The Case of the Missing Tabby

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (1)

The Lovable Lug

Not to be outdone by brother Moose, Tiger celebrated his own Gotcha Day recently. February 22, 2018, marked nine years since the orange tabby with attitude came to live with us. However, in that time he’s sometimes given us quite a scare.

We have learned that Tiger has a unique skill, something not done by any cat we’ve ever had. Perhaps he picked up this talent from watching his canine siblings. Italian Greyhounds love to burrow in their blankets, but what about cats?

When Tiger first came home, he was a dreaded door darter. This is not unusual for a cat who was allowed both inside and outside by his previous owner, but it is a problem since all of our cats are kept strictly indoors. Tiger got out our back door three times into the yard, and three times I was able to grab him and thwart any notion of freedom that he had. It seems he has since lost interest in this pursuit, but you have to remain vigilant when it comes to open doors. We live on a heavily traveled road, so a positive outcome for an escapee is unlikely.

We do a head count of the fur kids as a matter of course in our house. I also tend to do this when I’m doing the laundry, because I worry about a kitty taking an unintended ride in a Whirlpool. Every time we go out, and before bed, we check everyone’s location. Prior to implementing this practice, poor Tiger once spent a chilly night in the laundry room closet before being discovered the next morning.

One night during our rounds before lights out, we couldn’t find the cranky orange tabby. After checking the usual hiding spots and coming up empty, panic began to set in. Did he sneak down the basement stairs unnoticed? Worse yet, did he slip outside the safety of the house? That’s my biggest fear, one of the cats getting out the door and losing them forever. We continued the search, but still couldn’t find him. I called his name and even shook the treat bag, which summoned all the cats except Tiger. Where was he?

It seems our boy got tired and maybe a little chilly and called it a night early. A close inspection of our bed found a mysterious lump beneath the comforter. Peeling back the bedclothes revealed a blinking orange tabby, oblivious to the chest pain he was causing his pet parents. His hiding spot uncovered, he calmly stretched and walked into the other room, relinquishing the queen-size bed to its rightful owners.

I have since observed Tiger burrowing under the covers. He will also disappear under the comforter on the bed, or under the throw we keep on the couch for the dogs. You have to be careful where you sit or you could wind up with a claw to the backside. I wonder how the dogs feel about sharing their blankets, and I also wonder if I should have a cardiologist on speed dial.

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (2)

Hiding in Plain Sight?

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


Yearly Tune Up

Yearly Tune Up (2)

Is It Our Turn to See the Doctor? 

The pups recently had their annual well visit at the vet. Of course, it’s not one of their favorite places to be, but for them it’s a necessary evil. Moose is often open to visiting other patients in the waiting room, while Red tries to blend into the floor in hopes no one will notice him. It never works, but yet he tries.

We were ushered into an exam room. The boys were in for a bit more than a nail trim, but we included that service in the appointment. Red now has a heart murmur that was barely detectable through the doctor’s stethoscope. He is hard of hearing, and we know that he can still see, but we’re not sure to what extent. He is doing exceptionally well with his aquapuncture treatments that he receives from another practice. (As he will no longer stay still for the time required for acupuncture, he now receives aquapuncture injections instead).

Moose’s heart murmur is worse than Red’s, but remains unchanged since last year’s visit. He requires no treatment for it at this time. Although we believe he is a year older than Red, his vision and hearing are better.

While Moose needed one vaccine, Red needed two, as they are not on the same schedule when it comes to inoculations. I felt bad for both of them, but more so for Red because he had aquapuncture only four days before his checkup. The poor guy must have felt like a pincushion.

Since both dogs are microchipped, we make it a habit of scanning them at their annual appointment. Chips can migrate or become unreadable, but both were easily found and read by the scanner. I doubt if either of our boys would go missing given that they no longer have an active social life (playdates), but you can’t be too careful.

Next month they will both go in for their dental appointment. Red did not have a dental last year because he was in bad shape; he could not stand, let alone walk. Now that he has recovered, his mouth requires much needed attention. Of course, both dogs will have bloodwork done the day of the procedure to be sure it’s safe for them to undergo the dental. Their existing heart issues should not preclude them from having the procedure.

A couple days following the vet visit, we received a call that their stool samples tested negative for any parasites. At least this year their samples actually made it to the vet’s office. At last year’s appointment, we arrived only to discover that the paper bag containing their samples was missing. We know we left the house with it, but I think in the process of loading the car with dogs, the bag was put on top of the car and forgotten. Oops.

So now the boys have had their tune ups, and next month we await the dental appointment. The bottom line is I am happy to report that both dogs are in good shape for their ages, 14 and 15 respectively.

Yearly Tune Up (1)

“If I blend into the floor, the vet won’t see me.”

Happy 2018!


Red and Moose Doing What They Do Best, Nothing

It’s been quite a while since I’ve visited this site, but here I am. I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start, holding in store for you far more mirth than madness. In fact, I’ve decided to take this blog mainly in the direction of mirth, involving my beloved pets.

Why the change? There is so much anger and negativity in the world, and I don’t feel a need to contribute to that. I found that I have become a much more compassionate person, and my attitudes towards things have changed. You never know what someone is going through, so it’s best to be kind. People can change for the better. I yearn to see a glass half full, instead of half empty and cracked. I hope I am growing in a positive direction, and see things in a more positive light. As a result, this site will be a lot about my pets, and with 4 cats and 2 dogs, I think they will provide me with plenty of content. (Sometimes I may offer a random, positive musing).

One thing that I feel blessed about is still having my two dogs (knocks on wood) after some difficulties earlier in 2017. I’m happy to report that Red is still receiving monthly aquapuncture (vitamin injections, as he no longer wants to be still for acupuncture) and is continuing to do very well. Moose now has a heart valve leak, but it does not require medication at this time. In fact, there is also a chance that it will never worsen, but we continue to monitor his condition.

Moose had a photo with Santa before we adopted Red, and they may have had a photo taken together early on, but I honestly can’t remember. Their combined age of 29 prompted me to take them in for a photo. The process was extremely well run, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Also, proceeds went to an animal charity, which was great.

Moose is 15, and Red is 14. It’s tough seeing them grow old, knowing that their best years are behind them. I treasure the time we have together, and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, because I know I will be devastated when they leave me. My good friend growing up had a black lab/border collie mix that lived to 21, so my fingers are crossed for my boys’ longevity. Love those sweet seniors!

Belly Bands and Brothers


You may know that I have two dogs, Moose and Red. You may also have noticed that they are always wearing an article of clothing in most of their inside pictures. So what is that material that wraps around them?

What the brothers are wearing are commonly known as belly bands, or weenie wraps, or squirt stoppers. As the names imply, these are specifically geared toward male dogs. In our house we call them man pants.

Their purpose is to be used as a housetraining tool. They also prevent your canine companion from marking his territory in inappropriate places, such as against the refrigerator or curtains; not that my angels have ever done such things. If you have an incontinent dog, they’re good for that, too. They’re not meant to be worn at all times, but . . .

Italian Greyhounds are a notoriously difficult breed to housetrain, unlike their larger cousins whippets and greyhounds. They do not like wind, rain, or the cold. Unless the conditions are optimal, there’s a good chance your little guy will run back into the house to do his business, no matter how long you have kept them outside on potty watch.

Because of their lack of reliability in the house training department, this is the reason they are most often surrendered to shelters and rescues. I hear they can be taught to go inside in a designated area, but that’s something I haven’t attempted.

Moose had very good potty habits when he was young. He was neutered at 6 months of age, and taught himself to ring the bells on the back door when he had to relieve himself. Nowadays he rings the bells and jumps on the couch to steal your spot when you get up to let him out.

Moose was three when we adopted Red, and that’s when the problems started. The Petfinder ad did mention that Red wasn’t housetrained but was smart and would learn quickly. Oh how wrong they were. Red’s arrival launched pee fest, with both dogs becoming leg lifters in the house, even though both were neutered.

We discovered belly bands, which enabled us to keep the boys in their forever homes. The brand we like uses fleece, and has elastic along both sides, similar to Huggies diapers. The fabric wraps around the dog, covering the boy bits, and is fastened at the top with Velcro. For extra absorbency we line the band with a feminine pad from the dollar store. Of course I would prefer them to go au naturel, but that’s not an option for them, especially in their advanced age. I think they’re adorable just the same.



When Does Compassion Become Cruel?



When Ozzy left me suddenly last June, I think he knew something I didn’t. I would need all my resources and energy to care for another ill fur family member. I believe Ozzy planned that time to go, somehow with the knowledge that one of his canine brothers would suffer ill health.

Red is our rescued Italian Greyhound, adopted into our family at the age of 1 or 2. We noticed recently that he “knuckled,” walking on the first bend of his paws, akin to human wrists. In fact, his paws bend all the way back, resembling flippers. He stumbled when he walked, which worsened quickly. To better accommodate him, we covered our kitchen floor with yoga mats for better mobility. We also moved a water dish into the family room, so he wouldn’t have to climb the two steps into the kitchen.

Our regular vet checked him and believed he suffered from a neurological problem. We consulted a specialist in Philadelphia, who believed Red’s issue was centered in his neck. This vet thought he had a herniated disc causing the problem. It was a better diagnosis than a brain tumor, but it was still disheartening.

There were two options to treat his condition. We could opt for medicinal help, using prednisone to see if that would give him any improvement in his mobility. We could try to keep him on the lowest dose possible. The other option was surgery. Red would need an MRI at the cost of $2,500 to see the exact cause of his problem. The specialist cautioned us that he would only operate on our dog if the problem were clear from the test and he thought surgery would help. Surgery would be an additional $3,000. Of course, he told us we had to decide if we wanted to put a 12, possibly 13 year old dog through that. We decided on the prednisone, reminding me of all the times I gave it to Ozzy. In fact, we still had some of his pills left to now give to Red.

We tried different dosages of the prednisone with varying degrees of success. One pill per day worked the best, but that wasn’t saying much. His conditioned worsened to outright falling over on his side. Back to our regular vet we went, where I asked how much prednisone he could tolerate. Two and a half pills per day would be the maximum, but it would cause muscle loss, his head eventually becoming misshapen. There was no way I could do that to him, I would see him euthanized first.

Although Red’s condition is shocking to anyone who sees him, other than this, he is healthy, and that is our dilemma. They say you know when it’s time to say goodbye, but I’m not getting that vibe from him. On one hand, he’s almost totally immobile at this point. His best times are when he first wakes up, he’s able to toddle around on his wrists. His back end isn’t much better, but it’s better than the front. He needs to be carried everywhere. When outside he sometimes needs to be steadied to relieve himself. He can stand most of the time to eat and drink, with a spotter nearby so he doesn’t fall over and choke.

We realize his best days are behind him and our time together grows short. Still, even though he has limited mobility, he has joy in his life. He loves to lay on our couch and snuggle with Moose, our 14 year old Italian Greyhound. He loves sleeping between us at night, secure that he won’t roll out of bed. He’s not missing out on walks (he never liked leaving his house), or running around anymore, as at his age he’s a couch potato. His appetite is as good as it was before he was on the prednisone.

The vet tells us he is not in pain. Every time we’re in the yard and he falls into a heap on the grass, I worry that the neighbors are calling the doggie version of DYFS. I feel judgmental eyes on me when I carry him into the vet’s office. We carry him everywhere he needs or wants to be; I’ve even Googled living with a paralyzed dog, although Red can feel and move all of his legs, he doesn’t know where they are, which is how our vet put it.

Two vets recommended against the surgery due to his age. Younger dogs have had the surgery and recovered, with another 10 years ahead of them. We know we don’t have that long with Red (although I had a friend whose dog lived to 21).

So it leaves me to wonder, when does compassion become cruel?