May 31, 2015

A Lot Done This Weekend Toward The Goal

Although with two days of rain and temperatures in the 60's, not only did I get a lot done this weekend, I found out just how cold that feels in the middle of the night with the windows open and the temperature in the mid 50's.

So where shall I start?

My last post I stated we were going to travel, dog rashes and all. From the comments below that post you can also see there has been some talk of a cargo trailer. That is nothing new because every since I saw a few cargo trailers owned by 3 or 4 bloggers I follow I have been thinking of that option. Why??

Well the one constant in all of this decision making is ... I am not trading the Toyota FJ. that will be my explorer and tow vehicle. That leaves me with about 5,000 lbs max that it can tow back here in the flatlands of the Midwest. When you take 30% off for towing up mountains out west, that adjusts the maximum load to an estimate of 3,500 lbs.

Like I have discussed in past blog posts when I had the H3 Hummer and the Toyota FJ ... the different options to live in are slim. That leaves the 16' fiberglass trailers and cargo trailers.

I can hear some yelling form the sidelines and the seats in the back row ... what about buying a Class A or Class C and towing the FJ? I have definite answers for that.

  1. The Toyota FJ canNOT be towed wheels down.
    1. ZERO interest in putting it on a trailer and the towing the trailer holding the FJ.
  2. The Class A is not the RV I want and will not get me where I want to go, it's too big.
  3. The Class C I found out from owning one a short period of time, is not the RV I wanted so I sold it right after the winter in 2014.
  4. To really tow the weight of the FJ I would need a Diesel Pusher to travel the western states. Not an option.
So the tow vehicle is my Toyota FJ 4x4.

I have read a couple of female bloggers that travel with small trailers and more than one dog, in The Blonde Coyote's situation, she lives in a teardrop trailer with two dogs bigger than my bloodhound. So it can be done, it's just with hounds I will have to put them in the "leash mode" at all times when they are outside.

I think with each of them having their own 20' of line, it will not only give them enough room to move around, lay down and sleep in the sun but also get tangled up which will give me enough exercise to sort through the tangled web of dog leashes plus expand my vocabulary ... so it could be an interesting mode, "leashing them at all times". 

My experience many years ago was tent camping. My last camping trip was in July 1993 with a couple of friends while living in Oak Harbor Washington, and in the area of Mt. Baker. If you look real hard you will see my red backpack at the bottom of the picture and just to the right of that is our tent.

It's a poor picture but I took an iPhone picture of it on the wall.

Anyway, over the past year, talking with a fellow blogger that travels a LOT with dogs and has a Toyota FJ ... we have traded a lot of emails discussing trailers, cargo trailers, tent camping, dogs, the good and the bad sides of each of every one of those listed.  Good ideas were presented for me to think about.

Last March after reading Greg's cargo trailer design ideas here, I was even more intrigued about the cargo trailer idea. The few that I saw for sale and there were only a few I found that were converted ... each had things I would change. Then why buy those? Why not buy new and implement what you want?

Then the idea of just sleeping in the FJ seemed like an option until I found out that I would have to sleep in the back section diagonal to fit my 5'10 frame. And it was confirmed it might be a problem with two issues. The bloodhound is big and has long legs. She also likes to think that everything is hers, such as all the dog blankets, my sleeping bag, the one dog bed, all the bones, all the dog food and consequently all of the back of the FJ.

It's her 4x4, I'm only the driver.

Add in a factor of not being able to open the back door of the FJ from the inside of the vehicle without making a modification ... practically sealed it, it would be too hard to just sleep in the FJ with three dogs and equipment ... even if the equipment was strapped to the roof rack.

Thus the thoughts of towing a cargo trailer increased.

A few years ago I had loaned all my camping equipment out to someone that knew how to camp but didn't have all the equipment. I wasn't using mine at the time, so I loaned all of it for him to use. He never returned it. Which turned out to be a good thing. This weekend I had an excuse to buy all new camping equipment that had new technology instead of using mine that was over 20 years old ... but still good gear.

I will keep you from all the details of my shopping this weekend ... I'll just say that when my Amazon shipment arrives on June 3 ... I have everything I need to be on the road.

That brings up the two options I have because there is now a new option after what I blogged about on Friday.

Option 1

Sometime on Friday it was pretty well confirmed I was going to eventually be traveling with a cargo trailer behind the FJ. Also over a period of days, the majority of time the thought has been move all that I have left of my house possessions and put them into storage.

I would leave the house empty and for sale with my local realtor. 

I would still need time here because I am trying to decide whether to have the factory do some installs to the cargo trailer. They would install a couple of windows, 30amp electrical system if I chose that, and let them cut the hole in the roof with an air vent, that I would later replace with a Fantastic fan. They will not install the Fantastic fan even if I provide it.

With the lead time of 3-4 weeks after placing a trailer order and moving things out of my house ... it looks like about a month or so before I would hit the road.

Option 2

Basically as I write this I am only a couple of things missing that keeps me from loading up the hounds, the FJ, locking the house and the Mini Cooper's doors and leaving for a little camping vacation. Those few missing things were not at REI, not at Dick's Sporting Goods nor at Walmart but they were listed on their websites. With my 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, I ordered those last missing pieces of the puzzle for a June 3 delivery.

One of those was a 2nd bone for the hounds. All three of them loved the bone I bought at REI. 

Of course I only bought one bone thinking it is something Sadie cannot destroy and she likes to fetch. The color is bright enough that even I could find it.

The first time I threw the bone for Sadie to fetch, Winston sprints like he is 10 years younger and gets to it before Sadie could find it. They don't fight over bones. You can see from the pictures that both hounds think that one bone is theirs. The 2nd bone, different color, will arrive June 3. I know ... all the hounds will want the new one with the different color.

That's the new option and one that is very very tempting ... leave next week without any trailer, just a tent, let the yard grow, lock the doors, shut the windows and come back when the hounds and I are ready. That could be a week or 6 months .. who knows. When I get back the house "to-do" list is sitting there waiting for me.

Of course if it were to last 6 months that puts me into November and near cold weather, so I'd have to stay away even longer. I would venture to say if the hounds did well for that long, then longer is not an issue since we would have the traveling routine down.

Yet, I hate the thought of traveling with that "noose" around my neck sitting back in Indiana. It might be worth it to leave later, with a trailer and an empty house for sale.

That's it for the travel options but I still have a couple of other options to figure out. Here they are.

Cargo Trailer

Option 1 - Take it off the lot next week "as is". Empty and a lot of room. Modify as I go when I decided I need an addition. I'm sure some are laughing ... let's see ... he wants to boondock but also "he might" do modifications that require power tools and material. What the #$!&%# is he talking about????

Well I am fortunate to have a few long time friends scattered over the western states that have invited me to stop by. Yes, they know I am still crazy, and I might be using their garage, power tools and ELECTRICITY to do some slight modifications. So all of us are on the same page in that regard.

Option 2 - Place the order for the cargo trailer, knowing it will take 3-4 weeks for delivery. It will at least include two windows and a ceiling vent (need a Fantastic Fan). I am leaning away from having them install an electrical system because I would prefer to use a Solar System. 

During this 3-4 week waiting time, I could continue to the minor repairs on my house "to-do" list. Then once the trailer arrives, install insulation, put the walls back on, cover the ceiling ... then hit the road. During this time I would decide whether to lock the house full of stuff or empty and list it for sale.

iPad Mini or a New Mac Air

I was planning to use the iPad Mini as my "traveling" laptop. I could answer emails, check for campsites, get directions, read a book ... all that stuff. I could even use my wireless keyboard that I use now with my iMac. Couple of issues ... with the latest Yosemite updates bluetooth and networking don't play well all the time. A lot of the time they don't no iMessaging and no using my wireless keyboard for the iPad Mini like I should be able to do. I could buy an external keyboard and use that to post to my blog.

The problem is I like to use the photos on the blog that I take with my Nikon camera, not my iPhone camera. Both are great cameras. There are adapters I can plug into my iPad and the Camera because I bought one. Yet when I and customer service rep plugged in the adapter it told us "will not work with this model" ... not sure what that means, it's the latest version of the iPad Mini.

With the MacAir I can do the uploading of camera photos, I can track all of my expenses like I do now on Excel, I can import my current Photos Library and add new images as I travel into the same library. I would have plenty of memory and could also plug in a small external hard drive for more storage and/or backup. I can slide my SDHC camera card into the side of the MacAir to upload all the photos taken by the camera. All simple to do.

The MacAir was always my plan for a travel computer unless I bought a class A, then I would have taken my iMac. It would also be my backup computer if anything were to happen to my iMac.

Why not take the iMac in the cargo trailer if I go that direction? Well a new MacAir will use a lot less watts than an older iMac....electricity.

So there it is. Lots of shopping, too much eating (fell off the diet wagon), and down to only a couple of decisions on when to leave. All the equipment is there for one option and not for the other option. The other option gives us more room and a longer wait time.

In a way, I think it might be better to sit the house "to do" list off to the side. Lock the doors to the house and car ... then take off for a short vacation. If it would turn into a disaster with too many hounds or lack of comforts ... then we reverse our driving direction and come back to what we are doing now ... very little!!

May 28, 2015

Once Again I Keep Changing My Mind

Tuesday night I decided to take all three hounds on a short ride in the FJ. The only problem was Heidi and Winston wanting to ride shot gun. I opened the back door and Sadie jumped right in. Heidi tried to jump into the back but with her short legs she hit her chest about bumper high. With Winston's lower back, he didn't try to jump anywhere but whined wanting in and wanting to go.

By the time I got downtown, 2 miles away, all three hounds had laid down in the back, Winston was sleeping.

One good thing and different than the H3 Hummer I had, when the hounds and I made the trip to Arkansas to pick up the trailer ... they cannot jump out of the side door when I get out of the FJ. The seats are folded down in back but due to the design of the "gangster" doors on the FJ, the hounds did not attempt to jump into the front seat to get out when I did. They were controlled in the back.

I stopped on the way home to buy some coffee and I expected at least one of them waiting for me in the front seat when I got back. It was good to see that no one had jumped into the front seat, all three hounds were still in the back looking out the darkened windows. To me that was a very good sign.

Since this drive was a test, all three hounds had their own 6' leashes attached at all times. When we got home and I opened the back door, I grabbed Sadie's leash first and told her to "stop" where she stayed in the FJ until I was ready for her to jump out. Both basset's jumped out but with both of their leashes in my one hand, they stopped as soon as their feet hit the ground.

They were on familiar ground but did not attempt to bolt once they were on the ground. It was so much better than what I experienced in the H3 a few years ago.

Last night I decided it was time to test them again, with no destination planned. I loaded all three into the back of the FJ and took off for a trip about 45 miles round trip. Before I had traveled 3 miles, all three hounds were laying down and even Sadie, the bloodhound, was sleeping. The back had just the normal FJ rubber floor mat, no blankets.

On the trip in September 2013, it wasn't the time on the highway that was the problem ... it was when we were in the rest stops, with 3 dogs going 3 different directions on 3 leashes and my 2 hands. Once we arrived at the RV dealer in Arkansas that night, two of them were fine. Sadie was pretty stressed out as the picture showed, to the point that she would not eat .. not eating is a historic mark for her.

I posted just yesterday that staying home was the right thing to do until my hounds passed by natural attrition, and I would get down to just one. That it would be best for them to stay in their comfortable environment.

I thought more about that after I wrote it. I thought more about that as we drove down the highway last night with no destination in mind just riding. They will sleep anywhere. If they are in a new location, they will find their spots to sleep in. When I had the Class C parked here during the winter in 2013, we would still go out in the RV just to hang out while the snow flew.

From the day I parked the Class C, they all found their new spots to sleep in and each time after that they went to the same spots each time. They never hesitated getting into the Class C. They were always ready to go for a ride.

Today I mowed my yard between 11am - noon. It took only 50 minutes, even after mowing the "new" section of the backyard. The temps were only mid 70's and it says the humidity is only 65%. Not a hot nor humid day by Southern Indiana standards. Yet when I was finished, I was wasted. Due to allergies I spent a lot of time coughing while mowing. I was soaked in sweat when I finished.

The question was ... AGAIN ... "Do I really want to keep doing this year after year?" "I am wasting time staying here just to maintain an old house and the hounds in a safe environment."

That is the same question I ask myself in the winter months as I hibernate inside because it's single digit temps and/or below zero degrees outside.  I would rather stay in the deserts of SW Arizona in the winter rather than being holed up inside waiting for March to arrive.

It keeps nagging at me ... as I wait for the hounds to naturally pass before I travel ... I am also getting older. Like everyone knows, no one knows what is lurking around the corner when it comes to your health. Plus, who knows how long my hounds could live. They are all in good shape and if they lived 6 more years, that would put me at 69 years old ... at that age I would rather have 6 years of traveling experience rather than being a rookie just starting out.

So a day later as I post this ... We are making plans to take short trips, hounds and all ... dog skin allergies and all. It will be one of several "tests" for the hounds in the next month to see how they handle "camping".

The plan is travel, 3 dogs and all.

Well I have to cut this short. I hate to run in the middle of writing a blog post but I have 3 hounds that have walked into my computer room, staring, all wanting to be fed. After all what's 30 minutes earlier than normal ... they will eat it just as fast as always.

May 27, 2015

A Retirement Day Is Rough But Someone Has To Do It

As I glance up in the right hand corner of my monitor I see it's already 12:35pm and I've done very little up to now. I still have time to get some things checked off the list of things to do. Sadie has stopped by the desk a couple of times to give me the stare down, letting me know she wants to eat while the two basset's are in a deep sleep.

As you can see Sadie's trying to move dinner time up on a gradual basis. It's quite different from the time I worked and all the hounds were not fed until I got home around the 4pm-5pm time frame. Then once retired, I can't remember the exact date that Sadie won the stare down and I started feeding them around 1:30pm every day.

Heidi received her first 4 chewable tablets of the probiotic I bought her on Tuesday. This probiotic is different than all the ones you see in dry dog food. It came highly recommended with even some users saying they saw dramatic results in their dog's skin problems in a very short period of time.

I don't care so much about the dramatic aspect nor the short period of time for the results. Sure I would love for those to take place for Heidi's sake but after 7 months of different vets and different treatments, I'll be happy with just some positive results.

She is getting better everyday. This week I have noticed small hairs growing back on her neck. Her neck has been hairless for the past 5 months from scratching. I also see small hairs growing back on her legs and rear shoulders. That is an area where the vet said in February he doubted any hair would ever grow back from what he observed.

So basically the hounds are good.

For long time blog followers you will find it somewhat humorous that I had one of those "mental blasts" I've had in the past and blogged about. You know the one ... where just in an instant I have thoughts of selling it all and hitting the road, hounds and all. I'm not sure if it is a full moon or there was one on Monday ... but those thoughts hit me again late Monday afternoon with the strength of a sudden storm.

Ed likes to quote Einstein at times to remind me and others, doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results is the definition of insanity ... that is a strong reminder when I have those "mental blasts" and one that I agree with.

Still, I emailed a few friends and one full-time traveler about my Monday afternoon thoughts. Each had their different opinion on my ideas. All opinions were welcomed, read, analyzed.

I reach the same conclusion each time.

Seeing Winston sacked out sleeping while taking up most of the couch, or Sadie roaming the field in back with her nose to the ground and Heidi's current skin condition ... I know that providing them a comfortable and familiar environment ... where they keep their daily routines of being laid-back is more important right now than me taking them all over the country in a "leashed at all times" environment.

Old repeating news, boring to some, conflicting to a few ... but seems like the right thing to do to me. Of course some of those comforts of home are even nice to have.

I know I'll travel when the time is right. I'll travel with no more than one hound or a dog of a different breed, and maybe even solo.

So with that, I move back to my "to do" list of routine house upkeep/maintenance, a yard that is close to it's weekly mowing and a sky full of overcast clouds teasing me with rain. I guess that new bottle of Weed-B-Gone will wait until I get a few days in a row of sunshine.

At least I have not misplaced that expensive lithium battery I wrote about on Saturday. It's inside plugged into the charger.

An active mind is a wonderful thing.

May 24, 2015

Sassafras Trees & Other Weird Things

The weirdness really started yesterday afternoon as I walked out to my FJ after shopping at Walmart. As I opened the back door to load the purchases I had made, I see sitting on my bumper, my new lithium battery for my weedeater. Hmmm interesting, because this situation goes all the way back to last fall, when I lost two lithium batteries, and never could find them. So Saturday I was pretty sure I had found my answer about the mystery from last fall.

I knew last fall when I couldn't find them and didn't notice they were gone until I went to use my weedeater, that those batteries could only be in one of three places and the first two options were not the answer.

- Mounted on the weedeater
- In the house mounted on the battery charger
- Were left on my FJ bumper by mistake and lost as I drove the     vehicle.

Each time I mow, I have to move things out of my small shed to get the mower out. When I reverse that process to put the mower back inside the shed after mowing and trimming, I set the lithium battery on the FJ bumper until I go back inside the house. It will then stay on the battery charger until I use it the following week.

This battery not only survived a 12 mile trip, on a highway with speeds of 55-60 mph, it sat on my bumper without anyone deciding they needed that battery for their weedeater. 

The best thing was confirming what I suspected last fall and showing that I memory lapses of where I put things. Something similar to looking for your sunglasses, talking to yourself, when you find them on top of your head ... it's fun getting older.

It's "Race Day" here in Indiana. Everyone in the nation will be able to watch the Indy500 race live on ABC ... except those that live in Indianapolis or nearby. This is one of the few times I am happy that Directv tells me I live closer to Terre Haute than Indianapolis. Because of that 13 miles difference in distance to each town/city, they force me to use Terre Haute network channels. Therefore I will be watching the Indy500 live from my living room, only 70 some miles from Indianapolis.

Always on the prowl
As the hounds and I, except Heidi who was still in bed sleeping as usual, were outside enjoying the morning sunshine, coffee and a nice breeze ... Winston decided to not only go back over to that embankment I posted about a few days ago ... he decided it was time to go down the bank!!  Not a good move for Winston.

As I was convincing him it was in the best interest to get his basset butt back up the hill and to the house, I noticed the bank that I had burned in April was getting new growth of "something" as I expected it would. I was curious enough to tear off a leaf of what looked to be from the largest number of plants that were growing along the bank. Anytime "real estate" is available, plants will fight over that space and most grow fairly fast, almost out of control.

So I take this leaf, do a Google search for images, which for some reason Google search was working without problems. I see without a doubt the leaf I have matches to a sassafras tree!! As you can see from the photos, they are growing in mass all over the bank. Horse grass is nowhere in sight, which is good. I'm not so sure if the new trees are a good idea or not.

After more Google searches, I find a forum with someone asking about the same thing I've wondered about. How do you get rid of these things? Year after year after I cut these saplings down to ground level, for every stem I cut, two grow back. Over the years I've tried applying paint on the newly cut stems. I've tried stump remover on the newly cut stems. I've tried other weed killer directly on the new cut stems ... all without success.

With the bank cleared of horse grass by the burning I did in April, I really don't mind what grows back along the fence line. I actually like it better when something was covering the ugly dirt and concrete blocks that the house builders in 1975 threw on the bank to prevent erosion.

Does the fence line look better cleared or full of growth??


Unknown Growth
At the end of the fence where these are growing back as  expected .. I basically don't want them there because once they grow into matured trees, they will block my view of the "southern sky" for my tv and internet satellite reception.

These will get over 6' tall quickly

Still I don't want to spend every April with the back breaking labor I went through, cutting each tree back to grown level. Not until the neighbor burned the bank two years ago did I ever cut anything on that bank, except in 2008 when straight line winds destroyed all the trees but one along that bank. After what was left of the damaged trees were cut in 2008, these saplings grow back every year.

I guess time will tell what I decide.

I am open to any suggestions about permanent removal of the saplings.

In the meantime, Winston sits in the backyard, but cannot get that embankment out of his thoughts ... looking at that embankment must give him an urge to explore.

May 22, 2015

Friday Starts The Long Weekend

Well it finally happened. That "field of yellow" was plowed under yesterday. With three sunny days before the next rain is forecasted, I expect them to be back later today to disc the field and then plant their crop on Saturday. I found out those "yellow flowers" were nothing but weeds, but they were pretty weeds while they lasted.

You may notice my blog list on the left sidebar, has been getting longer. Some are old, some new. That is a sign of what has been happening this week with me. It's sad to say, more time has been spent sitting in front of this computer rather than getting things done. Much of the week has been overcast with cool temps, so that might be one excuse. One that I will not use.

There has been a lot of reading going on. Not only other blogs I have found but on other sites that deal in the changes in my diet, some have been on the skin issues Heidi has been having, even some RV forums and all the rest have been the normal things I read about every morning. Some of it was working in the Apple Photos program, playing with website settings stuff but most of it was just pure laziness. The only difference this month from April is I have not been able to pry myself off the 'net for most of the month.

My friend had the best explanation when she told me not to worry about it because "things will get done when they need to get done". I took that suggestion as meaning I could kickback some more and things would take care of themselves by motivating me into action when the time was right.

That's the story of my life.

So, I have nothing to really write about today that is of any importance ... but I still feel like rambling. Just some observations from "the tropics" and other things I have read about this past week.

For all readers that have Mac computers, I implemented a font change that was suggested by the article here and it's been a blessing in disguise resulting in a Mac screen that is much easier to read now. When Apple changed their OS to Yosemite, they also changed their system font to something that was smaller, narrower, and harder to read.

This change in the article makes most websites easier to read, as well as your system menus. You will have to go into your browser preference to change the font there if you decided you like it. Of course some websites will automatically switch whatever font you are using to their website default.

Still this new San Francisco font is nice. It is the same font that they use on the new Apple Watch. It's not the watch that is important, I'll not buy one, but the font is a great change for easier reading ... plus I like the looks of it.

Window users can also make the font change to San Francisco but I cannot tell you how to get there to make the change.

As far as the Apple Watch ... not only do I not want a computer hanging from my wrist but I just don't wear watches anymore and haven't for years. Once the iPhones came out in full force, combined with my time on a computer ... the current time was just a click or glance away. It was more comfortable not wearing a watch.

So try the new San Francisco font ... see what you think.

I was bored enough to watch the local news and weather last night. I don't really care for the station but it is what it is based on where I live. Directv tells me I live closer to Terre Haute than I do Indianapolis ... so they force feed me the local network stations from Terre Haute rather than the city of Indianapolis. By google maps that difference in miles is 13.

Anyway, last night during the weather broadcast the WTHI weatherman was repeating more than I wanted to hear, that he would keep the viewers informed the following nights on what the weather was going to be on Sunday. Not only for those planning family Memorial Day bbq's but also for the many that will attend the Indy500. He made it sound like it was very very likely that rain might washout the race and a lot of family bbq's and it could go either way till the very end.

So he was doing all he could to make me  and all the tv viewers feel we needed to tune in to him Friday and Saturday night for the "latest" updates in weather.

Hmmmm ... glancing at my weather app on my iPhone the weekend was showing 3 straight days of nothing but sunshine with that "sun" icon. Double checking with Wunderground there was nothing but sunshine predicted thru the holiday weekend. Sunday had a 1% chance of rain and by 4pm when the race would be over, the chances of rain were up to 4%.

Maybe I should "un"-retire and become a weatherman.

Speaking of weathermen and the recent retirement of David Letterman .. when growing up in the 1960's in a small town NE of Indianapolis, for a short time David Letterman was the Indy CBS channel weatherman ... now there was a local channel you could turn into and enjoy the weather forecast. It was a hilarious presentation every night. Watching the weather was never the same after he left Indianapolis for Chicago on his way to Late Night on NBC many years later.

Evidently I am not the only Mac user having issues with the new Apple Photos program. osXdaily came out with an article on how to fix "common issues" with the new Apple Photos program. You can click here for that information for those that are curious.

I did what they said ... it was even the same thing I tried months before ... still didn't work. I still have photos that were imported from iPhoto into Photos that tell me that image cannot be found or is offline.  Really???  That's the best you can do?? How can an image in my hard drive and still on my hard drive in a different photo library be offline??

Totally amazing.

I will not attend the Indy500 like I use to. I still have friends sitting in the same seats on the 4th turn that they sat in 50 years ago. I have found recently I enjoy staying at home and watching any sporting event on a large screen HD TV, within walking distance of food and a restroom without lines of people. That includes college football games I use to attend on a regular basis.

So I'll tune in like I do every year. I'll tape it like I have done every Indy500 race but the only difference will be the food and beverage from past years. Yes, it use to be a day of non-stop eating and drinking. Not hungry, stuffed???  ... lets eat some more, let's bbq something else.

So this year will be quite different, I should feel better at 11pm Sunday night than I have in past years. One key thing that will help me stick to the diet change during the times of wanting to eat ... none of those foods I crave at times and use to gouge on will be in my house and it will be too far to drive to buy them. It will still be a great Indy500 race to watch though.

The race this year might have a different feel to it. Like I posted the other day, so far this year there were 3 different cars that lost control at speeds higher than before, getting airborne and flipping. Major crashes unlike the normal ones where they hit the wall and then slide until their car stops. All 3 drivers walked away from those airborne crashes without injury.

The 4th major crash was on Monday but it was not caused by the 230mph speeds, it was due to an equipment failure on the car. The front suspension broke. I will not go into details what took place in consideration of the readers that may have a weak stomach but some say the safety crews at Indy probably saved the drivers life based on their quick thinking.

So the race has some people questioning and concerned what might happen on Sunday. Fans, race officials, Honda and Chevy engineers .. plus the news outlets. The engine "boost" settings will be and have been decreased to a "race" setting. That means you can go all the way around the race track with your accelerator foot to the floor, never letting off the gas. The only thing that can change speeds of the car will be the wind, track temperature, how the engineers set up the car, and "dirty air" from traffic.

To me, that is not racing.

Now to Heidi. I am not expecting any major changes to her skin issues anytime soon. I know what I see this morning is NOT from the change in dog food. It's NOT from the change of not giving her a RESPIT shot this past Wednesday. It's probably NOT from something changing inside her digestive tract to make those changes. It's only been 2-3 days since those changes were implemented.

Yet, I'm seeing a little improvement. Those areas that were red last week, photos posted, her legs and feet are no longer red. The skin on her stomach has cleared up and her armpits are not red. Her rear legs or shoulders that have the "elephant skin" are still red but is slowly changing color and there does look like new hair is growing.

I still went with my decision from the other day and bought her some SEACURE® and that should be here on Tuesday since it's a holiday on Monday. It's a probiotic supplement in chewable tablets. You can buy it in powder form but I chose the chewable tables. From the reviews it is something where pet owners have seen dramatic results in a short period of time.

I'm keeping my mind open on this because I have read reviews of other products or dog food changes just like these the didn't do squat. So I am expecting the supplement to work but not expecting improvement as fast as some say. I can hope though.

I'll probably post some this weekend, take some new photos of the hounds. They are all in the siesta mode as I write this. For those that will be away from the computer for the weekend ... have a great Memorial Day weekend with your family ... don't forget what the holiday represents.

As you enjoy your weekend, there are those in all the military services away from their families making sacrifices for you and yours.

May 20, 2015

New Dog Food - Organic Store - Apple Photos

I should have NEVER sold this car
I'll warn you, there is nothing earth shattering that I am going to speak of today. If I post any photos, they will be from my archives. It's "hump day" for those in the work force. I remember those days at times where I was either so busy with a lot of stress or the day went so slow that lunch felt like it would never arrive.

Not so now.

One of the nice things about retirement is having a really wide open schedule. Total freedom. Unless I notice what the day is on my iPhone, I lose track of what day of the week it is most of the time. That could also be a part of my recent short term memory issues.

Anyway today, I thought I'd post a little bit about a few different topics, from new dog food, and more things I am finding out about Apple Photos as I work with it more. For those following or remembering me posting about my diet change May 1 due to indigestion and acid reflux problems, after 19 days I can say I'm not only surprised but very happy with the results in such a short time. I went to a "modified" version of the Paleo Diet.

With those changes, I've had zero indigestion ... NO Tums required ... have noticed decreased swelling of my feet, ankles and fingers. I will not weigh myself until June 1 and will track those changes.

To be brief, these are a few things I changed in my diet:

  • No grains which includes pasta, bread, rice, beans
  • No citrus fruits nor fruit juices
  • No bananas
  • No white potatoes
  • No package food - shopping only the produce and meat/poultry/fish sections
  • No fast food joints, no candy, no sodas, basically no junk food
  • No ice cream  (pure torture)
  • Drinking only coffee or water
  • 4tsp of sugar per day in my 2 cups of coffee in the morning
  • Trying to stop eating after 6pm
I'm eating more beef, more eggs, bacon, chicken, salmon. I combine those with a salad and have a desert of mangoes, or a pear, possibly a hand full of fresh berries and almonds. I replaced a baked potato with a baked sweet potato. As I continue to adjust my eating habits I plan to expand my meals still following the list above.

The cravings for certain foods I have eliminated are slowly decreasing. I have less hunger pains eating more protein and less carbs. I can see that I am losing weight.  

Today is the opening of a Lucky's Market in Bloomington Indiana. It will be twice as far to drive for groceries than I do now but the store has grass fed beef, fresh salmon, organic veggies and organic fruits. It will be worth the extra miles driven ... plus it's just down the street from where I buy dog food.

Speaking of dog food, leads me to Heidi. After 16 weeks of RESPIT shots on a weekly basis and not a lot of improvement I've decided to stop that treatment. I want to get her off all meds and back to a basic dog food recipe that would have only one protein source. Since last October, three different vets suggested thee different treatments, all with little improvement. Besides a change in dog food I am also going to buy some probiotics to help rebuild her immune system instead of trying to put a bandaid on the problem. 

Fromm Dog Food is a 100 year old family business that does nothing but produce dog/cat food. They buy all their ingredients within the the USA, from USDA approved facilities, and is produced on site at their business in Wisconsin. They have never had a recall. They also have different blends of dog food with grains and no grain.

So I am going back to what Heidi was eating from the time I got her in 2011 until late 2013 ... chicken/rice blend. No corn, soy or wheat but does have grains. Although the dry kibble does have probiotics I am also going to buy additional probiotics as a supplement that I read from this article.

Heidi had her last shot 7 days ago. The past two days a lot of the redness seen in the photos I posted on this blog last weekend, has decreased or disappeared. Her stomach is almost back to normal skin texture and color. Only her legs, armpits, paws and neck show the skin issues. In those places in the past couple of days, the redness has changed toward a normal skin color. I will include some updated photos in my next post after her bath this afternoon.

She is more active off of the RESPIT. One of the side effects of the shots was lethargic and that is the way she was most of the time, even after feeding her a no grain dog food.

Speaking of changes, I've noticed some blogs, a lot of the news sites, and sports sites have all gone to a white background on their websites. It's no doubt a new trend but one that was the norm years ago. Maybe they think it's easier to read? I still like my blog colors so I will not be following the latest trend. 

I was reading Ara's blog this morning and he said something that I have wondered about myself and my lack of traveling. Ara's been traveling full-time for a little over 8 years. During the winter months he would return to his land in Texas that did not have any structures until this winter. So he has been use to traveling and staying many many nights in a tent. I believe the past year he started using a truck camper as his movable 'base camp' and tent camping from there.

Ara has spent this winter in Texas building a home base that consists of a small cabin, more like a shed, that has room for a desk and a couch. He has built a shelter that fits over this livable shed, his truck, truck camper and trailer all under one roof. He has installed a water system to retain rain water. He has installed a solar system for electricity. He is basically is setting up a small homestead with a house type structure.

After traveling full time the past 8 years, he mentioned in a few posts over the winter that he was feeling "comfortable" ... enough that he did not have the urge to leave for the summer. At the time he wondered about that train of thought. He wondered if that 'hitchitch' would return this spring.

That is not why he is back home after two days of traveling as the post linked above shows ... but when he said he was feeling comfortable, I wondered if that is a main reason that people either stay where they are in their homes or stay traveling full-time, based on their comfort level. I also know that age and health are factors in the decision.

Granted when you are comfortable things are easy. I know my hounds are comfortable here with their routine. I am also. It was just nice to hear that a full-time traveler felt UNEXPECTEDLY, being comfortable and had doubts about traveling when springtime arrived. Of course 8 years on the road is a long time so that might have been a factor in his changed feelings about leaving in the spring like he has done in the past. It sounds like today his health is a factor for his change of plans.

For me it's still 3 dog leashes and 2 hands.

My backyard project of converting the heavy brush to a mowed lawn, with a fire pit is progressing nicely. The new grass is growing along with the weeds and previous plants. I plan to mow that for the first time on Thursday and keep it cut low, lawn height for the rest of the time. Over time with more seeding in the fall and a weed killer applied, the grass should over take the majority of land.

Apple PHOTOS program!

This post may be getting too long but before I go I thought I'd talk more about Apple's new Photo program that they are using to replace iPhoto with. I have blogged in the past about what I have found to be problems. Today there are some updates to speak of.

First of all I've been using their new Photo Program since it was first available as a "beta tester". I had a iPhoto library of around 11,000 photos close to 23Gb of data. I had also manually made individual folders and would drag photos from the "last import" folder each time. I have been tempted to return to iPhoto but have resisted for a couple of reasons.

I am not a professional photographer so I do not need a lot of the required features they need to edit their photos. Also no matter what, it is what it is and Apple is changing to Photos. If I want my iPad and iPhone photos to synchronize, then in the future I will have no choice but to change. Here is what I have found so far.

  • Photos were missing after transfer from iPhoto.
  • Photo Stream is set as a default setting, therefore every photo you upload from your camera is also uploaded to your iPhone and iPad automatically using more space than you may want on each device.
  • A lot of the photos when zoomed out look blurry to me after importing from iPhoto.
  • I still don't care for the white background.
What works:
  • The editing feature is enough for the common photographer, same as iPhoto's.
  • Photos are in the same format as they are on your iPad or iPhone.
  • It seems to be work faster.
Adjustments To Fix
  • A few readers sent me emails showing me screen shots where to uncheck "photo stream". I had seen the solution the same day they sent me their emails, so I guess great minds think a like. It does work to stop the automatic uploading of photos from your camera -> computer -> iPad or iPhone.
    • Open Photos, Preferences, Uncheck Photo Stream.
  • To download photos from your iPad or iPhone to your computer and Photos Library, the above adjustment is reversed.
    • The hardest part of that is remembering the process when you try to download from the iPad or iPhone and nothing happens. Then you realized you have unchecked the box next to Photo Stream in your computer's Photo program.
    • You still have to remember to uncheck that box after you are finished downloading photos from your iPad or iPhone.
    • Hopefully Apple will fix that in the future.
  • When pulling photos from the computer to my blog, I now added the step of exporting the required photos from "photos" to "pictures" on your computer. Then I can pull a SMALLER image size into my blog.
    • For instance, I want to keep all of my photos from my camera in their original size. In my case those images are 4-7Mb each, much too large for a blog or email attachment.
    • When exporting, at the first pop-up screen where with a down arrow you can change the default size of the photo that is being exported, thus a smaller image for blogs or emails you send to your friends.
Feel free to email me with any questions you have about the new Apple Photos program.

Break here ... Winston is whining to go outside ... no he has never lifted his leg when peeing.

Well after a trip outside there is a noticeable difference in Heidi. Lethargic was one of the side effects of RESPIT.

She was running in the backyard ... that's a great sign.

May 18, 2015

Winston's 11th Birthday Today

This morning, a new habit recently, he has found the embankment between properties after 11 years and has yet to decide if he is leaving the yard for the first time ever and proceed down the bank. Notice his look, checking to see if I am watching him and probably asking himself what the consequences will be if I see him run off to explore new territory. I was in the house at the time he was looking to see if I could see him.

He is not a runner, has always stayed in the yard unleashed, yet spends the majority of his time inside sleeping. Unlike other hounds I've had, Winston has never ran off. So this new trend recently of him checking out the recently cleared embankment is one I have to keep my eye on.

Nothing exciting to celebrate the hound's birthday ... no caps, no ice cream, no carrot cake ... just acknowledgement with a few extra morning dog treats and a verbal "Happy Birthday". Winston reached his 11th year today. His history was described last year, you can click here to read about if you want. I've had at least one basset hound since 1987 and without a doubt Winston is the most laid-back basset hound I've ever had.

He only barks when the other two bark wanting to be fed and he will bark at times when he sees we are going for a walk. Even though he never wears a dog collar unless we are walking and he is leashed, he will at times when tested, refuse to go on the daily dog walk through the field until I put the dog collar and leash on him. I've heard him howl as I get into my car when he is stuck inside the house and wanting to go with me ... but besides that, he's not a barker.

Since he was a pup he has been fed what people call "premium" dog food, better known as the most expensive. He has been on grain free food recently but basically will eat any dry kibble that is put in front of him without putting on the pounds. His last physical he weighed in at a trim 64 pounds.

 Most of the time his day consists of moving from the couch to outside for a nap in the sun or yard. He isn't a watch dog and at times you will have to nudge him with your foot to see if he is still breathing and alive. I'm serious when I say he is ultra laid-back.

He may sniff every yard mole doing their work in my backyard but he has never dug my yard up trying to catch them.

No health problems to speak of. Has never had a hot spot, doesn't mind a bath or having his nails cut. Whereas with Sadie it's all out war when those two words, "bath" and "toenails" are mentioned.

He is getting old though ... starting to get the "old basset" lower back problem, hind legs weakness. On some days he will have trouble getting up the two steps into the house. Also he requests to go outside more than before to relieve himself. He rarely plays anymore and the days of out sprinting a larger bloodhound for the chased ball are over for him.

Still I see a few good years ahead for the best basset hound I have ever had ... but there was that time as a pup he put his large tooth through the screen of my new cell phone thinking it was his new bone, but the buyer of the damaged phone on eBay didn't mind after he saw the photos and heard the story. He wanted to know if Winston was included in the sale.

So for his birthday he had his typical relaxed day in "the tropics" of southern Indiana.

May 17, 2015

Between Storms and They Are "Flying" at Indy

I am in day three of hard rains that have gaps of time between storms. When the storms have passed through there has been extremely hard rains. After driving the Mini Cooper through one on Friday and another yesterday, the car really was washed well. It's clean and looks waxed today.

With all this rain, my flowers I bought a few weeks ago are growing. That is saying something because something unexpected usually happens that kills most plants that I buy. With them being outside it could be too much sun, too much wind, or too much water. When I have the chance I move them out of harms way but you have to be home during the storms to do that. Anyway they are looking good.

The storm for today is on it's way but Wunderground's weather shows that it might not hit until 5pm. Every time I let Sadie outside I feel the grass to see if it is dry enough to mow today before the next storm. It's getting tall and I'm sure the Scott's Weed & Feed I sprayed last week is already in the process of working. If not mowed today the backyard is going to be mowed twice on Tuesday due to the length of grass.

In the meantime Sadie and Winston can't make up their mind if they want inside or outside. It was beginning to be one of those "in or out" days for them and I told both of them I'm not playing that game today. Since then, they have decided to sleep the rest of the day ... inside.  LOL

Sadie wondering if Winston is getting food when he goes back inside

Winston's nose telling him what kind of day he will have today

Slowly but surely I am getting things done that I had been putting off. That's a good sign. Coffee coffee coffee. Only two cups in the morning does wonders.

Back to that rain yesterday and later today. During the times it looked like good weather I had almost headed to Indianapolis to see practice/qualifications this weekend. It rained them out yesterday after only two qualified. Today it looks like rain later this afternoon with thirty-one more needing to qualify today.

Rain isn't their problem though. Once again around the 230mph mark, cars are getting airborne. This happened a few years ago at that speed. They made adjustments then to reduce speeds but over the years with engineering technology one lap speeds have climbed back to the 230mph mark. I believe that would be an all time track record for someone to do that for 4 laps of qualifying.

Pic from IndyStar

Pic from IndyStar
They will not do it today though. I just saw on the news where they have decided about an hour ago to cut back the "boost" settings of the engine after the third car of the week started flying this morning. Ed Carpenter's crash this morning in Indy is pictured below.

Pic from IndyStar

Pic from IndyStar

Each time it's driver's error combined with that engine "boost" setting for more speed that puts them in this position. Just a small "wiggle", loss of control at that speed, has been causing the cars to fly. They have been going faster than ever this week during practice. It's a safe car and works as designed, as all three drivers walked away from their accidents.

I might post later tonight but so far that is all I have on a relaxing weekend. Heidi is doing better, skin is looking better after her bath on Friday with a non-medicated shampoo.

May 15, 2015

Photos After Heidi's Bath - Not Sure if Skin Has Improved

After cleaning Winston's ears and cutting his toenails, all he could do was yawn for a nap. He was back inside and sound asleep within minutes. He has a great personality. Although it comes with the breed I am finding he is more stubborn in his old age.

Sadie on the other hand was not photographed in the afternoon photo shoot because she was hiding after hearing the words "bath" and "cutting toenails".

I was able to clean her ears while bribing her with a small milk bone in my other hand. Her ears are rarely dirty anyway, and I am not sure how that happens while having long ears.

As soon as I told her "okay" ... she sprinted and moved under the coffee table where I cannot get her to come out with her size and weight. She is also stubborn when it comes of getting her way.
I was already to post here tonight about the improvement I saw in Heidi's skin after her bath this afternoon. I took the following photos soon after the drying period. I thought I was seeing a lot of improvement in her skin condition, only less hair compared to even last week. Only this week, instead of using the last of the medicated shampoo called PhytoVet CK, I decided to use Vetoquinol, with Aloe & Oatmeal. 

The Vetoquinol had a lot more lather, seemed to clean better and her skin did not look as irritated after the bath compared to the times I used the vet prescribed PhytoVet CK from last December. I had been using that on a weekly basis but she was scratching and chewing soon after each medicated shampoo bath.

To look at some comparisons, I looked at the photos and was beginning to think I was seeing some improvement. When comparing them to photos taken in December and February, I was not sure. Her skin today did not seem as inflamed as in the past, nor raw and sensitive.

I will say though after looking at her skin on her stomach and each armpit, her skin looks in the best condition it has for a while. Maybe that is just me wanting some sort of results. Since blogger is not cooperating in letting me post photos in a particular order tonight, I only posted the most recent photos that were taken after her bath this afternoon. Her nails were trimmed after the photos with plans of trimming 1x per week to gradually move the quik back to try get her nails shorter.

Her skin looks much better from a distance.

There is still more bare skin than I would like but in February these areas were raw and inflamed. Here you can see hair growing back.

Her neck now has skin that is healing or has healed. The vet was not sure if hair would ever grow back when he saw her in January. Hair has grown back along the edges of those folds, we will see if it will come back in the center of her neck.

At one time this leg area was completely raw and hairless when RESPIT was started February 7. The vet was not sure any hair would grow back due to skin damage. It looks like the skin has healed, is not inflamed as it was in February, plus hair is growing back.

The vet had given me a bottle of liquid zinc oxide in February, but each time she was licking it off as fast as I would put it on. During the next vet visit, he told me to hold off with the zinc oxide to see if the Ivomec would work after 40 days of application.

Since we are past that period of Ivomec, I am going to apply the liquid zinc oxide since her skin is in better condition than it was before. Hopefully that will aid in her healing. Baby socks will be applied only this time they will be held with rubber bands. Otherwise she will have those socks off within 30 minutes. He added some other supplements into that formula that he thought would help with this condition.

Like I said this morning, we are holding off on any medications such as the RESPIT formula, antibiotics or Ivomec or Benadryl.

So far after the bath this afternoon she seems to stopped itching and chewing, unlike the baths when the PhytoVet CK was used. Hopefully the Vetoquinol Shampoo with Aloe will give her some relief.

At this point I am not sure what else to do. After 28 years of having basset hounds and bloodhounds as indoor pets, I've never had a medical problem that lasted this long nor was this bad. In fact until Heidi I never had any hounds that had skin rashes caused by allergies. I've always fed what was considered "premium" dog food and never had any medical conditions that required this type of long term treatment.

On a side note, she also snapped at the vet when he tried to cut that one certain toenail this past week. Yet today she let me cut all ten toenails without any resistance. She came with long toenails in 2011 but I have decided to take the time to trim them back little by little on a weekly basis to see if the nail can stay much shorter.

From wondering if I was going to keep blogging on Thursday, two 3 posts in one day ... it must have been those two cups of coffee.

Heidi's Medical Update & Sadie's Experiment

I've had a few readers ask about what's the latest on Heidi. She rarely has photos posted on the blog, at least not as much as Winston and Sadie in recent months. So this is my 2nd post of the day but it will explain what the latest is on Heidi's skin condition.

First of all ... Sadie. As usual she is quite the character as she is close to her 7th birthday. I really don't think she has slowed down from being a puppy. Sure, she chews only her things now and not my stuff, but not as often. She will beg to eat and on a daily basis will come to let me know it's time for her "duck and sweet potato", no grain food. If I left the 30# bag open, she would eat it all at one setting but she is confined to the amount of food that is listed on the bag for her weight.

I decided to experiment with her staying off leash if I were not around but only for a short time. I would never leave her off leash for long periods of time.

She started as a pup, being off the leash when I would let her out in the morning. She never strayed from the field in back. That ended almost as soon as it started.

One morning  6 years ago when she was a pup as I was getting ready to go to work, I went outside and didn't find her ... but I heard her. I did not know the neighbors, down over the embankment, had bought some rabbits for their son. Sadie smelled them while she roamed the field and while I was inside making coffee, then took off to check them out.

I found her by hearing her baying, then driving over to pick her up. She standing on her back two legs and tall enough to be eye level with the rabbits in their cage. I can imagine her excitement after finding rabbits within inches of her nose. My neighbors don't live that close to me so hearing her baying meant it was pretty loud, especially before 7am. Needless to say the neighbor wasn't happy. I was just happy to find that she had not run out into the highway.

So, to this day, she is always on her long tether in the morning when I let her out, so she can check out the field while my coffee is being made.

If I am outside with the hounds, she will stay around off leash. Towards the end of our daily walk through the field, she will finish the walk off leash .. with no problems ... but only if I am outside with her.

Yesterday proved to be a different story. We were outside, Winston laying in the grass and Sadie roaming off leash in the field of hay that is almost as tall as she is. I went back inside just to get my camera that is always setting out for me to use. By the time I walked inside the house and came right back outside, she was gone. Like gone gone.

She didn't come running when I yelled her name. There was no movement of hay to show me she was walking with her head down. There was no response. Winston was no help as he just sat there staring at me as if I was a yelling lunatic. I had an idea where she might be, she had been to my neighbors on the north side, two lots over a few months ago. As I stood on top of the hill looking in that direction, I didn't see Sadie anywhere. She still did not respond to me calling her name.

As I went back inside the house to find my glasses and to grab a leash, I thought I heard her tags making a noise. As I looked out the window and she was running through the hay field toward the the house from the direction of the woods. A bird or rabbit must have got her attention as I was getting my camera. So her experiment for total freedom failed.

Like always before the experiment, the only time she will be off leash is when I am outside in the backyard or field with her.

Now to Heidi's update.

Myself, the vet and my friends, at this point in time have no answers and are not even sure where to go next in trying to solve Heidi's skin problems. This is after 7 months of a skin problem out of control, 3 different vet opinions and multiple medications.

When I bought her from the basset rescue service in 2011, I was told she had seasonal allergies and medication would be needed. It was also noted on the paperwork they gave me. For the three years after that, until last summer, the meds worked although they had changed over the years.

From the time I got her, she had always been eating what is considered premium dog food, chicken and rice for the majority of time. During those first 3 years the medications fixed her skin rashes, itching and chewing when they occurred in different seasons. For the past year we had moved to grain free food, thinking grains may be causing her allergies. Her skin issues turned for the worse last fall, in 2014. The seasonal steroid shots for allergies were not lasting more than 7-10 days before she would start chewing her paws and legs to the point of being raw. At the same time I was wanting to get her off of the steroid shots.

I changed vets, and changed medication to Atopica. That was a daily large capsule with a plan of decreasing the dosage once the skin rash got back under control. In December when I was directed by the vet to cut her dosage, her skin itching and chewing went back overboard within 48 hours after decreasing the dosage. In the meantime after more reading about that product, I did not like the long term effects of using Atopica. Since her condition did not improve when lowering the dosage as it was directed in December, plus the information I had read, we decided a different treatment was needed.

My neighbor is a vet but his office is 16 miles away, out of the way so to speak. His business is more focussed on the large horses and farm animals in the Mennonite community where his office is located. I decided to try him because of his treatment years ago for my first basset hound, Harry. Harry had a lower back problem at the time and no skin problems. Still Jon thought outside the box and fixed the back problems without any kind of medications. Since I was to the point of trying anything to find a solution for Heidi I decided to make the trip to his office.

These next 3 photos were taken in December after reducing the dosage of Atopic.

December 2014

December 2014

December 2014
He looked at all of Heidi's previous medical history that I had printed out for him. He was surprised some of the meds she was given in the past did not work for her condition. He had studied a lot about skin issues for dogs and cats, many of his patients had these same problems and just as bad as Heidi's. He told me the during the first exam it would be very doubtful Heidi would ever be cured and controlling her skin condition would be the best I could expect.

You can click here to see his analysis and plan of action.

Well here we are 100 days later with no improvement, in fact her condition may have worsened. The RESPIT treatment was to be a 140 days to cure whatever issues there going on. Even then it may take 6 months to a year for some dogs to improve. Still, some improvement was expected after 90 days, not becoming worse. The RESPIT treatment is based on environmental allergies, not a food allergy. Yet to play it safe, she was moved to a "no grain" food last year even before the skin issues went out of control.

Jon suggested a "duck/sweet potato" blend of Taste of the Wild dog food. He also mentioned a customer had great results using dog food bought at the Tractor Supply store but didn't know the exact name of it. I found it to be "4Health", their own brand of no grain dog food. The one difference in that 4Health food is that contains no chicken or egg products. The last two vets suggested she eat a "no grain" diet due to yeast infections.

As you can see there is no difference than the photos taken last fall, in fact her skin looks worse. Those red spots at one time in February were hairless, so at least the hair is growing back. These photos were taken yesterday, 6 days after a medicated shampoo bath. She will get her weekly bath right after this blog post.

Heidi has lost weight, even though she is not an active dog. One of the RESPIT side affects is being "lethargic". For those that have basset hounds, we know at times it's hard to tell when they are just their normal selves or are they lethargic. Her weekly shots were 1ml for the past 5 weeks, after building up the dosage .1 ml at a time.

So after her examination this week, we are at a standstill. Meds provided before should have worked, they haven't. Three different vets, three different treatments, a lot of money spent, no grain food and zero results.

I am stymied on what to do. So is he.

She does not seem to be in any pain. She will do her daily sprints around the house after her first trip outside everyday. She will go on the daily walk but only sometimes. Still her skin condition looks ugly. I have tried baths every other day, them moved to weekly to prevent the loss of her natural oils. Hair is growing back when it was not expected to. She continues to shed dead skin as those red spots recover. She is usually back to chewing her legs and feet within 48 hours after her bath.

Back in the fall when I first wrote about her condition, a reader said they were having the same problems with their dog, none of their vets could figure it out. They found that just an application of Revolution for fleas and ticks solved their dog's skin issues. I have not tried that yet but plan to.

Another reader told me that their dog had similar problems and a lot of money spent on different vet treatments, without success. They finally used Clotrimazole, an anti-fungal cream, to control their dog's skin issues. After Heidi's bath today I am going to apply this for the first time.

We have decided and my friends agreed, to take her off of all the medications and see if her immune system will calm down. The only medication she has been on for the past two months is the RESPIT shot, an immunotherapy treatment for environmental allergies.

The rest of her coat shines, is very soft, no dandruff and not oily ... so from that coat condition I assume the food she is eating is ok and is good food. Different vets have told me over the years that the dog's coat is the last on the list to get nutrition from the food, so the dog's coat is a good gauge to tell if the food is good or not.

I'll will keep updating her condition. In the meantime, right after I post this, it's time for her weekly Friday bath. Thankfully she enjoys the water and the shampoo.