Tag Archives: rabies

Monkeys, puppies, and pregnancy yoga

So much has been happening that I’m not sure where to start. Perhaps with the bad, sad, news. I have been informed that Abu, the monkey, has escaped from his abode and has now been missing for ten days. This means no more monkey play time for me in the near future, and no more monkey photos for you. Mike said that Abu probably ended up in a perfectly lovely soup somewhere. I told him that no one likes him (Mike, that is, not Abu. Everyone liked Abu.)

Well, everyone liked Abu except the person who actually had to live with him when he squeaked like a wind-up toy for hours on end, or leaped up onto the bench and took a single bite out of twenty different bananas, or tormented the puppy to distraction.

Abu, may you rest in peace. I’ll miss you, anyway.

To continue with the less than great news, Zulu’s not himself. Last week he threw up all over the house in the middle of the night. Poor Mike, who got up first and cleaned most of it up, reported that he hit three of the four corners of the rug in the study, and deposited one offering right in the middle.

Post puppy-vomiting Zulu went right off his food, and has refused to eat anything but rice soaked in chicken soup for most of the last week.

Yesterday I came downstairs at lunch to find Zulu galloping around and foaming at the mouth. It looked as if he’d swallowed a whole container of bubble bath. Foam was just dripping from his little jaws and flying around in big, white, bubbly clumps every time he shook his head. He shook his head a lot. This was when I said a small prayer of thanks that I do not have to mop our floors (right before I said a small prayer that went something like, “please don’t let our dog have rabies.”)

We took Zulu outside and poured buckets of cold water over his head to wash away all the foam and then tried to take a look in his mouth to see if anything was in there. He wasn’t a fan of this plan, but as far as we can tell he didn’t get into any of our cleaning products, and we still have no idea what caused the bubble mouth. After an hour it just stopped.

The vet doesn’t think he has rabies (plus, she pointed out, he’s been vaccinated). She thinks he’s been eating geckos or toads. I don’t think so, as he has a lovely habit of bringing whatever he values into the house and dropping it on the floor (this includes large rocks, dead sparrows, big clumps of dirt, and bones) and I haven’t seen any mangled geckos or toads among his treasures.

“Living with Zulu is good training for not needing to have the house neat and clean all the time,” I said the other day, as I stepped over a pile of dirt and shredded newspaper that had been lovingly constructed in the middle of our living room over the weekend.

“So is living with you,” Mike said.

My guess is that Zulu has been sharing a virus with his new five-week-old friend next door, as that puppy has the same symptoms. I did learn something new from the vet yesterday, though. Zulu will take three injections without even a whimper as long as someone is feeding him a steady stream of tiny cheese pieces and/or buffalo meat. I wonder if that will work with babies?

Speaking of babies, I’m at week 14 now and I’ve had more than a week of feeling so much better, but nausea’s back today. What’s up with THAT? I definitely have not been eating geckos or toads (though I was vastly entertained last night to see our local vegetable seller just down the street is now also selling dead rats and toads by the bunch, right alongside the Japanese eggplants and beans).

If only humans hatched babies so I could let someone else sit on the nest for a while. I wouldn’t let Zulu do it – he’d doubtless eat the egg. But Mike’s pretty responsible, I’d let him take the egg to work with him and he could sit on it there.

Given that I can’t palm this off onto Mike, however, I feel I’ve been doing my part to keep the little egg healthy. We regularly walk around town, and I’ve been doing prenatal yoga three times a week. I don’t have a yoga blanket, but I’ve found that the couch cushions work quite well. I don’t have a yoga strap, but one of Mike’s belts is an adequate substitute. And I don’t have a yoga block, but finally I have found a use that my beloved mother will wholeheartedly approve of for the item in the following photograph.

What unusual uses have you been putting household items to lately? And any ideas on puppy bubble mouth? And while I’m asking questions, has anyone seen Abu?

Until next time, thanks for dropping by.

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In which I answer seeker’s questions

Do you know that if you are an author you can now log into your author profile on amazon.com, look at the sales information for your book by state in the US for the last month, and track the rise and fall of your kindle and paperback sales rankings over time? I am not at all sure that this is a good thing (although I would like to thank December 2010 shoppers in Vermont, California, and Washington State). It took me considerable time after my book was published to break myself of the habit of checking my Amazon sales ranking several times a day (a habit I now call Amazturbation) and googling my book name to see who was writing what about it on their blogs. After putting myself on very strict me-related internet rations, however, I’m proud to say that I can now go months without even thinking about my Amazon sales ranking, and I aim to keep this up despite the lure of those pretty colour-coded sales maps to puzzle over.

I mean, why Vermont? Although, I guess if I lived in Vermont in December I might be browsing the shelves for novels set on tropical islands too.

When I started blogging seriously earlier this year, wordpress presented me with yet another tool that has the potential to be wielded as a navel-gazing, self-stimulating, saccharine-sweet-but-ultimately-unsatisfying substitute for interaction with real people in real time that’s actually not all about me – site statistics for the blog.

Much to my relief, however, I’ve found site stats not nearly as dangerous and much more amusing than amazturbation. For example, here is a list of the all-time most popular search terms that have led people to my blog in the last year.

  1. Writing
  2. Puppies
  3. Write
  4. Dreaming
  5. Samoyed dog
  6. Lisa McKay
  7. Resilient
  8. Giant snake in laos

It’s very hard indeed to take yourself too seriously when your own name is outranked by Samoyed dog, dreaming, and puppies, and you only just beat out the giant snake in Laos.

However, the thing I really love about the search terms list is the questions. People have found my blog by asking some of the weirdest questions – questions I’m quite sure they didn’t find answered in my posts. So, today, in honour of all you question askers, I’m going to attempt to answer ten of them now.

What is that dog that looks like a big ball of fluff? This question pops up in various guises all the time. That dog is a Samoyed. That is, however, the extent of my knowledge, I’m sorry. I cannot direct you to bonsai Samoyeds, gothic Samoyeds, Samoyeds wearing helmets, or tell you what a Samoyed looks like when it’s been shaved. If any of my readers would like to chime in in the comments section with any good Samoyed related sites you’ll make a lot of searchers very happy. There are a truly remarkable number of people interested in Samoyeds out there.

Is pig fat good for fertility? Well, I’m no dietician, but I’d guess that while very small amounts aren’t going to hurt fertility, it’s not likely to do much good either (unless the fat is still on the pig, the pig is a mother pig, and you live in Ancient China – where keeping a fat mother pig at home signified fertility and wealth).

Is pepsi made of pig fat? and Is there pig blood in pepsi? To the best of my knowledge, no. There is a persistent internet rumour going around that pepsi contains pepsin and that pepsin is a chemical that contains pig blood. Every reputable site that I looked at, however, flatly denies this. 

What age do dogs start wandering? Some of my readers are professional dog trainers, so I should probably defer to them on this. But my own internet research suggests that male dogs will start wandering off in search of females in heat at about six months old.

Where can I buy Lisa McKay Pottery? There is apparently a Lisa McKay out there who makes pottery. However her site is down and I can’t find any of her pieces on sale. Sorry. If I take it up as a hobby I’ll let you know.

Does wandering have the same definition as wondering? No. Wandering refers to being mobile, migratory, and traveling around without a clear destination. Wondering refers to being inquisitive, showing curiosity or amazement, or to wish to know something.

Do you use a bridle to ride an elephant? Ah, no. That is one reason why it’s easy to fall off an elephant’s head unless you have better innate balance than I do.

What does Laotian writing look like? It’s very pretty. I can’t reproduce it here because my browser isn’t enabled for the script, but if you want to check it out you can go here.

Does Laos have rabies? Yes. But it’s not like packs of rabid animals are roaming the streets. The dogs here are mostly attached to families and relatively well behaved (if a bit mangy and flea-bitten). I have never been directly threatened by a stray dog here.

Is having two babies and two puppies too much? Look, too much is relative. But I can speak from the perspective of having one puppy and no babies and the answer for me is clear. Yes, it is.

OK, that’s it for this session of “Lisa answers questions”. But before I leave here is one final tidbit. One search term that regularly pops up has had me puzzled for quite some time. That search term is “giant snake bites electric fence.” So yesterday I went googling this myself, and if you want to see what I found you can go here (in all fairness I think this photo even beats the giant snake in Laos photo). I am warning you, though, I will take no responsibility if you follow the link and then have nightmares. None.

Until next time.

Puppy lessons in parenthood

OK, I’ll say right here and now that, despite my joking on facebook this week, I do not doubt that babies are harder work than puppies. And, obviously, the stakes are just a little bit higher.

But, that said, I reckon that there’s some truth to puppies being a crash course in parenting.

I so had no idea.

A good friend, Jenn, wrote me several long emails about puppies before we bought Zulu home.

Jenn is one of those amazing friends who is interested in my life and reads all my essays, but who also doesn’t hesitate to take a keen editorial eye and a red pen to those essays and (occasionally) to my life.

Jenn’s keen editorial eye and red pen are not always entirely gentle.

Once I got back an essay with the comment “you are boring me now” planted halfway through it. Another time she told me that I was at serious risk of sounding like Paris Hilton whining about her privileged life. The fact that she was completely right in both cases didn’t make it any more fun to hear.

Jenn, who owns a dog and a cat, was both excited and a bit concerned to hear that we were getting a puppy, and in the week leading up to Zulu’s arrival I received more than one email full of good advice and seasoned with a hint of sternness.

“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE,” Jenn wrote, “be prepared to work hard on training the dog in more than just house breaking & little things like sit & stay. I highly recommend crate training, and puppy gets NO unsupervised time outside the crate. You want to avoid dress rehearsals of bad behavior as much as possible. Don’t give the puppy the chance to have an accident when you’re not paying attention.”

This gave me pause. First of all, what was crate training? Secondly, I hadn’t thought much about housebreaking, but I suddenly realized that the puppy probably wouldn’t know where the toilet was, and might take a little while to learn – a couple of days maybe? A week? Two? Surely not three?

“I must say I snickered aloud at the prospect that you might be done house breaking in three weeks,” Jenn wrote back in response to this. “Unless the breeder has been working with them (& God bless her if she has!). You really have no idea what you’re getting into, do you?”

In a word, no.

Neither Mike nor I had anticipated our routines being so thoroughly disrupted this week. Mike hadn’t expected that one tiny puppy who needed feeding, toileting, and attention in the morning would make it so much more difficult to accomplish things like making lunch, answering personal email, or eating breakfast. I hadn’t expected to have to get up to check on where the puppy is every five minutes that he is awake, and break concentration every half an hour to engage in vigorous games of “let’s run around” or “shake the towel”. Or to have to work sitting on the floor sometimes so that the puppy can lie near my legs. Or to have to learn to be cautious every time I turn around lest I step on a tiny being.

We certainly hadn’t expected that he would cry every time we left the room, or that we’d have to crate him in our bedroom at night to prevent him from whimpering for hours (though, I must say, it’s a bit heartwarming to see how much happier he is just to be in our presence, and how he’ll settle down and go right to sleep as soon as he’s installed nearby).

Zulu’s been waking up between 5 and 7, so I’ve been sleep deprived and distracted all week, and last night I got a very tiny taste of what it must be like for parents to watch their kids get sick when there’s no one there to help.

Mike’s been up in the villages for the last two nights, so I’ve been single parenting. Last night I took Zulu out the back to do his business. When he went to run back inside he started to skid as soon as he hit the tile floor – all of a sudden he couldn’t use his hind legs properly, he was just scooting himself around on his front legs and sort of rabbiting his back legs along.

Then he went a bit crazy. He started whining and crying and wouldn’t let me touch him – just scooted around, terrified, until he found his crate. Once he heaved himself in there he spun in wobbly circles, yelping and digging and pawing, until he collapsed.

Ten minutes later he cautiously got up and came out, still whining and shaky, but seemingly much better.

We may not have any vets up here, but we do have Dr Google, and Jenn’s sister, Danielle, is a vet.

“I know tele-diagnosing is frustrating at best and impossible most of the time,” I wrote to Danielle via facebook last night, “but is there anything really obvious like parvo or rabies that this is a classic symptom of?”

An immediate consultation with Dr Google – who is always open for business – suggested that I should watch out for further symptoms of a tick-borne disease, and Dr Danielle had the following to say by email this morning:

“I wanted to tell you that it sounds like early rabies, but my coworker tells me that is too mean to say ;). It sounds to me like he slipped and then panicked (we see similar-sounding panics when we put some dogs on the metal exam tables; they try to dig their toenails into the table and stand perched on their nails which does not exactly help their stability).”

“So, Zulu either has rabies or he had a panic attack last night,” I announced to Mike by phone this morning.

“Right,” Mike said. “Let me encourage you to use this as an opportunity to focus on the least catastrophic of the options presented to you.”

“He might have rabies,” I said darkly – more because I felt like being dark than because I actually think he does have rabies.

“He might,” Mike agreed cheerfully. “But he probably doesn’t. We probably just have a dog who is very good at expressing his emotions. You could learn something from him.”

“Ha ha ha. Come home tonight and I’ll express some emotion to you,” I said, still dark – this time because sleep deprivation has apparently reduced my repartee to the level of “ha ha ha”.

“Gee,” said Mike. “That’s the best offer I’ve had in three days.”

“It had better be,” I said.

Zulu’s asleep at my feet right now, cuddled up next to the one toy I’ve so far managed to find for him, and given the way he was mauling the toy this morning he’s either totally recovered from his panic attack, or he really does have rabies. I’ll keep you posted.

Business as usual

Yesterday, Mike learned that he’s off to Sudan for a month sometime next week. This morning, Lisa wakes up to hear Mike on the phone, saying something every wife longs to hear before breakfast: “I need to schedule an appointment for an HIV test.”

Twenty minutes later Lisa is still half asleep, even after the shower, and putting on makeup.

Lisa: “Do you have to prove HIV negative to get into Sudan?”
Mike: “Sometimes. They’re capricious about it, but better safe than sorry.”
Lisa: “What else do you need?”
Mike sips his coffee and thinks: “Malaria.”
(Pause)
Lisa and Mike (simultaneously): “Typhoid!”
Lisa: “You can get that oral now, did you know?”
Mike (shuffling his briefing documents): “Rabies is on this list.”
Lisa: “I bet you don’t need rabies. They’re probably being conservative. That series only buys you time, anyway. It won’t stop you getting it.”
Mike: “I’ll check the CDC.”
Lisa: “Hepatitis?”
Mike (proudly): “They tested my immunity last year. She said I could swim in a vat of hepatitis B and I wouldn’t get it.”
Lisa: “Lucky you.”

On her way to work thirty minutes later Lisa has second thoughts about cavalierly recommending that Mike not get rabies shots. She calls home from the car.

Lisa: “I just remembered something the travel doctor told me in November. Rabies is on the rise in West and East Africa, and there’s not enough serum in continent. So if you get bitten, go to London straight away, OK?”
Mike: “I did have the series a couple of years ago, but I’ll keep that in mind. Have a good day, sweetheart.”