Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Family Visit

Tonight my son, Quinn and his girlfriend, Mallory came from Athens, GA. (near UGA) and stayed for a few hours. Both had to work earlier and drove up in the evening afterwards. We talked and ate Banana nut bread and Cranberry bread and opened presents; hand-crafted jewelry for her, and clothes for him that he had needed for a long time. Carmella got lucky again today! They brought her some more chew toys of various types and a bright orange collar and leash. Now she will have a back-up for if she decides to mangle her current ones or to alternate every so often. She already chewed one leash in half (the purple one the shelter sent her home with), so it's good to have an extra one just in case.

Everyone wanted to give Carmella a big hug because she's so cute!

I had given her a bath earlier and had not put her regular collar back on yet after washing and drying it. She was smelling nice and her fur was soft. All the excess ointment residue had begun to make her grimy and smell stale. After her bath she was full of energy, bounding around the house waiting for them to arrive.

Mallory told me she'd seen the movie "Marley and Me" and that it was excellent.

Quinn filled me in on what was happening at work, and is still trying to get it authorized so that he can come and stay for about 3 days. His off days are usually at two opposite ends of the week, so it will take some persistance to get those two together next to one vacation day. I very rarely get to see him and he has not been able to drive for awhile because he has a benign brain tumor which causes seizures and had been in an accident about a year ago after one hit him unexpectedly, so he has to come when he can find a way up here (which hasn't always been easy).

The job he has is about 7 hours short of full-time and they don't provide him any health insurance, so he has to pay for all his doctors' appointments out of pocket (including medications), and he's supposed to be starting with a new neurologist soon. The company doesn't even give employees the option to be full-time and get benefits until they've been there for 6 months. He still has a few more months to go. It's a type of call center that deals with other companies that provide special offers to their customers and those who are interested in the offers are then transferred to Quinn's company to hear about them further and possibly sign up.
He's good at closing these sales so I hope he will move up quickly and will not have to stay at the bottom for very long. Apparently some employees in higher positions do get pretty good pay and benefits, but it's unconscienable that any worker in America is expected to go without health insurance and must work on Christmas!

Then I took some pictures of Quinn and Mallory while they were here, of Carmella and them, and of Carmella later with her gifts from them.

I can hardly wait to get my watercolor paper and start painting again. I now have lots of good subject matter to work with.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What Carmella Got For Christmas

Boy what a lucky dog! This year Carmella got just about everything she wanted; a stuffed squeeky squirrel, a big giant marinated ham bone, and a bone from a T-bone steak with all kinds of meat left on it.

If you've checked the Carmella-cam today then you've probably seen what she got for Christmas, but if not, here are some adorable pictures of her enjoying her presents!

Her jaws are likely to be tired tomorrow from all that chewing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fulton County Animal Services

Knee-Deep in it

Last night Channel 5's Randy Travis of Fox news reported that Fulton County Animal Services (the same shelter where I got Carmella) was dumping feral cats in White County (near Cleveland, GA.)

Former Shelter Director, Jeri Alexander apparently was the one who authorized the abandonment of the animals. Fox 5 received an affidavit from a priest Ms. Alexander had consulted with her plans containing the details. The reason she gave him was that they would stand a better chance left out in the country, possibly picked up by farmers and used as "mousers" than they would if they had to be euthanized.

As far as I know none other than these two options were even considered. One would ask "Why did they not call other shelters if they were filled to capacity, or even ask local TV stations to feature the cats the way shelters like PAWS Atlanta often does?"

The answer to that question is particularly disturbing. Randy Travis reported that when questioned the shelter could not produce any evidence that these cats had been vaccinated (especially not for Rabies).

Those of you who've been reading this blog diligently might remember that there were irregularities in Carmella's adoption records such as no weight ever recorded throughout her entire 2 month stay, and lack of evidence that she had any more than one Distemper combo vaccine and a rabies shot. Also, the employee conducting the adoption never gave me a rabies tag or certificate to send in to the county showing she'd been vaccinated for rabies and when asked claimed to have no idea what I was talking about.

Carmella soon after brought home from shelter
(notice her ribs were showing)

In addition several vet checks had been signed off on as "normal" although Carmella was showing symptoms including being extremely underweight.

Carmella when very ill one week home from shelter
(notice how cloudy her eyes were, almost as if she had cataracts)

I remember sensing a cover-up at that time and the thought crossed my mind that what I was witnessing may be just the tip of the iceburgh.

The news story yesterday reported that there were 10-15 cats released that they could prove, but that 100 cats were still unaccounted for. The shelter had no explanation for what happened to those.

So far there has not been any talk of charges filed against the animal shelter or regulatory action taken. I hope there will be some follow-up on this. Now might be the right time for me to contact the news station about my experience. I didn't receive a response initially, but now with these recent developments the news media may be more interested in what happened to Carmella.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Game Plan

Yesterday I took Carmella to the vet to find out why she was losing hair in patches on her neck. She had also developed some little pustules near her crotch and on her stomach that looked as though she had diaper rash.

The vet did a skin scraping test and found out she has Demodectic Mange, although some sources say that Demodectic and Sarcoptic Mange are impossible to tell apart. Apparently Demodectic Mange is not supposed to itch, but Carmella does itch somewhat.

According to this website; if a dog has to have mange this type is less severe than Sarcoptic Mange.

Puppies 3-9 months of age are the most likely to get it, even the transition from puppy to adulthood can trigger the disease, and it aften attacks dogs with weakened immune systems. It's very likely that Carmella's recent recovery from Distemper left her wide open for other opportunistic diseases such as mange.

Most dogs have mange mites living in their skin at all times on some level but it may never be a high enough level to cause a breakout.

Dr. Norwood prescribed an ointment twice a day to put on her neck where the red spots are, and then prescribed antibiotic pills twice a day for the rash she has on her stomache and crotch, which he said is a secondary staff infection most likely connected to the Mange.

After 14 days of that, if she's not cured or it continues to spread then he'll dip her.

My very first dog, Bingo, when I was 5 had Sarcoptic Mange. Interestingly she was reddish brown like Carmella. My father and I gave that dog baths every day with the most horrible smelling prescription dip that looked like milk. The baths had no effect and the dog was eventually put to sleep because after a few months was reduced to a naked, red ball of sores, and as I remember became systemically ill as well. I'm sure back then the medications were not as effective as they are today.

I talked to Dr. Norwood about Carmella's snorting also. He looked down her throat with the equipment he did have and couldn't see any obstruction with that, but said that she might have one further down and would need a specialist to stick a scope down the airway to check the area where he couldn't. Letting it go too long could compromise her heart, but he was being somewhat conservative about referring her to a specialist now, preferring to wait and see if it gets worse or happens in her sleep. He said if she passes out or really gasps for air then we'd have to but wasn't sure whether it was severe enough yet to warrant surgery. I will keep an eye on it but don't want to wait until she reaches that point before taking care of the problem.

Her very small snout in proportion to her size makes her prone to this sort of thing, and if she's part Shar Pei that could definitely be a predisposing factor.

Dr. Norwood can now do a DNA test to determine what breeds she's mixed with. He recently heard about the two companies I'd mentioned in my earlier blog post and has started using the blood test. I am going to put that off until I get more of the bill paid off before I get him to do that, but hopefully will have it done pretty soon. I'm going to do a blog giveaway to the person who has the closest guess and will probably run it in the weeks after the blood sample is drawn while waiting for the results.

Notice all the wrinkles underneath Carmella's chin. She is likely to have a very unusual mix of breeds in her.

I plan on doing a series of watercolor paintings on Carmella as soon as I get some Arches Cold-pressed block watercolor paper, and may select one of those paintings as the prize to be given away to the top guesser. (The paintings below are from my Greyhound Series).

Gwen, Dr. Norwood's office manager asked if I was selling my paintings and that got me to thinking about starting another Etsy shop for my other artwork. I've been mostly focused on jewelry but I could probably sell my paintings when the jewelry business is slow. There seem to be a fair amount of people who buy flat artwork on Etsy, both full-sized and ACEOs.

After the holidays are over I will be gearing up for Valentine's Day and will pick up where I left off in my new line of PMC using the rubber stamps made from my photos, and the two seed pods.

I also have an idea of how to bring jewelry and watercolors together that I want to test-market, and some new ideas for unique products to sell in my supply shop.

Also on the agenda is looking for more wholesale accounts. I've got to put some new variables into the equation in order to increase my earnings!

Be sure to watch Carmella on the Carmella-cam, and if you'd like to contribute to her vet bill we would greatly appreciate it. Thanks to all of you who have donated so far. Our goal is to raise at least $1,000 and we've raised about $100.00 so far in donations and blog ads, and $120.00 from the recent custom order (which you can see a picture of here (It was overcast that day).

Carmella is one fixer-upper that is worth every penny spent on her!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Name That Crud!
Yes, here it is folks! The creeping crud I spoke of in my last entry. I don't know what it is but it's definitely something because it's a little worse than before. I took some pictures. Maybe someone has seen it before.

I just know I'm going to have to take her to the vet again. I hope it's something simple and inexpensive to treat and not mange.

I heard back tonight from a woman who is going to put in a custom order and it's not a moment too soon because I'm still trying to pay off Carmella's vet bill. I had hoped I would sell one of my Budding Vine bracelets or the bud with black opal in it also this month, but this is a start after a very long dry spell on Etsy. I hope there are more sales to come.

If you look at my Etsy Mini you'll see a few new pieces just listed tonight with those glitzy stones that are so popular right now; Lemon Quartz, Beer Quartz, and Blue Topaz. These have impeccable faceting! I bet you know someone who would like one of these under their tree on Christmas morning.

A few days ago I posted on Martha Stewart's blog. She had a video of her two French Bulldogs playing in her back yard, so I told her Carmella's story and invted her to read my blog. I've been watching her show almost every day lately. She has had some great cookie ideas for the holidays, and seems to be featuring more and more Etsy sellers.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Brea Grant's stylist regarding a custom Rainstick Necklace for her. Apparently she contacted SmashingDarling's owner asking for designers to feature on their blog and for Brea to wear on the red carpet. I could really use a big break like that right about now.

Check out Carmella on the Carmella-cam right now. She's being super cute!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Carmella has been restless the past few days almost as if something exciting is on its way. I hope it's not just anxiety but instead really is a sign of something good to come!

She has been insatiable; wanting constant attention even when she is being petted currently. I don't know how much more attention you can give than that!

Yesterday and today she has been trying to chew my shoe just about every time I enter the kitchen, and when I let her get up onto the bed with me while I'm watching TV she does not want to lie down and be calm. She restlessly stands up and changes positions multiple times, starts chewing on my hands, licking the bottom of my feet, and finally jumps off the bed onto the floor where she immediately finds a sock and tries her best to chew a hole in it in record time. I had to put the muzzle on her earlier today because she was really out of control with her gnawing on my hands. I swear sometimes I think she must have ADHD!

This month I have been very broke so I'm trying to make sure she does not destroy my clothes at all cost because I can't afford to replace any right now. I am still hoping for some sales in my Etsy shop before the month of December is over. I've even decided to offer US Priority shipping on purchases of $50.00 or more between now and Christmas, not to mention I will gladly gift-wrap anything purchased if the customer would like.

Come on, "make my day"! It would be a shame to just let these items expire one by one when they could be making someone happy on Christmas morning. I am sure that whomever you're shopping for will enjoy something from my Etsy store. Luckily not all my work looks the same, so if something you see is not your style then you are very likely to find another piece that will be.

I've been a little conservative this month about re-listing things because the object is to bring more money in than you spend on fees, LOL.

It will be a great relief when I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with Carmella's vet bill.

Holding my breath that nothing more goes wrong with her that will cost more money, I notice a few small patches of missing fur on the front of her neck. Oh, no! The areas have not gotten worse within the past week, but I am concerned that the area looks to have black particles near the base of the hair right at the skin. At first I just thought her collar was rubbing there but now I'm not so sure. I doubt that would cause black little specks at the base of the hair. I'll have to take some pictures of this close-up when there's enough good lighting. Maybe somebody will know what it is.

My son's visit was great and we had a good time although it was too short. I got to meet his new girlfriend and (I might add) that she is a Syskel and Ebert Two Thumbs UP!!! Very kind, down-to-earth, pretty, compassionate (she works as a personal assistant/companion for a woman with Down's Syndrome), she paints, and she loves dogs. She's also stable and has career goals (unlike his former girlfriend). Quinn, if you're reading this, quick, marry her! LOL.

I showed her Flickr on my computer and told her about Etsy and how easy it is to open up an online store, and she sounded interested in doing that. She'd heard of Etsy before and was interested in learning more about Flickr. She has a dog that she's taken some great pictures of that looks like it's part Australian Shepherd and part Blue Heeler, and maybe a little English Setter, and the pictures she took after she'd come back from the Stone Mountain Game Ranch were absolutely greeting card material! She had one showing a fawn licking her face, and another in which a Donkey was doing its best to bite someone's face, its giant blocky teeth grinning into the camera.

She and the woman whom she was spending the day with loved Carmella, and captivated, walked over to the gate leading to the kitchen, reached over and petted her for quite awhile. Carmella was so excited about all the attention she could hardly contain herself. Her tail was wagging so hard she nearly knocked herself off her feet.

I've noticed lately that when Carmella's lying down in certain positions the force of her right front leg jerking causes her left, back leg to jerk. If you catch this on the Carmella-cam it looks quite funny, as though her legs are taking off without her. When she's lying down another way the jerking is barely perceptible even in the leg it's actually in.

I don't know if this has any significance or not but she's been shedding like crazy! She wasn't shedding over the summer and it seems to have caused a delayed reaction. All of my clothes are covered with short, light brown hairs, and it's all over my blanket, and even comes off in my hand while I'm petting her. I bought a lint roller and have used about half of it up in just a few days. Pretty soon there will be enough hair to send to some spinner to make yarn from. To look at her you wouldn't think she would have that much fur or that she'd be bald by now, but in fact quite the contrary; her hair is very healthy-looking, shiny, soft, and she seems to have plenty of it for a short-haired dog. I guess feeding her Iams does make a difference, because the former dog I had when I fed her the cheaper stuff didn't look anywhere near as robust and healthy as Carmella does. There's something also about her muscle tone that really shows she's in great shape, and she has real bounce in her step. I really think she would be great at some dog food commercials!

If any of you have just recently started reading look back for comparison to the posts from July and August at the pictures of her then and you'll see what a dramatic change there has been! Be sure to remember to share Carmella's story with your vets.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Little R&R (Re-Set and Re-Group)

I've been ill for about 3 weeks and have not been able to be online much lately without feeling worse but tonight seem to have a window of opportunity to write something. At least for the time-being I have enough energy to get a few things done so I'm striking while the iron is hot, as my condition fluctuates throughout the day. I'm waiting for some test results to come back from my very disorganized and haphazard doctor's office, but not holding my breath. One time it took three weeks to get results in the mail that I really should have gotten a phone call from the nurse about.

Alot has happened since my last entry. I have not felt up to working on my jewelry, and various fees sucked up the money I had set aside for the rubber stamps, so it looks as though ordering them, and launching my new line will have to wait until after the holidays unless I happen to make a decent sale (or several) this month.

A friend has fallen on hard times as well, and I am feeling somewhat useless in trying to help. It is never quite so evident as it is right now just how important it is to have enough money to fix all the leaks in the boat that invariably come along when you least expect it, which present themselves at the most inopportune times.

Then another goal had to be put aside (one I'm not at liberty to talk about just yet), but if you've been reading diligently will recognize as that "upsetting event" which required more of my time and resulted in my overdoing it and compromising my health. Sometimes life sends us a message that if we don't sit down it will knock us down whether we like it or not. I am the kind of person that has a tendancy to "get it done or die trying", and I just had to come to a point at which I said, "OK, I'm not super-woman and there is no way I'm going to be able to do it alone." That situation is still up in the air, but the future of that will in large part depend on how much back-up I will have at the crucial time when it's most needed. I have to keep reminding myself that it's not a matter of weakness, but one of my having done it virtually alone for way too long already, and that nobody succeeds at anything alone. Somebody said to me about 2 weeks ago that maybe it wouldn't be the end of the world if that particular goal didn't happen, and that which surrounds it folds, and maybe she's right. If the right people just aren't that into it the way I am then perhaps it would be an empty victory to see it through. Recent events have only strengthened my thesis that man's very survival depends upon each cog in the wheel doing it's part for the whole to function effectively. If that sounds alot like Socialism then so be it; right about now Capitalism as it exists here in America has become way out of hand and a little Socialism, getting back to the basics, whiddling it down to only that which is most important would do us some good.

I was thinking tonight about how we need to re-set our clocks, compasses, and the like; kind of have a "do-over", on a personal level with our busy hectic schedules and priorities, and on a more global level with the environmental and consumerist monster we've created, wanting more, bigger, better, faster...wanting more and more "stuff", mucking up our lives with more and more complexity when really what is needed is more simplicity, to slow things down, and to savor the people in our lives, the art, the warmth, and the beauty in the smallest of details.

People are so upset about losing money in the stock market, but then there are those who don't even have money in the stock market and are worried about how they'll eat and pay their bills, and this avalanche is now carrying with it the bodies of those who only weeks or months ago were most concerned about their investments. In the mass of scrambling and desperate arms and legs such concerns quickly pale in comparison to the more immediate concerns of where they will draw their next paycheck, and how long any money saved will last.

It is just beginning to dawn on people that in a flash of an eye all of this could be gone and husbands must then face their wives, possibly to really see them for the first time since they met, stripped of all the trappings and usual distractions, treadmill turned off, faced with days which seem endless, the sudden quiet, a pregnant pause...hearing the scrape of fork against dinner plate, a sound so familiar, usually drowned out by wheels turning in their heads, and the white noise of perpetual motion.

Last night I snuggled up in my bed wrapped in blankets in front of a good movie on TV, Carmella curled up, her head nestled in the crook of my arm, and although so much had gone wrong in the previous several weeks I looked at her and thought how this was going to be the best holiday ever because she has grown into a beautiful young dog, healthy and robust and very much alive.

It has been an amazing transformation taking place before my eyes over the past month or so. It seems as though her DNA takes turns and a certain breed will show up more prominantly for a few weeks, and then another, all the while making the puzzle of her lineage a little less mysterious. Breeds I was pretty sure she had in her before I'm not so sure of anymore, and some new possibilities emerge. In just the past month her neck and chin have gone through some pretty dramatic changes. The new collar I'd just adjusted for her a month ago is already almost too small for her. I looked closely and found that she has developed loose skin around the throat, and looking at her chin revealed some little crinkles. I'm thinking it's probably not enough to be Bloodhound, but it could possibly be Shar Pei. The only thing is that Shar Peis have very clunky snouts with pendulous lower lips, and she definitely has a much firmer and thinner snout. Although her forehead is wrinkled she does not have the squinchy eyes either nor do they droop. If it is Shar Pei then whatever else is in her must be balancing her out to make her more streamlined. That is possibly German Shepherd and maybe some Shiba Inu. She may have some Pit Bull in her because of her powerful jaws, but otherwise she is looking less like a Pit Bull than she was a few months ago.

Tonight I read more about Dingoes and interestingly, the material said that they have a habit of going for the feet, so that is definitely still a possibility. I also read that Shar Peis often chew on everything and like Pit Bulls can be stubborn with problem behaviors and require special training techniques to overcome those quirks. Carmella chewed clean through the cord on my heating pad in only 5 minutes during when I left her on my bed as I made myself something to eat in the kitchen. I came back through the livingroom to find her gnawing on the detatched pad. I really didn't need to have one more expense on top of everything else. That will have to wait to be replaced next month although I really need to use it now.

In addition, she stripped off the laminate on one half of the door between the garage and the kitchen. I came home from doing my grocery shopping one day to a floor scattered with splinters of wood.

All this got me to thinking again about DNA testing, so I did a Google search and found two companies who now offer over 100 breeds. In case you would like to get your mixed-breed dog identified, Mars Veterinary offers what they call The Wisdom Panel for $125.00, a blood DNA test which can identify 157 breeds of dog;

The only breeds not detected are; Dogue de Bordeaux, Beauceron, English Toy Spaniel, Skye Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Swedish Vallhund, Tibetan Mastiff.

The other is MMI Genomics, a subsidiary of MetaMorphix Inc., offers the Canine Heritage Breed Test which can identify 105 breeds of dog at present, and costs $120.00;

This test is done from epithelial cells inside the cheek in the mouth of the dog.

The following article tells you why getting your dog tested is useful;

Once I get Carmella's current vet bill paid down some more I plan on getting her tested.

If you would like to help with Carmella's vet bill;

* Buy an ad on my blog to the right

* Use the donation button (at top of side-bar)

* Or*

* Shop in my Etsy store at

I still have a ways to go before her bill will be paid off completely, so whatever you can afford would be greatly appreciated. Every bit adds up.

My son will be coming for a few hours today. This is the first time he will have seen Carmella. He and his girlfriend took a look at my blog about a week ago and they both thought she was really cute. I haven't seen my son in a long time. It will be nice to get a chance to visit with him, and I hope he will be able to get three days off from his job around New Years. He lives in Athens, GA. which is about an hour and a half away from here. He'll be coming up with his girlfriend who will be driving to Stone Mountain related to her work.