Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trippin' Kitties

Have you seen the latest commercial for Friskies cat food?


I understand that they are trying to embrace the whole Alice in Wonderland and 3D trend but really? Really?!

A cat having what is obviously a drug-induced hallucination. I would like to meet the person who said, "Yes! Now that will move some product! No one is going to wonder if there is LSD in that can."

Now, I've been a sheltered nice enough girl that I've never been around anyone tripping on a hallucinogens. But I can still picture what this little kitty is doing in reality-land on his trip through "Adventureland." (Which; p.s., is the name of an amusement park just outside Des Moines.) Kitty laying on his back on the kitchen floor, rolling from side to side and occasionally swiping his paw through the air.

Wait a minute! That is what cats do! Maybe they are always having crazy visions about catching fish while in a fish-shaped boat. We should get some scientists on this.

Also - those turkeys in the beginning scare the beejeebus out of me. The first time I watched it, I thought they were going to kill the cat. Not that I'm a cat fan; but I certainly don't want to watch one get killed by a tribe of freaky turkeys.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Eyes Have It

Riddle me this, riddlers...what could I be sporting that would automatically elevate me to a level where my lady-ness could not be called into question? A symbol so universally equated with luxury and elegance that even I would be hard-pressed to find a way bring it into ill-repute...

That's right - Chanel.

*Sigh* I don't have the money to rightfully rock the double C's. I mean, really? Would you believe I was for real if I climbed out of my 2004 Mazda3 with a $3000 purse? No.
Poor people do not own Chanel - it looks funny when you pretend to. Aaaand, that is basically the only thing that keeps me from going into some serious debt. It's also the reason why my $30 fake Chanel stays in my closet. To avoid the siren call of the credit card; I do find some slightly cheaper ways to show my love for Miss Coco.
Three years ago, I decided that optical insurance would be an genius way to finance a fashion statement and bought these lovelies from the only place in town that carried Chanel frames:

Chanel 3112

I loved them. One of the best parts of my day was pulling them out of their case - a black, quilted case. Strange? Probably. Technically, Chanel glasses are made by Luxxotica - but they have a licensed agreement so they still count; I think.

But in February of this year, tragedy struck. You would think that glasses are either in their case or resting on the bridge of your nose unless you put them somewhere else and then forget where that somewhere else was. I've been sans glasses for weeks (I only really need them for reading - so you're safe out on the roads) in hopes that they would reappear. The problem was, I bought those frames pre-marriage. I only had to justify the cost to myself. Now, convincing Sparky that somehow, someway Chanel frames give me better eyesight than other glasses and are a worthy investment?? Not. Happening.

So, I gave up, got a new prescription and headed out to look for some new frames, resigned to the fact that Chanel would grace my temples no more.
I resisted and resisted. I almost settled on a pair. But I decided to go out and look once more, just to be safe. That's when the clouds broke, angels sang and rays of sun shone down from the on these:

Chanel 3131

Oh no! Cue inner dialogue -

Sensible Kelly: Kelly, don't try them on. They're cute they probably won't look good on you. They're a little ostentatious too...
Crazy Kelly: want.
Sensible Kelly: No! No! Don't reach for them!! I thought we agreed you didn't need expensive glasses. Don't...don't do that...Argh!
Crazy Kelly: Soooo pretty! Sooo pretty on me!!
Sensible Kelly: Dang it! Now, look at the price...Yikes!
Crazy Kelly: Yikes!

Even Crazy Kelly came to her senses when she spotted the price tag. But like they say in Speed, she's crazy, not stupid. One quick Google search later and I found an online store that had them for a "little" over half the price. Sold! Right Sparky?

Did I mention I have $150 in my FSA account? That will offset the cost some more. Going once...going twice...who has the best husband in the world?


I'm also about to have the cutest glasses in the world. I cannot wait for them to get here! I will still have to have the lenses put in - I wasn't about to trust some rando online shop to do the medical part of things.

In honor of my lovely purchase, I'll close with some words of wisdom from Mademoiselle Chanel herself. It's advice I should probably follow a little more often in order to remain worthy.

"I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny."
-Coco Chanel

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Book of Max, Chapter 5

As soon as we were aware of Max's kidney problem, Dr. Kay prescribed the nutraceutical, Azodyl, and a special food with limited protein; Hill's Prescription Diet Canine k/d. Both of these products helped him tremendously. (I would highly recommend using them if you have a dog going through renal failure.)
Every five to six months we would see signs that Max's kidneys were affecting him. He would get lethargic (very unusual for our little Spunkers) and couldn't keep his food down. He was always a trooper and tried to act tough about it. But no matter how tough he was, Max would spend a few days at Club Vet getting pumped with fluids.
After learning during the first episode that Max would bark the whole time he was in a kennel at the clinic, Dr. Kay would let us bring him home each night. We were happy to do it. It was probably harder on us to have him away from home than it was for him to stay there!
About one year ago, Max had a particularly bad time with his symptoms and bounced back slower than usual after treatment. We expected that we would see his episodes start to get closer as predicted and we began to prepare ourselves for the worst. But again, Max toughed it out and got back to 100%. We tried to take it easy with him for a little while, but Max wasn't having it. He wanted his walks and his playtime just like normal. Surprisingly, he didn't have to go back for fluids for months.
We knew we were lucky when Dr. Kay later commented that she had also expected the worst. She said on more than one occasion that Max was "a miracle dog."

But even after he being so tough for so long, Max's kidneys kept fighting him. He went in for fluids in November 2009. He recovered, but again, it was slower than in the past. In January, only two months later, the symptoms showed up again and, despite treatment, they were back less than a month later. Max lost a lot of weight during this period and Dr. Kay confirmed what we feared - there were few precious moments left with our Moose.
Max held on for a few more weeks. He followed us and snuggled with us as much as he could. We gave him even more attention (if that is even possible) and made sure to enjoy every second with him. Even though he tried not to show it, we saw our tough little guy getting weaker and struggling to accomplish his normal feats. Jumping onto the couch was a struggle, he would rest halfway up the stairs, he didn't squirm at all when we carried him around. Then Max stopped eating.
It was time.

Sparky made the difficult call to the vet to schedule a time to send Max on to the next life. It was devastating. Every minute we got closer was harder to accept than the last. On the last day, we both took the afternoon off to spend Max's last couple hours with him. It was a sunny and reasonably warm day. Max wasn't able to walk more than a few steps by this point, but because he had loved his walks so much we wanted to give him one last trip around the block. Sparky and I took turns carrying him on his usual route. We pointed out his favorite poop and pee spots along the way. He seemed alert and I swear he was trying to keep his eyes open and take it all in, forever.
When we turned the last corner to head back home, we saw a patch of grass where the sun had completely melted the snow and was still shining. We laid Max down so he could feel at least a little bit of spring one last time. We rubbed his now skinny belly and let him rest there for a few minutes. Then we returned home to prepare for our last road trip with Max.
It should come as no surprise that Max wanted to do things on his own terms. As we were getting ready to leave, Sparky carried Max down the stairs. Before he could reach the bottom, Max was gone.
He left our home completely opposite of the way he burst in and enriched it. Quietly, with little fanfare and without kisses or fat lips. Sparky and I held him on the couch as the light left his eyes completely and our hearts broke into pieces.

I'm sure it sounds silly and over-dramatic - but it's been hard adjusting to a house and a life without Max in it. His barking and snorting were a lot noisier than you would think. We were much more careful getting into bed than we realized (you always had to feel for a Max lump so you didn't squish him - or piss him off). He brought so much more joy to our lives than we knew. He had made us a family - partly because he was so needy - but mostly because of his spirit and his unconditional love for us. We'll have the opportunity to give and receive that kind of love again, but Max was the one who taught us how.

Thanks Monkey, you'll forever be loved and missed.

Max Sparks

??- March 4, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Book of Max, Chapter 4

Max bounced right back after his brief vacation at the vet. It took a few days for his voice to come back though. He had essentially barked for two straight days while he was away from home. He hated kennels. His kidney problems lingered in the back of our minds, but Sparky and I tried to keep it from worrying us too much. So the legend of Max continued.

If you listened to his crazy people (Sparky & I), you would learn that he was quite the well rounded dog. We had many stories about Max's unknown past. His occupations had included a chef - he used his front paws to stir and taste; a lock-picker - you would be amazed at how many doors the little guy could open, a carpenter, a poker player and a pirate.

However, his most important job was being the Defender of the Universe. We had a song about him killing evil cats, etc. I know what you're thinking...nerds.


We would also tell the story about Max's rough and tumble life on the streets of KC. He smoked cigars and got in his fair share of fights when he had been drinking. I think some of this came about because Max actually did have a tattoo. We (actually) believe he was inked by a puppy mill.

Nothing like a good stogey.

One day Sparky created a brilliant song about how Max spent time as Blackbeard's first mate. During the climax of the story, Max lit his tail with a candlestick, jumped in the ocean and led a ship through a horrible storm (not so sure about the logistics on that one). Unfortunately, we laughed too hard for too long to write it down and forgot most of it.

Yeah - so we are nerds.

In reality (we're not crazy all the time), Max became involved in every part of our day. We always spent a few minutes with him and Flynn in the morning; he would "clean" my egg plate after breakfast; Sparky and I would both come home for lunch as often as possible to hang out with the pups; Max would be at the door barking for us when we got home and at night, he would call "couch time"- meaning it was time for Sparky and I to sit on the couch so he could snuggle between us. At about 9:30 he would let us know it was bed time by fidgeting around on the couch or, if necessary; jumping off the couching, walking to the stairs and intermittently staring up them and then over at us.

Max with his BFFs Reyse & Kramer.

I could go on and on telling you about all the things we came to adore about Max - his mind bullets - a tool he would use to get doors to open or to try to tell us what he wanted; how he would "turn on the cute" for a treat; his nicknames (Maximus, Maximoose, Moose, Monkey, Poopbutt); how he drank his water in rhythm; his dribbling problem (FloMax was another nickname); his love of all things pork/ham/bacon based but I think you get the picture. He loved and was loved.

The Book of Max, Chapter 3

Beside his slightly stinky issues, life with Max was a joy. He was quickly incorporated into as much of our day as possible. We took him anywhere dogs were allowed and learned all about his own unique little personality full of spit and vinegar.

Receiving a signature Max kiss.

Max cheered Sparky on during his first marathon.

Our friends got used to being greeted by kisses and "spin jumps" (when Max got excited, he would start pivoting on his hind legs and jumping at the same time). We found out that Max preferred the weather to be sunny and 70-75 degrees. He would hardly even tolerate the rain. On a few occassions we tried to wrap him in a grocery bag so he would at least go potty. It kind of worked once.
December came and it was time for some routine vet check-ups. Max had gone through all the routine tests while he was with MABTR. The results didn't show any problems so we weren't worried. Max was healthy, we made sure he took heartworm preventative every month (please, please, please - give your dogs heartworm meds) and we tried to make sure he ate his non-gassy food.
When Dr. Kay called to give me what I assumed would be an all-clear, I got a bit of a surprise. Max had tested positive for heartworms. Since he was on the heartworm preventative, Dr. Kay was optimistic that the results were a false positive. Unfortunately - a second test only confirmed the bad news. Max had heartworms.
Ten years ago this would have essentially been a death sentence for a dog. Today, the treatment is still a scary process, but much more effective. As part of the process, you have to restrict your dog's activity for a few weeks (I'd go into why - but it's pretty icky - you can read about it in the treatment link if you want). This was no easy task with Max, but we managed to wrangle him in for a while so we could beat those mean old heartworms!
The day of reckoning finally came and we brought Max back in to make sure those gross little guys were dead and gone. Dr. Kay was happy to report that they were, but there was a minor area of concern. Max's kidney output levels were a little off. It was possible that it was related to the course of medication he had just finished but we were just warned to keep an eye on it just in case.
Life went back to normal. Max had his energy back and was as endearingly annoying as ever. The spin jumps and barking returned; he could chase the mean squirrel in our backyard again (and then bark and bark at it while it snickered in the tree) and we could take him on walks again. Max loved walks, he would trot down the street like a show dog; but then the crazy guy would whip around, clamp his mouth down on his leash and chew and pull. This ordeal started as soon as we would pull it out (accompanied by barking, of course) We learned quickly to hook it up right away or Max would shake the leash so fiercely that the metal clamp would whip around and bonk him on the head. On our walks, other people would see his antics and comment that "someone wants to escape." But he didn't. Max never tried to run away from us (even on the two occasions when he actually made it through the leash); he just loved to chew the leash. We couldn't break him of the habit.
At about 4:30 AM one morning that summer, I woke up to some strange noises. I found Max collapsed in the hall outside our bedroom. He was awake but his breathing was shallow and he wouldn't look at me when I called his name. Instead he was intent on pulling himself across the carpeted hallway to the bathroom about 7 feet away. I yelled to wake Sparky up and he joined the scene. We couldn't figure out why until the little guy had simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea (gross, sorry). He didn't want to mess up the carpet.
I got him into the bathroom while the episode continued for another 20 minutes. Once things finally settled down a little, Sparky and I wrapped Max in a blanket and headed to the emergency vet (it was 5:30 AM at this point). Max was completely lethargic and still was barely moving when we arrived.
A few very scary minutes later we got some relieving news. It appeared that Max was dehydrated. We told the vet that Max possibly had some kidney problems as well. They recommended we have some tests run and then have him stay there for IV fluids. The quote for this was $477.
Now - Sparky and I aren't cheap; especially when it comes to our dogs. But it did occur to me that the doggy ER might be premium priced like the human ER. I asked the doctor how much those procedures would cost at our vet. (P.S. It was a weekday and 6:30 AM by this point - our vet's office would be open in 30 minutes) His answer:
"I'm not familiar with every vet's pricing structure, but I'm guessing it would be about the same."
I got the used-car-dealer-vibe from this guy and didn't like it. Not only did I think he was lying about the cost difference, I didn't want to leave our dog with him. So I asked him to transfer the information to University West Pet Clinic because we'd be more comfortable taking Max there. He got a little huffy about it; but oh well.
Max spent the next two days at University West getting IV fluids pumped in to one of his front paws. He had been dehydrated and tests confirmed that it was due to his kidneys. They were slowly failing. Also - the whole thing cost $250 at our vet's office. So there.

Looking tough with his IV bandage.

We learned that we would likely have to bring Max in again to be flushed. From the sound of things, these episodes would grow closer and closer together until Max would have an unacceptable quality of life. We weren't sure how much longer we would have with him but no matter what, we knew it wouldn't be long enough.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Book of Max, Chapter 2

Have I ever mentioned that Sparky was a cat person? In his opinion, dogs were stupid, slobbery and smelly. He thought that dogs surrendered their unconditional love to anyone who looked at them, whereas you have to work a little harder for a cat's love (A little harder? I don't know if I have ever met a cat who loved someone). Having Reyse around had softened him up on this quite a bit but Max changed him forever.

From day one, Max has slept in our bed with us. He snored, he fidgeted, he would lick your face in the morning, he occassionally fell off the bed and whined until we woke up because he wouldn't jump back up in the dark; but it was all worth it when he bulldozed under the blankets and curled up by our legs. We experienced pretty much all of this in the first week. We also experienced the gas problems that can be typical of Bostons; at night and during the day.
Boston Terriers have sensitive stomachs. Sensitive stomachs = gas. In Max's case, this meant a LOT of gas - stinky, room-filling, gag-worthy gas. There is special dog food to help this - but it doesn't help right away. It takes 2-3 weeks for the dogs stomach to de-sensitize to the sensitive-stomach food.

During our first few weeks with Max, Sparky decided to hold a launch party for a certain-current-President's official candidacy announcement. Basically, a bunch of strangers were going to come to our house to watch Obama announce the news on a internet feed.
Not sure how Max would react, we planned to keep him and Reyse up in one of the bedrooms for the duration of the party. Max didn't think this was a good idea. While people arrived Max barked (barking isn't a particularly common trait of Boston Terriers - Max didn't seem to care about this fact. Ever.), scratched and threw himself at the door. There were people to meet, dammit!!
The commotion continued as people were settling in for the show. We apologized and explained the situation about our new dog. Everyone agreed that it would be ok to let the dogs out (we warned them about the kisses too), which we proceeded to do.
After a few minutes of chaos, Max and Reyse settled in with the crowd. The announcement started and the room grew quiet. We heard a small squeak and thought nothing of it. Then I noticed sour expressions on the faces of a few of our guests. Before I could open my mouth; a wave of dog-poo scented air hit me. A few awkward glances were going around the room. The unspoken question, "Dude, who cut the cheese?" lingered in the air; along with the smell.
Sparky and I realized what was happening and explained (again) our new dog's "gas" situation. Everyone eased up a little, knowing that the person next to them had bowel control. But it kept happening. Max pretty much constantly passed gas for the next 45 minutes. Sometimes with noise, sometimes without. All times with smell. People could not stop laughing. When they left, each of our guests made sure to say good-bye to our stinky little dog. Some even leaned down to get another kiss. Max was happy to oblige.

Max's special food eventually did help the gas situation. Unfortunately, he never liked his food as much as he liked Reyse's food and later, Flynn's. But for anyone who thinks farting can't be endearing; I would have to disagree. Max farted his way right into Sparky's heart and made him a dog person forever.

The Book of Max, Chapter 1

You may remember Max from this incident. If not, Max is one of our two dogs - he is a Boston Terrier and our other dog, Flynn, is a German Shorthair Pointer mix. Flynn is afraid of the camera so you probably won't see many pictures of him here. But he does exist.

Max is part of the reason I haven't been visiting blogland much lately. He's sick and has needed some special attention the last few weeks. I try not to make this blog a Diary of Debbie Downer, but I need this right now.

Max came into our lives 3 years ago. Sparky and I lived in a duplex we were renting with our friend Lindsay and her big, beautiful Black Lab, Reyse. For my birthday (February 17th, for future reference) Sparky's gift to me was a dog - but one I picked out on my own. No surprises. None of this cute, cuddly furball with a ribbon around it's neck stuff. I contacted Jennifer at
Mid American Boston Terrier Rescue about a few of the dogs they had available for adoption. We had just bought our house and would be closing and moving in one month. I didn't want to put a dog through more trauma than necessary so I let Jennifer know this in case they thought it would be a problem.

The dogs I was interested in had all been adopted and Jennifer thought the move might make for added stress for one of the poor pups. However, she would keep me in mind for any other dogs that came up for adoption.

A couple weeks later, Jennifer emailed me about a dog that was being fostered in Newton, about 45 minutes from Des Moines. An older couple had actually adopted him but Max wasn't mixing well with their cats so they had to give him up. They were keeping him until he found a new home. Jennifer sent me this photo collage:

Aaaannndd... my heart melted. I forwarded the message to Sparky and asked if we could meet Max. Later, I found out that Sparky had thought Max was ugly in the pictures (he doesn't think that anymore) but he was willing to play along.

IF we were going to take Max home, we wanted to make sure he and Reyse got along so that weekend Sparky, Lindsay, Reyse and I packed up the car and traveled to Newton to meet this guy. We pulled up to a nice farmhouse and were greeted by an adorable older couple. They had Max in the backyard for us. We walked around the house and through a gate where a black and white monster waited for us. He was barking and jumping as soon as he saw some new friends.

While I was leaning down to introduce myself and Max launched himself off the ground, full force, to greet me with a kiss. We smacked into each other in the middle (I ended up with a fat lip) but that didn't deter Max. He jumped and barked until I was sitting on the ground with him getting covered in kisses. His foster parents looked on and said, "We've never seen him do that to anyone before." Love. (We later learned that this actually was a fairly typical Max greeting but I felt special at the time.)

He gave Kurt and Lindsay similar greetings and then moved on to Reyse, who was exploring the expansive backyard. After a little butt-sniffing and sizing up, Max proceeded to mount and hump Reyse, despite the size difference. Clearly, this one was going to be in charge. Fortunately Reyse is a fairly passive dog - so they got along just fine. We spent about a half hour playing with and learning about Max. He had been found roaming around in Kansas City, no license or microchip. He had been trained by someone because he was housebroken and knew basic commands. His age hadn't quite been determined with any certainty but he was an older dog. His teeth were fairly worn down like an older dogs but the vets thought it was because he had been in a kennel at one point and had chewed on the bars (this didn't surprise us later). He acted like a much younger dog than his teeth showed so the guess was that he was around 6 or 7 years old. Besides kennels, Max also liked to chew on his leash when out on walks so his foster dad had put some plastic tubing around his leash to keep Max from chewing through it.

In that short 30 minutes, we had found our dog. I think it was a little unexpected for his foster parents. Even though he was terrorizing their cats, they wanted to keep him - I think the cats only won out because of seniority. I called Jennifer to tell her we wanted to take him home and find out what the next steps were. She suggested we take him that day for our "trial period" (ha!). It broke my heart to see the disappointment on the old couples faces. They packed Max's things up, kissed him good-bye and stood in the driveway while we pulled away.

We made it back to the duplex where Max quickly made himself at home.