Preparing to say goodbye…

I wrote this blog yesterday but didn’t have time to post it. So, some things have changed. Our dog isn’t expected to make it to the research hospital. He likely won’t be going. He’s too sick…

Here is the original blog:

Rural dog owners in Kansas and Missouri take heed and pay attention to the article below!

Yesterday we found out our dog, Mickey, has a largely fatal condition, dysautonomia. It usually only occurs in dogs in Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas and it is largely rural farm dogs such as ours that get it. There’s a more than 90 percent mortality rate. “Routinely fatal” as the article below described it. Routinely fatal. Horrible words to read when a pet you love and care for has the disease.

It’s heartbreaking for us. Even though we are preparing to say good-bye, we are taking him to a K-State Veterinary Hospital that is doing studies on this disease that has no known cure. And, as far as we know, no known cause.

We are stunned. Stunned that this happened to our dog. Our good ‘ol dog. We are saddened. It really is a cruel thing that we only get to have our pets for so long. We generally outlive them. I hate it. And saying good-bye is so hard to do.

Here is an article on the disorder from

MANHATTAN — The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary body functions such as digestion, respiration, saliva production, blood pressure, gastrointestinal function, sweating and metabolism.
Dr. Kenneth Harkin, associate professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, said a disease seen primarily in dogs in northeastern Kansas and Missouri kills by destroying this system.
As the autonomic nervous system is destroyed, dogs lose gut function, have trouble urinating completely and vomit uncontrollably, among other symptoms.
“Only a few cases are mildly affected, where the dogs can be medicated and survive,” Harkin said. “In general, it’s almost routinely fatal.”
Harkin said the cause for dysautonomia is unknown; therefore, there is no prevention available.
In other areas of the world, especially the United Kingdom, dysautonomia is found in horses, cats and rabbits. Harkin said dysautonomia is only found in dogs and cats in the United States, although feline dysautonomia is uncommon. The first case of canine dysautonomia was reported in Missouri in 1988. The first Kansas case was diagnosed in 1993.
He said the disease is common in the area and estimates Kansas has about 100 cases per year, most in the northeastern corner of the state. Most of the dogs affected are younger than 2 years of age and come from a rural environment.
Although the cause is unknown, Harkin said one of the prevailing theories is that it is the result of a clostridial toxin, possibly from clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum is a soil-borne bacteria that can be found in rotting food and decaying flesh and may produce a variety of toxins. He said some of those toxins can kill nerves. Harkin said clostridial toxin production may be geographically limited, which would explain why the disease is primarily seen in Kansas and Missouri.
One aspect of dysautonomia that makes the cause of the disease especially difficult to identify is that it does not affect all exposed dogs.
“There may be five dogs on one property, but only one will end up with the disease,” Harkin said. “There appears to be variable susceptibility among dogs.”
Harkin said the only research on dysautonomia being done is at K-State and the University of Missouri, because these are the only two states affected. He said it’s difficult to acquire funding for canine dysautonomia research since the disease is not a nationwide epidemic and has no human equivalent.
Harkin said it’s important for veterinarians to know about the disease and be able to diagnose it quickly. He also said that dog owners need to recognize that the disease exists and any dog can be at risk.
Harkin has been with K-State since 1997. He earned his doctor of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University in 1989 and did his residency at Michigan State University. Harkin is the faculty adviser to the student chapters of the American Animal Hospital Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners and American Veterinary Medical Association.



Snow. Freezing rain. Sleet. Snot.

Well, OK, so it might as well snot today. Because it’s slicker than snot from a two-year-old’s nose outside…Hey, at least it’s not green as my colleague from the radio station just added.

And here’s our forecast according to the National Weather Service: “Rest of today, snow, sleet, with possible freezing rain and thunderstorms likely.” Joy. Just a bundle of joy. So we continue the trend of the wettest winter — ever.

As you’ve gathered by now, we’re having a bit of a weather event here. Anything is game. Right now, it’s the sleet. And lots of it. At least a half an inch or so. Roads are dicey but if you know how to drive on this stuff, you won’t have a problem.

The problem I have with this winter is the abundance of moisture. Makes me wonder what spring is going to be like. If winter has been like this is spring going to be equally as active? We’ve been lucky for the past few years. If spring has the same weather pattern in store, we are in for a wild one.

So, while I’m looking forward to what spring has in store — I love weather and I love thunderstorms, but not the destruction and loss of lives that can come with it.

So, here’s to spring. Ready for the temperatures. Ready for cold to stop. Suppose we all should be ready for the rest…

Ah, the beauty and the power of ice.

All the necessary elements came together this weekend to make quite a spectacular event right behind my house.

The first element was frozen ground. And this, according to our local television station, KSNT, Topeka, has been the wettest winter — ever. So when it rained Saturday night, the ground was frozen and the water had absolutely nowhere to go but directly into rivers and streams. These bodies of water rose quickly and stayed that way until early this morning.

So, we got an early treat this year when the lake filled up (the river floods into the lake each time it get beyond a certain point). But this wasn’t what made the event awesome. Sunday morning the lake was full. Both islands in the middle of it were completely underwater. It was still cold so the lake was coated in a layer of ice. It was something I’d never seen before when the lake was flooded. Seen ice on it plenty of times, but only when it is at normal levels.

Still, this wasn’t the best part.

The lake continued to freeze throughout Monday while waters continued to be high. If it wasn’t for my poodle waking me up at 12:30 a.m. this morning I would have missed the best part — the most fascinating part.

I took my dog out in the icy cold air. We were greeted with a lot of noise coming from the lake. It took me a minute to wake up enough to figure out what was going on. That thick crust of ice was cracking and shattering as the water level was descending back into the river.

It was an odd sound. A crack would start at one end of the lake and continue to the other end, where it would shatter the ice there. I heard the ice come back down and hit the surface of the still-solid ice. Even though it was cold, I tucked my poodle into my coat and we just listened. She perked her ears listening to the ice crack and shatter as well. It was a unique situation and I wasn’t sure when or if I’d get to hear it again.

This went on all morning long as the water receded, scaring our outside dog into barking every once in a while. It was an eerie sound. And it startled me at first too.

This morning, both islands were peeking of the water and the ice was still cracking. But it left behind a beautiful scene — ice coated tree trunks and ice coated ground. It was beautiful. I had never seen ice left behind like that. But, I also have not ever seen flood waters go down when it was this cold.

It was a rare opportunity to stop and recognize life. Recognize Mother Nature. It was beautiful. I wish I could adequately describe this to everybody. There are just not enough words to describe how beautiful it was.

Could be any of us…

If only everything could be solved with that little button…

Consider this.

You go to work, the same place for 18 years. Every day. Eighteen years. You count of that paycheck and you’re pretty sure it will be coming tomorrow and the next day. That job, that company is your livelihood. Your everything.

Now, this scenario isn’t uncommon. Neither is the second part of my point. Imagine waking up and going to work as normal. But this day is different. You are called onto the floor along with more than 1,500 other workers and told that your job will be cut. The portion of the company that you work for is shutting down.

Again, not uncommon. But it’s exactly what happened here in Emporia when Tyson Fresh Meats decided to nix slaughter from its Emporia plant. Boom, more than 1,500 jobs gone nearly instantly. The workers get severance pay, however, this won’t last long and quick decisions have to be made.

Emporia hosted a job fair Saturday for Tyson workers where six states were represented — all looking to recruit some of the highly skilled workers. I covered this job fair for the paper and was stunned at the turnout. There was more than 1,000 people there. It was wall-to-wall people.

As I passed people I just stopped and took in the scene. There were a variety of emotions etched on people’s faces that ranged from desperation, determination,
, fear and hope. It was all there represented in one way or another.

The massive turnout illustrated the impact this kind of layoff has on people and the community at large. As I spoke to several of these former employees, I was told over and over they wanted to stay in Emporia. Their lives are here. Their families. But if they had to, they would pick up and move. That last part was often said with much sadness.

Sure, companies change. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed us. But that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow when we get dealt a card like this.

My thoughts are with all those that lost their jobs. It could be any of us. Anytime.

Happy belated V-Day!

Sorry! I meant to post this ON Valentine’s Day, but forgot!!

It’s Valentine’s Day.

It seems only fitting to come up with a blog!

Many people see Valentine’s Day as an “icky sticky” day. Yes, it is that. It’s a day for lovers. A day for sweethearts.

But it’s also a day of just plain love. And the celebration of love. A celebration of love that makes our best times better and our worst times bearable. A celebration of friendship. The very basics of life. We need friendship and love to survive. We need it to thrive. Without it, what do we have?

Even if you’re spending tonight alone, there is someone out there that loves you and cares for you. Promise!

So, it’s not just a day for sweethearts. Yeah, that’s a big part of it…but don’t forget all the other people along the way. Don’t forget the very basic concept of love.

And don’t forget to wish someone Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s a day for all of us.


Our dogs

Saw this today and thought I’d share:

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours faithful and true to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

So true. So very true. Dogs are there waiting for you when you come home. They hear your car, get excited. Their human is home! They do it day after day without fail. We, as their humans, are their lives. They live FOR us. Even if we come home cranky and don’t want to be bothered and shoo them away. They’ll go sometimes with their tails tucked. But they’ll usually go. They’ve been waiting all day for that moment. I look back at the times that they all met me at the door and I was just crankier than all get-out and I instructed them to go to the other room…it tears my heart out.

So when you go home at night and your dog greets you, think of this quote. You are his life. His love. His EVERYTHING. Don’t shirk that off. He doesn’t deserve it. And yes, I’m as guilty as this as anybody else. And this quote makes the importance even more real.

Truly, this quote holds true. We owe it to our dogs to be worthy…are we worthy?

"I guess I never paid that much attention"

“I guess I never paid that much attention.”

This phrase keeps coming up in my vocabulary over and over. And I continue to ask myself “Why didn’t you pay that much attention?”

Was it because I was so absorbed in the problems in everyday life that I didn’t realize that the snow geese have landed in the field across my house for the past few years?

Was it because of that same reason I didn’t realize that a house across the road from me is actually a bright blue? Was it always that color? I dunno because “I never paid that much attention.”

My problem with this started in high school when I looked out the window and noticed a tree several stories high growing. I had never noticed it before. And I’m pretty darn sure it didn’t just grow overnight. I had passed that tree going to class for two years before I finally noticed it.

I find this sad. Sad for me and sad for everybody else that I hear utter that phrase. There is so much more to life (and I’ve said this many times over so far this year) than the daily grind.

There are birds.

There are trees.�There’s even the stupid trees at Wal-Mart that are budding out already when it’s only 15 degrees out. Hey, it’s humorous!!

There’s the little child in front of you in the checkout line peeking out behind its mother and giving a smile — only wanting a few moments of attention.

There’s the animal tracks near the mailbox made during a muddy day. Deer? Bigfoot? Ok, so random, but it’s still worth noticing!

And there’s even the subtle cry for help from a friend or person in need. If you’re not looking, you might miss it. If you’re absorbed in yourself or your daily problems, yeah, you’ll miss it. I myself, am very guilty of that in recent years. To everyone who I have “overlooked,” I’m sorry.

So today and hopefully every day forward I am going to try and notice everyday beauty. Pay more attention. Look around me. There’s so much in life that makes me smile. I love life.

And I love the World around me. It can be a beautiful place — it all depends on how you look at it.