There are some folk who don't see the gem inside my rough exterior who might consider me a hot head. To which I say a hearty "bite me". But let this opinion be a caution that within this blog may lurk items of a venting nature or perhaps those which might be considered a rant. So be it. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.

Monday, August 17, 2015

State of Iowa vs. Motorists

The State of Iowa seems to be of the opinion that highways exist for the primary purpose of providing employment for construction workers and only incidentally as a means for travelers to get from point A to point B. This is most evidenced in two ways. The first is the constant construction on highways throughout the state where highway workers can be seen walking up and down behind the orange barricades seemingly without goal or purpose. Deadlines for completion are constantly pushed back and when “improvement” projects are actually completed they are built to specifications put forth years ago and entirely inadequate for traffic conditions when they are finished. Consequently new projects are immediately begun to modernize those just completed. Consequently eternal employment is guaranteed to highway workers and eternal frustration to motorists.

The second indication is the complete misuse or absence of road signs. The philosophy here seems to be that if you don’t know how to get to your destination you don’t deserve to go. Road signs in Iowa tend to be missing, misleading or wrong. My first indication of this was when traveling to Des Moines from Peoria, Il. In no hurry and wanting to enjoy a leisurely scenic drive across Iowa I was traveling on US highway 6 rather than the taking the express route Interstate 80. As I approached Iowa City, a forest of the familiar orange cones rose up and made driving through this busy college town a test of courage and determination. As I neared the western edge of the city a sign appeared “Detour US 6” with an arrow pointing to a two lane highway headed north. I dutifully followed the sign and went off into the dusk expecting to be eventually guided back to route 6 by further signs. No such luck. An hour later, far into northern Iowa I realized I was on my own and that there would be no further help from the Iowa Department of Transportation. I eventually found my way to Des Moines by dead reckoning arriving two hours later than planned.  Now, having moved to Iowa and lived here for sixteen years I realize that this is simply business as usual for the Iowa DOT. You may or may not get a sign at a junction indicating to what destination the crossroad leads. And if you do, the odds are very good that the information may be incorrect. Yet I lived so long in the civilized world where the realization is that in the maze of highways crossing and crisscrossing this country travelers need indications of where highways lead that my expectations frequently exceed what Iowa is prepared to offer. Just last weekend attempting to find a county park in Warren county I turned right at a sign indicating the park was 4 miles to the south.  Forty minutes later I had not encountered another sign or a park. Just another frustration accepted as normal by native Iowans. Myself, I can’t say I will ever get used to it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dog Stress III all things come to an end

Last post 10 months ago. Originally this was meant to be a series about the decision to give every opportunity for a good life to a pet with success, however costly, at the end. But plans often go awry and it has taken this long for me to be able to face ending the story. So finally here is the conclusion, and perhaps we can return to more frequent entries and random rants. 

After Sam’s first surgery when we visited four days later he was not improving but getting worse so we agreed to a second surgery. He came through this one as well and a week later we brought him home to begin his recovery. It was a long road since his hind quarters were still paralyzed. But over time he gradually regained about 98%. He could walk well, chase squirrels again, take walks with me and wag his tail joyfully as he eagerly went about his doggy life. There was physical therapy involved and all sorts of logistic problems helping him get around before his functions returned but we considered these things labors of love and we did them willing.

Then six months later the symptoms returned. Same routine – ER vet, then as symptoms worsened and pain could not be controlled with oral meds it was back to Iowa State and a second surgery. We were greatly encouraged when the first day after surgery he was up and walking. But two days later a call in the morning told us that he had “a setback”. He had regurgitated something and aspirated it into his lungs. X-rays were indicated to see how his lungs looked. The next thing we knew the Dr. was on the phone with us talking about did we want him on a ventilator and when we might consider humane euthanasia! To say we were alarmed is an understatement. Finally I realized that we were talking about end of life issues and the Dr. asked if we wanted to come and see him.  We were panicked and ran to get the car out of the garage and head for the clinic but then the call came that his heart had stopped. Realizing that he had had enough and anything more that we did would not be for him but for us we declined CPR since the Dr. had told us that fighting to breathe had used up all his resources. And just like that Sam was gone.

We spent a lot of money. A lot. And in the end we lost a wonderful little companion. For weeks I was racked with guilt although I still cannot see that there was an alternative. Let him live paralyzed and in pain? Euthanize him when there was still a chance he would recover and have years more of a happy life? No and no. People who have never accepted an animal as part of their family will never understand the expenditure. People who have been in similar situations will understand all too well. We bought 6 months of a happy, healthy life for him and as a bonus had the pleasure of his companionship for that time as well.

When the wound on our hearts scarred over some, and I had spent weeks at home in a very empty house we decided to open our hearts to another homeless dog. Now we have Siegfried (Siegi), another long haired dachshund. Not that anything could every replace Sam but as my wife says “Each dog brings his own gifts” and although tears still come as I remember and write about Sam, Siegi is teaching us to love another dog in his own way.