Category Archives: Pets

Real or imagined

Panorama of paradise: Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge

Panorama: n a complete or unobstructed view of a wide area

Paradise: n. a place or state of bliss, felicity or delight

Eat your heart out. This is where I was on Saturday:

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

The Dog Mountain trail is one of the very most beloved in all the Gorge – particularly when the wildflowers are at their peak, which was this week.

Everybody and their brother (and some of their dogs and kids too) were on the mountain, but rather than seeming crowded, it was like a jolly meetup. Everyone greeting each other, encouraging each other, sympathizing with each other.  The encouragement and sympathy gush forth because it’s a dog of a hike.  Pretty much unrelentingly UP – like 3000′ in 3 miles.

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Most people use hiking poles (land version of ski poles) to take some of the burden off the thighs and knees, and on the way down to brace you lest you slip on little rocks.

Any excuse to stop is a good excuse. Water, photograph, shoelace adjustment…

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

It was a glorious sunny day and you could see way down the river both east and west. At the top you could also see Mt. Hood poking up behind the Oregon palisades, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier off the back sides of the mountain.

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

We got to the top around noon, and joined a happy throng having lunch and savoring the opportunity to sit. Problem was… how to get up again.

About half way down my legs got so shaky I was afraid they’d just give way, so I stopped often to admire the flowers:

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Truly the Gorge is one of the most awesome places in the world, and this hike on this lovely day was something I’ll never forget. My quadriceps won’t either.

Patty-cake (with cats)

Patty-cake: n. a traditional American rhyming-clapping game an adult plays with a baby, to the usual delight or both.

Here’s a hilarious new twist on Patty-cake. Two cats play, voiced-over.

Presidential Pooch is Portuguese! (water dog)

Presidential: adj. of or relating to the President

Pooch: n. affectionate slang for dog

Portuguese: adj. from the country of Portugal

Today’s biggest news story (apart from the rescue of the captain from the Somali pirates…)

The Obama family got its dog – a Portuguese Water Dog they’ve named “Bo,” after Bo Diddley. Rumor has it that the president is already calling him “Diddley.”

One wag suggested calling him “Bark Obama”…

Prtuguese Water Dog puppy - cute or what???

Portuguese Water Dog puppy - cute or what???

Bo is six months old and comes from the same kennel that supplies Teddy Kennedy with pooches – in fact he’s a gift from Teddy.

I’m a poodle person myself, but I can certainly see the charm in this dog.  Poodles, however, have shaved faces and feet, which cut way down on tracked in mud and food-caked mustaches.

Fun times!

The pitfall of pets: painful pratfalls

Pitfall: n. a hidden or not easily recognized danger or difficulty

Pets: n. animals kept in captivity by their “owners” for companionship

Painful: adj. uncomfortable, agonizing

Pratfall: n. an awkward blunder or mishap, a fall on the buttocks

Our beloved pets may lower our blood pressure but a new report indicates that they also can bring us a world of hurt:

Dogs and cats cause more than 86,000 falls requiring emergency room care each year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may be among the first of its kind. That translates into about 240 people who are treated for injuries caused by pets every single day in the United States, the study found.

Cats are involved in some of the falls, but dogs — man’s best friend — are the real culprits, responsible for seven times as many injuries as cats, often while they’re being walked, the report found.

And though more pet-related falls occurred among children and adults in mid-life, elderly people were most likely to break a bone, which can have serious long-term consequences, said Dr. Judy Stevens, the C.D.C. epidemiologist who wrote the report. Women were at more than double the risk for injuries than men.

I certainly can speak to this! I’ve only been to the emergency room once in my life and it was when I tripped over my black standard poodle in the dark and split my lip bigtime on a concrete pillar. Lots of blood, many stitches. No lost teeth, thank god, but I still have the scar.

A few months ago I was walking the same dog and she suddenly cut in front of me (a squirrel!!). I tripped over her leash and slammed into the pavement hitting my chin, hands, elbows, hipbones and knees simultaneously. No hospital trip, but I was crippled for a week and over the next couple of months I became a profit center for my chiropractor.

My sister also has a black standard poodle (it’s a family thing). Last spring she fell over her on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, resulting in her first emergency room visit ever – and a broken collar bone.

Because they seem so silly and mundane, these accidents were never studied until now. And on reflection, it seems so obvious that pets can be hazards… how many times have you heard yourself describe your cat or dog as “always being under foot”?

To make the math easy, let’s assume that each ER visit costs an average of $1,000. That’s $86,000,000 right there. Then we add on followup visits, chiropractor visits, lost work time and we’re talking real money.

Pets need to come with a warning label and glow-in-the-dark jackets.

Paper and pooties don’t mix

Paper: n. a felted sheet of (usually) vegetable fibers laid down on a fine screen from a water suspension

Pootie: n. slang name for cute pets, cats especially

In this case, the paper is of the soft fluffy variety used to wipe your butt, or when tissue is unavailable, a runny nose.

There’s a lot to say about toilet paper – and recently the New York Times did a long article about how environmentally UNfriendly the toilet paper most Americans use is – and to suggest that recycled toilet paper is the way to go.

But I’m speaking only peripherally about sustainability – the sustainability of using soft fluffy rolls of paper in my house at all.

It’s about my cat, Bama.

First he discovered paper towels and chewed his way through a couple of rolls before I hid it in the kitchen cupboard and put out extra cloth towels. Thwarted, he moved into the bathroom.

I was almost asleep a few nights ago when I heard a strange sound coming from the direction of the bathroom, which I can’t begin to describe, but since I knew I was the only one at home it was very alarming.

This is what I saw when I opened the door:

"Oh, hi!"

"Oh, hi!"

"Excuse me, I've got an itch... are you upset or something?"

"Excuse me, I've got an itch... are you upset or something?"

I left the room to replace my camera battery and caught this…

“Not quite as exciting as a mousie, but I’ll pretend…” "Not quite as exciting as a mousie, but I'll pretend..."
"My precious..."

"My precious..."

There are all sorts of videos on YouTube of this phenomenon (search for “cats and toilet paper”) but the one I’d like to direct Bama’s attention to is this one, where the cat has learned to poop in the toilet first. Having just changed yet another stinky litterbox I’m all for toilet training. All I need is time and PATIENCE…

Paws to play: the life of a young cat

Paws: n. the feet of a quadruped that has claws (dogs, cats, lions, bears, etc.)

Pause: n. temporary inaction or stop

Play: v. to engage in recreation or sport

This really isn’t a blog about pets, but last night was all about pets.

First the dog threw up. Loudly. I woke up – cleaned up the rug (god knows what she got into…). Back to bed. Lay there waiting for it to happen again.

It didn’t. Eventually I got back to sleep.

Then the cat decided it was time to play.  Although he’s almost ten months old and very active, he just discovered that he could pretend his tail was a foreign object – a mouse, perhaps. And he practiced catching it – on my bed, with me in it trying to stay asleep.

Next he used his prehensile paws to root about on every table and shelf in my bedroom, seeking something he could pick up or push onto the floor. Papers, pencils, books, my glasses, my watch, a bracelet, a stapler – one by one these things clunked, crashed or fluttered to the floor, with the cat after them.

Lightweight objects are always worth several bats around the room; heavier stuff he just stares at before jumping back up to find something more interesting.

Meanwhile sleeping had become nearly impossible. BUT, in that awful nighttime nether world I was also too out of it to get up and throw him out of the room.  Besides, I knew he could make an even bigger mess with the stuff on the kitchen counter.

image111

A seed packet?? !

image114

And what would happen if I just pushed it a little farther??

I wish I had as light-hearted and dispassionate view of the world as he does – that I could pause to play.

Painting pooties, or pooties painting?

Paint: v. to apply a pigment liquid to a surface; to decorate or adorn a surface with color and/or lines

Pooties: n. they’re still cute cats.

My blog friend Splodge responded to my poodle coiffure post with several pictures of cats, painted in all sorts of fabulous ways – like this:

tuxedo-cats

cat-flag

cat-butt

Hands-down, my favorite is the retreating cat/clown. Particularly the bow-tie, which says it all.

The first question that comes to mind is how in hell did anyone get a cat to sit still enough to paint every hair so carefully? And as commentator Splodge noted, the cat would produce a helluva colorful hairball.

The painted cats reminded me of the wonderfully fanciful bestseller of a few years ago, called Why Cats Paint by Burton Silver and Heather Busch – written in the style of art conoisseurs:
why-cats-paint

Turns out, since Busch and Silver were on a money-making roll, with tongues firmly planted in cheek, they decided to take their photography and photo-shopping skills even further, and produced a book call Why Paint Cats.

Both books are so well done you can’t quite tell if they’re putting you on.

Update: Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Susan, it appears Busch and Silver have now created an online presence with the Museum of Non-Primate Art, which goes beyond cat art to include Bird Art, with scientific descriptions of the various shapes taken by bird poop as it lands, and an upcoming exhibit called “Hanks & Coils.The Shaping and Placement of Canine Defecatory Structures.”

Which circles us back to another fine P-word: POOP.

Poodle pix: coiffure as costume

A friend sent me the link to a series of photos from a gal who does “creative grooming.”

My poor Molly was overcome with jealousy when she saw these because her hair is black – a poor canvass for such artistry. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a chicken:

poodlechicken1

or a peacock:

poodlepeacock

(This is the cut, sans feathers… see the whole deal at the link)

And how about Ninja Turtle poodle:

leonardoodle

Pootie pix: better than politics!

Pootie: n. an adorable animal, most often a cat or kitten, but sometimes a cute dog.

Pix: n: abbreviation for pictures

My son tells me I shouldn’t have taken on a new kitty – adopting on the rebound, so to speak – so soon after Fritz’s death a couple of weeks ago. But Fritz was always more his cat than mine, and most of the time Fritz was nobody’s cat at all. He allowed you to be his best buddy only at night, and only on his own terms.

So last Thursday I swung by the Humane Society, ostensibly to see if they’d like the remainder of my bag of Expensive Mature Cat Food. And, heheh, just to take a peek at what they had in stock.

I confess here to being a sucker for sleek slender black cats. My first cat was an SSBC. My daughter’s cat was an SSBC. They both were part Siamese. I’ve been a sucker for Siamese cats since Twerple, the BEST CAT EVER. For 17 years she blessed us with her dog-like trainability, loyalty, patience, and character. She even let my pre-schoolers dress her in doll clothes and wheel her in a baby carriage.  I don’t know what the breeders have done to the Siamese cat in recent years – turning them into sinister rabbit-eared collie-nosed anorexics.

Anyway, the Humane Society refused my bag of Expensive Food (it had been opened), but they did just so happen to have THREE CAGES of black kitties. Evidently folks around here are so superstitious that black cats are hard to place.

All the kitties were eager to go home with me, and reached out with their paws in hopes of snagging my undivided attention and my heart.

I chose the sleekest most elegant of them all, a small male with a calm friendly demeanor. Because he just turned 6 months old, he was “on sale” – $30 off, and because it was Thursday (?), he was $35 more off. So he cost $26.50 which included neutering, micro-chipping, his first shots, and a license. Such a deal!

He has been home with us since Friday noon and has already made total peace with my standard poodle Molly, explored the house from top to bottom, allowed my son to give him a bath and cut his nails without any fuss, turned over several wastebaskets seeking playthings, fallen in the toilet, and generally won us over. He’s a happy lap cat.

And what is his name??? Gobama!   “Bama” for short.

I still haven’t gotten a decent picture of him but I found one online that looks very much like him, though of course he’s more beautiful…  And of course his collar is blue, not red.


Putting down a pet: Fritz 1991-2008 RIP

“Put down”: a euphemism for euthanize, “mercy” kill.

Pet: an animal kept for amusement or companionship; one who’s especially loved or cherished.

Fritz, our elegant tuxedo cat, came to us from a local organization of cat lovers who foster feral animals until homes are found for them.  He was six weeks old, beautiful and skittish.

At the time, our youngest son, Wylie, was 9 and effectively an only child because his brother and sister were off at college.  He was the one who domesticated Fritz, and for a long time was the only one Fritz would allow to pick him up.

Wylie not only could pick him up, but as the cat reached full size he wore him draped around his neck like a mink, used him as a fifteen pound free-weight for overhead lifts, and spun him on the oak floor like in spin-the-bottle. Fritz loved it.

Here he is last winter on Wylie’s head. Can’t find any mink pix right now.

He had some quirks. He drank by scooping the water out of his dish and licking it from his paw. I quickly learned I couldn’t leave fresh flowers arranged in a low bowl because he’d knock the flowers out as he pawed out the water. And of course he left splattered water everywhere. He also scooped his food out of his bowl onto the floor. You could say he was something of a slob.

When we lived out in the country Fritz exercised his hunting skills on a daily basis. As B. Kliban wrote:

Love to eat them mousies,
Mousies what I love to eat.
Bite they little heads off.
Nibble on they tiny feet.”

But he was a picky hunter. When he caught a vole, instead of eating it, he would deliver it to us intact (dead).  One afternoon he must have found a whole vole family because he brought us three of them. Wylie, in an act of macabre whimsy, arranged them on his dad’s computer – one peering over the top of the monitor, one looking up at it, and one on the keyboard – with a sign: “Fritz’s Action Figures.”

When Wylie went off to college, my ex and I separated, I bought a house closer to town and brought Fritz with me.  Gradually we became good friends – at least at night. During the day he pretended he didn’t know me, unless he was hungry, wanted to go out, or felt like talking.  He was an excellent conversationalist, with a full vocabulary of different sounds, which we traded back and forth. When you live alone, it’s much more seemly to talk to a cat than to yourself (though I confess to doing both).

At night though, he transformed into Loverboy. His favorite place to sleep was on my face or curled up in the crook of my neck. Sweet as this was, it usually triggered my asthma so I’d have to move him over to his side of the bed.

My doctor always rolled his eyes when I told him I was still wheezy. “Are you going to shut your bedroom door so the cat can’t come in?” he’d ask. He knew it was a silly question – you don’t kick a family member out of your bed!

Ten days ago, Wylie moved back home to regroup financially after an expensive three years trying to break into the film industry in LA.  Fritz was so happy to have him back. But he clearly was slowing down. In fact a couple of days ago he stopped eating and his conversations were more like complaints. He didn’t want to walk more than a few feet. When Wylie put him in the cat carrier (normally a two-person job) to take him to the emergency vet he just lay there.

A 17-year-old cat is a very old cat. The vet said he was cold and so dehydrated it would take a couple of days in hospital on IV fluids and heat just to bring him up to normal – and then we’d still have to deal with whatever was wrong. $1500 for starters.

We conferred and decided that it was time to say goodby to Fritz.  We were ushered into the “Comfort Room” – complete with chintz sofa, flowers, soothing black and white photos of misty landscapes on the wall.  Fritz snuggled between us on the sofa, unfazed, unpurring, seemingly peaceful with whatever lay ahead while Wylie and I wept and stroked him.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in and gave him the injection – and Fritz left.

Even though it was midnight by the time we got home, we buried him in the yard by his favorite sunning spot.

Dear sweet Fritz.  Rest in peace.