Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ditka Update

Hello, this is Ditka, just wanted to let you know about the yucky week I’ve had and talk to you a bit about why this happened to an otherwise good furkid like me.

Oh, and before I forget, thanks so very much, to all of you that sent me thoughts, and prayers, and hugs, both here and on Facebook.  It does a pups heart good to know there are so many caring humans around me.

On Wednesday, I had FHO, femoral head ostectomy surgery.  This was required because I has been diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia after my left hip went out of socket during our Bennett Springs trip and could not be put back in.


For the first few days after the surgery, I was really out of it. The picture above was taken on Friday when I was beginning to move a little better.  Ok, so my eyes might look a little ‘out of it’  but staying drugged up at this point was probably a good thing.

Mom and Dad are suppose to keep my cone on me all the time and keep me in my crate to limit movement.  Sox has to stay away too because I’m not allowed to wrestle and she’s not allowed to investigate my surgery site.

I have figured out though that, when confined to the crate,  a repeated mournful cry extended over 10 minutes or more will bring Mom to my rescue if she is around.  She’ll take this nasty cone off my head and lay me on the couch next to her.  Dad is not such a pushover so when Mom is gone I just take naps in the crate.

Dad is really patient with standing with  me outside on a short lease to insure I get potty time without moving much.  I also like his pill delivery system that includes hiding the meds in rolls of ham and cheese.


This picture gives a better view of the mess they’ve made of my beautiful backside.  My incision is about six inches long though no one here at home has actually seen it yet.

That clear patch in the upper left corner is a fentanyl patch, a strong opiate that is a time released drip to keep down my pain. 

They’ve shaved my entire left hind leg as well as my front left leg where I was receiving an IV during surgery.  Bald  is REALLY NOT a good look for a chick magnet like me!.


On Saturday, Mom and Dad took me back down to Hannibal to have the fentanyl patch removed.  Doc said that I need to continue to be very quiet (crate and cone-head)  for 10 more days – arghhh!!

When we go back two weeks after surgery, he’ll take out my stitches and start training Mom and Dad on how to do rehab.  You see, as Doc already knows, I have no intention of stepping on that nasty left leg ever again in my life when I have 3 perfectly good legs that don’t hurt when I’m on them.  Doc said that Mom and Dad will need to start using specific techniques to get me to put weight on the leg and that it will take me many months to develop the needed muscle to hold my leg where it needs to be now that the bones are not hooked together.  Doc suggested that if they know someone with a pool, the best rehab is to put me in and make me swim since that makes me use my rear legs – NO WAY – I HATE water over my paws, man!   This doc needs to leave that advice for labrador retrievers!

I think Dad was especially glad to learn that the freak vacuum cleaner accident that caused this displacement was actually just a timing issue since he had been manning the vacuum when it happened.  According to the vet, I have so  little hip socket that it was simply a matter of time before my hip gave way.

Sadly, hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that, according to Mom’s research, I would not have if my breeder had insured that my birth mom and dad had OFA certs of ‘good’ or better.  Had she researched this in advance, Mom would have known to ask for such certifications.  I would not be going through all this pain now if humans had been more conscientious.    Ironically, we Shiba Inu’s have a low rate of hip dysplasia at 5.7%  compared to the many more popular breeds of family pets such as golden retrievers with a 19.9% probability. Also, ironically, the two Shiba’s that lived here with the Frericks family before us, both of which were rescue dogs with unknown parentage, did not have hip dysplasia. 

We are all really worried now about Sox since there’s 80% likelihood that she has hip dysplasia.  As it turns out, the fact that she’s such a picky eater and such a scrawny little thing will improve her chances of being able to keep her hips in place – the less weight, the less displacement potential.

Now I wonder…Mom and Dad were willing to drop the $1000 to try to get me healthy again but what happens to all my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews  who were adopted by families who won’t or can’t afford that kind of surgery?  What happens when I’m old and have trouble getting around when my other hip goes bad or my muscles degenerate in this hip? 

In a perfect furkid world, no puppies would be conceived unless they had responsible adults to watch over them and insure in advance that they had good homes.  Their humans would be sure they were spayed or neutered. In a perfect furkid world, breeders would do genetic testing to insure they were not passing on disease before more puppies were brought in to the world.  In a perfect furkid world,  we’d all be healthy as possible and living in loving, responsible homes.  What does it take for humans to get this right?  Are we furkids a good example of why humans have trouble getting it right in their own species??

Well, time for another nap and dreams of my perfect furkid world!

Lovin’ licks,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunday at Bennett Springs

Sheila, Darlene and families backed up for their trip home and were both on the road before 11 am since they had work commitments on Monday – ah, yes, rushing back home in order to get to work on Monday morning is but a distant memory for us now!

The weather forecast did not look good for late afternoon so Ken and I decided to explore the state park a bit. 

We stopped by the main store to get information on how we would be able to do a float trip using our Sea Eagle on the Niangua River.  This state park has a beautiful central store that is very well stocked and is also the place to get information on all kinds of activities available in the area.


Bennett has their own rafting rental on the Niangua River but because of insurance reasons they cannot transport persons not using the park rental equipment and you can’t use their put-in spot.  Ken and I went to check out the put-in spot just outside the park considering that next time we expect to take our Sea Eagle for a 1/2 day float. 

The river was already busy with rafters.


With several more families getting ready to launch from the area where we were checking out for put-in.


There were two beautiful golden retrievers, Ruby and Dove, playing fetch with their owners nearby. 

One of the young boys on shore lost his flipflop and Ruby, the female, obediently followed instructions to go out mid-stream to fetch and return the escaping shoe.

IMG_0535 IMG_0537

I struck up a brief conversation with the owners and found out that one of their retrievers had, in fact, had hip replacement surgery.  She had worked for a vet and, yet again, I was hearing from someone hat it was likely that Ditka was in for some form of surgery based on his hip staying displaced for several days now.  More on that at the end of this blog.

We dropped by the hatchery to have a look at the various sizes of trout they are raising. 



Since I hadn’t posted the prior day’s blog yet, we also dropped by the dining hall where they have an area set up for wifi use.


Ken was anxious at his point to get back to the rig since he wanted to watch World Cup Final.

The timing was actually pretty good because as the game was nearing the end, our weather radio started going off.  Between tornado watches, storm watches, flash flood watches, storm warnings, tornado warnings and flash flood warnings, it had to go off at least a dozen times over the next two hours.  While we love the fact that this good old radio shack version automatically detects its current location and we don’t have to program to counties, we do wish we could program OUT the alarm going off for certain types of events which is an option available on newer versions. As Ken watched Spain win the Cup in extra time, I was frequently in the bedroom with my Missouri map tracking the storm paths to determine if we needed to be heading for shelter.  Even though we had a tornado warning, the path was well north of the park, although the funnel cloud did actually touch down on Hwy 5 at Camdenton which is on our route home, about 20 miles up the road.  I’m certainly glad our families got out of town earlier.  We did get quite a bit of rain but the 70mph winds reported in the area never hit the park.

Since we ate with family every night up to this point, we decided that we’d make Sunday evening our night to try out the park restaurant. 


The Dining Hall itself is a beautiful old stone building with open beam ceilings.


Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, they were out of their Sunday special chicken dinner, so we settle for a hamburger, a cheeseburger and french fries. Everything was very good and too filling for us to save room for their home made carrot cake or fruit pies.  However, we did notice that some guests were coming in to get desserts-to-go, something we’ll probably consider next time after seeing how good they looked!

Outside the windows in part of the restaurant, there are several hummingbird feeders and these little rascals were just thick around there.  Quite lively entertainment during dinner.


Despite the storms coming through, it was a quiet, enjoyable day at Bennett Springs, topped off with this lovely rainbow we got to enjoy as we ended the day and headed bag to the rig.


Before I sign off, it’s now Tuesday.  I called our vet in here in Quincy about Ditka’s hip as soon we arrived home.  Dr. Jim said that he’d save us an office call, since based on what we told him there was nothing he could do except send us to an orthopedic surgeon.  He said it was possible that it would simply be a matter of a minor surgery and a pin to hold the hip. Dr. Scully, from Hannibal, happened to be doing rounds in Quincy on Tuesday so we were able to get in to see him this morning.  The news was not good.  He showed us that Ditka has serious hip displasia.  This displacement was bound to happen since there is really very little bone holding his leg in the socket.  There was so little holding the hip in that he could have the problem simply jumping off the bed. (So, no, I’m not letting Ken get out of vacuuming just because last time the dog got injured in the process!!) Because he is a lighter dog, the best option, which was also mentioned by the vet in Springfield, is Femoral Head Ostectomy surgery.   While this is about 4 times cheaper than full hip replacement, we will still be looking at over a $1000 in costs before we are finished, not actually a line item in my budget but then we aren’t willing to consider letting him stay in pain or the even worse alternative.  Dr. Scully wants to do the surgery immediately so we will be taking Ditka to Hannibal early tomorrow morning for the surgery and then going back to pick him up Thursday afternoon.  The good news with this surgery is that they want the dog to start exercising very quickly after surgery to develop the necessary scar tissue and muscle development so we should not have issue with needing to keep him quiet.  We’ll simply need to keep Sox separate until Saturday to allow for healing of the stitches and incision. 

I’ll post an update as soon as we have the little guy back home and recuperating.

Hugs, C

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bennett Springs: Girls Day at the Pool

While my nieces were at the pool every afternoon, I held off until Saturday. The park has a really nice pool and on a warm Saturday afternoon the campers were out in abundance.


They open at noon so we were there a few minutes early to make sure we could lay claim to 3 of the long chairs that make it nicer for laying out in the sun. If I were to make any recommendation to the park on improvements, it would be to get more chairs around the pool.

Two years ago when we were here, the Kelsey and Mckinley still needed to stay in the separate kiddie pool but have since graduated to the big pool.


The girls bring plenty of things to play with and keep themselves occupied for the whole afternoon. Mckinley even had a little doll that would swim whenever you put her in the water.


Of course, its always more fun when mama comes in to the pool to play with you.


The guys were fishing when we started the day at the pool but Kent and Tony rode their scooters down to the pool about 2pm. By about 2:30 I began to get concerned that even with the SPF 45 I might be overdoing it with my extremely pale skin and headed back to the RV where Ken, having caught a trout early, was taking his post-fishing nap, feeling he’d had a successful day.

While he still won’t walk on the leg, Ditka seemed to be showing improvement and so we decided to extend our stay to Monday so that we could enjoy our time away from home a bit longer and avoid the Sunday campground exodus and Ozarks weekend traffic jams.

At $21 a night, and so much to see and do, this park definitely has the ‘it’ factor for us.

The guys were able to catch enough fish for us to make a group meal of trout fillets on Saturday evening. These along with fresh sweet corn and cabbage my sister had sent from the garden made for yet another great meal.

We enjoyed our final night together sitting around the campfire. The families are coming back in August and we’ll have to see if we might be able to work that back in our schedules since we do enjoy this place so much and Ken really still feels the need to have fly fishing pros at his side in the stream.

Unfortunately, I had overdone the sun on my back. I had laid on my stomach at the pool for only 20 minutes to get some sun on my back before putting on my sunscreen. My back was in the shade the rest of the day and yet my back was bright and burning red. Ken slathered me in aloe lotion several times but I still struggled to get much sleep.

Ken and I are now enjoying our Sunday morning coffee, while everyone is doing their packing up to go home. I’d planned on downloading Sheila’s pictures from her awesome Canon SLR to my PC but unfortunately it has an oversize memory card that doesn’t fit in my Acer expansion slot and we hadn’t thought to bring our other memory card attachment. That means I’ll have to do a separate blog later when she’s downloaded to CD with some of the pictures I intended to use but don’t have access to right now.

Later I’ll go down and post this from the dining lodge where the wifi reception has been excellent.

I must say that Ken and I are both really dragging our feet about heading back home. If it weren’t for Ditka’s hip and the appointment to get measurements for our next bathroom countertop we’d be staying longer. I understand now why Ken is so anxious to complete the remodeling since he really wants to be on the road without concerns about work and maintenance back at the house.

Hugs, C

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bennett Springs: Trials in Trouttown!!

We travelled to Bennett Springs State Park, MO, on Tuesday, July6th.   We’d spent Monday afternoon packing but, unfortunately, by Monday evening I was feeling ill. In our 30 years of marriage, Ken has only witnessed me not able to keep food down the two times I was pregnant and the three times I mixed wine and shellfish (I finally figured out that combo and haven’t touched it since!!)  We have no idea what caused this time but it wasn’t a fun few days for me.

I thought I was feeling a little better Tuesday before we pulled out but it wasn’t long before I was getting sick again, not able to keep down anything.  I lay on the couch while Ken did the 5 hour drive.  There was a considerable amount of traffic through Osage Beach and Camdenton but he did fine without me in the navigator’s seat.

Except for a small number of full  hookup sites at the bottom of the hill, the sites here at Bennett are 30amp with no water or sewer.  In site #446 we are next to  the water spicket and are able to get a spot through the trees for satellite.  My nieces Sheila and Darlene, and their families have the sites right across the road.

I still wasn’t feeling all that great on Wednesday so I sat at the rig and finished the 4th of July blog while the girls went to the pool and Ken and the guys went fishing. Bennett is one of a few Missouri State Parks that now has wifi available at their main buildings so I stopped by the restaurant to get on the internet.

Camping here with family has the added advantage that the three families split cooking duty so we had Tuesday evening hamburgers and Wednesday evening nachos.  We did roast beef sandwiches on Thursday.  We also take turns doing breakfast every other day or so.  The rest of the time it seems there is more than enough leftovers for lunches and snacks.


Ken got in some flyfishing with the guys.




The girls came down to watch and the Dad’s allowed them to pull in a few of the catches.


Although, for the most part, they do catch-and-release, they decided to keep enough fish for one night’s dinner for the group.  That meant doing the cleaning before we left the stream.


Unfortunately, our trout dinner for the next night was not meant to be since when we awoke on Thursday morning, the cooler that had been iced down for the trout was turned over and the trout were gone—some raccoons had a pretty nice meal of trout fillets!!




Despite lingering rain on Thursday everyone seemed to be making the most of the day.   Tony and Kent set up their own little workshop under the awning, making up new fishing flies.










The girls thought the rain was great and were able to have a great time getting wet without having to head down to the pool!


Ken decided that he’d use the ugly weather outside to do a quick cleanup on the inside of the rig.  As it turned out, it was a costly quickie.  Ditka hates the vacuum cleaner and jumps all around it trying to attack it.  Ditka made an attack as Ken moved the sweeper toward the stairwell.  Ditka slid across the floor and down the stairwell.  Ken didn’t think much of it but we then noticed that Ditka was hobbling.

It was apparent after awhile that Ditka had really hurt himself in the tumble and would put absolutely no weight on his back left foot.   Ken could feel that the hip was out of its socket pretty far but it needed more help than Ditka was allowing Ken to provide.


The poor little fella was obviously in a lot of pain.  You could tell he wanted to lay down but couldn’t negotiate his hind-end in a way that wasn’t too painful to lay down.

Worse yet, he  needed to go to the bathroom but just stood by a tree, obviously perplexed about how he could lift a leg when only one rear leg was operational!

This injury didn’t look like something we could put off for 5 days until we were back in Quincy.

We made some calls in to the nearby town of Lebanon and were able to get a vet appointment at 2:30.  After a brief examination the vet confirmed that the hip was definitely dislocated but that she’d need to put Ditka under to get Xrays to determine the damage and attempt to correct.   She asked us to come back at 5pm and she’d give us the results.  This made for a pretty messy afternoon since the vet was 1/2 hour from our campsite, we had Ken’s nephew and great niece visiting at 4:00 and we were in charge of the evening’s dinner. 

Ken’s nephew, Jim and great-niece, Adrianna, dropped by about 4pm while we were on our short break back at the campground.  Jim is a firefighter/EMT in Lebanon so its only 11 miles for them to get to Bennett Springs.   I was not the greatest hostess since I was fretting about Ditka, and trying to organize the evening meal for the group at the same time.  To make things worse, we heard that as Jim pulled out after us to leave, he hit one of the big rocks by the campsite with his SUV and so it was a short and costly visit for the poor  guy. Sometimes, days are just like that!!


When we arrived back at the vets at 5pm, she showed us the Xrays and they were an ugly sight.  The hip was too far out of place and there was either tendon swelling or blood clot in the joint socket so even when she was able to move the bone back to where it needed to be the socket would not hold it.   She said that she could not see how it could be put back in without surgery and then it would likely require some cutting on the bone to make it stay…..omg,,, this from a stumble down a couple of stairs.

We all agreed that we did not want the surgery away from home so the vet stocked us up on some strong painkillers to keep Ditka more comfortable until we are back in Quincy.  She also sent the two Xrays so that we could show Dr. Jim back home the extent of the injury.

Ditka has pretty well been out-of-it for the better part of 24 hours.   Sox was a bit manic when I brought big brother in and laid him on the rug and he wouldn’t move.  It was heart-wrenching to watch her nuzzling and pushing around at him trying to get him to wake up.  In just the last few hours now he has started getting around a bit and has even accepted that he is going to have to do his business without the male leg-lifting routine. 

So let’s see so far this week I’ve been sick, the raccoons took our fish, its been raining, Jim scratched a rock down the side of his SUV and we’ve got an injured dog with $150 in bills so far that are probably only the start if he really needs surgery.  You know what….despite the trials we are still having a great time in ‘trout town’!!

Hugs, C

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Family 4th

For those of you having followed our blog since 2007, you know that July 4th is a day Ken keeps reserved for the Annual Frericks Croquet Tournament and BBQ. 

With many of our family members taking vacations out of town over the 4th,  this started as an informal get-together for those staying in Quincy over the holiday. 

It’s Ken’s favorite kind of picnic since its nothing fancy, we just provide brats, nachos, tea and lemonade and then everyone else brings a dish of their choice to share, along with lawn chairs and whatever other beverage they might choose.

Luckily, despite spits of rain in the early afternoon, the weather turned out perfect for an afternoon on the back lawn.


Now inside 100 days until the wedding we invited Jenni and Kyle’s wedding party as well so that they could get to know our family a little better in a less formal environment.

And, we had 4 generations of family all well represented.IMG_0413



Here’s Ken’s mom, Millie, with her brother and Ken’s godfather, Paul.




Our brothers, sisters and in-laws all find a spot in the side yard to enjoy a bit of chat in the shade.


Nieces and nephews were often on the croquet court with Ken.


Great nieces from my side of the family and Ken’s side met for the first time and had their own little party going, including the little lady from our family, Sox.







Ken wanted to be sure that, to keep up the Frericks/Mast tradition,  the little one’s were catching on to the croquet game.  Here he’s giving a lesson to great-nephew, Cyril.



Ken had to turn over his mallet for awhile so that he could grill the brats and wienies for our 60+ guests. 


With all the covered dishes that people had brought, there was a huge selection of food.




Calleigh liked licking the red, white and blue icing off of the cupcakes.












Meanwhile her new little sister, Abbie, was quite content sleeping in Grandma Kathleen’s arms.







Kyle and Jenni’s future little ringbearer, Oaklee, found the whole day to be a bit much and zonked out on the lawn next to the croquet court.


As usual, this was one of our favorite days of the year.  It is just one of those nice casual gatherings  where everyone can enjoy each others company without a lot of work or formality on anyone’s part.  Good food, good fun, family and friends -- what better way to enjoy what being American is all about.

Hugs, C

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blues in the District

There are certain things that our hometown of Quincy, IL really does right, and ‘Blues in the District’ is one of them.

Ken talking with cousin Norb and wife entering park when we are

Like most small American towns we have a town square.  Our’s just happens to be where one of the famous historic Lincoln-Douglas debates were held. 

Park gazebo where bands set up Children's fountain play area is turned off during concerts

Today, the park is a blend of old and new with a lovely old gazebo, but with a brand new restrooms and really nice new central fountain where little one’s can frolic in the dancing spray.

View of part of crowd at Blues in District

Every other Friday evening during the summer, you can enjoy free ‘Blues in the District’.  They bring in some really good performers from around the US.  Everyone brings their lawnchairs and coolers, some even set up some rather elaborate picnics.  As you can see from the pictures, this brings out literally thousands of folks to make the most of their summer evening.

The most recent event we attended was in conjunction with the Mid-summer Arts Faire so besides the feast for the ears there was also the feast for the eyes with many artists tents around the perimeter selling their wares.

The taste buds also got there share as well!  Downtown restaurants had tents where you could choose from American, Greek, Italian – but mostly offerings that can be carried and enjoyed from a lawnchair.   I had a really great chicken/spinach/feta cheese burger for my evening meal  that was offered by the downtown butcher shop.  This was great for their future business as well since now we all plan to go by the shop to buy more of these burgers to do on our own grills.

Sometimes service organizations are the food vendors, with proceeds going to local schools or charities.

Usually one or more of our larger local businesses sponsor each particular event which is a big part of the reason the band, added security, cleanup, etc., can all be provided at no cost to the public.

While we tend to park our lawnchairs with my good friend, Cheryl, and her husband, Mike, its definitely a get-up-and-mingle kind of event. It’s a time when I get to see lots of old friends from work and often people I haven’t seen in years since folks coming back to Quincy for reunions or family visits seem to make an effort to schedule around these park events so they can see lots of hometown folk in one place.  After a few hours with their favorite beverages most people are much more open about mingling and have a generally good time.   It never gets rowdy though.

Ken and Mike Cheryl and Cindy

It’s a great free evening of entertainment for families as well, even including the family pets.

Boy and his dog chilling out at Blues in District

The entertainment ends at 9pm but the security contingent is very tolerant of folks staying around and enjoying themselves for a few hours more.  In fact, this last evening we attended, a group of young drummers started up their own music  down on the lawn after the official program ended.  


With the ages and dress of that group, the girls doing hula-hoops, and the beat of the drums—it suddenly had the feel of a ‘70s hippie gathering!!

If you are planning a trip to Quincy, I encourage you to consider planning around a ‘Blues in the District’ evening.  Here’s the 2010 schedule:

June 11- Sharrie Williams     Food Vendor: Quincy Noon Kiwanis

Corporate Sponsors:  Advance Physical Therapy, Heimer & Associates, 1st Bankers Trust

June 25-Bryan Lee      Food Vendor: Midsummer Arts Faire      Corporate Sponsor: Knapheide

July 9- Roger “Hurricane” Wilson     Food Vendor: Rotary Club

Corporate Sponsors: Gem City Ford, Quincy Medical Group, Gardner Denver

July 23-Laurie Morvan   Food Vendor: TNT H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group)   Corporate Sponsor: TNT Action Sports

August 13-Rusty Wright Band  Food Vendor:  Optimist Club

Corporate Sponsors: Quincy Preserves; Schmiedeskamp, Robertson, Neu & Mitchel; GREDF, Gem City Kiwanis

August 27-Mississippi Heat  Food Vendor: Meals on Wheels    Corporate Sponsor: Mercantile Bank

September 10-Larry McCray     Food Vendor: Quincy Regional Crime Stoppers

Corporate Sponsor: Mid Mississippi Muddy Waters Blues Society

Of course, if you are planning to attend, let us know so you can come join our circle and mingle with us!!

Does your hometown or favorite area host events that are worthy of timing our visits around them?  We’d love to hear about them!