Category Archives: pets

Animal Helpers

Luna, our grey cat, gets very excited whenever I change the sheets. She leaps onto the mattress and starts clawing at one of the corners, as you can see in the header  photo, and then jumps on the sheets and blankets as I try to flatten and adjust them.  You can see the excitement  in her face in the photo. Sometimes she lets me cover her completely  with the sheets and blankets,  leaving a distinct,  cat-shaped bump in the newly made bed.  She also helps Husband as he packs and unpacks his Rez suitcase, rubbing all his clothes and sitting in his suitcase. She is such a help!

Our terriers were great supervisors, always so curious about what we were doing and wanting to be part of the action.  When we would dig in the garden, they would dig along side us, sometimes digging up what we had just planted. So helpful!

How have your animals helped you?

Stuck!!

I know we’ve had “kindness of strangers” stories before, but here is another.

Took Guinevere to her doggie class Monday night.  The school is built on a hill and there are two parking areas, one up top that we’ve been warned is occasionally ticketed and the one that goes down the hill in the back.  I have always parked down the hill.

It was only about an inch of snow and I wasn’t very worried until I got down to the bottom of the hill and turned around to get into my favorite parking spot and slid a bit.  So I thought maybe I should park up top, just in case.  Now, you should know , I don’t have great tires, but I don’t have a great need for them, living on a well-plowed county road and surrounded by other well-plowed thoroughfares (50th, Crosstown, 35W, 100).  But this was one of those times when I needed better tires;  I could not get back up the hill.

There is a spot off the parking lot, behind a bank of garages and I thought “I’ll zip in there and when I come out I can get a little speed to get me up the hill”.  If I had really looked at the area I was about to enter, I would not have done this. It clearly hadn’t been plowed since the LAST snow – once I was back there, I could not get out.  And to add insult to injury, for some reason I did not have any gloves in my pocket.

In between the two halves of the class I tried shoveling out and did get the car moved closer to the parking lot, but then got stuck again.  When I went back inside and started to call AAA, Terry (one of the instructors) said “Let’s go take a look.”  He and John (who I had never met) came out, attached a big strap to the back of my car and basically pulled me out of the snow and all the way to the top of the driveway backwards.  I was able to park up top and finish doggie class!

I have a thank you card design in mind and I think I will deliver them with zucchini bread next Monday night.

What the last kindness you’ve received (or given)?

Rhianny-Boo

Almost 15 years ago, we had been dog-less for several months (after the death of Tristan, who was crazy, I need a bit of breathing space). Then that summer, YA and both decided it was time.  We debated and debated about whether to get an Irish Setter or a Samoyed, although we both wanted to try for rescue dogs.  There were two rescue organizations that had good reputations, one was Play it Again Sammies in Wisconsin and Save our Setters in Tennessee; we filled out the paperwork (miles of it) with both and said we would see who came up first, a Sammy or a Setter.

Rhiannon was about a year old and had actually been found in Alabama. After a few weeks of posted notices, no one had claimed her so she went to the rescue organization in Tennessee. Even though I was technically waiting to be approved, when I saw her photo on the SOS site, I called them and after a couple more phone calls, they agreed that we might be a good fit for her.  A volunteer drove her from Tennessee to Chicago and then another volunteer from Madison, drove to Chicago to get her.  Then YA and I drove to Madison on a Saturday morning to pick her up.  Except for that photo online, sight unseen.

The volunteer didn’t want us to come to her house so we met in the parking lot behind a steak house on Highway 94. I felt a little like somebody was going to show up wearing a big overcoat, whip open the coat and say “pssst, you wanna buy a watch?  Or an Irish Setter?”  My first words on seeing her were “Oh, she’s so little.”  In fact, over the years, many folks have assumed she is not a setter because of her size.

But that little body held a huge Irish Setter mentality. All toys were hers; she didn’t destroy them or even play with them much, but they were hers.  She would pick up a toy or lay down near one and none of the other dogs (or cats)  were allowed to have it.  All food was hers; over the years we had to move the trash totally out of the kitchen onto the back porch and also to lock the organic recycling.  She could open ANY trash container, including our current one that opens with a motion detector.  Food left on the counter was completely hers – just a month ago, she ate half a recipe of ginger cookie dough while it was waiting to be set on cookie sheets.  All dog beds were hers.  For the last few years, there have been two dog beds in my room, a red one and a blue one, same make and model.  If Gwen or Nimue laid on one of the beds, Rhiannon would get up and move over to the taken bed, shoving the inhabitant out.  Once she laid right on top of Nimue before the kitty could get out of the way.

And stubborn. Oh my stubborn.  Despite having passed two dog training classes, “come” was optional in her world, as well as “stay”.  Only if it suited her.  We have a dog gate to keep her out of the kitty box, a dog gate to keep her upstairs at night, dog gate to keep her in the breakfast room during parties (she once took a cookie right out of the hand of a toddler.)  And although every single treat I ever gave her over the years was accompanied by a stern “gentle”, she never mastered the art.  Grabbing was her thing.

After 15 great years, filled with treats, walks and lots of spoiling, Rhiannon has gone onto that big dog park in the great beyond. She’d been struggling for a month or so and really went downhill the last couple of weeks.  My feeling has always been that I don’t spoil my animals for years to let them suffer at the end; over the weekend it was clear that she had finished her journey and it was time for me to let her go.  All of her “queen-of-the-world” attitude aside, I will miss her gentle eyes and beautiful red fur.

Any good animal stories to cheer me up today?

Special Diets

Photo credit:  Dana Tentis

The last couple of days we’ve been dealing with some upset doggie tummies. Not sure of the cause but both are on a special tummy diet – pumpkin, sweet potatoes, rice, little bit of brown gravy. Both seem to like it and appear to be on the road to recovery.

What foods do you like when you’re feeling under the weather?

A Christmas Visitor

I read with great delight a recent story about a family who found  a live Eastern Screech Owl in their Christmas tree. The little owl had apparently been the tree in their living room for about a week. They didn’t notice it when they decorated the tree.  Many of their ornaments  were owl shaped, so the hitchhiker blended right in. I was surprised it didn’t hoot or move much.

The family contacted a rescue organization  that caught the owl and fed it up and got it back into the wild. The woman who found the owl in her tree was pretty delighted and said she felt a pretty special bond with the little owl.  The native people Husband works with believe owls are portents of death. We all have different relationships with animals.

Any good owl stories? What animals have you had special bonds with? Have you ever had unexpected visitors?

Too Smart for My Own Good

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been taking Guinevere to dog classes on Monday nights for a few months. While the training is a nice benefit, the main reason I take her is for her “social anxiety”.  She is afraid of everything and because of that she acts aggressively because she thinks she needs to protect herself from all that everything!  She’s doing fairly well and I think we’ll keep going even though she would prefer not to.

Because of this fear, I tend to think of her as not too bright, but I learned a long time ago that she can tell time. YA works mostly nights, usually getting home between 8:30 and 9 p.m.  Guinevere knows when that time frame rolls around and she reacts to every noise she hears that might possibly be YA’s car coming home.  And take a look at those ears; they hear A LOT.  The earlier part of the evening, she is calm but beginning at 8:30, she’s on alert.

I learned Monday night that she also knows the night of the week. I got home from work at the regular time, had a bit of dinner, fed them – all the usual stuff.  Then I headed upstairs to watch TV for a bit since we don’t have to leave for class until 6:30 or so.  Suddenly at about 6:15, Guinevere started to cry and whine.  She was on the bed with me, so she hadn’t hurt herself, she just started to fuss.  She kept it up until I put the leash on her and put her in the car, where she was quiet right up until we turned into the parking lot of the dog school.  Then she started to cry again – a pitiful cry that makes it sound like I’m sticking her with a hot poker.

Guess I’ll have to revise my thoughts on how smart she is. Now that she knows the nights of the week and how to tell time, it’s probably only a matter of time before she can spell!

Have you had any pets too smart for your own good? 

Cats

Well, it is Halloween, and it is time to think about cats. We have two.  They are considered mysterious and spooky, but to me they are fun and silly.  Ours are totally indoor cats. I noticed a tuxedo cat in our yard tonight who ran away when I called it. If it keeps showing up I will see what we need to do about it. Every home needs three cats, don’t you think?

Tell about the cats in your life and your past. What is it about cats that has made people assume cat  are associated  with the magical?