Appreciating the Black Cat’s Gotcha Day

Appreciating the Black Cat's Gotcha Day (1).jpg

He Loves Me . . .

Yesterday was Black Cat Appreciation Day, which coincides well with today. It was three years ago on this date that we adopted Vlad, the most awesome of all black kitties. (I might be just a tad biased).

I appreciate all the cats I have known and loved, but black cats have their own special day. Black kittens and cats are not adopted as often as their counterparts in different colors. There’s a stigma attached to them, which is a shame, because to know one is to love one. Black Cat Appreciation Day raises awareness of just how awesome black cats are.

Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I wanted a black cat and Vlad more than fit the bill. For me, looks are secondary to personality, and three of my current cats picked me. (Barnabas picked my husband, wrapping him around his little paw at their first meeting). This time I sought a black cat, but he had to have a great personality, one that would mesh with the resident cats.

What I love about Vlad is how lovable he is. They say shelter pets seem to know when they have been rescued, and show their appreciation to their new owners. Vlad shows it every day in little ways.

I love to kiss the top of his big plush head. The neatest thing about Vlad that I have never seen another cat do is return kisses. For every peck on the top of his head, I get a nose lick. It’s automatic, like he knows how to give kisses back. It really is endearing.

Vlad and Tiki are both lap cats, with a preference for hanging out with me. (The two gingers are more Daddy’s boys). Sometimes they vie for lap space, with Tiki more often than not getting the prime seat. That’s just as well, as she has higher seniority.

When Vlad is able to jump in my lap, he does it with gusto. While Tiki is 11 pounds, Vlad is more. How much more I’m not sure until his next vet appointment, but suffice it to say that he is beefier than his sister.

Sometimes he will bop you in the face with his giant black head. I think this is somewhat new for him, possibly learned from resident head butter Barnabas. After that, he makes himself comfortable. He likes to curl up under your arm, completely outstretched, big black feet extended. He was a long cat, lanky when we adopted him. He’s still long, but not so lanky these days.

If you think working will keep you safe from Vlad’s affection, you would be wrong. He has no problem standing on whatever you’re reading until you acknowledge him. If you’re working on your computer, he likes to sprawl out in your arms or on your lap while you try to type. On your phone? He will gnaw on the corner of it. Writing something long hand? The writing implement will be chewed.

Sometimes he can be annoying in his quest for affection, but of course, you have to give in and lavish Vlad with lots of love. He’s my cuddle bug and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Appreciating the Black Cat's Gotcha Day (2)

. . . And I Love Him

Summer Schnoz

Summer Schnoz (1)

Insect 1, Moose 0

Many dogs enjoy fun in the sun when winter gives way to warmer temperatures. Some may enjoy it more than others; I would guess that dogs with thick coats would prefer to lounge in air conditioning given the choice. Still, even when you take precautions to protect your pup from harm, stuff still happens.

Moose was just a couple years old, a precocious young buck at the time, and our first dog together. We made sure he never walked on hot concrete, didn’t overheat in the sun, and we slathered him with dog-safe sunscreen on the necessary areas for playdates and outings. He was never left in a hot vehicle. We went so far as to get him a life jacket in the event he was near water. (Sometimes playdates included pools for both dogs and humans). Overprotective much? Sure, but he was our first dog, and we tried to be perfect dog parents. One hazard we didn’t count on? Insects.

Moose was in the yard one day and got stung. Or bit, we just don’t know. Just how he was injured, and what caused it, remains a mystery.

I arrived home one day to be greeted at the door by my happy Italian greyhound. He was his usual boisterous self, but there was something different about him, and it was as plain as the nose on his face. In fact, it was his nose. His muzzle was swollen!

Rattled by his appearance, I found my better half and asked what was wrong with Moose. Ok, maybe I yelled, “What’s wrong with his face?” He didn’t know anything was wrong with the dog, let alone how it happened. It appeared to be an allergic reaction to a sting or a bite. Not wanting to take any chances, with an eye also swollen, we carted our boy to his vet.

It didn’t take long before they whisked him back to administer a shot that would help him. We sat in the waiting room, hearing our little man yelp from the injection. Moose was a drama king from the beginning; perhaps this was the incident that started his flair for theatrics.

Fortunately his breathing was not affected by his misadventure. The medication worked fast, and he recovered quickly. To my knowledge, that was the only time he had a run-in with a bug, or at least got into a tangle with one and lost.

We thought we had all of our bases covered when it came to the summer safety of our pups. We asked our vet what we could administer ourselves in the event such an incident happened again. We later carried the recommended medication, along with dosing instructions, in their bye-bye bag whenever we went anywhere. I’m happy to say that we never needed it.

No matter how well you think you’re prepared for any summer hazards, there are some things you can’t anticipate. One thing is certain, I never saw Moose pursue insects in the yard after that. He would advise against getting a summer schnoz.

Summer Schnoz (2)

Swollen Moose

Nite Nite Bedtime

NIte NIte Bedtime (1)

Zzzzz

When my brother was little, he would grab his pj’s and tell our mom he was ready for bed. He was one kid who looked forward to bedtime, while I tried to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Now I have a doggie equivalent of my brother, a pup who can’t wait to go to bed.

Red’s bed is our bed. Known as “velcro dogs,” Italian greyhounds love to cuddle close, and most of the time they sleep under the covers with their owners. If you think that’s weird or gross, this might not be the breed for you. We have baby gates keeping the boys in the family room, where we are most of the time in the evening. The gates prevent access to the rest of the house, including the bedroom, located on the first floor of our Cape Cod.

When Red would like to go to bed, the pacing and staring start. If that fails to get any notice, he ups his game by grabbing a toy if one is laying around, and walking to the baby gate and staring at the bedroom door. He continues to pace back and forth to the baby gate with a toy in his mouth, before dropping it and barking at us as a last resort.

Even though we know what he wants, all we have to do is ask the magic question, “Nite, nite bedtime?” This gets Red even more riled up. By this time we have to relent, but not before he goes outdoors one last time. As soon as he returns from doing his final business of the night, he runs into the bedroom, the baby gate already removed. When he was younger, he could jump onto the bed and start burrowing by himself. Now he will bark to let someone know he is ready and needs help. We turn down all the covers before picking him up and placing him onto the mattress. He wastes no time burrowing under, although sometimes he plants himself too close to the edge for my liking, so I scoot him closer to the center of the bed. We cover him up, turn on the fan (weather permitting), leave the light on low, and he is content to stay there the rest of the night. He is even generous to move over when the humans come to bed.

You may be reading this and think, “What about Moose?” Moose doesn’t do any of this. When Red goes into bed, Moose is content to hang out with us on the couch. Once in a while he will join his brother, but he often won’t stay settled until we come in with them. Red on the other hand knows we will come in eventually, and that is good enough for him.

I never thought I would have a dog I would have to tuck into bed. This is something that makes Red unique, and I just love it about him. I wouldn’t change this little guy for anything.

NIte NIte Bedtime (2)

Serious Sleeper

Meal Time Mayhem

Meal Time Mayhem (2)

Pantry Shelf Meal Prep

I mentioned in a previous post that feeding time is a production in my house. We have two dogs and four cats, not to mention the bunny. Here’s why keeping them all alive can be a bit time consuming.

Breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m. during the week. Sometimes it’s the same time on the weekends, and other times it may be an hour or two late. The dogs are at an age where they would rather sleep than eat, but the cats remind us when it’s past feeding time.

I gather the six bowls and line them up on one of the pantry shelves. I don’t try to get everything together on the counter because I think I will be bombarded with cats, although hubby does this with no problem. They are content to gather at my feet during meal preparation. I start with the cats. I open one large can of wet food and distribute it among four bowls. Dry food is then mixed in with the wet food. Done! The cats are easy. No one is on medication.

The dogs’ meal prep is more involved. Each dog gets wet food, because Moose and Red no longer eat dry food. Not only have they started refusing it in their old age, but Moose has 14 teeth and Red has 12 teeth. (Dogs should have 42 teeth). I figure that they have made it this far, so I am not going to force the issue. I’m just thankful that they still have good appetites. Since they eat exclusively dry food, I put a teaspoon of canned pumpkin on top to help prevent loose stools. Following the pumpkin begins the med distribution.

I cut up one chondroitin/glucosamine chew into quarters, and each dog bowl gets a quarter, saving the other two quarters for the next day. Moose has a probiotic capsule that I open and sprinkle onto his food for his frequent tummy grumbles. Red gets a quarter of a pill for his nervousness and Moose gets a tablet for his heart. Whew!

After all the food prep, it’s time to eat! The dogs eat first, in their separate crates. Moose was food aggressive when he was younger, so we learned early on that eating apart from Red was best. I give Red his bowl first, which sits atop paper towels, because he is a slob who will get the concoction all over the crate floor. Next comes Moose, no paper towels required.

By now the cats have zero patience. Vlad gets shuffled into the laundry room, Tiki gets her bowl on the counter, Tiger eats in the bathroom, and Barnabas gets his food in our room. I would love to just feed them all together, but I doubt that would be possible. Vlad in particular is a chow hound; he is always trolling for any leftovers from his brothers and sister. This method works well for keeping track of who is eating and who may not be at any given time. I don’t free feed, meaning I do not leave dry food out during the day for the cats to graze. Our beloved Ozzy was on a strict food regimen, so we’re not used to leaving food out anyway.

After breakfast the dogs go outdoors, come in and snooze on the couch. The cats are sometimes seen but not heard from until it’s time for dinner. They are grateful for all the food prep, right?

Meal Time Mayhem (1)

Tiki Seems to Have an Opinion on the Cuisine We Serve

Priscilla Has Left the Building

Priscilla Has Left the Building

My feathered friend has passed away. If you read Blue Suede Bird, you know that I had a blue parakeet that started out as Elvis but had a name change to Priscilla, once the bird we thought was a male started laying eggs.

Priscilla died on Thursday, May 2. I came home from work and she was gone. I’m not certain how old she was, but I believe Moose was young when she came into our home, so I am guessing she may have been in her double digits. She outlived two cage mates. From what I understand, that is a good run for a parakeet.

I will miss Priscilla’s singing. I loved to hear her chirp. Seeing her perched in her swing made me smile. I also talked to her. The morning of the day she passed, I told her to be a good girl and that I loved her before I dashed out the door for work. I’m content with the knowledge that she knew that, even though she may not have understood me.

I’m sure she is at the Rainbow Bridge, soaring as high as her beautiful blue and white wings can take her. Priscilla is a young bird again, her health restored, her voice strong. She’s serenading the other animals with songs I enjoyed when she was with me.

I kept my little birdie’s swing, as I know how much she loved it. Priscilla may have left the building, but she will remain in our hearts forever.

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger (1)

Waiting Impatiently

I love Tiger to pieces. He can be a crabby tabby on a good day, but when he’s hungry, he takes crabby to a new level. He’s the only cat I’ve had who gets cranky at meal times.

If you read Rude Awakening, you know that when Tiger wants to eat, he wants to eat now. After the pestering, one of us staggers into the kitchen, tripping over assorted pets, to get their food together. If I have a.m. food duty (and most of the time I do, morning person that I am), their wait is extended because mom needs her coffee first. Otherwise, who knows what I will feed them in my fog. I figure that they have waited hours between meals already, so what difference does a couple minutes make?

Well, to them a few minutes makes all the difference, especially to Tiger. If I go upstairs to do something before I feed him, he often follows me. He voices his displeasure at my dawdling, and either tries to bite my feet or swat me. When I return to the first floor, he runs ahead of me, I guess he thinks he’s my guide to the kitchen, in case I forgot where it was.

He walks through the kitchen hissing and growling, to let everyone know that he is not happy. I can’t help but laugh, because it is comical. Food distribution is a production with two dogs and four cats milling under your feet.

A hungry Tiger lashes out at not only me, but also the animal inhabitants of the house. He will swat the dogs who aren’t doing anything but waiting themselves. Barney and Tiki are also on the receiving end of his ire, but it’s poor Vlad that takes the brunt of Tiger’s wrath. I think the orange bully knows that his brother is a lover and not a fighter, and uses that to his advantage. Barney and Tiki are more likely to stand up to Tiger swat to swat. Of course, before he starts terrorizing his brothers and sister, he gives them the stink eye. It’s a look that says don’t mess with me, I am hungry, and I am eating first! Tiger may have hierarchy in the feline population, but both Moose and Red came before him.

I use part of the pantry shelf to arrange the bowls to keep them from swarming me. Sometimes when I’m getting their meds to mix in with the food, I see Tiger on the shelf trying to get to his meal. He is the only one to do that, impatient brat that he is.

The dogs are fed first, followed by the cats. Tiger’s mood changes when I walk with him to the bathroom, his breakfast in hand. Everyone eats in separate rooms to avoid any squabbles over food, and it makes it easier for me to keep track of who is or isn’t eating at any given time.

When Tiger finishes breakfast, the crankiness is gone. He retreats into bed and continues to do what he does best—ignore me.

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger (2)

Tiger Takes Feeding Time Seriously

The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes On (2)

Waiting for the Doc

Moose is in good shape for his age, with his recent vet appointment results consistent with a dog of 16 years. Just as humans have specialists, so too, do dogs. A cardiology appointment for Moose always brings about some anxiety for us. We hope for the best yet prepare for the worst, but fortunately, the news was good.

Moose hadn’t seen his heart doctor in a while, so we scheduled an appointment to check his degenerative chronic mitral valve disease. He is on a medication to slow its progression, and we wanted to see if it was helping with his issue. Perhaps a change might be needed.

Moose and Red tend to do everything together, but in this instance, we felt it best that Red stay home. He wouldn’t have been able to be with his brother during tests, and he would have been antsy stuck in an unfamiliar place for a few hours.

The waiting room was filled with pets waiting to see various specialists. On this visit, Moose was his normal outgoing self, curious about the other animals and their people.

A veterinary student called Moose back for a quick exam. He passed his weight, heart, and lung check, but failed for dirty ears. As much as Red licks his ears, they should be spotless. We plan to address this issue at their next mani/pedi appointment with their regular vet.

After the quick checkup, Moose was taken back for further study by the cardiologist, to emerge an hour and a half to two hours later. Luckily there are plenty of places to eat in the area, and his appointment happened to coordinate with lunch time. It was just sad that the little guy wouldn’t be there to share the meal.

Of course, the time frame elapses at a snail’s pace when you’re waiting for your best friend. When you first see your baby, you’re elated but then worry about the results. The doctor put our fears to rest.

Moose had an echocardiogram during his visit. The medication is working well. There were no changes since his prior visit, and the course of treatment remains the same. The cardiologist couldn’t believe that Moose will celebrate 17 years in November.

Moose had the best visit we could hope for, and another visit in 6 to 9 months is recommended. We were advised to continue to check his respiration rate to be sure it is in the normal range, and we should also be wary of any signs of his condition worsening, such as coughing or wheezing. I admit that I try to keep Moose in a bubble so his heart doesn’t get worse. I also make sure he isn’t exerting himself too much or overheating under the blankets. Walks are rare, but the vet encouraged us to get him out more. His heart is stable at the present time, but now I’m the one going to need a cardiologist after all the stress, but it was worth it for my Moo.

The Beat Goes On (1)

Chillin on the Couch