binary girl: the secret blog



Archive for the ‘doggy/piggy’ Category


Monday, April 11th, 2016

Nicky: it was either a stroke or vertigo. He’s walking and eating! No lie, B and I thought we were driving him to the vet to put him to sleep :( So glad he’s on the mend!

Max: today was his follow-up with our normal pediatric optho. When the doctor first tested his vision, he was able to read nearly every letter off the wall, at all sizes, which was freaking B and I out (in a good way) — but it turns out that he was peeking with his uninjured eye through my fingers! Which of course, made it necessary for me to leave the room and cry, because the roller-coaster was a bit more than I was prepared to deal with.

Ultimately, though, the news was EXCELLENT. We changed his drops regimen because of his light sensitivity, but most importantly: we found that he does have an intact visual system! WOO! He could see enough to identify a birthday cake emoji thing on the largest setting, and the doctor’s fingers, in addition to being able to detect light. Brandon broke down sobbing, he was so happy, and Dr. Cooper threw her arms up in victory and we all hugged a lot.

We still don’t know what’s going on with his lens or his cornea, but damn, this was such an amazing thing to hear. His instructions for this week were to stay home and be a couch potato, so he came home and told Brandon he was ready to be a “lazy tomato”.

My kiddos. <3

in other news, i almost had a heart attack

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

We got home from the doc appointment to find Nicky lying in a pool of his own urine in the bathtub, unable to stand, surrounded by vomit. When I went to get a blanket he tried to follow me but could barely stand up and his back legs completely repeatedly failed him. His head was tilted, his eyes were all weird, and I was pretty sure that I was about to make an emergency vet clinic trip to put my 15yo first husband to sleep. :(

(He hasn’t really eaten in two days an has twice peed himself in his sleep, but this sudden decline freaked me out.)

The vet thinks he has vestibular disease, though! (Sudden-onset vertigo.) He got a shot and he’s on two anti-nausea meds and I refuse to believe it’s anything else, damnit, because NO. JUST NO. He’s currently wearing a diaper next to me passed out from exhaustion and I’m petting him and … no. I love my fuzzybutt.

this day is fucking awful

Friday, November 13th, 2015

super shitty morning parent fail
work awful beyond comparison
killings in paris
college friend has third recurrence of cancer
ash’s blood results come back indicating cancer or carcinoma of some type

3 days of 3 dogs

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Nicky is 13, and Ash is 11, and they are strongly bonded, so Brandon has been worrying lately that one of them will die and the other will be horribly distraught. So, he started to look through Petfinder at what local rescues have, and found a small terrier named Jewel that I quickly dubbed “Wicket” because she looked just like an Ewok. We made our way down to an adoption event in Palo Alto on Saturday, with Nicky and Ash in the car to meet her, should we think she had the right temperament.

When we realized we couldn’t find Jewel in the outside pens, we went to talk to someone about her (since Brandon had been emailing with someone), only to find that the reason she was away is that she was highly aggressive with other dogs. Knowing Ash like we do, we decided to check her out anyway, and… yeah, no, there was no way. The rescue recommended another dog, however, named Sadie, who is a 1yo whippet/shepherd mix and was both child- and dog-tested. Brandon and the kids walked her, and that was great, and her introduction to both of our dogs went swimmingly. She is a beautiful brindle color and was really sweet with a playful personality, so we decided she would be the one for us — even after we had a long talk with the adoption coordinator about the increased exercise needs for this breed. Brandon had to take the kids to swimming, so I stayed with her to fill out the paperwork and buy the appropriate supplies. We bonded as she constantly stole treats from the boxes that the store had foolishly placed at pet-head-height :)

When everyone arrived back, we took a photo together as a family and then piled into the car. Actually, at this point, Brandon took Katie to the bathroom, I got Max to his seat opposite me on the side of the car where I was loading the dogs, and put Sadie in first, with Ash to follow. They nearly instantly got into a roaring, screaming fight. I didn’t know who caused it, so I yanked Ash back, told Max to get out of the car as quickly as he could (he was crying but he was too far for me to reach), and we waited for Brandon to come back. He ended up riding home in the back with her, and I had our other two in the front.

If I could describe the rest of the weekend that we were home with them, it would be this:
Nicky was generally cool with Sadie but she would push him and he would respond by showing teeth, growling, and removing himself. She tried to play bow to him but generally he is too old/deaf/disinterested to want to play.

Ash was territorial about everything: food, toys he had never seen before, Nicky, me. Initially he would fight with her and we’d pull them apart fast enough that it was not too bad. The fights started to ramp up, however, so that he was cowering under things and ambushing her, growling from a distance, and the like. She injured him on the first day.

Sadie was generally great but pushy. She is bigger than Ash and would not defer, nor would he, and she eventually got to the point that she was aggressively going after him as much as he was, her.

I emailed the rescue a few times:

date: Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 8:48 AM
subject: sadie update, question
Sadie had a great first day and night with us. :) She is a really awesome pup! I do have a question, however, mainly to make sure that we’re doing the right thing with her and our pre-existing guys.

Ash, our schnauzer and resident alpha, and she, are trying to determine their pack order. (Our cockapoo is super submissive and apathetic so he’s no problem.) She is now acting more as the aggressor towards him and it has escalated enough that she’s drawn blood from him twice (shallowly). We immediately separate them when this happens, but they are often seeking each other out and circling each other growling, which has been escalating more often than not, so they are definitely not capable of being left together alone at this point (which is reasonable and something we can deal with without issue). It’s territorial for sure, because it usually arises over food or a perceived shared toy. Ash has started to figure out that he’s not going to win in these situations because he hides behind us.

So, last night, she slept up front with Brandon, the guys slept with me in the back, and this morning we’re continuing to work on it. I would love any tips you have to help them through this process so there is no more injury :)

(Example: right now Sadie is throwing a ball around to herself, and Ash is staring at her growling, which she responds to by either ignoring him or barking and leaping across the room to bite him.)

Thanks! Feel free to call us!

I called Spencer, since he’s a dog trainer, and he walked us through some exercises. She was SUPER fun to play with, and we did a lot of that.

date: Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 8:28 PM
subject: sadie: we need help!!!!!
So to review, our current pet setup is Nicky (13 yr old cockapoo, submissive but not the point of peeing on things when he gets scared), Ash (11 yr old schanuzer, extremely territorial and definite alpha), and now Sadie.

Yesterday, things were pretty good at home but Sadie and Ash quickly started to get into it. The two triggers were food and toys, even though Ash had never been territorial about the toys in the house. Sadie easily outsizes him and drew blood twice in shallow cuts.

Our solution has been to separate them for meals (which we’ve been doing from the beginning since we knew Ash was like this about food already), sleeping them apart, and today, by removing all the toys. We’ve been separating them when either of them growls and also worked on introducing them to each other outside, doing the “two people walking, give treats if they pass well” thing.

However, they are getting worse. Sadie is trying to dominate Nicky and that would be going fine, except Ash is also territorial over Nicky, and their fighting is getting much more intense, and they are getting harder to separate. Ash has a sizeable gouge out of his shoulder now and he’s both scared of her (barking and growling from protected areas, shaking when he sees her) and reactively growling when he sees her, so we are keeping them separated. Sadie is happily uninjured and seems to be inquisitive and happy, although she’s a little barkier.

Both of our kids are fairly freaked out by the fights (our 4 yr old is bursting into tears now).

I’ll be staying home with them tomorrow but I really could use advice on either someone to bring in to help us all, or by having someone visit. If you could call myself or Brandon we would really appreciate it.

At that point I started calling trainers. On Monday I worked from home, and played with her a lot in the backyard. Ash was shaking and scared of her from the moment he woke up. Later in the morning, I had both of them outside (partially because she is so tall that she kept jumping over the gate I was putting between them), and they got into such a huge fight that I was barely able to separate them. Ash has a flank that is bruised and battered, and has 5 different bloody gouges. Finally, one of the trainers answered, and came over at 2. After talking to her, when she told me about the bite laws in CA (which are markedly different than those in WI — you are essentially required to report any bite that requires an ER visit, the dog is quarantined on-site for 10 days, etc), I instantly said that Sadie had to go back.

I called and emailed the rescue again and it turned out I had been sending my emails to .org (like their website) instead of .com. D’oh. They had a family in mind and Brandon drove Sadie to them in San Francisco while I sat there crying because Ash was so hurt, and I felt like a failure. The family has three sons and a big house in Tahoe, so that’s good.

Anyway, the trainer sent us a great email.

Hi Alison and Brandon,

I wanted to check in and see how you all are doing this morning. If you would like more feedback on what we talked about yesterday I would be happy to talk to you.

I know it’s a hard decision. If you are having second thoughts I would be happy to go over what it would take to keep Sadie. If you want me to watch the dogs together I would be happy to do that too, but that has already been done and it’s appears it’s the resource guarding, interaction styles and refusal to defer, that is increasing the tension and the problems and they now have some fear and aggression toward each other.

Sadie did not “listen” to Ash’s warning signals. (If I heard you correctly, you said he gave them) (BTW you never want to punish a growl. That does not mean you want your dog to growl, but the growl tells people and dogs to back off and if the growl is gone the dog just goes to the bite) I don’t think Sadie is used to being around a dog that resource guards and separation would be a must as well as training Ash not to guard people and objects. Also Sadie did not defer to Ash, nor Ash to Sadie. Both dogs kept up the fight until you intervene and you almost couldn’t break it up. Young children trying to take care of the situation could be quite dangerous, so the dogs would need to be separated all of the time until things can be worked out and even then, once you have see aggression there is always the possibility that you can see it again if the “right situation” occurs. Also Sadie does not respect Nicky and the signals to stop playing and leave me alone. This is not unusual for a younger dog, but she has not learned how to modulate her behavior when playing with certain dogs. (perhaps just older dogs). She was offering play behaviors that were appropriate should the other dog want to engage. Nicky and Ash get into fights occasionally but they are more like good friends arguing. While it looks serious, no dog is injured and it is over soon and life goes on as normal. You do have to be careful with treats around Nicky and Ash due to resource guarding of treats. Both of your dogs are older and need to be protected from young dog energy. Think of grandparents and young children energy. My dad always said “love to see them visit and love to see them go” The children/dogs can exhaust the older animal and the older animal does not have the same energy or need to play. The older animal exercise needs are different, play needs are different, interaction needs are different.

Breaking up a dog fight

Here are some ideas on breaking up a dog fight. BTW they usually
sound worse than they end up being.

1. You need to make sure children are safe

2. You need to make sure you and other adults are safe

3. you can toss a coat/sweater etc over them to distract them.

4. you can make a loud noise, throw water over them. Open an umbrella with eyes painted on it.

5. you can stick something between them.

6. you can bounce a tennis ball near them to get their attention – not good for a resource guarder

7. One trainer I know throws a tennis ball at the dogs.

You also don’t want to pull them away because if one dog does have a
good hold on the other the bite can become a tear and harder to fix.

What happened with the tick? [Ed: there was a tick behind her ear when she came home with us; it looked so much like a skin tag that it took me repeated inspections to realize that it was, in fact, a tick, and we removed it when she was here.]

If you have any questions please let me know,

This morning, Ash was super stiff from the pain, and shaking out of fear. He seems calmer now but we think that we’re going to probably not be able to get another dog while he’s around (and I’m okay with that).

kid-inclusive valentine’s day

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

We had a little shindig at the house yesterday to celebrate Valentine’s day, by inviting a bunch of friends over with their kids and having a LOT of beef wellington. (Brandon hasn’t made it in a LONG time!) We invited my boss Jason and his wife, and their three kids; Tom, who works on my team, his wife, and their two kids; Sonya, who works with Brandon, and her husband and two kids, and Ava and Shane, our besties, and their two peanuts.

The first, most important, thing that I did for the day was to order a huge bounce house, which was (as always) a hit. Brandon took Friday off to ostensibly work on cleaning, but that turned into him spending all day hitting up all the different shops around to make his menu… smashed baked potato appetizers, filled puff pastries, cheeses, and wine; I took care of the kid appetizers; and then the tenderloin and other assorted food items that are required for making beef wellington. He also developed this special cocktail pear martini with honey liquor that was frickin’ delicious, nom nom.

We also had bubbles, and sports equipment, and the hot tub (with a huge number of small people in it), and the people that we invited all seemed to really enjoy each other’s company, so it’s definitely something I would consider doing again. It made me feel extraordinarily fortunate to have all of the fabulous people in my life that I do. <3 (Bonus: my three-day migraine finally ended by the end of the day! And the puppies, who were at the kennel overnight, were so excited to see us today that when I took a spontaneous aggressive snooze on the couch today, Ash decided to sleep on me while Nicky slept next to me. Puppy love.)

old photo catch-up

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Breakfast of champions.

Super strong!

Birthday shenanigans: expanding the portrait wall

The dogs do not trust the selfie stick.

Max selfie

Katie selfie


Friday, December 19th, 2014


Puppy face!

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Puppy face!


Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Originally uploaded by alibee09

fists clenched

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


This weekend we did a huge playdate for Jennifer in Castro Valley. It was totally amazing to see so many friends and little ones, and Lizz, who organized it with donations from Fresh and Easy markets as well as a local bouncy house rental and some volunteer princesses, did a fantastic job — my kids are still talking about how much fun they had and how they want to go back.

For my part, I really enjoyed myself. I had one off moment: I had walked over to a table to put a craft back (a frosting-covered ice cream cone Xmas tree that B put in the car and was melting, so I brought it back inside) when I saw a glut of blonde adorable children and said, “This must be the blonde coalition.” Then I walked away, turned around, and realized that it was JLK and her brothers. Somehow in my mind, even though I know she’s just turned 6, in photos she seems so much more mature, so it was striking to me just how very small she is. I instantly started sobbing, so I turned and ran into the bathroom so no one would see me. I ultimately had to wear sunglasses for a half hour afterward. But… she’s just a little girl. A baby. Thinking about her prognosis when being confronted physically with her was more than I could bear, and even though I talked to her later and was appropriately respectful of the fact that I’m a virtual stranger and she’s very shy, I wanted to bearhug the crap out of her. (I did do that to her mom, though.)

Ash started peeing blood on Sunday night, and seemed to be having some incontinence, so I thought he had a UTI and took him to the vet yesterday. The doctor immediately gave him an ultrasound after my description and found a sizable stone in his bladder, so this morning we had to bring him back for surgery. Poor little guy, he’s acting otherwise normal so I’m hoping he’s not in too much discomfort but I’m glad that this is a short week so we can spend some time with him at home when he comes back tonight. [Update!] He came through surgery fine and they’re going to send the stone out to a service that will analyze it. Oh boy! :P The doc wants to talk to me a little when I get him, which gives me a little trepidation, but hopefully it’s nothing serious.

And to top it all off, my carpal tunnel is back with a vengeance! WOO! I didn’t want to enjoy doing anything physical with my kiddos anyway.


Tuesday, May 28th, 2013


nickypants and ashface

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Nicky has been backed off on all of his IMHA meds for a while now — he’s just taking a small steroid dose and a stomach buffer three times a week. I can tell he is getting older; I think he’s slightly deaf or blind, because he doesn’t respond nearly quickly enough to stimuli. He also feels older — when I hold him he feels, I dunno, frailer and skinnier.

His stomach has recently been having the same issues we ran into in November. I think that it’s spawned by giving him non-dogfood; B fed him and Ash some corned beef on Saturday and since then, he’s been falling apart. It was so bad last night that Brandon, who normally doesn’t even wake for kid screaming, woke up just because of the sound that Nicky’s stomach was making. :(

Ash is pretty attention-starved; he has a major issue with self-control around the kids (to the point that Max, when holding food, will shriek at him if he’s even across the room looking in his direction) so he and Nicky spend a lot of the time that we’re home, before bed, having to be segregated from us in order to ensure that they won’t steal food. He actually jumps up at the table when the kids are there and will take things from their hands or in front of them if they’re not paying attention (or if I’m not). Meh. I do try to make up for it with lots of concentrated cuddles after the kids are in bed, though.

He’s a couple years younger than Nicky so he doesn’t seem so obviously aged but I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that they’re almost 11 and 9. Waaa. :(

what the hell?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I just walked into the kitchen with Katie after her bath to find Nicky standing on the top of the high chair, stuck. He’d climbed into Katie’s chair, eaten all her dinner (someone is on a complete food strike, both at home and school), then on to the high chair to clean off the o’s and puffs that Max had left. Then he couldn’t get down.

Gutsy dog is gutsy.

getting better all the time

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Nicky’s PCV on Sunday was an AWESOME 28.6% — that’s almost three times his lowest levels! He is so much perkier, and I feel incredibly lucky that he pulled through. (Not sure that our bank account will, though… lol.)

We dropped the doxy and tummy meds, but his stomach is still acting wonky, so we’re going to add it back in. He’ll likely be on prednisolone for life, but we’ll hopefully be able to wean it down a little in a few months (which will be nice because he’s I’d like to not have to give him as many stomach meds — the carafate especially is a pain because it blocks absorption of other meds so it must be given separately, on an empty stomach, and he needs it 3x/day, so B needs to go home and administer it).

Anyway! Yay! Thanks for reading all my posts about this. :D

ridiculous med schedule

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

ridiculous med schedule

Originally uploaded by alibee09

This is Nicky’s med schedule until Sunday, when he has his checkup. Hopefully we’ll be able to drop a couple of them — like the aspirin (anti-clotting) and metronidazole (stomach issues). The pepcid (antacid) and carafate (coat GI tract) can stop when we stop the prednisolone (a steroid that is suppressing his immune system which needs to be tapered off but which can cause ulcers), the doxycycline (antibiotic to treat the possible infection causing the immune response) is probably going to stop whenever we finish the course, and he might need to be on the cyclosporine (immunosuppressant) for life.


Thursday, May 19th, 2011


Originally uploaded by alibee09


Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Nicky is 24% this morning, which means PUPPYFACE IS COMING HOME!

Stoked, I am. :D :D :D

happiness is a warm pup

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

happiness is a warm pup

Originally uploaded by alibee09

look who is feeling better! (pcv is 23%!)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

look who is feeling better! (pcv is 23%!)

Originally uploaded by alibee09

your daily pupdate

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

[9:40am] YES!!!! I just talked to the vet — after the transfusion, Nicky’s PCV was 21%. At 8am, 5 hours later, he went up to 24 — ON HIS OWN!

If this continues he can come home tomorrow!


They’re moving him out of the O2 chamber to see how he does and taking another PCV at 8pm.