Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Furbaby Flyer

Well...first things first. Last night I wrote up and posted a brand new topic (very inane, which fits in quite well here at the Asylum!) with a bunch of pictures...and then this morning (at work) I was briefly on my page and just about to edit a few typo's I had found (seems 1 or 2 always slip in there somehow)...and magically the entire post was suddenly deleted, with no way that I've yet found to bring it back (stupid blogger) here it is again (to the best of my pathetic memory).

Surely you've all heard of the "RADIO FLYER" wagons we used to have as fact, you probably HAD one, or at least knew somebody who did. I believe it was a Federal law back in the 60's that all kids have access to a wagon. We used them to haul stuff around, and even to ride down hills in them like a go-cart (with their incredibly precise steering...NOT! It's amazing we're not all DEAD!) Anyway, they were useful for so many things as kids. And you know what? They're still useful now.

As you all know, our four-legged child Sydney isn't doing so well. When we left for Hawaii 3 weeks ago she had been on steroids for a few weeks, and had made some nice improvements...she wasn't falling down on every blade of grass or dust particle, and her head tremors were pretty much gone. Then we went to Hawaii for a week (well, Jeannie stayed 2 days longer with another couple, but I had to get home due to limited vacation time). When I got home late one night I found that Sydney could barely stand, let-alone walk, I was devastated. I had to carry her pretty much everywhere for the first 12 hours or so that I was back....I didn't tell Jeannie as I was afraid I might have to put her down before she got home and didn't want to worry her. But I also did not want her to see HER baby Sydney like that.

But then she started getting better...maybe just having her 'family' home. All I can think is that when we left she just laid around for 23.9 hours a day (instead of the 22.9 hours she lays around when we aren't on vacation). But just having us home again, making her get up every now and then and try to walk did her wonders. By the time Jeannie got home she was much improved (though still nowhere near where she was when we left for Hawaii). I think the secret is to keep her moving around as much as we can. So with this thought in mind, I figure I need to get her over to our little park a few times a week. All the babies LOVE the park...tons of new smells...they fan out and just smell and smell (and tinkle and poo)...but the park is about a block away and Sydney can't possibly walk that far...she'd take all day (and fall over a bunch of times in the process).

So I decided that I need a wagon for her...that way I can haul her to the park and then let her walk around.....and PG and Sweet Pea can walk on their leashes like normal (while I pull the wagon). I looked in Walmart and you know how much a RADIO FLYER wagon goes for these days? The plastic version (can you say chinsey!) was $80 at Walmart...and online the steel version like we had as kids was $100 plus shipping.

In case you don't remember what they look like, THIS should refresh your memory:

 I considered it, but realized that it's too high off the ground....I recall tipping over in ours many times....but I can't have Syd being dumped out of her wagon....she's got enough problems as it is. So I decided to build her a custom Flyer. I have a bunch of misc lumber...I picked up 4 wheels and the big bolts for axles at Home Depot, and the rest I mostly have lying around. A piece of 1/2" conduit for the handle, some 2x4"s for the wheels to mount to, and a hinge or something to attach the handle to the steerable front wheel assy. And various bolts and screws. Also a piece of wood for the bottom, and a long piece of paneling for the sides.

It took me over a week of my spare time on weekdays and at least one full weekend day, but I made my wagon! Then I had to name it..."RADIO FLYER" Is taken, besides, this should be something to do with the babies. So I named it the "FURBABY FLYER". Also I needed a I played around with fonts until I had one I liked, and made an 11x17 print of that...then I had to search the internet for a suitable icon for in-between the words (the real version has a kid in a wagon swooshing along...look close, you can see it). I finally found a cute little flying dog that I figured I could adapt for white and red, printed that out about 6 times (trying to get the right size to go between my words). THEN I had to cut out the letters making a spray-paint template, and also cut out the flying dog and insert that in the middle, all held together by scotch tape. After giving the wagon body the nifty red paint job inside and out, I sprayed the logo on both sides. I had to do a 2nd white-spray to add the swoosh-things from under the F and R (first and last letters)...then a clear-coat job and the body was done. Then I sprayed the wheel axles and the bolt heads (axles are black, bolt heads are red)...the wheels were already white with black tires thankfully. Put it all together finally, and then added a memory foam pad covered by a little blanket, to finish it off. THEN It was time to grab Syd and do a Fit-check.

 Here's Syd during the fit-check. I made the entire thing as low to the ground as I could (including the smaller wheels....the larger ones would look cooler, but put her up higher). It's also significantly wider than the original, also on purpose to make it more stable. I bent the side wall paneling with my steamer, and the top of the walls I used a long piece of refrigerator water tubing cut all the way down the middle, and then hot-melt glued it to the sides, along with throwing a bead of hot glue on every seam and joint. I think it turned out pretty good!

 To finish the fit-check I took her outside and wheeled her around our sidewalk and driveway. She tried to stand up more than a few times, so I quickly realized that I needed a restraint system. So I added 2 cords with little tiny carabiners that can clip to her harness and keep her from standing up. We are now park-ready I believe!

 With Jeannie as my official photographer, we worked our way to the park. This shot is just moments after I let Syd out of the wagon to start her wandering.

 After they'd run around for a while (or in Syd's case, mosey'd/stumbled), I was able to gather them for a group shot. This is one of the RARE shots of Sweet Pea....typically she's like a secret-agent, or a Federal Fugitive....or even a Witness Protection Agency soon as she even SMELLS the camera she's off like a shot. Can't tell you how many awesome shot's she's ruined in the last few nano-seconds before the shutter went off.

THIS is what a typical Sweet Pea shot looks like. See what I mean? This shot wasn't touched-up or altered in any way...she is just very good at NOT getting her picture taken! In this shot you can see the hair still growing back on her rear leg after her last bout with cancer...along with part of the large scar that went over 2/3rds of the way around her knee. So far so good...she's doing great, not a hit of the cancer coming back. We're keeping our fingers crossed on that one.

Here's a quality shot of HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, EMPRESS OF THE UNIVERSE, and QUEEN OF ALL SHE SURVEY'S: Miss PG. She has a pretty long toungue apparently. She's also the one who lost a leg to cancer 2 years back...but you'd never know it! She's a total MONSTER to her sisters...(she's still the Alpha btw). All losing the leg did is slow her down a bit from her VERY fast whippet-style run that she used to have. You'd never know she's coming up on 13 years old...(she's the only one we know for sure, as we got her as a puppy in Hawaii. Sweet Pea and Sydney came from the shelter).

And then it was time to head home (Syd can only do so much before she's just plain whipped). But it was  GREAT to get back to our park...they SO love it! You can see Princess PG out front saying "hey Daddy...what are you waiting for? Let's get going! note: going TO the park we walk them on the leash, as they have WAY too much energy and excitement...I have to restrain them until I can let them off at the park to run. But going home they are all pretty tired and stay fairly close, and they even mind pretty well when they're tired.

And AWAY we go....Syd is quite content to ride in the wagon at this point...with PG and Sweet Pea leading the way. On the way TO the park it makes her absolutely CRAZY to be behind PG, even in the wagon!

And here we are back in our driveway. Syd looks up at me and says (I swear I heard it):  
Thanks for the wagon Daddy, I LOVE it!

And one final shot I thought worthy of posting: This is Syd last weekend...she's stuck behind the feeding station (I custom made a three-baby feeder, and they each have their picture by their bowl...that's so when we have babysitters they don't feed them from the wrong bowl...that would be catastrophic! Anyway, I had to pick up the entire station so she could get out (it's filled with water-bottles btw to make it heavy enough so they don't move it around when they ATTACK their meals, and it also has a rubber bottom glued to it to help in that respect). Poor Syd...she no longer has a reverse gear, but that doesn't slow her down one bit from vacuuming the entire area for any stray food molecules. She is a QUITE the happy and loving furbaby! And we will certainly do all we can to make her feel loved, and we will hope and pray that she can stay with us for many more years.

Friday evening update: I tried a "solo" mission to the first attempt to manage two on leashe's and Syd in the wagon. Jeannie took this shot just as I had harnessed up PG and Sweet Pea, and was ready to start pulling Syd.

  I think it worked out pretty good (gotta love that shot of Sweet can see that she noticed the camera, but she has an evil 'grin' on her face...she can be quite fiesty when she wants to). Syd has already figured she's getting a free ride, and now mostly just sits there looking around...while Sweet Pea and PG think they are the bee's knees being out front (Syd seemed ok being behind the other two tonight...didn't expect that).

I did have to make some mods to the wagon after last unday's 1st attempt....I had to totally re-do the steering...the Mark I unit failed miserably (I used a gate-hinge to attach the handle to the front axle , turns out they aren't made for the lateral torque that was being applied by my handle)...but the Mark II upgrade seems quite robust. So after tonight's walk I declare the Furbaby Flyer is a success. I then took the entire 'front end' back off and made a few more mods that I've been thinking about...(I don't want the handle to be able to flop either into the front of the wagon or all the way to the ground, AND I needed a sturdier steering 'stop' to keep the wheels from hitting the side of the wagon when I'm turning, which is just like applying brakes to one side. Both mods are now complete, just waiting for the fresh black paint to dry to re-assemble, and it will be ready for another park-run on Sunday.


  1. YOU ARE AWESOME, MATT!! Love the wagon, love that you were able to build one, love the spiffy paint job, love that you take the kiddies to the park, & LOVE the photos! And give Sydney & the "girls" some more kisses from Aunt Susie! You know, whenever one of your babies does finally go on up to the doggie park in the sky (long, LOOOONG time from now!), I will bawl my eyes out right along with you. Well, not right "with you" as I'm 3000 miles away, but you know what I mean! :)

    Wish I could have gotten here earlier this week as I still haven't written up my thoughts about the Tour. My tooth extraction had "complications". 1st, it took the DR a VERY long time to get the 2 roots out (as usual with my damn roots!). Tip - whenever your oral surgeon & the assistant apologize 3-4 times each during your procedure, things are NOT going well! Anyway, things seemed to be getting better last Friday (pain wise), but then the pain started to escalate Sat night, was worse Sunday, I stayed home in MORE pain Monday & finally called the Dr office Tues morning, 1 minute after they opened. Part of the bone fragments they had put in had fallen out & the socket had gotten infected. I had to go back 3 mornings this week for them to clean out the socket & pack it with antiseptic/anesthetized gauze which GREATLY helped the pain but the taste of the medicine stayed in the mouth all day/night & was making me severely nauseous. Today, he took out the packing & said it should now clear up on its own, although I need to clean out the socket after eating for at least 2 weeks with this plastic syringe thing. Good gawd. Plus, today I realized that I can barely talk with where this hole happens to be - I keep slurring words. If the bad pain starts up again, I'm to call them right away & go in. Fingers crossed!

    Anyhoo, I've been trying to watch the Tour of Utah 1 hour show each night, but it starts at 11:00 PM here & sometimes I fall asleep! Don't think I've ever seen this on TV before! The scenery is GORGEOUS! When I was home Monday, I was looking at the onscreen TV guide & clicking around for what was going to be on that night when I saw the name on the 11:00 block! I was back on the prescription pain meds then & almost thought I was hallucinating! It's on some channel called MASN, which I think is Mid Atlantic Sports Network. Does Colorado start Monday? I've kinda lost track.

    Saw today that Sagan is joining Tinkoff. STILL don't get how that will work.

    OH, almost forgot - the Dan Patrick Show did a lengthy interview with Lance this week. If you go to the website, you can click & watch/listen to the 3 segments. It was very interesting - Lance sounds SO different! His speaking cadence has changed. Good interview if you have the time. Also, Esquire magazine did a lengthy piece this month & for ONCE these past 4 years, it was NOT a total hatchet job. Read it if you have time.

    BTW, WHY won't Betsy Andreu LET IT GO?! She freakin WON! Let the guy alone!

  2. Aww Matt, those puppies are so lucky to have you!

    Tour of Utah -- I've been watching the online TourTracker mostly, but found that FoxSports is also showing the last 2 hours of each stage LIVE between 4-6pm (EDT) WOO-hoo! Happy to have another race getting airtime! And it has been beautiful. One thing I don't understand, if C. Horner is still ill (remember he was fighting bronchitis at the TdF, his team leader had pneumonia!) WHY is he still racing when the Vuelta is just 2 weeks away? Sandbagging?

    Thanks for the tip about the Lance interview, SusieB
    I really hope that the infection is clearing up well and the pain is going away. That could have made you seriously ill!

    re Betsey Andreu -- I guess to her this is really really personal -- first she felt personally betrayed by her hubs and Lance, when she discovered (shock and horror!) that they doped. Then of course, the issues with Lance calling her a liar (no kidding?) and trying to deal with her feelings re her husband's relationship with LA and the sport I would guess has caused her to displace MORE anger onto LA. (psychological analysis free of charge to IA members, all others $.05 please!) I haven't seen, what/where is she saying now?


  3. Susie, so sorry to hear about your dental torture...I mean care. Not much in our lives can be as painful as teeth problems.

    I wish I was able to get the Tour of Utah...I searched my Direct TV for the tour, found it, but we don't get that channel sadly.

    And Rae/Susie, I have yet to watch the Lance interview...just need to find the time. And speaking of time, must get back to chores (need to find why I have a "front brake pad low" light/chime coming on in my car....the pads are fine, so need to troubleshoot that system to find what's throwing that alert. It's always SOMETHING. Had a nice ride yesterday with my the top of one minor climb coming back into town, as we were waiting for our stragglers to catch up, I noticed what appeared at first glance to be a red-tailed-hawk lying against the curb dead. Turns out it was an owl of some kind, and it WASN'T DEAD! It was breathing still, but otherwise not moving. None of us had smartphones on us (I have my tracfone, but that would be pretty useless. So after I got home (about a half our) I did some internet searching and FINALLY (after dialing a few diff agencies) found THE ONE that is interested in rescuing the owl. However about 15 minutes later I was called back, they didn't have any transporters in my area (it's all volunteers) so I volunteered to go pick it up and bring it into the local shelter, where they would arrange transportation to Moro Bay where the wild animal refuge is. But when I got there (armed with gloves, a towel to wrap the owl in so it can't flap it's wings NOR use it's SCARY EVIL WICKED looking talons on me, it was dead. So sad...must have been hit the night before while swooping on some prey, and laid there all those hours hurt (there was no blood, must have been good internal injuries though). Too bad, would have loved to have saved this beautiful bird. But at least I tried, poor owl.

    1. Wow. 'Tis true, those rescue agencies don't always come through. On my long rides I have come across dogs let out on the remote roads I ride. Desperate, lost, ABANDONED, the best I can do is share my water bottle and lend some hugs before I ride on. I know how they feel, a little, but it is heartbreaking and why people think it is better to "set free" their poor now-unwanted animals is beyond me. If I were the Ruler Of The World (and who knows, maybe someday) I would take these people and leave THEM somewhere far away, without water or food. Afghanistan, say.

      Some years ago a Red Tail Hawk magically appeared on my trailer porch. When I walked outside, it didn't move. I knew something was wrong. I called the Bird Shelter (hey, it's Florida. We have a lot of birds. Big Birds.) the lady told me to wrap it in a towel and bring it to the shelter. I didn't have a car at the time and the shelter was all the way at the north end of the county, thirty miles away. I really couldn't see me pedaling thirty miles with a dying raptor in my messenger I brought out a cup of water and some sliced turkey from the Winn Dixie deli. It worked. I did this for three days, then on the fourth day, the hawk was gone. I talked to the hawk, I approached as near as I could...but it was gone. I don't know the end of the story.


  4. Just watched a master class in descending put on by Cadel. Wow!

    Thank heavens for Tour Tracker, no commercial, not bad commentary.... the race was bumped from Foxsports here by baseball.

    Matt, at least you tried. We have a wildlife rescue agency here in town too, fortunately they are very responsive. Called them about a month ago when I witnessed a hawk hit by a car on the freeway.

    You use tracphone? I use net10 (sister company) and thought I was about the last person on earth that didn't have a smartphone. My daughter just got the tracphone deal of a ZTE android phone and only $7/month -- now I am thinking about it.


  5. $7 a MONTH?? (I pay $6 right now to keep my tracfone alive month after month so I don't lose my minutes...hmmm....will have to look into that...I know they came out w/ android smartphones a few months ago).

    But IF I finally step into the 21st century w/ a smartphone, I can't make fun of EVERYBODY ELSE anymore! (well, Jeanie doesn't have a smartphone either...she has a 'regular' ol' cellphone from her know, makes calls, and that's about it? Much like mine...though I can even take pictures (of a SUPER low quality) now...that was a huge upgrade for me!

    Oh, and Susie/Rae...I did a quick update to this post on Friday night...a new pic at the very bottom...just so you know...and any of the other 3 people on the planet who read here...

    1. Ah, but the $7 is not unlimited minutes (I wouldn't need that); I think unlimited would be $30-$40. The minutes do roll over at the $7 rate.

      Great pic of you 4 in the Cali sunshine. I can't get over the wagon, looks store-bought! I am glad it is working well. I can't show my daughter this, she would be after me to rig up something for our ancient cat who is also getting feeble and unsteady. Not that Cali-Cat would suffer the indignity (in her eyes) of being put into anything. The one advantage to her getting so old and a little confused at times, is that she seems to have forgotten her belief that we are really, secretly, out to get her.

  6. Love that last pic, Matt!

    Still can't believe Robin Williams killed himself. Just can't get over it. I'd heard him talk about his heart surgery & his past drug problems but never knew he suffered from depression. I've actually struggled with the "dark menace" off & on since my junior year in college & yet even I can barely understand how a guy who truly seemed to "have it all" could not see some other solution. And that a man who brought such JOY to millions was secretly encased in dread & anguish just breaks my heart.

    You always hear & read of the comedians & other "artists" who are/were tortured souls, but Robin Williams just never seemed to be like that. Guess you truly DON'T know what lurks in the hearts & minds of anyone! I wonder if he'd always suffered from depression or if it was fairly new for him.

    The sport of cycling will miss him too.

    Hopefully, next week will be happier - with the "Pro Challenge" starting (sorry, still hate that name! What is wrong with Tour of Colorado?!!).

    BTW, who is 'Lucas Euser'? He said some really snotty, idiotic things during the Tour of Utah, including some nasty snark about Jensie. Compared to that guy, Tejay is looking better all the time!

    OH & I saw that Contador will be riding the Vuelta after all! HOW? Do broken bones heal faster these days? I hope Tinkoff isn't pressuring him for "results". Would really love to watch the Vuelta this year but since Comcast STILL doesn't offer the Universal Sports channel, it's not possible!

    Well, have a good weekend everyone & talk to ya next week! Nanu, nanu.

  7. Oh, I was so saddened by the news about Robin Williams. I wonder if he was bipolar -- by all accounts he could be somewhat manic and his success was based on that aspect of his nature. I read that the depression was a long standing problem -- but who will ever know. This was a real loss. I hope that he has peace and joy now.

    Does anyone carry Universal Sports except one of the satellites (Dish, maybe?) Since no cable systems have it, I wonder why they won't let us pay for access like they used to. Oh, well, for me!

    I guess AC's fracture wasn't a full break. Hopefully, riding won't stress it too much.

    I haven't heard yet anything about the future of the Cannondale team. Kind of bummed about Lars Boom going to Astana, and Sagan to Tinkov. I was a fan of the old CSC team, but it certainly isn't the same with Oleg on board.


  8. PS did you know that Dave Zabriskie rode the Race Across America this summer? Part of a team. If I'd known, I would have made an effort to be at one of the Ohio check-ins when he came through!