I suddenly realized I had better write before I totally lose my sense of humor! The disasters are checking in with regularity and when I find time to sit down, you can hear the sigh in the next county.
First, a shout-out to our local grocer. With The Bartender scooting around the house, foot in a post-surgery cast, I am now the Number One Shopper. When I pull into any cashier line with a gigantic box of romaine, a case of organic baby oatmeal, and a bottle of vodka, they simply ask “Animal food or people food first?” They know we buy scads of vegetables on the Funny Farm account. No one asks why we have been ordering baby cereal by the case for EIGHT YEARS, or who eats so much sub-par winter corn on the cob. They know all about Dobby, and ask how he’s doing.
Not so hot, by the looks of it. He has had trouble walking for a couple months, now. I have arthritis and his gait looks like I feel, he struggles more on my bad days, rallies a bit on my good days. His bloodwork was inconclusive, but we may be looking at Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which compares to osteoporosis. Or maybe he has lymphoma. WE DON’T KNOW. But his original vet is available again, that’s how we got the blood draw without knocking him out. I have an ambulatory x-ray machine coming in tomorrow, and if Dobby cooperates by standing still, we’ll get an inside-out look at his bones. He’s got cabin fever after all of this nasty weather, and he sits comfortably under his new UV lights in the kitchen. Prey animals are more nervous when they are unhealthy, so he is hesitant to go to the front yard which is chock full of jaguars and anacondas. The ground has been frozen for a few weeks, so I’m wary of frostbite, much more deadly than predators.
draft saved 6 days ago
Okay, this is my point. I started this blog post almost a week ago. I would have time to write if there wasn’t so darned much going on around here. There certainly is no lack of material. Since that sorry draft, I have cleaned up the flooded downstairs. Then my prodigal son and his newly arrived girlfriend moved down there. That frees up his sister’s room for her visit in two days. The Bartender has graduated to cast number two in the series and can drive himself around, but still has to butt-sit his way down stairs. The yard is no longer frozen, well, the swimming pool is still totally frozen over. Not even a little thawed edge showing yet. It’s off-limits to capybaras right now anyway.
The veterinarian with the ambulatory x-ray apparatus came and went and I was so busy I didn’t take even one photo! All the busy paid off and The Prince was pleased with his visitors and held very still for his pictures. Unfortunately, they showed an L7 fracture. That’s basically a broken back. Very common with MBD, so we were spot on with the treatment. Unfortunately, there was a recall of Calcionate Syrup, the preferred treatment, so we are literally limping along with Calcium carbonate powder. Dobby is in good spirits, but occasionally spars with his corn, clicking at it when the Metacam doesn’t quite cover the pain. He’s terrifically spoiled, now, after all those cold-night slumber parties, and fresh-picked buckets of bamboo.
So why does Dobby have MBD? Actually, his radiographs don’t seem to indicate it, but the fracture is telling. That wouldn’t happen if his bones were strong. To promote strong bones, his diet needs to be high in calcium- higher than his phosphorus intake. His starchy diet isn’t very good, but it is difficult to provide fresh greens in winter. Horses can get by on hay in winter, but dry hay doesn’t supply vitamin C, which capybaras seem to need in copious quantities. He seems to know this and craves the fresh bamboo foliage slowly taking over my front yard.
He eats his lettuce but turns his nose up at the fancy kale the Guinea pigs snarf down. I tried growing kale at snout level, fenced it off, pretended it was very special, but he still won’t touch it. Collards, are you kidding? Everything he likes is bad for him. I recently discovered fresh dandelion greens at our grocery store, and he’ll deign to eat alfalfa if it’s the fancy Guinea Pig hay in a pretty little bag. He won’t touch the big bale out in the barn.
Back to the calcium, well, it’s is poorly absorbed without Vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from sunshine and everything you have heard about Seattle is true. It’s dark and gloomy all winter. At the winter solstice, the sun rises around 7am and sets around 4pm. That’s well shy of the equatorial day he would enjoy in South America. The only other way to get Vitamin D is in milk, as a supplement. That’s why they supplement milk with Vitamin D, so that our kids can absorb all that calcium in their milk. It’s also why Seattle vegans are encouraged to take a Vitamin D supplement. You can’t get D from vegetables and grain. And that’s why Dobby has tanning bed lights hanging over his bed in the kitchen. I’m tempted to lay under there with him myself.
I’m sick but I’m pretty . . .
So what else? This has been a bitterly cold winter and I have lost 3 doves. Two were treated, responded, but no, didn’t make it. The third didn’t give any warning. The flock and the cats are happy the freezing is gone for now, and resigned to the constant drizzle. The wild mallards have become a problem, so there are no garden party treats when there are more than six mallards lurking. There have been as many as 38 looking for handouts. I’m hoping Norman, my Flock Manager, will learn to drive off the mallards to earn his treats, but that might be asking too much.
I need to write up my Shanghai experiences. It was a fabulous trip, blasting many preconceptions. I came home with answers to questions I didn’t know I had. When you don’t know what you are getting into, every moment is a surprise. Questions pop into your head hours and days after your brain finally processes what your eyes have scanned. I look at my photos in detail and exclaim, “What the heck is THAT?” Much too late for a close-up shot or in-person examination.
Dobby has a birthday coming up, his eighth! Born on Valentine’s Day in 2009, these eight years have brought me a lot of joy. I’m glad I didn’t know how tricky these guys are to raise up. I have been very lucky, and even with this devastating new development, I continue to marvel at my good fortune. I’m not sure what we will be doing to celebrate, but please join Dobby at his facebook alias page next month and we’ll make something good happen!