I like to get up early. No matter how many times I watch the sun rise, it never gets old. This time of year there’s lots of pink.
But I forgot about “Fall Back,” got up at 4:30 by mistake. Today will be interesting.
Fall pushed us back inside for a while, the chilling temperatures were kind of a shock after that 3-digit Summer. But we started lighting our camp stove outside almost every day, using the wood we got from our dead trees. So, I like to make my coffee before I feed the dogs, then go out and set some sticks burning in the stove. By the time we get the dogs fed and our coffee and a couple of chairs from the shop, the iron is hot and steaming. That heat sinks into our hands and knees, makes us feel young again, ready to work.
Biscuit’s diabetes has us up early because we need to keep her on a regular feeding and shot schedule. We’ve also bought a glucose test kit – we bought the human kit because it’s so cheap compared to the dog test kit. Our vet told us we just need to add another 20 percent to get an accurate idea of the dog’s reading. Then we take her in every few months and get a reading from the vet to see how she’s doing.
It was very frustrating at first. We’ve been feeding her the same stuff every day at the same times, we gave her the insulin shot just like we were told, and her readings were all over the place. Some days very high, some days very low, some days in the middle, but never the same more than two days in a row. I wondered, was I handling the test strips too much, were we getting enough blood, etc.
The high readings started to worry us – there are many side-effects, like blindness. Low is bad too, they can die. Her behavior seemed okay most of the time, but we worry, worry, worry. The smiling vet assistant acted same no matter what readings – once over 400! Their only suggestion is we get her back on their expensive crap food – white sugar, corn meal, brewer’s rice, chicken fat, etc. I couldn’t do that, so tried tweaking my homemade food. That didn’t help, her readings were still all over the place.
We knew exercise was important, but what we were reading was very confusing. Sometimes exercise lowers blood sugar, sometimes it makes it go up? The information was all for humans, who can tell you how they feel. We were on our own.
We had to use common sense – we know she likes exercise, and it makes her perky and happy, so that must be good. We thought we were giving her enough exercise – we live on a big place, we walk all over and she follows at our heels, we play ball with her every couple of hours, and she’s got her little pal Badges for spontaneous squirrel chasing and tug-o-war.
Still, that didn’t seem like enough. We noticed her readings were better when we took her for a morning walk. And it needed to be more than just a stroll up and down the street in front of our house, she and Badges both seem happier with a ride in the car and a good hike. And they seem to enjoy a change of scenery, instead of going to the same old place again and again. We do too.
We live within walking distance of lower Bidwell Park, but the traffic between our house and the park is usually too busy. On weekends it seems everybody in town walks their dogs past our house, which is stressful, because you never know how dogs will react to each other. So it’s nice to get in the car and drive somewhere else.
One place we like to visit is Verbena Fields, located along East First Avenue and Lindo Channel. For many years it was a gravel quarry, and the channel was cleared regularly with a bulldozer to keep the flood waters from backing up. As housing moved in, there was pressure for the city to stop the gravel mining operation and allow the channel to “go back to Nature.” The location sat unused, essentially a dog park for neighbors by day and a worsening bum camp by night, so various groups worked with the city to clean this little spot up, plant native plants, and put in a trail system, most of it paved with gravel. There are even signs that describe the history of the area and identify the various plants.
Lindo Channel itself, a flood channel under the management of the Department of Water Resources, is a wonderful place to walk your dog or your kids. The trails wind up and down the banks on both sides. In Summer the water dries up allowing for BMX trails and jumps. At this time of year there’s fresh water, the dogs like to get their feet wet.
A new place we’ve checked out is Comanche Creek Park, which is still in the works. There’s a nice but short trail, then the money ran out I guess, and the trail deteriorates into Bumville – a tangle of invasive, non-native plants full of garbage and poop. I hope they keep working on that park, the trail is a nice commute route for people living in the Southwest end of town. But, as is, I wouldn’t go there after dark, or too early in the morning.
It is finally 6am – I had to feed Biscuit and give her the shot by the old time, slowly wheedle her an hour later. Today I’ll say goodbye to Orion as he is sinking more quickly into the west and now I will be getting up an hour later. For a little while I will have to hustle out to greet the sun, but within a couple of weeks she’ll get pretty lazy and I’ll have plenty of time to loll around under that pink sky.