Sprocket Drama

Many people have asked about Sprocket, and while he is feeling better and no longer running a fever, we still do not know what is, or was, wrong with him. All of the tests the specialist originally ran have come back negative, so all former conjectures as to the problem are off. He’s had no fever for days, but is still moving about a little tenderly so we are continuing him on pain medication for now.

I am inserting photos of current and former pets into this post, so you’ll have to excuse the picture quality, because most of these were taken before I knew (or cared to know) anything about photography. But first, Sprocket:


At our last trip to the dog neurologist, she pressed on his joints and said he no longer appeared to be in pain anywhere but around his tailbone, so I don’t know what to do with that. Last time she was sure he had this virus that causes all-over inflammation in the joints but the test was negative. She ran more bloodwork (third time  since this started) then told us Sprocket needs to see another specialist at the center, because now they’re thinking it’s a bone marrow infection. Oooookay. We called our regular vet out of frustration over all this, and he encouraged us to go ahead and meet with the next specialist, see what he has to say, then stop looking for answers if whatever that one recommends doesn’t work. Once we reach that point, he says we should just keep an eye on him, monitor his pain level, help him be comfortable, and hope whatever it is passes. The positive thing is that other than some random pain that seems to be moving around, he is behaving as he always has; he is bright-eyed and friendly, and eating a ridiculous amount of food. So, no one is concerned he’s going to die anytime soon- except Doug and I of course. But so far no one is seeing anything to cause alarm in that regard, and he’s certainly had every test known to man by now, including x-rays and ultrasounds. So we’re trying to reassure ourselves and stay calm.

Ramone – after he died we adopted Simon

In fact, the two of us got to talking last night, and we realized that throughout our pet-owning years this very thing has happened more often than going to a vet, taking tests, and getting definitive answers. This is the third mystery illness Sprocket has had alone. We had one cat, Yoshimi, who only lived five years and was constantly sick – every test in the world was administered and no cause ever found. We are coming to accept that we are unusual pet owners in two ways: 1) we take our pets in at the first sign something is amiss, while most people wait longer. While this is probably what saved Sprocket’s life when he had distemper as a pup, for the most part it only costs us money and creates confusion, because it’s simply too early in the game to know what’s going on; and 2) we push things farther than most people, and continue to look for an answer long after others would have stopped. In short, we simply are expecting much more from these veterinarians than they are able to provide; probably because we think of our pets as our children and expect them to be treated as such when they are sick. But the service providers just don’t have the capability – not even the so-called specialists. Moving on.

Pets 001
Penny with Bickley; he got cancer and had to be put down. Sprocket came next.

I must tell you about out latest billing experience though, because it’s another winner. Doug had noticed that in the past the receptionist waited to ring us up until after we had out dog back in our possession, which led to distraction and getting overcharged. So, when the person checking us out this time said we needed to wait until we got our dog to pay, we insisted that they “ring us up” first. What that consists of here is the front desk person looking at the computer, typing in a name, and reading off a total to the customer. What was recited to us was $1482 and some change, then a hand was outstretched to take our debit card. Instead of paying, Doug asked for a printed statement, and when we got it, we saw we’d been charged for the ultrasound they performed on Sprocket twice, so we asked that one of them be removed. At this point the receptionist was very confused, as if she’d never had to do this before, so she called back to the administrative offices for assistance. As soon as she said our last name, there was all sorts of commotion on the other end of that phone – remember, we’ve raised a ruckus over charges here before, to the point of calling the owner of the company (who laughed at us and dared us to call the BBB).

Yoshimi, our sickly kitty.

Long story short? At the end of that frantic phone conversation we received a new bill – for FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. That’s right – a few simple questions for clarification of our charges resulting in them lopping almost a thousand dollars off our bill. Now, I’m sorry people, but whether or not vets can make a decent living, this is not the way to get around it. To routinely overcharge by that amount is pure scumbaggery, even if it’s not illegal (according to the owner). After we left, we were so pissed we did not keep the original printout with the $1500 total so we could show the comparison to our vet, or to anyone who doesn’t want to believe that this place is as bad as we say it is. But we forgot to get it back from them before we left.

My beloved first pet, Wiley – little rat terrier found in a ditch when he was a pup. He held on to age 17 and I was heartbroken when we finally had to put him down.

We are going to go back to this clinic one more time, to see whatever specialist can determine if there’s a problem with his bone marrow. But then we are good and done – at least with this place. And I seriously doubt they will try to overcharge us this time. If nothing else, it’s clear they know our name and don’t want to even deal with us anymore, so most likely they’ll suck it up and charge one of their customers fairly!

And last but not least, let’s not forget:

simon red

Wreath on edge

I’m trying with the titles, people, I swear.

Recently I ordered a few floral hair wreaths to use in my upcoming photo shoot on March 17th, and for some reason Wednesday I decided to snap photos of them. Unlike almost every single photo I upload to my blog, these are pretty much SOOC with the exception of one, and I’ll explain that one when we get to it. I did do some RAW editing before converting the files to .jpeg, but that’s it. I did this mostly because it was late in the evening when I took the shots, and I didn’t want to invest too much time in processing them, but also they just didn’t need much work. I used the ExpoDisc again so the white balance seemed fine, and I had my new 50mm lens on the camera which created some lovely, lovely bokeh and interesting focus, so I just kept the editing to a minimum to get things done.

Two of the wreaths are dried florals; one is baby’s breath and the other is dried violet. These two were bought off Etsy from a fairly new shop there called Junkyard Dandelions – they only have one review, and that one is mine. They are both incredibly pretty and well-done, with nice ribbon detail to tie in the back. They’re sturdy but appear delicate and they look exactly like the photos on the site.They shipped very quickly, and the seller/designer was pleasant to communicate with. Also they were not expensive – about $30 each – and for the price I think the quality of these is outstanding:


Adorable little bunny tag

Lace detail

I also bought, from another Etsy vendor, a floral wreath with very large flowers; it was only $20 which seemed like a steal for such a large piece. However, when I got it in, I felt it looked a bit cheap and fake (the flowers are silk). In spite of that, I still like it as I think it will work for other portraits if I end up not using it in this one (it was much more colorful than I really wanted for this shoot anyway). When I photographed it, it actually looked better than it does in person, so it’s all good. Plus, it really was a good deal for the size of the thing:


And now, for the grand finale to wrap up this little post, is the one shot I did more editing on after processing the RAW file. When you see it, I think you’ll understand why, because this shot was worth putting out the extra effort for sure:


If you ever needed proof that Sprocket is one seriously special dog – photogenic AND patient to boot – well here it is. He is so sweet-natured that even though he clearly did not enjoy having this thing on his head, he sat there with his head up like I asked him to so I could pop off a few quick shots. The framing isn’t great here, but that’s because I did have to snap the shot in a hurry, but it’s still a winner. This beats the time I managed to get a shot of him wearing angel wings, I think. And this shot also gives you a sense of how big that wreath is. Sprocket’s a ninety-pounder, so that sucker is big.

Eh, what the hell, I’ll upload one more Sprocket shot. I processed this one too, beyond the RAW processing. I like his facial expression more in this shot, but the focus was on his nose and it blurred out the flowers a lot, so in my opinion the one I shared above is the better photo of the two. Let me know if you disagree (and the flowers are around his neck here because this was the second attempt I made to take pics of him with the wreath on, and he would not sit still for me to put it on his head again. He just wasn’t going to fall for that twice).


Meet Simon.


When I posted this photo on Facebook with the same title as this post, someone immediately commented, “That was quick,” which I took to be a judgment because I am paranoid. But yes, it was quick I suppose. However, this is how I do when it comes to my pets – as soon as one dies, I want another, because I know it’s the only thing that will heal my heart. I am not like this with people, and I don’t think it makes me callous, I just know it’s the only thing that allows me to move on after losing a pet.


Perhaps they said that because we still have no proof Ramone won’t come back. But Doug and I talked about it, and together decided that if Ramone did come back, and we suddenly found ourselves with two cats instead of one, that would be wonderful; we have had two cats before. But neither one of us thinks it’s going to happen; we feel Ramone left us to die in peace. Truth be told, I was willing to wait a week or so, but my husband got up Sunday morning and was walking around the house talking to the dogs and saying, “Don’t worry, babies, Mama is going to get you a new kitty real soon,” which I took to be a big huge hint that he wanted me to do so that day.

Allow me to explain:  I am always the one who goes out and picks our pets. Doug can’t stand going into animal shelters; he gets upset and wants to adopt every animal in the place, as well as give them all his money, so we’ve learned to leave him at home and let me do it myself.I never have preconceived notions about what I want, I just act as a divining rod for the treasure that will be our new pet. I had this feeling I really wanted to bring a cat home today, though, and was concerned about the local shelter as they won’t let you bring home any pet until they’ve been spayed or neutered. I of course was thinking we’d want a brand new kitten (of which they had tons), but in the end I went with a four-month-old because he was already neutered and ready to bring home. Sorry if that sounds superficial, it just felt like today was the day to get it done, and I was able to do it this way.


Took me all day to find him though, because it was Sunday, and the shelters have weird hours as well as going out to local pet stores for afternoon adoptions, so although I got in my car around 10:00 AM, I didn’t find Simon until around 3. It was a long day, but Simon is home now and fitting in nicely with our two pups. He had to hiss and swat at Sprocket a few times before he got the message not to be overbearing, but I appreciate that this kitty isn’t intimidated by Sprocky’s size and exuberance. Sprocket is now sufficiently cowed, and Penny is showing her usual feigned indifference. He has successfully used the litter box, found and eaten his food, and investigated the nooks and crannies of the house. He has also learned the power of the water spritzer when he tried to get into the fireplace, behind the refrigerator, and into my plate of food. I like it that he learns quickly and will take no for an answer – if it comes with a squirt of water that is (never sprayed into his face, of course!).


The paperwork we got on him said he likes to lick, cuddle, and play – and so far those things are all turning out to be true. I have my usual nagging fear that he is carrying some horrible illness with him from his time in the shelter ,and that he is either going to cost us thousands of dollars to get well, or die (he’s sneezed several times since we brought him home, and I’m particularly worried about that). But I have a load of errands to do Monday and am taking a day from work to do it all, and getting Simon to the vet will be one of those.

As a bonus, he poses nicely for the camera.

We did OK last night but about 4:30 in the morning he got really feisty, so I took him out into the den to let him run around and slept the rest of the morning on the sofa. I have way more patience with puppies and kittens than Doug does, and actually enjoy even the nighttime disruptions, so I usually take charge in this area. Our sofa is quite comfy, anyway, and aside from a few foot attacks Simon nestled into one of our den chairs and slept through the night.

I still have loads of photos from this weekend’s air show to share, but I wanted to show you Simon with this post. So air show pics coming tomorrow!