Blue Suede Bird

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Elvis?

Although I had all sorts of pets growing up, I never had a bird. My mom once worked with small birds at a dime store, and is quite fond of feathered friends. Before I came along, my parents had a mynah bird named Charlie who was well loved and comical to say the least. They told me stories of how he would wolf whistle at unsuspecting women passing by the window, their reactions aimed toward my dad rather than his rude avian companion. He could cuss like a sailor at inappropriate times, like when someone from the church was visiting. Charlie had the ability to mimic voices, so if you heard someone calling for you, it might be the crazy mynah bird using someone else’s voice. Sometimes he even threw food down to the dog. Sadly, he passed before I could meet him, but his stories made birds sound so fun.

I realize that parakeets and mynah birds are quite different, but I thought a budgie would be better suited for a first-time bird parent. I’ve had Elvis the parakeet for close to a decade, and he seems to be content and happy in our home. I thought his name was fitting because he likes to sing and chirp, plus he has beautiful blue feathers. He has outlived two previous cage mates and now lives the bachelor life. Or does he?

As I mentioned in Mother’s Day Madness, one day I noticed white objects laying on the cage floor. Eggs! After some quick research, I learned that Elvis wasn’t a male bird after all. This surprising discovery led to an eventual name change, so Elvis is now Priscilla. My bachelor bird turned out to be an independent chick! I’m not sure why there was egg production after so many years, and it hasn’t happened again in quite some time. Apparently, one way you can tell the sex of your parakeet is by the color of the cere (the area just above the beak). For some reason I have never been able to decipher Priscilla’s color. It always seems to look different when I check it.

She loves hanging out on her swing or a wooden branch to watch the daily hustle and bustle. She always has fresh water and birdseed, and a cuttle bone to keep her beak in good shape. It appears that Priscilla does not like treats, because she never touches anything I offer her, yet she eats her seed just fine. She has a bunch of toys which I rotate to keep her from becoming bored. Her one constant is the swing, because I know that she loves it.

I may be a novice when it comes to birds, but I must be doing something right, because the first bird I ever had continues to enjoy a long, healthy life. Elvis/Priscilla is a handsome/pretty bird who is quite loved.

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Priscilla!

New Year, New Pet?

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Happy New Year! I try to add content to this site on a consistent basis, but the second half of 2018 wasn’t kind to me and caused me to deviate from my plan. Don’t you just hate it when life sometimes gets in the way of what you want to do? Suffice it to say that I am hoping for a kinder, gentler 2019 for me and my family. We would all appreciate it!

Last year saw us welcome Bugs the bunny into our home, after I insisted that I no longer wanted anything else living in the basement. I have to admit that I missed having a rabbit, so when the opportunity arose to bring in another, I took it. If anyone asks me if I contemplate adding a new furry family member this year, I would have to say no.

I think we have reached our capacity. Of course, I’ve been known to say that and then do something else. I heard that more greyhound tracks will be closing. That means that there will be even more dogs available for adoption, and I am super tempted since I’ve always wanted to rescue a retired racing greyhound, even before we got our Italian Greyhounds.

Of course, as much as I would love one, I have to think of the other critters in the house. First and foremost are Moose and Red. Last year they celebrated their 16th and 15th birthdays respectively, and my little old men deserve to live out their golden years in peace. Introducing a new dog to the dynamic wouldn’t be fair to them, especially a much bigger, younger dog.

There’s also the cats to consider. They’ve never been around a dog that wasn’t close to their size. A couple of them are double digits in age or near it, so I doubt that they would appreciate a boisterous newcomer. In fact, I’m sure of it.

In light of all that, I think our family won’t increase in number this year, and that is fine. The current residents get along well the majority of the time, and thinking that it’s best not to rock the boat, I believe keeping the status quo works for us. I will still see new faces as I continue to volunteer for the cat rescue.

2018 was great in that we said hello to Bugs, and we didn’t have to say goodbye to anyone. (We lost Annie in 2015 and Ozzy in 2016, both on June 2). None of the fur kids developed any new ailments, and existing conditions did not worsen. We seem to have Moose’s occasional tummy trouble remedied with prescription food and a probiotic. He and Red have their yearly checkup next week, and I hope our seniors are in the best possible shape. Red continues to receive aquapuncture treatments and still responds well to it.

Do you plan to acquire a new pet this year? I wish you and yours nothing but the best in 2019 and beyond.

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A Cautionary Tale

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Tiki the Escape Artist

Few things cause real panic in cat owners. The retching sound before a hairball is ejected onto the carpet can be scary, and emergency vet trips in the middle of the night are far worse. What makes my heart stop is when an indoor-only cat darts out the door, which is what happened to me last week.

Tiki has lived with us for six years, inside the walls of our little Cape Cod. I don’t know much about her past, except that she was found outside and brought to the shelter. All four of our cats have spent time in the outdoors prior to being adopted.

We keep water bottles at both doors to spray any cats that get uncomfortably close. Some people shake pennies in a coffee can as a deterrent, but the water bottle method works for us. When we leave, we exit with the bottle, placing it outside the door until our return. To enter the house, we crack the door open and start spraying. The cats soon learned not to hang out by the door. We did this for a long time, until we were confident that the cats wouldn’t attempt to bolt. I never thought we would have an escape with a cat who has been inside for six years.

My hubby let the dogs out into the yard to do their business. Red fell over outside, and when he opened the door to go assist him (Red ended up righting himself anyway), Tiki went with him, down the concrete steps into the back yard. She froze at the next to the last step, and he was able to scoop her up and deposit her back into the house. I was coming up from the basement, just in time to see Tiki go out the door. Talk about heart stopping. Incidents like these are why all the cats wear breakaway collars with identification tags, and are also microchipped with a registered chip.

So what have we learned from this potential disaster? Never, ever let your guard down. There are plenty of cats who live inside for years and never make an attempt to go out the door. Tiki had never expressed an interest in going outside until that day, although she loves to sunbathe directly in front of the door. I had let the dogs in and out with her there several times before and she never moved a whisker.

As a cat parent, I am adamant about my cats being kept strictly indoors. Tiki’s less than a minute adventure had a happy ending, but that’s not always the case for other wayward felines. Some never come home. Please remain vigilant in your efforts at keeping them in if you choose to do so, as Tiki just proved to us that you never know.

I would also like to wish the puppy that stole my heart from the first time I saw him a very Happy 16th Birthday! I love you, Moose! xo

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Sunbathing Near the Back Door

Rude Awakening

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Tiger’s Rude Awakening

Cats can function as furry alarm clocks, especially when it’s feeding time. Some are subtle about it, while others are downright rude, beating you over the head to wake you up. Tiger has his own obnoxious way of telling us when he wants his breakfast.

We have four cats. Vlad will lay on us, Barney will stare from atop furniture, while Tiki taps me on the head, giving me gentle kisses. Not too bad, right? Enter the orange monster Tiger.

He jumps on the bed, all 13 pounds proceeding to pace on our pillows. It’s annoying, but easily ignored. If that doesn’t elicit the response he wants from us, he ups his annoyance game.

On the dresser located next to the bed is a clock radio where an old iPod charges. Tiger has found a way to walk on just the right button to start the music. I’m all for blasting heavy metal, but in the wee hours of the morning, not so much.

Remember I mentioned about being beaten over the head? Tiger takes this to heart. He sits on the dresser, proceeding to swat objects onto the floor. There’s not many things up there that are cause for concern, except the lamp. The heavy, brass lamp. He knocks it down onto the head of the unfortunate person who sleeps on that side of the bed. That unfortunate person is always my hubby. Luckily, he has never suffered a serious injury as a result of Tiger’s wakeup call. Did I mention that Tiger swats the lamp cord loudly against the side of the dresser before sending it crashing down?

I’m not exempt from Tiger’s morning tantrums. He wreaks havoc on my hair, but not all the time. He seems to take offense to the smell after it has been processed. That’s when he tries to wake me up if the hubby won’t respond. He bites as close to my scalp as he can and pulls. Hard. I shouldn’t be surprised that the scent bothers him, because this is the same cat who tries to cover up my coffee mug when it’s sitting out.

Tiger has another tactic to let us know that he wants breakfast. There are two pictures hanging on the wall, accessible to the tabby with attitude. He stretches up from the dresser and proceeds to swat the photos repeatedly against the wall. Wham, wham, wham! I think it is even more obnoxious than blasting the music.

As annoying as all of this is, when he doesn’t do it, we miss it. Tiger wasn’t eating for a couple days, and during that time he wasn’t into his normal routine. We’re not sure what was wrong with him, but he left the vet’s office with an appetite stimulant that got him eating again. I thought he might have a hairball blockage, so I found something at a pet supply store to remedy that. Now that he’s back to his usual self, he’s up to his old tricks. Maybe I will buy hubby a football helmet for Christmas.

Rude Awakening

Looking for a Way Out at the Vet

Bun on the Run

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Lockdown

In my last post, I talked about various rabbit habitats that I used throughout the years. Bugs still lives comfortably in the basement, but it didn’t take long before I found a shortcoming with his setup. In fact, I anticipated it.

One thing I loved, yet had concerns about, was that the wire cube construction had no top. It made the enclosure seem even larger than it was, and it was so easy for me to access Bugs to take care of him. The house is two panels high, which isn’t quite the recommended height for bunnies. However, I figured that it might be sufficient because Bugs is not a large rabbit. Also, since I am petite, I wouldn’t have been able to reach into his enclosure had I added a third panel. There is no door built into the wire walls, which would be convenient.

In the back of my mind I thought about a possible escape. Our basement is divided into three sections. The first is where Bugs is located. There are two doorways leading into the next section, where there are hazards for a loose bun. The second section is probably the worst place for Bugs to escape, because he could hide under the stairs, the defunct oil tank, or encounter the sump pump pit (which has a cover and a bucket on top just in case). Anticipating a possible hop to freedom, I put a baby gate across one doorway and a cardboard box across the other.

One day I came home from work and found an empty bunny house. How did Bugs get out, and where did he go? At first I thought he was hiding behind his igloo, but then I noticed that the igloo was turned onto its side. I read that rabbits can climb, but I believe that Bugs got on top of his hideout and jumped over the wire wall.

Frantically I searched the area where I thought he might be. No luck. How do you call a rabbit, and would he answer to his name anyway? I looked under various basement items to no avail. I ventured into the dreaded second area of the basement, but when I glanced into where I had been, out hopped Bugs from who knows where. I was so relieved to find that he was safe. Because I didn’t want this to happen again, I set him up in a spare cage where he devoured food and water, so he must have been out for quite some time. He spent the night in his temporary place until I could figure out a solution to the open top.

I had enough panels to construct a ceiling for his enclosure, but that left no easy way to interact with Bugs. I read that something on top might discourage any adventures, so the enclosure now has a sheet stretched completely across it, secured with clothespins. So far Bugs has not bothered the top and has remained where he should be. I love my bunny, but his disappearing act has given me more gray hare (pun intended).

I would also like to wish my husband and co-parent of the menagerie a very Happy Birthday!

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My Bugs Bunny

 

You’ve Come a Long Way, Bunny

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Bugs Ready for His Close Up

Bunny habitats have evolved over the years. From wood hutches to wire-constructed cages, nothing can compare to today’s rabbit castles. My current rabbit is one lucky boy.

While none of my animals were ever kept outside, I knew people who housed rabbits in wood and chicken wire hutches, and the animals did just fine. My first bunnies lived in my parents’ basement, in wire cages purchased through a catalog. They had solid metal trays that slid out beneath the wire floor, lined with newspaper to collect waste. However, wire floors could hurt bunny feet, especially the large breeds. To help prevent this, I had resting boards, which were slabs of hard plastic with holes for any messes to fall through. That seemed to be a better surface (at that time) for the bunny to sit on.

I later switched from wire cages with pans to cages with deep plastic bottoms, which could be filled with a variety of bedding material. These enclosures needed frequent changing, as the pet lived directly on the material that they would eventually soil, unless the bun was litter box trained.

It wasn’t until Bugs came home that I discovered the joys of litter box trained buns and roomy living quarters. I’m not sure how he was taught, but Bugs eliminates in a dishpan-turned-litter box filled with absorbent bedding. This makes keeping his house clean a snap. His enclosure is constructed from wire storage cubes, and has no top or bottom. The wire cubes sit on foam puzzle pieces easily found in stores or online. This gives him a cushy place to hop, instead of sitting the cage directly on the concrete basement floor.

He has a roomy, soft area to move around, filled with things to make a bunny happy. Bugs has a combination pellet/hay rack, which I only use to hold pellets now that I discovered that the divider holding the hay in place is missing. Because of this, he has a separate hay rack hanging from the wire cube, above his litter box. Bugs also has a separate dish for his salads, and right now he enjoys parsley and cilantro. He has two blankets that lay atop the foam floor. There’s a large igloo hideout when he wants to feel hidden. Bugs has two chew toys that hang from his enclosure, and he has a variety of toys to keep himself entertained. He has two balls, one that can be rolled and another that can be chewed. There are three chew sticks in his house, in addition to a lava block and bunny rattle that can be tossed.

Every morning I do some light housekeeping. I change his litter box, and sweep up any loose hay, fur, or runaway droppings. I refresh his water, hay, and pellets as needed. When he sees me come down the stairs, he hops to the front of his enclosure and stands up on his hind legs for petting. I really love this little guy. Rabbits do make wonderful additions to your family.

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Bugs Enjoying Floor Time

Pet Emergency Preparedness

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Ozzy Goes Where Red Goes

Our power went out for a few hours on July 3 after a nasty storm blew through. Because Moose has a heart issue, we decided to leave the house so that he could be in air conditioning. We loaded up Moose and his brother Red for company, and ran some errands with them until the electricity was restored. I knew from experience that power outages are infrequent in our area, and that time without power would be minimal. As for the other fur kids without health issues, the house was comfortable, so we felt safe leaving them at home. Rest assured, had we thought the house was too uncomfortable, we would have left with everybody.

This ordeal had me thinking about pet emergency preparedness. What if we lived in an area prone to natural disasters? If we had to get out fast with the animals, what would we bring? The following is what I would bring for my own pets.

Vaccination Records. My animals are up-to-date on their vaccines, including some that may be considered optional, such as the kennel cough vaccine. That is sometimes required at boarding facilities, and you never know when you may have to put your dog in such a place in an emergency. Cats may also be required to have certain vaccinations.

Carrier/Leash/Identification. Sturdy carriers are a must for cats and small dogs, as well as for small pets like our bunny. Our parakeet Priscilla has a cage that can be lifted out of its stand and be transported. All my fur kids have their own carrier, because even the best of friends can lash out when stressed. (Photo disclaimer: Ozzy voluntarily walked into the crates with the dogs. He was only in them long enough for a quick photo before being ushered out). The dogs have secure collars and leashes, and are microchipped, because identification tags can fall off collars, making it more difficult to be reunited with you should you become separated. Our cats wear breakaway collars and are microchipped, too.

Plastic Bags/Disposable Litter Pan/Litter. I would bring plastic bags for doggie cleanup, and disposable litter pans and litter for the cats. Should we wind up at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s place, they will appreciate our cats having their own spot to eliminate.

Medications. As of now, Red would need his anti-anxiety medication, and Moose needs his heart prescription. I would also bring their chondroitin/glucosamine supplement, and heartworm preventative.

Food/Water/Bowls. I can’t forget the obvious.

Blanket/Toys. If we have the room, my pets would probably enjoy having their favorite blanket or toy with them. They will be stressed, too, and something familiar to them may bring them some comfort. I can count on bringing a stuffed ring, elephant, and platypus for Red.

Everyone’s list will be different, and mine is far from exhaustive, but these are just some items that I would bring for my own animals in the event of an emergency. Use your judgment for your own animals.

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Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate