Posts Tagged ‘pets’

I’ve been doing a bad thing and instead of working on projects that I need to get done for Christmas, I’ve been searching the net. Why? Well, one reason is that I’m curious and have to see what’s going on in the world and the other is that how can I be sure that this is the sock pattern that is finally going to pull a non-knitter over to the dark side if I don’t look at every freaking pattern on the net. Lets just say that I have a passion with matching the right present to the right person instead of throwing the “anal” word around, mmmkay? I do the same with a pattern and yarn. I will knit the thing three or four times before I’m happy with the fabric I’m getting. Not the whole thing, of course, just half the back or maybe half a front or sleeve. I’ve mentioned before my total avoidance of swatching but I have to admit it would save me time. If only I could trust them.

So while I was searching for the perfect sweater pattern I found a load of other stuff that I thought I could share, and I also have a few tips for some inexpensive presents that you can still make in time for the holidays. So here we go:

1) If you have someone who has a pet, be it a dog or cat or rabbit or hamster, I would recommend looking into getting Pet Projects – The Animal Knits Bible by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne. In this book you will find things like a knit curtain for the front of your rabbit, guinea pig or other small animal cage. This is a nice gift as it is fairly easy to make, the sample in the book has a carrot motif but I made it much larger for our dogs crate. I found a chart for a pattern of bones and knit that instead of the carrots. Turned out great. It’s a great way to give your small pet some privacy especially at night.

I’ve also made the puppy papoose for a friend who has a Chihuahua. Both she and the dog love it because it is knit from wool it keeps the dog cozy and warm. Her husband made a frame for it so that it hangs it like a hammock and the dog sleeps in it all the time. Very cute. And I’ve made a couple of the knitted animals at the back of the book as toys for my cats and the neighbours dog.

The patterns are easy to follow, the charts in the back are in colour and the things I made turned out really well and the animals they were intended for loved them. Besides, any book that includes a blanket for our equine friends is a keeper for me.

2) Another useful book(let) to have, especially if you have children to knit for, is The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard. I’ve made everything in this book and my kids loved them. The only one I had problems with was the pattern for the horse/donkey. I could not get that one to look like the pictures no matter how hard I tried. Everything else turned out exactly the way they look in the book. My girls especially liked the kitten, the chickens and the ducks. I also put a very small piece of velcro on the backs of the vegetables so they could pretend to plant the garden and have the vegetables “grow”. And because she uses pipe-cleaners as a stiffener for the people and some of the animals they are safe for all but the youngest children. My kids played with this for years and I think I still have some of the pieces around here. I know we definitely still have the chickens because I found some on my youngest daughters bookcase recently.

3) Any of the Jean Greenhowe’s books are a real life-saver if you need a small gift for a child. My kids loved the dinosaurs, the sheep, the food, and the topsy-turvy doll. She has some amazing books out there but a lot are hard to come by and expensive so if you find one, treasure it especially if you come across any of her folk costume books.

4) For the dog lover/owner any of the Patons dog sweater books, Dog’s Life or Another Dog’s Life are worth picking up. I’ve knit countless sweaters from these books for various dogs and all have fit well and been well received by both owner and dog alike. Don’t raise your eyebrows at the cost of them on Amazon because you can get them elsewhere cheaper.

5) I love Garn Studio (Drops) household patterns. I’ve made a few things from them and they have been well received and much used. One person asked me to knit her a few more facecloths to replace the ones I had given her because she had worn them out. I think I might make her these for her birthday next year.

Drops has so many lovely accessories for the home – blankets, baby things, crochet flowers and rugs, Christmas decorations – that you could choose anything from their selection and probably have a hit. I also love their clothing patterns and if you are looking for some cozy slippers or socks to make for someone you know who has cold feet, they have some lovely ones and I can say from experience their felted ones are like little furnaces for your tootsies. And they look good, too. Bonus!

6) If you have someone who will not make Santa’s nice list you could always stuff Grumpy in their stocking. I think this pattern is so stinkingly cute that I wanted to make a couple of dozen of them to put in the coal-scuttle I have on the hearth. I was talked out of this idea when someone pointed out to me that we have two cats. Two cats and a pail of knitted things. Yeah. Nothing wrong with that picture. But he’s still darn cute!

7) Then there’s the Christmas pickle. I really don’t know what to say about it except that I have never heard of the Christmas pickle.

8) If you are looking for something to put on a table or mantlepiece these are a cute idea. I love the look of them and the floppy hat just makes these little gnomes look that much cuter! If I have the time I might whip these up for my mantle. I think next year I could make them a lot bigger and put them in the front hall. Hmmmm….

9) If you are looking for something silly to give someone you could try a nightcap. I know exactly what my husband would say to me if I gave him that as a gift but I’m sure there are people out there who know someone with a sense of humour who would find a nightcap a charming gift. I think it’s quaint and I have to admit that I find it somewhat endearing to see a man running around in a nightshirt and cap. Maybe there is some kind of ancient gene memory floating around my subconscious but I think it’s adorably old-fashioned. I’m sure Alex Langlands or Peter Ginn from the Victorian Farm would wear it.

10) A mitten garland is a cute idea for an Advent Calendar but maybe for next year as we are already four days in and then the time it takes to knit all those mittens. Still it’s a wonderful idea for anyone with children who doesn’t want to buy one of those awful cardboard calendars with that itty-bitty piece of old chocolate behind each “door”. I have to admit that I wonder how fresh that chocolate is and besides it really isn’t as good as say…Lindt.

11) You could always knit up some Christmas balls for your tree. These ones are really nice and if you did them in red and white or gold and white would be very festive. I especially like the third one with the silver snowflakes circling the middle. A friend of mine has gone on a knitting binge and decided that next year she is going to hang 50 of these things on her tree. Yes, she is as crazy as me. Maybe a touch worse.

12) And in case you need some ideas for projects here are 23. I love the chairs and I don’t think it would be that hard to figure out. I have a couch that is desperately in need of a new cover and my dining room chairs could use a redo and I don’t think it would be that difficult…there I go again planning projects that probably will never get done. Oh how I wish there were two of me…then again maybe not…I mean, can you imagine? *shudder*

13) To charm the kids or grandkids you could knit some fairy mice decorations for the tree. Or these little knitted stockings that you could put a small candy cane treat in. Or these bonny little felted mice. Or anything from Frankie Browns Ravelry page. Her Pocket Teddy or the Daisy Chain kit are so enchanting I just want to pinch their little cheeks. Now that’s adorable because anyone who knows me knows I don’t go in for all that cutesy-cutesy nonsense.

So there you have it, my friends, thirteen alternative gifts to make for the people in your life. The books come in handy all the time when you need something quick and different. I like all these things because they don’t take much time to knit and you can probably find something in your stash to use so they are very economical. And since my mantra this Christmas is “Why buy when you can make”, these ideas are just right up my alley. I plan on making a few more posts about how to economize this season so stay tuned. Not all of the ideas will be knitting. Ooooo, I can feel the suspense even now.


First I’d like to give a big THANKS to those of you who have taken the time to read this here blog. When I started it as part of NoBloPoMo I had no illusions of actually writing a post every day but totally did not expect anyone to read one word of it. So the fact that some of you have and a number of you have decided to follow me well…*sob*…that just blows my mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have kept me going.

Then I would like to say that I totally exceeded my expectations. As I said I so didn’t think I would be able to write a post a day for a month, and lets face it some of them were close calls and some were a little late, so the fact I did it is quite an accomplishment. I didn’t think I would have that much to say. Some people I know would be surprised I would say that considering they think I never shut up. So lets keep going and see where we end up, shall we?

I have two cats, Taang! and Eric. I had three but Mac passed away almost eight months ago. Still miss him. One thing I miss about him is that I could put sweaters on him and he didn’t mind. I thought I had a picture of him in one but I think it’s still on my phone. His brothers tend to get a bit testy if you try to put anything on them that’s not a blanket. Even then they can be a bit peculiar about that. They aren’t very open-minded those two. So even though I love the thought of knitting them sweaters like this. Trying to get it on them would result in wool carnage that would make even the staunchest knitter cry. Nevermind the blood.

I started to wonder about putting a sweater on a cat. Isn’t that a bit redundant? They have a nice furry coat and if it’s an outdoor cat the fur can be quite thick. But what if it’s an indoor/outdoor cat, does the fur still grow as thickly and then wouldn’t a sweater be advisable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like seeing cats outdoors and the number of feral cats in our neighbourhood alone is deplorable but realistically we are never going to get 100% of the people to keep their cats indoors so wouldn’t it be nice to at least keep them warm? But then that brings up a question of safety and would the cat be safe running around with a sweater on or would it get snagged on something. So not sure how practical it is to put a sweater on an indoor/outdoor cat.

All this got me thinking what other kind of attire is out there for our furry feline friends. And I found a whole host of fun things to dress your cat in. Hey, if dogs can get a little black dress, cats can have a fun beret, or a Santa hat. I may actually have to knit that. And these cats have to be the most patient I’ve ever seen. Mine would have shredded the hat before you could even click the shutter. But that Santa hat is so cute it would be worth the risk, I think. And just think of the cuteness if I knitted one for Taang! and Eric and Pete the dog. That would make a great Christmas card if I did that kind of thing. Which I don’t. But it would be cute anyway.

I do love this little vest and think it would be the ideal thing to give to someone who has one of the shorter haired breeds, like Siamese or the Sphynx or something like that. I would so knit it if I had less hairy cats but my boys have thick fur already. I also love this little knitted sweater and the cat that’s wearing it is kind of cute too. I’m starting to think I would like a kitten so that I could dress it up in that sweater. And to think that just yesterday I was thinking I didn’t want any more after these two go. Yeah, right. And I’m not going to buy any more yarn until I’ve used up all of my stash.

Ravelry is always a great place to find odd patterns. And I like this because it is adaptable for many different animals it seems. We have a bunny and she would probably appreciate a sweater. We try to reduce our expenses by keeping the house a little on the cool side and I think the bunny would rather we didn’t. A sweater might be just what she needs. She would look really cute in that. The thing I really like about this is the long legs and back. Taang! has arthritis in his hips so having something that covers them and keeps them warm is something that would be very practical for him. Definitely something to think about. That is after all the other stuff is done. By then he won’t need it because it will be August but then I can knit it for next winter.

I suppose if I started knitting clothes for my cats people would put me in a whole new category of “crazy cat lady”.
It’s funny how many patterns there are for dog clothes – tuxedos, dresses, sweaters, costumes, hats – you name it and there’s a pattern for it but for cats there really isn’t much choice. There are lots of blanket patterns and bed patterns which are really good, and I think it’s illegal to have a cat and not have a nice, soft bed for it, but not much in the way of apparel. I wonder if it’s because we have such a different view of cats that we think they are cute enough on their own without suiting them up. I would like to think that. My guys are.

And just in case you are wondering about the title of this post, you need to watch this.

And just because I was so proud of myself for being able to do a post a day, things conspired to make this post really late. Still I did thirty posts which is about twenty-nine more than I expected to make so that’s something.

Day 21 – Cop-out

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I’m really sorry but today I just don’t feel at all like posting but like a well-trained type-A personality I cannot in good conscience not post at all. I made the committment to NaBloPoMo to post everyday for a month and so not posting is not an option. And to be honest I’m not a type-A personality but I still made a committment and wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t live up to it.

But here’s the deal. My husband is out of work, we have enough money in the bank to last us a couple of months if we are careful, they cut back my hours where I work, I’m out looking for something to cover the difference, and then today Taang! ended up in the hospital. Taang! is one of our cats, by the way. So my stress level is extremely high right now. Oh, yeah, I only got 3 hours sleep last night, roughly, and two nights ago I got 4 both times due to Taang!

Taang! has chronic constipation but for the most part, and lots of water and Metamucil, it’s been under control. Then this past week he started having trouble going to the kitty litter. So we got a stool softener and it seemed to help. Then a couple of nights ago he seemed a little stopped up but he was still eating and acting like Taang! Then last night things got worse and this morning it was off to the vets. So now he’s on IV fluids while they give him enemas. He’s not blocked but just a little backed up. So now I’m facing a vet bill that is likely to be pretty hefty. And today the bills started to arrive. Hopefully he will be home tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Looking for a job right before Christmas sucks big time. Most seasonal jobs have already been filled and no one wants to think about the messy business of hiring staff while thinking about Christmas shopping or the parties that they will soon be attending or holding. Nevermind that all I’m looking for is the same kind of job about 1,000 other people are looking for, and most of those are much, much younger than me. Age is not supposed to count but it does. So both my husband and I are at a disadvantage on that count. But I’m sure something will come up and we will be ok. I’m a hopeless optimist even in the face of diversity.

But today the lack of sleep and the worry over a cat have got me down and I really don’t feel like trying to piece words together to make a cohesive sentence. I really just feel like wrapping myself in a blanket, sitting in a corner and rocking back and forth. It’s times like these when you need your mother to rub your back or head and tell you everything will be alright. But my mother passed over 30 yrs. ago. and having someone else do it just isn’t quite the same.

So I’m going sit here with a cup of hot tea, wrapped in a towel and watch YouTube videos. Speaking of which, have you seen these two by Christopher Walken? If you are a knitter you should like them.

“Clearly you have no understanding of dogs.” This is what I said to my youngest daughter a few minutes ago. The reason? Well, our dog Pete is a foodaholic and as said daughter was making a salad and said dog loves lettuce, he did his usual thing and sat three inches away from her hoping, praying, that something would find its way off the counter and into his mouth. And as said daughter is not completely heartless, she caved and gave him a bit of romaine. And, of course, said dog, after eating his lettuce, only drooled all the more and only looked more expectantly between the counter and the floor. Daughter looked at him and said, “Just because I gave you one piece doesn’t mean you can expect more.” So clearly she does not understand dogs.

Pete is a good dog. He’s part Rottweiler and part Shar-Pei and at any given time we have no idea which part is going to show up at the door. Sometimes the Rottie greets us with waggy tail and a head butt pushing us in the direction of the kitchen. This usually means he wants his dinner but it could also mean he wants your dinner or the cats dinner or that there may be something that may have looked like food at one time somewhere in the kitchen and he wants it. When the Shar-Pei wants out we can be sure that taking him for his daily walks is going to be a challenge. If he doesn’t get his way he will stubbornly mope along, dragging his heels and making the walk more of a tedious examination of every blade of grass, every tree trunk, and every bush in the park. Then there is the eating of the grass…

Pete has a problem. He eats grass. He eats everything really and one time he ate a toothpick which ended up with a tense couple of days until he passed it. Don’t even ask us how we knew when it was out…but, yes, Pete is a grass eater and he can be seen walking in the park with a plant or two hanging out of his mouth at any given time. It can be funny but it can also be a bit scary. The last time he was at the park my daughter thought he had eaten some Wild Parsley, better known as Hogweed. This meant a frenzied search on the internet and a call to the vet because that stuff is poisonous and it can kill a dog very swiftly. Fortunately, nothing bad happened but it does mean we have to be very careful about what that dog is putting in his mouth.

Because of Pete’s, shall I say, dietary open-mindedness we have a section of the freezer filled with pumpkin and stocks in a company that sells a digestive aid. The pumpkin is for the inevitable stomach and digestive upsets and the aid is for the noxious fumes that emanate from the posterior region of the dog. Sometimes, when there is a hostage situation, I really believe that sending in a gassy dog would be the quickest way to resolve it. But you never see the guys on Criminal Minds or NCIS suggesting it.

When we first adopted Pete he was a little rough around the edges. He would routinely butt his head under your arm when you opened the refrigerator, hoping to snatch something before you missed it. I watched him one day pull a loaf of bread out ever so gently, using just his front teeth. He would also try to swipe whatever vegetables were within reach and if you weren’t fast enough you would find yourself chasing a dog with a tomato hanging out of his mouth. And there was the time he took a whole bag of tomatoes off the table and managed to bite everyone one of them before we knew what he had done. He also took a sack of oranges but he only managed to gore two of them before we grabbed the bag. Life in the early days with Pete was always a question of what he would try to eat next.

He has calmed down a lot since those early days, he knows better than to try to swipe food out of the refrigerator. He will still eat whatever he can sink his little teeth into if we aren’t looking. Like the time we thought we could leave him alone in the house while we went to buy a new fridge. Let’s just say that I hope the birdseed tasted better going in than it looked coming out. It lasted for days. Kind of like confetti after a wedding when you think you’ve finally vacuumed up the last of it and you look in the corner and there’s a few little dots staring back at you. Needless to say we never leave him uncrated now. He does like his crate and will go into it on his own when he wants some alone time so no need to worry that he is being abused. And he doesn’t get left in it for hours nor do we do this very often but it is very reassuring to know that he isn’t going to hurt himself while we are out.

Pete is generally a quiet, good-natured dog. He gets along well with just about everyone and most dogs. There have been a couple of instances where he got a little growly but it was only with two dogs of the same breed – Yellow Lab. He’s fine with the black coloured Labs and he’s also fine with a little girl Yellow Lab on the other side of our circle, it’s just these two particular dogs he doesn’t like. Don’t know why, they are nice and friendly, they come up wagging their tails like any of the other dogs we meet and Pete is good with them for all of two minutes. After that he gets a bit growly. The owners of these two dogs are very understanding and I’m sure Pete would never attack another dog, he’s just not that aggressive but we cross the street when we see them now.

Pete does love small dogs, however. He loves small people, too. I can remember not long after getting him, running into a neighbour whose son had just learned to walk. He came toddling over to Pete and clung onto his side, griping his fur as only a little kid can do, in other words, in a death grip. Pete stood there stalk still and waited for the little boy to let go, he then wagged his tail and sat down. He let that little boy use him as a toy for about five minutes and then we continued on our way. I have also seen Pete hold himself rigid while an elderly lady used him to regain her balance when she accidentally stumbled and put her hand on his back to steady herself. I have seen Pete be totally calm when in the presence of wheelchairs, and children with mental disabilities. He is also very gentle around the elderly and will sit quietly by their side allowing them to pat him as long as they wished. He would make a wonderful therapy dog if he could be trained not to get too overwhelmed by new situations.

That is really the only thing that is wrong about Pete and I hesitate using that word, “wrong”. It’s not a bad thing but it can be frustrating to see him feeling so overwhelmed that he starts humping his bed. At least it’s only his bed that he violates. But trying to calm him down can be a bit of a task. We’ve tried to expose him to all manner of new situations, taking us with him on trips to the pet shop or other places and he’s usually fine when there but when he comes home he seems to have a hard time relaxing and we realize just how much a trip out can stress out a dog like him. He loves to come with us and I don’t see any reason to leave him home so we just deal with his emotional outbursts as best we can. Giving him something to chew really seems to help but for a dog that will eat pizza crusts covered in mold, he is really picky about his chewy’s. We got him an elk horn once and it just sits there untouched but give him a dried tendon and he’s in heaven.

We’ve had Pete for four years now and he was about two when we got him, or at least that was the rescue and our vets best guess. He could be older, his muzzle is turning grey and his eyebrows are showing signs of white. I dread the years where he will slow down, where he will enjoy lying in the sun more than he does now which will be something since he loves lying in a sunbeam until he is so hot you can’t touch him.  The walks will become shorter. The naps longer. He will become arthritic (he already is showing signs of that) and maybe deaf or blind. And then one day he will be gone. But in the meantime, Pete is still very much a big part of our lives. A huge dork who is learning that when you tell him to watch where he is going it is usually because he is about to fall into the ditch or walk into a tree. But right now he is still our huge dork and until the time comes when he wants to say goodbye we will give him as much love as we can. I think we owe him that.

The crazy cat lady. We hear that all the time by people who think just because you have a few cats that perhaps you’ve taken up standing on the corner and yelling obscenities at people. I mean, what does it mean? Crazy cat lady. Just how many cats qualify you to be a “crazy cat lady” or “crazy cat person”. Is it two? Three? Five? Ten? How many? And why aren’t there any crazy dog ladies or crazy rabbit people or crazy guinea pig people. What about birds? I know some people who have five birds. Are they crazy? Well, yeah, they might be. Have you heard the noise five birds can make? Nevermind the mess and destruction. But I digress.

I grew up with animals. We had chickens and rabbits and cats and a dog. And once we had an owl that one of my siblings found that was hurt. Mum nursed it back to health and off it flew. We also brought home things, like little brown snakes. Why I have no idea. We grew up in the country, snakes were everywhere. Why bring them into the house? Being surrounded by animals certainly has skewed my attitude about life with the beasts. I can’t imagine not having them. We lived in farm country, everybody had scads of animals. So are dairy farmers “crazy cow people”? Were the Cowans “crazy horse people” because they had race horses? And does the fact that we had a flock of about a dozen chickens qualify us as “crazy chicken people”? So why is it that if you have a few cats around that people think you are crazy?

Yes, I know there have been many reports of hoarding situations where there have been scores of cats taken out of someone’s home. And yes, there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of women, mostly older, involved but does that mean everyone who has a few should be tarnished with the same brush? What about dog hoarders. There are lots of them out there and yet no one seems to want to call everyone with a few dogs, “crazy dog people”.

Is it because cats are still one of those animals that most people know nothing about? Is it because cats are still seen as being aloof and independent? Most people think it’s cute to see a dog dressed up as Tinkerbell for Halloween and yet I’m seen as a crazy person if I put a sweater on my cat. Is it because dogs, especially the small, furry variety, are often seen as child replacements by a growing number of crazy, delusional people who can’t distinguish between two and four legs? I mean, come on, people. If you own one of the hairless breeds or a small dog that can’t take the cold or if there is a medical reason for your dog to wear a frilly dress, fair enough, but it’s a dog. Yes, they are just as much a part of the family as your two-legged members but they are still animals and no amount of perfume, nail polish or designer clothing is going to cover that fact. I mean, I love Pete and he has a winter coat because we live in Canada and we have two seasons: winter and not winter, but he isn’t my child. If he was I would fully expect Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to show up at my door.

Is it because most people think dogs are more openly affectionate than cats. I have had a lot of animals over the years. There was one time that we had: five cats, one dog, three budgies, two degus, one rabbit, a bare-eyed cockatoo and two guinea pigs. And we would have had four canaries as well but I found a good home for them. That was insane, even I admit that and yet it was also a fun time where we never had a dull moment and I don’t regret it one bit. What I found out is that all animals are affectionate in their own way. Dogs haven’t cornered the market on that emotion. Not only are animals openly affectionate to us but they are just the same to each other. Our cat, KD, and Bugs, the rabbit, certainly had a very affectionate relationship. But then, KD seemed to like everyone and everything. Sure, owning that many animals made it next to impossible to entertain and it made it difficult to go out anywhere, at least in clothes that didn’t have fur or feathers on them, but it was also a time when love seemed to be everywhere. The minute you sat down there was someone wanting your lap or a pat or a scratch or your food. Did you know bunnies like oatmeal raisin cookies?

Right now we have: two cats, one dog, three degus and a rabbit. The dog we got from rescue and is somewhat aloof, not at all like our laps-are-made-for-dogs Cocker Spaniel. Honey was the doggy equivalent to a velcro suit, the minute you sat on the couch she was stuck on you. The cats we took in at five days old when it was obvious the mother couldn’t look after them. Mac was the most affectionate of the three and although the other two have become friendlier as they’ve aged I wouldn’t want to say they are overly affectionate. They have their moments and if we aren’t swatted by one of them at least once during the day, we worry that they may be sick. The degus my daughter got to keep her old degu company when her companion died. Are they affectionate? In their own way, yes. They don’t come out and cuddle the way their predecessors, Mika & Pita, did but they like to have attention and come running over if you talk to them. And the rabbit? Well, the rabbit we found along the road. She was obviously abandoned and had been on the loose for some time. How such a loving little bunny ended up on the streets I have no idea but someone’s loss is our gain.

Ruby was just over a kilo (around 2.5lbs) when we found her. She had been out on her own for quite some time, or so the vet thought because she should have been between 2-3 kilo’s (4-6lbs). Unfortunately the vet discovered that she has uterine cancer and the roots of her teeth are getting overgrown. Either one is a death sentence for her. The cancer is slow-growing so she could have a couple of years before it becomes a problem but the teeth are another matter. The vet said to take her home and spoil her rotten in her remaining time and she seems to be basking in the attention. So far she’s a happy, affectionate little creature who loves to run over to you for pats. She loves getting spoiled and seems grateful for everything we do for her. Our other rabbit, Bugs, was also a very affectionate bunny, but he was more of the, “Yes, yes, I’m adorable now give me that cookie” kind of attention seeker. And now we are thinking of getting Ruby a friend. Is that crazy? Ok, it may be a little weird but crazy?

I have had three other cats over the course of the years. Duke and Spike were my first two. Duke was a very loving gentleman who, when not dragging my knitting all over the place, would sit on my lap and put his two paws on my shoulders, nestle his face against mine and go to sleep. At night he would curl himself against my back or snuggle in against my stomach making it impossible to move. One eventful morning I thought I was paralyzed because when I went to stand up, I couldn’t move my legs and fell flat on my face. Duke had just been sleeping next to me and because I couldn’t move I guess I had slept on a nerve funny. Spike, on the other hand, was a bit of a neurotic and was afraid of everything, poor soul. He spent most of his life hiding under the bed but when he ventured out, he could be such a loving and forgiving cat. I’ve always felt guilty that he didn’t have a happier life.

And now we’ve been thinking of getting Pete a buddy. After Mara went back home it became evident that Pete missed her company so we’ve been considering what kind of dog we would get as a second pet. I’m lobbying for a dog-friendly cat but the only problem with that is that our cats aren’t very cat-friendly. They barely tolerate each other and they are brothers. A large bunny, like a Flemish Giant, would be able to take care of itself but they aren’t called “giant” for nothing. Those big-footed, fluffy-tailed, long-eared lapins weigh up to 11 kilos (25lbs). I’m not sure I want to be scooping up bunny poop from that big a bunny. Besides, if Ruby wants to she can release quite a kick so can you imagine one from a bunny that size?

So if I got one or two dog-friendly cats or kittens would this push me into some kind of domestic companion stratosphere where my neighbours start whispering behind their hands when they see me? If we got another dog are the neighbours going to sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches just as a precaution? If we got another rabbit would Monty Python show up at our door looking for the Holy Grail? At what point does having a few animals turn into “that crazy animal lover down the street”? And if I do become the “crazy cat lady” should I send out flyers advising my neighbours to keep their cats indoors lest they “disappear”? Will there be a picture of me tacked to the bulletin board at the local animal control? Do vets give a volume discount?

Day 4 – Mac

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I debated writing anything today and I debated writing about Mac because the wounds are still healing but then I thought that this might be a way to move past the grief. Writing can be so very therapeutic after all. So here I am at 11 o’clock at night writing about my beloved Mac.

Mac was the runt of the litter. The mother was the barn cat for the stable where my girls took horse back riding lessons. The mother had nine kittens and tried valiantly for a week to look after them all but when it became apparent that she was only going to run herself ragged we offered to take the three smallest. And that is how we ended up with Taang!, Mac, and Eric.

Mac was my kitten from the get go. I fed him and washed him and burped him and wiped his little bottom. He loved the attention even when his eyes were barely open. As he grew he would cuddle up under my chin after his feedings, content. He loved to be picked up and carried around while I did my chores. I got pretty adept at doing things with one hand while Mac slept curled in my other arm. We called him our little football kitty because that was how he liked to be carried and he would fall asleep like that. My favourite memory of him is when he was small you could pick him up, flip him on his back and tickle his tummy. He would swat madly at you but then the swats would slow down and he would be fast asleep.

As Mac got older and could run around, he took enormous pleasure in learning new things. When he learned to walk he had to walk everywhere. When he learned to run, he had to run everywhere and there was a period of time when, after he learned he could jump from chair to couch to table, I swear his feet never touched the ground. We nicknamed him Peter Pan. Mac was a busy little kitten, always doing something and always making us laugh. And he always seemed to have a smile on his face. The happiest little cat in the world it seemed.

Mac would come and sleep with me at night. He would rest his little head on my shoulder or curl up against my back. I would wake up to see him sleeping above my pillow. He would also pat my cheek or eye if he wanted me to wake up and pat him. Yes it could be annoying but I never once got mad at him for doing it because he was just so cute. He would bump his mouth against my lips, giving me awkward Mackie kisses. He always seemed to need to be touching someone and just looking at him would cause him to purr furiously.

And then in 2009 Mac planned and plotted and then when the timing was right he slipped out the front door. He was gone eleven days. Eleven heart wrenching, terrifying, sleepless days that saw my kids and me out at all times of day and night calling him, papering the neighbourhood over and over again, phoning the animal hospitals, calling the animal shelter. We searched the internet for tips on how to find a missing cat. We never gave up. And as a last-ditch effort we called a professional cat finder to help us. She wanted pictures of the neighbourhood and after viewing them told us where we would find Mac. We got a humane trap from rescue and with the help of a neighbour set it up in his backyard. We captured Mac two days later. Mac was home again.

Then in 2010 tragedy struck. Mac was sick. The diagnosis turned out to be diabetes but the doctor who looked after him in his crisis was excellent and reassuring. We brought Mac home and set up a schedule. Our lives became dominated by caring for him. Not that we didn’t do other things but we always had to arrange things around his medical needs. It wasn’t a fun time but we managed. Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.

When Mac was initially diagnosed with diabetes, the vet had also said that his heart looked slightly enlarged and that at some point we should have a sonogram done to see if there was a problem. At that time the clinic was going through changes and our vet left for another practice. What happened then was a rotating door of vets some better than others and the heart problem was forgotten in the stresses of trying to get his diabetes under control. No one mentioned it again.

Tired of never knowing which doctor we would be seeing when we had to take Mac in for his check-ups, we decided to change vets to someone who we would be able to see on a consistent basis. One who would be the primary care giver. She was very good and we built a solid relationship with her. Things were going well. Then in November of 2012 I noticed that Mac didn’t seem to be breathing properly and was looking bloated. The vet x-rayed him and found his chest cavity filled with fluid. She tapped him to remove it but the diagnosis was the worst thing imaginable. Mac was dying. He had cardiomyopathy. His heart just wasn’t working and his left ventricle was enlarged.

The vet put him on a course of diuretics and heart medication but the fluid would still build up around his heart which meant that every month or so Mac would have to go back for a tap. We did everything we could to try to reduce the fluids, he was put on the highest dosage of diuretic that was safe and wouldn’t kill his kidneys. We gave him a food that was both low carb and low salt and we restricted his movements, no stairs, no stress, no jumping around. But still the fluids gathered. In March we took him back to the vets for a routine tap but he squirmed so much she had to give him a sedative. Now there aren’t that many that are safe for cats in his condition and the one that is used most often is also one that can cause clots. And after we got Mac home, he unfortunately threw a small one. It didn’t paralyze his legs has they often do but he was in considerable pain and for the next two weeks went downhill until it became too painful for us to see him deteriorate and the decision to have him euthanized was made.

I can’t write about that day seven months ago. It is still too painful. My darling little Mackie lying lifeless on the table after eight years of living a big life. He was always full of the joy of living. Always happy, purring, and full of joie de vivre. Nothing ever got him down, and as long as I was there for him life was good. The days after his passing were terrible. The house felt impossibly empty even though we still had his two brothers and Pete to give us comfort. I could not look at a piece of furniture without seeing Mac lying there squinting up at me and purring. I still have trouble imagining him gone. The house still seems too empty. The tears still a little too close to the surface.

I know that with time I will heal. Already I have forgotten what he smelled like, how soft his fur felt, how his purr sounds. I have forgotten the pat, pat, pat of his paw on my cheek, the mrrows, the paws reaching out wanting you to pat him. I have forgotten so many little things and I know that even a picture isn’t going to bring them back. But I know that I will never forget how much love a little kitty heart can hold and give. I will never forget how much love he had for life. He was my baby and I will love him forever. I miss you, my little Mac.

Day Three – Pete

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This is Pete.  And doesn’t he look sweet and innocent.  For the most part Pete is a sweet and innocent puppy but like most dogs, he has his moments.  Like a few moments ago when he tried to rip my clematis out by the roots.  Those kinds of moments.

Pete was an unexpected dog.  As I said in a previous post, we had owned a Cocker Spaniel who was the apple of my eye.  She was my dog and followed me everywhere, slept with me, and did everything I asked of her.  The world’s most perfect dog.  So it was devastating when she finally decided she had loved enough and needed to take her leave of us.  She was fifteen and had given us every ounce of love she had in her little body.  I was convinced I didn’t want another dog but my daughter, and the universe, had other plans.

Honey died in June of 2009.  A year that would also see us lose two cats as well all in the space of three months.  And we almost lost a third when my baby, Mac, decided to make a grand escape only to get lost for eleven days in what was one of the worst summers for severe weather.  To say it was a horrible spring for us was a bit of an understatement.  Now I know more horrible things happened all over the world but when bad things are happening to you those become static noise.  Sad but true.  So in a year of loss and near loss and unbelievable stress, a picture of a happy-go-lucky, funny-looking dog seemed as incongruous as feathers on a cat.

After Honey passed and KD a month later, I was just not in the mood to be looking at potential new family members but there was something about Pete that I just knew we needed.  He was named Bruno at the time and was at a rescue who had brought him in from a high-kill shelter in Ohio.  As I said, I had no interest in adopting another dog but my daughter seemed really keen on him so I let her fill out the application.  When the news came back that he had already been adopted I thought that would be the end of it.  But I was wrong.

A week after being told Pete had found a home, the rescue called to ask if we wanted him.  The adopters had not checked with their condo to see if he would be allowed, they just assumed since other people in the building had dogs, small dogs, that Bruno would not be a problem.  Unfortunately, at 50lbs, he was just a little bit too big to pass their regulations.  So he was returned and now the rescue wanted to know if we still wanted him.  So we went to his foster home to see what he was like.  Pete’s foster had nothing but glowing things to say about him and indeed Pete seemed like a lovely, friendly dog.  Could we take a week to think about it?  No, he had to go now since they had another dog that desperately needed fostering.  So we took a long, hard swallow and signed the papers.  Pete was ours.

What followed was a tense trial and error time where we had to get used to a stubborn, assertive, bullying, cat-loving, funny, exhausting dork.  He really didn’t have many house manners, he would shove his head into the refrigerator and try to grab whatever he could before you could stop him.  He had a couple of “accidents”, he tried to play with the cats (who really hated him on sight despite growing up with a dog), he surfed the counter, and tried to bully us around.  The rottie in him made him act like a herding dog and he would try to push us around to do his bidding.  He was never aggressive, never mouthy, never dangerous but he had ways of letting you know what he thought of your attempts to train him.  What saved us was his absolute devotion to food.  If he thought there was a treat in it for him he would have danced on the ceiling.  What a mercenary.

We did finally teach him manners.  There were times when I regretted adopting him.  There were times when it was frustrating.  And there was the time shortly after we got him where he went out the front door and kept going.  But that isn’t unusual for a rescued pup and we did get him back mostly because he was overweight and had the stamina of a guinea pig.  And also I was determined not to let him out of my sight.  I found out just how fast I can run in stocking feet.  On the other hand he has never tried it again.  Not because we beat him or punished him but because we took the time to train him properly.  He still doesn’t have as good a recall as Honey but he is at 98% and I think that’s pretty good for a dog who thinks he’s the smartest being in the room.  

He has his odd quirks that make us laugh uncontrollably at times.  For instance on rainy days he will stand at the door looking all the world like the unhappiest dog ever, even his funny, bouncy ears droop (oh those ears!  I could write a whole post just on them).  We have to pretty much drag him out and then he sticks as close to the house as he can while hiding under the eaves, moping to the nearest tree, doing his business and then running back in the house.  That’s the Shar-Pei in him.  He doesn’t like to get dirty.  He licks his legs like a cat and positively hates walking in puddles or mud.  On the other hand, he has very little doggy odor which is good since he is terrified of water.  He really doesn’t like the wipes we use to give him a dry bath either, though.

Pete has been a part of our family for the past four years.  He was around two when we got him.  I am not looking forward to the years ahead when he will start to slow down, and be more content sleeping on his bed than dragging us down the road.  His muzzle is already showing a bit of gray and some days, mostly rainy ones, he doesn’t want to leave the house at all.  It’s hard to believe that the frustrations and exhaustion of dealing with a strong-willed personality has given way to a love that is beyond description.  Such is the way with dogs, they worm their way into your heart.  But I still have a sneaky suspicion that it’s a cunning ploy to make you give them whatever they want.