Tuesday, September 28, 2010

News From the Nest

To say that last week was a mixed bag of roses and absolute crap (and when I say crap, I mean steer manure!) is to make a pretty hefty understatement.

I started back to teaching last week, with a 9:00AM Raku class. It's the first time I've gotten anything resembling a lecture together, and I think it went fairly well. The students seem enthused, and I knew several of them from the senior class I taught over the summer. I really love the Raku process, so teaching this class is a thrill for me. I wish I had more videos about the process as it is done in Japan, but maybe next time. I left at noon, came back at 4:30 for the open studio, and left at 9:00PM, after the beginning ceramics class I was teaching was over.

School came and went, with some nice progress on my entry for the Davis Graveyard Spiderfest. I got the two pieces of the body attached; now all I have to do is figure out how to get the legs to stay in place and in the right position while they dry, and sacrifice a chicken to the kiln god so they aren't broken.

Wednesday, I dutifully headed out to Sacramento to file for my fictitious business license. I popped by my other college to talk with my old clay instructor (who isn't at all old, btw). I headed home after, already planning my afternoon in my studio to get caught up on projects for my upcoming stint at the brewery.

When I got there, my dog was limping badly.

He was fine when I left that morning, of course, so I was surprised to find him that way. For a split second, I thought it was a temporary injury, as he and his girlfriend play rough all the time. Because they're getting a little older, sometimes one or the other overdoes their Superdog impression and gets a little achy for a day or so. No big deal.

This time, no such luck.

I took a closer look a the leg and my heart sank. Though I knew it wasn't broken, I also knew he had a serious injury. I called the vet and made an appointment for that afternoon.

After waiting a bit (turns out four spaniels had been brought in that had been in a bad car accident with their owner, who had been flown to the hospital) the doctor-not our usual one-came in and did the exam. I told her I thought he'd torn the ligament in his knee. She thought so, too, but took him back for x-rays. We were right; he'd torn the cruciate ligament (like the human ACL).
She let me know the surgery would be $4000.00, and implied that there was no other choice. After she told me there would be a four-month recovery period, with the first three weeks in a kennel, drugged to the gills, my brain shut down. Oh, except for the part where she said he had a 60% chance of blowing out his other knee within a year.

The dog is nine years old. Why on earth would I put him through all that?

Mr. ShellHawk and I spent the next few days worrying we would be forced to put the dog down. I skipped school on Thursday, and spent Friday gathering my things to take up to Apple Hill on Saturday and wincing every time my dog tried to get up and walk. I truly hate seeing him in pain and not racing around like the lovable maniac he is.

Mr. ShellHawk came with me to set up my booth on Saturday morning, after having tranquilized the dog so he wouldn't be up and further injuring himself while we were gone. When he got home, he did some online research and discovered that not all vets agree that the surgery is effective, not doing the surgery and letting it heal on its own (with heavy restrictions on the dog's activity, of course) did not make you an evil bastard. Mr. ShellHawk called me with the news, and let me tell you, it was welcome news.

The down side is that because Mr. ShellHawk is the breadwinner and can't suddenly work from home all the time, I have to quit school for now to take care of El Doggo (not his real name). Though it makes me sound bad and selfish, I really am disappointed it has to go this way. I have a number of projects at school that depended on a certain type of firing process that I can't do here at home, and through the school, an opportunity to get into a juried show at the Crocker Art Museum. Granted, there was no guarantee my piece or pieces would have been picked for the show, but I was really working towards it and was hopeful to be chosen. Not only would it have looked great on a resume, but it would have made it easier to bear the whispers of the spoiled housewives who say that my pots are too expensive and they can get the same thing at Wal-Mart for much less.

I could have been a contendah!

Yes, I realize there will be other opportunities, and that everything happens for a reason, blah, blah, blah. It still sucks and I decree that I am allowed to be upset about it.

I suppose the up side is that I may have time to get a couple of tombstones done. "My Education" could be engraved on one of them, for sure!

*heavy sigh*


  1. well, you're right, it doesn't sound like wine and roses but at least you're not going to lose your dog....we went through that knee stuff with one of my dogs and a year later, the same thing happened. we just left it to heal and it did. hang in there with the raku...I bet you won't have to stay at home with the puppy as long as you think! :)

  2. Sorry to hear all the bad news, but you still have your loving pooch. It is true, not all Vets agree on how to "fix" the problem. Our dog did the same thing, but at 13 ... no way were we going to put her through that surgery.

    It will heal with time (about 6 months if activity is kept minimal). With the surgery your pooch will still have to have 4 - 6 months of "down time" to heal.

    If you'd like some tips on helping your pooch ... drop me a line and I'd be happy to share our experience!

    Good luck and you're right ... everything happens for a reason!

  3. That's terrible. For you and poor El Doggo. But it sounds like a better alternative to surgery. Try to enjoy your bonding time :)

  4. How craptastic! Dog injuries are such horrible things to go through. The whole where to draw the line thing is really hard to deal with. I'm glad you have a plan though and am truly sorry to hear about you missing classes.

  5. As a lover of El Doggos, myself, my heart goes out to you and I'm happy to hear you are such a caring owner.

  6. Oh my dear!! So sorry to hear about all this. As you know I love my furry children and would do exactly the same thing in your case....you are my hero.

    Sending lots of happy thoughts your way!


  7. Thanks for the good thoughts, All! I have definitely been swinging back and forth from mopey to bitchy, and really appreciate the good energy being sent my way.


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