Monday, April 16, 2012

That's an Awful Lot of Poop

We've had Bea almost a year now, which is logically why our year supply of poop bags is almost done. We remembered just how many hundreds of bags we had in that year supply, and the thought we had was "my god, that's an awful lot of poop."

Just saying.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bea Doesn’t Know

I’m writing this on a flight from Norfolk to New York, returning home after attending a friend’s wedding. We have only been away for about 40 hours, but we’re really looking forward to seeing Bea.

Jacob, Jenna, and Bea’s girlfriend Leah have been keeping her company this weekend. We know that’s not going to be able to happen too many more times, as Jenna is about to have a baby. And let’s be honest, Bea would eat that baby. (Bea, if you’re reading this, don’t eat babies).

Bea loves playing with Leah, so she was very unsuspecting when I brought her over to Leah’s on Friday night. But then when I left, she was incredibly confused. The difference in a child’s sleep over and a dog’s sleep over is cognizance of what the hell is happening.

There was never a moment where we could explain that we’re just going to Virginia for 2 days and we’ll be back around noon on Sunday. Just a feeling of abandonment, followed 40 hours later by a feeling of overwhelming surprise.

While I’d love for Bea to know that she’s safe and we’ll be home soon, I admit, I’m very much looking forward to Bea’s “happy to see you” butt dance. It’s really become one of my favorite things.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Dog Named Kevin

When we tell people Bea's name, they either get it or they are very confused. Today, a woman couldn't understand why her name would have "Arthur" in it if she was female. I said "Well, she's kind of mannish." Crickets.

I began thinking about what the funniest name would be for a dog, and I've decided it's "Kevin." There are dogs in my neighborhood named things like Jax and Magoo and Apricot and other things that you'd never name a human being unless you were famous. But there aren't any named for some guy in your office.

I just imagine a ridiculous looking pug waddling through a dog park and saying, "This is my dog, Kevin."

Maybe Sara and I are strange. But we've been laughing for the last 10 minutes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mean Girls

This morning we took Bea to the dog park to do her thing - which is what we do most mornings. Usually she has it all to herself, and the neighborhood was especially quiet due to Good Friday and Passover. But why is this morning different from all other mornings?

A dog and her owner came in to the park while Bea was already there. When they got into that little submarine airlock entrance part, Sara atypically suggested that our two dogs meet through the fence first. The owner agreed, and the other dog went absolutely nuts and tried to eat Bea through the fence. Bea, being the street tough that she is, tried the same. Thankfully the fence prevented any damage, as Bea was the size of this dog's paw.

As the other owner left, Sara explained that she'd suggested the fence meet & greet because she'd seen this dog before - and this dog doesn't like other female dogs. Sara also said that's fairly common. I thought back to high school, and I agree.

The good news is that after the incident, Bea pooped almost immediately. I don't know if it was the stress, the fact that we helped with her battle, something else, or coincidence. But a quick poop is always appreciated.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Build a Portable Ramp for Your Dog

It's too early to tell if Bea's knee is getting better from the glucosamine, the laser treatments, or neither. But I do know she can't keep jumping up on the bed, on the couch, and into the car. As is, Bea occasionally falls off the bed. It's one of those "if this didn't hurt her, it'd be adorable" moments. Kind of like when she's chasing Leah and runs into a wall.

I decided that I would build her a few ramps. I've gotten a lot handier since building the club, so I went to Home Depot, bought a better set of power tools, and some supplies. What followed was a Slum Dog Millionaire building experience, where everything I built, I learned from the club.

I ended up building her a ramp, covered in carpet - with a hinge in the middle so it can be put away neatly when needed. Well, I built her three of them, but they're all exactly the same. Not including the tools, each one cost about $15 - and only took an hour. And if I had a better way to cut the carpet than household scissors, it would have taken half that time.

If you'd like to do the same for your dog, here's what you'll need. You can change the size of things depending on the height of the ramp you need and the size of your dog.

-6 pieces of shelf board, 2' long x 1' wide x 3/4" thick
-6 2-inch hinges with 36 3/4" screws
-A 2' x 12' piece of carpet
-A box of wood staples

I bought two 6-foot pieces of 12" by 3/4" shelf board. Since I needed it in 2-foot sections, it's cheaper to buy it pre-cut than buying one sheet of 12-foot. I paid for the other 4 cuts, so I had 6 pieces of 2-foot long board. I chose shelf board because it's already painted, finished, and smooth - and I wasn't sure how much of it I'd be covering with carpeting. Whatever you do, don't buy pressure treated wood - that is made for outdoors, and is treated with chemicals. (I learned this while building the club's drink rail).

Don't worry about sanding the edges of the wood - those will be covered with carpet (or the ramps will slide on the floor). Your next step will be hinging the wood together. I used two 2-inch hinges on each ramp - strong enough to hold it together, but they don't add much weight. If you need to build something larger, increase the size of the hinges and consider adding a 3rd hinge. Don't put the hinges all the way on the edge; to distribute more of the weight, start an inch or two off the edge. Drill pilot holes first so you don't splinter the wood - and if you get an electric screwdriver, spend the extra $20 to get an impact screwdriver. It will make your life MUCH easier, and the screws are more likely to go in flush. (I learned this while building the club's shelves).

Next is the carpeting. I bought an electric staple gun - it cost me $40 extra but saved several hours and blisters. Also, the staples go in much more flush with an electric. I bought just enough carpet to wrap around the board and leave the middle with the hinges uncovered. If you cover them, the hinges won't work because the carpet will have no slack. If any staples don't go in all the way, go back over your work and knock them in with a hammer. (I learned this while building the club's stage).

Finally, I covered the hinges, sort of. I stapled a piece of carpet to one of the boards, while leaving the other board unstapled. That way when the ramp is open, every part of the wood is covered and thus doesn't need sanding. And when the ramp is folded, there's only a bit of carpet sticking out. (This skill I made up on the fly).

The hardest part of building the ramp is training your dog to use it. Bea is good about going down the ramp, but she still jumps up. We have seen improvement though - she's started jumping on the ramp and then jumping from the ramp to the couch. Eh, it's a start. I am guessing it will take a week or two to train her. If not, at least I can use the ramps to make my porch wheelchair accessible.

Bea surveying the ramp, upside down.

Bea posing by the ramp halfway folded

Bea, using the ramp the way she uses it.

Bea helping me put the ramp away.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bea Arthur Likes to Watch (A Post By Sara)

Steve is busy with this and hasn't had a whole lot of time to blog. Intermittently blogging with a professional comedian/writer is fairly intimidating, as I'd rather take a math test over writing an essay. However, my fear of being less enjoyable reading is overcome by my desire to share Bea's stories on this blog. So here it goes.

Over the past several months, we have been leaving the TV on as a calming mechanism for her separation anxiety. Since the TV is almost always on when we're home, logic would dictate that Bea wouldn't feel as alone if it were on when we're not home. Although we have now trained her to know that we'll always come back, we still leave the TV on for Bea when we leave.

There is something so inherently amusing about a dog watching television that we have had a great deal of fun choosing programming for her. Our main goal is to not have scary music or sudden loud sounds. Bea's rarely reacted to the television while we're home other than perking her ears up when a dog barks. Although when the Westminster dog show was on, Bea sat up with her ears alert and stared at the television. Maybe she was protesting their decision to drop Purina over their shelter dog ad.

How come there's no dog show for mixed breeds? Racists.

Some top choices are:

Golden Girls, so she can watch her namesake.
Telenovelas, so she can keep up with her Spanish.
Antiques Road Show, so she can get some art and culture.
Bob Ross, because Bea loves happy little trees (at least peeing on them).
The Real Housewives of NYC, so Bea can learn she's not the only bitch in town.
Sesame Street, so she can learn to read and count.
Dogs 101, so she can learn about her cousins.
House Hunters and House Hunters International - she loves to look at real estate.

The main comfort Bea gets out of the television is that it simply drowns out any neighbor noises in the hallway that might freak her out. But in case she actually likes watching it, we left the Puppy Bowl on for her during the Superbowl. She's a big fan of the mixed breeds.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Bea's Knees

When you have a 49-year-old dog named Bea Arthur, you're not surprised when the vet tells you she has arthritis.

We assume Bea is almost 7 - we got her last summer, and she was 6. But we don't know how far into 6 she was. She was a street dog, so her age is probably just the best guess of a vet, and not the exact count of how many rings she has inside. I always thought that counting rings was such a cruel way to tell how old a tree was, because you can't count til it's dead. "Happy birthday! It's your last one."

We've been taking Bea to the same vet since we got her. They're a few blocks away, and since there's never available street parking in Manhattan, a vet we could walk to seemed like a great option. But the more Bea had to go to the vet, the more it became apparent that we'd be better off driving to Connecticut if we had to.

For the last several months, Bea has been limping. It's not constant, but it's often - she will hop without putting weight on her right hind leg. As adorable as a bunny hop can be, it was clear Bea was hopping because she was in pain, so we wanted to get it fixed as soon as possible. When it started, we brought Bea to our vet (let's call her Dr. A), who looked at the leg and said it clearly didn't pain her, so no problem. Um, okay.

I noticed the limp getting worse recently, so when I took Bea in for shots last week, I brought it up again. Dr. A suggested Bea might have arthritis, which seemed like a reasonable guess. Reasonable, sure, but also a guess. What a great way to diagnose a problem.

"Doctor, I have a headache."

"Maybe you have the flu?"


"Okay. Lupus?"

There were no tests other than Dr. A touching Bea's leg to see if she'd yank it away in pain. Which is silly; Bea is a tough girl. She'll get in the face of dogs three times her size without blinking - I don't think she'd yank her leg away if it was trapped in a thresher (which, thankfully, it is not).

Dr. A gave us some glucosamine (marked up, of course), and said to feed her one cube a day for 3 months to see if it works. That's a hell of a racket. By the time we're done with that experiment, we're $150 in.

Sara wasn't satisfied with the diagnosis, and I don't blame her. Dr. A seemed to be the kind of vet that is great for routine shots, but anything complicated was out of her knowledge base.

A woman in the park told Sara about an animal clinic in Chelsea that does a laser treatment, which allegedly worked on her dog. We went in for a consult on Saturday - and within 5 minutes, that vet (Dr. B) diagnosed Bea with a luxating patella, apparently a common problem for small dogs. The more we read about it, the more obvious it seemed. Perhaps Dr. A was sick the day they covered L illnesses in vet school.

A luxating patella means a patella that luxates back and forth. Okay, so that's not really a thing, but Bea's back knees pop out of place. The two possibilities for correction are laser treatments that cost about $600 or surgery that costs about a million dollars. Okay, so about $5K, but that's close.

Dr. B suggested the laser treatment, which confirmed our suspicion that he is responsible. Or maybe, knowing the lasers won't work, he's going for the slow play where he gets $600 now and $5,000 later.

I'm guessing the former, since we've already noticed Bea limping less after just two treatments. We went in for the second treatment today, which was difficult to do by subway. Even in her adorable makeshift travel bag, on the subway Bea shakes like an iPhone on vibrate. We ended up walking the last mile because we couldn't take how scared she was. And if there's anything that will calm a frightened dog, it is walking through midtown Manhattan during rush hour. Oops. Wednesday, we drive - If I have to, I'll stay in the car or pay for a garage.

The upside is that while we lose the comedy of a 49-year-old named Bea Arthur having arthritis, we gain the much funnier idea of a 49-year-old named Bea Arthur having an addiction to laser tag.

It is amazing how quickly I've become okay with spending money and time on Bea. A year ago, I didn't think I'd ever have a dog. Now I have one that I spend hours and hours with each week that's already cost us $6K (and we're not even a year in). The treatments don't just cost $600, they also take time. We have to take her in 3 days a week for the next month, and then once a month after that. Hell, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like getting haircuts because they take too much time out of my schedule. But when you fall in love, you're willing to go the extra mile. Even if it's in midtown Manhattan in rush hour.

How can you look at her and say no?