Sunday, December 30, 2007

Camel - what??

I got this from my mom...
One of my colleagues came back from Africa last week, and he showed us this photo that he took while he was there. Honest, this is not an altered photo, but the real thing. Our question was... how did the camel get IN the car?!?



(Side note: That's the same car that we had in Peru. Though, we didn't have a camel. Seems like a camel could be a useful thing to have around. You know, if you get tired of walking and want a ride. Or if you need the tv lifted the camel could balance it on his head. Or you could ride on one hump and the tv could ride on the other. All useful things. I'm rambling now; I apologize.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beware of thieves

A few weeks ago, when we were visiting our parents in Orlando, the three of us (Paul, my sister, and myself) were up late watching M*A*S*H. My parents had already gone to bed. I suddenly got a great idea: "Hey guys! Let's put up the Christmas tree as a surprise for Mom and Dad!" We then very quietly took the Christmas tree from the porch and set it up in the stand and put lights on it. We decided not to put the ornaments on it, but we got everything else ready. I even remembered to quietly get some water from the Delta faucets and pour it into the tree stand. It was fun yet challenging to do that in the darkness! It was also hard because we had put the Christmas tree in the living room, which is right next to my parents' bedroom. At one point, we heard my parents talking so we abandoned the project for a short while. We didn't want them to come out and catch us red-handed!

Our sneakiness paid off. No one emerged from the bedroom, and we were successful at getting the tree up and looking pretty. The next morning we eagerly asked our parents if they had heard us the night before. They laughed, because in actuality they had been awake but they hadn't heard us at all! We all thought that was quite humorous.

"You better be careful," I said. "You never know when someone might break into your house and set up a Christmas tree while you're in bed."

A few days ago, Joanna sent me a link that made me think of that story. It was a newspaper article about an unusual case: Bloomington thieves leave puppy behind. The article read:

A Bloomington couple says that thieves who stole items from their cars left something in return -- a small brown puppy tied up in their yard.

Nancy Lee says her husband Jeff discovered the theft when he woke up about 4 a.m. Wednesday.

He also found the female puppy tied to a cable that the Lees had in their yard. Whoever left the dog made a loop around the end of the cable and put it around the puppy's neck. The dog didn't have tags or a collar.

The Lees turned the dog over to Bloomington Animal Care and Control. The Lees say the puppy is nice, but they are unable to keep it.

It made me laugh. I guess you never know who might break into your house/yard and leave something behind. :-)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Zoey update

I got a card in the mail from Zoey's new owners. We had gotten a plush squeaky toy for Zoey and mailed it to them a week or so ago. Accompanying the card was this picture (I cropped it to protect the family she belongs to now):



Isn't she cute?? I am loving the little pink bow in her ear. I wonder how she liked that!

The card read:
Zoey is doing GREAT!! She is such a precious dog. We are so blessed to have her in our family. She loves running around all over the yard; she has so much fun playing with the kids. Thank you so much for the toy (Zoey loves it). We are going to stock her up with more toys; she has chewed up all of her other ones. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Joanna asked me if this was my "happy ending". I suppose so; while I would love to still be a part of Zoey's life and see her as she grows up and gets older, I need to be okay with the family not reaching out to me. And really, I am so happy to hear that she's doing well, though I didn't have any doubts! So yes, a "happy ending" in our chapter on Zoey.

TOO precious!

I don't mean to repeat all the videos I see on Cute Overload, but I couldn't help myself with this one. It's just TOOO precious - I watched it several times in a row! Enjoy, you cat lovers:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Missing puppies

I was browsing the videos on CNN's site this evening, and I saw a video that made me smile. It is about a puppy named Jack who was lost, and is now found. They videotaped the owners when they announced that they had found the puppy. I love the expressions captured on camera! The owners were so excited, and that puppy was just licking them.

I'm very happy for them. I wish my story had turned out just as happy. I must say, it did cross my mind that I wished the local news had picked up the story when Jera left...

There were a few other interested videos on CNN's site, too. I won't link to them because it's hard to find the direct URL to the videos. But there was a story about a person who suddenly died, and it was discovered that they were having a secret breeding operation of rat terriers and chihuahuas. The puppies were neglected and in poor physical condition; it made me sad. :-( There was also a video of a man who had blue skin! It wasn't a fluke thing or an illness; he apparently caused it over 14 years by drinking silver or something like that. I thought that was a strange story - but I'm glad that my fears of my skin spontaneously turning blue are allayed. I was thinking it was because of cancer or mesothelioma treatment. But no, it's just in his drinking water. To each his own I guess!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pit bull love

Today I happened on a blog post about the controversy surrounding pit bulls. The author posed an interesting question:
Is it nature or nurture? That’s the question for pit bulls these days. Are they genetically inclined to be vicious, or has a bad human warped a few of the breed, giving them all a bad reputation?
The author went on to talk about pit bulls rescued from dog fighters (in particular, Michael Vick) - some of them have been deemed adoptable.
Would you adopt one of these dogs? How would you feel about your neighbor adopting one of the dogs?
I don't have any easy answers. I've never really interacted much with a pit bull; I generally avoid them probably due to their reputation. I would be very wary of a neighbor having a pit bull because I live in an apartment. But if I lived in a house? And my neighbor had one? I would be okay with that, I think, if my neighbor was a responsible dog owner. I doubt I'd ever get one myself, but that's because the dog part of my heart belongs to beagles. :-)

I perused the comments on the post and read a few aloud to Paul. Some really lined up with how I feel about pit bulls. I'll try to explain it here.

I do think that irresponsible pet owners are a lot of the cause of the bad rap that the breed gets. It seems that pit bulls can be really nice family dogs. However, I don't think they should be taken lightly.

My analogy was this...

It's like a semi-truck driver. Semis are really big vehicles. They ride alongside other much smaller vehicles and even pedestrians on the side of the street. When their drivers are being responsible and following the traffic laws, all the vehicles and pedestrians can coexist in peace. However, you take the irresponsible semi driver. The one who's been on the road for 15 hours straight. Or the one who's been drinking, or just not paying attention. He (or she) makes a mistake, and the semi hits someone/something. When a semi crashes, the accident is really bad. There could be multiple vehicles involved and fatalities. See, it's not the semi itself that's bad - it's that when it DOES crash, it can be much more serious than when a smaller car crashes. You don't always walk away from semi crashes - you might need some plasma cutting just to make sense of the twisted metal. A car can crash, too, and cause fatalities. Sometimes a car can hit a semi and cause further damage. But you have to realize that semis are a more serious vehicle on the road. Therefore, their drivers need to shoulder the extra responsibility and realize the seriousness if they lose control of their vehicle. The drivers need to be even more careful and alert when on the road.

To carry the analogy further, I shudder when I pass semis on the highway. Almost two years ago a semi was the cause of a really tragic accident that took the lives of five people from my alma mater. This doesn't mean all semis are bad, or that all drivers are irresponsible. I certainly don't think semis should be banned from the road. I just hope that we continue to realize that they are serious vehicles, and train their drivers to realize that as well.

In the same way, a pit bull is like a semi. When a pit bull attacks, it's much more dangerous than, say, a Yorkie. This isn't to say that every pit bull WILL attack. I just think the owners need to realize that their dogs can cause more serious damage, so they try even harder to be responsible and raise their dogs in a good, loving situation.

I hope that makes sense. It's certainly not an easy situation; judging from the 89 comments to date on that post, I can see that people feel passionately about this subject!

Monday, December 10, 2007

A poem


As watchman-cat, I've done my job,
The house is safe once more.
That shiny stuff that stormed the tree
Is dead now on the floor.
--Larry Hollister

(Hat-tip to my sister.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sam the seagull

I got this in an email forward:

A seagull in Scotland has developed the habit of stealing chips from a neighborhood shop. The seagull waits until the shopkeeper isn’t looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos. Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds. The seagull’s shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Aberdeen, Scotland, and helped himself to a bag of chips. Since then, he’s become a regular. He always takes the same type of chips. Customers have begun paying for the seagull’s stolen bags of chips because they think it’s so funny.

That bird better watch out before a Phase I environmental group tries to replace his chips with something more seagull-appropriate. :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Vanity, thy name is CAT

"Vanity. Thy name is CAT.
'Am I too thin or way too fat?
What about my fur? Oh, no! What's that?
Do I detect an unsightly mat?
Better go ask for a brush-and-pat...'"
- Anonymous

I first put this poem on my other blog about a year ago. It still makes me laugh. Ebony in particular is obsessed with her bathroom vanities. When I am washing my face or putting in my contacts in the mornings, she loves to jump up next to the sink and rub against me, purring. I always laugh and tell her she's a pretty little girl already, and she doesn't need anything else to add to that. That's what my mom always told me when I was little and I wanted to wear makeup like my Mommy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More about Christmas trees

I found an article on WikiHow about cat-proofing Christmas trees, which you can read here. It's basically the same stuff I put in my last post, but it might be worth a read if you're having problems.

I also came across this picture:

The caption was "Beagle proofed tree". Hooray for beagles! :-) Picture courtesy of momthebarbarian.

Christmas kitty

Courtesy of Cute Overload... I thought this picture was especially cute!!



I need to get more pictures of my kitties.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cats and christmas trees

Sorry, Lindsey and Beth for being a little late with my response.

To be honest - don't hate me - but I've never had a problem with my cats and Christmas trees. I've had 6 cats in my lifetime, and the only trouble we had was with my first cat Misty. She was two months old her first Christmas, and she climbed up into our (artificial) tree and knocked it over! Hehe But after that she never bothered with it.

We always put more breakable ornaments up high (or not on the tree at all), and made sure the ornaments near the bottom were fairly kitty-safe. My current cats tried to climb the tree during their second Christmas with me (age 15 months), and they got slightly tangled in the beaded garland and got out of there as fast as possible! They've never touched the tree since.

Since I don't have much personal advice there, I looked up some advice on websites. :-) I found a pretty good site here and another one here.

The biggest thing you have to worry about is NO TINSEL around cats. I've mentioned before that once a cat gets string into its mouth, he HAS to swallow it. Tinsel will cut up the kitty's tummy and that's not good. :-( So avoid that stuff.

Using a water bottle for discipline is an option, for the cats that respond to squirts of water. You can try the whole negative reinforcement. Spray water, make loud noises, etc. whenever the kitty goes up the tree. Praise her, give treats, rub her head when she comes down from the tree. One person mentioned putting cans of coins on the bottom branches so whenever the kitty hit them, it would rattle and scare the kitty. I think this would only work for certain cats though.

Try putting aluminum foil on the ground beneath the tree and/or at the base. Apparently some cats don't like walking on it! In the second link, someone said: "Another thing you can try is that clear plastic runner matting you can use to protect carpets ... arranged upside down around the base of the tree. It has little plastic pointy things on the bottom and *most* cats will avoid stepping on it." That's a great idea.

You can get no-chew spray (called "Bitter Apple") at a petstore. We had this for our dog. Again, this would depend on the cat, but I could see how they would not like the smell! Try spraying that on the bottom of the tree, and especially the electric cords. I also read that cats hate orange scent too, so you could try hanging orange peels or using orange cleaning products.

I think that a LOT of it depends on the cat and the age of the cat. Some cats are just wild and crazy - Beth's cats, for example. :-) Paul's first cat - Chipi - was that way too. He said they just gave up on trying to keep Chipi out of the tree, and avoiding putting breakable ornaments up. If your cat is just a hyper kitten then it might be something he or she will grow out of. Hopefully, for your sake! :-)

Camping with a puppy

We had the privilege of going camping with Jera three times. I actually really enjoyed camping with her. Here are some of the things I learned:

1. Don't worry about bringing a whole lot of camping gear for the puppy. We lugged Jera's crate with us the first time, only to not use it at all. We also brought toys for her to play with, but she was more interested in pinecones and sticks. We did bring rawhides for her to chew on, her food and water bowl, and food.

2. For the food: We put each meal's serving in a little baggie. That way, I didn't have to measure anything out. I put all the baggies in a large ziploc to keep the freshness. Jera actually ate very little when we went camping. Not sure why. She was more interested in burying her food. (Just ask Joanna!)

3. Get a stake. I know people are skeptical that I'm still an advocate of the stake, since that's how Jera got away from us. However, I don't know how you could go camping without it unless there were lots of people. I'm pretty sure with just the two of us, it would be impossible for us to set up a tent while holding onto her leash. Make sure the stake is firmly planted to the ground, never leave the dog unattended, and keep an eye on the dog so he/she doesn't tangle himself.

4. Whenever someone goes to use the restroom try to take the dog with you. We found this out the first time we went camping with our family. There were seven people total. We realized that Jera needed more exercise than we were giving her, so whenever a group would head to the bathrooms (about a half a mile walk), they took the dog. She got lots of exercise this way! Of course, she wasn't allowed IN the bathrooms, so someone would have to wait outside, but all the walking was good for her.

5. Always look for ticks. We pulled ticks off Jera during every camping trip. Bring rubbing alcohol and tweezers for their removal.

6. If possible, bring an extra sleeping bag with you just in case. You never know when your puppy might walk into the tent and promptly squat on your sleeping bag. Trust me.

7. Have fun with your puppy! We certainly did. Jera did really well camping - she slept on our sleeping bags with us, she loved the outside air and the hikes. We will miss her next summer when we go camping again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meeting neighbors

I wrote this for my parents' newsletter last spring.

The best way to meet your neighbors is to get a dog.

Our new puppy was a whiner - she didn’t like being left alone. She especially hated when Paul left for work before dawn without petting her. I would lay awake in bed for an hour after he left, unable to sleep because of her pitiful cries. After a few days of this, she got better, but I knew some apologies had to be made.

I hadn’t really talked to my neighbors much, but when I knocked on their door to say sorry for my loud puppy at unearthly hours of the morning, they were as nice and friendly as can be. They had a dog too, they understood what puppies are like. Since then, we’ve often met outside - walking our dogs, always stopping to say hi and exchange pleasantries. We even got our dogs to play together although her golden retriever is a bit big for our beagle puppy. We meet other neighbors as we walk our dog throughout the complex, and throughout our area of the city. We meet other citizens when we go downtown and walk our dog around there. We recognize the smile that people flash when they see a puppy, and we love to answer their questions. The fresh air is good for all of us, energizes us. The exercise means that we can put our hoodia diet pills back in the cabinet.

We’ve met people at the dog park, too. We go there a lot to let our dog run. We see the same people there, know their dogs. As we stand and watch them play, we talk about things. It’s fun. We realize we don’t know anyone’s names - only the names of their dogs. It’s a community, though. A community of dogs and their owners.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New kittens

Lindsey asked a great question in a previous post and I thought I'd copy my answer here. She said:
I would love to ask you a question. I am going to be getting 2 kittens very soon (they are my parents' Christmas present to me - as soon as I find two that I love, they're coming home with me), and I am so excited! I do have one concern though, and from this post I think you might be able to help. I am a full time graduate student and I also have a part time job. As a result, I am often not home for large chunks of time during the day. This is one of the main reasons that I want to get 2 - so that they will have each other. Do you have any suggestions for how to keep them behaving when I'm gone and how to make the most of my time with them when I am home? I'd love to know how you handled this!

When I first got my kittens, I was still living with my parents, though I was gone from the house 60+ hours a week. My parents also both worked full-time, so my kittens were alone quite a bit. When they were 7 months old I moved to my own apartment and worked a normal 40 hour a week job. I found that they behaved quite nicely as long as I kept the apartment kitten-proofed! I would say maybe confine your kittens to a certain room until you feel comfortable knowing what they can get into. For example, I found that my kittens loved knocking things off surfaces. So - all the stuff I kept on top of my dresser was put in a drawer. Be especially careful if you have breakable things! Don't leave string around - because of their sandpaper tongues, it's very hard for a kitten to spit it back out again. Any time I have had string laying around my cats have ingested it and then returned it a few days later - in a more disagreeable manner! Even if you don't want to let your cats on the kitchen counters, keep them clean of food and dirty dishes so your cats don't have a reason to jump up. Also, make sure their cat food is very secure and don't leave a bag of cat food lying around! My cats will chew through ANY bag of cat food within hours. :-) Oh and one other thing - if you can, make sure to clear a spot in front of a window where they can watch the world go by. My cats can sit for hours in front of the window. I found I always have to open the blinds in the mornings or my cats would go THROUGH them! I put a nice little table in front of my window and they loved that. The best part was they could watch for me to come home.

As far as making the most of your time with them, I guess just play with them and cuddle with them as you can. The more you play with them as kittens, the healthier they'll be and the more active they'll be as adults. Laser pointers are excellent for playing with kitties. I'm glad you're getting 2! :-) After having two I would never go back to having only one. I love to love on my cats, so I am more interested in the cuddling than in the playing, unfortunately! (Which is probably why my cats have always tended to be rather sedentary!) I rarely push them away when they come to me, and I always try to keep a lap open for them. I also pick them up a lot and squeeze them, but not every cat will tolerate that.

I hope this helps! Let me know when you get your kitties! Mine were a Christmas present from my parents, too.

Cats sleep anywhere

My cat, Ebony, loves getting in things. Boxes, baskets, drawers - whatever it is, she wants inside. We had a box lid laying on the floor of our apartment for a while, and she loved to go over and crouch inside it. I should have taken a picture!

The other day I was putting away my clothes in the dresser. I had my... er, fine lingerie drawer open, and she (of course) crawls in. I left the drawer open, but she didn't come out and I needed the drawer below the open one. So, I closed the top drawer and opened the one underneath and to my surprise, there she was! I guess she had gone back and crawled down.

One book I really love is called Cats Sleep Anywhere. It's a child's picture book with beautiful illustrations of all the random places cats will curl up. I love it because I can see my cats sleeping in random places too!

So, if you're looking for a nice kids' book for someone, I highly recommend that one. :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kittens are so cute

This weekend I was talking to my best friend, Beth, about her new kitten. Ah the days of kittenhood! They are wild and crazy at that stage, aren't they?

I got my current cats Christmas of 2004 when they were 14 weeks old. At that time, I was working long hours, starting at 3pm and getting home anytime between midnight and 3am. I would be so, so tired in the morning (I usually got up around noon). My kittens would awake early, and want to play with me. Ebony would knead her paws - claws out! - on my body, purring very loudly and squeezing her eyes. Then they would get to chasing each other, running ellipticals on top of me. One morning, I woke up at 6am to the Indy 500 being held on my mattress. In my sleepy state, I stumbled to the door, opened it, and said, "Out! Out!" Then, I went back to bed.

When I woke up for real later that morning, I laughed at how I thought my cats might stop if I just said, "Out!" I don't remember them bothering me anymore!

Ah I miss the days of kittenhood. I don't miss the crazy wild playing though. :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There must be some mistake

Looks like she's doing just fine



Ah, Zoey. With a stick of course. :-) I can just picture her, running around with that in her mouth!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why you should get a dog

Just because I don't have a puppy anymore doesn't mean that I'm going to stop posting about puppy things. :-) I think 2 of my 3 readers are dog people, so Must Appease the Masses. (Actually, I think ALL my readers are dog people now that I think about it. Perhaps I should start JUST posting about puppies. :-))

So, for those of you who struggle with health problems, I may have the answer for you! Joanna sent me this article which proves the benefit of animals!

Researchers say that owning a dog can lower your blood pressure. Think what this means. A hug to Rover may soothe your cardiovascular system more than a fistful of ACE inhibitors. A simple snuggle with Spot? Bring on the endorphins and sayonara to stress hormones.

Imagine if dogs found their way into the pharmaceutical marketplace. You might browse the PDR (Physicians Drug Reference) and see Canis familiaris under the generic listing for Prozac, as pooches, too, fight depression. Airlines might suggest passengers pack their pups in their carry-on luggage instead of sending them through as baggage.

Read the rest of the article here.

I found that having an animal (in my case, it was a fish) really helped me a ton when I was feeling somewhat depressed in college. (This wasn't by any means a clinical depression, but I was definitely more down than up.) Getting a fish for me meant giving me something to take care of, something was depending on me for food and care. Getting a fish REALLY pulled me out of my dark mood. It's funny how it was just a fish, yet was all that.

And DON'T get me started on cats... ;-)

See, aren't animals better than the traditional retail-therapy? Just getting a new car or a tv mount for my flatscreen TV or the latest wardrobe wouldn't do anything of these things. Yay for pets!

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to tell...

I got this as an email forward from my dad, so I can't attribute the picture to the photographer (sorry!).

HOW YOU CAN TELL THAT YOU ARE NOT YOUR MOM'S FAVORITE


I would hate to be that little bird. I wonder if he got dinner that night. Perhaps the mom has bad eyesight? Perhaps the mom was just using him as strength equipment? Perhaps he had been bad and this is his punishment? You never know how birds discipline their young.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Email

I got an email today from Zoey's new owner.

Hey Ashley,

Zoey is doing great. She fits right in to our family. She is a very happy pup. I will send you some pictures in a couple of weeks. She loves the kids. Hope you guy's are doing OK. Thanks again for giving us Zoey.

Fred


I am glad she's fitting in so well! But I miss her. :-(

Monday, November 12, 2007

A little close to home

This comic made me a little sad... (click to make bigger)



I wonder where Jera is these days?

Dead kitty

If you like kitties, especially sleeping kitties, and especially sleeping Bengal kitties, here is a must-watch video!



Hat-tip: Cute Overload

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cats in my wedding


wedding cake topper
Originally uploaded by twentysixcats
When I was planning my wedding, I knew I wanted to have cats involved somehow. After much searching on the Internet, I found the perfect thing. A wedding cake topper of two kitties, giving each other affectionate glances and their tails entwined to look like a heart. It was exactly what I was looking for. My friend Susan even jokes that the one cat had orangeish-reddish fur resembling my hair, and the other one had dark fur resembling Paul's hair. That was on purpose. ;-)

It was actually really hard to find a cat wedding cake topper. I found only one or two others, and all were Japanese style which didn't really fit what I was looking for. I could have had one custom made, but that wasn't worth the cost. I was afraid I would have to resign to just making the shape of a cat using wedding flowers or something! :-) I'm glad I found this one.

It now sits proudly displayed in our living room. That's another thing I love about our cake topper - I can use it as a decoration without it looking silly and obviously a cake topper.

Zoey in Orlando


Zoey in Orlando
Originally uploaded by twentysixcats
For more Zoey pictures, check out my photo album here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Animals in the news

Joanna sent me this article about animal heroes. Quoting from the article:

When Debbie Parkhurst choked on a piece of apple at her Maryland home, her dog jumped in, landing hard on her chest and forcing the morsel to pop out of her throat. When the Keesling family of Indiana was about to be overcome by carbon monoxide, their cat clawed at wife Cathy's hair until she woke up and called for help. For their nick-of-time acts, Toby, a 2½-year-old golden retriever, and Winnie, a gray-striped American shorthair, were named Dog and Cat of the Year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


This article gave me warm fuzzy feelings all over. See, it's good to have animals around! Now, if I could only teach my cat to use a wall sconce to scare off any potential robbers...

Monday, November 5, 2007

So I decided

The decision is made. Please don't hate me. :-(

http://atlanta.craigslist.org/pet/470004905.html

UPDATE: I took down the Craigslist post because I think we found a good home for Zoey!! It was up for 14 hours and already I got 3 responses. I contacted one and this morning talked to him on the phone for almost half an hour. When I was done, I felt very confident that this would be a really good home for her. We are meeting them on Saturday. So, you can pray that God continues to direct us and that He will somehow stop us if this isn't a good home for Zoey! I will have more details later, after Saturday.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cat therapy

It happens all too often.

Sometimes it's sudden, sometimes it's gradual. But, before I know it, my head is pounding. I try to massage my temples, which eases the pain for a little bit, but does nothing in the long run. I take two Excedrin Migraine pills, which do help, but it always takes a little time for them to set in.

In the meantime, I try to avoid all lights and loud sounds. I crawl into my room, as dark as I can make it, and snuggle under the warm blankets.

And then - I call out for the best headache treatment I know of. "Lewis! Ebony!" In just a few seconds, I can hear a pitter-patter of little feet and the jangle of tags on a collar. A black head and a black and white head appear at the end of my bed. I pet them, rubbing their soft fur until they purr. They curl up at my feet, or on my legs, and I lay back and let their warm bodies relax me. Hopefully, I fall asleep quickly, to wake up later feeling refreshed and renewed.

That's what works for me. :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Raisin the alarm

(I must admit, I stole the title from Snopes.)

I got this email today, and I checked it out and apparently it's true. You can read more about it here. And be sure to keep raisins and grapes away from your puppy!

------------------------------------

This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1AM on Wednesday but the owner didn't call my emergency service until 7AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn't seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet, and the doctor there was like me - had heard something about it, but.... Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1 times ma! intenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.

The dog's BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 ( 1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney
function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At the point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued to incr ease daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn't control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to euthanize.

This is a very sad case - great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk.

Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler's. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern.

Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville , Ohio

Monday, October 29, 2007

Things Remembered

This weekend, Paul and I stopped in the store Things Remembered to pick up a birthday gift for my grandfather. It's a really cool store, with things from personalized pens to engraved keepsake boxes to custom blankets. Almost everything in their store is engravable.

While I was browsing, I was looking at ornaments for this Christmas. I saw a really cute one of a doghouse, which read "Dogs Leave Paw Prints On Your Heart". It opened up and you could put a picture inside.

They made me think of the ornaments I used to make for my cats. Here are three of them that were up on my Christmas tree last year:
I made them in 1993, 1994, and 1995 for my first kitty, Misty. I like how they get progressively more complicated as I got older! (Those ages would be almost 11, 12, and 13. I say "almost" because my birthday is the day after Christmas.)

Perhaps this year I'll get some ornaments for my current pets. That would be a fun addition to our tree!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

the tough decisions

I’ve always been a staunch believer of the motto: “When you adopt an animal, you adopt for a lifetime.” I always felt that it’s not fair to the animal to be passed on from home to home, as they make emotional attachments which are broken. Animals need stability as much as humans, and when we taken them into our homes, it’s our obligation to provide love, protection, and stability for them.

That being said, I have recently considered finding a new home for my dog. I feel guilty to even be seriously thinking about it! What happened to looking out for my dog’s best interest? Am I being selfish? And on the flip side, should I keep a dog that I don’t want anymore in the hopes that one day she may grow on me?

One thing I’ve realized recently is that I’m a cat person. I know it doesn’t shock y’all, but I thought I could be a cat person and a dog person. But no, having a dog just makes me miss my cats. It’s like an introvert forced to be around people all the time. You can take it for a while, but eventually you just feel worn down. I’ve also done a lot of comparing of dogs to children: if I am going to give up with a dog, shouldn’t that make me a bad mother? I’ve decided that with children, the love factor plays a much bigger role (at least I hope it will!). I would never consider giving up my cats; I love and care about them too much. The work I have to do for them is considered joy for me because they are special to me. I definitely don’t feel that with Zoey; the work I have to do for her feels like a burden or an obligation.

All that being said, below I’ve listed some reasons for both sides. Paul and I feel that there is no easy answer. Neither of us knows what to do. We definitely won’t make a hasty decision. I’m hoping that by posting this here, we’ll get some feedback that will help us make our decision. Please be nice! I am trying to ignore selfish reasons like “It’s cold outside and I don’t want to walk her.” However, those selfish reasons all add up to my general feelings of discontent and of not wanting a dog. She doesn’t fit with our lives like I thought she was going to, and I don’t know what needs to change: us or the situation.

The reasons why it’s in her best interest to stay with us:
  1. She loves us and feels safe with us.
  2. In this household, she will never be abused or abandoned.
The reasons why it’s in her best interest to go:
  1. She isn’t loved by us. We don’t really want a dog around, especially for Paul.
  2. We are easily frustrated and impatient with her. We yell at her a lot.
  3. We resent her, especially when she demands our attention. We aren’t prepared for the amount of work required by a dog.
  4. We don’t have the energy to keep up with her. We are distracted by our own lives.
  5. We feel overwhelmed right now. We plan to have kids someday, and we wonder if that HUGE change is going to be in her best interest. We aren’t sure if we will be able to give all our animals the attention they desire and deserve once a new baby enters the household. We wonder if it would be in Zoey’s best interest to find another home NOW while she’s still a puppy.
  6. We live in an apartment with no yard. We wonder if it would be better for her to have a house where she can run and play.
  7. She likes being around people. We are gone a lot, and when we are home we are trying to work. She doesn’t like being ignored.
The reasons why it’s in the cats’ best interests for Zoey to go:
  1. She chases them whenever she sees them.
  2. Zoey takes up my time, so I am unable to pay much attention to them.
  3. Things like their litter box and their food bowls have to be in inconvenient places for the cats because of Zoey.
And, this is huge, but we have to consider the financial implications:
  1. Having a dog affects our future goals and desires (work hard now to pay off debt).
  2. Dogs are EXPENSIVE. The vet bills seem to be in 3 figures every time I go. Also, there is monthly heartworm and flea treatments, which aren’t TOO expensive, but they do add up.
  3. Additional costs: food, treats, doggy poop bags, misc things like new collars and leashes when she tears up the other ones.
  4. The costs of replacing things she’s destroyed: library books, DVDs, pillows, floor mats, Ingersoll Rand air tools, etc. Also, since we live in an apartment, we have to pay for destroyed property.
  5. My desire to is to leave the work force when we have children. However, as of now, that’s not possible. Having a dog is only delaying it, and to me it isn’t worth it. It’s like an unwanted debt that you can’t get rid of.
  6. In our attempt to simplify our lives and reduce our expenses, having a dog simply doesn’t add into the equation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Little girls and horses

It seems that all little girls love horses. They dream of having their own horse. They read books about horses (any fans of Marguerite Henry or of "My Friend Flicka"?). They had horse dolls and horse posters.

I was in love with horses, too, when I was a little girl. My dream was that we would get a horse when we moved to Peru. (Ha! Little did I know what living in a desert was actually like. ;-)) I begged for some equestrian riding apparel, thinking I could become a great horseback rider and go on all sorts of adventures where my horse would rescue me. I even had a name picked out: Chestnut. (Of course, this would only work with a certain color horse...)

I know, it may be a shocker to everyone that I haven't always been a huge cat person! I actually didn't start loving cats until about 7th grade. Don't get me wrong, I liked cats, but before 7th grade I tried really hard to be a horse girl.

So what is it with little girls and horses? Why the appeal? Or was it just my circle of friends?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jera steals a teddy bear

Okay, y'all, get out your home theater popcorn machines because I have some home videos for you! I was searching for a picture on my computer earlier today when I came across several videos of my pets.

I apologize for the lighting in the picture, but I promise it gets better. It's of Jera, after we set up the tent in the living room in preparation for our first camping trip. I took this video the next morning.

Oh, and I also should mention that I sleep with a stuffed bear every night. But that's neither here nor there.

So we cut to the scene: Jera is inside the tent. Watch for the white-tipped waggy tail; that might help you spot her while the lighting is so bad!

video

Monday, October 22, 2007

No more puppies

One of the things we were looking forward to about getting a new apartment is starting over with clean carpets. Last night was our first night staying here with Zoey.

Around 5:15 she woke up crying. I took her outside. A dog barked, and she ran inside in terror. She refused to go.

She cried when I put her back in her cage, and then was quiet. Then she started fussing again. Paul got up and took her out. He said that her cage was completely soaked in pee and consequently so was she. He opened the door of her cage, and she made a beeline down the hall to our bedroom. Paul tackled her at the door, and took her outside where she went both ways. Then he put her in the kitchen while he cleaned out her cage in the shower. Then he had to take a shower himself and change into clean clothes. He also tried to wipe up some of the spots in the carpet, but he said we needed to give Zoey a bath today. Sigh. Less than 24 hours, and our dog has already had accidents on the carpet. The frustrating thing is once they've gone somewhere once then they are likely to return to that spot.

Paul told me he is never getting a puppy again.

So, any advice for puppy training? Should I try to bribe her? Steak? A new chew toy? A model rocket?

Pets return home

Well late last night we collected our animals from the various places, where they had stayed while we were in the midst of moving. I'm so grateful for our friends who watched them for us.

Lewis and Ebony stayed with a cat-lover friend who lives in a condo downtown. She said they were very good, but that Ebony cried a lot the second night. I guess Ebony figured that if Cida wasn't going to pay for performance tickets, then Ebony would give her a free concert. Unfortunately, my friend didn't appreciate that as much.

The cats seemed glad to have returned home, though they were very confused about the new apartment at first. They soon settled down and last night they were back to chasing each other in the middle of the night! They're cute. :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not left behind

So I just got home from taking the kitties to a friend's house. :-( I miss them already! We are moving this weekend, and knew it would be better to have them out of the way. They have been worried all day, seeing us packing up everything in boxes and loading up the cars. I promised them that I would be back on Sunday to pick them up.

This actually reminded me of a story I heard today. Another friend (Ann) was talking about her cat, Duchess. Ann found Duchess as a stray, and always wondered what had happened. The cat had been found wearing a cheap flea collar, and had been spayed. Their guess was that perhaps Duchess had been left behind by a family who was moving.

Ann was telling me today about the last time she moved. She had put Duchess in a carrier while they packed and loaded the house, and right before Ann locked up for the final time she decided to let Duchess out and stretch before starting the long trip. When Duchess emerged from her carrier and saw the house completely empty, the poor soul freaked out - running this way and that. Ann finally had to just put her back in her carrier and leave. She said that it must be true that Duchess was left behind, judging from the bizarre reaction. That made me sad - poor Duchess.

So, I assured Lewis and Ebony that I would be back to get them, that I would not forget them.

Tomorrow we are also going to drop Zoey off at a different friend's. It will be a relief to be able to keep the doors open, and move from one apartment to the other, without having to worry about animals. It will seem kind of weird in the evenings, though! Like I said, I already miss my babies. Sheesh, I better stop before I hunt around for an unlocked phone for me to keep in touch with them. ;-) No they aren't spoiled. ;-)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pretty new collar

Last weekend, we discovered that Zoey's collar is no longer able to hold her.

She was so tiny when we got her, so we bought a collar that works for chihuahuas and other small dogs. However, I think she's exceeded the weight those collars were designed for and with one tug she's able to pull the buckle loose and run away. We discovered this, unfortunately, while we were hiking through some woods. Fortunately we were able to catch her really quickly. :-)

So, earlier this week I went to Petsmart and got her a new collar. I found a pretty pink one with little flowers, kinda like dog "jewelry". Heheh I'm sure she doesn't care, but I think she looks so pretty.

I also got her a harness, like this one. This particular harness had been recommended to me by several different people as being especially good for small and energetic dogs. I put it on her today, but we haven't gone for a walk yet. We'll see how she does. :-)

As well, I picked up an engraved tag for Zoey's new collar. I am kind of glad I procrastinated about this, because I was able to put our new address on it! Now when I unpack after we move I will pull out the rabies tag and put that on her collar too. She's good to go! :-)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pet names

My mom says that I pick weird names for my pets. (No, Mom, a weird name would be Ulysse Nardin. ;-)) For example, I named my second cat Autumn. Her original name was "Dr Pepper" but after trying to explain to several Peruvians what "Dr Pepper" was I nixed that idea and changed it to Autumn. Of course, naming her after a season that doesn't exist in Peru probably wasn't the greatest idea either. :-)

When I got my two most recent cats, I set about for a long time to figure out a perfect name. I always wanted to name my cat "Whiskey". I thought it would be such a cute name for a little kitty! My mom told me a missionary kid shouldn't have a cat named Whiskey. Her suggestion was "Oreo" for the male and "Cuddles" for the female. Well... Those are nice names, Mom, but I was looking for something a little different. :-) I was thinking an author would be nice... My first thought was Tolkein, which didn't seem to be a good cat name. I moved on to C.S. Lewis from there, and thus got the name for my kitty Lewis. I'm pretty satisfied with that name, and I think it fits him!

Ebony's name was a bit easier because she was all black, and the Ebony tree is known for its black ornamental wood. That fits her too; we usually call her Ebbie. (And Lewis is often shortened to Lewie.)

With Jera, we picked her name from the white "J" on the back of her neck. We had a friend by that name, and it seemed to fit. I like naming my animals unique human names. (Misty, Autumn, Lewis, Ebony, Jera, Zoey) We got a lot of strange looks at the dog park, though, when people would ask us about Jera's name. Also, Paul's brother is named Jeremiah and nicknamed "Jer" so sometimes it was confusing. ;-)

With Zoey we picked the name after the TV character, and also I really like how it's Greek word meaning "abundant life". I think it fits a beagle puppy very well! Also, I think Zoey is a cute name for a puppy. I chose to spell it with a "y" because I thought it looked prettier.

So how you do choose a good name for your pets? Do you pick an old classic - Rover? Fluffy? Kitty? Rex? Or do you come up with something unique and unusual?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Meet-and-Greet-Monday

Originally published at twentysixcats.com

The Natural Mommy is hosting a meet & greet today, so I thought I’d play along. I’d like to introduce to you my three children.

This is Lewis, the sole male. He’s a cutie, and a little pudgie. He’s also REALLY loves to eat, and reminds us of upcoming mealtimes constantly.

This is Ebony, Lewis’ twin sister. She is beautiful and sleek. It takes a long time before she warms up to strange people, but she can be very cuddly with us.

And the newest member is Zoey, who is 4 months old. This picture was taken almost 2 months ago, so she has grown considerably since then! I need to get some more pictures of her. She weighs 15 lbs now, as of last Saturday!

Oh! And we also have a betta fish who was originally named Rusty, but I think we’ve changed his name to Zeke III. (I kept calling him Zeke, and finally I decided to just give in to pressure. ;-))

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mountain cabins

When we were planning our honeymoon, I looked into Pigeon Forge vacation rentals. To my surprise, a lot of them allowed pets! I was so excited; I'm sure you can imagine Paul's reaction when I informed him that I wanted to bring our two darling cats with us on our honeymoon. He nixed it pretty quickly, and so I had to put up with just being alone with him. ;-) Just kidding; I love my husband.

For his birthday last March, I planned a surprise weekend trip up to the mountains of North Georgia. We stayed at a place called Cabins and Coffee. It was a great place! I decided at the time to leave Jera in Atlanta with a friend. However, the place was definitely dog-friendly. Whenever we go back (and I would like to return, perhaps when the weather is a bit warmer!) I'd love to bring our puppy with us. (Paul's shaking his head right now, wondering what sort of person he married. ;-))

How about you? Have you ever taken a vacation to a mountain cabin with your pet?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Animal Rescue Site

I'm sure all of you have heard this before, but I thought that I'd repeat it...

The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals.

It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on the purple box "fund food for animals" for free. This doesn't cost you a thing.

Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising.

Oh, and I want to get this. It's purple and it has kitties on it! Maybe I can convince Paul it would make an ideal birthday present. :-)

WFMW: Backwards Day!

Yesterday I went to get some more cat litter for the litter box. I was noticing all the different types of litter. Cheap stuff, clumping, crystal, natural, etc.

My question: Do you have a favorite brand? I have always used Arm & Hammer multi-cat, but I want to make sure that's the best option. I prefer something that clumps - makes it easier to clean. I tend not to be very good about scooping the litter box daily. :-)

Should I go for the "natural" litters? I don't want to get litter that is going to leave me needing to spend hundreds of dollars skin care products for my cats later on! I also like the idea of minimizing my footprint on this world, but right now I don't have an extra arm and a leg to spend.

What is "crystal" litter?

Your advice would be most appreciated! You can read more Works For Me Wednesdays here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Please pray

Please pray for my friend Ann who is putting her 18+ year old cat, Duchess, down this afternoon. Duchess' health has been failing for the past few weeks, and Ann has been struggling with this decision. I can't even imagine how her heart must be breaking right now.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Misty pictures

So I found two pictures of Misty on my computer, for your enjoyment.


This one is Easter, probably in 1994. I would have been 11. What do you think of my PINK glasses? :-) And of course the braces. I used to put morning glories from our front yard in my hair. It was really long back then - I cut it to my shoulders the next year and that was quite a change!

Misty when she was about 5 years old. She was always a little tubby. I think we fed her too much. Isn't she cute?

Thanks, y'all for letting me share my memories of Misty with you. It's been more fun than hitting a winning streak at Caesars Palace. ;-) I love going back and walking through memory lane.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cat fights

Continuing on with memories of Misty...

Misty loved the outdoors. We had bars on all our windows, as was common in Peru, and so we'd keep the window open a little so she could slip in and out through the bars. She loved to be on the prowl. She ran away once, when she was still young, and we found her a few days later. Oh those were very tough days! I remember being SO happy when we found her!

Like I said, I was only 10 when we got her. She was my responsibility and I took my duties very seriously. She was definitely my baby. In our backyard we had a grape arbor, where neighborhood cats liked to meet in the midnight moonlight. Misty was no exception. We often found her walking around up there, at all times of the day.

One evening I remember waking up to cat yowls and screams - the sounds of a fight! I peeked out my bedroom window, and in the dim landscape lighting I could just make out the shape of some kitties on the grape arbor. I was convinced it was Misty, and I was worried that she'd get hurt or killed. I ran to my parents' room and woke up my dad. He graciously followed me downstairs to "rescue Misty".

As we entered the living room, my dad paused by the couch and said, "Ashley, here she is." Sure enough, there on the couch lay Misty, completely comfortable and unharmed. I was so relieved. I felt bad for dragging my dad out of bed in the middle of the night, though!

Friday, September 28, 2007

My very first kitty

I got my first cat when I was 10. I had wanted a cat for a long time, but we moved around so much that I couldn't get one. Finally, in 1993, my parents said we were settled enough for me to get a kitty. I remember my mom had me call on "free kitten" ads in the newspaper. I didn't speak much Spanish, but my mom helped me write out a little script of what to say on the phone. I called a few places who didn't have kittens anymore, and then I called the last one. She had kittens! I was so excited, that I completely forgot all the Spanish I knew. I didn't know what to say, so I gave the phone to my mom. I'm sure she loved that. ;-)

We picked up Misty in November of 1993. She was only 6 weeks old, and a cute little grey tabby. I named her after the horse in the book "Misty of Chincoteague", which was a favorite of mine at the time. Ah, the memories! I loved having a kitty and taking care of her. She lived with us until 1996 when we were unable to bring her with us when we moved countries. She passed away in 2000 from feline leukemia.

By the way, fun fact about me: I was a horse-lover until 7th grade, when I realized my love for cats. I was a huge fan of Marguerite Henry, writer of many horse books. Her most famous take place in Chincoteague, an island off of the Virginia coastline. They are famous for their wild horses, and the "Pony Penning Day" that takes place there every year. One of these days I'd love to see that. Perhaps stay at a nice Virginia bed and breakfast, relax with my husband, really live it up. Who knows, I may do it yet. :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Overweight pets

Joanna, who is my resident link-sender passed on this CNN article earlier this week. It's an article entitled "Are you 'loving' your pet into an early grave?" and about people who overfeed their pets.
It's common for people to show their pets love by giving them a lot of food and snacks. They pour on the treats, not realizing that one dog biscuit can be 100 calories. They let cats and dogs feast on the fat of their rib-eye steaks and other scraps from the dinner table.

"A lot of owners think their pets are suffering if they aren't getting table scraps and treats," Yee says. "But dogs don't need people food; they're perfectly happy with their own food."

The article talks about how overweight pets suffer many physical problems, including the possibility of early death. This kinda scared me!

I have struggled myself with an overweight cat, Lewis. I feed him the vet recommended amount of good quality "light" food. Yet, Lewis seems to walk round with a pocket of flubber hanging from his belly. It used to be a lot worse; he's looking much better now. I decided that he's never going to be thin, and that I just need to try my hardest that he doesn't get any heavier. :-)

The article suggests two ways of telling if your pet is overweight: check to see if you can feel their ribs (but you shouldn't be able to see them), and they should have an hourglass shape when looking down at them from above (the waist tucks in right in front of the hips). It's probably a good idea to always keep an eye on your animal to make sure he's not gaining too much weight. Also, make sure you're not feeding your animal table scraps and other food made for humans.

Now, if you find that you want to build an outdoor kitchen to accommodate your pets' eating habits, you might want to reevaluate your own overfeeding of your animal. :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Huh?

Today I have to hide in this post the phrase "pulse oximeter". I suppose if I sat down and thought for a long time, I could come up with a great pet-related post that used that term not out-of-place. But, I am tired. Life catches up to you and I have no energy to figure it out.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Zoey turns 4 months old on Saturday. She has gotten into this new habit that cracks me up. When her water bowl is empty, she picks it up and carries it to me. It reminds me of Snoopy. I think it's really cute. I'll have to get a picture of her next time she does that!

(Of course, I have to say that after she carries it to me, she begins to chew on it. Not so cute!)

Also, Lewis and Zoey have started playing together. It's cute too. More pictures, note to self.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Visit your local shelter!

The first time I went to get a dog, we went to a pet store. I would never do that again - for reasons that are another post. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a dog to check out their local shelters first. If you are in Atlanta, one I recommend is Atlanta Pet Rescue. They have all sorts of dogs and cats, a good variety of breeds and ages. If you are looking for a particular breed, all you have to do is wait and be patient.

Another option is finding a pet through Craigslist. This is where I found my dog, Zoey. Craigslist is more individuals who are giving away their pets due to various reasons - not enough time to spend with the pet, health issues, moving, etc. One entry I read was about an owner who was about to enter drug treatment and wanted to make sure his pet had a good home. Craigslist can be great also if you want an animal other than a dog or cat. Again, you have to be patient but it's worth it when the one you want comes along! You can also check it for pet supplies, like cages.

A lot of people want puppies, but there are good reasons to consider getting an older dog, especially if you've never owned a dog before. Older dogs are less hyper, you can better tell their personalities, and you don't have to deal with potty-training issues as much. Of course, the advantage of puppies is that you can shape them to a certain extent through exposure to various things at a young age.

As for cats, I personally love kittens and probably wouldn't go for an older cat. However, older cats need homes too and they have their advantages. Like dogs, you can see what their personality will be like and they'll be less wild and destructive. While kittens are really cute, they can also be really annoying when they want to play Chase the Toes in the middle of the night. :-) (Or, if they're like anything like my cats, they'll want to either hold races around your bed or they'll want to purr loudly and knead their sharp claws on your stomach. In the middle of the night, of course.)

So, next time you are in the market for an animal be sure to check out your local shelter!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Finding a vet

When I moved to Atlanta a few years ago, I knew I needed to find a good vet for my two kitties. I asked my boss, who has two dogs, for a recommendation, and she pointed me to one that was practically next door that they used.

I went there a total of three times. I wasn't too impressed, especially after he told me that he had brought his cat in that day to be declawed. The cat apparently was tearing up the new furniture. I was skeptical - what vet declaws his cat because of furniture? But, I like giving people the benefit of the doubt so I said nothing. Then he told me my cat Lewis weighed 8 pounds. I was curious about that - Lewis was (and is!) a little fatso and I knew 8 pounds was way too light. (I was right. A second opinion later told me he was actually 11 pounds.) The thing that clinched it though was when I brought Lewis in for a urine sample, and I was asked to leave him for the day because his bladder was empty. I picked him up at the end of the day, and he was so out of it. He wouldn't eat (NOT like Lewis at all), was all dopey and couldn't even make it to the litter box. I called the vet, concerned. The vet assured me that Lewis hadn't been given any medication. I decided to see a new vet.

A year or so later, my boss happened to ask me if I was still seeing the vet they had recommended. I admitted no, and told them the story. They then told me how the had their own problems with the vet - how he tacked on all these extra fees, didn't do what he charged them for, and was overall more concerned about the money than the wellbeing of the animals. He drove his luxury car, with his custom hubcaps and fancy billet grille, and kept the office in disrepair. I could definitely see where they were coming from.

Last week, I was surprised to see that vet made the news. I'm not going to comment on this particular case, but I thought it was interesting. Apparently, the vet was treating a dog, and tacked on these extra fees that the owner couldn't pay. So, the vet was holding the dog until the owner paid up. Because of my negative experience with this vet, I wasn't too surprised. I'm so glad this didn't happen to me. It goes to show you how important it is to find a good vet.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wild animals and the government

Joanna sent me this article entitled "Bambi vs. the Bureaucrats: Oregon Seizes Pet Deer, Controversy Erupts". It was pretty interesting, and I finished the article not really sure where I stood on the issue.

An excerpt:
Had he been a hunter, and had the mottled white doe that tumbled down a hill into his rural Oregon driveway six years ago been an adult, Jim Filipetti could have ponied up $19, applied for a deer tag and gunned the animal down. He could have butchered the deer the state now knows as "Snowball," mounted her head on the wall and moved on with his life.

But Filipetti chose to raise the injured fawn as a pet, spending thousands of dollars on veterinarian bills to treat her deformed hooves, installing strips of carpet throughout his house so she wouldn't slip on the hardwood floors, and feeding her a steady diet of sweetpeas, tomatoes and green beans—"the best that Safeway had to offer," he says. After 12 months, the house painter moved her to a pen outside his home in Molalla, Ore., but she was still a member of the family. "It was like having a dog around the house," Filipetti says.

Of course, my first thought is "Oooh the government needs to stop meddling in our personal freedoms!" When is it more legal to shoot a deer than nurse it back to health? Are we really trying to protect life, or just make everyone robots?

The article goes on to present the flip side of the situation:
[State officials] still insist Filipetti's kindness was misplaced. Approaching wild animals is a bad idea because the well-intentioned are likely to get hurt, says Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife. "If they say 'Oh, gosh, the doe has gotten too big, we need to release it,' the doe will go to extremes to get fed. It'll break down fences and break into a house," Hargrave says. "A buck will grow antlers and attack." There's also a risk of catching diseases from wild animals, Hargrave adds.

This isn't the first time a kind-hearted, misguided Oregonian has tried to heed the call of the wild. Last year, an 11-year-old girl in the coastal city of Waldport suffered a bruised skull and jaw after the deer her family had adopted after it was hit by a car decided to turn on the child, pinning her against a fence. And in 2005, state officials discovered a black bear in the home of a Roseburg man. The bear had been living there for years, it turns out, eating people food, even sleeping in a bed made for humans. A dozen times in the past year and a half, Hargrave says, state officials have had to remove wild animals from people's homes.

Now I don't know what to think. I wish that we could all enjoy wildlife and do what's best for it, and have the freedom to do so. However, I do understand that you can't always trust people to act in the animal's best interests. So, I am grateful that the government DOES step in for those cases. All this kinda reminds me of the controversy surrounding the cute polar bear, Knut.

What do you think about this? Do you think there should be regulations about wild animals and the people who take them in? Should you need a permit to do so? Or should animals be left to their own defenses in the wild, just letting nature to take its course?

(Oh and by the way, if you DO stop and pick up a deer off the side of the road, make sure you have a good truck bed liner or their hooves will scratch up the paint. Don't ask me how I know.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dog-proofing your home

What you need to do to get ready for a new dog will really depend on what kind of household you have, the breed & size of the dog, and the age of your dog. We have brought home two different beagle puppies now, so I'll tell you what worked for us when we brought them home.

1. Start small. Don't worry about dog-proofing your entire home at first. :-) We started with the kitchen, since it was linoleum flooring.

2. Use baby gates. We have two, and we use them to keep our puppy within our sight no matter what room we are in. We also have a barrier rigged up with boxes and a trunk, because the space between the living and dining room was impossible to block off with a baby gate. We got some extra-tall ones because I had read that beagles jump, but I wish we had gotten regular height ones now. They are so annoying to get over!

3. Remove rugs & other soft things (if you can). Puppies seek out soft things to "do their business" - which is why they are more likely to go on the grass than on cement. And for now, don't get your puppy a pillow. We've had to throw away the pillow every time the puppy eliminates on it (because our dogs continued to return to the pillow to eliminate).

4. Watch electrical cords. Puppies love to chew on electrical cords. If you aren't using them, make sure they are out of your puppy's reach. Dangling cords are especially tantalizing. If you have to have them plugged in, see if you can pull the cord part up high. We've found our dog mostly goes for ones that are laying on the ground or dangling.

5. Remove any plants that would be poisonous to your dog. A list can be found here.

6. Clear off coffee tables and other things that are in reach of the dog. Just for now, until your puppy has calmed down. :-)

7. Remove or keep empty trash cans, especially bathroom, trash cans. This might be more of a phase thing, but our dog has recently been getting into the trash a lot.

8. Don't leave clothes or shoes lying around. Puppies love stuff with strong human scent. Examples: shoes, socks, underwear, shirts (especially sweaty ones).

9. Provide lots of fun chew toys for your puppy. Keep in mind that they are teething, and chewing helps reduce the pain they feel in their mouths. If you provide lots of alternatives to your furniture, they will be more likely to leave your stuff alone. Zoey has a kong, a couple plush toys with squeakers, two ropes, a rawhide, and a few other miscellaneous toys that she loves.

10. Don't let your puppy chew on household things. For example: socks, cardboard, plastic kitchen utensils. Even if you don't care that your puppy has it, it might confuse him later on about what is allowed and what isn't. We do give our dog empty 1/2 liter coke bottles, but that's it - all the other toys are hers only.

11. Don't forget to dog proof outside, too. Your puppy might find your teak outdoor furniture especially appealing when he has nothing else to chew!

12. Above all else: WATCH YOUR PUPPY! You will learn what he goes for by watching him, and that will be the best way to know how exactly you should dog proof. We never let our puppy run around the house when we're not able to watch her. If we have to do something - eat dinner, take a shower, sleep - then she goes in her crate. Between the two of us, she's out of her crate most of the time we're home.

You can also get a bitter apple spray that's supposed to keep puppies from wanting to chew, but we haven't been very successful with that. I hope that helps all you new puppy owners. :-) Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!

In the interest of disclosure

You may have noticed that I've started to write more on this blog. I have signed up for PayU2blog, which is a way that I can earn some revenue through blogging. I really wanted to leave my main blog twentysixcats genuine and free from ads or sponsored posts. I didn't necessarily mind using this blog for it, however. I set up Google ads in the sidebar, but that hasn't been very profitable as of yet.

PayU2blog seemed to meet my needs a bit better. It's similar to sponsored posts, except instead of writing a whole post on a link, I am just including the link anywhere in my regular posts. The point is for the company to get their Page Rank up, so they will show up higher in Google searches. So, I have links and certain key words (like "truck rack") hidden in each of my posts. I have made them black to match the rest of the text so you don't get confused by them and links I have included for reasons that relate to the specific posts. I will also label each post with the word "links" so you can know. If you're interested in knowing more about this, you can ask me. Joanna @ Keeping Feet is also a good resource, as she has been doing it longer than me.

Being involved in PayU2blog will force me to write more often here. I hope to include a lot of the things I've learned from having animals in the past, as well as cute stories and pictures. And - of course - information about my own animals. All the information I write here is and will continue to be genuinely mine; if I write about a product or method then it will be because I endorse it, not because I was paid to do so. (If this changes, I will let you know.)

I hope this doesn't chase away the 3 or so readers of this blog. :-) If it chases you away, please let me know. I'd love to see this blog turn into a cool resource for pet owners! If you have questions or ideas about pets in general let me know!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aww kitty

Kitty, please come down?

(Photo from CNN.com)

Zoey goes to the vet

Yesterday was Zoey's first vet visit!

The diagnosis: she is a healthy, happy puppy with a few minor things that need to be taken care of. They found a few parasites (apparently very common in puppies) and a slight infection in her left eye. I was given medication, and a follow-up appointment will be in 3 weeks.

Also, we started her on heartworm prevention and flea medication. This is something I never did with Jera; always meant to, but kept forgetting to call the vet. Then, on that last camping trip, I was chatting with a vet whole gently chastised me for not taking care of both of those things. I felt like a horrible pet owner, and made a mental note to call the vet as soon as we got back to Atlanta. Unfortunately, Jera ran away a few days later so we never did take care of that. It goes through my mind now that she is suffering out there with heartworms because I didn't have her on preventative medication. :-(

So, we started on heartworm treatment today. Anyone have recommendations as far as brands? The vet gave me Iverhart to try, and said I should let her know at the next appointment in 3 weeks if I want to stay with that brand or switch. The vet also gave me Frontline for the flea & tick control.

The last thing Zoey got yesterday was a microchip implant! That was a big needle, the poor little girl. Even the yummy treats the vet's assistant tried to distract her with wasn't enough. I am glad to have that taken care of, though. Even though having a microchip doesn't guarantee your pet's going to get home (Jera is a case in point), you can't imagine the peace of mind it gives you. We are also thinking of subscribing to a service that helps you when your pet goes missing by contacting vets in the area. That would have been so nice to have for Jera. It's only $15 a year, so I think it would be worth it, but I still need to talk to Paul.

So after all that, the vet bill was a little high yesterday! It didn't surprise me, but I wish that it wasn't so expensive to keep your pet healthy. Paul and I are trying to make a realistic budget that includes the cost of a dog. We had figured the cost to be about $500/year, but it's definitely more for the first year of a puppy's life (what with spaying/neutering, puppy shots, microchips, and start-up supplies needed). We'll see. :-) It all gets confusing - we may need financial consolidation software to keep all this as well as our loans straight!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two kitties and an 8-hour journey

A few years ago, shortly after I moved to Atlanta, I got a new car. It was 7 years newer than my previous car, and in much better condition. I was so excited to get the new car that I decided to take a trip for the upcoming weekend - Memorial Day weekend. I decided to surprise my parents and go down to visit them in Orlando! But what to do with my two kitties? I was so new to Atlanta that I didn't really have anyone to ask to watch them. So, I decided to take them with me.

It was quite fun. I left Atlanta around 6pm Friday night, so most of the trip was after dark. Ebony cried the first half hour, and then curled up and was fine. Lewis seemed to think the back of my neck was a really awesome place to sleep. I let him stay there for a little while, but soon my neck began hurting and I made him move.

The most interesting part of the night was about 2am, when I hit the toll-booths on the Florida turnpike. Let me tell you it was very difficult to keep two kitties inside the car, while trying to find the correct change and hand the money to the toll booth attendant at the same time!

Ever since then, I have always brought my cats with me on my Orlando vacations. At one point, I asked my mom if she minded that they came with me, and she said, "Well let's put it this way: Never come without them." They do pretty well in the car. Next time we go down, however, we'll have both kitties as well as a puppy. It could be interesting. :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Winston gets a bath

Here is a video of Winston, the cat, being bathed. It's so incredibly precious, especially with the kiss on the top of the kitty's head after his bath. :-) Looks like he used a measuring cup from his cookware set so he wouldn't have to stick the cat under the faucet. Smart! (Make sure you turn up the sound, too.)



I was reading the comments, and it seems a lot of people are very critical about the owner for bathing his cat. That frustrates me. I had it when people are critical without knowing the whole story. Unfortunately, on the internet, there are too many people who know nothing yet feel compelled to share anyways. I don't know Winston's reasons for getting a bath (but, judging from his great behavior this isn't his first bath!), but there are several legitimate reasons to bathe a cat:

- Long-haired cats often need regular baths to keep their fur from become tangled and matted. I've never owned a long-haired cat, so I'm not sure how often or how it relates to regular brushing.

- Cats sometimes get dirty and can't or don't clean themselves. Paul and his roommate once took in an abandoned 2-week old kitten, and they had to bathe that cat often because he didn't know to do it himself.

- Bathing cats is an option for reducing allergies. I've heard that if you start bathing the cat regularly when it is young enough, then the cat will eventually stop licking itself so much. (And, most people are allergic to the saliva and not the actual hair.) Even if the cat doesn't stop licking itself, bathing still helps keep the allergies to a minimum.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

meet Zoey!

So, I realized I never posted about Zoey on this blog! I want to introduce the newest Puppy to fit the title "Two Kitties and a Puppy". :-) Below is the post I put on my other blog from August 11.

---------------------------
Today, Paul and I drove out to Douglasville to pick up a little addition to our family. I was struggling with a beagle-shaped hole in my heart, and I knew I needed to fill it. :-) May I present: Zoey!
Zoey
Zoey is a 10 week old tri-color beagle puppy. She’s simply adorable! :-)

Zoey
She immediately took to her crate and to the pillow we had for her. Right now, she is curled up in her crate sound asleep. I’m so glad! (She also looks adorable. I want to get a picture, but the camera is in the other room and you know she’s going to move as soon as I get up.)

Sleepy Zoey

Paul and Zoey
You can get an idea of her size here - she’s so tiny! Well, compared to Jera she is tiny. :-) She is smaller than the cats, and I’m hoping that plays to our advantage.

Zoey

We picked the name Zoey after my favorite character on one of our favorite TV shows. Also, two of the members of the family where we got her from were named Kaila and Kylie, which put together make Kaylee. (I know, I make the most random connections!) This does NOT mean we’re going to name our daughter River.

I hope Zoey makes a good transition to our house, and the same for the cats getting used to her. I am so excited to take her on walks and go to the dog park, and play with her. I’ve missed having a dog! I think she’ll be a good playmate if Jera comes home, don’t you think?

More to come later.