Monday, May 30, 2011

Causing a Kerfuffle

Life has been a bit crazy lately, which is why I haven't been posting much.  I think that things have settled down now, so my routine postings should go back to the way that they used to be...

The craziness that comes with life REALLY seems to affect the animals.  They really just like to be in a routine, and are quite upset when we break that.

The one who reacted the strongest this time was Romeo.  I was deep into spring-cleaning the house; it was high time, and I had the extra motivator of having my parents coming to visit me over the holiday weekend.  I was caught up in what I was doing, and didn't notice that Romeo was becoming more and more upset, with every corner that I vacuumed out, every knick-nack that I dusted, every floorboard that I wiped down.

I'm not sure if he just didn't like his environment being altered, whether he thought that HE was going into the garbage next, or if his bad behavior had nothing to do with me at all, but all that I know is... four days before my parents came, he started peeing on the floors.  Little puddles all over the kitchenette, no puddle in the litter box, where there SHOULD be a puddle.

I was torn between being worried about his health and being frustrated with him...  the timing couldn't have been worse!  Since he hadn't lost his appetite, and didn't seem sick or lethargic (and I didn't see blood in the urine) we decided to observe him for a day before deciding on whether to take him in to the vet.  Jeff carried him upstairs and put him in the study, along with a fresh litter box and food and water, so that he could be there with him while he was working from home.

Not only did he stop leaving little puddles around, but he actually started pooping in his box!  (Those of you who are long-term followers might remember that Romeo has issues with pooping in the box.  He always goes right outside the box, and always has, no matter which type of litter we use, which shape and height of box, whether he's alone or with other cats, none of it made a difference.  But so far (and we're five days in) he's been doing really well where he is.  So...  we've decided that he can be "study cat" for now, and we'll just have to make sure that he gets the same amount of exercise or more that he was getting when he was downstairs.

I personally think that he's happier up in the study because he gets to hang out with us more often.  We've also discussed that he might feel more secure there; he can keep one eye on the door at all times, so can't be easily ambushed by any of the other cats if they were to get in.

Charlotte wasn't thrilled with the super-deep-cleaning of the house either, but as you might be able to see from the picture above, she chose to curl up into a little ball and pretend like it wasn't going on around her.  And she jumped up on the bed every night insisting on reassurance.

She for one seemed VASTLY relieved when my parents showed up Friday afternoon.  It was as if she realized that the cleaning was for someone to come in, and not for us to go OUT.  She was pleased to have two more people here to give her attention this weekend, and strolled throughout the house with a queenly air the entire time.  I'm not just making it up, my parents noticed and commented on it as well.

Annie didn't seem to be affected by it at all.  This is her "helping" me make the bed.  This picture might be a clue about why I have difficulty with these simple household chores sometimes.  That and making beds makes me bored silly.  Annie was friendly towards my folks too - which shows just how very far she's come.  Last year when they were here, she was very stand-offish, and wouldn't let them touch her, and would panic if she got too close.  This year, she almost seemed to prefer my mom to me.

Bit was very much herself through the entire process of cleaning and visiting.  What this means is that she acts like she is being followed by a pack of demons, and one wrong move; one too-loud sound, one mis-step from you, and she panics and runs away in terror.  So I have no idea of whether this affected her or not... because she's always on edge.  I have no idea of why.  To say that she's had a gentle upbringing in this house is putting it mildly.  So...  she sat in the room with my parents and my husband and I, and offered loud, continuous commentary, but wouldn't let anyone but my husband pet her.  (She would sit in HIS lap.)  She has always been a "daddy's girl" from day one, though, so that doesn't surprise me at all.

Argos didn't care about any of it, as long as he could curl up on one corner of the couch and I didn't get TOO close to him with the vacuum.  And he loved my parents.  He even gave them "helicopter tail" which he normally reserves for only very special people.  The only thing that he didn't care for was, once they were here, he had to give up the couch and settle for a mere dog bed.  The horror!  He loved the extra attention, and while he was at first a little puzzled about why the pack size had grown on our evening walk, adapted to it quickly enough.

The fosters were the ones that had to deal with the biggest changes, and they handled it beautifully.  You may remember that they were being kept in the guest room, as it was the one room of the entire house that could sit unused for multiple months.  But of course I had guests this weekend.  Guests that wouldn't like to tangle with cats trying to get out and other cats trying to get in every time they opened their bedroom door.  And my mother might have developed at least a mild allergy to cats, so was nervous about being in a room with two of them.  Fair enough.

But since they are being kept separate from the rest of our cats, there was really no place left for them to go.  So this was the only weekend out of the entire year that they were going to have to be sent away.  We took them  to "kitty camp" at Jeff's mom's apartment.  It sounds like they had a great time - they had the freedom to go anywhere in the apartment that they liked (and did so... I have reports that she found kitty footprints in her bathroom sink.)  She didn't have any other cats for them to tangle with, they got room to roam and didn't have to go to a more official boarding facility where they'd be in a cage, and my parents didn't have to share a room with two feline roommates.

They're back now...  we went to pick them up and brought them back home today after my parents left.  Mitchell is pretending that he's never seen us before in his life, and is not letting us pet him.  Patches is more friendly.  Both of them are in exploration mode, making sure that nothing changed too much, I guess.  They'll warm up again - some of ours are a little standoffish when we've been away too.

Patches, reclaiming a pillow as his own.

Mitchell, demonstrating why his nickname is "Mitchell Long-Tail."
I suspect that they're all going to be glad when we start back into our routine tomorrow.  Yes, it means us having to go to work and being unable to be here to pay as much attention to them as they would like.  But I think that they prefer a routine all the same.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Having a pet is a responsibility - as we all know, they're not just decorative window dressing.  They require food, exercise, mental stimulation, and need supplies such as leashes, harnesses, litter, bags.  They require vet care, and our help to keep them healthy and safe.  It is not cheap, and if a person cannot afford to do it right, then they shouldn't have an animal at all.  It really infuriates me to see people shirking their responsibility.  It seems like we're surrounded by examples of people who either don't know any better, or do know better but just don't care.

Some recent examples:

Girl at the checkout at the grocery store, after seeing me buying kitty treats and litter box deodorizer:  "We have too many cats.  We're just going to have to take some to the Humane Society because they just keep having babies."  Said in a self-satisfied tone, as if dumping unwanted, overbred cats at a shelter was a virtue instead of something to be terribly ashamed of.  I admit that I didn't reprimand her like I wanted to...   I was simply too dumbfounded.  In hindsight, I wish that I'd asked her if she'd ever heard of spaying and neutering.  Because gosh, it isn't rocket science to figure out that if left to their own devices, cats ARE NOT GOING TO PRACTICE SAFE SEX.  Geez.

I am shocked at how many cats come into the shelter because they'd been locked and abandoned inside of an apartment, with no access to food and water, when the tenants/cat owners left.  Wha?  In what world do these people live, that this is considered to be acceptable?  One elderly cat was left in a cat carrier on her front porch.  You have to wonder what is going through these poor kitties' minds.

Bryan Hutcherson, brilliant wit that he is, literally starved a puppy to death because it "was too stressful and costing too much money to feed him."  So...  you just stop feeding him, Bryan?  Period?  It never occurred to you that this was...  I don't know... EVIL?  You didn't have enough empathy in you to watch the poor pup slowly starve to death and feel bad for him?  And his girlfriend just sat there and watched him do it, which makes her no better than he is.

And most of us have probably heard of Patrick the pitbull puppy that was nearly starved to death, and when he didn't oblige his "lovely" owner by starving to death, she threw him in a garbage bag and sent him down the garbage chute.  Fwoof!  No more dog to have to take care of, la la la.

I'm going to come out and say something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but I'm tired of sugar-coating the truth:  I hate people like this, especially the last three.  The people that were okay with abandoning a cat didn't care if that cat lived or died.  Maybe they hoped that the cat would be rescued in time, maybe not, but regardless, they were willing to take that chance with a little life that they were responsible for.  As for the two dog people, I don't believe that they simply made a mistake... it was something that they willfully and deliberately chose to do over time, and there were plenty of opportunities for them to change their minds before it went too far.  A dog doesn't starve to death overnight, after all.  I think the only remorse that these self-entitled nitwits are capable of feeling is remorse that they were caught and that there are going to be OMG CONSEQUENCES. (Though most likely, not harsh enough, but that's another post.)

It's past time that we as a society embrace the idea that if we are going to exploit animals for food, entertainment, companionship, whatever, then we have responsibilities.  We have created a world in which most domesticated animals will never be able to thrive without us, so we have a responsibility to provide for them, and to give them the best life that we can possibly provide.  To protect them from predators, starvation, and yes, even their own base desires to procreate in a way that will be ultimately harmful to them.   This doesn't mean that we let them breed and breed and breed and continually dump off the ones that we love the least at a shelter.  It sure as hell doesn't mean that we stop feeding them because it's too STRESSFUL (What the hell kind of fragile person thinks that feeding a dog is stressful?)   And we certainly don't toss them in the garbage when they've ceased to be amusing.

As I've shown in my illustration with the girl with "too many cats," I don't have a lot of respect for people that dump animals off at the shelter.  But it's 99,999 times better than starving them to death.  It at least means that those cats aren't going to starve to death, so there is SOME acknowledgement of responsibility there.  I wish that the others had at least done the same.  I have no idea of why they didn't take their animals to a shelter if they were unable or unwilling to provide for them.

Patrick the pit bull (the one that was thrown into the trash chute) got lucky.  He survived his ordeal and got enough media coverage that people from all over want to adopt him when he's healthy again.  He will go on to have a good life.  Snoop, the first dog, wasn't so lucky, and came to a horrible end, no doubt wondering what he had done wrong to have food so cruelly withheld from him.

I'm not sure of where I'm going with this, I only know that seeing stories like this hurts my heart, and makes me want to get out and DO something to protect these animals.  A blog post isn't much, but it's something.  It's better than hiding my head in the sand and pretending that it isn't happening.  And maybe that's a good enough start...  for now.  Maybe the day will come that I can personally swoop in and rescue an animal from an abusive situation, but for now, I will blog.  And I will support and cheer on those of you that are more actively involved with rescuing animals from abusive situations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Greyhound up for Adoption

I made a posting over at the Steel City Greyhounds blog about the latest hound that is up for adoption!  If you're interested, the link to that post is at:

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Wow, it has been a week since my last post.

I guess that I keep putting off making a post because I don't really have any pictures to add for eye-candy.  It seems like every time I see one of the critters doing something funny/interesting/cute my camera is in the other room.

I decided that I had neglected my blog long enough, though, so here are some "snapshots" of my week, using just words.

This Afternoon:  Mitchell and Patches sitting side by side on the radiator, both staring out the window.  There's birds on the neighbor's roof, making a fuss.  Both cats' hind-ends are waggling back and forth, tails lashing.  Mitchell is making that feline sobbing noise that some cats make when they are watching prey.  Both are completely oblivious to me.

This Morning:  Standing with Argos in a light, cool drizzle, cheering on the Pittsburgh Marathon runners.  We're surrounded by greyhounds... maybe twenty of them?  They all have colorful leys around their necks and are wearing snazzy marathon jackets.  One of the dogs has flopped over onto his side in the street, making many of the runners laugh when they go by.

Last Night:  I get startled awake as a certain gray kitty crashes into me.  I think she was trying to leap over me in some bizarre game of nocturnal chase that she was playing with Annie.  I think that she scared herself as much as she scared me...  or at least, my gasp and levitation act scared her.  The game of chase ended then, though, so I have to admit I don't really care if she was scared!

Yesterday:  Since the weatherman lied, and it turned into a sunshiney day, at least until evening,  I was outside working in the garden.  Eventually I moved up onto the porch to get some of my porch plants potted.  Charlotte is sitting on the other side of the glass door, supervising.  I can see the silent meow through the glass, and know her well enough that I know exactly what her meow sounds like without hearing it.  And she's telling me that I'm doing it all wrong.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday:  Sadly, all of these days brought with them thunderstorms.  We now have three animals in the house that are not happy about thunder:  Argos and Bit, and now poor Mitchell.  Mitchell refuses to come out from under the bed when it is thundering.  Bit will hide as best as she can, but prefers going under the couch.  Argos wants to go into his crate, and refuses to go to the bathroom in any way until it goes away.  He also skips meals.  *Sigh*

Tuesday:  I learn that Patches has a thing for freshly washed hair.  I was in the guest room where we keep him and Mitchell, lying on the bed and reading and just hanging out with them.  I had just showered.  Patches walked around me, froze when he got to my head, and sniffed my hair.  Then batted at it.  Then started clawing at it, burying his nose in it, and then finally he started rolling in it.  That was just a little bit weird.  I asked Jeff if he'd spiked my shampoo with catnip, but he denies everything.

So that's really the animal-related peaks and valleys of my week.  I will eventually be able to supply at least a couple of pictures of Argos at the marathon with his pink ley.  And I will start carrying that camera with me more, dammit.  "Yoo hooo, animals!  Do something entertaining!"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dogs and Water

I've decided to enter a photo contest over at Cowspotdog.  The idea is to show your dog in water.  Well, Argos despises his baths like just about any dog that I've ever known, but he DOES like to play in water in other settings.

So here is my entry.  It is a picture of him resting in the doggie pool at the Lucky Paws Pet Resort here in the Pittsburgh area.  This was last July, and the day was HOT!  There were sooo many greyhounds there at  an event that day, and you couldn't keep most of them out of the water.

Now that we finally have a fenced in yard, we're going to go get him his very own child-sized wading pool for summer.  I hope to have many pictures of that this summer!

As for the cats...  don't expect any pictures of the cats enjoying water.  We don't even bring up the topic in this household.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Baby Gates

Baby gates are a huge FAIL in this house, at least in regards to keeping animals in certain rooms and out of others.

Does anybody actually have good luck with them?  Maybe they work with smaller dogs?

They certainly don't work with cats, and they don't work with our particular greyhound either.

Someone told us, when we got Argos, that greyhounds don't jump, and that a baby gate should be sufficient to keep him in a room.  (We wanted to restrict his movement in the beginning to keep him out of the kitchen, and to give the cats areas of the house to flee to if necessary.)

Well, whoever told us that didn't know Argos.  Jeff was working from home one day, and Argos was baby-gated into the living room downstairs, as we were "baby-stepping" him towards being able to be left at home alone.  Jeff kept hearing Argos pacing around, and whining, but tried to ignore him, figuring that he just wanted to come upstairs.  Then he heard a series of thumps, and then a large THUMP and a crash.  He ran downstairs, and Argos was standing on the wrong side of the baby-gate, panting with a big grin on his face, tail wagging.  The baby-gate was still up, so he had obviously jumped it.  I don't know what the thumps were... him getting a running start and maybe clipping the top of the gate with his feet as he leapt?  The big crash was obviously 80 lbs of greyhound coming down onto the hardwood floor.

Later, we attempted to put the gate up a little higher, giving the cats room to go underneath, but thinking, there's no WAY that Argos will jump THAT high.  Well, we were right.  I was sitting in the living room this time, and Argos was gated into the dining room to hopefully encourage him to eat, with fewer distractions.  I heard a muffled thump as his chest hit the floor, and then slide slide slide, then whimpering.  When I walked over to see what in the world was going on, Mr. Argos had attempted to do the limbo under the gate.  He made it about halfway under and realized that he wasn't going to be able to get his hindquarters through.  *face palm*

We gave up on the baby gates with Argos.

After we got Romeo, we kept him isolated in the guest room behind a real door.  Eventually, we opened the door, and put TWO baby gates, one on top of the other, across the doorway, to keep the other cats out of his room, but to allow them all to see one another.  This was about as tall as a human being, by the way.

Bit didn't jump it, no.  But she did climb up the entire thing and then dropped over onto the other side.

So this is what we DO use them for, and with some success.  They are "crash bars" to keep the fosters from running out of the guest room as soon as you try to go in.  I put the gate in front of me like a barrier, and keep angling it as I move in to prevent them from darting out into the hall.  I'm fairly certain that Patches hates that gate with all of his heart.

It works pretty well.  So we finally do have a use for them.