Friday, May 23, 2014

We Live

Truly, we do.

I noticed that my last post was made back in November, when Argos had gotten a dental cleaning/tooth pulling, and had a lump excised from his forehead.  (The lump turned out to be cancerous, but fortunately for all of us, *knock on wood* it hasn't come back.)

Well, I pick up today, the day after Maera went in for a dental cleaning.  She is young enough and her teeth strong enough that there wasn't a need to pull any but she had a serious case of gingivitis and needed a serious cleaning to get those teeth white again and make her breath better than a carrion-eating bird, good god it had gotten bad.  :(  I feel bad about it, but I did truly try to keep up on it, but her genetic disposition towards bad teeth was too much for me I guess.

She was actually the only dog in for surgery yesterday, so I got a call from the vet at about noon to say that it was over, she was coming out from the anesthesia, but we should give her a few hours to fully wake up before we came to pick her up.  We showed up at 4:00 and she was ever-so-happy to see us.  She towed the vet tech across the lobby and jumped up threw her front legs over Jeff's shoulders like she was saying "Oh god rescue me, take me home!"

She was a little subdued for the rest of the night, but was willing to eat the little bits of food that I gave her.  (And ate a full breakfast this morning.)

So, that's over, as well as several hundred dollars I'd set aside in savings.  *sigh*

It's been a crazy few months...  I don't remember if I posted about it back in the fall, but I was accepted into the Penn State Master Gardener program, and attended classes an various aspects of gardening for several months.  In April I took (and passed) my final, and now I'm in the process of "paying" for the education with 50 hours of volunteerism.  (I will be required to do volunteer hours in subsequent years as well.)  There are no worries about me hitting it, as I believe I'm at 45 now.  BUT it's kept me very busy and was just one more reason to not write on the blog.

So...  to give everyone a highlights-only rundown.

Last April we took in a scared, angry mother cat and her newborn kittens as fosters for the local shelter.  The kittens went back to the shelter in June, and were adopted quickly, but we kept the mother with us because she wasn't yet adoptable - she hissed and hid if one of us so much as entered her room.  We named her Janis, after Janis Joplin.  (Her kids were Samantha, Lemmy, Lita, and Joan.)  She got friendlier and friendlier as the months went on, though she still refused to deal with any of our friends when they came over, preferring to hide upstairs until they were gone.

In December, a woman contacted me about meeting Janis.  Janis didn't put on a -great- show when the lady came to my house to meet her, though it wasn't a terrible failure.  She was wary, and probably would have run if I wasn't holding her, but did tolerate some petting, and even consented to sniffing the woman's finger.  That lovely person decided to give Janis a chance, and adopted her the next week!  And she's been kind enough to give me a few updates, and it sounds like Janis is settled into her home very well, and is happy and relaxed with her new mom and feline sister.  So, great news!

We haven't taken in any more fosters.  We have a lot going on right now, and don't feel that we can devote the time needed to them... they need more than a roof and food and water, they need care, and play, and affection and TIME.  I always view it as my duty to return my fosters a little bit better than I got them, unless it's a truly short-term gig.

In March, Argos turned 11, which truly puts him in his twilight years. This fact makes me incredibly sad, though I try not to dwell on it.  As you can see below, someone forgot to tell him that he's elderly.  (This picture is of a game that both he and Maera enjoy playing - it's called "run towards Mom at top speed and only veer away at the last second when she sees her life flashing before her very eyes.")  Such a look of delight on his face.

He's doing very well, though he had a really rough week last week due to the daily thunderstorms - he's always been afraid of them, but it seems that the older he gets, the worse he  is about them.  I don't usually like to "drug" him but we gave him Benadryl a few days last week just to calm him down enough that he could get some rest.

The cats have settled into a truce, at first a bit uncomfortable, but getting better and better as time goes on.

Allegiences have changed.
Annie has become queen since Charlotte's death, and her new consort is Batman.  Every once in awhile she still cuddles down with Bit, but for the most part Bit keeps to herself, preferring to stay away from the other cats unless she is tormenting one of them.

The cats have enjoyed good health, and they seem happy and relaxed with one another, unless Bit is on one of her mean streaks.  This is another reason I haven't been fostering - even a single foster cat brought into the house and placed into quarantine is enough to throw off the balance, and our cats will go back to hissing and spitting at each other.  It's been a lovely, quiet time.

Not that I will never foster again, but I think we're all benefiting from a nice long break.  Even if I am already heart-broken at all of the pleas for kitten fosters.  It's only May.  I have a feeling that "kitten season" is going to be a tough one this year.

I hope that everyone else is doing well.  I am going to read some blogs on this nice long holiday weekend, to try to catch up on your lives, and the lives of your beloved furry friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dental Surgery

Well, the day that Argos had to go to the vet for dental work and the removal of the lump on his forehead came.  I had taken the day off from work so that I could be on-hand for drop-off and pick-up, and because quite honestly I didn't think I'd be able to focus at work.  (I know that our vet is very good, I know that anesthesia is very safe these days, but there IS still something of a risk, and I always am on pins and needles until they call us to let us know that he's recovering.)

ANYWAY.  I dropped him off that morning.  He didn't even realize that I'd left, LOL, because there was a pretty vet-tech cooing at him.  Argos has always had a thing for the ladies.  I saw him following her into the backroom, with his tail wagging.  Poor guy.

Last time this happened, they called us somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00 to tell us that he was waking up, and that we could come get him sometime between 3-5.  This is what I was expecting again.

But...  1:00 came and went, then 2:00.  I held out until 2:30, then I called to see what was going on.  Apparently they'd had non-stop surgeries all morning, and Argos was still under anesthesia, and still being worked on.  I was told that they'd call me soon.  3:00 came and went, and both Jeff and I were getting antsy; I was literally pacing the floor, unable to focus on anything.   FINALLY, at 3:40, the phone rang, and the vet told us that they'd pulled three teeth (better than I had hoped for) and that his head lump had popped right out.  They'd let us know the results of the biopsy, but in the meantime we could come pick him up between 5 and 5:30.

Argos was still pretty doped up when we came to get him.  He was panting and drooling and dripping blood from his mouth.  His back legs didn't work 100% of the time, and would give out on him at random intervals.  Jeff carefully walked him out to the car and picked him up to put him in, while I stayed inside and talked to the vet and got his antibiotics and painkillers that we'd be giving him for the next several days.

It was a long night, but he did wake up the next morning feeling much more himself.  I breathed a big sigh of relief when he came out of his sleeping crate, looked up at my face, and wagged his tail.  

He's been doing great ever since.  His head wound is healing nicely, and he's got quite an appetite, now that it doesn't hurt to eat anymore.

The fly in the ointment is that we got the biopsy results back on Saturday.  It was not just a fatty tumor or an infected cyst.  It was a cancerous skin tumor; a myxosarcoma.  The biopsy results suggest that the vet got the entire tumor.  There is a chance that it will come back, so we need to keep an eye on him.  More than likely, though, it will not come back in his lifetime, as the prognosis was that it would come back in approximately 5 years.  (He's 10 now.  I've known a couple of greyhounds that made it to age 15, but most do not.)  As much as I would love to have him around when he's 15, I would prefer that the tumor never come back.  

We  just have to watch him.  Actually, we need to watch him for signs of skin tumors anywhere on his body.

So... perhaps not the BEST news, but the vet was fairly optimistic that this wasn't going to be an ongoing problem.  I do hope that she's correct.  \

Meanwhile, Maera is just happy to have her brother back.  OMG, she was so depressed the day that he was gone.  I've never seen happy, bouncy, perky Maera morose and sad before, but she was all day, or at least, she was until we brought him back home.  She perked up immediately, though was very concerned about him and kept walking over to sniff him while he slept off the effects of the anesthesia.  So cute!

They try to act like they are constantly annoyed with each other, but when it comes down to it, they are pack.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Very Doggy Vacation

Two blog posts in one week!  The planets must be in perfect alignment or something.  (I really AM going to try to be a more frequent poster.)

I need to catch everyone up on our "missing months."  Yesterday, I told you about our two foster boys, and how we adopted one of them, Batman.  He's an adorably cuddly cat, who just enjoys being with his humans, snuggling on a lap, or up against a leg.  He also reacts very calmly to the other cats, which is a bonus when dealing with Miss Bit...  as LONG time readers might remember, she tortured Romeo (RIP, buddy) relentlessly because he would react to her by running away.  Batman doesn't confront her, he just looks at her, blinking.  Bit eventually got bored with trying to get a rise out of him, so doesn't bother him.

Summer faded into fall, and with fall came our vacation - we didn't plan to go very far, we just wanted to be able to get away for a few days.  Our requirements:  it had to allow dogs, and it had to have a hot tub.  Everything else was negotiable.  We found the Getaway Cabins, in Hocking Hills, Ohio.  The picture below is our cabin - the one that they call "The Guest Nest."  You can't see it, but it has a deck on the back, with a nice large hot tub.  It was a fantastic cabin.

It was a very relaxing time.  We took several easy hikes with the dogs, lounged in the hot tub, played board games, and watched movies.  Very low-key.  Very needed.  Well, sort of low-key.  I'll have to tell you about the stray cat in another post...  let's just say that I can't even head into the "back woods" without finding a cat that needs help.

Jeff and Argos, I believe on the descent to Cedar Falls.

Sunlight through the trees.  Serenity. 

Jeff and Maera cross a scary bridge.  (I'm not kidding.  It freaked me out.)

Stream bed.

Jeff, Argos and Maera, near Cedar Falls.
I took a lot of pictures, which is why you don't see any of me, haha.  That and I'm a camera-phobe.  I also learned a very valuable lesson:  when taking lots of pictures, do not leave the camera's battery charger at home.  I got quite a few pictures while we were hiking around Cedar Falls, but none the following day on the much more dramatic hike to Old Man's Cave or Stonehouse.  I was very disappointed.

We encountered several people on the trail that had never seen greyhounds before, so Argos and Maera had a lot of very excited people to meet!  They handled themselves with their usual grace and made us proud.  (Especially when compared to some other numbskull dog that was extremely dog-aggressive and barked at us the entire time we were trying to actually view the waterfalls we had hiked so far to see.)

I think that they enjoyed themselves as much as we did, though they were very nervous and unsettled in the cabin.  We constantly had dogs pacing about, and once Maera brushed past me and burst out the front door and started to run away!  Fortunately she immediately responded when I whistled for her to come back.  Oh, it took awhile for my heart rate to return to normal over THAT one.

Unfortunately, during the vacation, we had a bit of something hanging over our heads:  I'd taken Argos for his annual check-up a few days prior, and they weren't entirely happy about his blood work.  It seemed that his thyroid was a bit low, even for a greyhound (who are notoriously low.)  They thought it might have something to do with his weight loss.

However, upon our return and additional bloodwork, they determined that his blood was fine, and that he was very healthy for his age.  The weight loss was probably just due to Argos being Argos:  he's never been much of an eater, and when bored, upset, anxious, or frightened of thunderstorms, he refuses to eat.  We've tried to up his meals to three times a day now to give him some extra calories without increasing meal size, and I think he's starting to fill out.

This Thursday, he goes back in.  He needs dental work again, and is probably going to lose some teeth.  He also needs to have a lump excised from the top of his head and biopsied.  I try not to worry about it too much - the vet is fairly certain that it's a cebacious cyst, but it's hard to know for sure because it's covered in fur, and it's painful enough to the touch that he will fight you if you try to mess with it.  Hope with me that it's just a cyst.  I'm certain that I cannot handle any more pet medical drama for a good long while.

Fingers crossed for the boy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A New Face...

So, a lot has happened since I went on my unintended hiatus over the summer.  To catch you up on the biggest highlights, I must backtrack a little bit, to right after Charlotte passed away, because there was something that I did not post about...

We took in two new fosters.  The shelter had a lot of sick cats at the beginning of summer.  The sick room was full, but the cats kept getting sick (upper respiratory infections - it's a problem for shelters all over the world, and very hard to prevent.)  The very best way to get a cat healthy again is to get them out of the stressful shelter environment, and into a home, with a course of antibiotics and a soft warm place to sleep in comfort.  This is where foster homes come in.  It's really an ideal foster situation - you get a cat to love and coddle, and you keep them for about two weeks until they finish their medication and their symptoms clear up.  Then you take them back - none of this long term stuff that comes up with behavioral fosters.

It was really only a couple of weeks after Charlotte passed that the active foster homes got an email from the foster coordinator telling us about the sick cats, and asking us to step up to take a kitty home if we could.  I came home from work and asked Jeff it it bothered him that I might go pick up a sick cat.  Even if it delayed us refinishing the upstairs floors, like we'd planned.  Being Jeff, he agreed that I should go, so I did.

I picked out this handsome guy, unoriginally named "Kitty."  His cage was eye-level with mine, and boy howdy, this one can use his eyes to lure you in.  (And he's a real sweet-heart too.)

A vet tech helped me put him into my carrier, and left the room for a few minutes to go get his meds for me to take with us.  As I waited, I felt a paw swipe out of a cage at ankle level, and grab onto my pant legs.  My hair felt like it stood on end... that is exactly how Charlotte introduced herself to me.  I looked down, and there was a little black paw.  I crouched down, and stared into this face.

He had a snotty nose at the time, and one eye was crusted shut.  But.  There was the whole pants-grabbing thing.  And I've always had a weakness for black cats anyway...  so when the vet tech brought Kitty's meds in, I looked over at her and said, "So...  I don't have two carriers.  But if someone could come up with another carrier, I could take one more with me..."

A cardboard carrier was produced, and the poor overworked tech went back out to get additional meds for... his name... was Batman.

I packed both boys into my car and took them home.  When I carried them into the house, Jeff looked at the two carriers and started laughing.  It is NOT the first time I've done this.  He now calls it "Melanie Math," which only pertains to cats, and always means that I just can't count when it comes to kitties.  I always bring home more fosters than I set out to get.

It was an... interesting foster time.  Kitty, a Bengal, had very high energy levels, and we learned just what it meant to have an exotic cat in our house.  That boy was afraid of nothing.  Dogs?  Let's run at them and head-butt them from across the room.  The dogs were absolutely terrified of him, LOL.  Bookshelves?  Let's climb them to the ceiling!  Flatscreen television screen?  Let's try to climb it!  At first, we had him and Batman quarantined together, but Kitty had a really tough time getting over his cold, and had to change his antibiotics.  We separated them, but not before Batman, who had gotten better, got whatever nasty strain that Kitty had.

Finally, we got Kitty's symptoms cleared up, and just in time, because I was contacted by a potential adopter!  I took him back to the shelter two days before she was to meet him, because now Bit was sick, and there was no way that I could manage a three-way quarantine in this house.  I felt terrible that one of my own cats got sick... usually a quarantine, in the form of a closed door, has prevented the sickness from spreading, but either one of us didn't wash our hands thoroughly enough, or she got it during one of the ten million times that Kitty ran into the hall when I opened the sick room door.  (Bit got better in a couple of days.)

We nursed Batman's symptoms for another week, and he was reasonably healthy again.  It was time to take him back to the shelter.

To make a long story short, Jeff approached me one night.  Actually, we were in the car together, and I was talking about how I was sad that we'd have to take Batman back to the shelter that weekend.  "You know," he said.  "I sort of already knew that we were going to keep him when you told me about how he grabbed your pant leg, since that's how Charlotte did it too."

To make the story even shorter, Batman only went back to the shelter to get his vaccinations updated, then returned to our house.  Where he remains.  He gets along well with the other cats.  He isn't afraid of the dogs.  And he's the snuggliest comic book character ever.

Kitty did get adopted two days after returning to the shelter, but not before he caused havoc by climbing up into the shelter ceiling and going exploring up there all night long.  He was only discovered when the ceiling caved in, dumping him at the feet of a very surprised worker, who was just starting the morning cleaning of the cat cages...

I heard back from his adopter a couple of times, and it sounds like he's in a perfect home, where he is appreciated for his mischevous nature.  (And he got a better name.)

Batman's favorite bed also happens to be Maera's favorite bed.  They're still working things out...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Where have I been?

That is the question of the day, isn't it?

Any who have been following this blog for a time know that Charlotte, my heart-cat, died in early June.  It is something that I still struggle with, off and on.  Charlotte was such a part of this household that we all feel her loss, every day.

And I didn't realize what she was to this blog.  It's like the motivation to write just got sapped out of me.  Maybe it's coming back now, maybe.  It's not like I don't love my other animals dearly, and that they haven't given me things to write about.  I just haven't had the heart to actually write them.

We'll see.  I make no promises.

In the interim, I left you hanging about the feral kitties.  Mama cat, named Snow, was released in our backyard after she recovered from her spay surgery.  We feed her daily, and are going to be making a warm covered structure for her soon, now that all of our vacation stuff is over.  So she'll have a warm place to sleep at night when it starts to get cold (assuming that she consents to sleep in what we provide for her.)  She is slowly losing her fear of us, and doesn't completely run away when we come outside (she'll usually run off of the porch, but linger within eyesight until we go back into the house.)

The kittens are still being rehabilitated.  As I understand it, they are not making progress very quickly, but they are making progress nonetheless.  I am pleased that someone is working with them.

The dogs are doing well - we just got back from a vacation away in a cabin, and we took the dogs with us.  Argos is showing some signs of age, and a possible worrisome health issue - the vet took a blood sample to test for various things, because he's lost about 6 pounds since the last vet visit.  They thought that the sample looked like his thyroid levels are lower than usual (even for a greyhound, I guess, which are traditionally low anyway) and that his blood sugar might be low as well.  We need to take him back in one evening this week to have a vet tech draw some more blood to take a closer look.  Fingers crossed that it's nothing serious!  (My thought is that he lost a bit of weight this time of year last year as well - all of the thunderstorms make him nervous, and he often refuses to eat when the weather conditions are right for one to brew up.)

When I get a chance I will post some pictures from our vacation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Feral Cats

I've really resisted getting involved with the feral cats in the neighborhood...  most of the time, they didn't bother coming to our house, and if one or two brave ones did, usually once they saw our dogs, they'd vanish and not come back.  I personally resisted it because...  well, it seemed like a recipe for heartbreak.  Maybe that's selfish of me, but I had already had my heart broken a few times just rescuing pet-ready animals.  I didn't want to tangle with something that was wild, just to watch it hit by a car, or poisoned by a cat-hating neighbor, etc.

But my hand was forced this past February.  I started to see a black cat going through all of the yards on our street, including mine.  He wouldn't let me approach him, but seemed desperate for something.  I put some food out for him, and it was just GONE in about 15 minutes.

I can't stand the idea of an animal being hungry, so before we knew it, I'd purchased an extra bag of food for "the outdoor cat."  But then it wasn't just a black cat.  Then it became a black cat AND a white cat.  And then an orange cat.  (Though my wager is, the orange cat is owned - but is just an opportunistic feeder.  He doesn't have the lean and hungry look that the black and white cats had.)

We talked about trapping them, and having them spayed or neutered.  A neighbor told me that they'd actually been pets at one time, but had been abandoned a couple of years ago.  For a year, a teenager up the street fed them, but she went to college this spring, which is why they were foraging through my yard in February, I guess.

But they only came occasionally, and I figured that someone else had taken responsibility for them.  So I abandoned my idea of trapping them.  And I haven't seen the black cat for a couple of months, which doesn't bode well for him.  I find myself hoping that he just comes up after dark to eat.

But there have been plenty of "white cat" sightings.  In fact, just last week, she came up into the yard right under my nose.  Why do I know that she is a "She" you might ask?  Yeah.  Damn.  I should have trapped her and had her spayed back in February.  She brought three 12ish week old kittens up my front walk and showed them where the ever-full bowl of food was.  They were skittish of me, but happy enough to take my food.

Well, we decided that since she clearly wasn't ALREADY spayed (I guess it would have been too much to ask to have the owner actually spay her before abandoning her?)  that she needed to be, and soon, else there would be even more kittens.  Then there would be 50 cats running around our street, and I'm pretty certain that the neighbors would start to object.  And if we were going to have HER spayed, then we might as well nab the kittens as well.

We bought a live trap, and Jeff baited it with sardines.  Twenty minutes later, we had the mama kitty in our bathroom.  She is totally unhappy looking in this picture.

We've since captured three of her kittens.

There's still at least one more white kitten that needs to be trapped.  I don't know for sure if there are any others.

And this is where I'm a bit at a loss about what to do.  We're going to pay to have them "fixed."  That much is a certainty.  I would LOVE to tame the kittens down to where they would make good pets and could be put up for adoption.  I don't know that it's going to happen that way, though.  They're VERY frightened of us, and absolutely wild to get out...

Update:  I stopped writing this because I got too busy well, with the actual physical caring for of the ferals.

Here's what has transpired:  we caught the final kitten.  Two pure white kittens, one gray fluffy, and one tabby that might be a torbie?  I'm not sure.  The orange in her fur, if it's there at all, is not very pronunced.

The shelter couldn't really help me with TNR until later in the month, which meant that I was a bit out of luck.  I was torn:  let them go again and try to trap them a second time?  Or keep them in a cage in my dinette?  Neither way sounded like a good option.

Before I did anything rash, I contacted a local group:  the Homeless Cat Management Team of Pittsburgh, and they worked some magic for me!  They got me into a clinic THAT Saturday to get everyone spayed and neutered and vaccinated,  which was fantastic!  As it turns out, only one of the kittens was male, the others female.  That's a whole lot of kittens that would have likely entered the world in the next year!

I still have them, but the kittens are actually going to a home this weekend!  A kind soul has agreed to step up and take them in and try to domesticate them.  I'm so very glad that this is a possibility.  We weren't able to do it:  absorbing four kittens into our household is just impossible at this time.  Four frightened, not-very-experienced kittens:  even more impossible.

Mama (who we have been calling "Snow") is most likely going to be a TNR.  She's been on her own for such a long time, that she just has zero trust in humans at all.  I haven't been able to convince her to soften her opinion of us in the two weeks I've had her.  BUT.  She'll be released where she has access to food, shelter, and she is freed from the breeding cycle.  So while I'd rather that she went into a home, I still feel pretty good that her life has been improved.

Everyone keep their fingers crossed that everything continues to work out so well.  I was very worried in the beginning, when I realized that SOMEONE had to be responsible for these babies, and that someone was us.  (I can't say ME, because Jeff has been part of this right alongside me.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Letting Go...

After great pain a formal feeling comes--
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?
And yesterday--or centuries before?The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
                                       -Emily Dickinson

I think that, when I had to study this poem in college, I didn't understand it.  The loss of several family members in recent years, and of course the loss of my darling heart-cat Charlotte has taught me, bitterly, exactly what it was about.

So I guess the formal feeling is here.  Every once in awhile, something will happen that will bring fresh tears to the eyes...  I'll be in the grocery store, in the dairy aisle, and will have my hand on one of the smallest milk containers that I used to buy only for her.  Or I'll be cleaning and find a forgotten strand of fur.  Or I'll be looking for something on my computer, and stumble across a picture of her, in all of her imperiousness.  But the "in betweens" are getting longer.

While she was sick, we were fostering a litter of kittens, along with their mother.  We got them when they were 3-4 days old, and guided them through their growing weeks until they were big enough to be adopted.  They made me laugh.  Sometimes, I'd be laughing through my tears of grief, but they were good medicine, even after she died.

There was Lemmy, our little explorer kitten.  Mischevious, daring, bold, yet affectionate and kind.  He was, I am fairly certain, deliberately trying to make us laugh a few times there.

His sister Lita, who was a bit standoffish at first, but really came out of her shell towards the end.  She loved to cuddle with me.

Sweet, affectionate, cuddly, purry little Joanie.  She looks like a little teddy bear.

And Samantha, independent, brave, intelligent and wise beyond her age.

They've not only gone back to the shelter, but have all been adopted by what I truly hope are loving families.  May none of them ever be returned to the shelter when they are elderly and "used up."  Or be found wandering the streets, bedraggled, hungry and confused.  No, may their lives be filled with warm laps, golden sun puddles, bottomless bowls of food, and love.

Their mother is still with us.

Janis is a bit of a special case.  She is very frightened of people, and spent all of her time as a nursing mom hiding from us, and hissing from behind boxes or in the back of dark crates.  We gave her space, because she didn't need anything else to upset her... she was a young (10 months old) mom, who was learning how to take care of four babies.  And she did a good job, in the end., even if there was a bit of a learning curve.

She's coming out of her shell now...  just not with me.  (I'll try not to be insulted!)  She adores Jeff.  She not only lets him pet her without hissing, but is now coming out to see him.  Even jumping up on the bed to visit with him.  She purrs for him, and gives him face kisses.

So there's hope for Janis.  She had her first birthday with us this month, and we are trying to show her that we are not scary.

Our other cats have been very patient with us, though I think they're rather glad that we don't have kittens around anymore.  It was like they breathed a big audible sigh of relief, in unison!

The dogs have been good.  In the beginning, they were why I was able to get myself out of bed in the morning.  And, being the sensitive creatures that they are, they were constantly clowning to try to get us to laugh at them.  They were very worried about us.

We are coping.  My heart is still heavy, and the house definitely feels the loss of its queen.  The other cats are all joys to me, but none of them are Charlotte.  Her force of personality leaves a hole that will never be filled.  And I suppose that is how it should be.

I should add, thank you, thank you to those of you who sent me condolences and healing thoughts.  It helps so much, when one is going through this, to simply not feel alone.  It helps.  Tremendously.