Good bye to a good dog

We had to say goodbye to our 14-year old Labrador Retriever, Casey, last week. Casey had been failing for some time. His cataracts left him mostly blind and we really don’t think he could hear a thing anymore. He had a bad case of arthritis in his back legs. As a pet owner, you always hope you will know when it is the right time to put your pet down — not too soon, but not too late either. We think it was Casey’s time.

Casey in 2009

Casey in 2009

We adopted Casey in January 2003 from a lab rescue group in Atlanta. We had driven to Atlanta and spent the night so we could be at the “adoption day” event bright and early. Casey won Mrs. Poolman’s heart when he leaned up against her leg and just slid down her leg to lie on his back in a definite “Please scratch my chest” pose.

As it turned out, Casey wasn’t the brightest dog in the animal kingdom, but he may have been one of the sweetest. That was one of his two definitive personality characteristics. He loved children. When he was still spry enough to go on walks, I used to joke that he was the post popular kid in the neighborhood. Small children would literally run out of their houses, calling his name. When we stopped, they would hug is neck, and he would respond with a big slurp on the child’s cheek.

His other defining characteristic is that he loved to carry things around in his mouth. He rarely chewed anything, but he had a real oral fixation. Shoes, stuffed animals, you name it. If he could pick it up, he would carry it. He wasn’t really a very good retriever, because, although he liked to chase and fetch, he didn’t want to give up whatever he had. He loved rolled up newspapers. They were the perfect size and shape. The highlight of his day was to fetch the morning newspaper from the front walk. He was known around the neighborhood as that well-trained dog that fetches the newspaper. “How did you teach him to do that?” We hated to tell people that he just came that way.

Shortly after he came to live with us, my brother- and sister-in-law came to visit us. Brother-in-law was carrying some luggage in from his car and his home newspaper was dangling from his hand in its plastic bag. They had not met Casey before, so he was shocked when Casey came running up from behind, jumped and grabbed the newspaper right out of his hand. Casey pranced around the yard, tossing the paper up in the air and very proud of himself.

It wasn’t all cotton candy and unicorns. He had a strong storm anxiety and on one occasion managed to eat the better part of two couches and a down comforter.  That doesn’t even count the numerous rainy nights we were kept awake by his whimpering and pawing.  And the last year or so hasn’t been easy.

All in all, though, he was a great member of our family for just over 12 years and we will miss him.

Good Christmas season and a nice family visit

Mrs. Poolman and I spent most of the past two weeks lounging around and doing not much of anything. Mrs. P worked for two days the first of Christmas week and then again on Jan 1-2. In between, we had a great holiday, and then a three-day visit to see my middle-sister, Maggie, and her family at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson, S.C. We didn’t do any floating in the lake on this visit, but one afternoon, the clouds parted and it was nice enough to take a boat ride. So the nine of us piled into the neighbor’s pontoon boat for a winter afternoon’s boat cruise. Very nice.

The view from the back deck.

The view from the back deck.

My niece with her "child," Norman the Basset.

My niece with her “child,” Norman the Basset.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister with the center of attention.

Sister with the center of attention.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

Hello 2015!

I have been gone for a while, but maybe I’ll try to get back in the swing for 2015. To start off, here is a final thought on 2014. Egrets

Life in Memorial Medical Center

We have had a busy and tumultuous last ten days or so, and it continues.

Writer Princess spent two weekends ago in the hospital receiving IV antibiotics for an infection. She was released to recover at home, but she was right back last Saturday for full abdominal surgery to clean out an abscess. So Mrs. Poolman and I have been splitting up the hospital duty with Son-In-Law for the past four days. Never a dull moment.

I have not been a hospital patient myself since I had my tonsils removed when I was five years old. I barely remember that. Just as well. My experience with hospitalized family since then has me convinced the best thing you can do with a hospital stay is to avoid it.

I spent last night on the overnight shift with WP. I thought sleep and rest were supposed to be great healers? If so, why don’t hospital staffs let their patients sleep? I don’t think we went more than 20 minutes between people coming in and out of the room for one reason or another.  I certainly understand the need to bathe patients, but at five o’clock in the morning? Seriously?

Until late last night, WP was in an intermediate care unit with restricted visitors. So she has not been deluged by friends and other family. That was not the case last weekend. Why don’t people understand — with the possible exception of new mothers, people are in the hospital because they are sick or injured, not because they feel like hosting a party. If you visit, stay a few minutes and then LEAVE. It is not appropriate to pull up a chair, turn on the TV and order a pizza. (OK, I’m exaggerating a little here…about the pizza, that is.) At one point last weekend, I counted eight visitors in WP’s hospital room at one time. That is too much. (Mea culpa – Mrs. P and I should have done a better job at crowd control.) Note to hospital visitors – show the patient you care about them by visiting, and then show it even more by going home.

An exciting weekend at the hospital

Never a dull moment around Casa Poolman. Mrs. P and I have been spending most of the past two days at a local hospital. Our daughter, Writer Princess, had been feeling bad for the past week, and had seen her primary care doc twice. She was feeling much worse on Thursday evening. So we (Son-in-law included, of course) trekked to the emergency room. It turns out she had an infection and needed to be admitted for two days of IV antibiotic therapy. By the time the docs figured that out, we had spent the entire night in the ER waiting room. If you have not had the pleasure of such an experience, this is one you can take off your bucket list.

 It appears that healthy-living is not high on the priority list for most of the majority of ER patients. Most had figures similar to my cat, Sid, a Manx. When we first got Sid, I remember reading that you could draw a Manx cat by just using a series of circles.  The same could be said of the people we spent Thursday night with.

 I think it is true what they say, that hospitals are the worst place to go when you are sick. A woman came in and sat near me. Every couple of minutes she tried to cough up a lung, and then hung her head between her legs and moaned, “Oh Lawdy, oh Lawdy.”  If I saw her on the street, I would take her to the hospital. But we were already there. What to do? Actually, what I did was to move across the room to avoid her droplets.

The big party in WP's room.

The big party in WP’s room.

 I didn’t realize hospitals were so popular. I know that insurance companies want the hospitals to move the patients through and get them out the door as quickly as possible. So I was very surprised that WP had to wait several hours in the ER before being transferred to a room…because there was not am empty bed in the house. Really? What am I missing? This does not look like it’s the hot spot in town.

 So it’s Saturday afternoon and WP is a little past the half-way point of her 48 hours of IV therapy. We are working shifts with Son-In-Law to keep someone at the hospital all the time. We’re still looking around for the party that is keeping this place filled. Haven’t found it yet.

Mrs. P finally gets her lapcat

We have been adopted. It’s official, or at least as official as a cat-adoption can be. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a stray/abandoned/homeless black male cat started hanging around our house a day or two before Christmas. After we ascertained that the cat was definitely not the neighbor’s cat, which we originally thought, Mrs. P took him to the vet and had him checked out, shots, etc. If he wasn’t our cat before paying the $300+ vet bill, he sure was afterward.

Since then, Zorro and Mrs. Poolman have developed quite the mutual admiration society. Mrs. P goes out to the garage to smoke. Zorro is frequently hanging out there anyway, but if not, he comes trotting through the pet door to the back yard and gets in Mrs. P’s lap. Neither of our “regular” cats will do this, and this has been a source of constant frustration to Mrs. P, who wants a “lapcat.” This Zorro knows who is buying his Friskies.

Mrs. P and her new boyfriend.

Mrs. P and her new boyfriend.

We had a close call last week. While I was on my way home from work, I got a call on my cell phone from an older woman who started off with “Oh, you are a real person, not a machine.” Huh? She told me she had a black cat that had disappeared a few weeks previously when she was in the hospital. She had been at the vet and picked up on one of the various “found cat” notices I had spread around a few weeks ago. She thought Zorro might actually be her “McPheron.” She came over to the house with her adult son. However, she couldn’t definitely ID the cat as hers. Also, on the phone, she could not ID two distinctive physical features of Zorro that she would definitely have recognized if he were her cat. Mrs. P was not at home at the time, so I was not very encouraging about letting her take off with Mrs. P’s new cat. That is, not unless the cat just jumped into her arms and started licking her face, which he most definitely did not do.

 So the cat came back…and stayed.

Monster lizard ravages East Coast

During my career in TV news, I was fortunate, or unfortunate as the case may be, to be witness to all sorts of live, on-air screw ups. Many were funny, but some were not. But that it not the point of this post. In honor of all my friends and family who are digging out and trying to stay warm, here is a classic from my favorite radio news guy, Les Nessman.