Tag Archives: pets

The Dog Did It

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The Dog Did It

I’ve had the pleasure of bringing four dogs into my life. Each has been unique, and although I gave them each a home and family, they have all given me so much in return. Dogs have the ability to enjoy the moment with wild abandon. To get down and dirty when necessary. To lie spread eagle in mixed company. To lick the body parts we humans won’t even name aloud.

They can change your mood in the swipe of a tail. Make you feel it’s all going to be all right with a chin on your knee. Shake up an awkward silence in a room full of stuffy people. Abort an ugly argument by bringing you a wet toy. Get you up and going when you desperately need to move but want to stay plastered to the sofa with that “I must go for a walk” look. Dogs can look right into your heart and melt it. They can listen intently to your problems and solve them with a few blinks. And who among us has not had a serious conversation with the dog at some point?

They rely on us as much as we rely on them, giving us a sense of purpose. They are not judgmental or ashamed of us. They are filled with unconditional love, and set a wonderful example for us humans.

Cats…Go Figure

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Cats are so entertaining. They are well-known for their curious behavior, and often just spring into action over nothing noticeable to the human eye. They practice odd habits, move in ways that don’t seem physically possible, and make sounds that sound other-worldly. I’ve had several cats over the years, and I’ve seen and heard some mighty strange things.

When I was a little kid, my cousin brought a kitten home from college that she could no longer keep. She purposely let my brother and I see it, knowing we’d fall in love, and my parents would take the cat off her hands. We did, they did, and Shtoonkie was ours. I don’t remember a whole lot about Shtoonkie because I was maybe 4 or 5 when he came to live with us. It was a short stay, as I recall. Shtoonkie was fond of getting into unusual places and just hanging out…literally. Our front door had a small window at the top of it, and I remember he would jump up to that window and just hang there by his front claws, looking outside. Another of his favorite hangouts was on my parents’ bed, under the bedspread, but on top of the sheets. He would somehow slither in between the covers without disturbing anything, and would just appear as a lump in the middle of the bed.

I didn’t have another cat until I was teaching. My first was Ashley. She was sort of aloof and disinterested sometimes, but overall a good companion. One evening I was sitting on the floor, wrapping some gifts. I had a large gift bag laying on the floor in front of me, which didn’t have anything in it yet. Being a cat, Ashley crawled inside the bag. I focused on wrapping the gift for a minute, and suddenly the bag flew into the air in front of me, and exploded. There was a flash of grey fur flying through the air, and bits of bag fell to the floor. I laughed until I cried. She stayed away from bags for quite some time after that.

Then came Binky. He was the best orange tabby boy! He loved the crinkly plastic grocery bags. One time after a grocery run, there were several bags on the floor. He was sitting on them, poking his head in them, and all of a sudden he tore off running, plastic bag flying behind him like a parachute. He had stuck his head through one of the handles, and apparently, in his excitement over the crackling sound the bag made in motion, he just kept running faster, trying to get away from the bag. Unfortunately, it followed him everywhere. I finally was able to catch him and get it off of his neck.

Blossom was a sweet, petite, fuzzy, gorgeous girl. She didn’t get into much mischief, but she had one odd habit we never understood. She loved to lick and chew on photographs. This was back in the days of taking pictures with film in a camera, then getting the film developed into prints. I think she was drawn to whatever chemicals were involved in the processing of the photos. If you left any pictures laying around, you’d find them with little teeth marks all along the edges, and the finish licked off of them.

We had one polydactyl cat, Graycie, who was big on carrying socks around. She’d find my husband’s socks, and bring them downstairs, one at a time, and leave them all over the house. When I’d get home from work, there’d be a trail of socks throughout the house. Once in a while, when she was feeling ambitious, she would go for larger items. One time it was a sweater, and another time a blanket! She looked absolutely ridiculous dragging that blanket down the steps. We had one of those crinkly tunnels for the cats, and she’d often stash the socks there. She also would cry human-sounding cries as she carried the socks, as if they were her babies or something. She had a second special skill. She would sit up on her haunches like a prairie dog, and look around. You could get her to do it to take treats. I think we missed out by not signing her up for the kitty circus.

My current male tabby, Stewball, is very fond of the dog. I featured him in a picture the other day, doing his weird thing. He cuddles with Polly the dog and licks her ears obsessively. He does the “pusha pusha” while licking away, until Polly can take no more and sends him packing. I tried to explain to him that he’s wasting his time if he’s trying to romance her…he’s a cat…she’s a dog…he’s fixed…she’s fixed…he wouldn’t hear any of it.

Just Talkin’ To The Dog

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My dog, Polly, has never been much of a barker. But in the last few weeks, she’s done more barking than usual. Sometimes, she just stands in a room and barks. Today, she has been particularly bothered by something, and has been barking on and off all afternoon and evening. Since she’s not normally this vocal, I know something is up with her, but I just don’t know what. Now you can say dogs can’t talk, and you’d be correct. But dogs can communicate just fine. We humans just have to learn how to read them. And the best part about dogs is that they don’t judge, they don’t ignore you, and they don’t monopolize the conversation.

 

When Polly barks, I run through the usual questions with her. Is Timmy in the well? Is there an intruder in the house? Is a burglar stealing the Scooby Doo treats? Has someone violated the perimeter? Just asking these questions and petting her little head usually calms her down.

 

Our conversations are not limited to when she is barking. We talk all the time. Every morning, we have the time to get up talk. She loves to sleep, and when I get up to take a shower, she sometimes assumes my position, usually with at least one cat cuddling by her side. Sometimes she even gets under the covers and lays her head on my pillow. It’s adorable. It’s tough to have to break it to her that we have to get up and go downstairs. Time for her to go outside and then have some breakfast. She always looks a little sad at the getting up part, but the promise of breakfast puts a spring in her step.

 

When I get home from work, we spend some quality time together on the couch. She climbs into my lap, and puts her paws up on my shoulders, and lays down on top of me. It’s the best hug in the world. She looks to me for the day’s news. I tell her how my day went, and she listens intently. Her eyes and head tilts tell me what she’s thinking, and how her day was. I ask her the typical questions. Did you have a good nap? Did you play with the kitties? Did you play with your toys? If she’s been outside, I ask if she saw any bunnies. Squirrels? Doggies? Kitties? People?

 

If I’ve had a bad day, she seems to know it. She’s always at the ready with extra attention, just when I need it. If I’m sick, she cuddles up next to me and rides it out with me. And she seems to know when she has to back off a little. After I had surgery, she kept a little distance, but still was there to check on me and comfort me throughout my recovery. And when I was going through chemo, she understood I was just out of commission sometimes, and couldn’t give her much of my attention. But she was always there when I felt up to company.

 

We also talk when it’s bedtime. She knows the routine…when I get up off the couch, she goes out for one last romp before bed. On the way to the door, I tell her it’s time for bed, and how tired we are. She agrees, and trots out for a quick one. We climb the stairs together, commiserating over our aching joints, and she jumps up to warm up the bed. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful companion. Sweet dreams, little Polly!Image

Decisions, Decisions

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Being the mother of multiple cats, I frequently find myself in the cat food aisle at the store. I’m not new to cat parenting. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. But it still amazes me when I find myself standing, gazing at the vast array of neatly stacked cans of feline foodstuffs. And over the years, the choices have multiplied tenfold.

 

First, you have the brand distinction…9 Lives, Friskies, Fancy Feast, Whiskas, Science Diet, Iams, as well as all the store brands. Then, within each brand, there are endless varieties…bits, shreds, filets, tenders, pate’, tasty treasures…and tens of flavor choices. Some flavor names are straightforward, such as Tuna, Beef, Liver, Chicken, or Turkey. Others make it sound sort of fast-foot kitschy, like Sea Captain’s Choice, Super Supper, Mariner’s Catch, and Country Style Dinner. Then you have your combos, like Ocean Whitefish & Tuna, Turkey & Giblets, Liver & Chicken, or Chicken & Tuna. And then you get into the specialty foods, like those for indoor cats, senior cats, or kittens.

 

There is no lack of variety or choice. The thing that often strikes me as funny is how we humans stand in the aisle and make the decision as to which cat food to buy. I’ve even had conversations with other people, doing the same thing, and we muse at how ridiculous it is to be so choosy. Even though I’ve done this hundreds of times, I STILL stand there and look, and look, and then debate which kinds to purchase. Do we base our decisions on our own taste preferences? I doubt many cat owners have actually TASTED any of these flavors of cat food, yet we spend just as much, if not more time, choosing cat foods as we do choosing our own groceries.

 

Do we pretend to know our cats’ preferences? Because last I checked, my cats change their little kitty minds on a daily basis. As soon as I discover that they seem to vacuum up a certain flavor of cat food, and stock up on it, sure enough, they stick up their noses at it the next time I serve it. And it absolutely drives me crazy when they leave food sitting in their cute little bowls to dry up and get hard, which I then have to scrape out of the bowl. When they do this, I hold off on giving them more canned food, yet they gather at the bowls, and sit there staring at me. It’s as if they are saying, “Hey! What about us? Aren’t you going to feed us? We’re wasting away to nothing here!”  

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Polly

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Polly

This is my little Polly dog. Polly Wolly Doodle. Sweet Polly Purebred. Polly Pocket. We went to the vet today because she has some loose teeth. Next week she has to have a cleaning, and will lose a few teeth. She’s the sweetest little thing, and has always had the most crooked front teeth. I know it’s best to take care of tooth problems before they cause pain and infection, but I will miss her crooked little smile. Of course, she will still have a cute little smile…just different. And her breath will improve, I’m sure! I wanted you to meet her, as I’m sure she will be the subject of many of my future posts. Good night, sweet Polly!

The Cat Lady

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I have always been an animal lover, and over the years, have rescued or obtained many a dog or cat. All of my animals have either come from animal shelters, or have shown up at my house, or the homes of friends. Recently, I’ve even had friends come to me with animals they’ve had show up, and I’ve tried to help them find homes for them. I’m starting to worry that I’ll become one of those cat ladies you see on the news. I’ve even considered moving to the country where I could have room to provide foster care, boarding, or even start a shelter.

 

Speaking of moving to the country, I want to tell you the story of pets in my little town. I live in a small town where there are, I’m sure, many ordinances that have been on the books way too long. Several years ago, I came to be familiar with one of those ordinances in a very unfriendly way. We moved here with many pets. We loved all of them dearly. We took good care of them…regular vet visits, kept them current on their vaccinations, kept our dogs on leashes or in a fenced yard, kept our kitties indoors at all times…they were a part of our family. We were law-abiding citizens in every way.

 

One day, we received a not-so-friendly letter in the mail from our city clerk, informing us of one of those ordinances I mentioned. Apparently, through a bio I’d been asked to provide for the local newspaper, I’d mentioned how many pets I had. Apparently, our city clerk reads the paper very carefully, and believes everything in it. The letter, without first establishing that the information in the newspaper was correct, informed us that we were in violation of the pet ordinance. It went on to say that the city would allow us to keep our pets, since we were likely not aware of the ordinance, but we would need to license all of them properly, and that in the future, we could not obtain any more pets when these were gone, to exceed the limit of 3 cats and 2 dogs.

 

After the initial shock, several very interesting questions sprang into my mind. If they had decided that I could only keep 3 of the cats, just how would they have decided which ones I could keep, and what plans would they have had for those I couldn’t keep? Would they take the cats from me, and take them back to the shelter from which I rescued them? Would they take them down to the river and put them in a bag and dispose of them? Would they make me decide which ones had to go? Would it go down like the accounting practice of last in/first out? Russian roulette? Eenie, meenie, minie, mo?

 

And as far as enforcing this ordinance, did they plan to go door to door, inspecting homes for inside pets in violation of the ordinance? Would they have the right to enter our homes on a regular basis for pet searches? If the cats were hiding under the bed, would we need to extract them, or would the city officials do that? Sounds reminiscent of what Hitler was doing. And what about other pets that might be inside pets, such as turtles, fish, geckos, snakes, etc.?

 

As I said, we were law-abiding citizens, and I have no problem with licensing my pets, if it is required. I do, however, have a huge problem with the city being able to regulate how many pets I have that live inside my home. I also have a problem with the concept of them assuming the power to allow me to keep my pets, or to enforce this ordinance. And how were we to know of this ordinance in the first place?

 

My cats never go outside. They are healthy and well cared-for. They are not roaming the streets, damaging property or terrorizing small children. We, however, had been assumed guilty and deemed “offenders”, providing hideouts for several fugitive cats! Every year when I visit City Hall to purchase my pet licenses, I half expect the clerk to demand to see death certificates for those of my sweet kitties that have since passed on to that big litter box in the great beyond. I guess the lessons learned are: be careful what you say about your personal life that might end up in the newspaper, and when you move to a new town, go directly to the city clerk’s office and ask for a copy of ALL the laws and ordinances. Oh…and keep your house clean, as you never know when the city officials might stop in to see what’s in your closet!