Archive for the ‘homestead’ Category

Special Needs Puppy: Make Me A Match

October 22, 2013 - 9:26 pm 23 Comments


This is Major. Today she’s about nine and a half weeks old, and she’s the remaining puppy from Kang’s last (most recent and really last, I plan to spay her as soon as her milk finishes drying up) litter.

The reason Major is still here, and why she’s getting a post here as opposed to having been the first or second puppy sold, is that she has a congenital heart condition. If it had been something straightforward like a PDA, I would have ponied up for the corrective surgery and sold her once she had recovered; unfortunately, the consultation I had with a veterinary cardiologist revealed what she’s actually got is pulmonic stenosis, a different and much less common (the cardiologist commented she’d simply never seen it in an Akita before now) issue. We do not yet know how severe the stenosis is- she was too young at the time to get a good picture- but the cardiologist suggested it wasn’t likely to be mild. We’ll know when she is old enough to have another, clearer ultrasound done in another month or two. She also has a defect in the wall between her ventricles, which the cardiologist said may either be making things worse or actually helping; apparently they often occur together and the treatment for THAT defect on its own is giving the patient an artificial case of stenosis. Apparently Major is very medically interesting! I could have done with boring, personally.

Major has no clinical signs that there is anything wrong with her heart. She was diagnosed as young as she was (around five weeks) because she had a loud heart murmur (stenosis apparently produces very dramatic murmurs) and I wanted to know what was going on. Depending on how severe it is she is increasingly likely to show such signs the bigger she gets. Right now she is a very active and exploratory puppy who appears normal in all respects unless you have a stethoscope.

Depending on how severe the stenosis turns out to be and what the topography of her heart is, there are options for treatment and prognosis. At the least she is very likely to need beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and yearly cardiac ultrasounds for the rest of her life. Depending on how things shake out she may be a good candidate for surgery. The surgery only helps, it does not cure; it has a success rate, with success being defined as “successfully turned a severe or moderate stenosis into a moderate or mild one”, of about 75%. (Apparently some patients simply heal back the way they were.) Like pretty much all cardiac surgeries for dogs, it would require a veterinary cardiologist with some specialized equipment and cost somewhere in the range of 3-5k. The outcomes for severe stenosis vary all over the map; anywhere from death at around a year of age to living into their teens and dying of something completely unrelated to their heart. Prognosis and outcomes get significantly better with treatment and surgery, but a dog diagnosed as such will always have a risk of early death, the more severe the stenosis the bigger the risk.

Because of all this I’m looking to place little Major without taking money for her, unless said money is for transport expenses. If treated as I believe appropriate she will be far from a “free” dog, though exactly what the costs will be is pretty variable and hard to predict now. I am not willing to euthanize a pup with a perfectly lovely temperament who is as likely to life a full life as an abbreviated one; she will stay here as long as it takes for us to find the right home for her. While she is here she will receive whatever treatment is appropriate for her at the time and be raised and trained as a normal puppy. We do not want to keep her; three Akitas is more than enough Akita, and four would be doing a disservice to her, us, and the other dogs, but I’m aware it may take me awhile to find that home.

If it were not for her heart condition she would have been the first puppy placed; she was first pick by temperament for more than one person or family waiting for a pup out of this litter. She is confident, friendly and social even when stressed (she has been very sweet with all the veterinary personnel she has met so far), fearless, and very bright. She is easy to handle, talkative (she has some sort of comment about nearly everything, though she is not barky), and was the big explorer of the litter- she was always the first to dive into anything new and was the first to escape the whelping box as well. She is as well on her way to housebroken (she is a house puppy, just like every other pup raised here) as it’s possible for a nine week old pup to be, and while she is here she will learn everything I consider mandatory for a civilized housedog to learn- come, sit, down, leave it, mine (the response to back away from anything on the floor that a human moves purposefully toward). She will also be crate trained and will be some degree into learning to walk nicely on a leash, depending on how old she is when she is placed.

Heart condition or no, she is an Akita, and will come with every plus and minus that breed normally has. She was the smallest pup in the litter and while she did do some catching up in size to her siblings once transitioned to solid food, that was only up to a point and I now suspect she will always be a smaller bitch- in which “smaller” means likely to finish up at 70-80 pounds instead of 90-100 like her mother is and her sisters are likely to be. Still most people’s definition of a Big Damn Dog. Her mother, brother, and a distant cousin all coexist happily in a mixed group that includes one intact female and one mature intact male (i.e. our little pack here), so she comes from a line that is really quite good with other dogs by Akita standards- but she is still an Akita, which means she’s likely to be relatively dominant with other dogs even when well socialized. (Her mother is THE alpha bitch- I worry less about the young intact male when it comes to strange dogs.) She is also likely to come with prey drive- and the longer she stays here, the more likely it is that Kang will teach her to be a ruthless hunter, which is either a plus or a minus depending on your point of view. (Minus if your neighbor has cats that roam; plus if you want every varmint that comes within your property lines eliminated, which is what Kang does.) She is pretty biddable- again by Akita standards. If you want a dog that lives to please you, this is not the breed for you.

She will grow up to be a guard dog. She is social enough she won’t eat strangers on sight, but as she matures she will start to be suspicious of them and she will need socialization and guidance to channel those instincts productively and install good Identify Friend/Foe software. If she is like her mother in some other respects she will also be a pretty decent ad-hoc therapy dog, seeking out the sick and hurting- but THAT won’t be apparent until she is fully mature. She has had lots of early socialization and exposure to new people and new kinds of sights and noises and other novelties, but like any pup she will continue to need it as she grows to develop into a stable adult. Her parents both like children, but lacking any of my own and any belonging to close friends and relations, she has not met any yet.

So far several people have been interested, but everyone interested so far has either lacked the financial resources or the emotional resources to deal with the potential realities and costs of her heart condition, or else with the part where she’s an Akita and even a healthy Akita is still a pretty big undertaking. (It has been a pretty even split which was the deal-breaker.) Thus I am widening the net. If you are interested in little Major please contact us at the blog e-mail (nerdsatomic at gmail dot com), which I promise will actually be checked; I am happy to chat more about the breed, her parents, her condition, or her.

Domestic Exchange XV

April 21, 2013 - 5:54 pm 4 Comments

“….why are you teaching the dog to not fear fire?”
“You make it sound so sinister when you say it.”

Idle Musing

February 19, 2013 - 11:20 pm 10 Comments

Having just rescued a daddy long-legs from drowning in the shower, and my general track record on spider-friendliness and rescuing and making pets out of the eight-legged little buggers, it’s going to be deeply ironic if LabRat and I are wrong on this whole atheism thing and it turns out spiders are god’s indicator of evil – those who squish on sight earn brownie points sort of thing.

Oh well. I wouldn’t want to share heaven with a bunch of arachnophobes* anyway.

*Spellcheck felt this should be Anglophobes. I don’t know why that tickled my funnybone so hard but I’ve been snickering for five minutes straight.

Breaking Radio Silence

January 14, 2013 - 10:49 pm 15 Comments

Oh, this thing is still on? Hey, sorry about that*. So 2012 pretty well sucked crusty green donkey whangers, we’re all on the same page there, right? Well, a whopping two weeks in, ’13 is already a mixed bag but trending positively. LabRat has unfortunately spent the majority of the year thus far sick as a dog, hence a good chunk of the lack of content, but it has now been a whole couple hours since she attempted to hack a chunk of lung across the room, so we’ll take what we can get.

I know there have been some** requests for dog pictures as easy filler content. Good news! I have dog pictures! And you can just wait patiently for them because today’s story is about a pie.

See, during the Rama-mas-zwa-inox-ukah-years down time, longtime friend and part time dogsitter Indy was spending a good chunk of her grad student winter break here at Nerd Ranch. This meant that I had Help available in the kitchen. I know it’s odd, but LabRat and I mostly just get in each other’s way, despite many years of marriage, but Indy and I dance like Fred and Ginger*** in the kitchen for reasons unknown. So with little to do and help available, a recipe was floated before me leading to the phrase “Why not? It’s not like there’s anything else going on.”

If you ever hear me say that about a recipe again, just shoot a tranq dart in my neck right then and there and be done with it, mkay?

Now the actual recipe comes from the ambitious but excellent A Girl And Her Pig. The fact that the cover of the book pisses so many crybabies off is reason enough to buy it, but despite the aftermath of this particular misadventure there’s a bunch of stuff in there that still looks awesome and will be tried later. The culprit today, however, was “Beef and Bayley Hazen Pie,” a concoction of rib meat, blue cheese, and some other strong flavors.

Cutting to the chase, this is a multi-day cook project, involving a from-scratch crust and a couple hours of stove time and still a long bake. This is not a fire-from-the-hip recipe. Regardless, Indy and I set about it and made steady progress. Right up until the final step of putting the shell together. See, in the book the final product is supposed to look like this:

The sphincter was prophetic.

I’m sorry, no. I am not making a giant asshole pie. I don’t care that the woman uses the whole pig or if she gives to charity or what, I simply will not serve a giant sphincter. But you all know what a classy motherfucker I am. And it’s pie dough, not marble, so I’m pretty sure I can figure something out. And I did.
Slightly nsfw below the jump.

Merry Holiday

December 25, 2012 - 10:38 pm 9 Comments

And to all the good things that mean so much to people around the globe: being able to make light in darkness, having things that are still green in winter, having surplus food in winter/the dry season, and having friends and family that like you enough to share food and fuel with you if you don’t happen to.

Merry “fuck you planet, you’re not going to kill us this year”.

Out for the Weekend

November 9, 2012 - 3:48 pm 1 Comment

Back Tuesday.

Overheard at Nerd Ranch

October 29, 2012 - 3:39 am 5 Comments

Why are you doing this to me?! First you brought him a mace, then a blowgun, and now you turned his rifle into a stabbing gun?! *gestures at small holes in the drywall* What do you think is going to happen when you do these things? STOP STABBING THE CEILING!

Back, etc.

October 8, 2012 - 11:46 pm 3 Comments

Home from the unfairly cold north. No, seriously, it’s still 75ish here and most Columbus Days we’re doing well to see the north side of 50. I WANT MY COLD WEATHER BACK DAMMIT.


Anyway, home again home again jiggity-jig. The main Recording will go up once I’ve got it and reviewed it to make sure I didn’t use any verboten words or phrases, because as hard as this may be to believe, there was alcohol involved.

Song folks, sorry, but I didn’t get to the drawing on that yet because busy. And lyrics not done. And besides, if of the five or six of you who were interested have it that high up your priority list, you’ve got bigger problems than a late selection notice.

Regular content to resume once the urge to stab and stab until all is silent for 20 seconds at a stretch has passed.

Apropos of Nothing…

October 3, 2012 - 3:38 am 2 Comments

Man, pants feel kinda weird now.

*nods off at desk*

September 24, 2012 - 10:56 pm 6 Comments

Sorry for the radio silence. We are running on a pretty big sleep deficit, thanks to lately everything in the world happening in the morning but needing most of the evening to wind down before sleep is possible. Kang is also in heat, and while this will only happen once before one of them is neutered, this means we are dealing with Overhormoned Intact Adolescent Male as well as Cranky Bitch Who Hates Being Female, and their acting out is damaging our zen, to put it very mildly. The roller derby world is also going through some final frantic do all the things and wrap up all the standings stuff before the offseason begins, so we basically have no weekends right now*. This is an issue because prior to this weekends were the time we got just about everything done.

The good news is things get a LOT quieter starting next month.

*For the lone reader who knows what I’m talking about, yesterday I got to be the wrangler, inside whiteboard, and scorekeeper all at the same time. *ref rolls up* “Ten!” *polite nod* *long mutual stare* “…And ten did, what exactly?” “No, points!” “oh” I’ve been self-medicating.