Happier and Healthier

Uschi lying in the snow, her nose heavily covered with snow and ice crystals

Despite her itchiness, Uschi’s been enjoying all the snow that has been dumped upon us. I think it’s especially awesome for her since I’ve spent the better part of the last three months ridiculously sick. First I had an issue with my eye, then I had the flu, and I’ve only just recently gotten over the pneumonia that plagued me since Christmas.

Anyway, I’ve kind of fallen out of habit of taking photos of the shepherd girl since her eyes were just such a, well, eyesore. And so I haven’t had the chance to get photos of her gallivanting around out back yet, so you’ll just have to do with this oldie from a few years ago. But I promise to get some new ones to share soon enough!

House Call

Uschi lying on the sofa looking a bit forlorn

Uschi spent most of the morning hiding under my bed. I can only guess this was because she was fully aware of her vet appointment today. She’s been having issues with her eyes again, but this visit was more specifically to get her anal glands expressed.

Unfortunately, last year she’d had this done and it was not a pleasant experience in the least. Uschi has always been strangely aware of her rear end. She doesn’t necessarily mind it being touched, but she always reacts. And I’m sure coupled with the discomfort of having full anal glands, it is not a pleasant experience to have them poked at. I warned the vet about this, and very strongly suggested I accompany her in the back because of this. He wouldn’t let me and when he came back he was cagey about what exactly happened. I don’t know if he was unaccustomed to shepherds and how ridiculously dramatic they can be about everything1 or if he actually hurt her, but she was very freaked by the experience.

Anyway, for this and several other reasons Uschi’s seeing a new vet now. It’s actually really awesome for me because the vet does home visits!2 It was still a rather awful experience for Uschi, but her anal glands are done now and hopefully she’ll be the happier for it. She’s also on new meds for the inflammation around her eyes.

  1. I’m sure she whined and jumped around and was completely uncooperative, much like Yara is with nail cutting.
  2. We were only seeing the other vet because our original vet had moved to a different practice and it is a bit beyond my travel ability.

Vale Cemetery and Park

Yesterday Uschi and I took advantage of the utterly glorious weather and walked around Vale Cemetery and Park.

Paved walkway in Vale Park covered with fallen leaves

Unlike a lot of the other parks around the Capital District, Vale is incredibly peaceful. Aside from an ambulance siren I heard somewhere off in the distance it was easy to forget we were in downtown Schenectady. Actually pretty much the only sounds I heard were the various critters in the brush, presumably running away from Uschi. And except for one rather daring squirrel, my sometimes very animal-distracted guide dog was completely focused on her job.

Along the path to the main cemetery we passed by one of the more rural burial sites, which caught Uschi’s attention only because a couple were walking around down there.

Uschi looking through a wooden fence at a set of graves in Vale Park

We continued on and walked through the main cemetery before the sun started to set and the air got just a bit too chilly to be comfortable. It was a shame since Uschi was being so cooperative I thought I might finally get a chance to check out some of the graves.

Maybe next year I’ll go on one of the walking tours.

Sharing Photos

For some reason I’ve had ever so much trouble getting Lightroom to cooperate with me since I switched over to a Mac. I can’t explain the issue because the solution to seems to have been a mixture of waiting until the lack of photo organization bothered me enough to wrestle with the program until it finally did what I wanted. 1 Since I was already going through my images, now seems as good a time as any to share a few here.

For what it’s worth, I have been posting photos to my Instagram account more lately. Not surprisingly most of these are of Uschi. This one from Saturday is a particular favorite of mine. It was a very laid back day because the shepherd girl was a bit under the weather.

Uschi sprawled out upside down, sleeping

Not that the above photo is exactly a representation of this, but it does showcase how very different sick days for my guide dog are than for me. Clearly, Uschi doesn’t share my desire of shunning all human contact when she’s feeling ill. I find the level of comfort she manages to achieve quite impressive to be honest. Fear not, it was just a small tummy ache and my shepherd partner was back to her zany self the next day.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to get a baby gate for a length of time that would be embarrassing if not for how easily I kept forgetting I wanted to get one. At one point in this chain of memory fog, I even mentioned the desire outside of the very store I acquired this from and still didn’t manage to accomplish the task that day. The sad thing is that I’m often reminded of the desire because Uschi’s has a tendency to be a bit too much for guests to handle, especially when they’re first visiting my house. It’s not that she’s disobedient, but that she wants to be friends with everyone that walks through my front door regardless of how little they share the sentiment. And even though she’s quite content to be crated, she’ll often spend the entire length of a guest’s stay making it known how displeased she is that she can’t continue her friend-making efforts.

Uschi sitting behind a wooden baby gate erected in the hallway to the kitchen

As you can see, she’s not fazed by the barricade. My guess is because she knows she’s quite capable of getting passed it if she really wanted to.2 As cute as she is sitting there on the other side of the gate, what I found most adorable was watching her while I installed the gate. At first she was lying down further back into the kitchen looking quite demure with her front paws crossed. Eventually that view just wasn’t adequate or I my efforts began to bore her and she started to pace, casting glances at me as she passed back-and forth. And finally because she’s Uschi the whole thing was interpreted as a game and she kept trying to entice either me or the gate itself into a game by hopping about and play-bowing.

In wholly other news, there’s been a lot of new green around the house of late spurred on by the very near death of a spider plant whose was all but entirely separated from its roots when its pot broke. Of note is a little baby jade that I saw had finally gotten some new growth on it.

Small jade with new growth forming

I have a few projects I’ve been lacking time and/or ability to work on, but now that Lightroom is finally cooperating I was able to sort through my photos and start on one that I intend to give as a gift to a friend for his retirement. This required some work in Photoshop and so, of course, I took the opportunity to play around a bit.

Blooming rose edited with a faint glow effect

I’m quite fond of how this rose turned out.

  1. Yes, if you’re wondering, the lack of Lightroom was a contributing factor in why fixing and organizing the photos on this site took forever.
  2. This is one of the dogs who has managed to free herself from a Vari Kennel after all.

Turning Six

Uschi turned six on Friday and in yet another “clearly this shepherd was meant to be my partner” moment she celebrated her birthday much like me: in food. She had rump roast for breakfast, then later we had an ice cream treat at lunch, and for dinner she had a marrow-filled femur bone fresh from the butcher. It was filling and exhausting.

It was also intermittently rainy, so we didn’t get to do the thing I really wanted to do. Instead we had our little birthday party in the backyard on Saturday. The main event, for Uschi at least, were the soap bubbles I was producing with a toy gun I picked up on a whim at CVS.

Uschi lying in the grass with her nose up in the air investigating the many soap bubbles floating around her

There were also balloons and a rather adorable birthday tiara, which you can check out here on the photographer’s blog.