47 main road, even if it took 15 minutes longer.

However, it had been storming and raining since the early hours. After so long without significant rain, many roads were awash with water running straight off of the bone-dry fields. And I had to use my windscreen wipers for the first time in a very long while.

When I got to the Vet’s it was very quiet, and no customers were inside with their pets. So I jinxed the staff by saying out loud, “I have never seen it so quiet in here”. A lady told me off for saying that, then gave me the tablets. I was surprised that the price had increased since last month. In a little over a year, the 30 tablets have increased from a monthly cost of £38, to today’s price of £49.71. That’s almost £600 a year, just to try to keep our beloved dog pain-free.

He’s worth it though, of course he is.

By the time I got back to the groomer’s in Scarning, Ollie was ready, and excited to see me. He looks really good, smells fresh, and his claws are clipped as short as is sensible.

But I wonder how long it will be until he is like a smelly old rug once again.

Ollie At The Vet=No Serial Episode Today

After a perfectly uneventful walk today, Ollie began acting strangely. He would not lie down and sleep as he usually does, and instead stood around, panting.

It hasn’t been remotely hot here today, and I also noticed his tail was uncurled. So something had happened. It was one of those times when you wish a dog could talk. I gave him a good examination, but could find no obvious injury. His skin has flared up again recently because of the hot weather we had, but that never stops him lying down.

He kept coming to me for strokes and reassurance, and at one stage I realised he hadn’t had his dinner. But when I prepared that for him he refused to eat any of it.

When Julie got home from work he was pleased to see her, but nothing would persuade him to sit, or lie down. He continued to pant constantly, so we became concerned and rang the Vet. Luckily, we were able to get an appointment at short notice, and took him down at 4pm. He jumped into the back of the car easily enough, but when he tried to lie down on his bed in the back, he screamed and yelped. That meant he remained standing all the way to Swaffham, so I had to drive extra carefully.

Her diagnosis was inconclusive. Possibly a sting or insect bite, due to her noticing a small swelling on one of his back legs. Perhaps a back strain, as he was not happy when she examined his back. While he was there, she suggested antibiotics for the skin condition, and a steroid cream. Though this had nothing to do with why we had taken him of course.

To try to ease his pain immediately, she gave him an injection of a Morphine-based pain killer, and prescribed tablet painkillers containing a ‘dog-dose’ of Codeine. Julie asked her if he might be able to lie down later to sleep, and her reply was “I don’t know”. His regular Arthritis tablets were ready, so that at least saved me a second trip tomorrow.

We got back at 5:20, and Ollie is still standing up, still panting, and still refusing to eat or drink anything. I have a feeling we are going to have a very troublesome night with him later.

The bill for the 10-minute consultation and prescribed drugs was an eye-watering. £237. ($285)
It takes a long time to train to become a Vet, but it’s worth it once you qualify.

As a result, there will be no epsiode of the serial ‘The Prodigy’ today. Sorry about that.

By My Standards, A Busy day

I don’t do a lot. Blogging, cooking, a bit of housework, and taking Ollie out on his walks. I don’t feel guilty about that, as I am retired, and worked hard to be able to do very little now.

But today felt busy. I was up early, in the bath, then dressed and ready to go out before ten. (Early by my standards) Of course, as I headed off to my bank in Dereham, I forgot it was Market Day. Despite the once substantial and thriving market now amounting to just four of five stalls as a mobile coffee bar, the local people still set great store by ‘Market Day’.

As a result, the first two car parks were already full, and I eventually found a space in one of the less popular ones heading out of town. Then when I got to the bank, there was a decent queue of ‘Market Day’ customers doing their banking, so I had to wait almost thirty minutes to sort out what I had gone there to do.

Then it was off to Swaffham, to collect Ollie’s arthritis painkillers. Twelve miles each way, including a delay at the Vet’s because they couldn’t find Ollie on the computer system. It seems my London accent was to blame. The lady was looking for ‘Holly’, presuming my accent had dropped the ‘H’. (Quite amusing, really)

Back in time for a late lunchtime sandwich, then out onto Beetley Meadows for the dog walk. On the way, I encountered a lady who has recently moved in two doors down, and we chatted for a while. Then over on The Meadows, we met up with a lady dog walker and chatted about my driving licence saga, which she knows about from reading my blog.

By the time Ollie had managed a decent walk, including three dips in the river because it was 26C (79F) and sunny, Julie was home from work, and we sat and chatted for a while.

So, no serial episode has been written, and I am now about to start preparing dinner.

Sorry about that.

Private Dogcare

If you have a pet, you will already be aware of the spiralling costs of making sure it is healthy and free of pain.

In the UK, with the benefit of our NHS, we are sometimes reminded of the cost of private healthcare in countries like America. If you have a pet, especially a dog with various ongoing medical conditions, the reality of how much that costs can be sobering indeed.

Ollie has to have a painkiller every day, because of arthritis in his front leg joints. If he doesn't have the tablet, you will soon notice him walking stiff-legged, and reluctant to walk at all on any hard surfaces, like pavements. Then when he wakes up the next morning, it takes some time for him to 'get going'.

So we pay for the tablets. Of course we do.

For some time now, the cost of a 30day supply has been £38. That works out to £456 a year, close to £8.80 a week. I have just been to Swaffham to collect his repeat prescription, only to find that the tablet has now 'increased in dose to make it more effective'. Along with that increase in efficacy has come an increase in price.

A 30-day supply now costs just over £46, an £8 increase in just one month. That's an extra £96 a year we have to find, without warning, and with no viable altenative to a painkiller that we know works well for Ollie, and makes him comfortable in his old age. An annual cost now of £552, or £10.62 a week. That is without the possibility of Ollie needing treatment for ear or skin infections, dental treatment, or anything else that may befall our beloved dog in his twilight years.

Naturally, we will pay. But what about people who cannot afford it? These constantly increasing Vet fees will only have one outcome. More pets will be left in pain, and other pets will be abandoned, or given up to rescue centres.