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

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

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

The Original Rabbit in the Hat

Rabbit in the Hat (2)

Grand Champion Cleopatra (French Lop) (2002)

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate, and Happy Sunday to those who do not. Since bunnies are synonymous with the holiday, I thought today would be an appropriate time to introduce you to a rabbit dear to my heart, and the cool story of how I acquired her.

I’ve loved bunny rabbits since I was involved with 4-H many years ago. I wanted an English Lop, a bunny with extremely long ears, similar to a Basset Hound. Well, I got my breeds confused, and answered a newspaper ad for French Lop bunnies for sale. They’re also large rabbits but with much shorter lop ears. Think of them as the Beagles of bunnies.

The man selling them raised his bunnies for rabbit shows and also for his magic act. A magician! How cool is that? I brought home a doe (female) with chinchilla-colored fur, and named her Cleopatra, or Cleo for short.

She was a big, beautiful bunny with a lush gray coat and expressive brown eyes, loaded with personality. She was more dog than rabbit, nudging my hand with her large head for attention. Cleo was friendly, and loved to pluck yogurt drops from my open hand. She tolerated well the gentle brushing and nail trims, but was never a fan of ear cleanings, not that I could blame her. She was groomed often, as I was into showing rabbits at the time, and Cleo fit the breed standard for a French Lop. However, she wasn’t the greatest specimen of her kind, as the judges noted time and time again in their remarks.

Show after show we would try for a ribbon. Sometimes we had success, and other times we left empty-handed. Aside from taking home a prize, it was a good day if your entry didn’t pee on the judge or hop down the table to visit the competition.

An inconsistent winner, the magician’s bunny had a trick up her furry sleeve. She went on to become a Grand Champion, a prestigious achievement in the rabbit show world. I had other rabbits reach this title, but somehow Cleo’s award was a bit more special. I knew she was close, just one step away from the big prize, but that last needed win eluded her for a long time. Persistence paid off, and she finally won the last leg required for her grand championship.

Although I was overjoyed by her achievement, that was not my proudest bunny moment. That came when we were on the show floor when a spectator asked to take her picture. Someone else saw in her what I did, and wanted to capture my big girl on film. I can’t remember her wins specifically, but I can recall this incident with great fondness.

After Cleo became Grand Champion Cleopatra, her rabbit show days were over. She was loved and spoiled the rest of her days, passing away around eight years old of what the vet suspected was a brain tumor. Our time together may have been short, but it was magic.

Rabbit in the Hat (1)

Grand Champion Alice (English Lop) (2002)

Happy Gotcha Day Moose

Happy Gotcha Day Moose-4 mos.

Moose- 4 months

I didn’t know Gotcha Day is a thing, but apparently it is. It’s the date when you bring home a new pet, which I prefer to call a family member. On February 9, we celebrated 15 years of being owned by Moose.

I remember well the events leading up to bringing him home, which I recounted in To Moose, With Love. I still have the tiny sweater he wore on his way home. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe he was ever so small. He outgrew it years ago, but I can’t part with it.

Moose has always been adaptable. In the 15 years since he’s been with us, he has welcomed another Italian Greyhound, and has seen cats come and go. I’ve never had a problem with him getting along with the other animals. Sometimes he has squabbles with his canine brother Red, but it’s never anything serious. At least nothing serious anymore. When Moose was much younger he pinned Red to the kitchen floor over a Christmas Eve lunchmeat tray. That was the worst quarrel they ever had, and the only time I had to intervene.

Moose had an active social life at one time. I met some wonderful people and their dogs through a now-defunct website. We attended several area playdates, even venturing to a few out of state. They were fun social events for both dogs and humans. I’m still in contact with some of the people, but sadly, Moose and Red are among the few dogs remaining from the original group.

Moose loves to go for walks, and he wants to greet every dog or person he meets on the street. He’s always been outgoing and social, even at the vet’s office. He enjoys outdoor activities, and we would take him everywhere. He doesn’t go on many walks or adventures these days, preferring to lounge on the couch or walk around his yard in his senior years. A few years ago I took him to a town yard sale, which was teeming with people and dogs, and his demeanor was different. He seemed shy and uncomfortable. I thought then that the gradual loss of his hearing and vision was affecting him. However, there are times when he’s his normal self. We have an opportunity to participate in a charity dog walk in the coming months, so we hope he will enjoy it.

Although Moose came from a pet store (before we knew about the horrors of puppy mills), he is one of the best purchases we ever made. (The retail chain where we found him has since gone out of business). Considering where he came from, we have been very lucky regarding his health. Other than an occasional seizure, and a leaking heart valve not requiring treatment at this time, he is in good shape for his advanced age. For someone who would have been fine without a dog, I can’t imagine being without him. He has brought me immeasurable joy, and Moose is always there to snuggle whenever I need him. I can only hope that we have many more Gotcha Days ahead of us.

Happy Gotcha Day Moose-15 yrs.

Moose – 15 years

 

Happy Birthday Annie

Happy Birthday Annie 2007

Annie on Top of the Fridge – 2007

Today is a bit sad in our house, because our beloved brown tabby cat Annie would have been 20 years old today. Cats can live to this age and beyond, and Annie was a healthy girl until she succumbed to what we believe was cancer at the age of 17.

She was the first pet we had together, and the only pet to live in our apartment. When we moved, Annie ruled the house with an iron paw, a declawed force to be reckoned with. (At one time it was common to have cats declawed and altered at the same time. We no longer put our cats through the former procedure, known as Onychectomy. All of our current felines have their claws). Annie let any new addition know that she was queen of the castle. The dogs feared her, and the other cats aspired to be her.

She had attitude when she was a baby; I remember fighting a little tiger to put drops in her ears to treat her for mites when we got her. Annie was three years old when we brought home a new kitten we named Ozzy. We thought a kitten might awaken her maternal instincts, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. The first night at home she hissed at her new baby brother and swatted him down a step into the family room. Little did she know that he would grow to be bigger than her, and become an instigator. He would do everything possible to aggravate her to incite a hiss, growl, or swat. He played his own version of “I’m not touching you,” and then stand there, ears back, as she unleashed on him. He rarely fought back. They were together 14 years, and they played this game for the duration of their time together.

Annie tolerated, if didn’t care for, any other pet that came after her. She spent all her time from her invisible throne atop our tall entertainment center. She liked to be up high, surveying her kingdom. The problem with this was that she spent too much time away from the other animals. When she did come down, she was such a novelty to them that they bothered her, causing her to retreat to her wooden tower.

One day the gigantic tube television was replaced by a sleeker model, and gone with it was the old entertainment center. Annie now had to relocate to another safe space, and she chose the top of the refrigerator. We outfitted her new digs befitting a queen, complete with a cat bed beneath a body heat reflecting mat. Her majesty even took her meals up there, and there was not enough room for another cat to comfortably join her. Rarely did one of the others attempt to intrude. It was understood that this was her space from which she could observe daily life. She still sits in her bed atop the fridge, and her brothers and sister still respect her special spot, although she is no longer here to defend it. Happy Birthday Annie, we love and miss you.

Happy Birthday Annie 2005

Ozzy and Annie Standoff – 2005