Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just One Question, No, Two

Where are my boobs
what are they doing there????

hug your hounds

(Steve Surfman photo)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I am just about useless today.

Why? Because I am already anticipating the energy I will need to work the weekend.


What a waste. In a couple of weeks I'll be fifty-seven. I've never been that old before. (Har har) I've never felt this old before. I got to work at 6:45 Monday morning and I left at 8:45 that night. I was toast. It had been non stop. Although I did manage 25 minutes for lunch. I had called Bill and told him not to bother to wait to eat for me; I'd be way to late. But he did.

He had made some oh so delicious pasta. I come home every time I work to something unbelievable that he has made. How lucky is that? I don't know how he waits until eight, eight-thirty, even nine o'clock, but he does. (He allows as how sipping on wine helps.)

I will work the weekend and it will be fine. I love the nurses on my unit. I will have the rare privilege of caring for people. Do you know how awesome it is to be able to make someone's day better? There's not much cooler than to be giving report at the end of your shift and have your patients and their families ask hopefully if you will be back tomorrow.

Except maybe the relief of saying, "No, no I'm off tomorrow."

I'm getting some new shoes. My dear beloved Charge Nurse recommends them highly. And it is supposed to stop storming tomorrow. Poor Fat Charlie has been in a constant state of terror for what, five days? He's still quite weak and fragile from his bout with Vestibular Disease. (Here is a link about him on Whippet World.) His eyes are normal now, but he has the tiniest head tilt still. His hind legs were getting a little wobbly before all of that and now they are not so trustworthy.

We've been carrying him up and down the stairs, but yesterday he managed with only a steadying hand on his collar. But he's been shaking and trembling and panting and pacing with all of these relentless storms. It has to exhaust him beyond his nearly fourteen year old limits. My brave dog who never ever showed fear, until a hideously unfortunate Fourth of July last year. He was my Steady Eddy. My Fat Charlie.

Well the storms are supposed to stop tomorrow.

Maybe I can walk the waggle between the rain drops after lunch. Then maybe I'll go to our locally owned garden store (NOT LOWES) and buy some plants. Even if it's raining I can fill the pots on the porches.

Oh I just remembered I have a puppy! Here are his parents when they were puppies:

Hmmmmm. Well maybe we can protect the plants until the quilters leave at least. We're on a home tour Friday and Saturday.

Time for lunch.

Hug your hounds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Post Scipt

National Loot

That's what we brought home from Lexington. Not pictured is Lindy Loo's dessert plate, just like Swede William's in the upper right corner. The pottery sculpture/plate in the bottom left is Swede William's Award of Merit Trophy. You should just SEE all the stuff Laurie and Simmer won! Wow! Maybe Laurie will send me a photo of it.

See the oil painting? There's a story about that. (Of course there is!) That is a portrait of Gracious, my very first whippet, who was born in 1991. She will be the only and forever Queen of the Warburton Whippets. (For you whippet folks, Gracious had one puppy. That was Willow, of the Willow Award.) At the 2001 (maybe) National my dear and sneaky friends Linda, Rhonda, and Terrie commissioned one of the premier canine artists, Yvonne Sovereign, to do a portrait of Gracious. It is a beautiful watercolor and it is perfect and I adore it.

Yvonne's portrait is the watercolor top left. The pastel of Gracious, top right, is by Sara Renzulli. Laurie's photographs are in the standing collage frame on the counter. Gracious is the bottom second from left.

They also - just as sneakily - got magical photographer Steve Surfman to get these two candid shots. I had absolutely no inkling.

Laurie Erickson had also taken wonderful portraits of Gracious, and all of these are treasures to me.

I was visiting Yvonne's website one day a few years ago, when I forgot how to breathe for a moment. There was a painting, titled "A Gracious Whippet". And it was my Gracious. An oil study. But I wasn't working then, and I couldn't justify spending the money at that point.

So when Yvonne had a booth at this year's National, I asked if by any chance she still had that painting. "It's hanging at the front of the booth," she replied.


I keep saying this because really, I can't believe it.

Simmer won the Triathlon. Mia made it to the last cut in her puppy class. Lindy Loo was second in Bred By. Swede William was #3 Award of Merit. (Oh and in doing so, as commenter Kelly reminded me, Swede William qualified for Crufts 2012 and 2013!)

And Gracious came home again.

Hug your hounds

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The National - Last Day

Swede William as a 4 month old puppy. Photo Laurie Erickson. All the rest of the photos are Lisa Winder's unless noted

Best of Breed ring. Tim Parsons photo -thanks Cindy and Tim

There were 126 Champions entered in Best of Breed.

Sixty-three dogs and sixty-three bitches. Then you add in the three dog Veteran class winners (7 - 10 years, 10-12 years, and greater than 12 years) and the three bitch Veteran class winners, the Racing dog and bitch, the Coursing dog and bitch, Winner's Dog and Winner's Bitch, and the move ups (dogs who finished their championships after the entries closed), and that ball room ring was packed with whippets. Beautiful, beautiful whippets.

The bitches left the ring, and then the dog handlers counted off into groups of twelve. Swede William would be in the fifth group. That would give Lee and Dee and Lisa time for a nice breakfast, and it would give me time to give all of the dogs some much needed exercise. They had been cooped up for eight days now. First I took Swede William and his two kids, Jabber and Alison. I ran. I managed a pace so that they were trotting about as fast as they could.

I am not not not a runner. I could probably walk from here to Minnesota. But run? No. I tend to hyperventilate and collapse and vomit and it's just not a pretty site. So you will understand my nervousness/excitement quotient when I tell you that not only did I run that group for a solid twenty minutes, but then I swapped out the puppies for Mia (Lindy Loo was tired from being in the ring so long the day before) and did it again!

I have to tell you a funny story. While I was running William and the puppies a friend who was walking her one dog called to me, "You're insane!"

"Well, yes, we know that, but why are you telling me now?"

"Not only do you bring little puppies to the National, you bring Senior Citizens!"

I hadn't brought any old dogs this trip, so I figured she meant Lee and Dee. I told them what she'd said. We laughed and laughed and laughed. My van is a fifteen passenger monster, with no running boards, so it sits way high up in the air. I pack an antique wooden step stool, and when Lee has to climb in or out we plop the stool down. The van is full of crates and an ex-pen (wouldn't want the dogs to be cramped) so there is only room for two passengers. With the addition of Lisa, the Queen of Sweden, Lee sat on the back bench seat, Dee sat on the antique stool, and the Queen rode shotgun.

I imagine we were quite the sight. Lisa climbing down from the front, with her huge backpack and her camera with its three foot lens. The side doors opening up and a little wooden stool plopping down, followed by Dee and then Lee. But the thought that somehow these "seniors" added a burden had us laughing hysterically. These 'seniors' who make sure I get my entries in, take my dogs to the vet when I'm at work and can't, took care of all the dogs while I was at the hospital twice this week, hold the SCREAMING MEEMIES ringside at every show, bring a cooler of food for us and the dogs, and on and on and on!

Anyway, it was time for Swede William to go into the ring. This was only the second time Lisa had gotten to see him since she bravely and generously sent him to me in September of 2006. Oh and remember how I had looked at Simmer and exclaimed, "SHE'S FAT!"? Well Lisa had shown a little more tact, but had basically looked at Swede William and said, "HE'S TOO THIN!" So William had gotten to eat like a king since Monday and was looking pretty good.

I had never shown to this judge before. I felt confident that she would not penalize Swede William for his color, but beyond that I didn't know. (He was, as far as I know, the only solid blue fawn entered out of 670 whippets.) But she is a breeder judge, and understands that our standard says 'color is immaterial'. Or so I hoped. I dearly wanted Lisa to see him look good in the ring, and make just one cut.

William loves to show. He has a blast but takes it seriously. He is a grand little dog! Lisa and Crystal had been giving me handling pointers. Because of that, I didn't mess him up as much as usual on the table.

He moved like ohhh he just glided. I felt good. We showed the judge and everyone there the best we had. Now we'd see if he'd make this one cut. After all of that group was examined and moved we lined up around the edge of the ring again. The judge walked over to William.

And pointed at him!!! Yes!!! We'd made the cut! We'd come back in! She brought all of her cuts of males back in. The ring was full again. William made another cut! Oh my word! He wasn't letting down. There was a break for a moment and I let him play with his squeaky rat.

We made another cut! And another!

And then the judge pointed at Swede William to go to the center. We had made the final cut of dogs. We would go back in with the final cut of bitches to be considered for Best of Breed!

Making the last cut of dogs. Swede William says, "Oh puh-lease try to look professional, you goofy Servant!"

We took William out to the van to rest, walked the others, and ate some lunch. (I guess. I honestly can't remember. I think Dee and Lisa probably walked the others. I think they brought the puppies and Mia in for some attention for a while. I was operating in a dreamy fog.) Good God. Swede William had made the final cut of dogs in Best of Breed at the National. Good loving sweet Lord.

We went back in with the final cut of bitches.

We were in the ring with dogs who had been in the Top Twenty competition Thursday night, but I only saw my William. Lisa's William. He should have been tired or fidgety, but he was being a pro. A star. Oh dear mother of whippets we made another cut.

I started tearing up. Was there another cut? If there was we made it. At a show as large as the National, the AKC allows the judge to give Awards of Merit. These are given to dogs who, at a normal sized show would be worthy of Best of Breed. Our entry was so huge that the maximum number would be given. Ten Awards of Merit.

The judge was moving the dogs in place. The Veteran Moxie, already twice Best of Breed at past Nationals would be Best of Breed for a record setting third time. My Canadian friend would be Best of Winners with the Winner's Dog. Another Veteran would be Best of Opposite. The Selects.

She pulled out her #1 Award of Merit. Her #2 Award of Merit. And then she pointed at Swede William.


This was a crazy assed dream! NO!


Swede William, CH Burnt Sienna Midsummer Night, JC, was #3 Award of Merit at the American Whippet Club National Specialty.

And Lisa was there to see it. How cool was that?

hug your hounds

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The National - Lindy Loo's Day

This is part five - good grief! Part one is HERE

Lindy Loo. Photo (c) Laurie Erickson

When it rains, it surely can pour. My poor friend was critically ill, and she knew it. Without prompt treatment, she could be dead in as little as forty-eight hours. But. The Universe, with its perverse sense of humor, decided on that very moment to pinch a rather large nerve in her sweet young dog's neck.

So there she was, knowing that she had to get to the Emergency Room but horrified at the sight of her brave, stoic dog reduced to screaming every time he moved. She couldn't - wouldn't - leave him. His eyes were wild with pain and fear. It was awful.

And this is where dog people shine. In no time, one of the Best Vets in the World (who was showing her dogs at the National) appeared and took care of the dog. Someone else who is a Vet Tech helped hold him for his exam and meds. Another friend appeared who knew the ill person's dogs well, and agreed to take all three dogs to her room. The vet assured us that the dog would be fine, after his injection of steroids and some Tramadol. Someone else ran and got plenty of Tramadol. I told Lee and Dee and Lisa that I'd have our dogs with me in the van and we'd be back at Central Baptist Hospital, but that someone had volunteered take them back to our hotel after the Top Twenty.

And off we went.

The E.R., which had been empty at 7:00 A.M. Monday morning, was packed full at 9:00 P.M. Thursday night. My friend's treatment had already been delayed too long. I was really concerned. A young pregnant woman told us she had been waiting for two hours. "I just want to make sure that my baby is okay," she smiled. After about an hour (I think), I had just decided to ask to speak to the triage nurse when they called us back. Despite my friend's calm - and crazy brave - demeanor, I could tell by the triage nurse's expression and reaction that she realized she needed to bump this case up to the front of the line. And they did.

As they were getting her processed, Lee called to say that they were on their way to the hospital with someone else's van. They would leave that van for us, and take my van with the dogs back to the hotel so they could walk them and tuck them in. "Oh, that's super," I chortled. There was a pause. And then there were giggles.



"It's got a lot of character," Lee said.

Now, most of my life I lived on farms. Big farms, little farms, rich people's farms, working farms, my own little farm. Every farm has a Farm Vehicle. Or two. Farm Vehicles are treasures. They might not appear that way to non-farm folk, but you farmers know exactly what I mean.

"We're out here in the parking lot next to your van," said Lee.

And there they were. Eighty-two year old Lee, sixty-five year old Dee, and Lisa, The Queen of Sweden. Laughing like a bunch of sorority sisters out on a panty raid!

"The headlights are a little dim!"
"Don't take the key out!"
"Don't touch that window it's duct taped shut!"
"I don't know what that wire is for but don't undo it!"
"It runs great, but you can't see so good!"

It was a relief to know that the dogs could get taken care of. If I had half a brain, I'd have sat quietly and let my sick friend sleep. She was getting the treatment she needed and the docs agreed to release her when she was done. She would need to come in the next night for another treatment, but could go back to the hotel with the IV cathelon in place and be with her dogs. (I LOVE Central Baptist!)

But no. I felt I needed to entertain her. So I talked and blabbed and tried to make the time go faster. (You know how good I am - I'm the Queen of Blah Blah Blah!)

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

And then it was time to go. We got in the van. With not a small amount of trepidation I turned the key. Like a Good Farm Vehicle, it started right up! Oh it smelled like heaven to me. Horses and cows and hay and corn and all the sweetness of the farm that I miss like sunshine. Whoa! The lights were a little dim, but they were good enough to see with. And the wires that came out of the hood and in through the duct-taped window and disappeared under the steering column were a little disconcerting, but it had started right up after all and the brakes were great and we laughed the whole way back to the hotel and wasn't life grand!

I tippy-toed into my hotel room at 3:15 A.M. I told Lisa, the Queen of Sweden that I would just skip showing Lindy Loo at 8:00 A.M. "There are forty-six bitches in her Bred By class," I said. "She won't do anything anyway. We can just sleep in."

The Queen of Sweden wasn't pleased. "No," she replied. In her lovely sing-song Swedish accent she said, "We are here. You will show your lovely bitch!"

And so I did. (Would you dare argue with the Queen of Sweden! No. Me either.) Poor Lee and Dee and Lisa: no time for breakfast. We rolled out of bed, fed and walked the dogs, threw the dogs and ourselves in the van and headed the mile over to Griffin Gate.

Now I love my Lindy Loo. She is very type-y and old fashioned. Our modern American whippets have gotten heavier boned, and less curvy. (That is a gross generalization and only my opinion. If your opinion is different, I mean no offense and you're probably much more knowledgeable than I am. But it is my opinion.) In the little bit of breeding that I do, I strive to preserve whippety-ness. Lindy Loo is very whippety.

Her markings on her show side don't help her. Some judges will walk around and look at her off side, and then I know they get it. I'll try to have her stacked backwards at least once so they can see her off side. Anyway, I was hoping the the National judge would appreciate her type enough that she could make at least one cut. But this was the National, and we'd be in against the top breeders in the country, and I didn't have any expectations.

At the National. The judge walked around to look at Lindy's off side. You're looking at her show side. Photo (c) Steve Surfman

Here is the judge's view of Lindy Loo's off side. Photo (c) Lisa Winder, Queen of Sweden

Well, she made the first cut. And then the next cut. And before I knew it we were back in for the the final cut!!! In Bred By (short for Bred By Exhibitor - meaning that the handler is the breeder of the dog) at the National!!! Lindy Loo loves to show. (As anyone who has heard her ringside while I'm in the ring with another dog will tell you.) She and I were having an absolute ball. To be in the final cut in Bred By at the National? To channel my dear, late friend Carolyn: Oh my gawsh!

Before the judge made her final placements she told the ten (?) of us left in the ring, "This is so hard. All of these bitches are just beautiful and could win anywhere. I hate to cut any of them!" I was beyond pleased that my little Lindy Loo had made it that far.

So. You can imagine how I felt when the judge pointed to Lindy Loo for second place! No, maybe you can't! I couldn't imagine it! I looked over at Lee and Dee and Lisa. LISA!! I wouldn't have even shown Lindy if it hadn't been for Lisa!

I could not believe it. Simmer had WON the Triathlon. Mia had made the final cut in her class. And now Lindy Loo was second in Bred By? Nah I had to be dreaming that was it. I was about to wake up and think oh rats what a great dream.

I love my little Lindy Loo. Photo (c) Laurie Erickson

Her photo came yesterday!

And that was nothing compared to what happened next...

hug your hounds

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More National

(This is part four of my blah blah blah, part one starts HERE)

I can't remember Wednesday.

I know I was feeling MUCH better. I'm pretty sure it was Wednesday night that we went out with a great fun group of old and new friends. How embarrassing. I picked the restaurant from an ad I had seen on a plane. It got great reviews. It was hideously, obscenely overpriced and the food was sort of okay, but that was stretching it. At least Chris's dogs got good bait for the rest of the week. Of course that meant that Chris didn't get dinner.

We said goodbye to Laurie and Rivet and Simmer which made me very sad. (At least I know I'll get to see her soonish when Swede William and Simmer get to MAKE BABIES!)

Winner's Dog at the National with his generous Canadian Breeder/Owner. Isn't he gorgeous? Photo by Lisa, Queen of Sweden

I know we watched Winners Dog because I LOVED him and it was the Canadienne who offered me her skirt when I forgot all my clothes (the year Carolyn and Giacomino died and my sister got diagnosed with ovarian cancer) and she will ever after think of me as the Butt Sweats Queen, though I did not borrow her skirt. Because I was afraid I would have the Butt Sweats in it.

I also LOVED the puppy who had won the 6 - 9 months class. And that was extra fun because his mom is Lindy Loo's half sister!

I think that my puppies moved to Lee and Dee's room to keep Mia company on Tuesday night. Mia was very concerned that all her whippet buddies were having a party without her across the hall. She figured she didn't need to eat or sleep for fear of missing some fun. Mia is all about fun. So Jabber and Little Alison moved into Mia's digs and everyone was ever so happy. Only now Mia and Ali were too busy to eat. Porky Jabber cleaned up! I missed my Little Ones at bed time, but knew they were in great good hands and that this would be a great way to transition.

Miss Ali would go home with Lee and Dee and Mia after the National and I would cry, even though I would see her every day and knew she would be happy there. I'm not made for this breeder stuff. Oh put those Big Girl Panties back on you dolt!

Thursday was Mia's day to play! Dee had her in the perfect weight when we left for the National. Now she was a tad on the Twiggy side, but laws she is a beautiful girl even skinnified. She loves to show and she showed so well that she made it down to the very last cut in her 9 - 12 months puppy bitches class. Oh this was exciting!

Mia on the table - photo by Lisa, Queen of Sweden

The judge was making her final decision. She pulled Mia out to move with another puppy! Mia would start out behind the other puppy and then half way around we were to switch, so that Mia would be in front. Mia moves like silk in a breeze.

Only when she passed the other puppy, all those days of being cooped up in the hotel came bubbling to the surface. "WOOPEEEEEE!!! I'm WINNING," shouted Mia! Only she can't shout, but she can LEAP for JOY, throwing caution, propriety, and her tail to the wind! WHEEEEEE!!!

So that was the end of that, but we were still very proud and thrilled that Mia finished sixth in her class of exceptionally lovely whippet puppies! What a good, good girl!

After feeding and walking the waggle, we celebrated by settling in to watch the exciting Top Twenty competition. Handlers and judges in sequins and tuxedos, the top whippets in the Nation would compete and we would get to watch. Soon I felt a concerned tap on my shoulder.

"Can you come right away? We need a nurse. Our friend needs to go to the hospital."

to be continued... HERE

hug your hounds and your friends

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The National Simmers!

(this is part three, part one is HERE)

Laurie and Simmer after Obedience on Monday at the National - photo Steve Surfman

I have no clue what time I got back to the hotel. I have no clue what time Lee and Dee and the dogs got back, but they had filled my prescriptions and they said that Laurie and Simmer had done really well. Really well!!!

Swede William's breeder, my good friend Lisa from Sweden, called to say that her flight from Chicago to Lexington had been cancelled because of the storms, but she would be on a later flight that would arrive at 9:30. I told her I was a little under the weather and that either Laurie or Lee and Dee would pick her up. I called Laurie, or she called me.

"Simmer has done really, really well," Laurie said! A little background, first on Simmer. I had promised to give Laurie the pick bitch from Logan and Maggie Mae's litter. And from the moment Simmer was born, ooh boy I knew it was her.
Puppy Simmer photo by Laurie Erickson

In fact, I was pretty sure she was the best whippet I had ever bred, and man oh man would this test if I could live up to my word. But Laurie would do far more than I could with Simmer. She is a gifted, dedicated trainer and Minneapolis is full of training/competing opportunities like nothing we have here. And Laurie loves her dogs like I do. No brainer.

Second background. When Laurie decided to aim Simmer towards the Triathlon, oh I was full of advice. (After all, I had twice been second, (once by .01 of a point), and once fifth, and I was there when Rhonda won it; so I was an expert.)

"I know how competitive you are, so don't plan on winning it your first time. If you can just finish you have really accomplished something, and if you finish in the top ten, wow," I pontificated from my Paducah van on the way home from work in February. "It's the top whippets in the country. People who have been triathlon-ing for years. Really."

"Mmm-hmmm," said Laurie. Every time we talked about it I warned her not to have her expectations too high. "Mmm-hmmm."

Laurie arrived back at the hotel with Lisa from Sweden. They both looked at me sort of the way you would look at a big pile of vomited dog poop that you had to clean up. (I'll refer you to the E.R. photo from yesterday, and the hoodie-footie photo from the previous post, as it was a combined effort.) "You don't look so good."

The most fun thing was when Swede William saw Lisa. Whippets never forget. He began to wag the greetings any guest would get. Then all of a sudden, he whipped his head around and his eyes got HUGE and he started wagging all over and happy dancing. He jumped on my bed and said, "Look! Look! It's MY Lisa!!! LOOK!!!" I wouldn't have gotten so teary if I hadn't been sick I'm sure. (not)

Laurie was bubbling over. "Patience, they're saying that Simmer has a really good chance! She was tied for second in [her first ever] Obedience Trial, and she got second out of 35 in her conformation. With her Lure Coursing score..."

"Oh my gosh Laurie, do you think you made the top five?"

"Well, they're saying she has a shot at maybe the top three!"

Now, antibiotics are just the most wonderful invention. My face was already hurting much much less when I woke up Tuesday morning. My neck still was stiff and sore, but I felt almost alive. I had slept like the dead. After a hot, hot shower and the application of lots of make up (for me) I even looked sort of okay. Laurie had left early with Rivet and Simmer. Lisa, Lee, Dee and I fed and walked the dogs and loaded us all into the van and headed over to Griffin Gate. We walked into the ball room.

Laurie was beaming. "Patience," she said. "I think she won!"


"Yes! Her name is at the top of the scoreboard and she has the highest total score and people are saying congratulations!"


It was Laurie's turn to get a little leaky-eyed. "Patience, Simmer won the Triathlon."

And I thought antibiotics could work miracles. HA! No comparison! Laurie and little Simmer had won the Triathlon!!! I was already proud as could be of them; this was just sheer fun! Laurie and little Simmer had WON THE GLORIOUS TRIATHLON AT THE 25TH AMERICAN WHIPPET CLUB NATIONAL SPECIALTY!!!

Get out of TOWN!!! Laurie and Simmer!!! I called Simmer's co-breeders Jim and Sue. "LAURIE AND SIMMER WON THE TRIATHLON!! WON IT CAN YOU STAND IT??? CONGRATULATIONS!!!" (This was especially fun because Sue was scheduled to have a total hip replacement on the following Monday and I loved giving her such great news.)

They called the top ten finishers into the ring in reverse order, starting with number ten, to get their ribbons and plates. And last they called Laurie Erickson and Simmer, Champion Warburton WW's Southern Skies, RN, NA, NAJ, PR. As they made their victory lap, I just whooped up a storm.

bad cell phone photo by me, but isn't Simmer beautiful?

I don't know what happened to the rest of Tuesday. I'm pretty sure there was a long nap with Lindy Loo and Swede William and I felt even better when I woke from that. I had to think long and hard when I woke up if I had been having a wild dream that Simmer had won the Triathlon. Nope, I was pretty sure it had actually happened.

And all I could say when I first saw her was, "She's FAT!!!" Remember?

Simmer, Lindy Loo's glamorous litter sister had won the Triathlon. I am so proud of Laurie! I guess living up to my word and giving her the pick bitch worked out just fine.

Little Simmer won the Triathlon.

And that, my friends, was just the beginning... to be continued HERE

hug your hounds

The National - Monday

(this is part two, part one is here)

I pushed the button on my phone. Three oh three A.M. The maxillary and ethmoid sinuses on the right side of my face burned like they were filled with flesh-eating acid. And speaking of flesh-eating. On the unit where I work at the hospital, we care for patients who have bad infections. So I'm routinely up to my elbows in MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus). Granted, I'm gowned and gloved and I wash and wash and wash all day long, but in my three oh three A.M. mentation I was picturing my whole head just a'swarming with MRSA bugs and surely I was going to die a slow horrible pus-filled death.

It didn't' help that if I moved my head the slightest bit in any direction or if I held it perfectly still, I had stabbing pain clear down my spine. I turned away from Swede William so that I didn't infect him with my MRSA breath. At three oh three A.M. it was clear that I would be cold and dead long before I ever got to see Bill again, and I would never get to kiss Mama Pajama on her little nose.

When Laurie started stirring (six? seven?) I must have said I would ask Lee and Dee, who were in the room across the hall with puppy Mia, to take me to the E.R. (I'd love to blame the total lack of recall for Monday on my illness, but I'm just generally senile and I already can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning and it's only 8:40.) I imagine that Dee walked all my dogs. I know that Bill was terribly alarmed when I called and told him that Dee was driving my van with me and all the dogs in it. In downtown Lexington, no less. WHAT??!!

I do remember convincing a reluctant Lee and Dee to leave me at the E.R. and go back to cheer Laurie on. The clincher was when I pointed out that the dogs would be better off at Griffin Gate in the van than in downtown Lexington. The waiting room was empty (say hooray for 7:30 A.M. Monday morning E.R. visits) and the clerk asked me to write the reason for my visit.

I was momentarily stumped. I figured "sick" wasn't a good enough answer. I pressed my R.N. brain to come up with something professional. What was wrong with me, anyway? I had pain above and below my right eye. Oh! It suddenly dawned on me! I wrote:
I thought that sounded much too run-of-the-mill over-the-counter for how I felt, so on the next line I wrote:
That was better.

I work at Western Baptist Hospital. This was our sister hospital, Central Baptist. I was seen, stuck, and CT scanned in very short order, and everyone was so nice. While I was waiting for results I felt like my right eye was swelling. There was no mirror, so I took a picture with my phone. Bill double-dog-dared me to use it here. I figured after the hoodie-footie shot, what the hey?

the Queen of Glamor!

The doc came in and told me it hurt to look at my CT films. "Nasty," he said. Then he said he would have to do a lumbar puncture because I had a stiff neck ("nuchal rigidity").

Say what? A spinal tap? Could this day get any better?

"Well, you have a raging sinusitis, and a stiff neck. Your white count is normal, so it's probably a viral meningitis, but we have to check because your sinuses lie right there next to your brain." He did allay my fears of MRSA. "Nah, we're just usually colonized with the stuff when we're exposed all the time."

I called Bill. "They have to do a lumbar puncture," I weeped.

"It will be okay," Bill said.

"I know," I squeaked. I sounded pathetic, even to myself. I had assisted in a bazillion of them back in my O.R. /Recovery Room days. But it was hard to look forward to a lumbar puncture, even with my Big Girl Panties on.

End result: normal CSF. If anything was going on in my brain it was viral. I promised the doc that I would call my retired doctor husband to pick me up and take me to my own hospital if I didn't get better. They gave me a shot of Rocephin and a prescription for Augmentin and called a (free) cab for me - wasn't that nice?

I can't say enough good things about Central Baptist Hospital! (Little did I know I'd be seeing them again...)

Now enough of this wallering. Back to the show!

continued HERE

hug your hounds

Friday, April 15, 2011

The National

What a week. I don't know where to start.

My first American Whippet Club National Specialty was in Vermont in 1996, and I've gone every year since. Last year it was in Tucson, AZ, which was a long, weary drive. This year it was in Lexington, KY: a mere four and a half hours from home. Piece o'cake!

While showering before work on Tuesday morning, I thought, "Huh. I must have slept with my mouth open. My throat feels funny." While showering before work on Wednesday morning, I thought, "Hmm. Now the back of my nasal passages are kind of burning. I couldn't be getting a cold. Nah. Not right before the National."

I got a cold. No biggie.

I packed the van including Swede William, Lindy Loo, puppies Jabber and Alison, and my pink hoodie footie, and went to pick up Lee and Dee and older puppy Mia. We left on Saturday so that I could watch Lindy Loo's sister Simmer run in the Lure Coursing Field Trial on Sunday, and see my dear Laurie from Minnesooooooooota. (Bill told me that when I drove off, leaving Sam and the Dear Old Ones behind, Sammy threw his head back and howled like a broken-hearted Lone Wolf in the dining room. That made me die a little bit.)

We got to Lexington in no time. The puppies were stellar. No one would guess this was their inaugural road trip, or that they were just fourteen weeks old.

Minnesoooooota Laurie could stop and join us for an early dinner in Lexington. (She would spend the night an hour further south, so that the 6:30 AM Roll Call wouldn't be quite so onerous. We would drive down in the morning.) Sure enough, she arrived and oh how wonderful it was to see her, and there was Sam's sweet brother Rivet, and Lindy Loo's glamorous sister Simmer. Only...

Breeders are strange creatures. I open my arms to hug my dear friend, whom I haven't seen in ten forevers. "Oh Laurie," I exclaimed! "It is sooooo good to see y..." My eyes widened in horror as I gazed down at my Simmer, my little pup-pup.

"She's FAT!!!" I just blurted it out. Right like I was saying "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" or, "You have an ax sticking out of your skull!"

Simmer was entered in the Triathlon at the National. The Triathlon is a Big Deal. Whippets entered in the Triathlon combine their scores from Lure Coursing, Obedience, and Conformation. You have to have your dog fit enough for Lure Coursing, trained in Obedience, and they have to conform to the breed Standard. Mama Pajama had twice finished second in the Triathlon; accomplishments of which I am enormously proud.

Luckily Laurie is a forgiving sort. "Well, we do live in Minnesota, and it's been a horrible winter, and I've been working her on treadmills and doing everything I can," she reasoned. Using all my gracious tact I said, "But she's FAT!!!" (Do remember this later, Dear Readers. Do remember how I carried on.) Laurie, being a Kind and Gentle Soul, just smiled and hugged me and said it was so good to see me and let's eat.

Sunday morning I really didn't feel well at all. The right side of my face burned like fire and my neck was stiff, and maybe I had a little fever? Lee and Dee had never seen lure coursing and I had never seen Simmer run, so I didn't care how I felt, we were going. The day was sunny and windy. We got to the field and oh the memories. Giacomino had been Best In Field at the 1998 National in Temecula, California. And oh the friends! Folks I hadn't seen in years! "Don't hug me," I warned. "I seem to be a little bit sick." Well that was pure torture.

Fat little Simmer ran her heart out and finished with quite a respectable score. In fact, her final run was just beautiful, so much so that she reminded me of her famous cousin Mama P.

Simmer at the National - Photo Steve Surfman

"Laurie," I gushed! "That was awesome! She was fantastic!"

"Not too bad for a fat dog," smiled Laurie. "No," I agreed. "Not too bad at all. And I think she lost three pounds today. She ran so fast she ran away from them!"

I don't remember all that much of the evening. We went back to the hotel and fed dogs and we went out to eat. I don't remember where but I remember I had hot water with lemon to drink and it was like heaven. Laurie and Simmer would do Obedience in the morning and conformation in the afternoon. Sweet Sammy's brother sweet Rivet would do Rally in the morning. I couldn't wait to see it all. But ugh. I couldn't wait to get in bed.

We got back to the hotel and I called Bill and told him what was going on. "You better go to the Emergency Room," he said. "Okay, if I'm not better in the morning I will."

I woke up at 3:00 AM. Oh boy. This wasn't better...

to be continued HERE but obviously I lived because I'm not writing this posthumously so go ahead and hug your hounds