Monday, April 25, 2011

Update On The Patient.

Billy would like to thank everyone who sent him get well messages and kind thoughts.  He is finally feeling a lot better.  Last night he ate two and a half servings of his kibble for dinner - the first meal of dry food he's eaten since he took ill.  He is outside eating another serving of kibble for breakfast as I write and tonight I'll offer him tinned dog food instead of cat food.

Yesterday things started looking up when Billy noticed I was holding his grooming comb.  He bustled out to the porch from his sick room (the laundry) and took up his "groom me" stance.  He stayed there enjoying the combing until my arm got tired and I called a halt.  He looked disappointed that it was over and returned to his sick bed, but it was a definite improvement.

Things looked grim for Billy's and my love affair for a while.  While Graeme and I were in Melbourne my neighbour came over twice a day to check on Billy and spoil him a bit.  I had asked her if she could check him once a day and see if he would eat something.  I only asked for once a day because my neighbour lives about  a 15 minute drive and six closed gates away, but she loves Billy and made the effort to check him more often.  She's a wonderful woman. Billy was much happier staying home with my neighbour checking on him than he would have been in a cage at the vet's.  On her first visit she brought over some steak rissoles to see if she could tempt him, and tempt him she did.  Billy scoffed the lot, one at a time out of her hand and looked for more. My friend had to have a complete wash down after the event, but she said she didn't mind, she was just glad he ate something.  Billy refused all offers of tinned cat food in the hope that more rissoles would appear.  I didn't leave his tablets out for her to give him because Billy resisted taking those tablets quite strenuously and my neighbour is nearly 80 years old.  When I got home the tablet insertion into Billy resumed and only tinned cat food was available.  I would have bought him rissoles or whatever his little heart desired but it was the Easter weekend and all shops were shut.  Billy made it perfectly clear he didn't love me anymore.  Every time I entered the laundry he'd duck his head or turn his face away.  When I offered him tinned cat food (his former favourite food) Billy clearly said that he wanted my neighbour back as his nurse, and if she brought more rissoles so much the better.  She knew how to treat a sick fellow he said, none of this forcing nasty tasting white things down his throat; just kind words and tasty treats.  Now that he's had the last of his tablets we are back to our love fest with each other again.

I was really worried when I wrote last week about Billy being ill.  I thought I was going to lose him. He was so sick and looked close to death's door.  It's taken quite a while for the big fellow to recover and the vet still doesn't know what the problem was.  He feels that the huge mouth ulcer and the nose bleeds were symptoms rather than causes.  I'm just grateful that Billy is now feeling that life is good once again.

I don't imagine it will be long before Billy makes his way down to the ferret cage to resume exchanging insults with The Gang Of Four.  I think they've missed him too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Billy Is Sick

Billy is sick.  He isn't interested in tummy rubs, being brushed, having his bib put on and rushing inside or even exchanging insults with the ferrets.  Billy is very sick.  He just lies on the laundry floor and lets the Kelpies steal his food. 

Last night we made an emergency after hours visit to the vet.  Billy had been lethargic all day and didn't eat his dog kibble breakfast.  When I fed him tinned food for dinner tried to eat it but jumped back in obvious pain when he tried. I investigated and discovered blood in his mouth.  Billy is a very sick little boy. At first the vet thought he had rat bait poisoning because of the bleeding from his nose and mouth and he has very yucky looking eyes as well as taking lethargy to a new level. We have lots of rat baits out at the moment as Spring Rock is in the grip of a mouse plague. The vet says they have been run off their feet with rat bait poisoned pets, but the blood clotting test (the definitive test for rat bait poisoning) proved negative so it's not rat bait poisoning. I told the vet all along that we'd be very surprised if it was because we have made sure none of our pets can get at any of the baits. The thought was he may have caught a mouse that had eaten some, but as I said rat bait is not the problem.

The vet gave Billy a thorough check up and found nothing amiss aside from the fact that Billy just lay there and let the vet poke and prod him all over. He says Billy is a perfect specimen of an older St Bernard, but Billy and I already knew that. We weighed him and he weighed in at 68kilos so he's a good weight for his breed. The fact that we actually got Billy on the scales shows just how sick he is.  Every time we've taken him to the vet he has refused point blank to get on the silver platform. Estimates of his weight have always been taken and medication worked out from there. It only took two tries last night and Billy's true weight was finally revealed.  He's not dehydrated, his tummy and other vital organs all feel healthy according the the vet and he's not even running much of a temperature.

Billy just lay on the floor and gave me a long suffering look while all this was going on. Billy's examinations always take place on the floor because no-one wants to lift him onto the tiny metal table to save crawling around the floor.  He didn't try and make friends with the vet, or tell all our family secrets or any of his usual visit to the vet behaviour. He even let the vet, a total stranger, lift his paws, open his mouth and look inside, generally man handle him for ages and poke needles in various parts of his anatomy.  The only objection he made, and that was a very feeble one, was when the vet took Billy's temperature and I think Billy's indignation was very justified.  The vet found a large bleeding ulcer in the front of his mouth but no reason for it - all his teeth are fine. There seemed to be no explanation for the bleeding nose or yucky eyes either.

At the moment Billy has been given, to quote the vet, "a massive dose of antibiotics and a big dose of anti-inflamatories". He is to have two doses of the strongest antibiotics the vet has twice a day.  The vet said if Billy wasn't better today he will be spending our trip to Melbourne at the vet's so an eye can be kept on him and he can be given his tablets for those two days.

It's all a mystery at the moment and I'm very worried about him. If he doesn't improve the vet wants to do a series of blood tests to see if something shows up. Graeme is starting to mentally add up the bill. I pointed out that Billy is worth it. Graeme said, he supposed Billy was a fixture (his way of saying we would pay what we had to). I pointed out he was more than a fixture, Billy holds a very large place in my heart.

Billy seems to feel a bit better this morning.  He's still very sick, but he ate the food I spoon fed him and looked a bit more interested in life.  I have just arranged with my neighbour for her to babysit Billy for the two days we're away.  I thought Billy would have to go back to the vet's just to be given his tablets and fed soft food, but my neighbour, wonderful woman that she is, is going to keep Billy in a pen in the wool shed where it's quiet and her Kelpies won't object to Billy's presence on the farm.  She will feed Billy spoonfuls of food night and morning and slip his tablets in his food.  Billy loves my neighbour and she is very fond of him too, so it will be a lot better for Billy than staying in a cage at the vet's.  Whether it's a lot better for my neighbour or not I don't want to dwell on at the moment.  It's enough to say I'll be buying her a BIG thank you present for her kindness.

I am not going to enjoy my trip to Melbourne very much if Billy's not anybetter before we leave. Graeme is taking me to the Melbourne Museum to see the Tutankhamen exhibition for our anniversary on Thursday. The hotel and tickets have been paid for for weeks now. What with seven bottle fed lambs we are dropping off for my daughter in law to feed, cats to incarcerate in the house because of the rat baits and now Billy being ill, I know I'm just going to worry the whole time - especially about a big, sooky dog back at Spring Rock.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I Have To Wonder

Before I start I just want to say to my friend Jane that I know you want photos.  I'm not a person who thinks of photos so all the events below have gone unphotographed and some are just impossible to photograph.  If I manage to have my camera and a pet behaving strangely in the near future I promise to add a photo or two to this blog at a future date.


There are times when the behaviour of the Spring Rock menagerie cause me to sit and wonder. Recently I found myself creating a mental list of why's.

Why does Nefertiti prefer to eat in the bathroom? I have cat kibble and water layed on in the kitchen for the tree cats but Nefertiti will do little more than take a desperate nibble when hunger gets too much for her if the bathroom cat dish is empty. Nefertiti and Ambrosia sleep in the bathroom so I consider the bathroom food dish just for late night snacks. Nefertiti considers it the only really acceptable food receptacle in the house. Why?

Why does Ambrosia consider an afternoon spent pulling pin out of my pincushion or sewing an afternoon well spent? Yesterday I left some applique on my chair while I went off to do some much needed housework. When I returned the floor was littered with pins while the edges of the applique shape flapped in the breeze. Ambrosia was nowhere to be seen, but I know it was her. She's the only cat in the house that spends her spare time pulling pins out of things. It takes quite a bit of oral dexterity I must admit, but I just can't see the entertainment value in it.

Speaking of my sewing supplies. Why do ferrets steal and stash my sewing tools. Isabella, the first ferret I ever owned, built up huge stashes of thread spools behind our very large bookcase. She added such essential items as orange peels stolen from the bin and if life was really good to her a banana skin or two as well, but time would come when I couldn't find any thread to sew with and had to go and buy not only the thread but a long length of timber to reach the thread stashed at the end of the bookcase. Most of it was only good for the bin when retrieved (what with the dried orange peel and banana skins stuck to it and all) but some was savable. I used to wonder if Isabella had a large sewing project planned. Every other ferret I've owned has found my sewing supplies irresistible and if not caught in the act will take off with whatever they can fit in their tiny little mouths. They have had a bad influence on Ambrosia who finds my thimbles and thread conditioner boxes too tempting to leave wherever she finds them.

Speaking of ferret and their history, why did Isabella's mate Theodore like to steal and stash shoes? None of them would fit him except possibly as a bed. He was so desperate to stash a shoe he found one day that he ignored the fact that Justin was still in it. Theodore just sore the size 13 shoe and he had to have it. He grabbed the edge of it in his mouth and tugged with all his mite trying to get the shoe (and Justin) under the lounge where he could add it to his collection.

Why is Tristan never happy with the side of the door on which he finds himself. Tristan, as mentioned in an earlier posting meows pitifully until I open the door for him to let him in. He then proceeds to meow and fuss until he's let out. Minutes (sometimes seconds) later he is meowing to be let in again only to stay a few minutes and realise outside is where it's all happening and he needs to be. His world record was the day he came inside, just cleared the open door and turned around as the door closed and demanded to be let out.

Why do Hedwig and Hermes, my two galahs, constantly build and rebuild a nest they've made in the hollow log in the aviary? The log's real purpose was to act as a vase for branches of native trees with seed pods or flowers on it for their delectation. These tasty offering were quickly removed and nest renovations resumed so often that I've stopped using it as a branch receptacle and left them to have it as a potential nest. It's been years in the making though and never seems to be just what they'd envisaged when making their renovations. Such things as seed and water dishes from their birdcage and small sticks are carefully placed in the log. The seed dishes cause a major problem because the dish will only fit in the hole in one direction and no amount of banging it will change its shape - not that they don't try over and over again. Once it's finally in there though it's pulled out within days as a new plan for the nest layout takes shape. The log has never been used as a nest (thankfully). I imagine because it's never been brought up to Hedwig's high standards.

Why do the kelpies prefer Billy's bed to their own? Their bed and Billy's bed are exactly the same except in colour. I've tried changing the bedding around after washing it and the girls are more than happy to settle down on what was Billy's bed and feel that life is good. Billy is then the problem. He wants his bed back. Lately this has become moot. Billy in his later life has decided to abandon to the laundry at night and share the kelpies bed, whichever one it is. This doesn't mean that the kelpies are allowed to relocate to Billy's much more desirable bed in the laundry. Billy still defended that bed too by non-stop barking until I got up and sort things out. The girls don't look too thrilled to have to share there bedding with a huge St Bernard, so I've added his bedding beside theirs so they all have a better chance of fitting in. Juno has assumed a permanently resigned expression on her face while Dione keeps trying to garner more of the space on the rugs. There's not much room for a kelpie or two when Billy plants himself in the middle of the two beds. Billy just flops down, closes his eyes and is snoring before any arguments can be delivered.

There's the age old why do the ferrets hate Billy and Billy hate the ferrets. It was hate at first site with no apparent reason for the animosity. Billy took one look at the ferrets, the ferrets sneered back at Billy and war was declared. Billy has lived here for seven years now and he's seen a number of ferrets come and go. He hates every new ferret with the same passion he reserved for its precedents and each new ferret hates Billy on site. The ferrets don't have a problem with the kelpies and the kelpies actually seem to like the ferrets. After all, the ferrets happily drop some of their cat kibble through the wire cage floor for the kelpies to scoop up. It's turned into quite a symbiotic relationship.

Why is it that when I lie down of an afternoon there is a general rush from all cats present to place themselves right up against my right side as close to my armpit as possible?  The first cat there digs in and prepares to defend this prime spot of real estate.  The two unsuccessful cats find other spots on the bed close to my body but with an air of settling for second best.   The left side of my body usually remains cat free for some reason.  Why?  Back when Guinevere was still with us she refused to accept defeat if she was beaten to the prime location beside me and would begin washing whichever cat got there first.  Guinevere's washing was more of a punishment that a grooming exercise and eventually the very soggy cat subjected to Guinevere's tongue would get up and leave to go dry off on another part of the bed.  Guinevere triumphantly took possession of The Spot and I was able to get back to my rest.  Tristan used to try tucking his head right under my arm in an effort to give Guinevere a smaller target.  It didn't work, she just washed whatever was still sticking out. Thankfully non of the present group of cats employs guerrilla warfare.

These are just some of my why's related to the menagerie. I don't have any answers despite pondering these questions from time to time. There are members of my family who say that every one of my pets was as sane as the next animal until it came to live with me. This sounds far too much to me like my nearest and dearest are attributing my pets’ peculiarities on my influence. I refuse to dignify their comments with a response.