Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vanishing Act

I know that I keep vanishing, but this has been one crazy summer.  I always mourn the closing of a summer...  I live for the living, green and growing things, and to watch them all die back (even if it comes with a fabulous color show) depresses me...  possibly because in Pittsburgh, the sun goes behind the clouds in November, and ambles back out, slowly, sometime between April and May.  Between that and all of the dead looking trees and dirty snow, it can really bring a person down.  That being said, I'm almost looking forward to Fall this year.  But only if it brings a little bit of rest for yours truly.  If it doesn't do that, it can go hang itself.

Many of the things going on this summer are annoying and personal and not fit for this blog, but one thing that was hanging over our heads was that my 11-year-old car, which I purchased new, was starting to show signs of wear.  We were faced with a decision...  pay $850 to make it pass inspection, or buy a new car by the end of the month of August (when the old car would cease to be street legal without the proper stickers.)  We decided on the latter... and bought a new car yesterday!  One of our requirements was that two greyhounds be able to fit into it with ease.  The other was that it had to be fuel efficient, because my husband has quite a distance to drive to and from work on the days that he has to go in.  This is a tall order to fill, and some might be surprised at our choice...

One doesn't think of a Mini Cooper as a dog-friendly vehicle, but one of the models is a Clubman, which has more space than the regular models.  So...  here is a picture of our Mini Cooper S Clubman!

The back seats fold down, and we've already put the dogs up in it.  There's plenty of space... though they're still getting used to it and were incredibly nervous during their maiden voyage in it last night.  We're going to have to work on that!

There are tons of people, apparently, who get the Clubman and haul around dogs even larger than ours, sometimes in greater quantities.  Pictures of dogs in the back of Clubmans flourish out there in the internet ether!  So, to add one more:

I'm sure that there will be others, but this was the best that we could do.  They were so excited that I couldn't open up the back doors to get a good shot, because they would attempt to leap out!  And we're still working on doing that without their leashes getting tangled up with themselves, each other, me, and any innocent passers-by.

But enough about the car.  As excited as I am about it, I'm sure that you didn't check my blog to get a car update!

Everyone (and by everyone, I mean my animals) seems to be doing really well.  I've been waking up every night to find Bit curled up next to me, which is kind of nice.  I think that she's looking out for me while I struggle to get over a bit of bronchitis that I have been stuck with FOREVER.  She always scolds me when I get up in the middle of the night, and then scolds me when I come back, but she lays back down beside me regardless.

That I have bronchitis means that I've hauled out the Vicks Vaporub to make sleeping easier.  Some of you might recall that Annie-cat loves Vicks Vaporub, and treats it like it is catnip.  Not only will she attempt to lick it, but she'll rub her head in it and then start rolling around on the bed.  This means that I have a fight with her every night before I fall asleep, because she is trying her best to crawl under the covers to get to all of the lovely vapors, even to the point that she tries to dig through the covers.  This makes it very difficult to sleep.

Maera is coming along quite nicely, and I no longer completely tense up when she's loose in a room with the cats; she for the most part completely ignores them, and can be easily distracted from them if she's looking at them with too much interest.  We still don't leave her unattended with them, but she's no longer leashed or muzzled.  The only time that she shows any particular interest is when they get up on ledges or high up on furniture, and that's because I think she envies their ability to climb and explore things that she can't!

Look at that face... now can someone advise me on how to say no when she employs those puppy dog eyes in my general direction? (Just kidding, kind of.  I withhold table scraps from her no matter what looks she gives me, but I do find myself going over to the "treat closet" more than usual these days.)

I feel a bit bad for Argos... it is so hard for him to get one-on-one attention from us these days, and not because we're trying to ignore him!  But Maera is definitely a wilder spirit than he, and she tends to tornado her way through the room whenever she sees that he's getting special attention, and demand attention for herself.  I try to discourage this, and try to compensate by giving Argos more attention than usual, but sometimes he seems a little sad.  I'm sure he'll adjust in time; he's very patient with Maera in so many other ways, but I still feel a little guilt over that.

Sorry, no cat pictures.  I'll try to make up for it later in the week, with some new ones.    The kitties are doing well, but they just aren't having their photogenic moments when I have a camera handy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Vet Visit and Another Crate Disaster

First of all, Charlotte's veterinary news:  she got a clean bill of health!  (Well, as clean as someone who is on daily medication can get.)  Her lungs are clear, chest x-ray looks good, her vitals are still good.  In fact, the vets can see no deterioration since her last appointment, in April.  So... yay!  I guess the coughing spell was a one-time occurrence that had nothing to do with fluid build-up.  Maybe she's heard ME coughing so much that she decided that it was what we queens of the household did.  I guess all of that worry was for nothing.

But we WERE told that she needed to lose weight.  Sigh.  I actually need to put all cats on a diet except for Bit, who I think could stand to gain some.  So that should be a fun dynamic.  Cat people:  how do you put your cats on a diet?  (The well duh answer is to reduce their food intake, but I am looking for something a little more specific than that!)

Maera had a second melt-down when we left her in her crate on Monday.  I came home from work and she'd pulled a blanket that had been draped over her crate to shield her from the cats THROUGH the ceiling of her crate, along with a small stack of clean laundry that I'd folded but gotten distracted from putting away, and had things twisted in every which direction.  The bottom of the crate was knocked somewhat askew, and it looked like she had been trying to dig her way out.

So.  I don't think we're going to be able to crate her for anything besides night time sleeping.  (That I still insist on, to avoid dog v. cat conflict/misunderstandings/shenanigans.)  Today my husband worked from home, which normally means both dogs sack out on beds in the study while he works on the computer.  But this time we baby-gated both dogs into the dining room.  They each had a bed, fresh water, toys, and kongs to keep them occupied. And there they stayed all day.  It went pretty well as far as we know.  We don't think anyone tried to jump the gate... so tomorrow I think we'll gate them in there again; this time left alone in the house.  We'll see how it goes.  I take some comfort in knowing that if they DO jump the gate, all we're likely to find is that they went into the living room and took over the couch.  (Too bad it isn't practical to drag the couch into the dining room; they'd NEVER want to leave!)

I'm trying my best to keep all of these hooligans healthy and happy.  I feel like I've been pretty good at keeping it all moving along - even though they've definitely been trying to challenge me this month!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

State of the House

I think that the posts have been rather Maera-centric lately (which is to be expected, since she's the "new dog" and all) and also rather focused on Charlotte, who is certainly the dominant personality amongst the cats.  But the other animals are still here, and still doing quite well too!  I thought that I'd update on how EVERYONE is doing.

Argos:  Argos is so incredibly patient with Maera.  In fact, she is emerging as the dominant one.  He'll bark at her to drive her away if she tries to take his toys or his treats away from him, but if she persists and isn't driven off by the initial bark, he lets her do it.  This doesn't stop him from giving me a rather eloquent look like, "See what I have to put up with?"

Sometimes I intervene, sometimes I don't...  when it comes down to it, they are going to have to work something out amongst themselves.  Really, I only interfere at meal time proper.  No one is going hungry in this house, especially due to someone else *cough, Maera* stealing their food.

They're still trying to work out how to play with one another in the yard, and I can see that neither one of them has had much experience with dog v. dog play.  (And where would they have learned it, I suppose, both being former track dogs.)  They both make attempts to do it; I see play-bows in the yard, and some frisking around, but their sympatico is off.  Argos will want to play with Maera when she is trying to go to the bathroom, and vice-versa.  It's kind of painful - like watching two little nerd kids try to behave like two umm...  non-nerd kids.  (And please, no one think that I meant that to sound mean... I myself was one of those nerds!)

Charlotte:  Charlotte has NOT had another episode of coughing yet so far, and seems to be reasonably content.  Though she was upset at me for temporarily moving the litter box.  She sat in front of where it was formerly, and cried until I brought it back.  Only then would she deign to use it, even though she knew well where it had been moved to.

She has accepted that we have a new dog in the house with a certain amount of stoic grace, though she DOES give me a look when Maera is frisking around and has to be rushed down the stairs for an emergency potty break.  It's like she's telling me that I did this to my own self and SHE is not going to feel one bit sorry for me.

This picture is her "inquiring" look.  She is "inquiring" when I am going to feed her, when I am going to give her milk, and "inquiring" about the location of the litter box!

Annie:  Annie is obsessed with getting attention from me.  She has even deliberately challenged Charlotte to get near me, something that only happens occasionally.  Charlotte promptly slapped her back down, but the attempt was made!

She follows me around crying if I don't pay attention to her, and will lie on my pillow at night, purring up a storm.  Eventually, she goes away, but she usually comes back at dawn to wake me up and lie on my pillow again.

This would be a much more enjoyable experience for me if she would just RELAX but Annie does not rest.  She is always fidgeting, twisting, crying, pushing for more.

She's better than she was when we got her back in 2008:  THAT Annie we was so unrestful that we couldn't touch her for more than a couple of minutes at a time before she had to run away and "process" everything.  So, I'm pleased to see that she's developed this far, but do sometimes wish that she wouldn't have to compromise my sleep schedule in order to work on her personal growth.

Bit:  Bit is handling having a new dog around much better than she did the first time with Argos.  Maybe she's a little more confident in herself since she's older, maybe it's just because she's "been there, done that."  She is still our most cautious cat, with the dogs and with everything else, though.  She still does not trust Maera and gives her a wide berth.  But she will be in the same room as her if she needs to be.

She and I have been bonding over gooshy food.  I've been opening a can of gooshy food for the foster cats every night since Mitchell's bladder troubles earlier this week.  They each get a third of the can on top of their regular food.  Charlotte and Annie both turn their noses up at gooshy food, but a certain gray and fluffy princess loves it.  So, she by default gets the final 1/3 can.

It's gotten to the point that she is waiting for me when I come out of the fosters' room, and starts demanding food as soon as she sees me.  She follows me into the bedroom with her bushy little tail held high, and then jumps on top of the dresser, where I dish it out into a bowl.  (This is a location that is safe from the dogs, who would also love to supplement their diets with a little bit of kitty gooshy food.)

Maera:  Maera has really come a long way just in the past week.  Although she still has her excitable moments (and will, probably, for the rest of her life) she has calmed down significantly.  She is better at listening to us.  Also, I took Houndstooth's advice on how to teach her to respect the cats.  I had been planning on teaching her to leave them alone the same way that we had Argos, which was to tug on her leash when she paid them attention and tell her "No kitty."  Houndstooth recommended, that due to her very curious nature, that we put her track muzzle on for safety, but then to take one of the calmest cats onto our laps and just let her sniff her fill.  I did this last week, with Charlotte, and it was a beautiful thing.  I would not say that she has completely lost interest in the cats, but in the ways that count, I think she has.  We'll still continue to work on that with her; I think that the best way to make sure that no one is ever hurt is to take these introductions slowwwwwwly.  Then we can be prepared when random things happen, like foster cat Patches leaping the baby gate to investigate the room that Maera is in.  You may be wondering why I haven't included a picture of Maera (though she is in the first one, with Argos.)  That is because I was saving this delightful one for you.

For the uninitiated, this is a dog crate.  Inside the dog crate is a ripped up dog bed.  Maera has some anxieties about being crated, as we're starting to find out...  more on that in a different post.

The foster cats Mitchell and Patches are doing great.  No photos of them this time - every time I think of getting a picture of one or both of them, it's night time, and my camera doesn't do the night time lighting in this house very well.  Mitchell seems to be completely over whatever was causing his bladder troubles earlier in the week (big sigh of relief) and is currently crying for his nightly gooshy food.  Which... I am going to go take care of now.

Have a good night, all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not the Best Week

I haven't felt well all week...  in fact, I picked up some crud while I was in Philadelphia three weeks ago, and just haven't been able to kick it.  This is mostly because my life has been non-stop stress ever since I got back, complete with unanticipated air travel and encounters with people with foreign (not Pennsylvania) germs.    It's moved down into my chest, and I'm now constantly coughing and hacking all over the place.  Not too much fun for me.  Not too much fun for anyone who has to listen to me at night.  Or deal with my irritability about the whole mess.

There were some other health issues this week as well, and sadly, this was all on the animals.

Sunday night, Mitchell started hopping into the box every ten minutes and stained to pee, but would usually jump out before he produced even a drop.  This lasted most of the night, with us getting more and more worried about him.  You don't have to tell us how dangerous it is to let a male cat have a urinary blockage, if that's what he has... and it certainly looked like that since there was no urine being produced.  Finally, we couldn't take it anymore, and instead of waiting for the shelter and veterinary clinic to open on Monday, Jeff took him to the emergency animal hospital.  I can deal with the consequences of taking a cat to the emergency vet when we should have waited;  that's probably just a monetary hit,  but I can NOT deal with the consequences of having waited when we should not have.

As it turns out, (hind sight being 20/20, etc) he was NOT blocked.  But they gave him a shot of antibiotics and sent us home with a small bag of painkillers to give him every 8 or so hours to try to lessen the pain and make him more relaxed about peeing.   It seems to have helped him...  he is no longer obsessed about using the box, and when he does, it's productive.  But this took a few days to resolve, and I was constantly worried about him.  He never lost his good attitude though; he was always happy to see us, and talkative and playful.  He never lost his appetite either, and would loudly demand gooshy food every night.

At the same time, Argos developed horrible diarrhea, to the point that he had a huge accident inside of his crate Sunday morning.  This is NOT like him at all, and he was mortified about it, and very upset when we came home and found him.  The diarrhea didn't clear up that day, either... we had to take him outside a few extra times.  When Maera started having diarrhea the next morning, along with vomiting of bile, we decided that we needed to call the vet about the dogs.  Sigh.  But by then Argos was starting to show some teensy signs of improvement, so the vet asked that we just bring Maera in by herself, along with stool samples from each.  (Add this to the list of unpleasant things that we're willing to do for our pets out of love.)

So, the dogs got a special prescription high-fiber food, along with some anti-diarrheal meds.  The meds worked almost right away, and they seem to be in good health again.  After a talk with a kind soul at Steel City Greyhounds, who perhaps sensed I was at my wits end, I felt a little better.  She thought that the dogs had picked up on the stress in our household:  in one month, we introduced a new dog, then I went away for several days, came home for one day, then both Jeff and I were gone for an extended weekend for a funeral and they had to go to a kennel.  They finally get home to find that their mom is grieving and still sick, and it's ungodly hot, and... well, you can imagine.  So, stress is the likely cause, combined with the heat.  NOT that I'm a horrible dog owner and they somehow magically got into something bad for them despite nearly 24 hour supervision.

I thought that maybe we were starting to ease into a kinder, gentler phase for the latter half of the week when Charlotte started coughing last night.  Coughing is a terrible thing in a cat that has congestive heart failure; it can very well be an indication that the medication is not working as efficiently and there is fluid getting into the lungs.  She only had one bout of it, though.  We kept her in the bedroom with us all night long so that we could hear her, because if she DID start to cough some more we would have take her into the emergency vet right away.  Maybe it was a fluke?  Because I was an extremely light sleeper last night and never heard her cough again.  She was sleeping in the window right next to the bed, so I'm sure that I would have heard.

Since she seems to be in reasonable health and temper, with pink gums, no more coughing, and a healthy appetite, we're just observing her for now.  But I did call the critical care specialists at the animal hospital to make an appointment for a check-up on Tuesday.  They'll check her lungs to see if they are indeed still clear, check her blood to make sure that her kidney function is still working, etc.  Basically do a work-up to see if the medication is working like it should.  If not... then the meds may need to be adjusted  (at least, I HOPE it would be a simple solution like that.)  This happened once the first year that she was on the medication, and a simple dosage increase made everything better.

Anyway, keep fingers, paws, toeses crossed for us with Charlotte.  We're going to pamper her as much as we can leading up until her vet appointment, and of course if she starts coughing for real or having difficulty breathing, we will take her in right away.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The World According to Charlotte

I love all of my cats, with a protective devotion that many people feel is a little over-the-top sometimes, but I'm okay with that.   But while I love all of my cats, Charlotte goes beyond that.  I adore her, and think of her as my "heart cat."  I know that I have described her personality on this blog many times:  she is somewhat grumpy, demanding, bossy, sassy, and sometimes downright violent.  But she also is a good snuggler, a loud purrer, a kisser, and a cat that just wants to BE with you.  And she looks at you with those green eyes and you find yourself wondering just how much English she understands.

Living with Charlotte since September 2008  (this is the cat who was only supposed to live for six more months) has taught me many things about life, cats, this house, and myself, some of which I will share with you.

1.  I exist to wait upon Charlotte.  She has somehow worn down my resistance and now gets two small saucers of milk a day.  (Don't yell at me.  I know cats shouldn't have it; that's why I resisted at first.  Then I was thinking, "Well, hell, she's only got six months to a year to live anyway, what harm is a little milk going to cause?"  Now we're a little bit beyond that life expectancy (not that we're getting cocky about it) but it's now part of the ritual.

2.  Bellies, even when exposed, are not for rubbing if you don't like the sight of your own blood.

3.  Sometimes the gruffest exterior hides a marshmallow inside.  

4.  I am for snuggling with during the day.  Jeff is for snuggling with at night.  She rarely ever comes onto my side of the bed.  Jeff thinks that she's ceded that side to me, but refuses to cede his side to him.

5.  Charlotte is queen of the house, though she does freely and without a grudge acknowledge that I am second-in-command.  (See #4.)

6.  The Paw of Doom can terrify an entire household of animals and humans.  (Paw raised above head, in a threatening manner.  It rarely actually has to be deployed.)

7.  One can indeed make a foe back down with the hatred in one's eyes if one focuses enough.

8.  Sometimes it really pays off to take a chance on someone else.  When I met Charlotte at the shelter, she bloodied my hand somewhat badly when I tried to pet her.  (To her credit, there was a hellacious ruckus being made by some dogs in the next room over, and she was freaked OUT.)  I saw a shelter worker come in and widen her eyes at the dripping red.  I was highly concerned at that point  that if I didn't take her after THAT stunt, that Charlotte might have become a candidate for being euthanized, and I decided to take a chance on her.  

9.  There are a variety of noises that a cat can make that don't involve meowing.  Cats can grunt, thrum, and even gronk in a series of noises that are actually quite eloquent.

10.  If you act like you are the queen, others have a way of falling in  line and doing whatever you want them to do.

Charlotte, trying to use hypno eyes on Jeff.
11.  And on a more serious note, that one can pack a lot of living into a life, even with health problems, even with a shortened life span.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Most Dangerous Questions in the World

There are many dangerous questions that one could ask, but I have always thought that the two most dangerous are closely linked.  Because to ask them may well bring revolutionary change.

1.  I wonder how that other guy feels about what is happening to him?

2.  How would I feel if I was that guy, in this situation?

Because of course asking these questions is the beginning of something called empathy, and to feel true empathy for another being, particularly one in trouble, should prompt one into feeling compassion, and then to wanting to do something to help.  True empathy (passion, pathos) and apathy (lack of passion, pathos) cannot exist together:  one will surely choke out and kill the other.

Which explains exactly why we humans have, back to the very dawn of time, been able to look the other way and not help others that are suffering, whether it's other humans or animals.  And it explains why so many people know what happens on factory farms, in animal shelters, in hoarders' houses, in the fighting pits, and yet so many decide to ignore it, pretend that it doesn't exist.  Apathy.  And generations of dogs and cats are born, live miserable, flea-bitten, hungry lives, and die in pain, while we drive to work in our air-conditioned cars, get angry if we have to wait in the grocery store check-out line for longer than five minutes, eat our three squares a day, watch our television programs, and then do it all again the next day.

I know that I've posted on apathy before, and how it prevents so many potential animal rescues and allows so many needless animal deaths.  I guess that I'm worrying at this like a dog after a bone.  I believe that we have, as a species, treated animals cruelly and capriciously, and I believe that we have much to answer for.  I've always viewed the "dominion over the animals" thing as more of a "stewardship of the animals" thing.  And let's face it, we've been some piss-poor stewards.  (Many of my readers being the obvious exceptions.)

I listened to a presentation made by a veterinarian a couple of weeks ago, and he said that present-day society was very concerned about the welfare of animals, much moreso than in the past, but that he thought that he saw some of that starting to slowly erode away.  He wasn't certain of whether it was economic woes or some other factor causing a hardening of the collective heart.   I hope that he is wrong.  I can read many blogs out there in the pet blogosphere, talk to rescue people, and feel like maybe he IS wrong.  That people aren't going to cycle back around to "animals only as commodities and only when convenient" mindset.  But then sometimes, when I talk casually to just random people, I see how many people are astounded at how often I volunteer to help at Steel City Greyhounds.  Or that I'm fostering for the Animal Rescue League.  Or that I have multiple rescue pets.  Or that anyone would even think about wanting one of Michael Vick's dogs.  Or that anyone would actually pay for medical care for their pet.  And it is in those moments that I fear that maybe this veterinarian was right... and it is a chilling thought.

Friends, let's not let that happen.  I know that there are some much bigger players than I out there that are working hard for animal rights, and for ethical treatment of animals, and I applaud them.  But I'm just small potatoes... I don't have a national platform, I don't have lobbying power, I'm not the head of a multi-national corporation.  But what I do, and what anyone can do, is just to talk to people.  Talk to friends, to the "lucky" soul who sits next to you on the bus, the person who is standing in line with you at the grocery store, your family members, your co-workers.  I try not to be obnoxious about it, but I do try to influence people towards making the lives of animals better... whether that's convincing them to adopt, convincing them to spay or neuter a pet, piquing their curiosity about what it is like to foster, or even just being brutally honest when they ask you about euthanasia rates at shelters, or what happens to those racing greyhounds that are too old to run anymore, if no one adopts them.  Or telling them, when they ask, just how some of Michael Vick's dogs died (I've run into many people who just assumed they were "just" being shot in the head and were appalled to the point that they thought I was lying when I told them the truth.)

I think it's a little harder to be apathetic about something when you're faced with the cold, hard truth.  So let's make it harder for people to look the other way.  Maybe it will light a bonfire in their souls.  Maybe a new animal crusader will be born.  (Or maybe co-workers will start avoiding you in the hall, but I guess you can't win them all.)  But you will not have to say that you didn't try to make a difference in your world.

This hopefully not-too-heavyhanded post is brought to you by Annie, who has apparently decided to take over paying the monthly bills.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Things We Do For Love

You know, I've often thought that it's a really good thing that I love my animals.  They certainly are allowed to get away with things that I would never put up with from a human!  Let us count the ways:

1.  A human being who puts his or her snout in my crotch is in serious, serious trouble, but it's just a regular day when one of the dogs does it.

2.  No human being had better have any potty accidents on my dining room floor.  No, not even occasionally.

3.  If a human being literally danced circles around me while I prepared his/her dinner, I would be seriously considering calling the cops.

4.  I wouldn't even be discussing "kitty training" to prevent a human from chasing my cats.

5.  And speaking of cats...  no human is allowed to pin down my arm and drape their body across it as an impromptu body pillow.

6.  No human is allowed to climb onto my back and nap there.

7.  I am NOT scooping a human's poop, so don't even ask.

8.  I am NOT getting up at 5:30 AM to let a human out for potty breaks.

9.  A human had better NOT howl at 5:30 AM, waking me up,  to insist on a potty break.

10.  I would not sit there and guard a human while eating to prevent said human from stealing everyone else's food.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Who Is Maera?

I know those that read my blog regularly or semi-regularly already know that we just adopted a second greyhound.  And you've probably read about some of her personality so far.   I am completely in awe sometimes at how very different she is from Argos!  Not that I expected an Argos clone, but I have to admit I expected a few more personality similarities - even after all of the greyhounds that I've met and blogged about through our adoption program, and seeing all of THEIR different personalities, I was taken a bit by surprise.

Case in point, the above picture was taken of Maera during a really violent thunderstorm.  Argos was hiding in the stairwell, shaking and drooling and panting, like he does.  Maera took advantage of it by claiming his spot on the couch and...  making this face.  Whatever that is supposed to be, haha.  It makes me smile every time I see it.

She is also something of a watch dog, which startled me to be certain.  I have known greyhounds that barked, and have read many of your blogs about greyhounds that bark, but Argos is so silent most of the time, I guess I never expected it!  But she will faithfully bark at anyone who comes to the door, the guys we hired to trim our trees, or the neighbor's dog (but only when she can do it from the safety of the house; she's a little bit scared of the big mean scary Golden Doodle when they're both outside at the same time.)  I wasn't sure of what I thought of this in the beginning, but you know?  Actually, I think I like having a dog that will bark at strangers coming up to the house.   Maybe it will help deter a break-in if the would be robber hears a large dog barking.  HE doesn't have to know that she wouldn't bite him.  At the very least, she won't let anyone sneak up on me.

Maera loves our attention, and soaks it up like a little sponge when we give it to her.  She is very tuned in to my emotions as well, and if she senses that I'm sad, she'll come over to me and give me kisses and put her head on my chest.  If she senses that I'm amused, particularly if I'm amused at her, her tail WAGS, and she grins proudly at me, and then starts showing off, flipping her toys up in the air, or whirling around like a dervish on speed.

She loves squeaky toys even more than Argos does, and will run over to the toy chest (usually after I've picked up all of the scattered toys and put them away) and drag every single one of them back out.  She definitely has her favorites.  Right now one is an orange hedgehog, and the other is a long purple weiner dog.  She carries them with her everywhere she goes, kind of like a security blanket.  I swear she's going to try to take one with us on one of our walks.  One of these days.  When it isn't so swelteringly hot that we start taking walks again.

Unlike Argos, she is not afraid of the laminate kitchen floor, and regularly goes back there on food-hunting expeditions *sigh.*  She hasn't tried to counter-surf yet, but I've seen her trying to see over the edges a few times.  I suspect the only reason it hasn't turned into full-fledged surfing yet is because we are always around to ruin her fun and make her join us in the living room.

Which brings me to her limitless curiosity.  She LOVES exploring the house, and everything in it.  What this means is that nothing is safe from her...  it's like having a bright-eyed, precocious toddler around... unless she's sleeping or playing with a squeaky toy, she's getting into something.   Even with Jeff having worked from home every day since we got her, we are not ready to leave her on her own in the living room unsupervised for an entire workday.  He has to physically go back to work tomorrow, so as much as I don't like crating large dogs all day, I think we're going to have to, for her own safety.  I have images in my head of coming home to chewed television cables, books pulled off of the shelves, houseplants knocked over and nibbled upon.  I'm sure that we'll get her to that point eventually, but I'm big enough to admit that we're not quite there yet.

We're still keeping her completely away from the cats.  She includes them in her curiosity about everything in the house.  Even if I don't think it's a big prey-drive thing, until we can teach her to treat the cats with respect, we have to keep her separate so that no one gets hurt. Once life settles down again (now, please?)  I'm going to start working with her on that...  in the room with the cats, on a leash.  We'll use the same technique that we used with Argos when we first got him:  as soon as she shows more interest than is warranted, we pop the leash to get her attention and tell her, "No Kitty."  I think it's going to take a little longer than it did with Argos... she's not stupid by any definition, but she in her excitement often forgets lessons that we've taught her.

So that's where we are with Maera...  there is never a dull moment!  She is absolutely adorable and adorING.  She is definitely going to be our trouble-maker though!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back at Home

After an emotional weekend with my family, attending my grandmother's funeral and visiting, I am back in the 'burgh.  The animals are all very relieved and happy to see me, so much so that I haven't even received the "silent treatment" that so many of us often receive after a few days away from home.

I didn't even come straight home from the airport - I went right out to the pet resort to pick up the dogs...  the only really plausible solution for them this weekend, since my husband was already out of town as well.  When the kennel assistant brought them out to me, it looked like she was water-skiing behind them, because as soon as they saw me standing at the desk, they started running for me, not caring that they were towing some hapless human behind them!

And the cats all came out of their daytime sleeping/napping/hiding places to see me.  Charlotte even napped with me on the bed for awhile.  Yes, she's giving me her "stern look."  Though she was purring, I'm fairly certain she was warning me NOT TO DO THAT TO HER AGAIN.  I mean, goodness, I left her alone with all of these cats.

Anyway, there will be more blog posts this week, but this one is going to be short and sweet.