Monday, December 4, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vera's Bone Cancer Journey #2: Day 15, After Chemotherapy

My timeline is now that the first symptom of a problem happened 37 days ago when Vera's toe dislocated for the firs time. The diagnosis of osteosarcoma was 15 days ago.

Vera was been examined by a veterinary oncologist seven days ago, by x-ray and ultrasound, and began her chemotherapy.  I was provided with medication to prevent nausea, and--if needed--diarrhea.

No sign of other tumors or abnormalities was found, but because the osteosarcoma in the toe, while small, had a high mitotic index, chemotherapy was indicated.  I am grateful to observe that Vera is showing no negative symptoms from the chemo and seems quite her normal self.

The general wisdom is that this kind of treatment extends life by 1-2 years which would be sufficient reason to pursue it, especially as it does not seem to cause her any ill effects.  I privately hope that having the tumor on the toe might mean that a longer term effect might be achieved.

It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster but so far Vera's prognosis is better than many dogs receive and all she knows is that she is getting a lot of trips in the car and cubes of cheese (with pills hidden inside).

Vera's treatment will ultimately cost about $5000.  It strikes me that when I first came to the US that would have been fully a third of my annual income.  Fortunately now it is much more affordable for me.  I have signed up for a Credit Credit account which spread the cost over a longer period, interest free.  I ponder what terrible choices some families must have to make when veterinary treatment options like these are beyond their financial means.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Greyhound Art

I am trying to not obsessively buy anything with a greyhound on it, but could not resist this little metal statue.  It is some kind of cast metal with a small hole to allow it to be bolted down to something. More than that I do not know....

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mr Bleu's Zoo

Well, hello Mr Bleu. Tell me what animal do you think this is? Hint, the wise men might have ridden these as they followed the star to the manger.
Hmm.  Well, the story would have been a even more interesting it that was the case.  But good on you for taking a crack at it. Maybe you are better with birds?  What bird is known for standing one one leg.  Here's a hint, it's pink.

Well, I guess that was kind of close. Kind of. Let's try again.  This animal is mythical, it has a single horn on it's head.  What is it?
Uh huh. So I am guessing arithmetic isn't your strong suit either.  Let's try again. this animal comes from Australia and it is not a deer.

I really feel you aren't taking this exercise seriously. But I am going to have one more go.  Remedial animology here, Mr Bleu. Who is coming through the toilet wall (for some reason).  Oh look, its a friendly.....


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vera's Bone Cancer Journey Day 2: Diagnosis

Vera is an eight year old female spayed greyhound. She is on the small side at 50 pounds and general prefers a quiet life on the bed or sofa, catching up on her Netflix and eating a few peanut butter treats.  Along with my other greyhound, Sadie, she is pretty much the center of my life outside of work. Anyone who follows my Facebook or Instagram will find it is about 75% greyhounds.

The "Oh, Shit" Moment
After a toe on her rear foot dislocated several times, Vera underwent a toe amputation.  The bone on that toe looked a little abnormal, but nothing very concerning. More likely to be something like an old injury and arthritis....  However yesterday the tests came back: osteosarcoma.

Greyhounds are generally speaking pretty healthy dogs, with few congenital health problems.  However most owners know that  they are prone to bone cancer, usually on the legs.  It is often aggressive and so this finding was pretty bad news for Vera. I have a feeling this is going to be a bit of a learning experience, and not necessarily in a good way but--you know--you try to find the good parts even in bad things.  Loving these animals so much has a down side sometimes but I try to focus on how good it is overall.  Perhaps by sharing it on this blog I might provide something of value to others going through a similar experience.

The Vets 
The first thing I would say is: don't hesitate to find the veterinary expertise you need.  My regular vet reset the toe twice but I just had a feeling it wasn't being taken very seriously. Maybe that is unfair because it was early stages and statistically most likely to just be a minor injury that would come right with time.   But after the second visit with no suggestion of X-rays or other tests I was thinking about where to go that did these things done the best.  So I popped down to a larger hospital where blood tests and X-rays showed the toe was not really recoverable and surgery was carried out that day.Sending the toe for testing felt more like a precautionary measure, at least to me.  Maybe the vet was just trying not to freak me out.  But this was one the the cases the we take precautions because of.  I was referred to my choice of two veterinary oncologists and we have an appointment with one of them next week.

The Plan
So the first step in the plan is seeing the veterinary oncologist. Emotionally speaking, I am just trying to wait and see what further testing reveals.  The questions are whether the cancer has spread, what the treatment options will be, and what is the best choice for Vera so she can have the longest best life possible.  We might get lucky, we might not. Right now Vera has no other symptoms. She is healthy and happy and from her point of view that is all that matters.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Yes, Facebook...

... I am a Kiwi abroad with an unhealthy attachment to Amazon, Ebay and the Etsy.

You can see how Facebook categorizes you (at least the parts they share) under settings: ads: my information.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Greyhound Poem #1

I am not looking
down my nose
at you

I am looking down my nose
with you

Each from a different end

Friday, November 3, 2017


You can see a painting of mine in the current issue of "Animal" a literary magazine with an animal focus.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Amazon Orders from Cheap but Distant Manufacturers.

Will it look like the picture?: 40% chance.  May be shapeless and shiny, may shed sequins like a trail of giant unicorn dandruff.  May have linebacker shoulders or be sized to fit a malnutrized 7-yea-old child.  Cheap with a chance of fabulous.  Willing to spin the wheel.
Will it look like the picture?: 10% chance.  Item shipped may not be the item pictured.  Purchased only due to low price and small chance of extreme fabulousness. High probability of neck rash and tendency to drape like a Walmart shopping bag.  May be too embarrassed to even post a picture. Purchased while under the influence of Merlot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Who does Amazon think I am....

Apparently they think the top two products to offer me are 1) the opportunity to dress up like a goldfish, and 2) a $1000 giant cheese wheel.

Monday, July 31, 2017

So now you can read me in German....

I didn't provide the German translation, which is fortunate as very little of my high school German has stuck.

Tiere Nutzen is a collection of essays on animal use, now available [].

Thursday, July 27, 2017


As an operant psychologist I have taught a lot of rats to press a lot of levers.  I have taught them using manual pen-and-ink operant boxes with rotating paper scrolls, with solid state electronic boxes, and with fully computerized ones.  I have taught rats of all ages, breeds and temperaments.

I have even taught operant principles with Sniffy, the rat-emulating educational computer game.  Mind you, I am actually not very good at training the virtual Sniffy.  I have always felt that Sniffy is not much better at emulating rat's behavior than it was at reproducing its biology (Sniffy, referred to in the manual as "he", had no testicles.)

My suspicions about Sniffy's lack of authenticity as a rat are further supported by the fact that the latest version has a frelling mouse on the cover.

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Review

I see that Animal Maltreatment: Forensic Mental Health Issues and Evaluations received a review in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. My own section in the book is quite brief but it is great to see that the message is coming across very clearly. And it is a considerable honor even to be reviewed by Dr Alan R. Felthous who carried out some of the landmark research in this area.

Dr Felthous writes: "From Patterson-Kane's updated review of literature on the so-called link, it appears that considerable research has been accomplished over the past three decades, but such variations in definitions and methodologies continue to result in an association that is less robust and well characterized than it might otherwise be. Nonetheless, Patterson-Kane, was able to conclude that “Animal abuse distinguished by features that increase its severity should be considered to place a person in a high-risk category that may include the co-occurred and/or future propensity toward other types of violence or criminal offending, and the possibility of past and current victimization” (p 152)."

The full review can be seen here.