Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So Surreal...

I've been home from work for a couple of days because of a nasty stomach bug of some kind.  Coincidentally, Argos has been sick with some kind of stomach issue as well, for the past three days.  It was nothing huge and dramatic - he was still eating and drinking and still active, but a couple of times a day would start trying to throw up.  I called the vet about it this morning, actually.  I was told that if he was still eating and drinking and not lethargic that it was PROBABLY not serious, but to keep an eye on him.  To help the symptoms, I could give him 20 mg. of Pepcid twice a day.

Pepcid is one stomach medication that we don't have, and since I've been having issues as well, decided that I'd go get some from the store.  If it didn't help Argos, maybe it would help me.

I got back home and went back to bed.  The bed was completely awash in nice warm sunlight, so it was a good nap.  Argos jumped up with me and stretched out in the sun as well.  (Don't worry, this is leading up to something dramatic.)

Jeff came in (he works from home on Tuesdays) to check up on his sick wife and dog, and came in to sit with us for a couple of minutes.  Then we both noticed Argos licking his lips and swallowing a lot.  Hmm.  Kind of like a human might right before they throw up.

Jeff suggested I get him downstairs for a drink of water.  Just then, Argos jumped down, and started throwing up in earnest on the floor.  It was mostly yellow bile, but with a really large mass in the middle.  Upon closer inspection, it was a washcloth.  Whole, unchewed, undigested washcloth.

What the heck, dog?  No wonder he's been not feeling very well...

Though that doesn't explain MY problem.  So much for my theories of a virulent cross-species stomach virus.

Note to self:  must be super-diligent about keeping that kind of stuff out of reach.  To our credit, he's never shown an interest in eating foreign objects, though I did try to keep hidden anything small enough to easily be swallowed away from him (like stuffed catnip toys for the kitties.)  This is a new tendency, and an alarming one.  If he's willing to eat a washcloth out of the bathroom, then he'll also be willing to eat socks, underwear, panty hose...  gack.  There's a whole new world of possibilities out there.

Or maybe vomiting it up taught him a lesson?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Yes, cows.  One of the types of animals that I have NEVER owned, and honestly if I have my say, never will.  I am too tender-hearted to raise any food-animals, to be honest, and I'm not all that fond of cows.

There's reason for that.  That reason has a name.  It's Tommy.  I can't remember if that was the name that our farmer neighbor had given him, or if that's the name that WE gave him.  I do know that it was our fault that the name morphed into "Tommy the Turd."  Give me a break, I was 11.

Tommy was a white steer that belonged to the neighbor, a very kind man.  Tommy was not kind...  he was, at best, mischievious and bored, at worst, the bovine personification of pure evil.

Our first encounter with Tommy was with a small herd of other cows.  We had just moved from the suburbs of Kansas City to the country.  It may surprise you, but the suburbs are amazingly cow-free.  We had just learned that we had a quarter of a mile walk through countryside to get to the school bus stop.  We were young enough to be excited instead of dismayed about it.  So, we had our backpacks and were walking up the lane through thick, rolling fog - the kind that you only see when you live in the river bottoms.  And out of the swirling mist came... four gigantic creatures.  Tommy and three cows.  I didn't even register that they were cows at first... until one of them mooed at me.  We turned and ran back to the house, and insisted on an escort past them.  I believe that we got a ride down in the car.

The second encounter was at our house.  Someone (maybe Mom?) pulled the shade up to let the early morning sun in, and standing just a couple of feet away from the window was...  Tommy.  He wasn't alarmed to see a woman appear in the window.  He was, if anything intrigued.  How does one get a steer out of their front yard if he doesn't want to go?  One calls the farmer that owns him...

The rest of the encounters were all the same, just on different days.  Our neighbor, Tommy's owner, had given my brother and I permission to ride the 4-wheeler in his fields, which gave us a tremendous amount of freedom because he had a lot of land.  The only restriction that he put on us was that we couldn't make his cows run.  They might injure themselves, and it would make their meat tough.

Understood.  We would completely avoid the herd.  How difficult could it be?

It's important at this point that everyone reading this understands what a cattle guard is.  Sometimes, it's too much of a pain in the neck to stop and open a gate, drive a vehicle through, then close the gate again, so people get cattle guards.  These are metal slats that are set into the ground across the roadway.  In THEORY, cattle will not cross over these.  And it works, for most cattle.

It didn't work for Tommy, obviously, otherwise he wouldn't be strolling around terrorizing children and ex-suburban housewives on a whim.

But anyway, I digress.  So my brother and I would take the 4-wheeler into this field, carefully avoiding the cattle.

Somehow, though, every SINGLE time we were up there, by the time we wanted to leave, the entire herd would be grazing in front of the cattle guard, which we of course had to drive over to go home.  Every SINGLE time.  And guess which one was the instigator?  Oh yes, one could see Tommy edging the others in that direction.  As we approached with the 4-wheeler, he would always throw his head up and stare at us.  It looked like he was laughing at us...  was that an evil red glint in his eye?

It became a game to him to see how long he could trap us in the field before the rest of the herd got bored and wandered away.

Tommy.  To his credit, he gave us a lot of laughs, and made life more INTERESTING.  He definitely played his role in helping us adjust to living in the country.

The Saga of the Dog Food

We have had a terrible time finding a food that agrees with Argos.  The current batch will be the FOURTH kind that we've had him on.  Keeping in mind that we only just got him in January, that's pretty impressive.  I think that this fourth kind is the magic one, though.

First, we got him Iams brand Eukanuba, being told that it is the top of the line.  He started getting diarrhea almost immediately.  We were told that sometimes that happens when a new greyhound moves to his first home, and to give it a few days.  We did, and it didn't improve.

This got a trip to the vet, just to make sure that he didn't have parasites, or that there wasn't something horrible going on.  No parasites, and nothing horrible.  At the recommendation of just about every dog person we talked to, we cut out his kibble for a week or so, and would cook him boiled ground beef with rice, and mix in some special canned stuff that the vet sold us.  Plus a tablespoon of plain yogurt.  Plus a tablespoon of raw pumpkin.  Good grief.

But it seemed to help.  We'd decided that the Eukanuba was too rich for him by then, and decided to switch to Science Diet - that is the brand of food that we fed our cats, and friends gave us a free bag.

Same deal as with the Eukanuba.

So...  back on the boiled beef mixture.

We did some research, and found that many people that have dogs with "sensitive stomachs" fed them Iams Lamb and Rice, which is formulated specifically for dogs with digestive issues.  At first, it seemed to be working fine.  But then we started to have issues with him - he didn't WANT to finish his meals, which is strange for a dog, especially an underweight dog.  I could usually cajole him into eating by stirring the food up with my finger, but was really worried about him.  The only thing that kept him from a second vet trip was that he would devour any meat that I would give him.  There was nothing wrong with his appetite, he just didn't want the kibble!  And then he started to get diarrhea again.

We started polling friends that have greyhounds, large dogs, or, even better, large dogs with sensitive stomachs.  One, who has a rottweiler with a sensitive stomach, told us that the only thing that worked for him was Nutro.  When a co-worker with greyhounds said that they'd been feeding theirs Nutro for several years with no problems, I was sold.  There was one person from the greyhound adoption group that had good luck with Iams Mini-chunks, but I was hesitant to go with Iams a third time... so we went off to Petco to get Nutro.

We ended up with a bag of Nutro's sensitive stomach formula - Venison and brown rice.  (Sheesh, he eats better than some people do!)  It's a little more expensive, but I think I've already noticed a difference.  First and foremost, it doesn't seem to cause the gastrointestinal upset that the other stuff did.  It doesn't have corn or wheat in it, which makes me think that he may just not be able to deal with that stuff - nothing in his past would have prepared him for it, since usually they're fed meat and vegetables at the track.  Second, but just as importantly, he likes it!  I don't have to beg him to eat.  In fact he does a little dance when he sees that it's time to eat.   He has more energy.  I even think that his coat is softer, he's shedding less (though that may have more to do with the fact that there isn't as much TO shed anymore) and his breath is better.

So far, Nutro is a winner.

I'm relieved.  Of course we want our pets to be healthy and enjoy their food.  But selfishly, I'm also glad that I don't have to stand over the stove boiling beef anymore!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bag Fetish

No, not me.  Charlotte.  Ever since we first got her, she has been obsessed with plastic bags.  OBSESSED.  She will rub her head all over one, lay on it, stick her head inside, lick it from the inside.  We quickly learned that we absolutely cannot leave her unsupervised with a plastic bag in the room.

She knows when I go grocery shopping, and if at all possible, waits for me at the front door of the house.  Not to see me, but to get to the bags.  She impatiently waits for me to put them on the floor, and then goes in amongst them, purring madly, and rubbing herself on all of them.

So it shouldn't have surprised me this morning...  I was making lunches, and I kept hearing a strangely familiar rasping sound.  Couldn't quite place it though.  Finally, it was starting to aggravate me enough that I started looking around.

Charlotte had found the blue trashbag that I had hanging on the closet doorknob, to put recycling in.  She was sitting beside it, alternately rubbing her face on the plastic and LICKING the plastic.  Which was the source of the rasping.

I stood there staring at her for a moment, and muttered, "Freak."

She stared back at me insolently and then began to lick the plastic again.

Am I the only one that gets animals with psychological disorders, or are they all like that?

Okay, this isn't the recycling bag, but it's the only picture I have of her with a bag.  Note the head inside of the handles.

And no, we never, ever leave her unattended with a bag.  We don't want for the kitty to suffocate herself.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Before we adopted Argos, we did a lot of research on greyhounds - we were very concerned about their high prey drive, since we have three cats and of course wanted to keep them safe.  And we found out what every greyhound owner knows:  some greyhounds have a high prey drive and cannot live in a home with cats or small dogs, but some do not.  Argos was "cat-tested" by the adoption group that we got him through, and was considered to be cat-safe.

A judgment that was accurate, by the way.  So if you're considering adopting a greyhound, and have small animals, LISTEN to the adoption group that you get him/her through.  They know what they're talking about!

That doesn't mean that we just left everything to chance, though.  We did everything that they tell you to do in the "introducing your greyhound to household animals" chapters of the books that they have out there on adoption.  He was (and still isn't) left completely unsupervised with the cats, and the first few weeks we had him, he wasn't even allowed to roam the house without one of us; he was tethered to one or the other with his leash.  The first week, he wasn't even in the same room with the cats without his muzzle.  Just to be sure.  And if he even looked at the cats with his ears pitched forward, we would gently tug on the leash to get his attention, and say "No Kitty." 

Gentle enough training, which is what we were aiming for, because we'd been warned from multiple people/books/websites/whatevers that greyhounds are very sensitive, and speaking to them too harshly frightens and upsets them.  Greyhounds are also smart, and from most reports that we've heard, eager to please you.  Argos is certainly both of these.

Which means that he took to the "No Kitty" training in ways that I never imagined.

Most of the time, if he comes into the room and sees one of the cats, he'll freeze, and either leave the room, deliberately turn and look at the wall, or even turn his back to her.  But sometimes, he doesn't know what to do... like today.  I was cleaning the bathroom, and he was gallumphing around the house trying to find me.  (I could hear his collar jingling as he did a room-by-room search for me.)  It was only a matter of time before he figured out where I was, and sure enough, he ran to the bathroom to come in to greet me.  Except that he realized at the last split-second that Annie, our little black kitty, was standing in the bathroom doorway.

The poor guy!  His eyes widened, and he slammed on the brakes - locked his front legs up, head to the ceiling, trying to stop.  (And he did stop without impact.)

Annie stood there brazenly and stared up at him.  She wasn't letting him into the bathroom with me for anything.  He stood in the hall, trying not to stare at her (since I don't want him to) but wanted desperately to get in to me.  Hah!  I took pity on him and joined him in the hall.

We may need to establish some balance eventually... for now, I'm okay with him having a little bit of fear when it comes to interacting with the kitties.  But it looks like Annie, anyway, is starting to take advantage of that.  I definitely don't want for him to be bullied by three bossy feline "sisters" all of the time.  I think we'll watch this and see how it develops.  He and Annie might be moving closer to an actual friendship.  They were actually both on the bed with me this weekend, even touching one another, and aside from Argos acting a little nervous about having a sadistic, unpredictable, clawed creature purring loudly right behind his head, I think it went rather well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Greyhound People

I firmly believe that once someone gets a greyhound, they are never able to go back, nor do they want to.  Most people who get a greyhound, I've noticed, have at least two.  I know one family that has seven of them, and one who has six. 

They're such noble, sweet dogs - it's impossible not to become totally devoted to them.

Jeff had Argos and the two of them were waiting for me at the bus stop, so that we could all walk home together.  Someone pulled their car over, got out of the car, and begged to be able to pet Argos. 

Turned out the poor guy had been a greyhound owner for years, and that his had recently passed away.  He really needed a "greyhound fix."  Jeff was of course more than happy to oblige him.  I hope that the poor fellow is able to bring himself to adopt again soon; he sounds like he needs to have another grey in his life!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Most of the time when I mention that my childhood dog was a Pekingese, people roll their eyes and say something derogatory about small dogs.  He had some of the annoying tendencies that small dogs seem to share - he'd yap and bark at EVERYTHING, even leaves blowing across the grass.  He obeyed only when he felt like it, and was a shameless beggar.  He'd snap and snarl at people, dogs, cats, whatever for getting too close to his food bowls, or me, or anything else that he thought was his.

But he was my best friend, and showed me a loyalty that I didn't get to see in most humans, outside of my family members and a couple of close friends.  I had a really rough time fitting in at school - I was just one of those kids that had a hard time identifying with her peers.  I was too "out there," too intense, too serious, too... too.  I wasn't stylish, and had no sense of current trends.Not that it was all my fault - kids are cruel and I suffered at their hands far more than my fair share.

The first two years of going to my new school, sometimes I would go the entire day without anyone besides the teacher talking to me.  And then when summer came, I didn't have any friends to invite over, or to go visit.  I spent a lot of time outside lying in the grass with Wicket beside me.  He never cared that I was different, or that I would rather spend my allowance on flower seeds than to buy cassette tapes.  He followed me everywhere I went, and would gaze at me adoringly, no matter how I looked, even if I had a zit on my chin, even if my hair had this tendency to stick out in every direction.

Once I got past the indifference stage at school, there were some really cruel barbs.  School taught me that I had a big nose, that my hair was bushy and RED (said as if this was a major character flaw), I had a big butt, my clothes were funny, my laugh was obnoxious, my eye color was ugly, my mouth was too wide, my leg turned in funny. I was too smart for my own good, I wasn't smart enough, my personality was boring.   I would come home in tears so many nights, because of something that someone had said to me.  Wicket was always there, and would worriedly let me cry into his fur.  Then he would lick my tears away, so kindly that sometimes it made me cry all over again.

And then he would guard over me protectively until I would make him go to the utility room to sleep.  (It would have been nice if he could have slept in the bedroom with me, but he could NOT be trusted to hold still and let me sleep.)

I started to slowly make friends, and Wicket was with me for that too.  He loved having my girlfriends come over, and would guard over all of us, happily lying in our midst.  He would sit beside me on the couch when I had a boyfriend over, sometimes biting the boyfriend. 

When I went away to college, it was my biggest sorrow that I had to leave him behind.  But Wicket was always happy to take what he could get - I would come back every Sunday afternoon, and he would greet me so excitedly.  He never lost his devotion, and I still well up with tears when I think about him, and how much I miss him. 

RIP, my Heart Dog.  I will see you again someday. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Home and Garden Show

Jeff and I volunteered to take a shift at the Home and Garden Show with Argos last weekend.  I was a little unsure of how it would go, since Argos is still so new to us.  I knew that with us he was calm, laid-back, and easy to get along with, but was worried about how he would handle huge crowds, complete with many people who don't understand dogs.

But he did great!  He greeted everyone with a tail wag, and let them pet him, feed him treats, and listened to us telling people about the breed and about adoption.  He tolerated children very well, even those that were a tad too affectionate with him.  He also handled having other animals around.  He was a perfect gentleman with the female greyhound that was at the booth with us, politely sniffed (and then proceeded to ignore) the Great Dane across the aisle, and completely ignored the small dogs, cats, and bunny rabbits that were brought right past our booth by Animal Friends.

All in all, a successful day.  He was so exhausted by the time we got home, though!  He collapsed on the couch and stayed either there or on his doggie bed for the rest of the day.  He even lay there and didn't move when I vacuumed around him, which just shows how tired he was.

I am very proud of him, and will likely be doing meet and greets in the future.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Cheeky little bastard, isn't he?  Keep in mind that this window is on the second story of our house.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


It's interesting to see how something will make you remember the past.

I saw an article that talked about a race horse owner getting into some legal trouble for having a bunch of malnourished horses - he whined that he hadn't even seen the horses in several months and that it wasn't his fa-ult.  Stupid jerkwad.  It IS your fault.  You are the owner, you are the one that is ultimately responsible.  So maybe you should have looked in on these horses that have made you so much money.

*deep breath*  But anyway, I didn't start posting in order to eviscerate someone with words, as satisfying as that can be.

I started posting because the malnourished horses reminded me of one of the horses that I had as a young teenager.  His name was Cody.  He was a beautiful sorrel gelding, part thoroughbred, part quarter horse, and was TALL - 18 1/2 hands high.  He was my first 4-H show horse, which meant that I had to learn to mount him without holding on to the saddle or the saddlehorn - Hah!  I was much more limber back then, but it was still a challenge to get my foot that high in the air without leaning on something.  But I did it because I was awesome.  Well, if not awesome, then at least dedicated.

But he wasn't always like that.  My aunt, who at that time lived in Colorado, went to buy a horse from a woman.  She was looking at the horse that was for sale, when she saw an emaciated horse with feet the size of dinner plates, standing dejectedly in a muddy pen, nose to the ground.  She asked about the horse, and the woman was dismissive of him, saying that he used to belong to her ex-husband.

My aunt was never one to tolerate an animal being abused or neglected, and that is what this was a classic example of (starving and neglecting a horse to get back at a man - really!)  and made arrangements to take him.  I wasn't there - but I think that I remember that she offered the woman a small amount of money to take him right then and there, along with the promise that she wouldn't turn her in for animal cruelty... as long as she could take him out of there.

The woman, not being a fool (though an idiot in so many other ways) agreed, and the horse was loaded up into the trailer.  He was so weak that he could barely stand on his own, but when he saw the back of the trailer open up, he leapt in unassisted, he was so eager to just get the hell out of there.  I can't say that I blame him...

The rehabilitation took awhile, from what I understand.  My aunt made arrangements to have his feet taken care of right away, though the farrier was half afraid to lift his feet for fear that he would fall over in his weakened state.  She gave him food, and clean water.  He started to fill out.

This is where I enter into the story - I was out visiting her for a month, and Cody was the horse that I rode while I was there.  He was gentle and placid, for the most part, and was a good horse for a kid that wasn't confident around horses yet.  He was my mount when we went riding in the Rocky Mountains for a 12 hour trail ride.  It was a fantastic experience, and one that I will never forget.  (Though ask me to tell you about the handglider guy crashing beside us, and its fall-out, sometime.)

After the month was over, my aunt told me that I could keep Cody as my own - we loaded him up into a trailer and drove across Kansas back to my parents in Missouri.  We lived in 30 acres at the time, and I already had one horse, Prince.  There was more than enough pasture to support two horses.  Cody grew positively plump over the years, on that good rich bluegrass.

I have never understood people who are willing to starve, neglect, or abuse an animal.  I don't trust them either - I can't help but to think that if they're willing to mistreat an animal in such a way, that there is something about them that is broken.  They're probably also likely to mistreat other human beings, especially those in subordinate positions to themselves.

I'm sure that karma caught up with that woman at some point.  It's too bad that I wasn't there to see it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Oh, and on a lighter note... who has a big belly?


All animals have their own personalities, and you can't tell me that I'm anthromorphizing them.  Well, maybe I do to a point, but that doesn't mean that they don't have their own personalities.  Every animal I've ever known has had a different personality, and would react to different situations differently - they are just as unique as human beings are.  For example, my current horde.

Charlotte is somewhat grumpy, bossy, and no-nonsense, but loves it when I hug her, and can almost always be made to purr when you scratch her behind the ears just right.  She makes demands, and fully expects that everyone, feline, canine, and human alike will obey them.  And what do you know, it often turns out that way...

Compare her to Annie, who has actually done a bit of a metamorphosis in the year and change that we've had her.  Annie started out as very shy and mostly afraid of people, and has turned into...  something bolder.  She demands attention constantly, crying loudly and trying to put herself in between me and Argos.  She insists on having what the other cats are having, even if she doesn't really want it.  She loves soft, warm places throughout the house, and is content with her lot in life.

And then compare THAT with Bit.  Bit is a shy one - and seems to get even more shy as she gets older.  I used to be able to count on her coming downstairs to charm our guests, but anymore, if there are guests, she is probably hiding upstairs.  But when it's just me and Jeff in the house, she will come in, whirring loudly, demanding attention.  But when you try to give it to her, she runs away, looking over her shoulder to see if you'll chase her.  She likes to be approached softly, and still has a playful streak, which sometimes manifests itself in shredded toilet paper, or my fuzzy house socks turning up in odd places throughout the house.

And of course, compare ALL of those with Argos.  Of course, he is a dog, and is therefore going to be different than a cat.  He has a mostly calm and steadfast personality, preferring to sleep on the couch or the dog beds (plural because we have one upstairs and one downstairs) to playing or causing a ruckus.  However, he gets positively excited when he sees Jeff or I after a separation from him, even if we only went upstairs for a few minutes.  He dances and spins and cavorts around like he was just told that it was Christmas and his birthday all in one day.

I love all of our animals, and love seeing how their personalities manifest day after day.  It's also fun to be able to shape them - maybe not their personalities so much, but certainly we affect how they react to the world, and in whether or not they feel secure enough to be themselves.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Glossary of Terms

It's funny how words take on new meanings in a household.  Here's some examples of words that have permutated in ours...

Petromalt:  To most people, this is a brand of goo that you can feed your cat to help treat hairballs.  In our household, it is a fine delicacy - Bit goes bonkers over it.  She reminds us at least once a day that she would like some now, okay fine thanks.  She really only gets it twice a week, but all we have to do is open the drawer that we keep it in and we'll hear her running to us, from wherever she is in the house.

Sock Box:  I'm going to go out on a limb and admit something here:  I detest matching and folding socks.  I hate it so much that I don't even attempt it anymore - we have two "sock boxes," one for whites, one for dress socks, and I just throw the clean ones in the boxes.  These are highly prized as kitty beds, and it is not uncommon to see Charlotte asleep on top of the white socks.  Sometimes we even have to move her to get to the socks that we want to wear that day.

Narnia:  And you thought that Narnia was just a kids' story.  Actually, Narnia is our basement.  It's totally not animal safe, with all of the old chemicals that former owners left behind, and has a gigantic open crawl space that I do NOT want the cats getting into.  Since the basement is forbidden, it has taken on a special mythical glamor for them.  The times that they do get down there, their eyes are wide and they're looking around in stunned amazement.  Narnia.

Squirrels:  Small, sadistic creatures that rule the back yard.  They do acrobatics outside the windows, sometimes even landing on the outside window sills (on the second story, even!) just to torment the cats.  They also ate my jack-o-lantern, the little jerks.

"No Kitty":  This is how we decided to train Argos to leave the cats alone, since sighthounds are instinctually wired to chase.  He is so eager to please that what that translates into is that if we say "No Kitty" or sometimes if he even sees a cat, he will practically break his neck or turn his entire body around to show us that he isn't even looking at the cat.  Good boy.

Big Scary Monster (TM):  This is how Bit still views Argos.  Despite the fact that he's never shown her much interest.  He's more interested in Annie, probably because she is the one that interacts with him the most often.  (And by interact, I don't mean snuggle.)

Interact:  This generally means that one of the animals is trying to cow one of the other animals into submission - they are interacting with one another.  Charlotte smacks Annie, Annie chases Bit, Annie slaps Argos in the nose, Bit attacks Charlotte's tail.  It's neverending.

Play Time:  The cats go "live" around 10:30 or 11:00 PM, which coincidentally is when we're trying to get to sleep.  It's kind of hard to sleep when you hear three sets of thundering paws running and leaping and slamming into things all over the house.  Even Argos, tucked safely into his bed in his crate, sighs about this.

Mr. Gator:   Poor Mr. Gator.  He was once a bright green alligator, but has become Argos' most favored chew toy.  He is now completely encrusted in dog slobber, and his once-proud 16 squeakers are down to two.  Don't tell Mr. Gator, but his replacement is currently being housed in our front closet, for the day when Argos finally destroys him.

Little Red Dot:  Little Red Dot frequently comes out to play with the cats.  It's actually from a laser pointer, but I'm convinced that at least one of the cats thinks that the red dot lives under the radiator.

Ladies:  These are innocent women that walk around our neighborhood, that are the objects of Argos' fascinated attention.  He loves women a LOT.  I think it's because women tend to make a bigger fuss over him when we're out walking.  He soaks up the attention as if we NEVER shower him with affection and praise. I have gotten somewhat good at judging whether individual women are actually afraid of large dogs (or just don't care to interact with him) and have to actively restrain him from bounding up to them like they're long-lost friends.

Afternoon Snack:  This is, sadly, my Boston fern, at least as far as Annie is concerned.  She literally grazes from this plant.  You can yell at her all you want, she may well come back five minutes later if she's really intent on getting her greens.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Oh, by the way, Charlotte seems to be in good health, or as good of health as we could expect, with her heart condition.  Whatever was wrong with her the other day, with the coughing and sneezing seems to have passed.  So now we're settled back into daily life with her - lasix and benazipril in the mornings, just lasix at night, and every third day, some liquified aspirin at night.

Do you know that the compounding pharmacy will flavor the mixtures that they compound any way that you like them?  Ours actually has some "pet friendly" flavors.  I think the current batch is cheese flavored, but we've had fish and chicken in the past.  Not that any of this really matters.  Charlotte objects to the medicine on principal.

Here is a somewhat older picture of her (from last year) but it is one that I like.  The look on her face is just... her.  It really captures her personality.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Argos Bed

We got a new bed for Argos today - we were getting tired of carrying the one that we had up and down the stairs.  Now he has one for upstairs and one for downstairs!  He loves it, but is still trying to figure out how to best sleep on it...

There, that's more what I had in mind.

I'm glad that he likes his new bed!  It makes me feel less guilty when we have to kick him off of the couch for US to sit on it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adopting an Animal

I would just like to put the plea out there:  anyone who can adopt an animal and has any inclination to have a pet - whether it be cat, dog, rabbit, whatever, please do so!  It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I hate to see any animal suffer needlessly, whether that is because they will be euthanized because nobody wants them (how incredibly, heart-breakingly sad), or whether they are stuck in kennels and cages where they may be frightened, lonely, and without the benefit of a human companion.

My thoughts on this are:  we are the ones that have made the world impossible for domesticated animals to live on their own.  They NEED humans to take care of them, and rely upon us to give them a safe place to live, nutritious food to eat, take care of any health issues, and to provide companionship.  Since we have domesticated them, they are our responsibility.  Which means to me that we should all work together to reduce the numbers of unwanted animals - not by destroying them, but by adopting them and giving them permanent homes to live in.

We adopted Argos from a greyhound adoption group local to the Pittsburgh area - Steel City Greyhounds.  They are an excellent group, and very dedicated to matching retired racing greyhounds up with caring adopters.  I truly believe in their cause - and will be volunteering some of my time next weekend to man a booth at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, along with Jeff and Argos, of course.  We will meet the public, let them pet the dog, answer questions, and give them adoption applications and/or brochures if requested.  I'm really looking forward to it, and hope that I can play my part in persuading someone to adopt one of these noble, sweet dogs.

But that being said, I would still encourage people to adopt whichever kind of animal suits them best, whether it is a chihuahua or great dane, tabby cat, or white bunny, and whether you adopt from a breed-specific rescue group  or Tiger Ranch or Animal Friends or Animal Rescue League or the Humane Society - all of these organizations (and plenty more, besides) have animals up for adoption.

We adopted all three of our cats from the Western Pennsylvania Animal Rescue League.  They, like most shelters, are desperate for space, because the numbers of animals are higher than the numbers of potential adopters.  When we adopted, the adoption fees for the two adult cats were reduced by half, as a way to encourage to public to take the adults (kittens have a much easier time getting adopted.)

It is a wonderful cause, so again, if you have it in your heart to adopt an animal, please do so.  You will be saving a life, and possibly even more than that, since an empty cage means that the shelter can take in one more animal that will hopefully get adopted out.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bad Night

Every now and again, you have a really bad day as a pet owner.  Or animal's companion, however you want to describe yourself.  Particularly if you know that animal is terminally ill - you're always watching them, looking for signs that they are starting to decline further, and you're hyper-sensitive to any changes in their behavior.

It's that way with me, anyway, with Charlotte.  It all started last night when I gave her a dose of Lasix (.75 ml) and liquified aspirin (1 ml.)  I must have shot them into her mouth in just the wrong way, because after she took the medication, she made a couple of coughing noises like she was trying to dislodge a hairball.

That is the sound that she made that originally cued Jeff and I in to the fact that she was sick to begin with. So Jeff and I stopped what we were doing to go to her and check her out.  Jeff put his ear to her, to see if he could hear her lungs crackling (as if they were full of fluid) but couldn't hear anything.  She stopped making the coughing noise, and went on with her life, so it was most likely a reaction to the dosing.

But then an hour later, she sneezed.  I know, it sounds silly, but we were worried.  She sneezed several times throughout the course of the night, and once this morning.

Sneezing should have nothing to do with her malady - which, to refresh your memory, is congestive heart failure.  And yet.  If she develops a very nasty cold, we might have to take her to the vet, since the state of her heart and lungs is already so shaky.  She's had colds before - common enough in a former shelter cat.  All of our cats have.  They spend two or three days having sneezing fits constantly, then they get better.  So why are we so worried about her?

Now I'm even more watchful about any symptoms that she might or might not have.  Last night, I put her in a basket on top of the radiator in the bedroom, so that I could keep an eye on her.  And then promptly started worrying when she stayed put.  Charlotte is stubborn, and rarely likes to stay where you place her...  and yet it was a nice warm basket on top of a heat source, with a window to look out, so maybe she was just content with it.  I don't know.

Now this morning, everything seems to be normal again.  She was up and about by the time I got out of bed, and was sitting expectantly by her food bowls.  She then followed me downstairs, and proceeded to demand milk, which she got because I'm a pushover.  And now she's back in the kitchenette by her milk saucer BELLOWING as loudly as she can to try to get me to come back in to give her seconds.  These are all of the actions of a healthy cat...

I hope.  Jeff is going to be working from home today, so can keep a close watch on her.  For now, we just need to wait and see.

I think having a terminally ill cat is not for the timid.