Phase 1

May 23rd, 2020

This week we entered Phase 1 of reopening. We returned to regular hours at work on Thursday May 21, but we’re still not allowing owners in the building (which is fine by me, and fine by just about every client).

Yesterday was the first day I wore short sleeves to work under my scrubs, even though it’s been warm enough to for several days.

I entered UKI‘s agility at home trial for this weekend, and of course that meant it rained hard overnight. I built the first course already but it’s too soggy to run just yet, here’s hoping it dries out enough to run this afternoon. It’s great that they’re offering a titling at home trial with small space options! The dogs are super excited to play again, there was shrieking while I was building the course. I’m super excited to do agility too!

It’s Memorial Day Weekend but not much has changed, masks are being worn by the considerate people, which truly is most people. Social distancing rules are in effect but they are allowing outdoor gatherings of less than 10 people, and beaches are open but limited to 50% capacity.

Nina is 13! (Wait, Nina Is 13?!?)

May 14th, 2020
Nina, May 3, 2020

My most beautiful Bean, my heart dog, turns 13 today (May 14). It’s so hard to believe that the sweet, sassy little puppy is 13! She’s doing amazing, especially since we thought we might lose her a year and a half ago to a horrific bout of pancreatitis.

For my own reference (and for anyone who might be interested), I thought I’d note what I’ve done throughout her life to try and build on her good genes and keep her here, Nina-ing, for as long as she wants to be.

  • good genes are obviously the single most important factor, her daddy Birk was 16 1/2 when he died, his mother (Nina’s paternal grandmother or farmor) Ebba was 17
  • Nina has been lean and fit for her entire life, in fact an acquaintance who has Vallhunds (who are, to be polite, kept considerably plusher than mine) actually called Nina’s breeder Ulla to tell her how my dogs were far too thin. Given that I evaluate body condition as part of my job, and was taught how to do so BY A VETERINARIAN, I think I have a reasonable handle on body condition. Nina has been between 4.5 and 5 out of 9 for just about her entire life. Lean dogs live longer and are healthier. Now if I could just get someone to control MY kibble the way I control hers….
  • I wish I could say diet was a big factor, but… She’s eaten everything from raw to the now-discredited grain free diets to what she currently eats, which is ProPlan
  • she’s had a job (agility) her whole life and she loves it, plus it gives her a focus and a purpose
  • she’s been on Adequan since she was 7 years old (and in fact I started Alice on Adequan at just 10 weeks since there’s a study showing benefits to doing that, and it has no contraindications)
  • she’s been on a high-quality high-dose Omega Fatty Acid supplement (currently Catalyst Chews) since I brought her home
  • she’s been on Cosamin ASU Advanced (human version of Dasuquin Advanced and much cheaper) for several years, after being on Dasuquin since she was a year old
  • she sees a cardiologist every 6 months (not right now obviously), for her age-related valve disease, and she started cardiac meds (pimobendan and enalapril) as soon as they were recommended
  • she’s been on Denamarin Advanced (liver supplement) for both liver support (as pimobendan can affect the liver) and brain support (it’s an antioxidant which can help with canine cognitive dysfunction)
  • she’s been on ProNeurozone for a few months for brain support and I think it really makes a difference
  • I fed ProPlan Bright Mind 7+ for a while and I really think it made a significant difference to her overall brightness and interactivity, but it’s a bit too high in fat for her with her pancreatitis issue so now she’s on the ProPlan Savor Weight Management Reduced Fat and she LOVES it plus she gets extra because she doesn’t need to lose weight and it’s lower calorie. Great to have a decent and over-the-counter lower fat food, it’s 8% fat which seems to be suiting her really well. I am seeing the same sorts of effects on the Denamarin and ProNeurozone, which is great. She’s often the bounciest dog in the house some days!
  • she is hormonally intact. I had her hysterectomized (“ovary sparing spayed”) when her breeding career was over, but she still has her ovaries and the hormones they produce.
Nina on her birthday walkies

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook today:

In honor of her 13th birthday, here’s Nina’s QQ #19 towards her PACH (here’s hoping we get to actually run for QQ #20 at some point!) from March 8, 2020, which (as it turns out) was the last time we ran before the COVID lockdown.

If I’d known Nina’s JWW run here was going to be the last run we’d have for a while I….wouldn’t have done anything differently. Having had runs in the past where I was frustrated and let my dog know it, and then having had health scares with my dogs, I made a vow to myself and, more importantly, to my dogs, to always ask myself at the start of a run “if this ends up being your last run with this dog, how will you feel?”, and I try to run every run with joy and with the thought foremost in my mind that I love agility because of the teamwork with my dogs. I love agility because my dogs love playing it with me. I love my dogs before I love agility. But I sure do love agility. In large part because Nina loves agility so much. Her joy in her work is infectious and when runs go well, it’s like a Vulcan mind meld.

Nina has owned my heart since she first stood up on her back legs as a baby in the puppy pen at Ulla’s house and looked me straight in the eye. Her face said “take me home, I’m supposed to be yours”. She has always loved playing agility with me more than anything in the world, I am honored that I have played this game with her for so many years now. I am so very honored that she finished 2019 as the top AKC PACH Vallhund and qualified for the Invitational as the top PACH dog.

I hope we will have more trials in our future, I hope she gets that last QQ for her PACH one day, I hope we can run at the Invitational this year. But if none of those hopes come to be, I will still have the fact that this amazing little dog changed my life, I know people I would never have met because of her. She produced some amazing puppies whose families love them dearly. She is truly my heart dog and I wouldn’t change anything about her. Happy birthday my most beautiful, wonderful Ninabean. I love you so much. 

Ollie!

May 4th, 2020

Ollie (Alkemi Breaking Away LS) had knee surgery last year and look at him now! Ollie’s mom Pat does agility and tracking and Ollie looks like he loves to work! Thanks for the updates Pat!

COVID Walkies

May 3rd, 2020

It was a lovely weekend. Got the deck set up thanks to Jim and the power washer, just in time for it to be cold again this week. Oh well. Warmer days are coming.

This Too Shall Pass

May 2nd, 2020

It’s a Groundhog Day existence right now. It’s grinding. Every day is the same more or less. Tempers are fraying. Talk of reopening. Rioting armed maniacs in Michigan. We have to be stable or reducing the number of hospitalizations before we can reopen. I am hopeful they are doing the right thing. You still don’t want to get this if you can avoid it, there are some scary sequelae like sudden deaths from clotting issues in people who were thought to be recovering that we still don’t understand very well. Masks are here to stay I hope.

I love the sidewalk messages and art people are making
Alice found an empty robin’s egg

Testing Testing One Two

April 25th, 2020

They’re now offering testing at all the WellNow Urgent Care facilities here (there’s one literally around the corner), as I wrote on Facebook today: the current antibody tests being done are research, not truly diagnostic. There is so much we don’t know about this virus, and there are different kinds of antibodies they are measuring, one type shows exposure, the other type has to do with actual potential immunity, and they still don’t know how much immunity and for how long is actually possible. Baby steps. I’m just glad testing is now more available. We all need to remember though that there will likely be an explosion of positive case numbers now that more people are being tested. We already know that people who are symptomatic, presymptomatic (no symptoms yet), paucisymptomatic (very mild symptoms) and truly asymptomatic all test positive so higher positive test numbers don’t necessarily mean the virus is any more terrible, and in fact higher numbers of people who have the virus and aren’t very sick is good for the fatality rate, but bad for containment efforts.

My car battery was dead on Wednesday so we had to get AAA to come. Jim said the guy was coughing up a storm but said it was cigarettes. Fortunately masks were worn and distance was maintained and wipes were employed.

We were out walking last weekend and a guy power walked past us and coughed a few times and right away we were shrinking away from him (we were already like 15′ away anyway). Covid Bob.

People are being friendly and nice out in the world, waving at each other on walks while crossing the street to avoid each other. Other people are getting short and crabby with each other and tempers are frayed. It’s what we need to be doing right now.

We’re at the end of five weeks since the PAUSE order went into effect. Some people are really suffering from having to stay home. Not only financially, but mentally. My life is more or less the same as it would be anyway, since I’m a hermit. But holy shit do I miss agility. I miss it so much. I miss my peeps.

The PAUSE order is in effect until May 15, dumbfucks have been demonstrating because they want the lockdown ended. I’m terrified of the lockdown ending to be honest. I think masks and social distancing will be in effect for a long time, at least I hope it will. I can’t even imagine going into a crowd of people until there’s a better treatment or a vaccine.

sigh

April 8th, 2020
Teachers in masks and gloves handing out homework to parents. One brought her dog. One had a sign that said “I miss you all”. That made me cry.

I literally sobbed walking home after seeing the above.

And I had to cancel Nina’s cardiologist appointment for yesterday. On the other hand, the dogs are fit and happy. Here are the older ladies getting their bitey face on:

I miss agility. I miss agility SO MUCH. But even if I could, I don’t think I’d want to be in public yet.

Today Cuomo said we might, just might, be plateauing. But we also had the largest single-day death toll so far. The peak hasn’t hit us here yet according to Mark Poloncarz.

My dentist had it. Hospitalized for 5 days after two weeks of feeling like hell but being told to stay home and take steroids by her MD, the ER doc told her if she’d waited much longer she’d have died. She still doesn’t feel great, but she isn’t dead, and she’s home. Has to stay away from her dog for at least a week she says. She has asthma so she’s very lucky it wasn’t any worse.

A colleague of Jim’s likely has it, but his is at the “bad dose of flu” level.

Iceland says as many as 50% of infected people have no symptoms. That means we will probably find the death rate is actually lower than we think, but it also means that someone can be out there infecting other people without even knowing they have it. That’s one of the many reasons we have to keep up the social distancing. Especially because it seems to be working.

I don’t mind the staying home so much. But I sure mind how traumatic this all is. It’s OK not to be particularly productive. It extra sucks being a woman of a certain age right now, because the hot flashes make me think I’m feverish (even though you feel cold when you have a fever usually). Also I’m so much more emotional than usual. Hence the crying on the walkies.

I’m so conflicted about whether or not to breed a litter this year (talk about first world problems). If I don’t breed Zhora this summer, she’s done, she’ll be 8 in August after all. But scared about repro vet care and socializing. Oh well…

Keep calm and carry on.

The Only Way Out Is Through

April 4th, 2020

It’s a bizarre combination of boring and stressful. The CDC said yesterday that we should all be wearing masks in public to prevent asymptomatic infected from spreading the virus. Using terms like “asymptomatic infected” without irony and without writing about a zombie apocalypse seems…so so weird, just like everything else these days.

This is a typical workday for me just now:

  • wake up and realize that yes, this is really happening
  • get up, do what one usually does when one first gets up in the morning
  • wash hands for the first time that day
  • get dressed, go downstairs, let dogs out
  • wash hands (because I’ve touched the dogs and the doorknob)
  • usual morning ablutions, put makeup on (not sure why I’m still doing this but it makes me feel more “normal”)
  • make dogs’ breakfast, wash dog bowls
  • wash hands
  • make tea to take to work, grab whatever breakfast I will have, spray kitchen surfaces, tap, sink etc. with bleach
  • leave for work
  • arrive at work, put mask on, Lysol wipe anything and everything
  • wash hands
  • do usual but abbreviated workday but with no clients in the building, wearing a mask, staying 6′ apart from co-workers and washing hands every five minutes it seems like
  • I’ve taken a big cut in hours to help us make ends meet
  • come home, take off shoes at the door, go upstairs, take off scrubs and put right into hamper in closet, wash hands, change into “in the house” clothes, wash hands
  • eat lunch
  • go back upstairs, change into “out of the house” clothes, walk dogs
  • come home, shoes off at door, straight upstairs, take off “out of the house” clothes (which are kept in a separate room so I don’t have to wash them every single day), wash hands, change BACK into “in the house” clothes
  • do whatever for the rest of the afternoon (clean, video games, cook, eat dinner, watch “Time Team” or something equally absorbing but comforting)
  • go to bed, try to sleep, lather rinse repeat

I wash my hands somewhere between 15-50 times a day.

One of the Time Team episodes we watched this week was them digging a part of London that had been bombed badly in the Blitz. They were bombed EVERY NIGHT for 57 night. FIFTY SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROW. More civilians died in the Blitz than soldiers died in the war. That put this into perspective a bit. All we have to do is stay home and deal with whatever the fallout of this is. We’re not getting bombed EVERY NIGHT FOR FIFTY SEVEN NIGHTS. Holy shit. Keep calm and carry on indeed.

People are nicer in general, although tempers and nerves are frayed. We wave and say hi out in the world from 6′ away. I had to go to Tops this past week, I wore a mask, and it was still really scary and stressful. Every allergy cough from post nasal drip gives me anxiety. It’s just such a bizarre time. The environment will thank us though.

End of the first PAUSE week

March 29th, 2020

So things constantly change and evolve, and I’m reading this and watching that to make sure we’re staying safe at work, since we’re open. No clients in the building, staff staying 6′ apart, if we must be closer than 6′ we wear lab coats, gloves, eye protection and masks (we have reusable cloth masks that mothers made! Mine has poodles on it). People pay over the phone and we leave their purchases in a drop box by the back door or a PPE’d staff member takes them out with their pet. I feel more relaxed at work now, since we’re all taking this seriously. And I NEED to be working. A week or so ago I was scared to leave my house, now I need the normalcy (and the paycheck). I make myself put makeup on and be presentable just like it was a regular day.

This is the the weekend I was supposed to be at the National Agility Championship. AKC.tv has agility on all weekend. I really REALLY REALLY miss agility, I miss my peeps and running my dogs. There’s no way in hell I’d want to be at a trial right now though. Talk about first world problems, but it’s just a symptom of everything that’s going on.

I think I’m coping as well as I can, but fuck it’s hard some days. The worst hasn’t hit us yet here, it could be weeks before the first peak. NYC is very hard-hit. Cuomo is keeping me sane, he follows the same plan in his addresses most days: goes through the numbers, talks about the need for PPE and ventilators etc., reminds us that MOST people don’t get that ill and just recover at home, SOME people go into the hospital for a short time then go home, a SMALL PERCENTAGE need to go on a ventilator, MOST of those are people who are older and with compromised lungs or immune systems, etc.

Social media is a blessing and a curse and I spend very little time on there compared to BC (Before COVID19). I can’t take the doom and gloom and fearmongering, it gives me a panic attack. If it’s not Cuomo, the CDC or Dr Fauci, I don’t want to know. We wipe down our packages and leave shelf stable groceries sitting in the front room for days until it seems safe to unpack them. Some days I wake up and have to remind myself that this is really happening. I hope they don’t try and make things go back to normal too soon. We need to keep this social distancing (physical distancing) up for a while if it’s going to help. I am thankful to live in a state where the folks in charge seem to get it.

The dogs get a good long walk every day pretty much. When we see people out in the world we smile and wave from across the street.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all pulling together, sometimes it feels like the zombie apocalypse. I need Jim to remind me that this isn’t Captain Tripps on the regular.

Mornings are weird. So, so quiet.

3/24/20 the next street over

What last Wednesday morning sounded like:

What last Friday morning sounded like:

We’re on PAUSE

March 23rd, 2020

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-new-york-state-pause-executive-order

We’re on pause. Essential/emergency services only.

I went in and changed our voicemail message yesterday and had to re-record it like six times because I kept crying. This is real.

I’ve seen comments from experts that if we’d all just stay away from each other for 2 weeks we’d pretty much halt this. Let’s hope this works.

It’s surreal. Birds are singing, signs of spring are everywhere, my allergies are in full swing so I’m convinced I have coronavirus every time I cough. I keep doing the math about when the last time I was anywhere near a person other than Jim was…it’s been 2 weeks since the last agility trial, one week since our last semi-normal day at work (although we stayed 6′ away from clients). We had groceries delivered on Thursday but were pretty careful about unpacking them. They say you generally have symptoms 2-14 days after exposure. I’ve been washing my hands fifty times a day like someone with OCD (because duh), and my glasses at least twice a day. I’ve been wiping my phone, my Fitbit, doorknobs, taps, light switches…. I keep seeing Hollywood movies in my head about the virus being THERE and now it’s IN ME…

I realized that last Monday was the last remotely normal work day I will have for a while. You’d think that all this not-working time would be fun and relaxing but instead it’s just scary and sad.

Mostly people are being sensible and kind. When we see someone out in the world while walking the dogs we always wave and say hi and “stay safe” which is the new “have a nice day”. This could change us in good ways I hope, when we come out the other side. My neighbor is pregnant, I can’t imagine how scared she must be, and I can’t go and ask her because virus.

We have amazing scientists and medical folks working day and night on this. The NYT daily briefing says: We have at least 70 different drugs that might help. It makes you lose your sense of smell and taste. If we’d all just freeze 6′ away from each other for 2 weeks the pandemic would be massively reduced.

I’m scared. I’m scared of the virus even though 80-85% of people can recover at home. I’m scared of what it will do to the economy. I’m scared that this will be an excuse for the federal government to stop following the law even more than they already have. These are just the most bizarre times. I am so thankful I live in New York with a governor who is doing what Cuomo is doing. He is earning his pay for sure. Even people who hate him think he’s doing a good job with this. He’s working 7 days a week and looks exhausted. He’s our Winston Churchill. Speaking of whom, I saw a thing on Facebook that really resonated with me, to paraphrase: my parents lived through a WORLD WAR, all I have to do is stay away from other people and watch Netflix. I can do that, I’ve been training for it my whole life!