October 31, 2019

Lazy Cool Days For The Hounds

Waking up to temps in the 40s now sets the trend. Sunrise keeps showing up later and with Arizona not changing time, the kids catching that first of three school buses in the neighborhood do that in the dark. I love that Arizona does NOT change time. Love it. Indiana use to do that a long time ago but now it's only Arizona and Hawaii that don't. Not only the cool temps have changed the routine a little but the two hounds have also. Both want breakfast as soon as we arrive in the kitchen first thing in the morning and they want it before I can start making coffee ... doesn't happen.

It's hard to believe that I am already at Day 53 for the new hip. Each day I can feel myself getting stronger. I might do something unintentionally, a move that was normal 54 days ago, and see that I can do that once again without feeling pain or soreness. I am doing the exercises the doctor gave me multiple times per day, I am doing most things normal but still following the first day protocol when sitting in and getting out of a chair or car.

Oh I almost forgot ... Heidi has decided to join Stella and I for the morning jaunt but just the past two days where it feels like "winter" ... she has reverted back to her Indiana Winters of hibernating and not starting her day until after 7am.

Yesterday it was cool enough outside that I thought it might be my first full day of me wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. There is one thing different 'out here' when it is cool and sunny. That sun at 4,700 feet is still hot and if you sit in it long enough you are going to get burned. The hounds as you will see in a few pictures, LOVE this weather.

It was only 60° sitting in that ugly patio chair enjoying a beautiful day when I realized the jeans I was wearing along with the long sleeve thermal shirt was too hot ... it was back to shorts and a t-shirt in a matter of minutes. Besides the dog walk, the walk to the mailbox, I still do laps around the yard and the other day for the first time I walked over 1 mile in one of my walks. I expanded my trek through the neighborhood to get to that point. I felt fine afterward, no soreness hours later nor the next morning.

I've been doing more driving around this week in town than taking trips. Today I am thinking of two options, both familiar places. I can take the new RAV4 TRD Off Road up to Montezuma pass to compare it to what the Tacoma did just last week or the 4Runner did in June. This time I would turn around at the top and come home the way I came for a shorter trip ... unless they were still doing some road maintenance.

The second option is head out to the San Pedro house again, walk further along the San Pedro river than I did last time since the ground will be dry instead of spots of mud. Or I could take one of their three or four other hiking trails that are all flat. If I do that I will definitely be using the two trekking poles I bought right before my bike accident.

When I am at home I leave the screen door propped open and the patio door open so the hounds can come and go as they want. I know some will be thinking "what about snakes or spiders" having a free lane into the house? So far after 4 months I have been pretty lucky and have not seen but one snake in front of my garage door, laying in the shade back in July or August. I do keep a close eye out for them, using the blacklight flashlight early in the morning or after dark before the hounds go outside.

You would think with the cool weather, sunny skies and the doors open for easy access that Stella would have the perfect place to stay while I am away from home either running errands or driving to Tucson's REI for a look and some winter clothing. By the way, REI was the first time I climbed up and went down a LOT of stairs since my surgery. It was hard going down as you lead with your bad foot ... I had to take one step at a time, holding the guardrail all the way down ... taking no chances.

I will show you why at the end of this post that Stella does not get "free range" like Heidi does. Heidi is really enjoying her time outside and spends the majority of day out there after 10am when that sun I talked about earlier is warming her up and probably making those old joints feel much better. So far she has not shown any signs of hip arthritis or stiffness. The supplements seem to be enough from the Fromm Gold for Large Breeds dog food. Yes, once I got the okay from the doctor to lift a 33# bag, I was back downtown buying the Fromm food instead of buying Diamond Naturals on Chewy.

As long as I am around, Stella is fine and will sleep either in the shaded patio or out in the middle of the yard. Is the lack of landscaping cutting down my chances for snakes and spiders? I follow a Facebook group of Cochise County Wonders ... a place where photographers can post their pictures ... professional or everyday people that like to take pictures. Believe me, there are plenty of snakes and spiders in this area yet I have not had any neighbors report seeing them recently.

I keep forgetting to vacuum that small strip of weather stripping between the patio and door jam. That soft material is a dog hair magnet apparently, that is 4 months worth of dog hair you see there. I will get that cleaned today.

Hint:  See those small scratches on the patio floor just southeast of Stella's leg???

The problem with the later arrival of sunshine and Heidi already falling into her 'winter mode' is that our walk is later. That puts us in the range of people driving to work, some arriving at the vet building we walk behind and around or the street that was vacant this summer where Stella could explore every inch, now has a little traffic pulling into the business building we pass which is more vacant than filled.

Since I am jumping all over the place from topic to topic I will say what many of you may have already experienced. Once that first trip to a hospital for any reason or seeing a doctor for any reason is made, it opens up the flood gates to my mailbox for all kinds of Medicare Supplement Insurance whether you already have it. Bills are mixed in with the Medicare reports that show charges submitted, what was paid and what I "might" have to pay. This was expected and something I never wanted to go through after hearing the nightmare stories from my dad and a couple of friends.

To give you just one example of kaos causing me to get on the phone for more minutes or hours than I want, causing me to spend time that I don't want to spend trying to sort out and correct mistakes .... make sure your paperwork from the doctor or hospital has your first name matching what is on your Medicare card. That's a key piece of information there ... what a mess !!!!

I specifically gave them my 'official' first time on purpose in the ambulance, to numerous people with clipboards in the emergency room and even gave them my drivers license when asked to show them my 'official' first name.

But just like toward the end of my working career, "attention to detail" seems to be unheard of. It drove me nuts then and is driving me nuts now as I sort through billing errors because they put my name down as Steve instead of Stephen. Yes they will and have corrected that in some cases but it is a constant battle now and I am the one that has "attention to detail" with my phone nearby ready to dial and talk to someone.

I never wanted on this "medical train of crap" but I have been assigned a seat whether I want to go or not.

Of course this medical kaos is far from the hounds thought process ... they want food, sunshine and sleep ... so they are in a perfect situation. Heidi has taken more walks out here even with me out of commission for a while, than she had in years back in the field in 'the tropics'. As she gets older it has to help that there are no steps except an inch or two as she steps off the patio.

This is heading back toward the Huachuca Mountains from Benson the other day. I broke one of my rules of taking a picture while driving  but that car up ahead was the only car in view in front and in back of me. The hounds were back home so I thought I could take a chance that lasted less than a minute of distraction. I know, accidents can happen in seconds and I personally have been a player in a couple, but with a straight road and little traffic I couldn't resist. Of course I could have chosen not to put it on the blog I guess but then you would have missed that great mountain view up ahead.

Over the past month with the day time temperatures cooling off in the early morning I thought the perfect place for Stella to stay was in the backyard. She would have water in the shade, a shaded patio if needed and plenty of sun to lay out in to keep warm. I would NOT be leaving the doors to the house open because of her tendency which I will mention here.

I don't like putting her in the largest crate possible inside the house when I leave. I don't like locking the two of four small Blinks padlocks to keep the crate together because she is strong enough that she has created space with her nose between the edges of the door and sides trying to bust out. All four padlocks are locked in key locations.

But she walks in on her own when I say "I gotta go". I've caught her sleeping inside the crate when I return home. It is the only way I can keep her safe and my house in place while I am gone.

Due to those scratches I now have a job of repainting the patio around all the phone calls I am having to make now ... doesn't make me happy at all. But she is who she is and I am use to it after 4 years and 2 months of picking her up in 2015. I love that hound no matter what. I am the only owner that has not given her away nor will I ever give her away.

The thing is this is proof of what I am going to say. If I have the door shut, she tries to get out of the backyard like she does the crate. It is NOT that she wants to GET IN to anything, she is wanting to GET OUT from where she is.

If I were to leave the doors open like I do for Heidi, I'd come home to having my vertical blinds tore down AGAIN on the front windows in the living room because she would be trying to GET OUT. She would (hasn't yet) bite the round door knob so hard in an attempt to open a locked door that happens to have a deadbolt. So I'd be replacing the door.

So that is why, even though it is so tempting to let her run the house like Heidi when I am gone I can't. I can't take that chance. She has lulled me into giving her chances before and they always end up disasters and I am not going through that out here.

Yes I could give her "doggie downers". I tried some meds the vet gave me in June and by the time the end of the bottle was gone I was still replacing vertical blinds in two different rooms and a hit to my checkbook. I am in and out of the house multiple times every day it seems now that I am healthy. Personally I don't want a dog 'zoned out' all the time to cover the multiple times I leave the house so the meds are not an option. The large black crate for large breeds worked for all the hounds I have had since 1987 when they were puppies. They were only given the run of the house after they showed signs I could trust them. But the bloodhound breed was the only three dogs that showed any kind of damage while I was gone.

It's because they are trackers by nature, more than any other breed of dog, and they get bored when left alone. That is why things get destroyed and they find things in places I may have looked for years and shows you by destruction they found something you could not.

No worries though ... things really are great, I'm feeling better every day, it's great weather and I love this area. I am seriously thinking about stepping up and sitting on my bicycle seat today just to see how that feels. IF I feel good enough to pedal, I will do it very slowly and for no more than 5 minutes no matter how good it feels. The doctor gave me approval to do that back on October 22nd, "when you are ready."

Time to feed the hounds, wait 30 minutes and then take our morning walk here in the Wild West.

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