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Rosie the Basset Hound

I Wish I had a more Walkable City

 

One of the things I love doing during The Undeniable Tour was taking walks. I often spent my first evening in a new city getting my bearings by walking around the neighborhood. In many cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle) I could easily find a grocery store, drug store, coffee shops, things to do, and plenty of people watching within a mile of my hostel. I loved it. I barely drove when I was in the cities because it was more convenient and more fun to walk. My friend to relocated to Seattle from Gilbert, AZ said they gave up their car because they could walk to most of the places they needed to go. For everything else, there’s public transportation, taxis, Uber, and rental cars.

Phoenix Arizona Downtown Night Aerial Photo from Helicopter by Jerry Ferguson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Phoenix Arizona Downtown Night Aerial Photo from Helicopter by Jerry Ferguson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I didn’t have any plans last Friday night and I decided I wanted to get out and take a walk around 7 p.m. And then I thought about what’s in my neighborhood within walking distance and there really isn’t much, so I loaded up Rosie the basset hound and we drove a few miles to Tempe to walk along Mill Ave. She loved all the new smells and letting everyone love on her. (My apologies to the staff at The Handlebar. I let her walk into the bar when a group of patrons near the door was excited to see her.) I enjoyed getting out to relax in the warm night air.

It’s ironic that Phoenix, a desert city, is so spread out. You would think that the hot weather would inspire builders and people to want to stay close to work and day-to-day conveniences. With a walkability score of 38 (out of 100), that is definitely not the case. (Phoenix’s bikeability score is 52.) The walk scores for my home and work zip codes aren’t that much better, at 49 and 54 respectively. I looked up Tempe since I lived near the Phoenix/Tempe border and they fared better with a walk score of 50 and a bike score of 75.

I think there is hope for Phoenix. It appears that more people are moving closer to the city and there seems to be a higher demand for conveniences within walking distance and effective public transportation. I’m lucky than I’m not as dependent on my car as others since I lived right next to a bus stop and I’m close to two light rail stations, one of which that has a park and ride. I’m starting to consider what I would have to do to be able to bike to work, especially on the days when I don’t see clients and I’m just working in my office. I friends gave me some recommendations about the best way to transport my laptop with me.

One of the things that’s missing from many neighborhoods is having grocery stores, drug stores, and similar conveniences close to home. Even downtown Phoenix and many places along the light rail lack these essential businesses. Our transit system is doing a great job at getting us to major venues and town, but they’re not necessarily getting us to where we need to go on an everyday basis.

For now, I will have to drive most of the times that I need to go somewhere but I hope that will shift and Phoenix will become a place where transit lines and bike-friendly routes will become the most desirable locations for day-to-day conveniences.

Dedicated to Making Rosie’s Life Awesome

Pirate Puppy - March 2015

Pirate Puppy – March 2015

Rosie and I had a follow up appointment with her doggie ophthalmologist a few days ago. It was mostly good news. On the upside, the pressure in Rosie’s remaining eye is well within normal range. Rosie will still be on 3 medications but we were able to reduce the frequency of some of her doses. I was encouraging; Rosie is such a trooper when it comes to taking her medications.

On the down side, our doctor reiterated that it will only be a matter of time until Rosie gets glaucoma in her left eye and she will go completely blind. I also learned that the medication that keeps the pressure in her eye down also gives her tunnel vision. The vet tech said the way Rosie views the world is like looking through a straw.

I didn’t realize Rosie’s vision was so limited, but that makes certain things make more sense. When my friend came over a few weeks ago, Rosie took longer than I expected to react to his presence. It wasn’t just that she had to see him with her good eye, she also had to get him within her limited field of vision.

Knowing that Rosie has limited vision and that she will eventually go blind makes me want to dedicate more energy towards making her life awesome. Staying within familiar places and making sure people and things are in front of her good eye probably gives her security but I also want to make sure she can experience all she can while she can. I hope I get the chance in the near-ish future to take her on a trip to the west coast so she can go to a dog beach.

I suspect if I knew I was going blind, that I would make it a priority to see and do certain things. I don’t know if Rosie knows she is going blind and she can’t tell me what’s on her “visual bucket list,” so the only things I can do is love her, be mindful of her limitations, and do my best to guess at what a basset hound would enjoy.

Rosie’s Schedule is My Schedule

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

For those of you who haven’t been following recent events, my basset hound Rosie was recently diagnosed with glaucoma in her right eye. Apparently it’s a common problem for this breed, particularly female bassets around age 6 or 7. (Rosie turned 7 in October.) When we couldn’t get the pressure in that eye to go down, we were forced to surgically remove it. She had already gone permanently blind in that eye so the surgery eliminated the pain caused by the glaucoma.

The surgery was a success and now I am the proud owner of a “Pirate Pup” as I like to call her. She’s been doing great since the stitches came out last week. Now that we’ve taken care of her right eye, our focus has shifted to making sure she maintains the vision in her left eye as long as possible.

Rosie is currently on 4 different eye drops. Two of them are available as a combination drug so we will be dropping down to 3 medications soon. Three of Rosie’s medications have to be administered every 8 hours. The other medication is a little more complicated – she has to get it every 12 hours, the second dose of the day has to be given by 6pm (according to her doctor glaucoma attacks are most likely to hit between 6pm and 10pm), and it has to be stored in the refrigerator. She also has an emergency glycerin kit. If she ever goes completely blind, I have to mix 50mL of glycerin with milk and pour it down her throat.

Footnote for my fellow science geeks: Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) + Gylcerin = Spontaneous purple flames. Neat Stuff!

So now Rosie’s schedule is my schedule. It’s pretty easy to stick to her medication schedule on the day she comes to work with me but I have obligations where she can’t come with me so for now she has morning medications at 6am and 8am before I head off to work, and then she gets medications at 4pm, by 6pm, and before I go to bed. If I ever want to go to bed early, I’ll have to set an alarm to wake me up at midnight for her last doses.

Did I mention each eye drop has to be given at least five minutes apart? Otherwise each medication won’t be absorbed properly. Lucky for me, Rosie is much better about getting eye drops than taking pills.

From what I can tell, this is going to be our schedule for the rest of her life or until better medication comes out or she loses the vision in her left eye. It’s an adjustment but I’m ok with that. I think we’re all on board with the program of making sure she can see for as long as possible.

Pirate Pup

Ruth & Rosie - October 2014; Photo by Julia Kolsrud

Ruth & Rosie – October 2014; Photo by Julia Kolsrud

A few weeks ago Rosie’s droopy basset eyes were droopier than usual – so much that the skin above her eyes covered her eyes completely and she seemed to be in pain. We went to the vet and her first concern was that Rosie’s valley fever was back. She drew blood and sent us home with some pain meds. Two days later when Rosie’s eyes weren’t better, the vet called us back in and determined that Rosie didn’t have a recurrence of valley fever. She had glaucoma. Rosie was completely and permanently blind in her right eye and the pressure in that eye was 90. (20 and below is normal; anything above 40 is painful.)

The vet put her on heavy duty IV medication that started to bring her eye pressure down. She sent us home with five new medications – one for pain, two for her right eye pressure, and two to maintain her sight in her left eye. We went back for a follow-up two days later, and when they checked her right eye pressure, it was back up to 80. At that point, I accepted that Rosie’s right eye served no function and was only causing her pain, so I scheduled surgery to remove it.

Rosie’s surgery day was pretty uneventful as surgery days go. I dropped her off at the vet early in the morning and headed to my office where I had scheduled myself a full day of meetings to keep my mind occupied. The vet called at 3pm to say the surgery was a success and that I could pick her up in an hour when she was a little less groggy.

Rosie is so cute when she’s gorked. They had to shave the hair around her right eye and put her in a cone to keep her from scratching at her stitches or bumping things with her sealed eye while it was healing. The cone makes Rosie’s head about three times its usual size. It’s so big she couldn’t jump into a car so I had to lift her 65-pound body into the backseat. She has to wear the cone until the stitches come out.

Rosie's First Night After Surgery

Rosie’s First Night After Surgery

Rosie is adjusting well to navigating the world in her cone. She learned the hard way the first night that when the cone bumps into something, stop walking. Poor thing yelped when she bumped her eye on a door frame. It took a few days for her to learn how to eat and drink with the cone – to drop the front edge low enough that she can reach the bowl with her mouth – and how to lift her head and cone when stepping up onto a curb. With her little legs, she often bumps the cone against the ground and she’s taken to using a scoop motion so she can smell the grass on our walks without getting stuck.

Thankfully she was allowed to come to work every day during the initial healing stage. She has medications that need to be administered every eight hours. It’s been interesting to watch the skin around her right eye turn dark purple-red with bruising.

Except for the stitches and the cone, Rosie has mostly returned to her old self. She wags her tail like mad when anyone gives her attention or when we go on our daily walks. She’s super alert and interested in the neighborhood dogs, though I have to keep them away from her face. It’s funny to watch her try to scratch her ear through the cone. (Yes, I scratch it for her.)

It’s been wonderful to see how concerned and loving everyone’s been during this time – both in real life and online. I was very touched when Rosie and I woke up on Saturday morning and saw that are neighbors had left a get well card and a bag of dog treats on our door. They have an American bulldog/Shar Pei mix that adores Rosie.

What’s next? The glaucoma will likely take the vision in Rosie’s left eye someday, and she is on medication to delay that. Her stitches will come out and she’ll be out of the cone in the middle of the month and then she’ll be my happy One-eyed Pirate Pup.

Rosie’s Seeing-Eye Person

I have a new job – being Rosie’s right eye.

Rosie Peacefully Snoozing - March 1, 2015

Rosie Peacefully Snoozing – March 1, 2015

Last week Rosie started showing signs of being in distress – panting, lethargy, and excessively droopy eyes (even by basset hound standards). Her eyes were so droopy that sometimes the upper skin hung over her eyeballs, essentially blinding her and making her look like a zombie. I had to be careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally step off curbs or walk into walls.

We went to the vet and their first thought was she was relapsing on valley fever. They took an x-ray, drew blood, gave us some pain meds, and sent us home. The x-ray didn’t show anything was obviously wrong. When Rosie didn’t bounce back after 36 hours, we headed back to the vet. During this visit, it was obvious to our vet that Rosie’s right eye appeared to be bulging out. She checked the pressure in that eye and it was 90 (normal is below 20). She started Rosie on IV medication to reduce the pressure and sent me to the pharmacy down the street to get prescriptions filled for various eye drops.

When I dropped off Rosie’s new medications, my vet told me that Rosie has glaucoma in her right eye. She is completely and permanently blind on her right side. The glaucoma hasn’t spread to her left eye yet, and hopefully the medication will prolong Rosie’s vision in her left eye and allow her to keep her right eye. Rosie is currently on 6 medications (4 eye drops and 2 pills) taken at 8-hour and 12-hour intervals – so I can’t be away from her for too long.

For now, my job is to be Rosie’s right eye, especially while she’s adjusting to her changed vision. I try to keep her on my left side when we’re taking a walk so her blind side is closest to me and I try to be extra careful when were near gravel or uneven walkways. Being partially blind puts Rosie at a disadvantage, but I hope she never feels that way. I try to keep her alert to what’s on her right side that she may not notice unless she turns her head.

Rosie’s pain seems to be much more manageable than it was a few days ago. My beautiful brown-eyed girl is sleeping soundly in my reading chair as I write this post, occasionally sighing and stretching in her sleep. All I want is for her to be comfortable and to know that she is loved. And that will never change even as her vision gets progressively worse.

The Undeniable Recap of 2014

Wow – 2014 was a year for change for me. I never would have predicted that so much would be different in 12 months’ time – mostly for the better. It has been a tumultuous ride but I think it’s allowing to lay the foundation for more good things to come.

I keep a running document for The Undeniable Recap from the beginning of the year and it’s so fun to look back and remember everything I did in the last year. It’s always hard to come up with the top 5 events for the year but here goes.

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

1. We Moved! I’d been living in my parents’ second home since I moved to Phoenix and I decided it was time for Rosie and me to get our own place. After months of searching, I found a condo that I fell in love with at first sight. It’s less than half the size of our old place – just 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, an office, and an open kitchen/dining/living room. It’s the perfect place for a girl and her dog.

2. The Packing Party. I read about Ryan Nicodemus’ “packing party” in the book Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn. I’ve been an aspiring minimalist for a few years now and moving gave me a chance to step it up a notch. When I moved, I put everything in boxes and only unpacked what I needed when I needed it. It took 72 days to go through all my boxes and a lot of my stuff is going to charity. It was eye-opening to see how little I need to be comfortable.

3. Week in Wickenburg. At the recommendation of my therapist, I spent 5 days in Wickenburg last spring at a workshop at The Meadows. It was an intense experience where I got to do a lot of personal development work and look at who I am, what’s important to me, and when I’m in a hand basket. And with no computer or cell phones allowed on the campus, it was a valuable centering experience.

Post-Brunch Handstand - Photo by Erika Brown

Post-Brunch Handstand – Photo by Erika Brown

4. Birthday Stories. I had the most awesome birthday this year. I always take the day off on my birthday to do whatever I want. This year I asked my friends to send me stories about something related to our friendship. Dozens of people responded. I spent a few hours curled up in front of my laptop taking a wonderful trip down memory lane. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to thank each of you who contributed individually but know that your stories were very much appreciated!

5. Lindsey’s Wedding Weekend. The best trip I took in 2014 was for Lindsey’s wedding in the Bay Area. I’ve known Lindsey since she was probably 7. We were gymnastics teammates and we’ve been friends for decades. It was great to get back to my old stomping ground where I crammed in as many people as I could in a 72-hour period – teammates, coaches, and other friends. And to top it all off, I got to see Lindsey get married. Of course we had a post-wedding handstand contest.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Firsts in 2014
Aerial Yoga class
Polar Plunge
Encyclopedia Show
Yelling at a server at Buffalo Wild Wings (not my best moment)
Performing at the Orpheum
World’s Largest Pi Fight
Mass mailing for Carter Law Firm in honor of Captain Kirk’s Future Birthday
Virtual Presentation at a Conference – ABA TechShow 2014

Poolside Rosie

Poolside Rosie

Batting cages
Getting crapped on by a bird
Day trip to Jerome
10K race that I ran the whole time
Visit to the big dinosaur in Gila Bend
Ice Bucket Challenge
Overnight trip to Sedona w/ Rosie’s first hotel stay
Buying real furniture for my new place
Ignite Phoenix After Hours at The Mint
Driving myself to Prescott
Hiking the Wind Cave Trail
Local Events: Arizona Wind Symphony Performance, Art Detour, Scottsdale Arts Festival, Tempe Arts Festival, Heard Museum, and Zoolights

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Medical Firsts: Cardiac ultrasound, Beta blocker, Anti-depressant, Stress test
Food Firsts: Pho, Rutabaga, Matzo ball soup, Sugar cookie in a mug,

Celebrity Sightings
The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Oatmeal – aka Matt Inman
Chris Guillebeau
Peter Shankman

Adventures with Rosie: Getting Homeowner’s Insurance

I promised Rosie a new bed. Of course she picked out the most expensive one in the store.

I promised Rosie a new bed. Of course she picked out the most expensive one in the store.

In case anyone missed the memo, Rosie and I are moving. Don’t worry, we’re not leaving Phoenix, just getting a new place to call our own. And it’s a smaller place that better accommodates my aspiring minimalist lifestyle.

Part of the process of becoming a homeowner is buying homeowner’s insurance. I amused myself going through the questionnaire with my insurance agent to get a quote.

Do you have any pets?
Yes. I have a basset hound.

Has your dog ever bitten anyone?
I have a basset hound.

(In all fairness, my family had a basset when I was younger that would get violent when he got confused. We think he had hearing loss from a severe illness when he was a puppy. But come on – who has ever heard of a vicious basset hound? Grouchy yes. Vicious no.)

Does your home have a security system?
I have a basset hound.

Oh, I’m way too easily entertained by my dog. But who wouldn’t be?