Pet tragedy

Last Saturday we had a distressing accident with one of our baby rabbits. A plank of wood which held down the rain cover over one of our rabbit hutches fell down into the hutch and hit a little rabbit named ‘Oreo’ on the head. It was a severe impact, breaking her front teeth and causing concussion and some sort of injury to her nasal passages making it hard for her to breathe.

We took her to the vet and they gave her oxygen, pain relief, and kept her as comfortable as possible. Then it became a case of waiting to see if she improved or deteriorated. She remained in the vet clinic overnight and we were pleased she survived the night. Unfortunately the blow to her head must have caused major brain trauma and severe injury to her nose because she was still struggling to breathe, was partially paralysed on her right side and seemed to still be in a lot of pain.

Our vet considered her long term chances of survival to be low and the poor little rabbit was distressed so we made the hard but hopefully humane decision to euthanise her to avoid further suffering.

I find the decision to end the life of a pet to be difficult and haunting, the internal debate of whether it was the right choice remains with me for a long time. I’ve had to make that call for two dogs in the last five years and despite it being the rationally obvious decision in both cases I still feel terrible for making that choice for both of them.

I’m well aware that in nature survival is a constant struggle for all animals and their normal state of existence is probably what I would call suffering for a pet, but as  Christian I consider this a result of the Fall rather than the original plan for creation (see Isaiah 11:6-9).

Oreo
Oreo

Why do dogs eat grass?

I have an interesting article titled Why do dogs and cats eat grass? by Benjamin L. Hart which was published in the journal Veterinary Medicine (December 2008, 103, 12 pp648-649).

The author did several small surveys of students and customers who were dog owners based on the assumption that plant eating is associated with illness or dietary deficiency. The results indicated that illness was unlikely to be the reason for eating grass and that vomiting afterwards is not as common as thought.

To dig a bit deeper they used an online survey to ask dog owners about plant eating behaviour. With 1571 useful responses:

  • 67% said their dogs eat plants daily or weekly.
  • 8% reported their dogs showing signs of illness before eating plants.
  • 22% said their dog regularly vomits eating plants
  • Younger dogs are seen eating plants more often than older dogs

There was no indication that dogs with lower fibre in their diet ate plants more than other dogs.

Contrary to popular opinion, most dogs that eat grass or other plants are not unwell and most do not vomit afterwards. So why do they eat grass?

Worms

Both domestic and wild dogs eat plant material. It does not seem to be associated with illness or dietary deficiency but is a common behaviour so presumably serves some purpose.

The theory put forth by the author of this article is that eating plants helps purge parasites such as intestinal worms from the gut by increasing how quickly material moves through the gut and also by wrapping around the worms and carrying them out of the body

Sooo, about poo?

My question then is; why does my disgusting dog eat her own poo? She does eat grass but the theory of removing parasites is defeated by her coprophagy!

Rabbit fight! (7 to 13 August update)

Misty and Dusk

Rabbit fight!

Misty (the light grey rabbit in the photo above) and Dusk (the black bunny) have been fighting a bit lately and on Saturday morning (5th August) I noticed that Misty had what appeared to be conjunctivitis in one eye. On closer inspection we realised he had a scratch on his eye and some fur missing below the eye, so it would appear that his brother attacked him. We had some chloramphenicol eye drops at home from the vet so I used these in the injured eye and it has cleared up nicely now.

Warmer weather

After complaining about the cold last week, this week has been pleasantly ‘warm’ and dry in comparison:

Mon 7 August High 20°C, Low 4°C
Tue 8 August High 12°C, Low 4°C
Wed 9 August High 9°C, Low 7°C
Thu 10 August High 14°C, Low 4°C
Fri 11 August High 15°C, Low 0°C
Sat 12 August High 18°C, Low 4°C
Sun 13 August High 17°C, Low 5°C

Water blasting

My wife returned the faulty water blaster to Bunnings and got a new replacement which is working much better so I spent most of Saturday afternoon cleaning the concrete driveway area in our back yard.

Army Cadets camp

Our 15 year-old daughter spent the weekend at a camp for her army cadets unit learning navigation and how to use the radios. Thankfully she avoided injuring herself at this camp and had a great time.

Consuming

Reading

  • A DNA App Store Is Here, but Proceed with Caution: I guess this had to arrive sooner or later – consumer DNA sequencing which claims to inform you various genetic traits, ranging in usefulness from whether you are a carrier for 67 different genetic disorders, through to gimmicks such as a scarf coloured to represent the proportion of bases in your DNA. (see Helix online store. You could easily kiss goodbye to thousands of dollars on this stuff and learn little that is truly useful – just my opinion as a biochemist. See your doctor if concerned about genetic disorders).
  • I have been reading a bit lately about social media, smartphones and how these are having negative impacts on people, particularly teenagers. A couple of representative, good articles are: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? (on The Atlantic, note that this site does not like ad blockers) and Understanding our digital persona.
  • Also on the topic of social media, I’ve been considering how to move stuff that I’ve posted on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to my own website (this one). This also includes evaluating what is even worth moving, there is plenty of junk. I have manually transferred a few things but this is going to be a very slow process if I was to shift everything. My consideration of this was prompted by this article: Bookmarks, favs, likes – backfilling years of gaps.
  • Another article which has been timely and helpful to me is Writing As An Act Of Worship. I can easily become quite preoccupied with blogging and so have to question why I am doing it, is this what God would want me to be doing with my time and energy? Kris Camealy’s article reminded me of who needs to be in charge of my writing (God) and that self-promotion should not be my goal.
  • I found another encouraging article the day I Googled ‘why do people read blogs’ in a fit of self-doubt over whether there is any point in keeping a blog these days. So here is a few reasons why people read blogs.
  • Poetry: I’ve been continuing to read poems by Philip Larkin this week and also enjoying Scape by Luci Shaw, refreshing poetry from a Christian writer.

Watching

My media consumption is decidedly not Christian in flavour: Game of Thrones and Vikings. Both quite violent and containing a lot of sex scenes. Judge as you will.

Creating

I’ve not been particularly creative over the last week. My ‘blogging time’ has largely been spent trying to reduce the cpu load of this blog and doing some tentative experimenting with static site generators.

What I have been creating at home is a rough version of this:

Mine is only ⅔ constructed, using old broom handles and in good kiwi tradition #8 wire . Getting the wire through all those bits of broom handle is not as easy as I thought it should be!

A Dog on his Master

As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
Seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

by Billy Collins

Vida

We said goodbye to Vida today. She was finding it hard to get around and had lost a lot of condition but it still is hard to put a dog to sleep. She was a good friend and always happy to see us.

We got a kakabeak plant for her spot in the garden, she loved to lie under our other one and dig holes under it so now she has one all to herself. Unfortunately we are ending up with a doggie memorial area in our garden.

SONY DSC
Vida

Vida as a puppy

Vida as a puppy, sitting expectantly looking at the camera
Vida as a puppy, about 3 months old (this is a scanned copy of an old photo)

Vida was born in March 1999 and lived 15¾ years, a good age for a dog and she had an active life as a much-loved member of our family.

As a young dog she loved to chase oystercatchers as they flew along local beaches, running so far she disappeared from sight and coming back with a big exhausted smile (she never caught them, oystercatchers were too smart to let her get close, but I think they enjoyed taunting her).