Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the Middle of...Learning through Living

Relocating to a different area of the country, even temporarily, opens up many opportunities for learning. Some of these we seek out and others seek us out. Recently Murphy and I were exposed to some things I would have preferred not to learn about, but such is life.
Prior to our month long adjournment to South Carolina, I took some precautionary measures. Murphy went to the groomer for an extra short cut to keep him comfortable in the heat and humidity. To protect him against the possibility of fleas and ticks (bugs are bigger and badder in the south) I treated him with Frontline Plus.

Mistake #1: Flea and Tick products are not created equal. I would later learn that Merial, the company that distributes Frontline, is only supposed to distribute through veterinarians. So how did Costco end up with pallets full of the stuff?

Murphy experienced a negative reaction to this “black market” treatment which included foaming and drooling at the mouth and several hours of agitated behavior. The reaction was minimal enough that I didn’t associate it with the flea treatment until my friend Ruth mentioned her dog’s reaction to a different over-the-counter flea killer. While her pup’s symptoms were much more severe, they did include the panting, drooling and agitation I had seen in Murphy. I left for South Carolina feeling guilty that Murphy had suffered a few hours of discomfort but secure in the knowledge that he would have a flea-free month.

Two weeks of daily visits to the Myrtle Beach dog park, two weeks of frolicking in the pond, rolling in the dirt and sharing slobber with doggy friends and Murphy was ready for a good bath. I booked him at Bubbles and Fluff our favorite southern groomer. I associated his increased itchiness to the heat and dropped him off with a request for an oatmeal bath to soothe his skin.

The groomer called. Fleas.

How could this be? I treated him with Frontline. “When used monthly, Frontline Plus For Dogs completely breaks the flea life cycle”. And, “Research demonstrates that Frontline Plus kills adult fleas, flea eggs and flea larvae for up to three months.”

Concerned about the possibility that the Frontline treatment had in fact caused the previously mentioned side effects, I called my vet’s office back in New Jersey.

Mistake #2: Speak directly to the vet, not the nice young girl that answers the phone.

After explaining the situation, and my concerns, in detail I was told my only recourse was to, “try another topical flea treatment. They all contain different active ingredients that affect each animal differently”. I went out and purchased Sergeant’s Gold.

Mistake #3: Never, ever, ever buy or use these over-the-counter products unless you like to watch your pet suffer and want to spend several hundred dollars at the vet!
Murphy reacted immediately to this second treatment. His skin swelled up and became inflamed. He began biting and rubbing at the treatment area. Having read the “precautionary statements” before applying I tried to wash the toxin off of him. He began to drool and pace. He tried to sleep but began to have involuntary muscle contractions. And…he still had fleas!

Another call to the vet, this time, “take him to a vet, he may be having seizures”.

The Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital was incredible! They bathed and detoxed Murphy. They prescribed a medication to calm his neurological symptoms. They administered an oral medication to control the fleas. I was warned that the side effects could last up to two weeks.

Lesson learned.

Despite the cute little dogs and happy people in the advertisements these companies care very little about the well being of your pet. Nowhere in the ads or literature do they claim “no animals were harmed in the development of this product”. Always research products on your own prior to use. A subsequent search revealed many other pets poisoned by this same flea treatment!

And... southern fleas have attitude!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In the Middle of...Learning to live the life of a Beach Bum

I first knew I wanted to live by the beach when I was 16 years old. Robert Kirby's promises of a life running a dock in Ocean City, Maryland sounded so romantic then. Luckily my father ran Robert off and I waited for another opportunity.
I know that some of you may be worried about me spending alone time here in the Palmetto State. Would I be bored? Lonely? (ha!) Let me attempt to put your minds at rest.

In order to preserve my sanity during these many weeks, I mean days, of alone time I have come up with the following daily schedule. Mind you, this schedule is only a general frame of reference, I don't really subscribe to the whole "routine" thing!

7am"ish"-wake up and walk Murph
7:30- 3 mile walk/run, 5 mile bike ride or 4 mile walk on the beach
8:15ish quick dip in the pool to cool off
8:30ish-coffee,breakfast (on the porch, overlooking the ocean)
9:00ish-dog park
10:30-2pm "ish"-exploration time- this could include kayaking, photographing or exploring the many surrounding waterways, parks, towns or shops.

2pm-lunch (I have found some amazing little markets!)
2:30-4ish-work time-writing/reading (several "works in process" and professional reading)
4-6ish-beach time-napping and pleasure reading by the waves
6ish-outdoor shower, dinner, dogwalking

So, as you can see, I have managed to figure out how to fill up my days, no need to fret.

Thursdays, however, I may just have to make room for this new group of like-minded friends!

Next year we're going to work on Steve extending his time in the south, I miss his company (and he's great at loading the kayaks!)