Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Falling Angel Drama

Angel, our German Spitz.

We had quite a scare Sunday afternoon, after Sharon came home from work around 3:30. I was outside working on cabinets for the trailer, and Sharon was in the laundry room. Angel had been laying on the top of the couch, in his usual spot to see out the front windows. We heard Angel let out several cries, and Sharon came running from the laundry room to the living room, and immediately called for me to come in from outside.

We aren't sure what happened, as neither of us saw it, but we can only assume one of two things. We had an old cross-stitched afghan over the couch to protect it from Angel's claws and it had become quite frayed. There were a couple of spots where it had loops pulled in the fabric, one of which was large enough for Angel to catch his claws in, or even a foot.

The other thing that could have happened is that he might have gotten his foot caught between the couch, and the ottoman part of the love seat, which sits very near the couch at one corner. Either of these instances could have caused him to twist his leg or pull a foot.

When I got in the house, he was holding his right rear leg up close to his body, and couldn't put weight on it. We immediately feared the worst, that he might have knocked his hip out of place, and that's never a good thing for dogs...or anyone else!

We got him to lay down and we checked his back and hip, but could feel nothing wrong...but then...we aren't experts, either. We laid him on his back and felt around his leg, and he could move it and extend it without pain. In fact, we could move all parts of his leg with no signs of pain from him, so we figured he might have just strained a muscle. He just wouldn't put weight on it.

With it being Sunday, no vet around here was open, but we called on Monday, and got an appointment for him on Tuesday morning. Sharon worked all day Monday, but was off Tuesday, and since it could take both of us to carry him, open doors, etc., this worked out better for all of us.

The doctor checked him over, and we noticed that his right foot, from his ankle down, was slightly swollen, but nothing appeared to be broken. It appears that he might have strained a ligament on the top of his ankle. Think of it as the top of a human arch, just in front of the leg. They decided that they wouldn't do X-rays, but gave him some anti-inflammatory medicine to help take the swelling down.

We were greatly relieved that nothing was broken, and even more so, that Angel wasn't in constant pain, although that's hard to tell with a dog. He was obviously lethargic for the first couple of days, and didn't even want to go out to potty. When he did, he tried to lift his good leg, and it took him awhile to figure out that he needed to turn the other direction! I carried him outside and down the steps and back again so he wouldn't have to get out there on his own.

However, going #2 was another story, since he couldn't squat down on his sore leg, and couldn't balance himself. He didn't go #2 at all on Monday morning, or even Tuesday morning, and we felt bad for him, but the doctor said Angel would figure it out on his own when he had to go bad enough.

By Tuesday morning, after the vet visit, Angel seemed to be doing better, and was at least touching the ground with his right foot. After lunch, we went outside with him while I showed Sharon the progress on the trailer, and we noticed Angel finally figured out how to squat. He wasn't his usual graceful self, but he got the job done, and acted like he was feeling much better.

Since yesterday, we have noticed that he is attempting to put a little weight on his foot, so we think he will be fine, although it may take up to a month to get back to normal again.

While we were at the vet, we also got all of Angel's shots and medical needs up to date, and also put him on a heart worm and flea and tick regimen, to be taken internally once a month. With our future travels, he will need all of that. We had never worried about that stuff before, because he is inside most of the time, and when he does go out, we usually go out with him, or at least keep an eye on him.

After all, he is our "baby", and what parent does not keep an eye on their child? Having a dog around is like having a two year old, autistic child around. When you think about it, their intellect is about the same, as is their mannerisms, i.e., they hear but don't always acknowledge it, they like routine and are happy with the same food all the time, among other things. Any parent who does not watch over their child doesn't deserve to have a pet!

We also went up to the city, and spent another $15 for the city tag for him. Being with us all the time, we had never felt a need to have it before, and looked at it as more of a revenue stream for the city, but we figured as long as we were making everything else legal, we might as well do that, too, even though we will be leaving here in another 70 days or so, and probably have to renew them in our new state of residence.

Since we will be roaming all over the country, we also plan to order a custom tag for him with our web information on it, and our phone number. These days, the quickest way to get in touch with a traveler is through a web site, which is why any traveler with a pet should have at least a free blog. If they don't have a blog, then an email address is the next best thing. Some people are too tight to call a number if it isn't toll free, but they can always go to a web site or email and make (nearly) immediate contact.

So between the incessant rain that we have been tolerating, and having to care for Angel, I still managed to get a couple of the overhead cabinet frames done. Below, is the cabinet that will go immediately to the right of the microwave cabinet, This one will hold the computer printer that we currently have, and to the right of it will be the Perma Power line filter that protects all of our computer equipment. We may add another shelf above the equipment later.

The computer printer cabinet for our cargo trailer conversion.
Because this cabinet fits into the rounded front corner of the trailer, it took a little more work than just a square cabinet. No side could be used on the right-hand side of it, so other ways to secure it had to be designed into it.

The back side of the printer cabinet.
In order to find the right radius for the corner, I first cut a slightly longer piece of scrap plywood to the same depth as the shelf, for a template. I then held the edge of that against the back wall (left outside wall of the trailer), and used a simple mechanical drawing compass, set at the widest point of the difference in shape, and scribed around the front corner. After cutting that first cut, I tested the fit again, and made the final adjustment, using the belt sander, to the pattern so that it fit tight on both the side wall as well as front wall.

Notice in the photo that there is a large plywood panel across the top of the left (printer) compartment. That is 3/4-inch plywood and was made extra wide because these cabinets (the microwave cabinet, too) are 15 inches deep, rather than the standard 12 inches of most overhead cabinets. In order to secure the cabinet to the blocking that I installed down both sides of the ceiling at 12 inches out from the side wall, the wider piece was necessary to reach it.

Also, on the back of each divider wall, I attached 3/4-inch-square cleats, and also on the right-hand side, behind the face frame. There will be screws run through these into the outside wall of the trailer. Under the bottom shelf is also a piece to support the shelf, and it will also get screws through it into the outside walls of the trailer. All parts are glued, as well as having the longest staples or nails possible to put in them...and plenty of them. After all, these are going to be holding up to 30 pounds in each cabinet, and have to sustain bouncing down the road. The printer cabinet will also be secured through the side of the face frame to the microwave each helps to support the other.

The angled corners on the tops of the dividers are for the wiring chase that will run along both sides of the trailer. It will eventually be covered with flat pieces of paneling installed inside the cabinets and closet, and above the entry door. In fact, the one above the entry door may also provide a place for the monitor panels and switches. We'll see.

As luck would have it, I happened to have in stock some primed 3/8-inch AC plywood, that I am reserving for the bottom shelves in the cabinets. After we get on the road, I will prime and paint all the cabinets, both inside and out, but at least this will provide a nice clean shelf to start with. I didn't get a photo of the microwave cabinet, but they are both built the same way, except that I didn't need any curves on the microwave cabinet, other than at the top (for the ceiling curvature). It's basically just a rectangular box. When I get them hung, I will take a photo of them both together, in place on the wall. 

Before any of the overhead cabinets can be attached, though, I have another problem to solve. The upper wall of the front of the trailer is open at the top. My intention was to leave an accessible space up there as a wiring chase, which I still plan to use. There are connections up there for the clearance lights on the trailer, also, and as per wiring codes, no connection should ever be buried in a wall and made "non-accessible". If anything should ever fail, you have to be able to get to those connections for troubleshooting and repairs.

As a cover for the upper part of the wall, I figured on installing another piece of paneling or plywood over it...something that could be removed if a problem ever came up. Originally, I had thought of using thin luan plywood for the cover, but the truth is, I ran out of pieces large enough to do the job!

The only answer was to use a piece of the same 3/8-inch plywood that covers the walls of the trailer. But even after making a template and cutting the piece to shape, it is too stiff to push it into the curvature of the front of the trailer! Although the height of such a piece was going to be short, I decided to make it extend down to the bottoms of the cabinets on either side...otherwise it would be a pain to try to trim around it.

I am a big fan of ratchet straps. I probably have at least twenty of them in various sizes, up to 2-inch width, that I have actually used to pull a vehicle with. So, I came up with the idea to use one to create a bow bend the plywood to the approximate shape that I need for the front wall. To keep the hooks from cupping the ends, I also added a couple of braces, secured with clamps, just to keep the ends relatively straight.

The plywood cover for the top of the front wall, being "pre-bent".

Such a task could be accomplished by steaming the wood, as most curved wooden pieces are made. The problem is that I don't have a steamer, let alone one this big! So all I can do is try to "over-bend" the plywood, and leave it set for a few days to (hopefully) retain some of that curvature.

I will add some extra tension every day for awhile and test it from time to time, to see how far it remains bent, and when it becomes sufficiently bent to be able to anchor it in place, I will do so, and then it will remain that way. If I need to fish wires behind it, I have steel electrical fish tapes to poke through the insulation from either corner, hook the wiring onto it, and then pull the wires through. God forbid I should ever have to remove it completely, but it could still be done. I hope to never have to! I will make sure all the front lights work before I install it! In the meantime, I have plenty of other things to work on.

I still have to make the dividers for the bottom of the wardrobe closet to separate the battery compartment from the porta-potty, etc., and I need to start on the front couch framework, as well as the bed platform at the rear of the trailer. But I figure the cabinets and frames are about half done at this point, so it will get there in plenty of time. I'll do the drawers and cabinet doors last. I also need to free up the other two steel pegboard panels from the garage and those will be hung in the storage compartment...two on the back of the bulkhead wall and one on the right side wall.

I was hoping I had a couple more to hang on either side of the wardrobe closet, but it appears I won't have enough. I want to add pegboard there to hang things like the broom, vacuum attachments, shoe bags, and other things on. I have plenty of various hooks, and those plastic clips that keep the hooks from falling out, so I may have to buy a half sheet of regular pegboard (also cut in half) to use on each side in the closet.

We had rain again this morning until noon, and only three days of clearing before we have yet again another five days of at least 50% chance. The yard is a muddy mess again, and trying to get back and forth from the deck to the trailer just creates more mud. But I will keep at it as much as I can, in between the showers and "life" getting in my way.

As always, thank you for reading, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Addendum 5/21/15: It has been brought to my attention twice already, that some people with Yahoo email accounts are being blocked from making comments. They get the following message back from the server:

The error that the other server returned was:
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550-5.7.1 DMARC policy. Please contact administrator of domain if
550-5.7.1 this was a legitimate mail. Please visit
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Please know that I have been trying to resolve this issue, but as it clearly states in the error message, you must resolve this with Yahoo. I find nothing in the settings on Blogger that will correct it from my end. If you have another email account, try to register with a different account. If I find any other information on this, I will update it here.


Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Gland to hear Angel is going to be A-OK, John. You are absolutely correct about pets and their owners/parents. The pets are always like children and never grow beyond a certain age, so need constant care and attention. And the owners/parents shouldn't have pets if they are not willing to take on the constant responsibility and give the pets the attention they require. I had dogs in my life for probably close to half my life. I like dogs and enjoy them. However, as the crotchety old man I am now (NOT), I know I don't want to accept the responsibility of a pet (dog or otherwise) as a constant traveler. So, my choice is to not have one and to enjoy other people's pets (and children) when I visit. Pets and children require lots of time and attention, been in both situations, so now, I just have one being to be responsible for (and sometimes that can even be a challenge).

As far as the rain - it seems it's either feast or famine - there are parts of the country that would give anything if you could send your pesky rain to them and they'd be thrilled to ship you their extreme dry conditions. I'm high up in the Big Sky Country of Montana right now looking out over snow capped mountains and a gorgeous valley - and . . . it's raining. But, this area has been in drought through the winter, so they are thankful for the rain. It's all about perspective.

The cabinet work you are doing is crazy - I mean that in the most positive sense. You are probably going to have the trailer better built and finished than any commercial RV manufacturer would provide. Kudos to your attention to detail as you run in between the rain drops.

John Abert said...

Thanks, Ed! Yes, the rain has been relentless this year, but I know some states till need it. If it would just concentrate on where they are, it would be great! All we can do is look forward to the time when we can travel with the good weather.