Things I’m Loving These Days

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while.  They’re always fun, so here we go!

Sparkling Ice Coconut Limeade

It seems people either love coconut or hate it.  I’m one of those who love it.  This is my all time new favorite flavor of the Sparkling Ice drinks.  It has just the right amount of both coconut and lime.  It’s very refreshing on a hot, humid day!

Jacobean Sunset Knit Top


I found this shirt when it was on sale a few weeks back in a Serengeti catalog.  It’s comfortable and just perfect for fall and winter!  I love the vibrant colors and the 3/4 sleeves.  There is also a green version that I like as well.

This Mug

I saw this on Amazon and couldn’t resist.  It made me laugh because there really is some truth in it!


Publix Heath Bar Cookies

These are the BEST cookies!  I know a lot of people who say they don’t care for Heath Bars but who love these cookies.  Our Publix seems to run out of them as soon as they put them out.  One of their bakery employees told me they are so popular that they’re almost always making some in the back so to always ask if I don’t see any out.  I have asked once and was rewarded with warm cookies just out of the oven!  Yum!

Homemade Things Made Out of My Old Scrub Tops

I retired my veterinary license last year and I was trying to decide what to do with all my old scrub tops and pants.  I was thinking about taking them to Goodwill.  But then I decided someone could maybe put them to good use and make something out of them.  I have a friend whose mother is an excellent seamstress and makes potholders, hot pads, casserole carriers, bag holders, bowl holders, walker bags, and now masks.  So I gave them to her and she was glad to get them.   Here are a few samples.

This was a favorite scrub top turned pot holder. She backed it with burgundy material from scrub pants.

Another favorite turtle scrub jacket I had turned pot holder. The yellow backing was made from a pair of scrub pants I had

mask made out of same scrub jacket

casserole carrier made from scrub top

Seasonal decorative masks

I decided to embrace the mask wearing as it doesn’t look like this COVID-19 virus is going away anytime soon.  I love these Halloween masks I found on ETSY.  I sent a set to each of my two sons (who both have their mom’s Halloween crazy genes).

 This black with green bats was another ETSY find.  Might have to get this one too.  I gotta have bats for Halloween!

Love, love love!

I loved these I found in a catalog.  More bats and a beautiful fall foliage mask in lovely fall colors.

This next mask was also an old scrub top of mine.  Well, actually, I bought it on sale and it still had the price tag on it so I never actually wore it.  But it made a cute mask!

My friend’s mother is also making Thanksgiving masks too (she found the cutest turkey material) and Christmas masks.  So more pictures to come soon!  Can we say MASK ADDICTION? 

Amazon has some really cute printed disposable masks now too.  I saw this one last night.  BLUEBIRDS!!!!!

Pumpkin Pie Coffee

I love all things pumpkin and this coffee was no exception.

Pulse Oximeter

I learned how invaluable this little gadget was when my sister was in the hospital fighting COVID last month.  The hospital was planning to discharge her on oxygen but to my surprise, the oxygen company I met at her house to get it all set up, had no monitoring device they supplied with their oxygen services, nor did their company sell them.  I decided I needed to purchase a pulse oximeter which is an electronic device that measures the saturation of oxygen carried in your red blood cells.  It also gives a pulse reading.  A nurse told me that Walgreens and Walmart were selling out of these babies fast.  She recommended Amazon (where she got hers).  We got my sister one and I decided to order one too.  I bought mine a month ago and when I checked last night, the price had dropped $8 from when I purchased it (just my luck)!

What things are you loving these day?  I wish you all a happy, healthy, and a safe fall season!


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Sunday Glory

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

1 Thessalonians 5:15


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Sunday Glory

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  Psalm 42:1

We had multiple thunderstorms and hard rains throughout the night.  Today we have a steady falling rain and these six deer (3 does and 3 fawns) have come to the backyard for a cool drink and to graze.  It’s a welcome break for them from the brutal heat and humidity middle TN has had lately.  Some of them are now laying in the yard, resting so peacefully.

Photos taken through my den window.  


Posted in Animals, deer, God, Nature, Sunday Glory | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

An Update on Autumn’s Egg Sacs

Last fall, I had the pleasure of observing the life of a large black and yellow garden spider who had built her web just outside my kitchen window.  I named her Autumn.   She was a joy to watch and I learned a lot watching that spider work so hard.  I wrote posts about her here:

Post #1- Spider in the Window

Post #2- The New Egg Sac

Post #3- Lessons Learned From a Garden Spider

Autumn laid 2 egg sacs and I observed her with much fascination as she did that.  I watched her meticulously lay webbing all around them to protect them.  And then Autumn’s work was done.  She died the day after Halloween and I felt such a sadness.  I buried my little friend under the red maple tree that sits beside the deck – close to her egg sacs.  I promised Autumn before she died and when she died that I would watch her egg sacs for her.  And I have kept that promise.

I was baffled this spring when they didn’t hatch.  Did Autumn lay duds?  I was so let-down and disappointed as week after week after week passed and the eggs just sat unchanged.  Mid summer came and then late summer and still those eggs just sat there.  And then I did more research and I learned that those egg sacs probably won’t hatch until early fall.  They are still well protected and surrounded by thick silk webbing and there are multiple dead bugs caught in that webbing – a stink bug, a  lightning bug, a moth, to name a few.  I’ve read that these are for the spiderlings to feast on upon hatching.  I have cringed when predators like wasps and mud daubers come near to the egg sacs.  I have run outside and run them off.  I cringed when we kept having raccoon visitors this spring.  I ran them off too.  And I cringed again when a black rat snake kept visiting my backyard this spring.  I don’t know if snakes eat spider eggs but I know they sure love other eggs.

So far, the eggs are still there, just at the top of my kitchen window.  And so I watch and I eagerly await for Autumn’s babies to arrive.

Autumn’s two egg sacs


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Having Quiet Time

As I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to get back to having daily “quiet times.”  This is something I’ve tried doing a time or two before but never stuck to it.  I’ve felt the need for it more than ever lately with all the craziness going on in the world right now.  If you want to “catch up” and read the previous post, you can read it here.

If anyone were to ask me how I’ve dealt with the anxiety of this crazy year of 202o, with all its fears and uncertainties, my number one answer without a doubt would be prayer.  The nights I spent in meaningful prayer or just sat in silence alone with God, are the nights I got my best sleep and felt my anxieties calmed.  The second thing that has  helped me has been reading my devotional books.  I am somewhat of a devotional addict.  And it never ceases to amaze me how they always seem to speak right to me or speak to something that happened that particular day.  I have nine devotional books I read daily (soon to be 10).  See I told you I was a devotional addict.  Here they are:

And this will be number ten – the one on order from Amazon now.

If I had to pick a favorite, I couldn’t.  Sometimes in bed at night I read them all aloud to hubby.  If he’s really tired, I usually will just read the Moments Together for Couples devotional.

I think reading devotionals are great but I have let the reading of these devotionals be a substitute for reading my Bible and I want that to change.  Reading Robert Morgan’s book, Simple (that I referred to in the last post), was the motivation I needed.

Here’s what my quiet time looks like now although this is a work in progress and I’m still experimenting at what will work best for me.  I’m expecting this will change later.

  • Devotional reading
  • Bible Reading
  • Journaling
  • Prayer

I’m using my dining room table so that I can have a place to lay my books and materials and to be able to take notes.  I’m a big tea drinker so I brew a cup of tea and sip on warm tea during my quiet time.  I DO NOT answer the  phone if it rings during this time.  Right now, I’m having my quiet time at night and I’m spending about an hour.  I might later try mornings and I might also try breaking my quiet time into two 30 minute sessions –one in the morning and one in the evening.  This will spread the devotional reading out a little and I’ll read five of the devotionals in the morning and the other five at night.  I think it’s important that we all find a routine that works best for us and so I’ll be experimenting for a while.  What works for one person may not be what’s best for another person.  I mentioned in the last post about not being a morning person but I think having a quiet time in the morning where you can start your day off with God and sort of set the tempo for your day, makes total sense to me.

The Bible reading I do during my quiet time is not a Bible study.  Like Robert Morgan said in his book, Simple, it’s reading the Word to get nourishment for my soul.  It’s reading until a certain verse really speaks to me and then stopping to meditate on that verse.  I’m starting with the New Testament.  On any given day, I start where I left off the day before.  Some of the devotionals I read give Scripture verses that pertain to the devotionals or for further reading.  That’s also part of my Bible reading – looking up those verses.  My favorite translation is the Good News translation and so that’s normally what I read.  That translation is just easier for me to comprehend.  For Bible Study, I have The New Oxford Annotated Bible which is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).  I also have a New International Version (NIV), a New American Standard Bible (NASB), a King James Version (KJV) and The Message.  Sometimes it’s helpful for me to read a different translation, especially if I’m having trouble deciphering a verse.  It’s amazing to me how much that can help.

I have a journal I’m using to take notes on the readings I do.  I write down the date and then the verse in the Bible that really spoke to me, and then the main messages or highlights in the devotionals for that day.   I write down thoughts I have or any questions.

The journal I’m using now.  You can buy journals for a very reasonable price at Marshalls, Home Goods, Burkes, Dollar General, Big Lots, etc.

Years ago, when I was engaged in independent Bible study, someone suggested lighting a candle for the duration of my study.  So I lit a single white votive or white tealight. Lighting a candle in a room dispels darkness.  White candles symbolize purity, peace, and comfort.  Some Advent wreaths have a white center candle that is lit on Christmas Day.  This is called the Christ candle and signifies the light Jesus brings into the world.  Lighting that candle made my Bible study feel more holy, more meaningful.  So I am lighting a single white candle during my quiet time.

Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. -Matthew Henry Commentary, Concise

The Lord lightens my darkness.  He is my lamp.  I crave this one-on-one time with my Creator.  And I know I need this spiritual food for my soul.

I started this post over a week ago but didn’t quite finish it. While it sat in Drafts, ready to be completed, COVID-19 hit my family.  My oldest sister developed symptoms and tested positive.  And life changed in a heartbeat.  She’s been in the hospital one week today with bilateral pneumonia, low oxygen saturation, headaches, and that wicked crushing weakness that COVID can bring.  And I’ll just admit it…. I have failed at having my quiet times.  Between trying to find out information about my sister from the hospital (which I’ve learned is no easy task) and keeping family and friends updated on her condition, I just haven’t found the time.  And ironically, this is the time when I most need those quiet times with Him.  Please pray for my sister.   

Gail  ♥  

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I just finished re-reading a book I’ve come to love by Robert J. Morgan called Simple: The Christian Life Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated.  

I love this little book.  It is a very easy read (only 92 pages) and can be read in one sitting.  I’ve loved every single book I’ve read by Robert Morgan.  His writing just always, always speaks to me.   You can read this post to find out the uncanny way that I became familiar with this author and his books (I will never forget that day and I really did feel, perhaps for the first time in my life, that God was tapping me on the shoulder, and trying hard to lead me to something).  It was serendipity and I truly believe God led me to this man and his books.  Dr. Morgan can get me to understand things – things I’ve longed struggled to understand.  I just believe he has such a gift for teaching and writing.   I had the honor and pleasure of visiting his church and getting to meet him on a day that he was preaching.  I discovered that he is the nicest man.  But after having read his blog, I already knew that he would be.  All visitors that day received a brand new copy of his book The Red Sea Rules.

The next to the last chapter in the book, and my favorite chapter, is called d = devotions. In this chapter, Dr. Morgan says:

Nothing is more important to the Christian than the practice of having a daily appointment with the Lord, a regular period of daily Bible study and prayer.  Some people call this daily devotions.  Others, the morning watch. Still others refer to their quiet time.  It’s the missing ingredient in many a Christian life.

I can only say AMEN to that!  This is an area in my Christian walk that I repeatedly fail at. 

Many years ago, I tried to establish a “quiet time” and it was anything but quiet.  I tried going into my living room and shutting the two white French doors but my two cats, who were upset about not getting invited to the party, made that time anything but “quiet.”  They meowed and wailed as if I had left them forever.  They pawed and banged at the door until I was convinced the two French doors were going to come crashing down.  My phone rang constantly.  The telemarketers always seemed to know when my “quiet time” was.  I actually found myself apologizing to God for how “unquiet” my time was with Him.  I imagined Him laughing.  Or maybe shaking His head.  In short, I didn’t stick to it, but I have never stopped feeling a strong pull towards wanting, even deeply craving, my time with Him.  I learned Satan will do just about anything he can to keep us from having quality time alone with our Lord.

Whenever I read about quiet time with God, it’s usually always associated or recommended that it be done in the early morning hours.  Ugh.  I’m so not a morning person (hence the tagline of my blog)  and I find myself even a little envious of morning larks and wishing I was one.  And at 61 years of age, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a morning person.  And so I’ve always felt somewhat guilty that I’m not up before sunrise with the chickens spending time with God in the early morning hours of my day.  I personally have discovered that the times I have succeeded at spending quality time with God, have always been late at night.  So why do I feel I’m doing it wrong or somehow failing?

Robert Morgan gives two words of warning pertaining to quiet time in this chapter that I thought were particularly good and helpful.  The first warning:

It’s important to realize that a daily quiet time does not represent the totality of our fellowship with God.  It doesn’t mean that we can meet God in the morning and then leave Him there in the closet  while we go into the day.  The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.  In other words, communion and fellowship with God is the constant privilege of the Christian.

His second caution:

It’s important to realize that a daily quiet time is not simply a routine or a ritual.  It’s a relationship.  We meet Christ at the cross, and we call that conversion.  We meet with Him in the closet, and we call that conversation.  At the cross is where we come to know Christ, and in the closet is where we come to know him better.

He goes on to say (and I LOVED all of this):

The quiet time is essentially a conversation, a time of fellowship, a daily meeting or appointment with the Lord.  It isn’t a complicated thing, and the simpler we can keep it the better.  It isn’t even always necessary to have a Bible.  Sometimes it’s nice just to go for a walk and spend some time meditating on some verse of memorized Scripture, and then talking to the Lord about it and praying over the things that concern you.

Usually, however, it’s very helpful to have a Bible.  And remember that you aren’t reading your Bible to get through a certain amount of Scripture or to prepare a sermon or to develop a Sunday School or Bible study lesson.  You’re going to the Bible in order to find nourishment for your soul.

And then he explains how he carries out his quiet time.  He follows a two-step plan.  Scripture and prayer.  He prefers morning times with a cup of coffee, picks up his Bible and starts reading where he left off the day before.  He just reads until he finds a verse that really speaks to him.  He doesn’t hurry and he doesn’t read a set amount of verses.  He underlines or jots the verse down in his notebook.  In the book, he talks about how Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham was the one who recommended to him that he use a notebook during quiet time.  Then he prays.  So he reads, meditates on the verse that spoke to him, and then he prays.  Simple, huh?  He also uses a pen to journal in that same notebook.  He journals about what he’s feeling or how his day is going.  He also keeps a prayer list in that notebook.  He says not everyone will want to keep a notebook so he recommends using the margin of your bible as an “ad hoc” journal.

I have The One Year Bible.  You know, the one where each day you read an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a reading from Psalms and a reading from Proverbs.

One Year Bible

If you stick to the daily readings, you’ve completed the entire Bible in a year.  I’ve tried multiple times to stick to it and I never have.  The same thing happens every time.  I get way behind and then I have several “cram” sessions to catch up.  It hasn’t been a meaningful way for me to read the Bible.  I like the concept (to read the Bible in a year) but it just hasn’t work for me.

Dr. Morgan recommends having your own special place and time to have your quiet time.  Jesus was often known to go into the mountains to pray and when in Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane.  It can be a closet or a pantry.  It’s anywhere you can find to be alone with God.

For you it might be the kitchen table, the front seat of your car, or your bedside at night.  And that brings up another question.  Does it have to be in the morning?  No.  If the evening is better for you, or the midnight hours, or the noon hour during lunch break, that’s fine.  We each need to find the routine that works for us.

I so needed to hear that.  My time with God does not need to be in the early mornings when I’m feeling like a zombie.  I’m sure God is happy to have me spend time with Him when I am at my best, not struggling to keep my eyes open or think coherently.  Even if it’s 10 or 11 pm and I’m in my bed, I can still spend some quality time with Him.  And I think God is thrilled with any time we choose to draw near to Him.  Night or day.

The chapter ends with a little talk about perseverance.  Dr. Morgan says at first we might feel awkward and stiff and wondering if we’re getting anything out of our quiet times.  The important thing is not to give up!  Some days will be more meaningful than others.  I have sure noticed that myself when having a quiet time.  Keep it up and stick it out and soon, you will feel like something is just off about your day when you miss your quiet time.

I’m back to having a quiet time.  I’ll let you know in the next post how I’m  carrying that out (because this post is already long enough)!  Do you have a quiet time?   If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to know in the comment section, how your quiet time works for you.    

Gail ♥  

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Twilight Walk

My husband and I have been trying to walk every night around 8.  It’s about the only time we can physically stand it.  Daytime temps here have been in the mid to upper 90s with triple digit heat indexes.  Yes, the humidity is unbearable.  Yesterday the heat index got up to 108.  Walking outside in heat and humidity like that is like walking into an oven.

Twilight is my most favorite time to walk, not only because it’s bearable (we got a late afternoon rain shower which cooled it down to 80), but because all the crepuscular creatures make their appearance.  We usually see deer, bats darting and diving above us going after mosquitoes, owls, and lately we’ve seen a skunk.  Tonight we smelled the skunk but never saw it.  I like when the soft glow of lamps start to light up people’s homes.  It makes me feel all warm and cozy.

Our street at twilight

crepuscular light through trees

This sycamore tree (illuminated with a flash) is a popular tree for a pair of nesting hawks and has been every single year I’ve lived in this neighborhood. I’ve seen the hawks this year but no nest.

Just about every night we see owls.  Lately it’s been a barn owl who makes hissing noises at us.  He/she is large and what a beauty!   It lets itself be known to us as it always flies just in front of us and swoops low so I figure there’s nestlings somewhere close and the owl is warning us that this is owl territory and we better not come too close.

Image by Gayle Mowat from Pixabay

Tonight we left a little earlier to try to get a photo of the barn owl.  On our first stroll up the road we didn’t see an owl but we did see a deer.  It was too far away and too dark to photograph.

On the way home, there was a large Barred owl up on the wire.  It was calling to a mate across the street.  It was getting pretty dark by this point and the camera didn’t want to focus but I aimed upwards and and shot.  It flew off towards his mate right after I snapped the last shot.

Oh, how I love those eyes. I tried taking the red eyes out.

B-O-R-I-N-G.  He looks like an owl with cataracts now.

Don’t you just love owls?

Gail ♥ 

Posted in Animals, bats, birds, deer, owls | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sunday Glory

God Our Protector

91 Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,
    whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
    “You are my defender and protector.
    You are my God; in you I trust.”
He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
    and from all deadly diseases.
He will cover you with his wings;
    you will be safe in his care;
    his faithfulness will protect and defend you.
You need not fear any dangers at night
    or sudden attacks during the day
    or the plagues that strike in the dark
    or the evils that kill in daylight.

A thousand may fall dead beside you,
ten thousand all around you,
but you will not be harmed.
You will look and see
how the wicked are punished.

You have made the Lord your[a] defender,
the Most High your protector,
10 and so no disaster will strike you,
no violence will come near your home.
11 God will put his angels in charge of you
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
to keep you from hurting your feet on the stones.
13 You will trample down lions and snakes,
fierce lions and poisonous snakes.

14 God says, “I will save those who love me
    and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    when they are in trouble, I will be with them.
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 I will reward them with long life;
    I will save them.”

         Psalm 91 Good News Translation (GNT)


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A Valuable Surgical Face Mask Wearing Lesson I Learned as a Brand New Veterinarian

I think we can all learn from the mistakes of others and so I’m going to share a little story with you about something I had happen to me as a neophyte veterinarian.  It’s a story I’m not too proud of but I’ll share it anyway.  As a new graduate right out of vet school, I went to work in a practice where I was the sole night shift veterinarian (our practice stayed open until 10 pm which helped the working folks out a lot).

I used to see a lot of cat fight wounds in that practice.  Cats have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, especially Pasteurella bacteria.  And so when a cat bites another cat during a fight, the needle sharp canine teeth make small puncture wounds and the Pasteurella and other bacteria are deposited underneath the skin.  The puncture wound then seals up fast but the bacteria multiply and an abscess forms (which is a pocket or collection of pus).  Sometimes these cat abscesses that form are quite large.  They are commonly found at the base of the tail, and the head and neck area but can be found anywhere on the cat’s body. They are very painful (I learned just how painful abscesses are when I fell on concrete and abraded my knee and had to go to the doctor for a penicillin injection the next morning when I woke up and literally couldn’t walk because the wound had abscessed). 

Symptoms of a cat fight abscess are:

  • a high fever
  • lethargy
  • poor appetite or the cat not wanting to eat at all
  • a soft lump which is usually very painful to the cat
  • a bad smell (which is usually due to necrotic skin around the abscess)
  • actually seeing pus draining from the abscess (often pinkish brown in color)

To treat these abscesses, the pus pocket needs to be incised, drained, flushed out and usually a drain tube is installed.  Sometimes necrotic skin has to be excised (debrided) and suturing done.  Antibiotics are given for several days to kill out the infection.  If you just drain the pus without a drain tube you can have problems with the abscess just continuing to re-form.  Trust me when I say these abscesses can be very nasty and foul smelling.  Lancing an abscess can fill a room in just minutes with the putrid odor of pus and necrotic tissue. It can be nauseating even to those with the strongest of stomachs.

Repairing a cat fight wound abscess is considered “dirty surgery” in vet med (as opposed to sterile surgery).  In sterile surgery, such as a spay, where you’re going into the sterile abdomen, we always wore sterile caps, masks, gowns, and gloves and in vet school, we also wore shoe covers.  The instrument pack was sterilized in an autoclave as were all drapes, sponges, etc.

But a cat abscess is considered a dirty surgery and we usually didn’t bother wearing a cap, mask, sterile gloves, etc. because the surgical field is already considered infected/contaminated.  I did usually wear gloves because I sure didn’t want to be touching all that pus with my bare hands, but they were not sterilized gloves. We also didn’t perform our “dirty” surgeries in the surgical suite but in the prep room, so as not to contaminate the surgery suite.

When I was a newly practicing veterinarian, I had a cat fight abscess come in one evening.  The patient was an unneutered tom cat and this ole boy had a history of fights.  This particular abscess which was on his right side was huge (as big as the palm of my hand) and Tom was lethargic and not eating.  His temperature was 104.6. Tom was a sick boy and he needed his abscess drained and flushed and a drain tube put in.  Lancing of the abscess usually brings that temperature down immediately (and that is why many cats feel much better and will start eating again when their abscess ruptures at home on their own… that is, until they seal up again).  I gave him an injection of antibiotics and then we sedated him (abscesses as I said are very painful and most cats aren’t going to tolerate the drainage and flushing when they are awake).

Since Tom’s surgery was a dirty surgery, I had a pair of non sterile gloves on but no mask.  After shaving the surgical site and a quick prep of the wound, I picked up a scalpel blade and incised the large abscess and WOOSH!  Bloody pus came shooting up from the abscess like a geyser right into my lips and face.  The smell was horrid and filled the room immediately with a putrid odor.  It was sickening.  I immediately ran to the sink and started washing my face and lips with soapy water.

How stupid and careless I had been to not have had a mask on!  Up until that point, I had always worn a mask for the animal’s safety and protection, but not for my own safety and protection.  Thankfully I had my mouth closed when I incised the monster abscess and  the foul pus did not go into my mouth or eyes.  I was lucky.

You might be saying that it’s different with coronavirus but really it’s the same principle:

While wearing a mask, you are both protecting YOURSELF as well as OTHERS.

I learned that lesson the hard way.  And I’ve thought of it many, many times in the past few weeks as the great face mask wearing debate rages on.

It’s like this little diagram that my sons and I have laughed at but it’s actually a great illustration!  It’s known as the pee meme.  Maybe you’ve seen it.  I think it’s great!

Needless to say after getting foul smelling, nasty, bloody pus sprayed into my face, this neophyte veterinarian learned a valuable lesson and one I never forgot.  I always, always  wore a face mask with any dirty surgery I did after that, and often one with an eye shield.


Posted in Animals, cats, Health, Veterinary Medicine | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Canine Distemper

It seems that every week, new symptoms get added to the growing list of COVID-19 symptoms.  I told hubby that the more I learn about COVID-19, the more it is reminding me of the canine distemper virus.  Thankfully, due to vaccination, canine distemper is not nearly as common as it used to be.  But I saw it quite a bit when I first started working for a local veterinarian in the late 70s and early 80s and I saw it in veterinary school in the early to mid 80s and while in practice, although less and less as time went by.

Distemper was a disease I hated seeing in practice (second only to parvovirus).  Like COVID-19, Distemper’s symptoms are many and varied and that is because distemper can affect just about every tissue and organ in the body.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

What is Canine Distemper

Distemper, also called Hard Pad disease,  is a highly contagious virus (a member of the Paramyxo viruses).  The virus is closely related and in the same virus family as the measles virus (that’s why the temporary distemper vaccines we gave to puppies from 4-6 weeks of age in the practice I worked in, was actually called a Distemper-measles vaccine).  Distemper is most commonly found in puppies but dogs of all ages can contract distemper.  It is highly fatal and greater than 50% of adult dogs that contract distemper will die from it.  In puppies, the death rate can be as high as 80%.  Dogs can recover from distemper but they often are left permanently impaired.  It can damage a dog’s neurological system, leaving them with strange “tics” or twitching, partial or complete paralysis, or seizures.

Besides our domestic dogs, distemper is also common in foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, ferrets, mink, and raccoons.

How do animals get Distemper? 

The distemper virus is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with the discharges from an infected animal’s respiratory secretions.  It is considered an airborne illness spread by the droplets of infected dogs coughing and sneezing.  It can also be spread by inanimate objects such as food and water bowls, hair brushes, and collars and leashes.  A recovered animal can continue to pass the virus for several months.

What are the symptoms of Canine Distemper?

Early signs of the disease often mimic a bad cold and the animal will have a fever, decreased appetite, lethargy and a nasal discharge.  Like I said, distemper can effect every tissue type in the body.

Respiratory system symptoms:

  • nasal discharge (often starts watery, but then becomes yellowish/green)
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • red, congested eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • ocular discharge (also can start as a clear discharge which then becomes mucopurulent  and resembles pus)
  • bronchitis
  • pneumonia

Gastrointestinal system symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • anorexia (which can also be due to the stuffed up nose and inability to smell food)

Nervous system symptoms:

  • partial or complete paralysis
  • tics or muscle twitching often referred to as chorea
  • convulsions with “chewing gum fits” of the jaw
  • generalized seizures
  • head tilts
  • circling
  • an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • nystagmus (rapid and uncontrolled eye movements)

Dermatological system symptoms:

an overgrowth or hypertrophy of the skin of the paw pads and nose (hard pad disease).  If you see a dog with a very dried out, crusty hard nose and hard paw pads, the dog probably had distemper at some time in its life.  I acquired an adult white German Shepherd while in veterinary school and while I didn’t know too much about his background or medical history, I always suspected he had had distemper as a pup as he had hard paw pads.  His nose tissue was normal.  He seemed to have a chronic clear nasal discharge throughout the remainder of his life.  I also witnessed a mild seizure in him once (what we used to refer to as petit mal seizures – I think they call them Absence seizures now).  

Typical appearance of canine distemper showing hyperkeratosis of nose and paw pads (hardpad disease).  Note the nasal and ocular discharges

Diagnosis and Treatment of Distemper

Distemper can be difficult to diagnose as the early signs can often be symptoms of many other illnesses.  The characteristic signs of distemper that are unmistakable often don’t show up until later in the disease.  Distemper is often diagnosed through a combination of clinical signs combined with laboratory work (blood tests).

There is no cure for distemper.  Treatment is supportive.  Supportive treatment is just treating the various individual symptoms and making the dog more comfortable with good nursing care, and good common sense things like providing adequate nutrition, and providing a warm, dry comfortable place while the animal is recovering.  One goal is to treat secondary infections (such as bronchitis and pneumonia and intestinal infections) with antibiotics.  Nasal and ocular discharges need to be cleaned frequently and eye ointments applied as needed.  Sometimes the animal needs to be coaxed to eat or force fed or even tube fed to provide adequate nutrition to recover.  I often used to give B- complex and Vitamin B-12 injections to help boost the appetite.  IV fluids are given to treat dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.  Medications are given to treat vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

Prevention of Canine Distemper

It is important to isolate infected individuals to prevent the spread of distemper.  Keep your dog away from infected animals and wildlife!

The best protection is vaccination.  A series of vaccines is necessary in puppies to build adequate immunity (check with your veterinarian as they probably have their own individual vaccine schedule).  A yearly booster is recommended once puppy vaccinations are complete.

Use precaution in taking young susceptible puppies to puppy classes, obedience classes, doggy daycare, puppy socialization classes, and dog parks.

We used a diluted bleach solution to disinfect our distemper cages and ward floors and to disinfect dog bowls, floors, etc.  A dilution of 1 part bleach to 30 parts water is effective.  Distemper is said to only survive a few hours in the environment at room temperature when it leaves the animal’s body.  It can survive longer in colder environments.

I think you can see why I think about distemper virus when I hear about the growing symptoms of COVID-19.  Like distemper, COVID-19 seems to have the ability to affect the entire body.  Have you ever seen an animal or had any experience with distemper? 

Gail ♥ 

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