Sarah’s Got Mail!

Sarah received her first piece of mail…

Sare Bear was so excited to get mail of her own!
Sare Bear was so excited to get mail of her own!

Hearing the sad tale of poor Sarah being forced to wear padded sports bras, Run A Muck Ranch fan Yanina of Texas came to her aid, sending Sare Bear not 1 but 2 UNpadded XXL sports bras!

The grey formal bra.
The grey formal bra.
The blue firty bra.  Marcy wants one!
The blue firty bra. Marcy wants one!

Thank you Yanina from Sarah and Run A Muck Ranch!  Sarah can step out with pride now!

Poor Gracie Had A Bad Day

Today Gracie went to the dentist.

This time she lost 3 teeth:  2 molars, 1 incisor.

T’was not a good day at all.

If I could see, I'm sure I'd see a bunch of pretty lights right now!
If I could see, I’m sure I’d see a bunch of pretty lights right now!

I’m kind of wondering if we should just ask the vet to remove all teeth from Gracie and Pablo.  Losing teeth every cleaning is getting very frustrating!

Problem Solving at Run A Muck Ranch

Gertie has decided the master bathroom, with it’s stone tiles is her room.

The tiles are cool and comfy and it doesn’t hurt that there’s a floor vent blowing fresh, cool air from the AC on a constant basis.

We’ve tried putting dog beds, memory foam mats and the like in the bathroom to give her a softer surface to lay on, but she prefers direct Gertie/cool and refreshing stone contact. We’ve come to believe that elevating her on a softer surface would put her too many precious centimeters higher above the floor vent than she’s willing to risk.

Anywho, you get the gist of how Gertie feels about the bathroom, the floor and more importantly, the floor vent.

While I was at work today, something TERRIBLE happened.

The floor vent somehow got closed.

The constant gush of cool air was gone.

What’s a Gertie to do when conditions aren’t to her liking?

If I was home, she would have come to me, and with “Billy is stuck in the well” urgency, made me follow her to the bathroom to open the vent.

But I wasn’t home, Crabby was.  Men can’t be moms and Gertie knows this.  Rather than ask Crabby for assistance, she took matters into her own paws.

Sweet Relief!  Gertie will live another day.
Sweet Relief! Gertie will live another day.  

Not sure how Gertie figured out that the only way to make the cool air come back was to remove the closed vent, but by golly she figured it out!   Whatever she did, it was impressive enough for Crabby to take a picture.

There’s Always Something New at Run A Muck Ranch

Edit:  I posted this less than 12 hours ago and I already have 6 e-mails with photos in my inbox, mostly of the paws of senior dogs.  Apparently Hairy Paw isn’t as rare as implied by the vet, but none of us are recognizing it as a cause for lameness in older or lame (for other reasons) dogs.  Check your dog’s feet now and see if he or she could be hurting!  If you find any new information on this subject, please share!


From the people who brought you Fart Walks, intended to force DASH!  to flatulate

I fear my own farts.
I fear my farts, therefore I don’t fart!

and Sunday Evening Butt Shaves to keep Gertie’s nether regions aired out

Gertie has skin issues in her nether regions which requires permanent shaving to keep the area aired out.
It ain’t pretty but it does the job.

come Pawdicures!

Something about Sarah overheating in 1/2 hour in less than 80 degrees last weekend kept niggling at the back of my mind, so, you guessed it, to the vet we went.

Turns out, Sarah has Hairy Paws, formally known as Nasodigital Hyperkaratosis.  With this condition, the cells on (in Sarah’s case) the paw pads overgrow, causing the appearance of hair growing on the pads.

Photo of Hairy Paw pilfered from the web.
Photo of Hairy Paw pilfered from Pet Help Forum.

Imagine walking barefoot on upright needles.  That is the effect of Hairy Paw on the sufferer.

Sarah’s evening walks with Gertie are maybe 15 minutes at most and we don’t move very fast.  Sunday’s walk was faster and more importantly out on the desert for the first time in months so Sarah, like the others, hit the ground running.  It wasn’t that Sarah overheated due to the temperatures, it was because her feet hurt and the stress caused her to overheat.  When all 4 feet hurt, it’s hard to limp and when you don’t want to be left behind, you walk despite the pain.

The vet said he had only seen about 4 cases of Nasodigital Hyperkaratosis in his 20 years of practice, so rare he said it was, he couldn’t even remember the name of the condition.  He said all we could to was cut the effected parts off the pads with scissors and that it would be necessary for the rest of her life, Hairy Paw being incurable.

I guess the condition has to be rare because Sarah was at a different vet in July because her wobblyness and pain appeared to be increasing.  Her feet never came up as a cause and instead we left with a script for Adaquan.

As I always do when I leave a vet with a new diagnosis, I immediately called my hero and guru, Nora, to get her input.  If there is a disease, condition or disability out there, Nora has deliberately adopted a dog because of it.  As expected, she knew the medical term and was able to give me a brief primer on the subject.

I then got home and got on the Net looking for more information.  After I sifted out the snake oils and other scary treatments, and using prior knowledge about certain unrelated biochemistry subjects and personal experiences, and from testing methods on myself, I came up with this Phase 1 Trial of an at home Hairy Paw treatment/maintenance pawdicure:

Note:  I had already gotten about as much tissue off with scissors as I could possibly get over 2 prior sessions.  Sarah’s feet were washed with a solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and water before cutting the tissue.  This makes it SO much easier!  What I’m doing now is “maintenance”.

Step 1:   Remove a few layers of excess tissue with a Ped Egg ($14 from Bed, Bath & Beyond).

While her feet still look bad, they are scores better than they were when we started a couple days ago.
While her feet still look bad, they are scores better than they were when we started a couple days ago and Sarah’s wobble has decreased and traction has increased significantly.  She’s still our gimpy girl, but improved.  

A few people blogged or reported that a dremel works well for this. I tested the dremel on my rough heels and can honestly say NEVER USE A DREMEL ON YOUR DOG’S PADS!  It hurts!  (Which  is probably why the same people reported they needed someone to help hold the dog still.)  I took a chance with the Peg Egg and got lucky that it actually worked.  Note the buffed margin along Sarah’s heel (photo above).  Sarah never flinched.

The stress you see in Sarah's eyes is not due to having her feet worked on. Though we provided her with a comfy memory foam mat to lay on, we didn't think to give her a pillow at this point.
The stress you see in Sarah’s eyes is not due to having her feet worked on. Though we provided her with a comfy memory foam mat to lay on, we didn’t think to give her a pillow at this point.

The instructions that came with the Ped Egg and the reviews I found on the Internet say never use it on wet skin. Heed the warning!  I tried using it on a towel dried arm and it burned.  Absolutely, completely dry paws only!

Step 2: Foot soaked and cleaned with diluted Apple Cider Vinegar


Rather than make Sarah stand in the tub or a bucket, I made a 50/50 solution of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and water, heated it, then used it as a compress.  Other people say they soak, standing, in a diluted solution of Propylene Glycol.  More about Propylene Glycol later.

The reason I chose ACV is that it removes oily build up from the skin without altering the pH or drying it out.  You don’t realize just how gritty and oily a dog’s paw is until you try to scissor cut it!  I tried ACV on a hunch and just got lucky it worked.

After holding the warm compress on the foot for a few minutes, I washed the whole pad with the same solution, dipping the cloth several times.  All the left over skin scrapings from the Ped Egg came off very easily.

Compare to the first pic when I was using the Peg Egg on the same foot. MUCH smoother, don't you think?
Compare to the first pic when I was using the Peg Egg on the same foot. MUCH smoother, don’t you think?

Step 3:  After drying the foot, massage vegetable glycerin in and around the pad.

Everyone loves a good foot massage!
Everyone loves a good foot massage!

I mentioned Propylene Glycol earlier.  This chemical is used as a humuctant, meaning it attracts moisture.  Other people swear by soaking in it.  This is why I disagree with using it:

Propylene Glycol is a petroleum product, a manufactured chemical.  Vegetable glycerin, also a humuctant, is the end product of distilling vegetable oils.  Both are used interchangeably.  Need I say more?  Propylene Glycol is cheaper than vegetable glyerin, probably why it’s more popular.

As far as soaking in a humuctant, a little something I learned from working with horses with bad feet:  You can’t get any ‘moister’ than pure water.  Using a humuctant while soaking or hosing a horse’s feet is pointless.  It gets used after.  Using that same the logic, I apply the humuctant to Sarah’s feet last. A bonus with vegetable glycerin is that it is absorbed quickly and there is no slippery residue that would make walking on laminate floors difficult.

The one problem I may encounter is our climate.  In extremely how humidities, there is little moisture to absorb from the atmosphere, so the vegetable glycerin may not work as well here as in a more temperate clime.  I may have to switch to an oil but I’ll have to experiment to find one that absorbs fast so Sare Bear isn’t left sliding on the floors.

1 foot done, 3 more to go!  How’re you doing Sarah?

Soo much better since I got me a pillow!
Soo much better since I got me a pillow!

The whole process took about 1/2 hour.

I’m going to do this every week, or until I’m down to 100% unadulterated pad,  and then watch the paws to see how often it needs to be done.

I’m also going to try papaya “masks” to see if it helps.  Fun Fact:  The excess tissue is Keratin, which is a protein.  The predominant amino acid in Keratin is Cysteine.  The protein digesting enzyme in Papaya, Papain, specifically digests Cysteine.  Theoretically, the use of papaya as a preemptive strike should break down the excess Keratin before it becomes a problem.  I’ll let you know if the theory holds true. I’ve used papaya myself many times over the years without discomfort so I feel safe using it on Sarah.

This is all still new to me and, therefore subject to change without notice if I learn something new or something I’m already doing proves not to work.  So far at least, all systems appear to be Go.

And with that, I leave you with a photo of Sarah, long after her Pawdicure was finished, just to show you the trauma she suffered.

Far too relaxed to get up any time soon.
Far too relaxed to get up any time soon.

The Evolution of Office Space

There wasn’t enough room on my old desk to do anything but play on the computer.

There was nowhere else in the house I could do work – school, research, administrative work for The Barkista, etc. No matter where I went, a pack of mutts was sure to follow to, at least in their opinions, “help” me with whatever I was doing.

The bed was the only place I could spread out my books. As you can see, the conditions are not 'ideal', at least for work purposes.
The bed was the only place I could spread out my books. As you can see, the conditions were not ‘ideal’, at least for work purposes.

Shutting the door against The Horde was not a consideration lest I wanted to cause various stress related life threatening conditions.  Keep in mind, I haven’t been able to close the bathroom door since, I think 2010…2011 for sure.

With the constant research required for staying on top of recent research into dog nutrition, as well as cross referencing and cross checking against previously recorded data, I was at a loss.  My only option was to go to a library (none close) and spread out over a table.  Unfortunately, that took me away from home and dogs.   I’m gone all day at work – the kids don’t want me gone again in the evenings!

Crabby sought to rectify the situation.  He scored on some surplus office furniture and re-did the office.

Now, not only do I have a place ON the desk for my computer and monitor, but the printer too, with significant space to spare – on that one side.  At a right angle to that portion of the desk I have a return with plenty of room to spread out, and a chair that doesn’t tweak my back!

Can you say AWESOME!

Perhaps you speak too soon.

New Desk, Night 1:


New Desk, Day 3:


New Desk, Night 4:


At my feet, at this very moment, I’m dealing with this

Put me up Mom, put me up!
Put me up Mom, put me up!

And this:

Pllleeeeeze put me up Ma!
Pllleeeeeze put me up Ma!

I’m never going to win, am I?

Catching Up At Run A Muck Ranch: Gracie

With all the trials and tribulations with Vito, work, trying to get the new business going and life in general, I’ve let many a tale, status and update of the goings on here at The Ranch fall to the wayside.

One of the significant occurrences I never reported is that Gracie has gone blind.

Gracie is the product of a pairing between a dog and a goat, with a resulting offspring hooking up with a muppet.
Gracie is the product of a pairing between a dog and a goat, with one of the resulting offspring hooking up with a muppet.

We really weren’t surprised to hear the news.  Gracie never did have the greatest vision to begin with.  What did bother us quite a bit was that we didn’t even notice she lost what she had.  Gracie was getting her shots when the vet, who didn’t know her, asked if she had been blind her whole life.  She was completely and totally unresponsive visually during the exam and when he specifically looked at her eyes, he still couldn’t get a response.

Gracie is still Gracie whether she can see or not.
Gracie is still Gracie whether she can see or not.

Gracie has always had cataracts, but it wasn’t so bad that she couldn’t get around.  Sometimes they advance to a point and stop. Sometimes they blind.  Rather than doing surgery early on, we decided to take the wait and see approach.

Before you judge, consider this:  The consultation with the eye specialist is $125.  At that visit you are told to return for testing, which can run between $850 and $950.  From that testing it is then determined whether or not the $5500 cataract surgery is even a possibility.

When we were first told of Gracie’s cataracts years ago and we did that initial consultation with the specialist, I asked point-blank: Would waiting have any effect on the up or down vote that would result from the testing.  The answer was no.  If waiting would have no bearing on whether Gracie was a surgical candidate down the road, and since we didn’t happen to  have nearly $7000 at our disposal at the time, we opted against surgery and hoped for the best.

Blind dogs can still rock!!
Blind dogs can still rock!!

As luck would have it, we still don’t have nearly $7000 in the piggy bank for the surgery so there’s really nothing we can do.  That said, she WILL require additional vet visits during the year in addition to her annual checkups to make sure she doesn’t progress to glaucoma, an apparent possibility. If it gets to that point, we will take all necessary measures, even if it means I have to sell Crabby on street corners to get the money to treat the glaucoma.  There is no pain with cataracts, there is with glaucoma.

All that doom and gloom aside, there is a little snippet I wrote earlier that I’m not sure you paid attention to.  I said that we didn’t even notice Gracie had gone completely blind.  We’re not sure Gracie even noticed!  Other than minor bumps or stumbles, she hasn’t missed a beat:  Squeak a toy – she’s on it.  Take her for a walk – her nose is to the ground looking for hoo doos  and, assuming the pull of the smells aren’t too strong, she comes right to us when she’s called.    She has no problems finding Crabby or me around The Ranch, or finding Hector when she needs her face washed.  Her dinner dances remain at their historic levels and Lord knows she has no problems finding her dinner room or her bowl (or anyone else’s bowl for that matter)!

The way we see it, if Gracie doesn’t know she’s blind, we’re certainly not going to tell her!

It’s the nose and not the eyes that make finds like this possible.

We will have to make certain changes when Sunday Family Desert Walk season starts again. Gracie, like the rest of the Nimwits, loves these outings and to deny her her most favorite of activities would be cruel.   So that she is not left out, she is either the only dog walking with either Crabby or me solo or if she goes with a group, Crabby and I both have to be present.  Morning or evening walks, regardless of number of people or dogs, are out of the question due to coyote threats. And of course, when the rains give us smelly water holes to swim in, we will keep a closer eye on her lest she get disoriented and swim too far out to the center.  Separate from that, I am looking into GPS locator collars, just in case.

Other than changes to her desert walks, Gracie’s life is no different now from the way it was before.  Well, that’s a fib.  Since hearing the news, she doesn’t have to wait for the full rotation before getting her couch or people bed time – she gets extras.   Even if we aren’t treating her differently doesn’t mean I can’t treat her differently!  (Moms understand)

So, bummer about Gracie’s eyes, but no worries about Gracie.   She has many, many more adventures to experience and share with you before she’s done.  She just won’t be able to describe them in living color.

Gracie was, is and will always remain - Perfect.
Gracie was, is and will always remain – Perfect.

More Troubles In Willy World

I’ve gotten way behind on my house chores.  An unexpected early work day gives me the opportunity to catch up.

Among the plethora of chores I’m behind on is laundry.  Dog laundry to be more specific.  Every week I wash all dog beds, blankets and even their toys.

I just started the 3rd load, and noticed the living room had no more toys strewn about.  I could have sworn there were more.

Then I found this:

Don’t worry Toys, I’ll make sure you get to stay smelly!

Apparently Willy is as displeased over the prospect of laundering the toys today as he was over my timing of washing the couch cover yesterday.

He’s going to be quite peeved in about 30 minutes when the current wash load is finished and the bed he’s sleeping on will be disassembled for the next one.