Monday, April 28, 2008

Gwen, a Survivor!!

Gwen pulled through after the fox attack. She had a bite on her breast and under her wing and some head punctures which were superficial. She lost a ton of feathers and others are broken. She was in an oxygen tank to help get over shock for several hours. Then part of her breast was plucked and stapled. She had some pain medication and she has to do a course of antibiotics.

How do you give antibiotics to a chicken? Well, you can put it in her water, but supposedly it tastes bad, and she doesn't drink enough to guarantee the right dose at the right time. You can put it in food, but she wasn't up to eating and I was concerned that would not yield the right dose either. You can do injections, but I would HATE doing those and the vet didn't offer me the option (it wasn't one I would ask for either!). So, I grind up a pill in the mortar and pestle and put 2ml of water in a tiny syringe, and then get her tot open her beak and send it down. So far, two administrations have gone fine, with a little patience.

Gwen is still clearly a little out of it, a bit ataxic, but also feeling better all the time. Each check up she's doing a bit better. I made her a special chicken run so she can nest in a big nest box area she likes and lived in the first couple weeks she was here, and she also can have access to another very large dog house sized nest box. She has a run where she can visit the other three chickens across the fence, sit in the sun, or lounge on the shade porch. This morning she walked out to check it out and to say hi to her friends. She has a little Parkinson's like shake of her head and neck when she walks but not when she is still.

I'll take a photo of her later today and check on her often. I'm going to get her some vegetables and lettuce to encourage her to eat. She laid an egg overnight, which surprised me, she must have had one in the pipeline. She's made an attempt to eat a teeny bit but not much. She is drinking today though.

I am really happy she made it. I doubt many chickens have survived a fox attack or had a visit to the ER!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drama, On Stage and In the Pastures

Last night we went to see "Last of the Breed," a new play premiering at Boise Contemporary Theater. It ends May 3rd, and if you haven't already seen it and you like comedies, I highly recommend it. It was described as having to do with eminent domain - it doesn't, really, but it was very funny and there were many great moments. The acting, directing and script were all excellent. It was a great night out.

This morning I went to let the chickens out to range the pastures, as I've done for several weeks now without incident. I let them out 6:40am and it was light out. Around 7ish I heard some chicken calling that sounded loud and distressed. I heard it again, immediately, so I thought that I better check it out as maybe Sarah was picking on the others or there was some problem.

I found a fox, and he chased Samantha and grabbed her while I watched. I yelled and ran towards the fox, who then dropped Samantha. Samantha is my favorite chicken and the only one that lets me hold her and pet her and always comes to see me. She ran straight to me for safety. I could see Athena in another pasture and I could see Sarah huddled down near the barn, not moving but appearing to be alive and still. I didn't see Gwen anywhere.

The fox ran off but waited a long while at the back of the pasture. Athena got far from me in a far pasture and the fox advanced towards her a little, but I went towards her and the fox ran off. I had Samantha tucked into the coop so I went to Sarah. I woke my boyfriend up to help me assess the injuries. She had two beads of blood on her comb that were bright red but I saw no other blood. There were a TON of feathers all over the pastures though. I could see a place where Samantha clearly got a ton of feathers taken out, one for Sarah and one for Gwen.

Since Sarah seemed basically okay except for the one minor comb wound, I put her back in the coop, and chased Athena in too. I looked for Gwen for awhile but I couldn't find her anywhere or hear anything. Eventually I assumed the worst.

I love all animals, and the fox was thin and needed to eat, so I figured at least she went for a good cause, to feed the fox. I assumed there must have been two foxes, maybe a pair or young pups, as one had to carry Gwen off and the other one was after Samantha. I figured Gwen was gone for good, and I felt very bad about it. I had intended to make a chicken tractor but they were doing so well free ranging I had thought I didn't need one after all. Clearly I was wrong, and responsible for Gwen paying the ultimate price.

I went back in the house and took a shower and wondered if the fox was feeding pups, and how long it had been since it had eaten. I tried to think positive.

Then, as I got out of the shower, I heard the chicken squawk again that I'd heard earlier. I went out and there was the fox again - with Gwen in tow. The fox would drag her a few feet and then stop and look at me. Then drag a few more feet. I saw him take a few mouthfuls of feathers out of Gwen and I assumed that the fox was attempting to eat her. The fox ran a few feet away and sat on my bridge, looking through a gate at the end of the bridge at me and at Gwen. I went in the house to get the camera to take a photo of the fox so later I could look and try to determine it's age and gender if possible. I thought it was too late for Gwen, and I may as well have a record of the fox.

I took a photo, above, of the fox waiting and thinking about what to do. Gwen is laying in the foreground on the left - a few feet away, not moving. You can see her better if you click on the photo to make it bigger. I also took a close up of the fox, looking pretty forlorn and hungry.

The fox decided to run off. At that point I decided I needed to make sure Gwen was not still alive. I truly believed she was dead since I'd assumed that already earlier, had never seen her move the whole time the fox was dragging her, and she had lain still for at least 5 minutes with me and the fox in a standoff. But, when I got to her, to my shock and amazement, she stood up!!! She stumbled and seemed drunk and had trouble holding her head up but she took two steps. She blinked and she made two really loud sqwaks that sounded desperate and awful - almost agonizing.

I wrapped her in my shirt, raced in the house, past the dogs, yelled for my boyfriend to meet me at the car and raced to Westvet. Gwen doesn't trust or like people too much and wasn't comforted by me like Samantha would be. I tried to hold her, keep her warm and close to me and comfort her as best I could anyway, so she wouldn't die alone and would hang in there if she could.

Westvet doesn't treat chickens as far as I knew so I was prepared to say I thought she was a canary. Not that they would buy this - but I would say anything to get her treatment. I wanted them to either put her to sleep so she didn't suffer or save her if they could. They took her - telling me they were not chicken experts. They were excellent - as they always have been. The nurse was great. I could hear her yell back "We have a red assessment on a chicken!" Followed by "WHAT?" She asked how much they should do for her - and of course, I said whatever it takes, I'm responsible for her.

They put her in an oxygen tank to help her with the shock she was in. They gave her some pain medicine and worked to get her stable. They assessed her - no broken wing or neck. She was very lucky. They said there were some punctures but that they think they can pluck her a little, clean them, give her an antibiotic and she may pull through. But she needs to be in the oxygen tank at least six hours to help with the shock. Cost to treat her is expected to be $330. Expensive if you view it as for eggs, but certainly I am willing to pay it to save the life of Gwen, which I am responsible for.

Sarah seems fine and so do Samantha and Athena. The fox went right through ranch panel and have the coop on a ranch panel so the fox could clearly dig in, so I need to reinforce that or put the chickens elsewhere tonight. Obviously they are staying IN the coop today.

I showed the fox photo to the vet and it's a pup. The fox is too inexperienced to hunt and kill the chickens yet - so they lucked out, and I did too.

I don't fault the fox. He or she was gorgeous, and only trying to live. He/she needs a meal, and I'd provide one except that I know that is a BAD BAD BAD thing to do. Feeding wildlife disturbs their habits and hunting, can make them aggressive, would make them return all the time, and can throw all their nutritional requirements off by feeding non-natural food or too much/too little of something. Better that the fox learn to hunt and try again another day. Better that it stay wild. While losing Gwen would have been sad, I would have accepted it as the way of things if I had to. I am glad I get a second chance to learn how to keep chickens. Not growing up on a farm or ranch I am learning everything from books or the hard way and there's quite a learning curve.

Gwen should be released this afternoon but may need to stay longer, or if she gets worse, may need to be put down peacefully. That would be a shame - I am hoping for the best.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Menagerie Update

Things have been hectic to the point of overwhelming, so it's been awhile - sorry. We finished pet sitting for Shayla, Pumpkin and Axel. They were definitely a handful. Shayla wanted to move up in the pack, so she challenged Callie. Axel didn't know "stay" or "come" and wasn't house trained yet so he was a cutie but also a handful. Pumpkin was well-behaved but inflicted some wounds trying to climb my back a few times.

Sarah, the chicken pictured above, is the boss and is sort of mean. I have been working hard to get the chickens to get along without fighting. I am pleased to report that it is going very well. For two nights now they have slept in the same coop and started foraging together a little bit. Unfortunately, there are only four chickens now - Athena, Gwen, Sarah and Samantha. There was an accident that resulted in Gloria no longer being with us, which is very sad. At least she was happy while she was here.

This weekend the backyard was getting tall so I let the goats and the he horses and the chickens mow it down. The goats loved the back deck and played on the deck and the picnic table. Here is a photo of the goats and horses in the backyard, having some fun.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Return of Pumpkin the Cat

Pumpkin was a foster kitten in a batch of 10 or 12 we fostered from two or three different litters, about 2 years ago I think. She was very cute and happy, and although her adoptive parents came to look at a different kitten, they fell in love with Pumpkin's charms. She came back to visit now and then, and when her parents go away, she always has a place to stay here. She knows and remembers all of our pets. She's a thin, tall, lanky cat with a long tail and an outgoing attitude. She wants a lot of attention and she'll rise up to get it, standing on two legs for awhile. I can tell she misses her folks; she crawls all over me and rubs my ankles and talks to me in her tiny, tiny voice. She has a small voice compared to her size and to other cats.

With fosters I am sometimes amazed I can get them adopted out when I like them so much. When they come back I often wonder how I ever let them go. But the truth is, animals deserve a lot of attention and the more you have, the less attention each one gets. Though I love dogs, having more than two full-time would be hard for me, and even with two, I have one clear favorite that I am more closely bonded with. It's fun to have extras for awhile, but then it's also nice to go back to the relative stable, calm environment of just the 2 dogs and 4 cats, and the horses, goats and chickens.

An update on the chickens, by the way - I let Sarah and Samantha free range and I let the Ameracunas free in the backyard. They were separated by a fence, but one got through and got beat up by Sarah. It was gross: Sarah's beak was bloody and the olive Ameracuna was bloody. The wounds must have been superficial since I couldn't find them, but I felt bad all the same. It will take another month to get them all combined. Hopefully by then they'll be on better terms, and Gloria's legs will be less scaly too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Puppy Petsitting

Petsitting can be really fun. I particularly like petsitting for former foster pets whose adoptive parents have kept in touch. Shayla was a very special foster puppy who came to me underweight (16 lbs) at 6 months. I nursed her through some bad times health wise and she ended up with a really great set of parents. Recently, they gave her a little brother, little Axel Rose, is a 12 week old Siberian Huskey with blue eyes and a great personality. He's brave and playful and it's fun to sit for a puppy who is not a herding dog wanting to bite my ankles constantly. It's been a long time since I had a non-herding puppy and I forgot that benefit. :)

While their parents are on vacation we get to hang out with these two, and their "sister," Pumpkin, a former foster kitty of mine (who will be a separate entry with her own photo). It's a handful with four dogs of various sizes, ages and temperments, but they all love to run and play in the pastures and I certainly love all of them. They are keeping me busy! It should be a fast ten days since time flies when you're having fun.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Goat Transportation & Gloria

The goats had to go in to get established with a vet in case we ever have an emergency call, and get them vaccinated and de-wormed. The nearest goat vet I could find was in Caldwell. I had no idea how to transport them and I was worried that Billy might bully the others when they are in a confined area. (He did). I ended up hooking dog leashes to the horse trailer and transporting them that way, pictured above.

Getting them in and out alone was going to be an issue. It ended up being ok. To get them in, I put four grain bowls in there and had the goats watch me do it. Then I opened the gate, which is behind the trailer. I used the trailer door as a block on one side and I used an old campaign sign that was 4' long to block the other side, creating a corridor. They ran right into the trailer.

I then stepped in and hooked their collars to the leashes. The vet got in the trailer to treat them. He was a cool vet. He didn't make a big issue of the fact I got the trailer a teeny bit stuck on the way in and had to back up and retry. I asked about overall goat health and care and told him my setup and asked questions. He answered them. When I told him their setup he said it was all good, and when I got to the part about their pasture toys and treats he said "Dang, can I come live with you?" which is the general standard I get because my animals do have a rather posh and well cared for life. I said I know, I know, but I feel if I take on a life I have to be responsible about meeting the animal's physical, mental and emotional needs. He agreed but said not many people view it that way. Too bad. I bet in Caldwell he has seen some low standards of care. I know some farmers and ranchers are really good to their animals, but I have also seen some in deplorable conditions.

In chicken news, I thought Gloria had literally flown the coop tonight, but it turns out she was just hiding from me. I read to give them garlic for parasites so I made them a mix of oat bran, wheat bran, millet and chopped garlic and it went over well. Gloria has scaly legs, and I read that this is caused by a mite and treated by coating her legs in vaseline. So, she got a vaseline leg rub last night. I hope it works. The other four have great legs...for chickens that is. Here's a photo of Gloria, so all pets now have been portrayed on the blog in photographic form.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Green Eggs, No Ham

Samantha and Sarah looked pretty lonely free ranging in the pasture, and there's safety in numbers. So yesterday I increased the flock to a total of five. Here are two of the newbies, from Emmett. They are Ameraucanas, and they lay green eggs. So far they have laid one - and even that is a surprise since the stress of moving usually puts off egg laying a few days. Here are photos. So far they are unnamed and the darker one is my favorite. The fifth (and final) chicken came from Kuna, where she was being picked on and fighting with the rest of the flock, one hen in particular. She is an Ameraucana mix, and supposedly lays green eggs too. She is a bit shy so far and a very pretty golden color. Photo in the days to come; her name is Gloria. So far they are in three groups and will be integrated slowly to make sure they get along.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Testing Your Dog for Mutant DNA

There are some dogs that have a little mutant DNA, and this can be a very big deal because it means that certain medications, frequently prescribed for dogs, can be fatal to them. Collies are the primary breed affected with nearly three of four purebred collies being affected. Ivermectin, an anti-worm, anti-parasite, anti-heartworm and very common medication, is fatal to dogs with the mutant DNA, but other drugs can be fatal as well. Fortunately, there is a DNA test you can do at home with use of a kit from the University of Washington, to determine if your dog's genes are okay. You need to know this if you are going to treat with certain types of drugs. You can get the kit here. The cost is about $60 to do the test.

Collies are NOT the only dogs affected, as they are related to several other breeds, including Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and even some sight hounds. See an article on collie bloodline breed relations here. You can also start learning about the problem and what dogs are affected here. Even MIXED dogs can have the mutant gene, so you may not be able to rule out the need to test unless you have a purebred dog with no collie related bloodlines.

Ivermectin is NOT the only problem drug either. See here for a list of drugs the gene is known to be involved with processing.

I had a tri-color purebred collie when I was in high school. A photo of a tri-color, though not mine, is above. I named him Lad, after the hero dog of a wonderful series of books by author Albert Payson Terhune. I highly recommend the series to kids and dog lovers and in my youth I read every one of them. (For the same crowd, I also recommend the dog stories by Jim Kjelgaard, as well as Farley Mowat books and of course Wilson Rawls' books).

Unfortunately, my collie became sick. I am not sure with what, and I was not in charge of his care or allowed to make his health care decisions. My mom said he got some shots and was never the same. He began to lose his hair in places, to vomit frequently, to lose energy, to have difficulty getting up and down stairs and to have hip issues when he was still a fairly young dog. He died my junior year in high school, and I don't know why. I now wonder if he had any of these drug sensitivity issues and if they were known then.

I am having Callie tested, to rule out one more thing that could be causing her problems. I sent away for my kit on the recommendation of her vet and we will see what happens.

Callie had a new issue yesterday and I don't know if it is related to the ongoing neurological issue or to the spinal (CFS) tap she had Monday. She began yelping in pain over tiny contacts with her face or legs. I wondered if she had a nerve issue going on. After the third time it happened I noticed she also had a tucked tail and her legs were quivering a little, so I decided to take her to Westvet even if I get branded as being over protective. I thought my dog was in pain and right now, I need to listen to her tell me what's wrong in the only small ways she has. It turns out that her medical exam revealed real pain when her head is turned left. On Monday's exam that was not the case.

After a lot of debate we decided to treat with muscle relaxants and pain meds for a week and see if the issue resolves. If not, we'll see another vet and try to determine what is going on in the spine. Neck pain shows itself often with a dog lifting a front leg, which is ALWAYS what Callie does when she has a neurologic episode, and she always tilts her head to 45 degrees. So can they be related? I don't know. She usually passes the neck pain test and I think there is something clearly brain going on.

In any event, between Callie and Esmae we have a staggering vet bill this month, over $5,000, which is a record for me personally. No one else can get sick! Unfortunately the goats go in for their first vet visit and some vaccines next week, and the horses have to go to their annual Equine Dentist visit. It'll be a rough month.

I can't help but think that my animals have access to better medical care than nearly everyone in Africa and very likely most of the rest of the world. It is such a huge disparity, we are worlds apart. This does not make me feel guilty for treating my pets with care, it just drives home how unfair it is that so much of the world still lives so primitively.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Three Squirrel Tragedies

Years ago, in 1997, my dad came to stay with me as he died of cancer. One of my sisters came to help out, and we were both very stressed. We both take comfort in nature. My sister is almost completely blind, but she hears very well. She heard a squirrel in the yard and she decided to tame it as a distraction from our dad's slow and hard to watch death. She used peanut butter, and after about a week the squirrel came right up to her, very, very close. At the time I had no animals so our interactions with the squirrel were all we had for an animal connection.

A day or two after my dad died, my sister called me to the back yard. She said she heard the squirrel and it was very upset but she could not see what was wrong. I went to the noise. It was coming from just across my fenceline to the west. There was a small steel trap and inside, racing from side to side, chattering, and trying to chew free, was our squirrel.

We went to my neighbor's house. I wasn't sure if he was trying tot trap the squirrel or something else. "Excuse me," I said to his wife, "You have a squirrel in a trap back there and I would like to see if I could let him out, he is pretty stressed."

"No, you can't let him out, we are having him for dinner," she said. I didn't think I had heard her right. I tried to clarify and learned that she and her husband (who joined her at the door), who are in their seventies now and from the country, like squirrel stew and do not care for squirrels in their trees or gardens. So, sometimes they trap them and apparently, no joke, consume them. They could see we were upset and invited us to stay for dinner, which of course, was OUT of the question.

I asked if they would make an exception and I tried to explain that we'd tamed the squirrel and it was sort of a friend of ours. No luck. In fact, I think they thought we were as crazy as we thought they were. I don't remember more details but I know I left thinking I'd tried all I could to get the squirrel released and I was really sad and frustrated I couldn't do it. My sister and I were sick about it and of course, did not encourage any other squirrels to come nearby. (For a year or so I tried to scare them to the east side of the property to avoid the neighbor).

So yesterday I let Sarah and Samantha, the newly free ranging chickens, roam. I was checking on them as they pecked near the west side of the property when I heard it. The scratching, the frantic little scratching on metal. I looked over and sure enough, a little squirrel was trapped. I knew it was hopeless to get his or her release, so I turned away and tried not to think about it, hoping the death would be quick, once again revolted that I live next to a squirrel eater. (I don't think ducks fare well on his land either).

Now of course I thought of sneaking over and trying to release the squirrel - but here is the thing. It's private property, my neighbor is a gun fanatic, and he is REALLY protective of his land and his things. And, I have a lot of animals that I don't want hurt, killed, poisoned, or disappearing. He has in fact called me before if the horses are upset or there is a stray dog near them, and he has returned animals that have come onto his land without harming them. I always let him know which animals are mine and make sure they don't cause him trouble and I can't afford to piss him off and risk that he retaliates. He kills wild life and my domestic animals stay safe. Not a great bargain but what can I do?

So anyway, yesterday was squirrel tragedy number two. Today I was driving home and a squirrel was in the street, not in my lane, but one lane over. He/she had a broken back leg or two and was desperately spinning in circles trying to run away and not making it. The poor thing was terrified, wide eyed and very much alive - no doubt in terrible pain and shock and desperate to live. It had gotten to the middle of the road so cars were driving over it, sometimes slowing down, not crushing it. The most humane thing to do at that point was probably run over it so it stopped suffering. As I could not do this from my lane, and no one else was doing it, I hurried home (just a few blocks away) and got a box. I returned to the scene to try to capture the squirrel and take it to the vet to see if it could either be saved or humanely euthanized.

It wasn't moving anymore, but its eyes were open and I wasn't sure if it was breathing or twitching. I darted out between cars and scooped it up. It was limp and warm. I tried to feel for a heartbeat but I didn't want to waste time and I put the box in the car and went to Westvet as quickly as I could. I didn't see it blink. I wasn't sure if it was dead, or in shock. I handed him or her off to Westvet and said I would pay for treatment if it could be saved or euthanasia if it could not. They said that he/she was apparently dead on arrival but to be sure they gave it a little shot of euthanasia meds. They didn't charge me.

I feel bad that the squirrel suffered, bad that I could not spare it or save it some pain. I ask myself whether if I had stopped right away instead of going for a box...would it have mattered, etc., all the usual things you do when something is not your fault but you want to believe that possibly you could have made a difference anyway. I can't shake the look of panic on the little face as it spun around dragging those back legs. I can't forget the warm, small body and how it felt heavy and soft.

I know there are big tragedies in the world, but there are small ones too. I hope there were no baby squirrels left behind, or a bereft mate still looking for the one that isn't coming home.

Zimbabwe's Turn

We don't hear much news of Africa here in the U.S, which is really too bad, as there is nearly always something interesting happening there. And marketing to a country that loves to buy up bad news and alarming headlines, you'd think that U.S. newspapers would want to take advantage of all Africa has to offer - people eaten by wild animals, killed in tribal warfare, living in conditions beyond horrific. It's a real mine for bad news, though there is good news too, also not covered. Every time I am there I find myself stunned by the local headlines. Last time I was in an airport the woman stamping my passport was reading an article entitled "Have We Angered the Gods?" and it wasn't a joke. Nor was "Power Outage During Open Heart Surgery" or "Is Air Conditioning Bad for Your Health?"

Recently Kenya did get some press here with it's election violence. Many lodges in Kenya have closed, the economy has tanked, people aren't going there, and the fate of the economy rests in large part on whether tourists make bookings for high season (migration) this year. Kenyan leaders are set to announce a new power sharing cabinet on Sunday, a compromise between Kibaki and challenger Odinga designed to stem tribal violence, see story here. I am glad I went to Kenya when I did but I want to go back, and I have friends there and a baby elephant whose life I am following...I want things to work out for all of them.

Unlike Kenya, Zimbabwe has long been a disaster, thanks to Mugabe and his insane policies which destroyed the economy long ago. The opposition claims to have won a recent election but Mugabe is holding on to power. One of his brilliant ideas to fight inflation is to issue new money - since a loaf of bread costs 16 million dollars (Zimbabwean) he issues a note for 50 million dollars. See news story here.

I stood at the border of Zimbabwe earlier this year trying to decide whether to enter or not. I decided not to as you can experience delays, the need for "additional money" to get out, and other complications. I was at Victoria Falls and I wanted to do a Lion Encounter, which is a place in Zimbabwe where you go play with 10 month old lion cubs. That has to be a cool...and there was a similar place in Johannesburg I had wanted to go to and not had time. Like all of Africa, I am sure Zimbabwe has a lot to offer and I'd love to go there one day - when it's politically stable and Mugabe is gone.

African countries have a lot to teach, if only, in some cases, what NOT to do when running a country. Political science would have been a lot more interesting if instead of only theory and western nations we spent some time looking at African countries, and the applications of various political theories and approaches in practice.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free at Last! and Footprints

Samantha (who now lets me pet her) and Sarah (who still won't) clearly were tired of the chicken coop. So I decided, even though there is no chicken tractor, to let them free range today. I was pretty confident the fence improvements and the daytime would keep fox and coyote and raccoon at bay and that no stray dogs can get in. As for the cats, well Oscar and the chickens have to meet sometime. May as well be on a nice day when I am around to supervise.

I opened the coop door and the chickens looked out it, stretching their heads out - then they hopped out and began to scratch around. As they scratched, roamed and pecked I have to admit they looked happier than I have ever seen a bird. When evening came, they hopped back in the coop. In the meantime, they went in and laid two eggs for me at some point. I took a picture, but Samantha wasn't standing still at the time.

The kitchen remodel is coming along with close supervision from the cats. Today the drywall got done, leaving a bunch of white drywall dust. I could clearly see that kitty inspections had taken place from the kitty footprints that wound through the kitchen into the front room (sample above).

While I was painting the laundry room Oscar appeared on the other side, with his paws on the glass. I am not sure which one of us was more surprised. Remodeling anything without cats must just suck. They add layers of fun to absolutely every aspect.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back From Portland

I took Callie to Northwest Veterinary Associates to see a neurologist, Dr. Kroll. I was impressed with him and pleased that we found a specialist since Idaho has no neurologist yet. Unfortunately, we still do not know what is going on. Callie did get a spinal tap and some bloodwork and we will get the results, but basically we were advised to tape any future episodes she has on video. I do not think this is a form of partial epilepsy, I think that 20 minute "episodes" are not seizures, and I think there is something very specific that affects the right side of Callie's body. Also, since her first "epidose" had her in the ER with neurological symptoms for over 4 days I cannot believe it would be epilepsy. But, I am not a neurologist - and apparently, even if I were, I would not have any answers.

"Idiopathic epilepsy" appears to be what they say when they don't know what is wrong - but so far her doctors aren't saying that. I think her level of care is good and we have the best professionals we can on the case. Any additional info we get and anything we can rule out gets us a little farther towards finding out what is wrong. We're going to learn this week if there is inflammatory disease or tick borne disease.

I have come around to the view that as long as Callie has a happy life that's all that matters - if it ends up shorter than hoped or punctuated by weird episodes she recovers from, we'll deal with that - as long as she is happy. For now we'll try and stay with her as much as we possibly can, keep a camera at the ready, and install a kid gate at the top of the stairs so she can't take a tumble. And, of course, enjoy every second we have with her.