Storm Predicting Pets

Storm Predicting Pets (1)

Annie

I’m fortunate that I don’t yet have any aches or pains that let me know when bad weather is on the way. However, I’ve heard that animal behavior can be an indicator of an unsettled atmosphere. When New Jersey had a palpable earthquake in 2011, the birds on the power lines disappeared in unison moments before the earth shook. Can domesticated animals have the same proclivities?

Our brown tabby cat Annie (1998-2015) was more accurate than any local weather forecast. She spent her time perched on tall furniture, her favorite an old entertainment center, because she really preferred her own company to spending time with any of her feline or canine brothers. That was her domain, away from all of them, until later when she spent most of her time on top of the refrigerator.

As much as she disliked the other critters, whenever a storm was coming, she would abandon her high, safe place. You might guess that she would seek refuge under the bed, but she didn’t. Annie would sometimes hide out in the pantry, behind the safety of the wooden doors. Even if the other cats and dogs got close, she held fast to her position. She had another place to ride out the storms that was even more bizarre. She would lay in front of the subwoofer that sat on the family room floor. She was wide open to being annoyed by the others, little brother Ozzy in particular, yet she never moved. Sure enough, a storm followed whenever Annie fled to the security of the pantry or floor. When it passed, she would return to her normal hangout, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

After Annie crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we didn’t have another cat to trumpet the arrival of an impending storm until we adopted our little orange tabby Barnabas Collins. He’s been with us for two years, and we saw him exhibit storm-predicting behavior just once. He’s far from antisocial, so his safe place when storms are on the way is backed in tight against the curio/grandfather clock that sits in the dining room. From this vantage point, he is exposed to the other animals, but that doesn’t bother him since he’s a friendly guy. When a thunderstorm came through after he huddled on the floor, we realized that we did in fact have another storm predicting pet.

Our other three cats, Tiger, Tiki, and Vlad, show no ability to predict weather. The dogs have never shown any unusual pre-storm behavior. However, when they were younger, if a storm hit, they wanted to be burrowed under their blankets or be held by one of their humans. The weather doesn’t seem to affect them much anymore, but I think that is likely due to their compromised hearing more than anything else.

While predicting Mother Nature is difficult with even the latest and greatest technology, we will rely on our cat Barnabas for accuracy when it comes to predicting storms. Who needs to watch the weather report on television, when you have the cutest furry meteorologist at home?

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Barnabas Collins

The Moo Boo-Boo

The Moo Boo Boo (2)

Treat Time

Italian Greyhounds are a dramatic breed. The most benign injury can elicit a blood-curdling sound that is commonly known among owners as the Iggy death scream. While I’m not sure that I’ve heard the scream, I have heard my fair share of yelping and whining. Moose is our drama king. He lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he doesn’t like his brother Red stepping on him, or nail trims. The trims rarely result in bloodshed, yet he still carries on in his imaginary distress. Sometimes he starts his singing before the first nail is even touched.

Last month we found him holding up a leg, hobbling around on his other three legs. We didn’t see what happened, but we were spared the shrill scream. We think he hurt himself either jumping onto or from the couch. He limped for a bit but seemed to recover quickly.

A couple days later, when he and brother Red were enjoying treats, I thought I saw irritation along what would be Moose’s elbow. On further inspection, his armpit was raw and an angry shade of red.

My first instinct was to slather it with an ointment that I keep on hand to soothe irritated skin. However, Red had just recovered from a nasty skin infection, so I didn’t want to put anything on the area in the event that Moose also had the same affliction. Since the discovery was made on a Saturday, and our vet’s office is closed on Sunday, we decided to show up sans an appointment to see if anyone could spare a minute to look at the spot in question.

We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. There was no one in the office when we came in, and we saw the vet on duty in a matter of a few minutes. After her examination, it was determined that there was no skin infection, but she thought it may have been a result of the leg injury that he sustained. Not only was there redness under his front leg, but it was also on his side, radiating from the leg.

The treatment was rest and a short course of an anti-inflammatory. Moose walked out of the practice his usual happy self, making friends with a Golden Retriever on the way out. I’m happy to report that he has made a full recovery.

As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse. Italian Greyhounds are prone to leg breaks, but that is something we have fortunately (knocks on wood) never experienced. Moose’s once blue-colored head is mostly white now, but if he keeps hurting himself, the white on my head may rival the amount on his.

The Moo Boo Boo (1)

Armpit Closeup

What’s in the (Bye Bye) Bag?

Whats in the Bye bye Bag (1)

Fun and Functional

More people and pets spend time outside when the weather is nice. What items do you bring along for your canine companion when you’re spending quality time together away from home? Let’s take a look inside what I call the “Bye bye Bag,” which carried the essentials for Moose and Red when they had an active social life.

The Bag. I preferred a backpack to hold the boys’ gear. It’s easier to carry, especially if you’re juggling multiple leashes. Of course, it can be fun as well as functional. Since my dogs are male, their backpack is blue, with a cute bone-shaped keychain hanging from it. (Moose and Red had a bag charm before they became a thing).

Water Canteen. This is essential for travel. Mine has a detachable dish to make watering your pet a breeze, and the shoulder strap makes carrying it easy.

Bellybands and Pads. For males only, this garment protects the indoor areas, such as a friend’s home, from territory marking and incontinence. They wrap around the dog’s waist, covering the boy bits.

Hand Sanitizer. You never know when you will have to deal with something unpleasant, and sometimes water for hand washing isn’t readily available.

Flea and Tick Comb. I don’t think this is a necessity for Italian Greyhounds because their coat is so short, but I found it in the bag.

Car Sickness Preventative. I don’t recall if the all-natural remedy helped Red or not with his car sickness.

Tweezers. For tick removal.

Pill Box. I believe I had Benadryl in it, with dosage instructions from the vet along with the box. I carried this in case of any bug bites or stings, as I have seen Moose’s muzzle swell up first hand after a previous insect encounter.

Poop Bags. This should be one of the first items to pack. They are available in fancy refillable dispensers that hang from the leash, but plastic grocery bags work just as well.

Baby Sunscreen. I used this on both Moose and Red. Dogs can get skin cancer, and I would put this on their snouts, as well as the top of Moose’s head when his fur began thinning.

Collapsible Food Bowl and Container of Food. Because some playdates last into the evening, there’s no reason your pet should miss his or her scheduled meals (unless car sickness is an issue).

Spray Bottle with Water. I used this to break up minor skirmishes, or to cool other dogs’ unwanted romantic overtures towards my boys.

Baby Wipes. These are good to freshen up your dog after a long day of fun, and before heading home.

Of course, the contents of your bag may vary depending on the activity and breed of your dog. You should also consult your vet before packing anything that you plan to give to your dog orally or topically. (Please keep in mind that what I packed for my dogs may not necessarily be good for your dog, so use your judgment). With a little planning, you and your pet can have lots of fun together away from home.

Whats in the Bye bye Bag (2)

Bellyband

Canine Cardiac Care

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Young Man

This post was supposed to be about a charity dog walk that we were scheduled to participate in. As it turned out, the rain was relentless up to and including the day of the event. As a result, we did not attend due to the inclement weather. Instead, I will explain why Moose wasn’t cleared for the one-mile fun walk anyway.

Other than age-related hearing and vision loss, and a rare seizure, he’s in good shape for approaching 16. Although we thought he would be okay for the walk, his cardiologist thought it best that he remain a spectator.

Last August Moose had a heart murmur that jumped in severity overnight. Heart murmurs in dogs can fluctuate, but an increase so sudden raised alarm, so much so that our vet suggested that we make an appointment with a canine cardiologist immediately. It was all so sudden, and we were afraid we were losing him.

Moose underwent a battery of tests at a veterinary hospital, and at that time he was diagnosed with having a leaky heart valve. He didn’t require medication at the time, but his condition required monitoring and follow up. At a subsequent appointment in April, we learned that his condition worsened to where he was just in need of medicine for his degenerative chronic mitral valve disease. The drug he will take for the rest of his life should slow its progression, perhaps up to a year and a half. Given that Moose will be 16 in November, it’s possible that something besides his heart will take his life. The specialist assured us that Moose is nowhere near heart failure at this time.

So, out of an abundance of caution, it was the vet’s opinion that Moose skip the dog walk. While he was almost certain that Moose would be just fine, the fact is that he has been inactive for some time. Just as greyhounds are couch potatoes, so are their smaller counterparts, the Italian Greyhound. Moose and Red haven’t been to a playdate in years, and their walks around the neighborhood are few. We certainly didn’t want to put any undue strain on his heart, so we chose to exclude him from the walk. We couldn’t be happier with the treatment that Moose is receiving from the cardiologist. (Our primary vet rocks, too).

Moose’s heart may be beginning to fail, but I don’t think it’s through disease. His heart isn’t big enough to hold all the love he has to give. As the saying goes, to know him is to love him.

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Old Man

Mother’s Day Madness

Mothers Day Madness (1)

Annie – Never a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day! Since my cats and dogs are all spayed and neutered, none of them have ever been parents, at least not since they came to live with us. However, when I was a kid, our pets sometimes came with surprises.

The first family cat I remember was Puff, a stray tabby with a chronic ear condition taken in by my parents. One day my mom was holding her when she felt something wet run down her arm. To her surprise, Puff’s water had broken, and we were about to have more than one cat in the house. It now made sense why Puff was spending so much time in a closet, as she likely planned to bring her babies into the world in the secluded space. She had three kittens, who later were all rehomed, and the new mom was spayed soon after to prevent any other unplanned pregnancies. (Puff was an indoor/outdoor cat at the time, which was common in those days). In fact, she had her surgery when we still had her kittens in the house. Our family dog, a male Beagle named Sam, took charge of her little ones in her absence. If any of them wandered too far, Sam would retrieve it, returning the wayward baby to the rest of its siblings.

When I was growing up, pet stores were the place to go for pocket pets. Today care is taken to identify the sex of the animals for sale. Some retail chains will carry either male or female, but not both. This was not always the case back then, when we brought home a golden hamster, a male I named Teddy. One day I asked my mom, “What are those pink things in Teddy’s cage?” It turns out that Teddy wasn’t the male hamster we expected. Those “pink things” were tiny, hairless babies. We kept Teddy, but her kids were taken to the pet store when they were old enough to be separated from her.

As I got older, the pets got bigger. Graduating from hamsters, we brought home a brown and white guinea pig I named Lucy from a local pet shop. It turns out that she was indeed the female I was promised, but we didn’t realize that she was carrying an added bonus when we brought her home.

One day I noticed that Lucy had a smaller version of herself in her enclosure, a tiny brown and white baby. She only had one little piggie, and when we verified that it was a female, we named her Suzy and kept the mother and daughter together.

If my memory is correct, that was the last time I got more than I bargained for when it came to pets and their unexpected offspring. Currently we have a parakeet that sometimes lays eggs, so I should probably change her name from Elvis to Priscilla. Unless she has been entertaining birds in her cage late at night, the eggs will never hatch, as she is the only bird in the house. So, no matter how many kids you may or may not have, I hope your Mother’s Day is filled with more mirth than madness.

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Tiki – Also Not a Mom

Meet Tiki

Meet Tiki (2)

Glamour Girl

Last but not least of our crew to introduce is Tiki. When she came to live with us in 2012, she became cat #4 behind Annie, Ozzy, and Tiger. She has since moved to cat #2 in the hierarchy, after the passing of Annie and Ozzy. She rounds out our fur family which consists of 4 cats and 2 dogs.

Tiki is the second cat I adopted through volunteering. She’s a big girl, who was approximately five years old when we met. She’s a dilute calico, which means that instead of having the usual black, orange, and white fur, her colors are “diluted.” Her coat is gray, tan, and white. I have always wanted a calico cat. Did you know that almost all calico kitties are female? I didn’t, which is why I thought I could easily find a male. Apparently a male is a very rare find.

Tiki is a doll and a beautiful cat, if I do say so myself. I would reach into her cage every shift to pet her, and she would just roll onto her back, loving the attention. She’s a huge cuddle bug.

One morning I was cleaning the cages, with Tiki watching. As I walked past her, out came a white paw with a gentle “notice me” swat. Assuming she wanted a break from her confines, I opened her door and I sat on the bench. Once free, she climbed into my lap, standing up to put her face close to mine. I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but she started licking my nose, giving me kisses. So much for sticking to three cats at home.

I inquired about her and was told that a family was supposed to bring her home, but they never came back for her. It happens. Sometimes people change their minds or go to another shelter. Their loss was my gain, because this girl is fabulous.

She’s a mommy’s girl through and through and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s the only female of the fur kids, so we girls have to stick together. She’s often one of the first to arrive to greet me after work, and later watches television with me. Tiki is a lap cat and my bed buddy. As soon as I go into bed, I can count on Tiki to spend the night curled up next to me, sometimes with her head on my pillow. If it’s a cold winter night, she doesn’t mind being covered with a blanket. Since I sleep on my left side, she curls up there, preferring that I drape my right arm across her, with her head cradled in my hand. More often than not we fall asleep like that.

I don’t know what I would do without my girl; she’s such great company. I miss her on the occasional nights when she might choose to sleep elsewhere, or when we travel. It’s said that animals looking for homes often choose their new people, and I’m so glad Tiki chose me.

Meet Tiki (1)

Cuddled in the Crook of My Arm

 

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