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

Old Dog Accommodations

Old Dog Accommodations (2)

Preventing a Downward Dog One Yoga Mat at a Time

What do you do when your beloved canine companion becomes the equivalent of a senior citizen? You accommodate their needs as well as you can, as you would any other elderly family member.

Moose and Red have been old dogs for a few years now. Red is approximately 15 years old, and Moose is 16. Both have mobility issues, as well as diminished vision and hearing. We’ve made certain changes in our lives for the betterment of their lives.

Our house is carpeted, but the rear entrance has a cut-out piece of linoleum just in front of the door. I always thought it looked nice, but it’s now hazardous for the dogs. Coming into the house from the yard proves difficult, because they slip easily on the shiny surface. They don’t rocket into the house like they used to, but we purchased interlocking foam puzzle pieces to put over the linoleum. They work very well for the dogs, and the cats like it because they think it is a neat scratching pad. The downside is that foam fragments get trapped in the cats’ claws, which I find all over the house. I consider that a small price to pay to avoid potential puppy injuries.

The sunken family room is another obstacle for old dogs and older people, as I am discovering. The water bowls were always in the kitchen, but to get to them the dogs need to climb a couple steps from the family room, where they spend the bulk of their time. This wasn’t an issue when they were young men, but it is now. These days it’s much easier for them to have a water bowl in the family room. The dish is raised on a shelf so it’s their level, and it’s not obtrusive.

Our galley kitchen is linoleum. At least as I remember it, it was. I don’t see much of the floor because it is covered by yoga mats. Red receives acupuncture for his mobility issues, and the mats help with traction. They are inexpensive and reversable so I can get more mileage out of them. I can even buy them in a color that matches the kitchen, so if they must be there, at least it won’t look too bad. As with the foam puzzle pieces, the downfall is that one of the cats (I’m looking at you Barnabas) finds them a fun scratching surface.

Incontinence is a big problem with the boys. Their potty schedules haven’t changed, but their bladders just aren’t strong anymore. Both Moose and Red wear man pants, which have been a huge help in preserving our carpets. However, large disposable pads line the couch if someone has a leak. Their crates are also lined with pads, making cleanup easier at the end of the work day. While I expected urinary leaks, I was surprised to learn that age impacts other bodily functions as well. We have doggie diapers at the ready should this condition worsen.

I don’t mind accommodating my dogs in their old age, and I will continue for as long as it is necessary. For their unconditional love and loyalty over the years, they deserve it.

Old Dog Accommodations (1)

Water for Pups

Nail Trim Time

Nail Trim Trauma (2)

Moose Paws

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While I wish I had an Irish Wolfhound to write about on this holiday, I do not. Instead, how about a post about Italian greyhounds who turn into feisty little wolves when it’s time to trim their nails?

Way back when Moose was a puppy, trimming his nails was less problematic. I used regular dog nail clippers. I never cut the quick, which is the part inside the nail that bleeds if nicked. He was an active little guy, and concrete helped to wear down any long nails, making trims infrequent.

When Moose got a bit older, he decided that I wasn’t going to trim his nails anymore, at least not without a fight. He would try to nip me, my docile puppy now a 22-pound dog who thought he was a wolf. I was confused because I handled his paws as suggested by his puppy class instructor so he would be used to having his feet touched. He must have forgotten that lesson.

When Red came along, he was just as bad with his nail trims, and some of his nails are dark, making the quick harder to see and avoid cutting. We bribed them with candy, and for a time that worked just fine. Granted it wasn’t exactly healthy to give them little disks of sugar, but as they gobbled them up, I trimmed. This was a successful process that unfortunately didn’t last long at all. Well, it was good that they stopped getting candy.

I threw in the towel when they got wise to the candy-nail trim procedure. I decided to take them to a local groomer instead. I thought a professional would do a better job than I could, and I was correct. We went a few times, and Moose was better behaved than Red, which isn’t saying much. We left with shorter nails, but the boys were still jerks about it. The groomer did a great job, but I felt bad for her having to deal with my little stinkers, so I sought another solution.

With most of my options exhausted, my last resort may not have been the boys’ first choice–the vet. They go once a year for their checkup and vaccines, and teeth cleanings as needed. Now they go every few weeks for nail trims. The procedure at the vet is down to a science and they do an excellent job. The nails are neatly trimmed with little to no drama and everyone leaves happy. It takes no time at all and the pups are on their best behavior. Maybe it’s the location that makes the difference? Whatever it is, we have gone this route for years now, with great success.

Incidentally, I have also tried nail grinding with no luck. I purchased a unit and tried it, had a friend try it, and it was a no-go. Moose wasn’t a fan, and although I haven’t tried it with Red, we’ll stick with what works. I gave the grinder away after my failed attempt with Moose anyway. We love our vet (and I think the boys secretly do, too).

Nail Trim Trauma

Red Paws

Visitors

Visitors (2)

In Loving Memory

If you don’t believe in the supernatural, you may want to skip this post. If you’re interested, keep reading to find out who I think visits us and how they make their presence known.

You may know that we lost our cats Annie and Ozzy to natural causes in 2015 and 2016. However, there are times when I have sworn that they were in the house, which of course is impossible because they have been gone for a few years. I can’t be sure which of the two I think visits, but it’s easy to assume that it is Ozzy, because he was more social than Annie. That being said, Annie could feel more comfortable now that she crossed over, able to wander the house without the current pets bothering her. Perhaps both are visiting.

One day I was perched on the ottoman in the family room, scrolling through my phone, when I distinctly felt a cat rub against my leg. I reached down to pet the friendly feline, but my hand was met with air. There were no cats in that room.

Another visit came one morning when I was wide awake. Tiki sleeps with me more often than not, and sometimes Vlad jumps up on the bed in the morning for snuggles. I was laying on my left side, leg bent, when I felt something jump on my knee. I glanced down expecting to see my cuddly black cat, but there was nothing there. Tiki was curled up by my head, with Vlad and the other cats nowhere to be found.

Cat parents know that kitties have their own distinctive voices. I can tell which cat is vocalizing by their sound, even if they are in another room. On another morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed when I heard Ozzy’s meow. It startled me and I even answered him back with a tentative, “Ozzy?” I expected no reply, but if it was my boy, I wanted him to know that I heard him loud and clear.

Barnabas has a sudden interest in the top of the fridge, where Annie’s urn rests. She still lounges in her bed, surrounded by her bowl and toys. This was her domain when she was alive, and if she were still with us, Barney would not be welcome there.

Another place Annie frequented was behind the television stand in our bedroom. It’s another odd place Barney goes where the others do not.

Sometimes I see a shadow throughout the house. It’s usually something small and dark, moving fast out of the corner of my eye. Whatever it is disappears as soon as I focus on it. These shadows can’t all be our black cat Vlad, can they? Maybe this is all my imagination, just wanting so much to still have them around. However, my better half has had his own experiences. At any rate, if Annie and Ozzy are visiting, they will always be welcome home.

Visitors (1)

Annie