10 February 2007

Pillow Talk & Bed Wetting

One of the hardest things about having an aging pet population is dealing with all the stuff they start doing as they age that they've never done before. Inga, one of our two going-on-18 kitties, developed kidney failure over the summer, and although clinically she's been doing well, it has taken some adjustment.

One of the things we've done is put her on a special diet to help slow progression of the disease, and that seems to have helped a great deal. To feed her food that's different from everyone else's, though, we have to put her in Rosa's cage. She's become very good at letting us know when she wants to eat, but she's a grazer, which means we have to let her in and out of the cage several times during the day.

The newest twist, which has only developed in the past couple weeks, is that she's occasionally peeing on Rosa's bedding. It seems to happen primarily at night, and usually after she's been in the cage for only a few minutes. My suspicion is that she's been napping, wants to eat, but also needs to pee. The weird thing is that she hasn't been crying to get out of the cage before she does this.

At any rate, I had bought Rosa a nice dog bed from L.L. Bean after S had dumped me and we were staying with friends before moving back to Maine. The problem with this not-inexpensive bed is that the inner pillow was not washable. WTF! So after Rosa had had a GI episode or two, I had covered the inner pillow with a large trash bag to keep it protected from accidents. Last week, though, Inga had managed to pee on the end that wasn't thoroughly covered and soaked the thing. Completely.

So today I zipped over to JoAnn Fabric and bought me some heavy denim twill and some polyester batting, got out my sewing machine, and threw together a quick and easy doggie mattress. I tufted the batting but didn't tuft it all the way through the mattress, which I'm hoping won't be a problem. If it is, though, I figure I can always rip the seam, restuff, and then tuft. Anyway, Rosa was quite excited about it all and followed me around as I wrapped the new mattress in plastic bag and put it in the cover. When it was in place, she made thorough inspection and arranged it just the way she wanted it.


And she declared it good.


And tonight, Inga put it to the test. And apparently, Rosa managed to pull back the plastic bag a bit when she was nest-making, because the mattress got soaked. So now it and the cover have gone through the wash and are in the dryer, hopefully none the worse for wear.

Baking Bread

The other night, I decided to use up a bit of flour and make some no-knead bread, a recipe I got from the NY Times, with many thanks to Ted, who directed me to it. I'm not going to write out the recipe here, because I'm not sure where that would fall with regards to copyright, but you can access it for free here (login required, but it's still free).

When I got this recipe, I didn't have anything suitable as a baking dish, so one of my early Christmas presents to myself was a lovely cast iron casserole, which I seasoned myself. I'm so happy with it, too, because it lets me make things like this:


Beautiful and yummy

Speaking of the Times

FiberQat mentioned in the comments an article from the NY Times about a shortage of large animal veterinarians. That article is still available here for free at this writing (login required), but I think they archive them after a week and you have to pay.

The funny thing about this is that Becky, the veterinarian featured in the article, is who I worked for when I first moved back to Maine, doing small animal and a bit of alpaca and goat work. She works very hard, and I have a lot of respect for her. It's not something I could do now, partly because of injuries I sustained working with cattle & horses. It's unfortunate in some respects that things didn't work out for me there, but I think that it was a situation that couldn't have possibly worked in the end. On the other hand, I make about 50% more working at the emergency clinic again, which definitely has its advantages.

Also, Tim Leary, one of the dairy farmers interviewed for the article, is the husband of our hospital manager. So when mention is made of the clinic where his wife works, that's my workplace. And it's very true that we couldn't help with his cow, aside from trying to provide a little advice on the phone (I was actually working the day the cow prolapsed). We're a small animal emergency clinic and simply not equipped to deal with cows.

Unfortunately, it's a complex problem. As more and more farms go out of the farming business, large animal veterinarians have to cover increasingly large territories in order to make ends meet, to the extent that it often becomes unprofitable. Couple that with the fact there is not adequate funding to provide the levels of both basic education and advanced training that are really needed, and it becomes a situation that's very hard to fix. This is the system that we rely on for safe food, so what do you think is going to happen when it's completely broken?


I actually did a bit last night. I got through ten rounds on the sweater sleeve, which is two increase rounds, without too much discomfort, but I'm taking it easy tonight so as not to push things. Only three more increase rounds to go, and then it's plain stockinette rounds until I reach the underarm. Then one more sleeve, then connect & do my raglan decreases, weave in the underarms, and I'll have me a nice comfy sweater to wear. Which means I'll probably get it done around August.


Anonymous said...

I've read the Times piece and your comments are a good adjunct to it. Thanks.

Sheepish Annie said...

Large animal veterinary medicine is just about the most labor intensive work I can think of. And the hours are rugged! Your points on that subject are extremely well put. Finding people who are trained and available for this valuable service is becoming more and more difficult.

But another part of me is rooting for the medical community to put their efforts into finding a cure for aged, drooling cats. I mean, really! The drooling!!!!!

The pet bed is great! I'm thinking of felting a unused sweater to make a drool-proof kitty bed.

JoVE said...

Who would make a pet bed that couldn't go in the wash? Completely. Glad you came up with a good solution. A friend of mine got a second one for her dog since she (the dog) was a bit lost when the bed wasn't there and it is in teh wash a lot these days.

that shortage of large animal vets does sound like a pretty intractable problem. Is it just in the US?

Anonymous said...

Isn't that bread recipe great? We've made it four times now, and it's all we can do to keep ourselves from not devouring the whole loaf the first day. Two weeks ago we made a batch of butternut squash soup just as an excuse to make the bread.

SaraSkates said...

ahh - we had a hermetically sealed couch for about 6 months with a dog of ours who got quite elderly. The things you do...:) I'd wash the LLBean bed anyway and see what happens.
yum re the bread!

knitnzu said...

I've made a couple of types of dog beds for my now gone border collie. First it was a shell (with a zipper!) filled with batting and cedar chips. Then it became the shell filled with one of those foam egg crate mattress pads cut and folded to about 6 inches thick. As she got older she liked this. The last year was rough, repeat episodes of vestibular syndrome where she couldn't even stand up (so we'd take her out and lay her in the yard to pee) or eat (hand fed chicken and water) that responded to antibiotics (so was it vs?). But she was nearly 16 and gave up with the last (4th?) episode. So we put her down. Rough on me because I was away and dh had to do it. And in some ways easier. Yeah, large animal vets and farming. Don't we do a great job managing ourselves? I put up a no knead recipe, (Nov 14, not sure if the link will work), here.

Anonymous said...

You inspired me to make a loaf this weekend to take to a friend's for brunch! Thanks for getting me in the kitchen.