A Note To Parents: We make every effort for Roxanne's blog to be a SAFE site for children. Whenever possible, activities are in pdf format or link to safe sites for children. Please feel free to use the information in these posts for homeschool studies! All rights reserved by author and nature photographer, Virginia Parker Staat.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Can't I Walk Very Far Anymore?

Roxanne at Galveston Beach
I have had a VERY interesting summer.  Last year I hiked seven miles with Mom and Dad.  By Christmas, I could hardly walk a mile.  By springtime, I could hardly walk a football field (100 yards).

We went to the beach.  It is one of my favorite places in the whole world.  But I was so weak that the waves knocked me over.  Mom and Dad were plenty worried.  My vet was worried, too.  He tested me for all kinds of diseases.  He couldn't find anything wrong with me.

My world kept getting smaller and smaller.  Nothing seemed to be fun any more.  I was sad.

Mom, Dad, and my vet decided that we needed more help.  They decided that I needed to go to to Texas A&M University.

Texas A&M has one of the world's best veterinary colleges.  They work with other veterinarians all over the world.  We hoped that they would be able to tell me why I can't walk very far anymore.

The vets at Texas A&M were wonderful.  They petted me and were very kind.  They took good care of me.  They wanted to see how I walk.  They wanted to check my nerves.  They wanted to check my blood and my bones.

Unfortunately, they had to shave a lot of my fur in the process.  They shaved rings above two of my feet to check my nerves.  They shaved the top of my head to check my spine.  They shaved my belly to check my insides.  I look really funny now!!!  (Mom told me that the hair will all grow back.)

After all the tests, the doctors said that I am very healthy... except that I have a nerve problem.  It is called peripheral neuropathy.  Those are very big words.  They mean that the nerves in my back legs are weak.  The doctors don't know why I have it, and there is no cure... BUT the doctors said that I can get stronger.  They said that the best way to make me stronger is to take me swimming.  I was very happy.  I'm a water dog... swimming is what I love to do best!

There is a place in our town that has underwater treadmills for dogs.  The treatments were VERY expensive.  Mom and Dad decided that rather than spend money on treatments that we would go on vacation instead.  They planned to go to as many lakes as they could find so that I could swim.  It sounded like a great idea to me!

We are back from our trip now.  I can walk almost two miles... not every day, but I am so much happier than I was before our trip.

How did we do it?  In the next several posts, I'll tell you how I got stronger.  Maybe it will help your dog get stronger, too!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Skunk Alley

Our neighborhood has been called skunk alley.  Years ago, before any of our houses were built, skunks lived here.  They still do!

We have seen many skunks over the years.  One year, we had a mother skunk and her five babies living under our deck.  This year we seem to have more skunks than usual.  We have seen a mother and her baby, two young skunks traveling together, and two single skunks.  We found the big guy in the photo above eating leftover bird seed in our yard last night.

Skunks are incredible creatures.  They are known for their smelly defense system.  When a skunk is afraid, he will stomp his feet and try to scare you.  If that doesn't work, he will turn around, raise his tail, and spray a foul, horrible musk at you.

I know.  When I was young, I was sprayed twice in ten days.  It was horrible!!!  I couldn't stand the smell.  I raked and raked my face in the dirt, but it didn't help.  Mom had to give me a special bath.  I learned my lesson well and have never gone near a skunk again!

Skunks are nocturnal (they like to come out at night).  They have beautiful coats of black fur with white stripes.  Mother skunks normally have four to seven kits (babies) born in the early spring.

The only problem with skunks (besides their spray... which is REALLY smelly) is that skunks can have rabies.  Rabies is a terrible disease and very contagious.  A rabid skunk is dangerous because if it bites a human or dog, we can catch rabies from them.  If you see a skunk out during the day.  If you see a skunk that looks like he is drunk.  If you see a skunk who doesn't look healthy, then the skunk may have rabies.  You should call your animal control center for help.

While many people don't like skunks, we sure do.  They dig in our yard and eat the grubs and cutworms.  They eat small rodents and snakes.  They are also very smart.  The skunks in our neighborhood know when our porch light comes on that I will come outside.  They hide under our deck until I am ready to go inside.

Why do we have so many skunks in our neighborhood?  Skunks lived in our woods long before people lived here.  Many people in our neighborhood also feed birds, outdoor cats, and other wildlife.  Of course, the skunks enjoy eating birdseed, corn, and cat food, too.  If you don't want skunks around, you must not put the kinds of foods they eat around your yard.

If you would like to learn more about skunks, just click on one of these sites:

Here is a skunk coloring page for you:

  • http://museum2.utep.edu/educate/learninglinks/stripedskunkcolor.htm