Categories
Family Pets

Tom

My family and I recently got some awful news. Tom, our twelve-and-a-half-year-old cat, is in renal failure.

There’s no cure, but we are doing all we can to care for him. He’s getting lots of ear rubs, cuddles, and under-chin scratches. His appetite waxes and wanes, so we’re offering a steady stream of tasty tidbits and fresh water to tempt him. Often, he prefers quiet isolation, and we’ve created comfy nests of blankets and towels where he can rest.

We want Tom to have more time to roll in the dirt in the backyard and come running when he hears us whistle. To meow at breakfast time and squint contentedly after dinner. To chase a toy across the floor, batting it with his paws and biting it with his fierce little teeth. To sleep, curled up and purring, next to us at night.

We want him to live forever.

But of course, that’s not possible. Not for Tom; not for anybody.

So, we are focused on his comfort, surrounding him with warmth and affection. Making his last days, however many they are, full of whatever makes him happy.

When we welcomed him into our lives, many years ago, we knew the potential for heartbreak. Pets can get sick, injured. They age faster than humans. Always, there is hope for a good, long life, many years of health and vitality, but there is also awareness that there are challenges.

Still, we take a risk. We choose to focus on what makes it all worthwhile.

Perhaps The Beatles said it best –

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.



Categories
Family Pets

Busybodies

We’ve brought a new cat into the family. It’s been a rocky process (coincidentally, his name is Rocky). Individually, each of our cats is a soft, loving ball of fur. Put them together, and they become a hissing, yowling mass of claws and teeth.

We are making progress, but it’s been slow. Fortunately, our dogs, Mollie and Charlie, adapted quickly. I’ve even found the three of them – Rocky, Mollie, and Charlie – napping together, content and comfortable in each other’s presence.

Things change, however, when the cats start interacting. At the first sound of feline hissing, the dogs jump to attention and rush to investigate. The process is a noisy one, with much barking and whining and canine gnashing of teeth.

The pups don’t appear to have a favored cat in these kerfluffles. They don’t act as protectors. Rather, they come across as looky-loos, eager to be part of the excitement, full of loud, barking opinions about what’s going on.

I’ve explained to them that they aren’t helping; their involvement in the situation is complicating things. Unsurprisingly, my words haven’t made a difference. They are dogs, after all. So, we’ve learned that any kitty drama will also require some doggy behavior management. There have been many trips outside or into separate rooms, behind closed doors, in recent days.

I suppose this behavior should have been expected, given the way Mollie and Charlie (especially Mollie) respond to squirrels in the yard and neighbors walking on the sidewalk. Busybodies aren’t typically picky when it comes to sharing their opinions about daily life. I do wish, however, that they’d learn from their experiences and notice that we are much happier when they keep the drama to a minimum.

Still, we love them dearly and sometimes even find ourselves laughing at their noisy interference. So, here’s to our busybodies. Their antics may annoy us, but they do make for some funny memories for the family archive.

Categories
Family Pets

Tiger

“Arise from sleep, old cat,
And with great yawns and stretchings…
Amble out for love.” – Issa, Japanese Haiku

Here’s to Tiger, the gentle presence, the one who grew up alongside our family, our journeys combined. There is sadness in our hearts today. We will miss your sweet meows.

Categories
Pets

Sleep

There’s a school of thought that it’s not a good idea to let your dog or your cat sleep on the bed with you.

There’s also my school of thought. The gentle weight of a loving pup, draped across your knees or over your feet, is Mother Nature’s Heated Blanket. A purring cat, curled up in the crook of your elbow, is Mother Nature’s White Noise Machine.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep.

Categories
Food Fun Pets

Snacks

My dogs, Mollie and Charlie, recognize certain words: outside, walk, breakfast, dinner, squirrel, no, good. They know what those words mean and react appropriately (or, in the case of squirrel, inappropriately, with loud barking and much drama). And recently, they’ve learned a new word: snack.

It started one morning when we all woke up early, and I was not quite ready to put their breakfast out. I offered them each a doggie treat, calling it a snack. Over time, it happened again, on early mornings and sometimes in the evenings, before dinner. Occasionally, they’d get a snack after a walk or before bed. They eventually learned to associate the word snack with their doggie treats.

They’ve also perfected the art of Begface: loving eyes, a slight head tilt, nose occasionally sniffing the air, mouth slightly open in an eager half-smile. Who can resist? Certainly not me.

And so, snacks are a routine now. I’ve started branching out, looking for new snack options, flavors and shapes and textures. It’s sort of like choosing between crackers and potato chips and popcorn, except for dogs.

I do my best to be a responsible pet owner, and I know that I need to keep their snacking under control. Just like humans, it’s easy for dogs to eat too many snacks (there’s a reason a well-known potato chip company built an entire ad campaign around the fact that nobody can eat just one). Still, it’s fun to reward them, to say the word snack and watch their happy reactions. It’s a sweet little ritual we share, an entertaining (for me) and a delicious (for them) moment in the day.

Here’s to snacks, the tasty tidbits of love that I share with my pups.

Categories
Animals Good Pets

Rescue

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is National Rescue Dog Day.

My husband asked me if there is a difference between rescue dogs and pound puppies. It appears that there are some minor differences.

A rescue dog, according to National Rescue Dog Day information, is a dog that is in a dire situation, such as living on the streets or abandoned in some way, and ends up being rescued via an animal shelter, a foster home, or adoption. They might need serious medical care, although very often, they recover quickly and develop into healthy dogs once they are in a safe situation.

“Pound puppies” is an unofficial term for dogs that are at the animal shelter, generally healthy but also in need of fostering or adoption. They might not have been in danger, sick, or injured when they arrived, and they typically don’t require extra care once they leave the shelter.

The primary differences, therefore, seem to be in the circumstances that brought them into their current situation and what they might need to live safe and happy lives. A small difference, but a meaningful one. Most importantly, however, they’re all dogs in need of good homes. If you’re considering a furry family member addition, please start your search at your local animal shelter or rescue organization.

There’s another aspect to National Rescue Dog Day that’s relevant. Rescuing can be a two-way street. Dogs have a way of making things better; easing loneliness, making us laugh, feel loved and accepted. Bringing a shelter dog into your life doesn’t only help the animal – although, of course, that’s a vital goal. But, if you yourself are in need of a little rescue, even if it’s only from time to time, it can help you, too.

There are oodles of animal rescue organizations and shelters doing their best to care for dogs, to find them homes and connect them with medical help and other necessary resources. One of the best known is the ASPCA. If you’re in a position to give of your money and/or your time, you can find more information at https://www.aspca.org/. If you’re looking for a more specific option, such as an organization that rescues certain types of dogs or delivers specialized medical care, a quick internet search will likely give you the information you need.

Happy National Rescue Dog Day. Here’s to all the dogs who’ve made life better through their companionship and love. And, here’s to all the people who have been and still are working to rescue each and every one.


Categories
Life Pets

Awake

Pre-pandemic, my alarm would wake me up at 5:00 a.m., insistently reminding me that it was time to get ready for my hour-long commute and the official start of my work day.

Each morning, there I’d be, snoozing comfortably, dreaming away, and then suddenly, a loud, irritating beep-beep-beep would jolt me awake. It would not stop until I took action. So, I’d hit the snooze button, putting off the inevitable, only to repeat the process all over again a few minutes later. Eventually, I’d accept reality and slowly exit the soft, warm bed, shuffle around in the early morning darkness, and get the day started.

Now, I rarely set my alarm clock. There’s no need; I’m not commuting, and the morning is no longer a rush of action I have to complete before hitting the road.

Instead, my waking up experience revolves around our dogs. Today, for example, I was awakened by Mollie and Charlie bouncing on the bed. They were playing some form of Dog Tag, with Mollie merrily pushing Charlie to one side and then Charlie gleefully jumping back across the blankets for another round. When they noticed that my eyes were open, they both bounded toward me with doggie smiles and wagging tails, eager to be the first to welcome me into the new day.

I miss my job. I miss seeing my colleagues every day, and I miss the work we did together, the sense of purpose it created.

I also resent the pandemic. I resent the lives it’s destroyed as well as all the interrupted plans and goals, the lost opportunities and disrupted expectations.

But, I do not miss that 5:00 a.m. alarm, and I do not resent the change in my morning routine. I much prefer being awakened at a more decent hour by happy, playful dogs who think I’m the most wonderful person in the world.

Here’s to little silver linings, wherever and whenever we may find them.

Categories
Pets

Meow

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is Respect Your Cat Day. It’s a day for recognizing and celebrating our feline companions.

I’m a fan of cats in general, but my experience tells me that most of them already believe that every day is Respect Your Cat Day. I’m not sure that officially designating a day for this type of action is necessary.

Still, here we are. So, today’s cuppa honors my cats.

They make life better through their warm cuddles and loud purrs, their soft fur and curious nature. They can be demanding and insistent but also sweet and affectionate. At times, they seem wise beyond their years; at other times, they do incredibly dumb things. In either case, they are supremely confident, unconcerned with the opinions of those around them. Yet, they seek us out when they want to know that they are loved.

Indeed, they are.

Categories
Pets

Goat

Mollie, our older dog, is a picky eater. She likes her food served in a certain way, at a certain location, and there are some things she simply won’t eat regardless of how hungry she is.

Charlie, our younger dog, is the opposite. He’ll eat most anything, and he’s always ready to eat. Dog food, people food, cat food, scraps of paper, pieces of plastic, Kleenex, pillows, backyard grass, sticks, leaves…everything is fair game. He does prefer food, but he’ll eat whatever he finds.

Of course, I don’t want him to get sick, so I’m constantly watching, picking up tiny bits from the floor, moving things out of his reach, pulling things out of his mouth. Nevertheless, I’m sure he’s ingested some things he shouldn’t have. It’s impossible to completely Charlie-proof the world he lives in.

We thought we adopted a puppy all those months ago. Maybe we actually adopted a goat.

Categories
Life Pets

Ruff

An update on our puppy, Charlie.

He’s no longer a puppy. He’s full-grown, or close to it, standing a few inches taller than our other dog (and his best friend), Mollie. He has long, spindly legs and a little underbite that, at certain angles, makes him look like a piranha. His fur has grown in, short but curly and fluffy.

He’s still chewing on things, finishing off his puppy teething days, but I’m no longer worried about leaving shoes out where he can get them. He’s learned to chew on his toys, ripping and mangling them in short bursts of time, cheerfully turning them into flapping, helpless scraps of cloth and plastic and stuffing.

He’s also discovered his bark.

His bark starts in the pit of his belly, rolls up through his neck, and ends in a growly ruff, ruff. It’s surprisingly loud for his size. It’s rare for him to burst forth with a ruff on his own; he typically waits for Mollie’s bark as a signal to begin voicing his opinion. He doesn’t bark often, but when he does, it can’t be missed.

I’m still his Favorite, his Most Beloved, his One Above All Others. He still dances with joy anytime I return from being away, even if it’s only been for a few minutes. He still snuggles with me when he naps, still sighs contentedly at night as he curls up on the blankets next to me and drifts off to sleep. I hope that’s something he never outgrows.

Here’s to that moment when you realize that the puppy is gone but some of the puppy sweetness remains. And, here’s to loving the dog that the puppy has grown up to be.