Daisy Update … No News Is . . ?

Patience seems to be the word of the day, and here’s why:

Waiting on the Word

I need to be patient waiting to hear from the publisher about my second book. I submitted Sliced Vegetarian several months ago, and dutifully put it out of mind as all the writing magazines suggest.  I tried focusing on the next project, Pot Shots, but to be honest, there is always a thought pushing through my subconscious–“will it be accepted?” It’s like the first months of pregnancy, where you’re sure something’s happening, but the wait to confirm all is well is excruciating. You just need to “be patient.”

Prophet the Patient

Then, I am still worrying over Prophet, my German shepherd.  For those new to this blog, Prophet is the dog I base a character on in my first book, Faith on the Rocks. He’s also a great friend and constant companion.  I love my pup to the extremes.  Well, I don’t tend to dress him up like other doggie “parents,” except on Halloween sometimes, or Christmas, but hey, he’s so cute, right?

Prophet the Patient

Patience while we get better.**

Anyway, I tried stepping down the Prednisone on my patient yesterday.  By four in the afternoon, he was having trouble standing up. He started crying again. It wasn’t the screaming howls of a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t him being a drama queen either.  After all the X-rays, pain killers (which a friend told me I’d be paid $15 per pill “on the street”), and steroids, I’m at wit’s end again.  It feels like I don’t have a pet, but a chronic medical condition.  The stress of trying to guess what’s wrong is yuck stuff.

My vet said on one visit, “It’s a shame they can’t talk.”  Ta-dah! Enter your friendly neighborhood novelist. “I’ll interpret,” I thought.  Proph is saying, “Owwwwch! My aching back is causing my legs to tingle and itch.  Thus the biting of my feet, my haunches, and everywhere else I can get into my mouth.  By the way, sorry about that nip, Mom.  You may have touched a sensitive area there, and I just want to stop hurting.”

It would take a year’s worth of posts for me to catch you up on all of Prophet’s ailments.  I’ve been watching a British television series called Merlin lately, and am feeling like the practice of medicine hasn’t made much progress.  We can take “pictures” of our pets’ insides, but it’s as mysterious as me checking  under the hood of my car when a funky sound starts in. Do you have any ideas?

Patience. He’ll get better.

Contest Update

Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks

Now’s your chance–write!

And now that you’ve been patient enough to read through today’s bits and pieces, let’s get caught up with the “Resentment Writing Challenge.” Last week we talked about Larry Brooks’ writing book, Story Engineering, Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing.  Be sure to check it out, if you haven’t done so already.  In the book (page 83 to be precise), Larry suggests writing out a list of resentments and thinking them through for character development.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write an 800 word (or less) story between two characters that shows the concept of resentment in play.  I don’t count the title in the word count, but no cheating and using it to get a few hundred more words in.

Here are the other rules:

  • Be original–no copying from somebody else’s stuff
  • Be broke–sorry, I don’t have any give away items or money for this contest
  • Be on time–Deadline is June 9, 5:00 pm mountain time.
  • Be resentful–No, you don’t have to use the word “resent,” but it must show in the story. Choose your words carefully.
  • Be happy–this isn’t a big contest with awards, fame and fortune.  We’re just doing a writing exercise together.  Have fun with it.

Cool News!  Larry Brooks himself has agreed to comment on the winning story, which will be published on this blog Wednesday, June 18th. You know the truly great of famous people are also very nice.  Thanks, Larry!

HOW TO SUBMIT:  This is awesome.  Last night I was able, with the help of my good guy, to set up a special email address just for this contest.  Please send your work as a Word attachment via email, to contest@allabuzz.net.  The subject line should say, “Contest Entry,” or if you have any, “Contest Questions.” The next thing is VERY IMPORTANT: Do NOT put your name on your document.  All the stories will be printed before review, so that no author will be identified before judging.  If you put your name on your story, you will be disqualified.

Copyright issues.  Goodness, I’m no pro here, but with your patience we’ll get through this.  Publishing on a blog is still considered “publishing.” Please do not send a story that you plan to send elsewhere for North American first publishing rights.  While you remain owner of your rights, your story will technically have been in print if you submit here.  ALSO, lots of people think that editors, agents and others in publishing will “steal their ideas” if they submit a story.  Ideas are not copyrightable, but even so, I promise you I am not going to steal any of your thoughts or story concepts that you send my way.

So, hopefully we’re good on this.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  For now, you may want to start typing.  I am patiently waiting for your words.

A Tail’s End

It all started with the discovery of small bits of blood on my walls.

Hmm. How did that get there? Guess somebody in our house had an ow-ie. For once we had no drama to go with it. I counted my lucky stars, wiped up the dots, and went on with life.

Then came a little chewing. Prophet has always chews on himself–guess that’s entertaining for a dog riddled with allergies. We’ll be watching television and he starts in–chew, chew, chew, lick, lick, lick. That sound–the click, click of teeth on fur, and slurpy, desperate noises as his tongue laps up his shedding–that sound is indelibly burned into my memory banks. Hollywood should come record my dog doing this. Add a few dog licking sounds to any torture scene and you have real entertainment–rated Y for yucky.

“Stop that!” I shouted with all the love in my heart. Prophet got up and walked away. More dots. Hmm.

Finally, I caught him in the act. Proph was actually chewing the tip of his tail! And, he managed to make it bleed. Oh happy day. Add a trip to the vet before sending him off to PetSmart so my good guy and I could enjoy a weekend away. I took him in.

Sure enough, a hundred and some dollars and a funky looking band-aid later, we had a dog with an infection on his tail and a scramble for a pet-sitter for the weekend. Petsmart doesn’t take in pets with band aids. Who knew?

A week or two later, and all the antibiotics used up, we went back to the vet for the bandage removal. The dog made more fuss getting the thing off than on.

“I’m not sure this is a good sign,” said the vet. “He shouldn’t be in pain any more.”

“You don’t understand,” I said. “I love my dog, but he’s a bit of a drama queen. Perhaps the vet tech didn’t say pretty please when she took his tail in hand?”

We did an X-ray. Two or three bones up there was a little crack. Hairline. I could hardly see it. Back on went the band-aid. I wasn’t going to even consider amputating the tail as she suggested.  People heal pretty quickly from broken bones to arms and legs. Surely, Proph’s tail should be better in no time.

Guess the healing angels didn’t hear me. With the anti-biotic used up, Prophet became more and more aware of his broken tail, and he ripped off the second band-aid. Back to the vet for a new one–$37 for an empty syringe and self-adhesive ace wrap.

We had company that night. Prophet was so excited. Our friends brought their dog along. No matter how that other dog tried to set a good example–sitting quietly, staring at his owner with a please-can-we-go-home-now look, laying on his bed with the resignation only a dog can project–Prophet wasn’t buying it.

As the volume of Proph’s barking increased and picking up of shoes and other inappropriate objects became a hopeless invitation to play, I kept wondering where my well-behaved middle-aged dog had gone, and who was this exuberant little kid before me? Into the kennel he had to go. At last he settled down and we could enjoy our company.

A dog's band aid

Remnants of a tail wrap, number four–or was that five?

Later, we let Proph out, but the band-aid stayed behind. Goodness! No way were we going to go to an emergency vet to have the thing put back on. Home remedy time. We wrapped up the tail–two, three, four more times in the next day or two.

At last my guy got out the ever-powerful duct tape and wrapped that tail so that it would take a nuclear explosion to get it off. Proph slouched and sagged around a lot, but the band-aid stayed on.

A couple of days later we took the wrap off to change it. But the happy little tail end had turned purple. I cleaned it and the dog didn’t flinch, but he licked open a wound with just one or two swipes of the tongue. Back to the vet.

The tail end comes off

A little shorter, but still a cute tail, don’t you think?

“It’s dead,” she said. “No, it’s hard to wrap a tail too tight. You’ve done what you could.”

Times like these, I think of all the Reader’s Digest articles I’ve read where homeowners perform miracles with creatures that no vet will touch. Love, band aids and voila! Healthy pets and wild critters emerge from these times.  Not so with poor Proph.

We took him

in one more time. Snip, snip and five inches of tail were gone. But gone is the chewing as well. He’s smiling again, even from within the “collar of shame.”

Prophet in the collar of shame

Peek-a-boo! I’ll be busting outta this contraption any day. Watch out, tail!

Oh! That collar? It’s on because when the vet took the operation band-aid off, Prophet managed to lick off two stitches  while we were in the reception area making the next appointment!  His tail had been healing nicely. It’s back in a band-aid. Maybe next week we’ll get back to normal.

Until then, lick, lick, lick will be ever in my brain next to the wree, wree, wree of the shower scene from Psycho.

Old Dog, New Training?

Where did your sleek body go?  When did you grow that grey hair on your chin?  How come you don’t run around with such enthusiasm anymore?

Prophet, Summer 2013

You can hardly see the gray around Prophet’s chin.

Recently, my good guy and I have come to the conclusion that Prophet may not be the pup he once was.  At seven and one half, he’s slowed down. And this new lethargy can’t be attributed to overdoing it at the dog park. He’s always been good about not bugging us while we work, but now Prophet seems to be more content to be near us while in a prone position.  More and more he’s procrastinating about jumping up into the car for a ride.  This got to be so often that we considered buying a new car with a lower backend entry.  When that didn’t work out, we bought a new liner for the back of the car and a new ramp for Proph to walk up in a stately fashion.

The result? Prophet has more often than not decided to jump up into the back without the ramp.  He still grabs the occasional toy to have me chase him round the house.  Maybe it’s not the dog who’s getting old. Hmm.

Thank goodness spring is just around the corner.  It’s time for both Prophet and me to develop a new attitude. Yes.  Time to put a new spring in our steps.

But can you truly teach an old dog new tricks?  I hope so.  Thing is, what to teach my good boy? I’ve gone through the dog training books again, and honestly the “tricks” like sit, stay, and come, no matter how we nuance them for people, basically boil down to sit, stay, come. Been there, done that. Roll over at this point in Proph’s life, and with his added weight (still on steroids every few days), just seems cruel.  I mean I’m not even thinking about learning to stretch enough to aspire toward splits any more.  And don’t even go to the somersault thing. I’m lucky to be able to stand on one leg. Just keep asking myself, why stand on one leg when I have two perfectly fine ones to use.  If I were meant to stand on one leg, wouldn’t I have been made a flamingo?

And I’ve read how people train their dogs to help with household chores.  Maybe Proph could get involved with that. One woman has her dog give her clothes pins as she hangs the laundry.  No, not sure I want Proph to help me shuffle clean clothes from the washer to the drier. It would be nice if I could show him a recipe and have him make dinner for us all.  But if we did that, then I suspect I’d be the one having a bowl of kibble, while Prophet and my guy would share the grilled steak.

Maybe this spring I’ll train Proph to be better at the front door.  That’s been a tricky wicket for us for some time. For a while he would stay while I opened the door, but that’s consistent only when there’s no new person on the other side. Challenge with this is that the “trick” requires two to three people for the training–one to be with the dog and encourage the targeted behavior, one to open and answer the door while ignoring the dog, and one to be the visitor.  Have you suggestions about how a person can work on this by themselves?

Then again, maybe we’re not talking about Prophet here.  Dog training is more about training the pet parent than about forcing a dog to do new things.  Maybe my procrastination on this project comes not from Proph’s golden aging, but my own.

Think I’ll go have a bagel and walk Prophet at the park. Perhaps he’s too young for a new trick.  Don’t want to push him too hard while he’s still so young. After all, I know when I was seven, I wasn’t ready for a lot of young people tricks.  I was too busy walking the 15 miles to school, and outpacing the horse and buggy every time.