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.

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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.