Archive for September, 2009

If everything has a purpose, why do fleas exist?

September 29, 2009

Here’s another column by the vet, Dr. CoolBreeze:

*****

My inside-only pet has been scratching excessively.  How can I tell if he has fleas?
 
To determine if your pet has fleas, start by examining their skin and coat from head to toe, especially around the base of their tail.  You may also use a flea comb to check for fleas.  A flea comb is used to remove fleas, flea dirt, and/or small particles that may be in your pet’s coat.  When using a flea comb you should evaluate the entire coat.  You may only see flea dirt and mistakenly assume he is dirty. 

Flea dirt appears as dark, dry, debris which resembles ground coffee.  You can apply a collection of this debris onto a wet paper towel, and the moisture will turn the paper a rusty red color if the sample is flea dirt. 

Fleas are aggressive blood feeders capable of biting your pet up to 30 times in one minute, and female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day.  The flea’s life cycle is complex and can be completed in as little as two weeks.  These characteristics allow just a few fleas to multiply into thousands in just weeks.
 
If you determine your pet has fleas or you are having difficulty controlling a flea infestation, you should consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can provide your pet with medicated shampoos, topical insecticides, and/or oral flea medications.  You should also be advised to treat your home and yard.  This may require a visit from a professional exterminator.  To ensure that the flea life cycle is broken, have your home and yard treated periodically.  Your pet may also receive a monthly treatment to ensure that they stay free of disease spreading fleas.  Due to the fast reproduction of fleas, you should begin treatment as soon as possible.  It is best to treat all areas that your pet comes in contact with and start your pet on a safe preventative prescribed by your veterinarian. 

 Disclaimer:  This section is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care through a licensed veterinarian, including regular office visits.

*****

Last week we fielded a telephone call from a woman with a sick cat.  When we pressed her for more information, she just replied that the cat was sick.  Never a good sign when an owner can’t/won’t say what could possibly be wrong – that can indicate owner ignorance or abuse.  We gave her the last time slot of the day.

She arrived carrying a box of motor oil with the lid duct-taped shut.  The box held, instead of containers of motor oil, the near-lifeless body of a young cat ridden with fleas.  She admitted that she had treated the cat with some liquid flea prevention that she got at the dollar store.  The cat had a reaction to the liquid, which is common with over-the-counter flea prevention, and seizures set in after she applied the medication THREE DAYS PRIOR.  The fleas were not slowed down at all but continued to feast on blood meals from the cat until the blood was drained out of her body.  Her gums were white.  And still the fleas hopped in search of more blood.  The home was infested with fleas before the cat arrived, and probably remains the same.

The thought that this poor cat had been unable to move from seizures and held captive by fleas for three days until almost dead made me nauseous.  The vet recommended euthanasia which brought relief none too soon to the animal. 

The animal shelter called the vet’s office a few hours later to find out if they should give the woman another cat.  Turns out the woman had recently adopted the cat from the shelter.  The woman had informed the shelter of the cat’s death, but all she told them was that the cat that she had just gotten at the shelter in the past week had died, so the shelter thought that they had adopted out a sick animal.  We adamantly refused to recommend that home as a safe haven, and requested that the animal control officer inspect the premises.

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Medway Plantation in Goose Creek, SC

September 28, 2009
Medway Plantation

Medway Plantation

“In 1686 Medway Plantation was granted by the Lords Proprietors to Jan Van Aarrsen, seigneur de Weirnhoudt.  In 1689 the property came into the possession of Landgrave Thomas Smith, Governor of South Carolina November 1693 to October 1694.  He died in November 1694 and is buried at Medway.”

On Sunday, September 27, 2009, Sugar and I went on a little day trip to Goose Creek, SC, to see if we could find Medway Plantation.  It had rained buckets most of the night before, and we were concerned that it might deluge again.  But we were determined to get out of town, so we set out, with the plan that we would turn back if the weather got too bad.  We went past the turn-off, even though we had a good map.  The road wasn’t marked, and the properties at the turn-off were industrial with large earth-moving equipment.  Not the type of entryway we were planning on finding.

The photo above is heavily cropped.  Here’s what the historical marker really looks like:

Reality

Reality

I didn’t even mention the railroad track.  So we finally got turned in the right direction.  Further along the road was a neighborhood.  Looked a little rough.  When the houses ended, we saw the sign for Medway Road and knew we were actually on the right track. 

Goldenrod blooming in profusion

Goldenrod blooming in profusion

We drove down the narrow lane, and the “No Trespassing” signs began to appear.  So we stopped.  The property is only 6700 acres, and we didn’t know how far we’d have to trespass before we got to the grand entrance gates.  Something about being taken to a court of law is reason enough to stop moving forward.

The end of the line

The end of the line

No trespassing

No trespassing

“Do not enter looking for dogs.  If we find your dogs we will notify you.  Persons ignoring this notice are trespassing and will be prosecuted.  G.S. Legendre, Owner”

G.S. Legendre was Gertrude Legendre, an amazing woman who lived to be 97.  She lived 70 or so years at Medway.  She has an amazing story including escaping as a prisoner-of-war in Europe in WWII. 

What was our motivation for seeking out Medway?  Thomas Smith was one of Researcher Sugar’s grandfathers.  Of course. 

What the sign doesn’t say about how Thomas Smith acquired the property is that he married the widow of Jan Van Arrsen.  Golddigger.  Tom is buried at Medway near the house. 

We were disappointed not to get onto the plantation, but Sugar has decided that he will write a letter to the trustees of the plantation and explain that he needs to visit his grandfather’s gravesite, for closure or something like that.  I think it’s worth a shot.  The worst is that they could say is no.  Or maybe “Hell no”. 

If anyone has an extra $25 million around, Medway is for sale.  I’ve got exactly $24 million, so perhaps someone can loan me $1 million.  One million doesn’t sound like much money when put in that context.  And don’t even think about sub-dividing the property.  It is protected land with two conservation easements.  When I buy it, I’ll invite everyone over.  But only if you request an invitation in my “comments” section. 

You know you want one.

You know you want one.

Or maybe I’ll just save my $24 million and buy this car.

The Lawton Cemetery in Screven County, Georgia

September 26, 2009

This year on January 4, Sugar and I went on a day trip to locate the Lawton Cemetery in Screven County, Georgia.  We found it at the end of a dead-end (pardon the pun) road in rural country.  We had passed by that road once before on our way to north Georgia.  I hadn’t noticed the road sign, but Eagle-Eye Sugar had.  He told me later that he reads just about all the signs along the roadways as he’s driving, which now makes it perfectly clear to me why he’s almost rear-ended so many cars.  To his credit he’s never hit anyone.

So.  We packed some cheese and some bread and a couple beers, and we hit the road.  It was a gray, overcast day, and when we found the cemetery, our moods began to match the day.  We had envisioned that we would find a plantation home site, maybe some brick piers where a house once stood, maybe even a lone chimney, standing watch like a sentinel over the old Lawton property.  Nope.

The narrow dirt road ended in a wooded area.  What we found was a cemetery enclosed by a 4′ chainlink fence.  There was a drive-through gate along with a walk-through gate that carried a sign that said “Grave diggers please remove all dirt and excess trash after each funeral.”  There were some names and phone numbers of contact people, but that was all.  No sign for the cemetery itself.  It looked sad.  We drank a beer.

We got out and wandered through the cemetery and took pictures of all the Lawtons.  Some of the headstones were broken.  Some were unreadable since the passage of time had all but erased the inscriptions.  The saddest one was someone named Marion Lawton, who was killed in World War I.  His stone was inscribed:

Rest soldier rest

Thy warfare o’er

As we walked around the cemetery, we became more aware of the sounds and sights of the day.  In the distance, we could see the river as it wound its way through the countryside.  Cattle lowed in the fields that surrounded three sides of the cemetery, and birds hopped through the underbrush, looking for food.  Trees grew randomly through the cemetery, making it a shady, restful spot.  An enormous cedar tree held court as it watched over the graves.

Sugar remarked that he thought this was a black cemetery.  I don’t know how he knows these things, but he does, and when I got home, I checked www.ancestry.com for Marion Lawton.  I found his draft registration for World War I, and indeed he was black.  Reading his physical description in the old records made me sad for this young man killed in a war so far from home.

Rest, soldier, rest.

More Plantation Stuff

September 24, 2009
Howdy!

Howdy!

Here’s the plantation gate at the Swamped! Plantation and Country Club.  That good-looking pile of gray dirt at the base of the pine tree is a fire ant mound, ever flourishing even in the wintertime.  This picture was taken in January of this year, not too cold, but cold enough when one lives in an aluminum box.  The mailbox post perches on the side of the ditch, also known at the Kitty Highway.  You can see the edge of the black culvert peeking out from under the driveway.  Sylvia has just gone into the culvert.  I waited with camera in hand for her to come back out so I can prove my statement that the cats travel along the ditches like their own personal highway system. 

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Sylvia:  "You maroons, I'm over here!"

Sylvia: "You maroons, I'm over here!"

Where's Georgia going?

Where's Georgia going?

Georgia always walks like she’s mad.  She stomps noiselessly along on little kitty-cat feet.  She acts like a truant officer.  “We’ll just get to the bottom of this!” 

Sylvia pops out the other side

Sylvia pops out the other side

Sylvia surprised me when she appeared on the far side of the culvert.  Of course, she proved my statement, but I had no idea that she would actually travel thru a twenty-foot-long narrow culvert to the other side.  I thought that she would just pop in and out of the same side.

Sylvia:  "Would someone please  bring Georgia's meds?"

Sylvia: "Would someone please bring Georgia's meds?"

Free-range cats are an interesting study in personalities.  I wonder if I can get a little camera to attach to someone’s collar…  Where do they go?  What do they see?

Dog Haiku

September 22, 2009

Here’s a clever little haiku written by our guest poet Sugar.

Dogs of summer beg

For toast.  I grumble and fuss.

Crumbs are ev’rywhere…

*****

The haikumania started when I entered Kyle the Turtle in the Bluffton Today Top Dog contest.  I was inspired to write a turtle haiku, and then haiku madness started.  We were haiku-ing like crazy.  No scrap piece of paper was safe.  As a result I had piles of little bits of paper with haikus written everywhere. 

The haiku that started it all was about Kyle the Turtle.  I sent the haiku to the online newspaper’s blog, so I can rightly claim that I am a published poet.  Heh.

Turtle of summer

Dances with dogs on Bluffton

Today’s Top Dog Blogs.

Poor Kyle did not win.  I wonder if it was because of the haiku….

The Lawtonville Cemetery in Estill, SC

September 21, 2009
The Morrison Academy Historical Marker

The Morrison Academy Historical Marker

“In old Lawtonville community, across from this site, was the first Morrison Academy, a one-room elementary and college preparatory school.  It was later moved 3.4 miles north of here on Orangeburg Road to be near the home of the Rev. John Timothy Morrison, headmaster from 1865 to 1905, minister, legislator, Lt. C.S.A.”

Sugar Bateson and I went to a funeral at the cemetery on September 11, 2009.  This is one of the most beautiful, peaceful cemeteries I’ve seen.  It is completely fenced with two gateway openings.  There is a cattle guard made of railroad rails at each gateway.  There are many mature trees in the cemetery, which is itself surrounded by farm fields.  There’s a cotton crop growing now.  The cotton plants bloom with beautiful colors, and I was surprised to see cotton blooming this late.  The cotton bolls were swollen and ready to burst open with life. 

The cattle guard

The cattle guard

Cotton plant with white and pastel flowers

Cotton plant with white and pastel flowers

Close-up of cotton bolls

Close-up of cotton bolls

The fields around the cemetery stretch for miles.  The day was mild and warm, and the memorial service took place by a set of steps, the only remains of the original Lawtonville Baptist Church.  Lawtonville was burned by Sherman and completely wiped out.

Cotton Field

Picture taken looking east across the road from the cemetery

Inside the cemetery, the many trees made dappled shadows on the flat sandy ground.  I took some pictures that I posted on www.findagrave.com, but the shadows made the headstones hard to read. 

Lawtonville Cemetery

Lawtonville Cemetery

The memorial service took place under the green canopy on the right.  The actual interment was to take place where you see the green canopy on the left near the back of the cemetery, and was to occur after the service was over and the mourners left.  I’ve never seen this type of proceeding before, and indeed when we arrived at the cemetery, we saw both green canopies and thought that two funerals were taking place.  Later we realized that there was to be no true graveside service, but the service at the site of the old church was peaceful and symbolic. 

It was a quiet and fulfilling day.  The family invited us to join them at the church for a meal.  I had discovered that Sugar was related to the family on the Lawton side, and they welcomed him with open arms.  It was like the lost son had been found, and returned to his roots. 

Lovely Lawtonville

Lovely Lawtonville. This picture looks northward - the historical marker is in the distance. Fields surround the cemetery.

Dog Plus Sugar-free Gum Equals Bad

September 21, 2009

Another column by my employer, Dr. GoodForPets. 

*****

MY DOG JUST ATE SUGAR-FREE CHEWING GUM.  SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
 
 Yes, especially if the gum contains the artificial
 sweetener “xylitol”.  The artificial sweetener
 xylitol is found in many sugar-free gums, cough medications,
 and some baked goods.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which can
 be fatal to dogs.  It has been reported that only a small
 number of pieces of chewing gum containing xylitol may be
 fatal to small dogs. Larger dogs are equally susceptible to
 fatalities if ingested in larger quantities.
 
 The artificial sweetener xylitol, once ingested by the dog,
 reacts with the dog’s insulin resulting in a sudden drop
 in blood sugar.  The low blood sugar causes the dog to
 appear weak and listless, and might result in hypoglycemic
 seizures.  In higher doses, xylitol is toxic to the dog’s
 liver.
 
 If your dog has ingested any amount of gum
 containing xylitol you should immediately contact your
 veterinarian.  Treatment for this type of toxin may consist
 of induced vomiting, possible IV fluids containing glucose
 to counteract the low blood sugar, and blood tests to monitor
 for liver damage.  It is important to note that the toxic
 effects occur soon after the toxic level of xylitol is
 ingested and these cases require 24 hour care initially
 until the pet is stabilized.  You can contact the Animal
 Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 with any questions
 or concerns that you may have.

 

Disclaimer:  This section is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care through a licensed veterinarian, including regular office visits.

*****

Stained Glass Luxury

September 20, 2009
A view to nothing

A view to nothing

Here at the Swamped! Plantation and School of Interior Design, the head instructor is a little slack.  I’ve considered taking this miniblind down for a long time.  Most of the time it was hidden by the Coke crates from my youth.  Lately I’ve acted on the insane notion that I need to insulate the windows before cold weather gets here (it could drop down to the 40’s or below – I could freeze to death).  The older I get the more I become my grandmother.  Every fall my BigBroSteve would help her cover the outside of her windows with that plastic sheeting stuff.  And I don’t have any way to attach the plastic to the outside of the windows unless I duct tape it on.  Which is always a good look. 

Instead I opted to use that new-fangled insulation that comes in rolls.  It looks like mini-bubble wrap coated in aluminum foil.  I used it in the bathroom window.  I cut it to fit and duct taped it to the inside of the frame, then I hung a picture over it that completely conceals the window.  Am I cool or what?  And it keep the aliens at bay.

I considered using it in the kitchen but today was too unmotivated to go the whole cutting and taping routine.  So I took down the cornice/blind combo and put a piece of stained glass artwork that I’ve had for several years.  At one point I had this hanging in the shed – it brought a nice touch of class to an outbuilding designed for dogs and cats. 

A touch of class - uuhhh - glass!

A touch of class - uuhhh - glass!

I am such a procrastinator.  I should have done something about that window a long time ago, but I’ve found that I can’t force things to happen.  I have to think about things for a very long time, and then eventually things just sort themselves out.  Like I bought some of this adhesive window covering in a rice paper design from Home Depot last year that I had talked myself into.  I pulled off the adhesive backing, and the stuff sprang into action like contact paper in need of an exorcist.  I managed to get some of it onto the window – can we say disaster – and it was such a wrinkled-up mess that I had to pull it off and dispose of it.  I stuck it onto various surfaces on the way to the trash can and so was able to remove some of the free range dog hair.  Bonus.  Should have procrastinated even more before I bought the stuff, then maybe I would have talked myself out of it and saved the money and aggravation. 

Before!

Before!

After!

After!

Kitty Girl:  "Hmmm, these windows need cleaning."

Kitty Girl: "Hmmm, these windows need cleaning."

Kitty Girl Goes for a Ride

September 20, 2009
This bed is juuuussst right!

This bed is juuuussst right!

Little Kitty Girl was spayed two days ago.  I brought her home with me to recuperate at the RV palace and halfway house.  She found a bed that was not too hard, not too soft, but just right.

Buckle your seat belts please!

Buckle your seat belts please!

Her new bed — the steering wheel….

The Princess

September 16, 2009
Behold your princess

Behold your princess

What was I thinking?

The woman stood before me in the lobby of the vet’s office.  She held a crate with an unhappy cat inside.  The woman’s hair was sloppily pulled back into a ponytail, and she had the desperate air of someone who had slept in her clothes.

“I don’t know what to do with her.  We’ve moved because our rent went up, way up, and the cat has no where to hide from the other cat who just wants to play with her.  But Princess is eight years old and she doesn’t want to play and there’s nowhere to hide and we are in such financial trouble and I just can’t keep her any more!”

I escorted her into an examining room so we could talk.  I knew this woman.  She had adopted two other cats from me, before the trouble started. 

Behold your Princess's behind

Behold your Princess's behind

Back in 2006, Sugar and I were trapping cats at Miz Florrie’s in Garnett.  Miz Florrie didn’t know how many cats she had, and we eventually trapped ALL of them, speutered and vaccinated them, and rehomed them.  It took about two years.  One of the cats we trapped we named Annie Jean.  Annie was adopted as a companion for Princess by the woman now standing before me at the vet’s office, and later a long-haired kitten named Captain Bangs was also adopted, making a kitty trio.  Annie eventually returned to me  because the woman’s husband had asthma that was triggered by the dander of short-haired cats.  I found another home for Annie, but now here was the same woman with more cat troubles.

The woman produced a sheaf of legal papers, documenting her financial woes.  She had lost her job because of documented bi-polar illness, and she was slipping further and further into financial doom.  She had decided that she needed to rehome the Princess, as if in an effort to ease her own mental troubles, because Princess seemed to be miserable.  Captain Bangs had grown into an enormous young cat who wanted to play, and Princess did not.  This was the equivalent of a preschooler wanting to tackle his grandmother who was only half his size, if that.

I said, “Sure, I’ll take her.”  Never mind that I live in an RV, with dogs, to boot, and now I was going to have to resurrect the litter box.  In an RV.  Not pretty.

I didn’t see Princess for about two weeks, unless you count the flash of fur as she dashed for cover whenever I entered the RV.  During that time, I examined her medical records.  She had been taken to a vet because she had developed odd litter box habits (the owner neglected to tell the vet that she had just adopted Captain Bangs).  The vet prescribed multiple medications, including prozac.  PROZAC, people!  I had no meds for the cat, only peace, quiet, her own litter box, and science diet prescription c/d food. 

Guess what happened?  That’s right, nothing.  The cat slowly began to come out of hiding, and learned to tolerate the dogs.  I ran an adoption ad for her on www.petfinder.com, and after a couple nibbles, she found a home with a Methodist minister from NC.  He loved Persian cats, and his estranged wife had taken their two cats when she left.  He drove hours to pick up the Princess. 

Bow to your Princess

Bow to your Princess

The last I heard, the Princess and the minister and his dog were adjusting to their new life that fate had dealt them.  And me?  I am still finding fur from the Persian Princess in my RV palace at the Swamped! plantation.