Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who's cooking for you??

This entry has nothing to do with my four-legged friends - but it is one I feel is important enough for me to break format - it's about your safety, my friends! 

I want to share an email with you that I wrote.   Firstly though, let's back a up bit and go to Austin, Texas.   I was visiting the city of Austin back in October of last year with a friend and while there we happened upon a new concept restaurant combining the goodness of Philly Cheesesteak with a Tex-Mex flair called, "Texadelphia".  I was blown away by the food and the overall concept of the restaurant's appearance.  It was very modern with big screen TV's throughout the dining area, but it also had a homey kind of western appeal to it as well.  As we were enjoying our meals (inhaling them is more like it) I had pondered the possibilities of this restaurant's success in my area, much closer to the border, and considered that it would do well, if run by the right people.

Well, somebody beat me to the punch, there is now a "Texadelphia" in my area.  According to their website, they had opened up in December of 2010.  The other night, a friend (the same one who accompanied me to Austin last year) and I went to check it out...

Texas History Lesson:

You see, the State of Texas requires that ALL employees become "Certified Food  Handlers"... even the dish washers and people who bus the tables must be certified by attending classes and gaining a permit to work in any setting that serves the public. They are so strict with it that even volunteers working for vendors selling food at weekend-long events must have a permit.  In Texas, it is a State mandate, overseen by each County's Health Department, however, each CITY has the true authority to issue the CFH Permits. HUH?? That basically means that if your permit is issued to you in City A, you can not use it to work in City B.  To work in City B, you must ALSO attend a certification class and obtain a permit from City B, as well.  One can have as many city certification cards as one desires but that can get expensive because the fees for each city may (and usually do) vary.  Each permit is good for one year, and must be renewed to continue employment.  There is also a Manager's Certification that goes beyond a Food Handler's Permit, allowing the holder to work anywhere in the state and only needs to be renewed every 3 years. 

I take the public's health and safety very seriously... and so... I EXPECT every person who is serving the Public in eateries to do the same, and when they don't... I turn them in!  

I share the following email with you in the hopes that every person who dines out (and I don't know a single person who hasn't) becomes aware of all of those "little things" that take place, even at their favorite eateries if not managed properly.  

Here are some things to consider when eating out...

 - Just where was that "rag" before he/she wiped my table, anyway??  Was it in the bathroom?? 
(Most restaurants, in an effort to save variable dollars (daily / weekly operating costs) will LIMIT their staff to how many towels are used per day, since they only have a limited number to last them per week.)

 - Speaking of bathrooms... Do the employees enter the bathroom (and the stall) wearing their aprons??  (Spray from a flushing toilet can reach as far as seven feet - I personally wouldn't want projectile fecal matter on my server's apron).

 - Did they take my straw with the glass to refill my drink?  Did I get the correct glass back?? (They should NEVER take your straw - if they do, ask for a new one.  I always ask for a new GLASS when its time for a refill to ensure I am not getting the guy's glass from the table next to me - besides, they have dish washers so I am providing him/her with job security when I ask for a new glass.)

- Did the previous people who sat here before me SNEEZE or COUGH all over those salt and pepper shakers ??  What about the people before them??  (Germs can live up to TWO+ HOURS on glass surfaces. I have seen kids LICK the shakers (especially cheese shakers) and their parents do not say a thing to their server to replace them for future patrons.)

Finally, There is the menu.  Always visit the restroom after you order to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds... and then USE A PAPER TOWEL to access the door handle when exiting the restroom.  (People sneeze, cough, and spit on menus (and kids drool).  They also lay them in the seats and benches next to them... these surfaces, including the menus are not sanitized after each use, most are only done once a week, IF AT ALL.  As for the bathroom door handle - not everybody washes their hands after using the facilities - GROSS!!   But true!)

There are so many "little things" that  many of us do not even think about but they could hurt you, and in some cases, they could even KILL you.  Keep that in mind as you read my email sent to the Texadelphia Corporate Offices and the County Health Department detailing my experiences with this "newer" restaurant in my town.

July 1, 2011

Texadelphia Corporate Offices

To Whom it Mat Concern:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I, along with a friend, had visited the Texadelphia Restaurant located at 1400 E Expressway 83 Suite 160 McAllen, Texas on June 30th, 2011 between 7:30pm and 8:00pm.  All I can say is, WOW!!

I am appalled at what I witnessed at this location.  All of these employees need to be trained or RE-TRAINED on the proper ways of handling the public’s food.  This restaurant was filthy!  Out of all of the tables in that place, only about seven tables were clean – I mean to say that there were only three tables with customers in use and all the rest, except perhaps six tables, had food baskets with food and cups on them.  I didn’t notice that right away though, what ACTUALLY made me look more closely at this restaurant’s dining room appearance was the food on the floor in the kitchen, which, in turn, prompted me to look at the cleanliness of the scattered countertops and then finally the cook working the grill. 

For some reason, I have always been fascinated by “the short order cook”, but based on what I observed next, this particular one scared me.  As I was standing there with full view of the kitchen, waiting in line for the customer before me to finish placing her order, I watched this cook work his grill and the sandwich board quickly, and the first thing I noticed about his behavior is that he likes to wipe his hands a lot.  The problem with this is that he used his soiled and contaminated APRON every single time he did it, and also failed to wash his hands when it was most appropriate.  That action is what made me look at the dining room, where I had noticed the plethora of dirty tables and wondered why I had not noticed it upon approaching the counter.  I turned around again to face the kitchen and watched the cook again.  It was clear that he was busy and he was (at that time) in there all alone.  That is when I watched him enter a drawer under the grill, grab raw meat with his bare hands and place these patties on the grill… THEN, WITHOUT WASHING HIS HANDS… He went over to another drawer, opened it up and stuck both hands and forearms inside and scooped out two mounds of tortilla chips and placed them in red serving baskets.  That is very dangerous!!  It was then that I decided to video the rest of the unsanitary activities taking place in this open kitchen.  When it was finally my turn to place my order, I quietly leaned into the counter not wanting to make a scene and mentioned what I observed to the cashier, and also mentioned that they should be more mindful of these things when working in an open kitchen with such a clear view from the dining room.  That’s when the cashier got her little attitude on, as if my advisement had personally offended her.  She was truly snotty, short, rude and just plain in appropriately unprofessional.  This cashier displayed every kind of rudeness possible, short of actually rolling her eyes.  She shot dirty looks at me the entire time I ordered, and when I expressed the hint that I was not familiar with the menu by asking for an “Angus Beef”, she said, in the most obviously sarcastic voice, “It’s called a “build your own”!” Well, EXCUSE me!  If I hadn’t had a friend with me at the time, I would have told her what I thought of her “service” and left right then and there so I wouldn’t have to worry about the potential food borne illness in my very near future from this unsanitary kitchen.  I guess this restaurant must be doing pretty well financially to treat customers as if they are not welcome, or perhaps this cashier is just in the wrong business, whatever the case, her behavior was unprofessional and uncalled for, to say the least but it didn’t stop there.  After paying, she shoved the table tent number tag in my direction, and never even said “Thank you”… you know… for my order… for my money… for my choosing their business out of ALL of the other choices I have in this city.  I did however get nasty looks from her the entire time I was waiting for my order, although I don’t think she knew that I noticed her “attitude from afar”, but I certainly did.  After taking our order (and trying to make me feel very unwelcome) she went to the kitchen area, turned her back to me and began talking to the older gentlemen that has since joined the other cook in the kitchen, I’m guessing this man was the manager, as he seemed to be in charge at the time.  Moments later, I heard the manager tell the cook (on the grill) to wash his hands.  I thought to myself, “A little too late don’t ya think?”  Why didn’t he THROW OUT THE CONTAMINATED TORTILLA CHIPS????  And so, the cook (I will call him “Cook 1”) just reached around the corner, and then brought his hands back and rubbed them together. I am hoping a sanitizer dispenser was there, but he still had not washed his hands. Sanitizer gel does not replace the washing of hands, and it most certainly does not do anything if applied to SOILED hands.  I was disgusted, but it got MUCH WORSE as the evening progressed. 

It took about 25 minutes for our food order to reach the table, which gave me ample time to observe even more public health concerns that I feel the local health department should look into more closely.  In those 25 minutes, I observed the following:

Cast of Characters:
Cook 1:  Young man working grill and sandwich board
Cook 2 / Manager:  Older man working sandwich board, fryer, serving baskets
Miss Charming:  Cashier with attitude.

 - Both men in kitchen (Cook 1 and Cook 2 / Manager) had failed to wash their hands several times when it was necessary.  (I have this on video).

 - Cook 1 (on the grill) continuously wiped his hands using his apron (I have this on video).

 - Cook 2 / Manager continuously wiped his hands with the very same dishtowel he used to also wipe down soiled and contaminated counter tops. (I have this on video).

 - I couldn’t figure out what the huge unattended flames reaching to the top of the grill stack were for, but then again, I had already admitted to you that I am not familiar with the menu. 

 - Cook 2 / Manager continuously changing his gloves - YAY!!   
Unfortunately, I also observed that every time he changed his gloves, he would then immediately touch the handles of the fry baskets, open refrigeration doors and touch other contaminated surfaces then go back to the sandwich board to handle ready to eat foods, such as buns, chips etc with those same (now dirty) gloves (I have this on video). It makes we wonder, “What’s point of the gloves?”  I observed this practice at least 12 times before I finally stopped counting because, frankly by this time, I already have a FULL understand of the hygiene and public health / safety practices of this location. 

When the food finally made its way out of the dirty kitchen and into the still dirty dining area (remember, 25 minutes had gone by and still the other tables had not been cleared and cleaned) “Miss Charming” cashier carried out the baskets to our table and, without a word, she practically threw (dropped) those baskets on the table, reached across the friend I was with and snatched up the table tent, then scurried away just as quickly as she had appeared.  Again I say, she is in the WRONG BUSINESS!

The food was unimpressive; the burger my friend ordered was charred around the edges and very dry.  Perhaps this particular burger had succumbed to the 3 foot high flames I mentioned earlier, but I wasn’t close enough to tell whose meat was being flamed – I was far more interested in observing the blatant, gross neglect of the health and safety regulations that the State of Texas clearly outlines and mandates of all food service industry employees.  This restaurant is best described as “sanitarily negligent and very unprofessional”.   If they want steady customers to visit, change in staffing is a MUST! 

Just when I thought the violations on sanitation and food safety couldn’t possibly get ANY worse – I observed the cashier (again, “Miss Charming”) assist a dine-in customer who approached the counter.  The customer, who had dined in with her family, apparently asked for a “To-Go” bag.  I watched in DISGUST AND HORROR as the cashier LICKED HER THUMB to separate the bags, pulled the bag open, and then handed it to the customer.  I have to tell you that if that were me standing there getting that bag, I would have been outraged and let every customer in that place know EXACTLY how unconcerned and untrained these employees are about their public’s health and safety.

Instead, I am spreading the word of the extremely poor and dangerous food safety practices, as well as the poor service one receives when the employees are called out on these practices, that take place at 1400 E Expressway 83 Suite 160 McAllen, Texas.   The local health department will receive a copy of this email, along with the videos I took to support my claims.  In the meantime, I highly suggest retraining of this entire staff, including management, with a strong emphasis on the laws and regulations set forth by the State of Texas and the Hidalgo County Health Department or risk being shut down.

McAllen, Texas 

Please share your own horror stories of places you have visited in the comments section.  
Thanks for reading.  

This is DaCanon Blasting Off!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Harley D. Update #2 "The Final Chapter of the Cone"

I got up early this morning to take Harley D. to the vet.  Today marks the day he has been waiting for - the day that I promised him would come - the day he can finally be freed from the dreaded CONE.  {Insert scary music here}.

It dawned on me, late yesterday... too late to call and ask the vet anyhow... that my cat may have to be dropped off and be put under for this procedure.  I mean, come on, I couldn't imagine Harley just sitting there quietly and perfectly still while some stranger f***s around with his ear - after all, if he could talk, he'd tell me that the last time that happened, he got the {cue scary music} CONE.  So, in light of my kitty epiphany,  it was suggested I get there early - DRAT!!  I really wanted to sleep in - ON A FRIDAY - that is such a rarity in my week, but alas, Harley is more important than a few extra Zzzz's so I set the alarm (DRAT!). 

As I was leaving the house, I mentioned that I would pick up breakfast on my way home.  I was craving Whataburger (local 24hr burger joint).  I drove to the vet, walked in and a young man asked me if I was "dropping off".
I said, "Well, I'm not sure.  I'm here to get stitches taken out of my cat's ear and I'm not sure if anesthesia is needed so you tell me, am I dropping off?" 
The vet tech said that its an in and out procedure, no anesthesia is needed.  Then he asked me if Harley was "aggressive".
I chuckled and told him, "No, however he does have that stupid {cue scary music} CONE around his neck and he hates it so if you free him of it, he may not want to leave your side, EVER, but he's not "aggressive".

The vet tech then told me that it would only take a few minutes.  He took Harley in back, and, no kidding, three minutes later, here he comes with Harley again, done!  It took three times longer at the drive-thru of Whataburger getting breakfast - something's wrong with that. 

Before leaving for the vet, and picking up breakfast, the tech asked me if I had any questions.  I asked him if Harley had any ear swelling ("No.") and if he had to wear the {cue scary music} CONE any longer.  I could have sworn I heard Harley sigh in relief right after the vet tech said, "No."
I then asked the vet, where "it" was, referring to the {cue the... Aww forget it, you get the picture!}  The tech said that "it" is in the there, and he motioned to Harley's carrier - the same carrier that Harley is now lying.  My first thought made me laugh out loud and I just couldn't stop from there.  Just then, the vet gave me a peculiar look.  I envisioned Harley attacking the shit out of that {cue the scary music} CONE as payback!  The thought stayed with me all the way out to the car, still laughing aloud, imagining Harley's screeches as he tears "it" to shreds.  I was flashing on the scene in the movie "Jurasic Park" when the "Velociraptors" are being fed in the bushes (at the beginning of the movie)... loud shrieks of terrifyingly angry hunger, leaves and bushes shaking violently as the dinosaurs devour their prey, yet the creatures are no where in "true" sight.  Harley is not a raptor of course but, in my mind, the {cue scary music}CONE was his prey!  I was even egging him on, "Come on, Harley, now's your chance - strike, strike!"

Yeah, well, it was all in my head.  Harley just wanted to go home. 

Harley has the typical after-flaw of a surgery like this - the crinkled, droopy ear, but at least it is not causing him pain, that I am aware of anyway, I mean, he hasn't given any indication of discomfort other than when he was jailed up in that stupid {cue scary music} CONE that he hated so much.

I am sure he is pleased that he can finally groom himself, instead of having me do it for him.  FYI:  I used a fine-tooth comb, I didn't do it the traditional "kitty" way...I love him very much but... eww!!
I am also sure he is pleased to FINALLY get that "itch" near his ear that has been driving him nuts for ten days.  I think he is pleased to not be sequestered in his room, away from his other kitty buds (I think he may have even missed Frankie, in his own twisted "I hate you  - stay the f*** away from me" kind of way).  But most of all, I think Harley is pleased to finally, (FINALLY!!!) be rid of that stupid (yep, you guessed it)... {cue scary music} CONE!

PS:  What ever happened to {cue the scary music}CONE?? 

Well, I'd tell ya but Harley has dirt on me regarding this incident in Vegas back in the 90's, so all I can say is, "What happens in the carrier, stays in the carrier!"{Insert scary music here}.

This is DaCanon blasting off!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Harley Update... Got Cone??

Here's an update on Harley D.  First off, I'm happy to report that the surgery went well.  He had no complications and the ear looks good.  His ear was, of course, shaved and he had a shaved spot along his front right leg... there was a bandage wrapped around this part of his leg.  I figured that is where they had placed an IV.  Thinking the bandage was no longer needed, I took it off, after all, it looked pretty tightly wrapped around there.  BOY WAS IT EVER!!  It was so tight that his front paw was swollen t three times its size and he couldn't walk on it.  It was probably numb to him.  I kept a close on eye it - my plan was to take him back to the vet if there were no signs of this swelling going down by morning.  When morning finally arrived, the swelling hadn't gone down significantly, but Harley did seem to be able to walk without struggle (that is, as much as possible with a cone collar around his neck.  More on that in a minute).  Since he didn't seem bothered by the swelled leg / paw, I decided not to rush him back to vet over it, but instead give him one more day and, if the swelling had not gone down by then, off we would go back to the vet.  As it turned out, the swelling had gone down completely by the next morning and Harley had his normal bounce back in his step (again, as much bounce as he could muster with a cone around his neck) with full kitty attitude on high alert!

At the risk of dating myself... I have always loved Saturday Night Live's, "The Coneheads", starring  Dan Aykroyd (Beldar) Jane Curtain (Prymaa) and Laraine Newman (Connie).  
 All ya need to know about Coneheads, click here

What they lacked, however, was a conecat.  

Harley has to wear one of those cone collars for ten days.  There is an official name for them, I just can't remember what they're actually called.   I know that the other critters are teasing Harley about this collar when I'm not home but the cone is to keep Harley from ripping those stitches out.  It took some adjusting for him, and some coaching on my part, to get him use to eating and drinking with it, but he doesn't seem to have many difficulties now that its been a few days.  His first night home (with the cone) was hard for him though, and I did feel sorry for him.  He was still groggy from the anesthesia and all that he has been through, so when I saw him struggling to balance himself with this cone thing around his neck, my heart went out to him, especially when he couldn't gauge the extra clearance needed just to step into the litter box.   He kept getting the bottom of the collar caught on the box's ledge (poor thing, all he wanted to do was pee, LOL).  I took the collar off and let him do his business without the stress and struggle, all the while I held myself ready to engage him at the first hint he was going to scratch that ear.  He didn't even try.  With the collar still off, he attempted a few bites of  food and that went well enough, considering he also had a dental cleaning too.  After about 30 minutes of collar-free, scratch-free, dazed and confused moments, I was ready to put the collar back on him.  That's when he rediscovered his favorite water bowl.  He couldn't get enough of the water.  Harley has this cute thing he does every time he takes a drink.  He scratches (uncovers) his water dish.  He has to do this several times before he even attempts to take a sip.  Then, just when you think he's done because he lifts his head and starts to walk away, he circles his dish and starts all over again.  On this night, he did this for a good ten minutes, at least.  He then "re-covered" his water dish - LOL.

I spread a blanket upon the floor for him to lay and rest more comfortably.  He normally sleeps on the bed but with that cone - lol  that darn cone - the poor thing didn't have the drive needed to jump up there on his first night and I didn't want to just put him up there myself  cuz, well, "what comes up, must eventually come down", and if I'm sleeping and he wants down, yet he is wearing that cone, his aim may be slightly off when landing on the floor and... splat.  (I know, I know, I worry...but I can't help but to think of these things, he's may baby boy and he needs help).  He laid right down on the blanket - he was pooped - he had a long, hard day and was done!!  I rubbed his belly (something he normally does not let me EVER do without kicking and scratching the shit out of me) and he purred himself right into a deep sleep.

The next morning, he was still adjusting to the collar but figured out a few maneuvers.  I have two other cats in the house, one of which Harley does not get along with, AT ALL, (Frankie Cat) so I have been keeping Harley separated from him, both day and night.  Usually, during the day, all cats have free range of the house, even though they choose to stay upstairs most of the time (cuz the dogs are downstairs) except the little orange kitty-man, "H. Davidson" -  he's the daredevil of the three.  So until Harley is out of his cone, I prefer to keep him separated from Frankie, for I am sure Frankie will take advantage of Harley's vulnerability and that ear could get torn open.  

Because I also have three large dogs in the house, one of them who thinks all cats should be her personal chew toys, I need to keep all of our cats closed in their bedrooms at night when we are sleeping, or we, the people, would never get any rest.  The sleeping arrangements are simple enough, all dogs in the master bedroom with the masters (hence the name, MASTER bedroom (arf!!)).  Since Harley practically raised Davidson from kitten-hood, Harley D. and H. Davidson sleep in one bedroom, and then that leaves Frankie Cat, (the one Harley fights with), he sleeps in the other spare bedroom.  The cats get along well enough with the dogs, except for Bailey, our newest rescue.  She was a one year old stray chocolate lab pup that found us not too long ago.  Apparently, she was (and still is) quite fond of chasing cats... hmmm... perhaps that's how she became a stray.  Nonetheless, we have managed to work out a system by investing in even more baby gates and tough it out because Baily deserves a stable and loving home too, all animals do, and so the cats must suck it up because they have also been in Bailey's paw prints themselves.  All of our animals have been rescued in one form or another - each with their own unique story to tell but I will save that for another blog entry.  As for this entry - I am going to end it by thanking you for reading today.  Harley is recovering nicely, and is slated to have his stitches removed next Friday.  He is jumping on the bed, and the dresser, and the table and the... well, you get the picture... he's being a happily purring conecat. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tomorrow's the day

I'm really nervous about Harley's surgery, he's 15 years old.  I keep flashing back to when I had to put my Siamese cat, Brandy, down.  That was over 15 years ago but I still do a hard cry over that.  As I was standing in the vet's exam room Saturday, and they took Harley in the "back" to do blood-work, the flashback really smacked me in the face.  I haven't been able to shake that since.  I know Harley's surgery is minor, compared to others but the thought of somebody inducing conscientiousness to my little guy is getting to me.  

He's been with me since I rescued him at 3 weeks old.  I fed him with an eye dropper - he used to sleep inside my shoe (he likes danger).  We have moved across state lines six times together, traveled over 23,000 miles together, I've held him in my arms endless times, and he has lifted me out of the dumps all the same. I've protected him his whole life and the thought of me not being in there with him during this surgery is also driving me nuts - on the other hand, I couldn't stand the sight of him laying their helpless on a table, "chemically asleep".

I have to keep telling myself that he NEEDS this surgery to keep him comfortable and HAPPY!

  This is Dacanon blasting off!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Holiday gain before your pain. Part One

Last night, my oldest kitty, Harley D. came down stairs.  That alone is rare, since I also have 3 large dogs, and one of those dogs, Bailey, is so new to the pack that she has not figured out that cats are our "friends".  Harley won't go near the stairs suspecting Bailey in the house.  I didn't notice Harley right away - as a matter of fact, I wouldn't have noticed him on the stairs at all if he hadn't cried out to me.  Which brings me to the other rare thing... Harley is a whispering cat.  When he meows, he rarely makes a sound, his mouth moves as if he is meowing loudly but no sound.  There is nothing wrong with him, meaning, he's not mute, he's just cute.
I was sitting at my computer downstairs and I heard a faint kitten-like cry.  It was so faint that I thought perhaps a neighbor kitten was sitting on the window ledge of my porch, outside.  I looked out the window, saw no kitten and started to walk back to my computer when I heard it again, but this time, it wasn't a faint kitten meow, it was loud and nerving.  I looked in the direction of where it came from, and Harley was making his way down the stairs toward me and when our eyes met, he let out a cry so saddening that my heart melted.

Now on the stairs with Harley, he seemed fine, he seemed lovable, he seemed to be overjoyed that I was stroking his fur.  I always know when Harley is so overcome with joy, he slobbers a bit.  When most cats are overcome with intense happiness they forget to swallow... "can't fool the droll!", I always say.  Well, he was there, on the stairs with me, rubbing his head on my hands, loving every second of it (and drooling like mad) and then I felt it.  A swelling of his ear so big that it startled me.  He wouldn't let me look at first, I imagine it to be quite sensitive.  Finally, after some coaxing, he allowed me to examine his ears.  He has a massive hematoma on his ear flap.  I tried to determine how much pain he might be in and see what I could do to help alleviate his discomfort.

I don't like messing with animals ears so much.  I am a practical and resourceful person but I do know my limits.  Animals ears have so much sensitivity to them, so many nerves that could be damaged,  and... well... frankly speaking, I am not a vet so I do not want to chance Harley's ears just to save a few bucks.  I called the vet's office - naturally they were closing in 10 minutes.  They told me I could bring him in tomorrow morning (that would be today).

Today, upon arriving at the vet's office, I told them I wanted to put Harley on my Wellness Plan.  After I jumped through the usual hoops filling out paperwork, (not for the wellness plan, btw) and waiting forever for the vet to come in the exam room, the vet finally made his grand appearance. (Can you smell the disdain yet??  You will in a moment.)

This is a new vet, meaning, I had never seen him before.  I have been bringing my pack to this particular office for three years and not once had I seen this bumpkin.  I first told him I am putting Harley on my plan and he said,
"Whoa!!  Who told you you could do that?"
 "The girl I called last night as well as the girl at your front counter this morning", I replied.

That bumpkin then proceeded to lecture ME on administrative procedures.  The whole time this hillbilly slim-jim is flapping his gums, I'm thinking to myself, I don't work for you, ya jackass.  I finally stopped him and told him that I don't care what the procedures are, I don't do your paperwork - "I am a CLIENT!!!"  He quickly stopped his lecture and saw the error in his ways... preaching to the choir is pointless.

Keep in mind that I did not express my full "anger" with this vet, (yet).  I knew that  Harley needed treatment and it would, more than likely, be surgery.  I didn't want to put Harley in a helpless position and be at the mercy of Dr. Huckleberry Knobjockey because I chose to spout off at the vet and tell him what I think of his bedside manner.

They say that first impressions are the most important.  At this point, my first impression of this vet is already in an undertow and things only went further south from there.  After the lecture was finished, he looked at every inch of the cat, except his injured ear.  WTF?!?  I was growing impatient with this guy but bit my tongue.  The vet tech could tell I was "questioning" this vet's abilities.  Perhaps it was when I told the tech, "that's fucked up" right after the vet left the room, that he clued into my dissatisfaction, I dunno, just guessing.

Anyway, the vet came back in, then said Harley needed surgery on his ear and since he's going on a wellness plan, you might as well get his teeth cleaned and bla, bla, bla.  I understand the logic of the teeth cleaning, most animals have to be put under anesthesia for a thorough cleaning, and since Harley was going under for his ear anyway, might as well get it all done.  Its the way the vet said it that yanked my chain just a bit too hard.  He gave me the impression (#2) that he is all about the money.  He was "up-selling" my cat's prognosis in dollars and cents - almost like pointing out the upgrades of a car purchase.
I already knew what I wanted so I stopped his spiel and asked for the "basic plus" plan - all my dogs are on the "dog version" of that package.

I was there to treat Harley's ear, to take care of the immediate pain he was enduring, to get him treated.  That's when things go really interesting.

I was ready for Harley to have surgery, for him to be fixed up, brought back to an acceptable comfort level.   The vet however didn't see it that way.  What he saw was that he was "tired today", "golfing on Sunday, and Monday is a holiday".  Then he said he doesn't like to do these surgeries until the hematoma is at least 4-5 days old.  THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS!!  He said all of this as he was walking out the exam room.  I wanted to say, "How dare you try to justify your holiday time by hiding it in vet-talk BS - I'm not a fool!" 
Instead, I said, "What about Monday?" wanting clarification.  The vet tech had to answer me because the door had already closed with the vet no longer in sight.
The tech told me that Monday is Memorial Day and the vet will be in only until 2:00pm.  I asked him if the they are closing early and he said, "No, but the doctor is going to a BBQ that day because its a holiday".  I was livid and that poor tech knew it right off the bat.  It was now my turn to lecture.

I explained to the vet tech that I realize he is not to blame but I had something to say and he was going to listen. And so I gave him the "how dare this vet put his personal agenda above the sufferings of animals" speech.

It was then that I remembered Harley STILL needed the surgery, so I apologized for my outburst toward him.  The tech said he understood, and that a lot of other people were complaining about this particular vet too - interesting!

The tech felt bad because he could see Harley was uncomfortable, so I asked him if anybody can be bumped on Monday to get Harley's surgery.  He checked but no deal.  I took a Tuesday appointment instead.

I hate like hell that Harley has to live with this until then but I felt my hands were tired.  Going to another vet was not an option in my area, I am sure I would have gotten the same "holiday" routine anyway.

Yeah know, its funny (strange) that if Harley were a human child, the doctor would have treated it right on the spot.  What makes animals any less in pain over the same injury - is it that the cat isn't milking every ounce of sympathy from the parents, vying for guilt-points?

My animals are my kids and I am the voice of my kids - even the whispering ones.

 I'll keep y'all updated on Harley's condition, thanks for reading.   

This is DaCanon blasting off!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Three Little Kittens

Three little kittens they lost their mittens, and they began to cry,
"Oh mother dear, we sadly fear that we have lost our mittens."
"What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie
"Meeow, meeow, meeow, now we shall have no pie."

You've already met one half of our paw pack in the last entry,  
Three Lab Bakery. 
Now, I'd like you to meet the other half of the pack, the three little kittens, Franklin Thomas, Harley D. and  H. Davidson.  All three cats are male and were taken in as kittens who needed a good stable home.  

Frankie was adopted, along with his brother Jo-Jo, (not pictured) by KJ.  Frankie and Jo-Jo were destined for the pound because they didn't have any other place to go, and so KJ, being the animal lover that she is, made room in her heart and her home for both of them.  

Harley D. was adopted by me.  Back then, I had always told my friends that I would have a new Harley one day, but at the time it wasn't possible for me to to get a Harley I  could ride.  So, I found a loop-hole and still managed to live up to my word!   This tiny kitten in need of a home came to me in 1996 and I named him "Harley D."   He is a "softail" model (HA!) and he became the first of many more Harleys in the house... err garage... umm well, you get the picture.

Yes, cats and dogs living in harmony all under one roof... ett -hmm...most of the time.

As you can see, Franklin Thomas, ("Frankie Cat" on the left) and Harley D. (right)  look very much alike.   There are slight differences though.  Frankie Cat has a slimmer tail and his hair lies back, more contoured to his body, and his head and face are smaller than Harley D.'s.  Harley D. has a bushy tail and his fur is super soft and feather-like at the ends.  Harley also sports two distinctive whiskers (one of each side) that turned white as he got older.  Those whiskers really stand out and resemble a Fu Manchu mustache, it's adorably cute... err... I mean, handsome and tough looking (sorry Harley).


 See - they're practically TWINS!!   
(Except I couldn't get Harley to wear the little hat).  

  Harley D. and Frankie Cat are both very close in age, believing that Harley is only a few months older than Frankie.  Both cats are 15 years old but neither of them show physical signs of their age (except maybe that mustache of Harley's).  Its important to note that these two cats don't exactly get along.  Frankie and Harley can not be in the same room with one another (so much for that harmony I mentioned earlier, huh?) so in order to keep the cats from stressing out over where the other one is, at night, we give Harley his very own room so he can sleep in peace.  When these two cats do get in to it - its very hard to tell who is who during the chaos of flying fur, hissing and snarling.  We are fortunate enough to have a "warning bell" if a fight is about to break out thought...

Casey Dog is ALWAYS on the lookout for a good cat fight.  She relentlessly sounds off at the first sign of any kitty-kommotion that may be afoot.  
Casey is constantly on guard protecting her pack, err... even if it means having to sacrifice play and sleep, or both, apparently.  Way to stay on top of things Casey Dog :-)

The three little kittens they found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
"Oh mother dear, see here, see here
For we have found our mittens."
"Put on your mittens, you silly kittens
And you shall have some pie"
"Meeow, meeow, meeow,
Now let us have some pie."

Ya know, I never could understand WHY the mother cat would allow her kittens to eat pie with their mittens - that's just all sorts of crazy wrong.
But I digress...

Meet "H. Davidson".

He's also nicknamed "Stewie Cat" because he reminds me of the  character,  Stewie Griffin of Family Guy.    


When Davidson runs up and down the stairs like a mad kitty - which is often and very funny to witness - his paws thud just like Stewie's feet when he runs.  Oh yeah, and there's that whole "Victory shall be mine" and world dominance attitude of his, too.  Even though Davidson is only 4 1/2 years old, he is the most dominate and fearless of the three cats.  He is very daring and loves to tease Riley Pup into play.

Riley Pup 3 months old with H. Davidson Stewie Cat


I found Davidson when he was about three or four  weeks old.  He was believed to have been accidentally left behind by his mother cat who was possibly moving her new litter from harm.  He was found in a horse's field crying near a fence.  I could NOT resist helping this little tiny baby who needed a mama. He was smaller than the palm of my hand and slept in my shoe when I first brought him home.   I had to feed him from an eye dropper for about two weeks, then gradually mix softer more solid foods with vet bought kitten's milk to help ween him into a more stable diet.  At first he couldn't drink out of a saucer dish so I had to find something small enough to where he could get to the food and water without bathing him in it.  The only thing I had was an old glass ash tray smaller than my hand (see pic on right).   As expected, Harley was extremely jealous of the new arrival but warmed up to him after about two weeks so I felt comfortable feeding Davidson out in the open with Harley present. (Naturally Harley had to have a sampling of Davidson's food to preserve peace at first so I bought him canned (yuck) cat food to make him feel like he wasn't being left out).   
Harley D and H. Davidson 2007
They became buddies, and even though now Davidson sometimes jumps on Harley's back to make him play (whether he wants to or not, hence the name Stewie Cat), they are inseparable.  Davidson is the ONLY cat that Harley has EVER allowed near him without a fight! 
Harley D. and H. Davidson 2010


The three little kittens put on their mittens
And soon ate up the pie,
"Oh mother dear, we greatly fear
That we have soiled our mittens."
"What! soiled you mittens, you naughty kittens!"
Then they began to cry, "Meeow, meeow, meeow"
Then they began to sigh.

What, are you kidding me??   The mama cat first TOLD the kittens that they couldn't have any pie because they lost their mittens, then the kittens found their mittens and Mama Cat told them they could now have their pie. NOW the "Mommy Dearest" cat has the audacity to complain because the kittens "soiled their mittens" while eating the pie - WTF?!?  It doesn't say ANYTHING about Mama Cat providing forks for the kittens to eat their pie with so HOW does she expect them to eat the frickin' pie WITHOUT soiling their mittens... 
Let us assume for the sake of an argument that forks were provided to these mitten-clad kittens, how does Mama Cat expect the kittens to USE these forks - they don't have any opposable thumbs! 

But let's go a step further...

 What if they DID have opposable thumbs:  

They couldn't use the forks cuz Mommy Dearest Cat insists they wear mittens on their paws!   Those poor, poor things! 

Personally, if I were one of those kittens, I'd seek emancipation as early as possible.  Mommy Dearest Cat Cat is obviously impossible to please and deliberately confuses her babies into a constant state of fear and panic.  She's a psycho Meow-Mama!! 

But I digress, again.
Back to the Pack...

 And there you have it, the Paws a-Plenty Pack! 
With Casey's rules, Davidson's domination, Harley and Frankie's squabbles, Riley-pup's puppy shenanigans and Bailey, well, Bailey learning her place in all of this, we sure do have our paws, err, I mean, hands just as full as our hearts.  

 The three little kittens they washed their mittens
And hung them out to dry,
"Oh mother dear, do you not hear
That we have washed our mittens."
"What! washed your mittens, you are good kittens.  But I smell a rat close by,
"Meeow, meeow, meeow" we smell a rat close by...

Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to take the Paw Poll on the right side-bar before you leave! 

May your heart be trampled on with many paws of love!!

Giving credit where credit is due:
The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens 
(AKA The Three Little Kittens) 
The first record we have of the rhyme is when it was printed at the end of New England author Eliza Follen's (1787-1860) New Nursery Songs for All Good Children, published in 1853. As a result she has been credited as the author, but the book claims the verses are "traditional".[1] In 1858 R. M. Ballantyne wrote an elaboration of the poem under the title The Three Little Kittens, published as part of the Good Little Pig's Library, volume 1.[2]
Pictures by SIG Photography and by KJ 
Stewie Griffin character and likeness is intellectual property of Family Guy/ Fox Network

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Lab Bakery

The Three Lab Bakery may not have originate in our home, but sometimes when I look at our pups, I wonder if maybe it should have.  Allow me to introduce you to one-half of our pack, starring the dogs:
Casey Dog, Riley Pup and Bailey Jo, our mix of the Three Lab Bakery!
Three Lab Bakery by Ken Bailey

We have the yellow cake, err, I mean, lab, Casey Dog.  Casey is eleven years old and is a rescue puppy.  My friend, KJ, rescued her as a tiny puppy from the local Humane Society.  She rules the roost around here when the humans are out and about but graciously relinquishes her charge of the house when we are home.  With three dogs and three cats all under one roof, being the leader of our pack is a full time job and Casey is just right for the job.  She is as patient as she is protective of her pack and knows how to lay down the law and keep it laid.   
Good job Casey Dog! 

 While we don't have the 'Black Forest', YET, we do have a white lab, Riley Pup.
(Although I had a black lab when I was a child, named Chivas, who is not pictured unless I can find a old Polaroid and scan it... hmm, I just dated myself, didn't I??  Oops!).

Anyway.  Riley is also a rescue pup.  KJ and I  adopted her from a local shelter called, Recycled Rovers when she was six weeks old and we couldn't be happier.  It was love at first sight.  She is just as sweet and enjoyable as the day we brought her home.  
Riley J.'s first day at her new home. (6 weeks old)
Being almost 9 years younger than Casey, we thought Riley would help boost her spirits and keep her energetic - boy I tell ya, that is the understatement of the year.  Riley LOVES to play with her big sister, even when Big Sis doesn't feel like it.  If Riley wants to play bone with Casey, she will stick that bone right up to Casey's face and "dare" her to play and if that doesn't work, Riley will pull her tail and get her attention that way. Although Riley is skittish around other dogs, most of the time she is fearless when it comes to Casey - I am sure that is because they both know they will not hurt each other - sisterly trust, awwww!

For our chocolate piece of the pie, err... cake, err... I mean pack (oy!) I am proud to introduce to you our latest rescue, Bailey Jo.  Bailey is so new to K.J. and I  that we are still keeping her separated from the other two when we are not home.  Bailey was rescued from the streets.  She was found wandering around the school yard where K.J. teaches.  Bailey looked skinny, tired and dehydrated.  She was infested with fleas and had a touch of mange outbreak about her snout and facial features.  Being an animal lover, K.J. couldn't leave her in the sweltering heat (yes, I know its only the end of February, but its nearing 90° already,  where we live).
Bailey was taken to the vet the next day and the advertisements went out to find her owner. After talking with the vet and determining how long this one year old puppy had been on her own, we decided that if the owners DID bother to claim her - they wouldn't get her back from us without a police order due to the gross negligence on their part. 
 Welcome to the pack! 
 We named her Bailey Jo and started her treatments for all the health issues.  The vet said she has anemia due to the fleas.  The fleas are now gone and she is being treated for the anemia . She also had ear mites - which are being treated.  Finally,  she has demodectic mange (its non-contagious to other animals and humans).  Our vet, K.J and I all believe that Bailey's mange is a result of a lowered immune system due to improper nutrition and being so young.  (Mange is actually common in puppies - something I did not know until recently -  but in most cases the parasite that is common under puppy skin does not activate.  According to some websites I've been reading,  it is unknown as to what actually actives the parasite but once it does awaken, it can lower the immune system of the puppy enough to breed (spread)).  We are currently treating Bailey with well-balanced meals and Goodwinol Ointment which is less toxic than other treatments we've read.  We have had to keep her sequestered from the other two dogs until some of these health issues were under control and we could assess her mannerisms.  She is just the sweetest little thing, really.  She is well behaved with humans and isn't overly aggressive at all, even for a puppy.  She is getting along well with Casey and Riley.  Bailey still seems a tad unsure of where her place is within the pack, but she will figure it out soon enough...  or perhaps one of the other two will show her... only time will tell.

There is a lot more to tell - but I will save that for another entry.  Until then...

 May many paws trample upon you with love!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meet my family

Hello. Welcome to my blog, Paws a-Plenty.  This blog is going to reflect many topics but mainly be centered around the lives and adventures that my pack and I wish to share with you.

I'd like to start things off by telling you a bit about myself.  My name is Shannon DaCanon.  I am a photographer, a former radio DJ and a your basic run-of-the-mill "Jack of all trades - Master of none" kind of gal who proudly rides a big, loud Harley.

I also have a house full of children who all happen to have four legs and tails (well, truthfully, one of the kid's tails is more like a "nub", but we'll get to that later).  I invite you to meet my family (some pictures are on the side bar).  I have three lab-mix pups (of various ages) and three kitties (of various attitudes). We all try to live in harmony together and for the most part, we are successful.  We want to share our stories, pictures  and adventures with you.  Please feel free to share your comments, offer advise or just say "hello" and share your pack's tails... err, I mean, tales with us, we'd love to know you, too!

Don't forget to take our poll, found on the top right sidebar, before you leave.
This blog is dedicated to all of my four-legged family members and their friends, old and new.
May many paws trample upon you with love today!