Sunday, December 4, 2016

Taking the Fast Eaters for a Slow Hike

I've been spending this cold spell working out an exercise routine, and I already feel much stronger and healthier now that I can actually be physically active.  Physical therapy has been helping my husband loosen up his muscles and rotate his joints again, so he suggested that we take a couple of horses for a walk in the desert.  The only two horses done eating their breakfast were Rock and Gabbrielle.

We didn't even get off the trail head before we ran into trouble.  I heard my husband say something about someone coming fast, so I just stopped.  I couldn't see who was coming or from where.  It turned out to be a lady loping along on a chestnut Arabian.  She didn't see us until she reached our intersection.  She apologized, and I said, "No problem."

I'm sure she would have walked her horse had she seen us, but we were down in a ditch, hidden by bushes.  Having a horse run in front of her was enough to send Gabbrielle into a tizzy.  Her head and tail shot up into the air and she danced and snorted.  I ignored her and kept walking until she became an anchor.

I looked back to see her touching noses with Rock.  I said to my husband, "She's scared and she's telling Rock to take the lead."

My husband and Rock moved ahead, and Gabbrielle instantly relaxed.  She did look around nervously from time to time, but didn't spook.  I was a little worried that if she did spook, she might stomp on my foot, because she tends to walk with her front feet next to my feet, and my feet were only protected by walking shoes.  I prefer for her to walk with her head next to my shoulder, but it hurts my shoulder to constantly be re-positioning her.  Hopefully, lifting weights regularly will fix that.

Rock kept trying to nip at my husband with his lips and crowding him, so he got some corrections.  We saw a pack of four coyotes move off when we approached their hiding spot.  I looked around in the bushes a little bit for my missing T-shirt and blue jeans that the coyotes stole out of my horse paddock, but didn't find them.

We crossed paths with another couple of horseback riders on the way home.  They were walking slowly, so Gabbrielle just stared in amazement, but didn't flip her lid.  Almost as if she suddenly realized that it was a busier day than usual on the trails, she turned to look behind her to see if there were any horses there.  Nope.  All clear.

When we got home to do barn chores, some people in an ATV decided to drive through my neighbors' back yard right past their No Trespassing signs.  This was a new ATV I've never seen before, so either some neighbors bought one, or someone had snowbirds visiting.  Come on, people.  If you are going to drive those types of vehicles when on vacation, at least do your research and haul them to locations where it is legal to drive them.  Don't just drive around private neighborhoods looking for spots to race between houses.  And if you live in Arizona and host snowbirds at your place, please respect your neighbors by telling your guests where they can and can't joy ride in their off-road vehicles.  Some of us have to live here year round and we don't appreciate having our land torn up by your guests.

We ended up hiking a little under two miles in an hour with the horses.  My leg was starting to get inflammed, but nearly making it two miles is pretty good for me.  When things are at their worst, I can't even make it from the couch to the toilet.  A friend wanted to ride with me, and I had to forewarn her that I don't venture far from home these days, because if I have to dismount or have an unplanned parting with my saddle, there's no guarantee that my leg will carry me home.  She seemed okay with that, but I suspect after just one ride with me, she'll get seriously bored and start looking for a riding partner elsewhere.

I found a Facebook group where local people look for riding partners, and occasionally when someone lives near me I consider contacting them, but then I remember how many restrictions I have regarding how far and how fast I can go, and I decide to just carry on riding alone.  If I'm riding by myself and my leg acts up, I just cut the ride short and don't have to feel guilty about ruining someone else's outing.

Midge, my Corgi, has been overdue for her routine diabetic testing since I've been adopting the philosophy of "if it's not broke, don't fix it."  My vet kept sending me reminders, all of which I ignored, because past experience has taught me that nothing good comes from taking Midge to the vet.  However, Midge has two new problems that I can't manage by myself.  She has a hard tumor growing off her back, and she keeps bleeding from one of her teats.  So, I called to set up an appointment, and told them they may as well do her diabetes testing while she's there.

Of course, they had to schedule her right smack in the middle of the day when I like to horseback ride -- after the horses finish their breakfast, but before the winter sun gets so low in the sky that it blinds me.  They said they had to run the tests when she is exactly in the middle between two insulin shots.  You can imagine my disappointment when the temperatures changed and the day of her appointment is going to get as close to my ideal 70 degrees as it's been all fall.  Argh.  Medical appointments are such a pain in the butt.  They are putting a serious crimp in my riding season.

(Update:  They previously said it would be 69 degrees, but have since dropped it to 66.  I know that's warm for Canadians, but it's shiver temps for desert rats.)

I know that the doctor will have to perform surgery to remove the tumor, and she'll want to clean (i.e. pull a bunch of) her teeth while she's under.  Then I'll have to deal with shoving antibiotics down my dog's throat and cleaning and dressing the wound for several weeks.  This year has really sucked when it comes to our entire family's health.

I've owned dogs my whole life, and they always get fatty tumors as they age.  I used to have this awesome vet back in Nevada who could tell the general type of tumor just by feeling it, and he saved me a lot of money with that talent.  However, my current vet says that she can't know what type of tumor it is until she surgically removes it.  The only reason why I'm willing to let her operate on this one is because it feels cancerous to me.  Scrappy had a cancerous looking tumor last year, but I opted to just watch it, because I didn't want to put a 17-year-old dog through the trauma of surgery.  Amazingly, the tumor disappeared on its own, so I made the right choice with that one.

A lady I know wanted to have a fatty tumor removed from her old show-quality dog, but her local vet refused to do it because of the dog's age.  So, she went behind his back and drove an hour out of her way to find a vet who was willing to operate.  As she was telling me how happy she was to find a vet who would do the job, I had this horrible feeling in my gut and wanted to beg her not to follow through on the surgery.  I didn't think the dog would survive, however this lady did not believe in anything psychic and she was stubborn.  The dog never recovered from his surgery.  His incision got infected, then he got pneumonia.  The lady kept him in the hospital for several weeks before she couldn't afford his care anymore and put him to sleep.

People occasionally get snarky with me when I refuse treatment for my pets, but I've learned that what registers in my gut is often a better choice than what will butter my vet's bank account.  However, if I intuitively know that I need veterinary intervention, I'm okay with asking for it.  I just wish that post-op care didn't have to be so time-consuming.  This is another reason why I put my own medical care on hold.  I wanted to give my dog the attention she needed for her health problems.


Camryn said...

I'll be sending good vibes for midge. The bleeding nipple is worrisome.

TeresaA said...

I"m with you on the care thing. I've ignored the fatty tumours that grow as they age. At some point there's no point in prolonging the dog's life if it's not going to have any quality. And I wouldn't risk an otherwise healthy older dog with a surgery.

Mrs Shoes said...

We're going down to -4F & expecting another foot of snow this week.... I'd straight up love some weather in the 60's right now.

Bleeding nipples are never good; I sure hope Midge is okay.

lytha said...

I have to smile - I actually have a "snowbird" friend, a good friend, in Sedona each Winter with her horse. I don't know where that is, or if it's close to you. She might be blazing your trails full speed, but she's not gonna trespass!