You’ve Come a Long Way, Bunny

You've Come a Long Way, Bunny (2)

Bugs Ready for His Close Up

Bunny habitats have evolved over the years. From wood hutches to wire-constructed cages, nothing can compare to today’s rabbit castles. My current rabbit is one lucky boy.

While none of my animals were ever kept outside, I knew people who housed rabbits in wood and chicken wire hutches, and the animals did just fine. My first bunnies lived in my parents’ basement, in wire cages purchased through a catalog. They had solid metal trays that slid out beneath the wire floor, lined with newspaper to collect waste. However, wire floors could hurt bunny feet, especially the large breeds. To help prevent this, I had resting boards, which were slabs of hard plastic with holes for any messes to fall through. That seemed to be a better surface (at that time) for the bunny to sit on.

I later switched from wire cages with pans to cages with deep plastic bottoms, which could be filled with a variety of bedding material. These enclosures needed frequent changing, as the pet lived directly on the material that they would eventually soil, unless the bun was litter box trained.

It wasn’t until Bugs came home that I discovered the joys of litter box trained buns and roomy living quarters. I’m not sure how he was taught, but Bugs eliminates in a dishpan-turned-litter box filled with absorbent bedding. This makes keeping his house clean a snap. His enclosure is constructed from wire storage cubes, and has no top or bottom. The wire cubes sit on foam puzzle pieces easily found in stores or online. This gives him a cushy place to hop, instead of sitting the cage directly on the concrete basement floor.

He has a roomy, soft area to move around, filled with things to make a bunny happy. Bugs has a combination pellet/hay rack, which I only use to hold pellets now that I discovered that the divider holding the hay in place is missing. Because of this, he has a separate hay rack hanging from the wire cube, above his litter box. Bugs also has a separate dish for his salads, and right now he enjoys parsley and cilantro. He has two blankets that lay atop the foam floor. There’s a large igloo hideout when he wants to feel hidden. Bugs has two chew toys that hang from his enclosure, and he has a variety of toys to keep himself entertained. He has two balls, one that can be rolled and another that can be chewed. There are three chew sticks in his house, in addition to a lava block and bunny rattle that can be tossed.

Every morning I do some light housekeeping. I change his litter box, and sweep up any loose hay, fur, or runaway droppings. I refresh his water, hay, and pellets as needed. When he sees me come down the stairs, he hops to the front of his enclosure and stands up on his hind legs for petting. I really love this little guy. Rabbits do make wonderful additions to your family.

You've Come a Long Way, Bunny

Bugs Enjoying Floor Time

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2018

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2018 (2)

Appreciated Every Day of Every Year

August 17 was Black Cat Appreciation Day. It’s been two years since I adopted my black kitty Vlad, and if you’ve never been owned by one, you’re really missing out.

Cats with onyx-colored fur are often overlooked in shelters, and they are among the last to be adopted of the cats looking for new homes. I’m not sure why this is, as they are really awesome. In fact, I have a friend who once owned five black cats at the same time.

As someone who loves Halloween more than any other day of the year, people were surprised that I didn’t have a black cat. When our kitty population was sadly reduced to just two, we decided to adopt two new cats, and I specifically wanted a black kitty. If you want to read more about how our boy joined the family, please read Welcome Vlad.

Of course I’m biased, but I think my guy is wonderful. There’s no doubt in my mind that my beloved Ozzy (2001-2016) had a paw in sending him our way. So, why do I appreciate Vlad?

I appreciate how lovable he is. I’ve never seen a cat respond to kisses with kisses of his own. It just takes one smooch on his furry head, and out comes his little sandpaper tongue to kiss the tip of your nose. It’s the cutest thing, and it never gets old. My day isn’t complete if I don’t receive one of his kisses, but on occasion he can get stingy with them, and maybe turn his head rather than indulge me. I notice that he does this when he wants to eat and after nail trims. I can’t say that I blame him.

I appreciate his ability to protect me from vicious insects. Should I ever be attacked by a horde of angry crickets or grasshoppers, I know Vlad will save the day. I witnessed him kill and eat a bug that infiltrated the family room. In light of that, maybe I should be turning down his kisses, instead of the other way around.

I appreciate his companionship. He’s a lap cat, and doesn’t take no for an answer. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the couch with a lap desk, or at the table on the computer. If Vlad wants attention, he demands it, with no regard to what you might be doing. It’s all part of his charm.

Black Cat Appreciation Day may have just passed for this year, but it’s never too late to add a black cat to your family. I’ve heard that they can be some of the most loveable felines, and judging by Vlad, I would have to agree.

I would like to draw your attention to the photo below. Vlad plays with this toy alone at night in the dark. I like to think that’s when Ozzy visits to play with the brother he never met.

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Playing With Ozzy?

 

Introducing Bugs

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Our Newest Addition Bugs

I’m happy to announce that we expanded our family by one fur kid a week ago. This brings our menagerie to 2 dogs, 4 cats, 1 parakeet, and now 1 rabbit. Please welcome our newest addition Bugs.

I wasn’t planning to get another rabbit after our French Lop Rambo suddenly crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Well, the little guy needed a new home, and we decided to become his forever family.

It’s anyone’s guess what breed or breeds he might be, but he’s a cutie nonetheless. I was told that he’s four years old. Bunnies can live past 10 years, so I hope Bugs and I have several years together. I’m sure he will appear in future posts once he gets settled in.

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Somebunny New to Love

 

Storm Predicting Pets

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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

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

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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.

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Cutest Elf Ever