Red the April Fool

Red the April Fool (2)

A Sighthound? Maybe Not So Much

What do you do when you have a rescue animal with an unknown birthdate? In our house, we assign them a birthday. You could choose a date that means something to you, or you could choose a date based on the pet’s personality. Knowing Red as we do, we gave him the birthday of April 1, 2003 (the year is likely correct).

He never fails to amuse us with his hijinks, but his name is a misnomer. Although that was his name when we adopted him and his fur is a reddish brown, we learned early on that Linus or Timex would have worked just as well for names.

Just as Linus from Peanuts is attached to his blue blanket, Red is attached to his toys. Like a lot of dogs, he has an overflowing toy box, but still clings to his ratty stuffed rings, elephant, and platypus. He loves them so much that they end up in his bed, in our bed, the car, and even outside, as shown in the above photo. Sometimes he refuses to go for a walk unless he has one of these items stuffed into his mouth. It’s cute until he drops it mid-walk, leaving me to carry it the rest of the way.

Even when he’s creating a mess, we still laugh when we should probably be annoyed with him. When the pups were younger and attending playdates, you could count on Red to vomit in the car. Nothing we tried seemed to cure his car sickness, so his grandmother would sit in the back seat with him, a plastic bag at the ready. Every. Single. Trip. You can never question her love for her granddogs.

Red would later repay Grandmom for her kindness with a rather gross gift, a dead bird he brought into the house when she was dog sitting. He didn’t understand why she wasn’t grateful for his present, but I was glad that I wasn’t there for that spectacle. We called him Bird Face for a while after his avian encounter.

Red was never a graceful dog; long before he developed neurological issues, he was clumsy. I had a candle warmer on a living room end table, melting a 22-ounce candle. It was largely liquefied when Red managed to get caught in the cord and pull it down. Wax went everywhere, on the wall and carpet, and even in the outlet where it was plugged in. Worst of all, blue candle wax dripped from his red fawn coat, yet he was stoic about his predicament. I was so relieved that he didn’t burn his delicate skin, but I can tell you that wax removal from a dog is no fun.

Italian Greyhounds think they’re indestructible and Red is no exception. He managed to suffer a nasty chest scrape when he was running through the yard and failed to stop at the brick retaining wall. That had to hurt, but yet again he seemed unfazed.

Neither the wax nor wall incident bothered him. Remember Timex watches that take a licking and keep on ticking? That’s our Red, our April fool. He’s a small court jester in a fur coat.

Red the April Fool (1)

Cutest Elf Ever

The Original Rabbit in the Hat

Rabbit in the Hat (2)

Grand Champion Cleopatra (French Lop) (2002)

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate, and Happy Sunday to those who do not. Since bunnies are synonymous with the holiday, I thought today would be an appropriate time to introduce you to a rabbit dear to my heart, and the cool story of how I acquired her.

I’ve loved bunny rabbits since I was involved with 4-H many years ago. I wanted an English Lop, a bunny with extremely long ears, similar to a Basset Hound. Well, I got my breeds confused, and answered a newspaper ad for French Lop bunnies for sale. They’re also large rabbits but with much shorter lop ears. Think of them as the Beagles of bunnies.

The man selling them raised his bunnies for rabbit shows and also for his magic act. A magician! How cool is that? I brought home a doe (female) with chinchilla-colored fur, and named her Cleopatra, or Cleo for short.

She was a big, beautiful bunny with a lush gray coat and expressive brown eyes, loaded with personality. She was more dog than rabbit, nudging my hand with her large head for attention. Cleo was friendly, and loved to pluck yogurt drops from my open hand. She tolerated well the gentle brushing and nail trims, but was never a fan of ear cleanings, not that I could blame her. She was groomed often, as I was into showing rabbits at the time, and Cleo fit the breed standard for a French Lop. However, she wasn’t the greatest specimen of her kind, as the judges noted time and time again in their remarks.

Show after show we would try for a ribbon. Sometimes we had success, and other times we left empty-handed. Aside from taking home a prize, it was a good day if your entry didn’t pee on the judge or hop down the table to visit the competition.

An inconsistent winner, the magician’s bunny had a trick up her furry sleeve. She went on to become a Grand Champion, a prestigious achievement in the rabbit show world. I had other rabbits reach this title, but somehow Cleo’s award was a bit more special. I knew she was close, just one step away from the big prize, but that last needed win eluded her for a long time. Persistence paid off, and she finally won the last leg required for her grand championship.

Although I was overjoyed by her achievement, that was not my proudest bunny moment. That came when we were on the show floor when a spectator asked to take her picture. Someone else saw in her what I did, and wanted to capture my big girl on film. I can’t remember her wins specifically, but I can recall this incident with great fondness.

After Cleo became Grand Champion Cleopatra, her rabbit show days were over. She was loved and spoiled the rest of her days, passing away around eight years old of what the vet suspected was a brain tumor. Our time together may have been short, but it was magic.

Rabbit in the Hat (1)

Grand Champion Alice (English Lop) (2002)

The Case of the Missing Tabby

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (1)

The Lovable Lug

Not to be outdone by brother Moose, Tiger celebrated his own Gotcha Day recently. February 22, 2018, marked nine years since the orange tabby with attitude came to live with us. However, in that time he’s sometimes given us quite a scare.

We have learned that Tiger has a unique skill, something not done by any cat we’ve ever had. Perhaps he picked up this talent from watching his canine siblings. Italian Greyhounds love to burrow in their blankets, but what about cats?

When Tiger first came home, he was a dreaded door darter. This is not unusual for a cat who was allowed both inside and outside by his previous owner, but it is a problem since all of our cats are kept strictly indoors. Tiger got out our back door three times into the yard, and three times I was able to grab him and thwart any notion of freedom that he had. It seems he has since lost interest in this pursuit, but you have to remain vigilant when it comes to open doors. We live on a heavily traveled road, so a positive outcome for an escapee is unlikely.

We do a head count of the fur kids as a matter of course in our house. I also tend to do this when I’m doing the laundry, because I worry about a kitty taking an unintended ride in a Whirlpool. Every time we go out, and before bed, we check everyone’s location. Prior to implementing this practice, poor Tiger once spent a chilly night in the laundry room closet before being discovered the next morning.

One night during our rounds before lights out, we couldn’t find the cranky orange tabby. After checking the usual hiding spots and coming up empty, panic began to set in. Did he sneak down the basement stairs unnoticed? Worse yet, did he slip outside the safety of the house? That’s my biggest fear, one of the cats getting out the door and losing them forever. We continued the search, but still couldn’t find him. I called his name and even shook the treat bag, which summoned all the cats except Tiger. Where was he?

It seems our boy got tired and maybe a little chilly and called it a night early. A close inspection of our bed found a mysterious lump beneath the comforter. Peeling back the bedclothes revealed a blinking orange tabby, oblivious to the chest pain he was causing his pet parents. His hiding spot uncovered, he calmly stretched and walked into the other room, relinquishing the queen-size bed to its rightful owners.

I have since observed Tiger burrowing under the covers. He will also disappear under the comforter on the bed, or under the throw we keep on the couch for the dogs. You have to be careful where you sit or you could wind up with a claw to the backside. I wonder how the dogs feel about sharing their blankets, and I also wonder if I should have a cardiologist on speed dial.

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (2)

Hiding in Plain Sight?

Happy Gotcha Day Moose

Happy Gotcha Day Moose-4 mos.

Moose- 4 months

I didn’t know Gotcha Day is a thing, but apparently it is. It’s the date when you bring home a new pet, which I prefer to call a family member. On February 9, we celebrated 15 years of being owned by Moose.

I remember well the events leading up to bringing him home, which I recounted in To Moose, With Love. I still have the tiny sweater he wore on his way home. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe he was ever so small. He outgrew it years ago, but I can’t part with it.

Moose has always been adaptable. In the 15 years since he’s been with us, he has welcomed another Italian Greyhound, and has seen cats come and go. I’ve never had a problem with him getting along with the other animals. Sometimes he has squabbles with his canine brother Red, but it’s never anything serious. At least nothing serious anymore. When Moose was much younger he pinned Red to the kitchen floor over a Christmas Eve lunchmeat tray. That was the worst quarrel they ever had, and the only time I had to intervene.

Moose had an active social life at one time. I met some wonderful people and their dogs through a now-defunct website. We attended several area playdates, even venturing to a few out of state. They were fun social events for both dogs and humans. I’m still in contact with some of the people, but sadly, Moose and Red are among the few dogs remaining from the original group.

Moose loves to go for walks, and he wants to greet every dog or person he meets on the street. He’s always been outgoing and social, even at the vet’s office. He enjoys outdoor activities, and we would take him everywhere. He doesn’t go on many walks or adventures these days, preferring to lounge on the couch or walk around his yard in his senior years. A few years ago I took him to a town yard sale, which was teeming with people and dogs, and his demeanor was different. He seemed shy and uncomfortable. I thought then that the gradual loss of his hearing and vision was affecting him. However, there are times when he’s his normal self. We have an opportunity to participate in a charity dog walk in the coming months, so we hope he will enjoy it.

Although Moose came from a pet store (before we knew about the horrors of puppy mills), he is one of the best purchases we ever made. (The retail chain where we found him has since gone out of business). Considering where he came from, we have been very lucky regarding his health. Other than an occasional seizure, and a leaking heart valve not requiring treatment at this time, he is in good shape for his advanced age. For someone who would have been fine without a dog, I can’t imagine being without him. He has brought me immeasurable joy, and Moose is always there to snuggle whenever I need him. I can only hope that we have many more Gotcha Days ahead of us.

Happy Gotcha Day Moose-15 yrs.

Moose – 15 years

 

Happy Birthday Annie

Happy Birthday Annie 2007

Annie on Top of the Fridge – 2007

Today is a bit sad in our house, because our beloved brown tabby cat Annie would have been 20 years old today. Cats can live to this age and beyond, and Annie was a healthy girl until she succumbed to what we believe was cancer at the age of 17.

She was the first pet we had together, and the only pet to live in our apartment. When we moved, Annie ruled the house with an iron paw, a declawed force to be reckoned with. (At one time it was common to have cats declawed and altered at the same time. We no longer put our cats through the former procedure, known as Onychectomy. All of our current felines have their claws). Annie let any new addition know that she was queen of the castle. The dogs feared her, and the other cats aspired to be her.

She had attitude when she was a baby; I remember fighting a little tiger to put drops in her ears to treat her for mites when we got her. Annie was three years old when we brought home a new kitten we named Ozzy. We thought a kitten might awaken her maternal instincts, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. The first night at home she hissed at her new baby brother and swatted him down a step into the family room. Little did she know that he would grow to be bigger than her, and become an instigator. He would do everything possible to aggravate her to incite a hiss, growl, or swat. He played his own version of “I’m not touching you,” and then stand there, ears back, as she unleashed on him. He rarely fought back. They were together 14 years, and they played this game for the duration of their time together.

Annie tolerated, if didn’t care for, any other pet that came after her. She spent all her time from her invisible throne atop our tall entertainment center. She liked to be up high, surveying her kingdom. The problem with this was that she spent too much time away from the other animals. When she did come down, she was such a novelty to them that they bothered her, causing her to retreat to her wooden tower.

One day the gigantic tube television was replaced by a sleeker model, and gone with it was the old entertainment center. Annie now had to relocate to another safe space, and she chose the top of the refrigerator. We outfitted her new digs befitting a queen, complete with a cat bed beneath a body heat reflecting mat. Her majesty even took her meals up there, and there was not enough room for another cat to comfortably join her. Rarely did one of the others attempt to intrude. It was understood that this was her space from which she could observe daily life. She still sits in her bed atop the fridge, and her brothers and sister still respect her special spot, although she is no longer here to defend it. Happy Birthday Annie, we love and miss you.

Happy Birthday Annie 2005

Ozzy and Annie Standoff – 2005

Meet Tiger

Meet Tiger (1)

Waiting for a New Family

By now you know that I have two Italian Greyhounds which I adore. I also share my home with four rescued indoor cats. I’ve previously written about the two latest additions, Barnabas Collins and Vlad. In this post I will introduce you to the first cat I adopted through my volunteer job.

We already had two cats when I started volunteering for the shelter approximately 15 years ago. They were acquired as kittens, the products of what I call “oops” litters. Annie was a brown tabby, perhaps mixed with a little Siamese, and Ozzy was a gray marble tabby (and the best cat in the universe), whose mother was Russian Blue. Sadly, we lost both of them exactly a year apart on June 2, 2015 and June 2, 2016.

There was an orange tabby in the adoption center. He was an adult cat who just wanted to lay around, and he didn’t stand out among the other cats looking for forever homes. I’m not sure why because he is a very handsome cat.

Week after week we developed a routine. I would lay my coat on the bench and he would curl up in it. I would come in for my shift and if he was already out of his cage, he would look to me for my coat, and I always obliged him. Since no one had showed any interest in him, and we had a bit of a bond, Tiger became cat #3 in 2009.

Fast forward nine years later, and guess what? He still lays around. That’s ok, now he has a much bigger space to lay around. I’ve heard that orange male tabbies are some of the friendliest cats. (Did you know that the majority of orange cats are male?) I have to admit that this isn’t accurate when it comes to Tiger. He is the least friendly of our felines. This is not to say that he is mean, but if you pet him too long, he will reward your effort with teeth marks. However, he is a cat’s cat, affectionate on his terms. He will head butt for attention, and climb into an available lap when the mood strikes him. Sometimes Tiger will even lay close to his humans in bed.

He likes to carry his toy mouse around and meow loudly, delivering us his latest “kill.” For this we heap tons of praise on him. He is the hunter of the group, and the only cat of the four who does this.

We call Tiger Pass-Out Cat, because he likes to sleep face planted. It really is adorable. If he’s really cold, he will burrow under the covers on the bed. If you see a lump, you know there’s an orange kitty under there. Again, he’s the only cat of ours to do this.

Tiger may not be a cat thrilled with kisses and cuddles, but we love him just the same.

Meet Tiger (2)

Pass-Out Cat

Yearly Tune Up

Yearly Tune Up (2)

Is It Our Turn to See the Doctor? 

The pups recently had their annual well visit at the vet. Of course, it’s not one of their favorite places to be, but for them it’s a necessary evil. Moose is often open to visiting other patients in the waiting room, while Red tries to blend into the floor in hopes no one will notice him. It never works, but yet he tries.

We were ushered into an exam room. The boys were in for a bit more than a nail trim, but we included that service in the appointment. Red now has a heart murmur that was barely detectable through the doctor’s stethoscope. He is hard of hearing, and we know that he can still see, but we’re not sure to what extent. He is doing exceptionally well with his aquapuncture treatments that he receives from another practice. (As he will no longer stay still for the time required for acupuncture, he now receives aquapuncture injections instead).

Moose’s heart murmur is worse than Red’s, but remains unchanged since last year’s visit. He requires no treatment for it at this time. Although we believe he is a year older than Red, his vision and hearing are better.

While Moose needed one vaccine, Red needed two, as they are not on the same schedule when it comes to inoculations. I felt bad for both of them, but more so for Red because he had aquapuncture only four days before his checkup. The poor guy must have felt like a pincushion.

Since both dogs are microchipped, we make it a habit of scanning them at their annual appointment. Chips can migrate or become unreadable, but both were easily found and read by the scanner. I doubt if either of our boys would go missing given that they no longer have an active social life (playdates), but you can’t be too careful.

Next month they will both go in for their dental appointment. Red did not have a dental last year because he was in bad shape; he could not stand, let alone walk. Now that he has recovered, his mouth requires much needed attention. Of course, both dogs will have bloodwork done the day of the procedure to be sure it’s safe for them to undergo the dental. Their existing heart issues should not preclude them from having the procedure.

A couple days following the vet visit, we received a call that their stool samples tested negative for any parasites. At least this year their samples actually made it to the vet’s office. At last year’s appointment, we arrived only to discover that the paper bag containing their samples was missing. We know we left the house with it, but I think in the process of loading the car with dogs, the bag was put on top of the car and forgotten. Oops.

So now the boys have had their tune ups, and next month we await the dental appointment. The bottom line is I am happy to report that both dogs are in good shape for their ages, 14 and 15 respectively.

Yearly Tune Up (1)

“If I blend into the floor, the vet won’t see me.”