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

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

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?

Storm Predicting Pets (2)

Barnabas Collins

Welcome Barnabas Collins

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After losing two cats exactly a year apart, on June 2, we added a new kitty to our family. Meet petite, one year old, Barnabas Collins, also known as Barney. He’s an orange and white tabby, named after the fictional vampire on the television series Dark Shadows. I’ve never seen the show, but the name sounds cool.

We decided to adopt two more cats into our household. These are not replacements, mind you, as like humans, each cat is an individual. Since my husband has never had a say in any of the cats we acquired, I told him I thought he should pick out one of them. (I had my heart set on a black cat, more on that in a future post).

Of course I wanted to adopt from the shelter where I volunteer, so when we were approved I started checking out the black cats. There were two in the PetSmart where I volunteer, but neither were the right fit. The shelter also has an adoption center in another local PetSmart, so we stopped one afternoon when they were closed. They had one black cat that I wanted to come back and see. In the cage below him was a small orange and white tabby. Hubby talked to him through the Plexiglas and the little furball rolled over to show his belly.

We returned the next night to visit the black cat named Dodger. While I spoke with him, the orange and white ball named Trapper was grabbing at me from his cage below. I ignored him, wanting a black cat for so long. Dodger was a great cat with people, but not a huge fan of other cats. He wouldn’t mesh with our two other cats and two small dogs at home. (I am happy to report that he was later adopted).

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Hubby wanted to see Trapper, and while I chatted with the other volunteers, he made a new friend. I didn’t interact much with the furry little guy, but he had fallen asleep in his new daddy’s hands. I thought I would find my black cat before hubby found his cat, but it didn’t work out that way. In fact, this cat was exactly what I didn’t want. I didn’t want another orange cat (our Tiger is orange), but at least he has four white paws and socks, and white from chin to belly. I like big cats, and he weighed in at a whopping 7.9 pounds at his well vet visit. I’m used to 12 and 14 pound cats, when they got down to Barnabas’s weight they died. He’s not a kitten, but I would have preferred an older cat. The shelter said he was 1 to 2 years old, but the vet believes he is closer to a year old. This means he gets into stuff. Confined to one room in the beginning, he spent his days knocking the phone off the hook and pulling books off the shelves. Our resident cats are believed to be around 8 and 9, estimates since they were also adopted from the shelter. I hope he doesn’t annoy them. As much as I didn’t want him, I love him. He has me wrapped around his little paw already, and I don’t regret a thing about adopting him.

The spare room that was the sick ward when our beloved Ozzy suffered setbacks now has renewed life to it. We’re no longer keeping watch over our handsome Russian Blue/tabby, praying he will recover from his latest tummy trouble. He is at peace, leaving us at age 14, after 11 years of chronic illness. Now there’s a young man to explore all the room’s corners, and play with the toys that now cover the floor.

Trapper was renamed Barnabas Collins by my hubby and is now a member of the family. His introduction to the rest of the gang was delayed because he came with an intestinal parasite, causing the need for isolation until it was resolved. I’m happy to report he is integrating with the others just fine.

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