The most darling Mama Pajama
For the first three years (2002 to 2005) when we moved to Paducah, my dogs had the runs. For the first three months the nine dogs and I were living in Bill's studio while the rehab on rest of the house was being completed and Bill was still in Maryland working. We didn't have a fence yet. And within three weeks all nine dogs had copious, constant, explosive, mucousy, foul smelling diarrhea.
You want to talk nightmare?
I didn't know a soul. Hadn't found a vet yet. Oh my God in heaven just the thought of those days gives me palpitations and the butt sweats.
At first I blamed the water, but store bought water made no difference. I cooked for all of the dogs back then, had been for years. Maybe southern chicken had so much more antibiotics that it screwed up their normal flora? The first vets I went to did fecals - normal. No parasites. We would do a round of antibiotics (amoxicillin and flagyl) and they would get better, only to have the diarrhea reappear when the antibiotics stopped. Queen Gracious had a bad neurological reaction to the flagyl, scaring the beejeesus out of me.
After five months poor Luciano had a terrible episode and started pooping frank blood. By then I had found the Paducah Kennel Club and members advised me to go to Ol' Poke 'n Stick. He asked if Bill and I had been sick. No. Did I ever have any problem with any of the dogs before I moved? Nope. Instead of only doing a fecal he looked at a rectal scraping (poor Looch) under his microscope. Was there a lot of rotting vegetation around the house? No, but, hmmm, well, the contractor said that when they removed the old roof it was over two inches thick: layer upon layer of rotten stuff that had been on the house since just after the Civil War. They of course threw it off the roof onto the ground. Our yard.
"Your dog has a bad clostridium infection," said my veterinary Angel, Ol' Poke 'n Stick. "I bet your whole yard is full of spores." Clostridium? As in the anaerobic bacteria which causes botulism, tetanus, and gangrene? Oh. My. God. The dogs were on amoxicillin for three years. (I have recently discovered that my home cooked diet did contribute - it was too low in fiber. High fiber helps the body keep the normal clostridia in check. And to this day my dogs don't tolerate chicken.)
Okay. That's "behind" us. Ancient history. Until two weeks ago when Mama Pajama got sick. Fine one minute, not so much the next. Vomiting. Lethargic. God-awful smelling uncontrollable squirts. I was sure she had some horrible cancer. I cried when I made her appointment. I cried while I sat in the waiting room. I cradled her in my arms when I told Ol' Poke 'n Stick, "She'll be fourteen on the 29th of this month. If this is something bad, we are not going to keep her alive for a miserable week, so that I can get used to the idea of losing her. I do not want her to be miserable, not for a minute."
Ol' Poke 'n Stick gave Mama a pat. He smelled her breath and looked at her gums. I'm thinking he's going to do blood work and abdominal x-rays and find some lethal tumor. He lifted her tail and sniffed. He gave her another pat and grabbed a Q-tip, lifted her tail again and lived up to his nickname. He disappeared out of the exam room, stinky Q-tip in hand.
I held my Mama Pajama in my arms and wept. A few minutes later Ol' Poke 'n Stick stuck his head back in the door. "Come look at this. Leave her here. She'll be okay for a minute. I want you to see this." I left a relieved, if slightly bewildered Mama Pajama in the exam room and walked to the microscope.
"Look," he said. (Ol' Poke 'n Stick overestimates me. I wouldn't know what I was looking at under a microscope unless the bugs wore name tags.) But, what I saw looked just like this:
"It's clostridium," he said. "She's going to be fine. We just need to give her some antibiotics, is all." I was so busy happy dancing all over that fact that Mama Pajama didn't have some horrible terminal illness, my brain too busy with the oh thank you God wanting to hug Ol' Poke 'n Stick, I picked up Mama Pajama and her prescription and tra la la'd to the van.
Halfway home it hit me: the roof! (This is where the "GUNS" part of the title of this post comes in.) The fudging, fluffing, goddamned roof!
Seems like our contractor thought we were crazy stupid Yankees who bought this old shell of a house and would never make it here and would be high-tailing it back to cooler climes before the paint dried. Because last fall we had to replace our front porch roof which had rotted off. It had been a new front porch roof just eight years ago. Oh and we had to replace every single window trim on every single window on the new additions. They had rotted off as well. Our original contractor wouldn't return my calls. The (reputable) contractor who did the repair work took photos. He just scratched his head in wonder. "This is so basic," he said. "I mean it's code, but it's just basic." Something about backwards flashing and no flashing and really dumb stuff.
Bill and I just scraped up the $8600 to do the repairs, grateful that I have a job, and chalked it up to life's experiences.
But remember when I was at the National, Bill had to cope with a major roof leak? The roof had leaked several times over the years and we were always having to replace shingles. I'm no builder, but this struck me as odd, what with the whole thing being brand new. We got a (reputable) roofer to take a look. He came down off his ladder with his eyes bugged out. "There's no vapor barrier on your roof," he said. "I mean my GOD! That's CODE! Why in the hell would anyone bother to put on a roof without a moisture barrier? I'm really sorry, but you need a new roof."
Once again all the shingles came down off the roof onto our yard with a fresh load of clostridium spores. The new roof was $9200. We talked to a lawyer in Lexington. We shouldn't have had to pay for the porch, the window trim or the new roof, but we have. The contractor did return Bill's call. I think his ears perked up when he heard Lexington lawyer.
I was willing to be quiet and see what happened. But now my dogs are sick, again. Sam I Am started straining and straining with nothing coming out and then before work on Saturday at 5:40 AM he vomited a gallon of undigested food. Poor thing had to go out a bazillion times and Saturday night Swede William started. Monday morning I took specimens in from each of them: clostridia galore.
I'm telling you right now, my dear friends, I cannot work twelve, thirteen, fourteen hour shifts and get up to let eight dogs out six times each during the night. My friend Heather (whose husband is a good lawyer) saw my van leaving the vet's and she called me to see if everything was okay. I fumed. I said the shitty contractor wouldn't return my calls. "Maybe you should go to his office and talk to him in person," suggested sweet little Heather. She had no idea of the seed she planted.
Patience the Pacifist had a thought. The Great Satan whispered in my ear and I listened and I listened hard.
"I could go to his office," I said. "I could buy one of those staple-y things they use to put the shingles on. I could go to his office and I could point the staple-y thing at his crotch. I could tell him I am a nurse. Being a nurse I would know that if I were to staple your testicles to your chair [oh dear readers I am relishing those words: staple. your. testicles.] that you will survive. Or, you and I could drive to your bank. You could get out $8600 for the porch and the window trim plus $9200 for the roof, and, oh let's get an even thousand for the vet bills I've incurred over the years which doesn't even come close."
Sweet little Heather sucked in some air on the other end of the phone. "Patience? Are you all right?"
Oh I hadn't felt this good in years! The money is awful and I am working too hard to be pissing it away because of some shoddy construction work, but that was just what it was and you go on with life. But the bastard's corner-cutting code violating crap is making my dogs sick. THAT WILL NOT DO.
So. I feel marvelous. The sumbitch pays us back and soon, or I dream of stapling his balls to his chair.
It's all just a little fantasy, don't worry. In reality, I will pray for the man. Anyone who makes a living ripping people off can't like himself much. Maybe since Bill and I have been MORE than decent about this he will restore my faith in human kind. It just surprised me that I was able to imagine a scene that I wouldn't have been able to watch on a movie!
But actually? I couldn't even get to the stapling part in my imagination: in my fantasy we just went to the bank and got the money he owed us and I thanked him very kindly.
Patience the Pacifist lives
hug your sweet hounds