May 20, 2004

The Days Are Just Packed

Yesterday was quite the day. Fortunately, to make up for it, today's a holiday -- Christi Himmelfahrt, or Ascension Day; it falls on the fortieth day after Easter, commemorating Christ's ascension into heaven. For living in an essentially non-religious society, we sure do get a lot of time off for obscure Christian holidays and feast days that even your most hard-core American Christians would be hard pressed to name and explain, let alone celebrate.

So what happened yesterday?

Poor Dog! (Part two): Things started with my taking Scout downstairs; usually, this is the last thing I do at home in the mornings before I head off to work. For the past few days, it was clear that Scout was sick with something, but we weren't sure what -- she was eating normally, but was otherwise lethargic, refusing to go upstairs, acting totally unenthusiastic about going outside (usually the high point of her day), and generally choosing just to lie in her crate or in her bed by the window. We went outside, and then climbing the stairs to the elevator on the way back in, Scout made a sharp yelp of pain. I looked back and she had started limping along, carrying her left rear paw up in the air. Even after we rode the elevator back upstairs, she was still holding her paw and generally looking pathetic; she was having trouble even sitting down. It was clearly time for another visit to Dr. Bielan, the vet -- and since Dr. Bielan and his assistant don't speak English, I'd have to take her. So, after a quick note to my boss (nobody at work has ever seen Scout; hopefully they don't think these dog emergencies are just something I invent when I don't want to come in to work in the morning), I carried Scout off (literally!) to the vet.

Dr. Bielan diagnosed Scout with a slipped disc that was pinching the nerves leading to her back legs. (She "presented" very well, with a loud yip when he found the offending place on her spine.) For starters, she got three injections (three injections seems to be a magic number; that's what she got on her last visit, too), a mix of painkillers and an anti-inflammatory. She goes back on Friday for "therapy"; it's not completely clear what therapy is, yet, but I figured it'd be simpler just to come back on Friday and see it happening than to have him explain it to me. Since back problems are a constant worry for Beagles, I asked Dr. Bielan if this could be a sign of a chronic condition, and he said no, it was a one-time injury, and she just needed time to recuperate. Her recuperation instructions were pretty much the equivalent of full bed rest for dogs: no jumping, no climbing stairs, and a minimum of walking. (Thank goodness Scout isn't a Great Dane, I wouldn't want to carry that up and down the stairs ...)

By late afternoon, she was already doing much better: no limp, no problems sitting or laying down (she even did a few full-body stretches), and she had to be discouraged from jumping up on the couch. Today, she's a little more impaired -- she seems to be slightly favoring her problem leg -- but she's still nothing like the dog of yesterday morning. And I just had to change position to stop her from trying another jump on the couch. We like Dr. Bielan!

Before coming over to Hamburg, we spent all of our time worrying about what would happen if Shelby got sick; after all, she's the one who was a hairsbreadth from being placed on the heart-transplant list. But since getting here, it's our poor little dog who's had of the bad luck!

A Social Afternoon: After the vet, I judged it was better to spend the rest of the day working at home, just in case any heavy Beagle-lifting was required. Since we got back just before noon, I got to tag along on Shelby's previously-arranged lunch with fellow American in Hamburg Dave Oeskovic, who Shelby met by hunting for other Americans on It was my first time meeting Dave in person, and I'm pleased to say that he was as humorous and interesting in the flesh as his blog would lead you to believe (and yes, Dave, that's a compliment ...)

[By the way, don't miss Dave's rundown of the Eurovision song contest. This one is truly the best-ever.)

We met for lunch at the Maggi Kochstudio, which was truly wierd -- Maggi is a big manufacturer of premade soups, sauces and cooking mixes, and this was a little restaurant/cooking school/shrine, where everything involved Maggi products. You could order yourself a pasta plate, and take away with you a recipe sheet describing how to make what you just ate, using a combination of Maggi products and a few other ingredients. Along one wall was a shelf about twelve feet tall, with what seemed like every single Maggi product (and there are a lot) available for sale. It was as if Knorr or Campbell's Soup were to open up a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles ...

I render an important service: Later in the afternoon, I went out shopping. The vet had suggested that we buy an infrared lamp for Scout; I couldn't find one at Saturn (shock of shocks!) but I found one next door in Kaufhof's housewares department. Kaufhof's basement also has a grocery section with a pretty good wine department, so I ducked in to get a bottle.

In the wine department, a sheepish-looking woman came up to me, with eyes downcast: "Excuse me, but do you . . . know anything about wine?" I volunteered that I did (while secretly afraid she'd ask some complex question about Chianti, or something else that was out of my league). It turned out that she was simply looking for a sweet white wine. Boy, you're living in the right country for that, sister! After ascertaining that German wine would be okay, I quickly guided her to a bottle of Riesling that we'd tried and enjoyed a couple of weeks ago. She went home happy -- and I did, too, warm with the glow that comes from helping one of my fellow human beings with something so important as wine selection.

(And it took Scout a while to get used to the heat lamp -- she was more than a little disturbed by the red glow -- but now she curls right up to snooze underneath it, our little lizard in her cage.)

Posted by Kevin at May 20, 2004 05:13 PM