Showing Posts From: Pets

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16 Jun, 2020

DogGone Trouble

/ posted in: Pets

The husband and I pretty much got ourselves banned from the rescue where we got Freckles.  Yeah.  It got ugly.  It was so overwhelmingly stupid that I finally had to stop playing nice and say something.

Ok, when people want to adopt a dog a lot of rescues want to call your vet and ask if you take care of your pets.  It is usually a two minute phone call.  When we adopted Freckles it was a complete debacle.  They called my office and my receptionist ended up telling them off.  They wanted dates when my cats had their visits.  She tried to explain that my cats don’t come to the office.  I treat them at home.  There have to be some perks to having a vet as a mom.  This is balanced out by knowing that if you look suspicious in any way you can be suddenly grabbed for an impromptu vet exam in the kitchen or worse, the bathroom, at any time.  Given the information that my cats don’t go to the office, they failed us on the vet exam.  Let’s review.  I AM A VETERINARIAN.  I FAILED THE VET PORTION OF THE ADOPTION INTERVIEW.  Cooler heads finally prevailed and we got Freckles.


Fast forward eleven years and we are reapplying. I decide to head this off at the pass and explain what happened last time.  I say that if they call my office they will just get me on the phone.  I explained what vaccine protocols I use.  I say that I give heartworm prevention that I get for free from drug reps.  This is not ok.  I should have lied.  It starts to spiral out of control.  Basically you see, there is a form that needs to be filled out.  They want to see when I bought heartworm prevention.  I don’t buy it.  I also don’t charge myself for vet exams.  There are no invoices.  This is bad.  They can’t fill out the form.

Many painstaking weeks of emails and phone calls ensue.  HOW ARE THEY GOING TO FILL OUT THE FORM?  I kept saying to just write down what I do on the form.  This can’t happen.  There’s a form, you see.  Finally when I get an email asking me to provide Freckles’ medical consultation notes, I put my foot down.  Actually I told the husband to take my phone away from me before I derailed the whole process.  He then answered that email and told them very nicely that they were being really weird.  I wrote to their national organization and explained all that was going on.  I thought that they would agree that this was ridiculous.  I got a response back that basically said, “Sorry you are offended but you see, there’s a form….”

The husband got a nasty email back that said that she didn’t care that I am a vet and that we were repeat adopters.  We were strangers to her and why should she give a dog to strangers?  I mean, I thought that was literally her job….  Anyway, we once again failed to prove that we would provide medical care to a dog despite my being a veterinarian.  He wrote a scathingly sweet response back that ended with “Best of luck to your dogs” which I think is a lovely set down if read in the tone I imagine him using.

There are lots of rescues in the world but we were looking at a specific breed rescue because we are picky dog people.  Vets tend to look at dogs and immediately classify all the problems they are going to have based on their breed.  There are only a few breeds/mixes that the husband and I can agree on.  We are also still so amazingly pissed off at that rescue that we’d probably bite the head off the next rescue person who says, “We need to talk to your veterinarian…”

So despite our wish to adopt an adult dog in need of a home and my horror at the prices dogs are being sold for we broadened our search.  Seriously, if you add up all I’ve spent buying horses in my life, the total wouldn’t buy me a purebred puppy.  Now I’m side eyeing all the puppies I see in the office.  Is everyone I know paying thousands of dollars for puppies and then claiming my $12 rabies vaccine is extortion?  I’ve had purebred dogs all my life and every one was free.  The only mixed breed dog I’ve ever had was Freckles and she was the only one I had to pay for.

We are now on the waiting list for a puppy hopefully to be born in July.  The litter will be 3/4 Springer Spaniel – 1/4 Border Collie or as I like to explain, “Freckles but smart.”  (Freckles was Springer/Beagle and the sweetest dog in the history of the world but not the brightest bulb, bless her heart.)  The price is the same as the fee we were going to pay to adopt.

I set out to sweet talk the husband once I saw the ad.  I got an email back that said, “I’m not a puppy lover.”  By the time I got home from work that night (you know, at my job as a VET), he was saying, “If there is a little female that has an all black head we could consider it….”  I emailed the owner to get on the waiting list.  I texted the husband the next day and explained that there was NO COMMITMENT but we were just on a list of people who MIGHT be interested.  He texted back, “Yay”.  Not a puppy lover, huh?  

Hopefully our new dog is cooking as I write and we’ll find out next month.  I haven’t had a puppy since 1990 but I spend most of my day with them.  It will be an adventure at least.  


18 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – P

/ posted in: Just for FunPets


Facts about Paul:

He came here as a very timid boy.  It took him 2 years before he was brave enough to go into the living room.

He believes in rules.  Anyone in the house who isn’t following the rules stresses him out.  Freckles’ slide into senility was very upsetting for him.  When she was really confused and acting randomly we had to watch them or else Paul would try to slap some sense into her.

He’s relaxed a lot since Freckles died.

He just learned to cuddle in the last week.  Before he would sit near you for a few minutes on the bed or let you pet him but the idea of sitting and touching without active petting was new.


He raised Lucy from a kitten.  We adopted a kitten for him.  We knew he would want a cat to play with but an active adult cat would have been way too intimidating for him.  She followed him around and built his confidence.

 He doesn’t approve of anyone coming to the house.  He hides and hisses. 

When he was younger he was quite a thief.  He’d take anything he could carry and stash it.  Thankfully he’s outgrown that some.


14 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – L

/ posted in: Just for FunPets



Facts about Lucy:

She is the ultimate immoveable object.  She sleeps between my knees and no amount of moving or kicking will dislodge her.  If I need her to move, I need to lift up the blanket that she is on and move the blanket away from my legs.

She’s a Mommy’s girl.  She has to be where I am.  Even better, she needs to be sitting on me.  Best, she needs to be sitting on me in the most inconvenient way possible.

She likes to hunt bugs. Occasionally she gets big game like a mouse that wanders into the house.

She murdered a small cactus I had by repeatedly pushing the container off the ledge it sat on.

This weekend I found her rubbing up against my toothbrush.  I wonder how long that’s been going on.


She’ll stand on the counter and meow until you hug her.

She has the husband trained to give her treats at specified times of the day.

She keeps Paul entertained by running and wrestling with him.

Her favorite place to sit is on top of me if I am covered with my orange fleece blanket.  That is the ultimate happy spot.  

11 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – J

/ posted in: Just for FunPets



Facts about Jules:

She is a Senegal parrot.

Based on the band on her leg we think she was born in 2005.

We adopted her from a rescue in 2010.

She hates my husband.  I tried to make them make friends by having him feed her meals.  It hasn’t worked.  The best result after years of this is that sometimes she doesn’t try to bite him at feeding time.

Up until last week I could have said that although she is a mouthy bird, she has never bit me hard enough to break skin.  But, last week I let the husband pet her and I was punished with a nasty bite on my finger.

I think she is a pretty quiet bird as birds go.  Other people think she is extremely loud.  They’ve never met larger birds apparently.

She isn’t really a screamer but she is pretty constantly making some kind of noise.  It is the background noise of our house.

I had a previous bird who died of old age.  The husband decided we needed another bird because the house was too quiet.

On the second day I had her she said, “Hello” to me.  She hasn’t said anything recognizable since.  Sometimes though I hear her muttering under her breath and I know it is words.

She laughs a lot.

I sing to her in the shower.  I make up some lyrics for her.  The first time I sang a version of “Hey Jude Jules” to her she attacked me but she likes it now.

She’s a really good eater.  Most birds are very cautious about trying anything new.  She’ll give anything I’m eating a try.

No other animal is allowed to touch her cage.  I once had to crawl under the dining room table to cuddle and console a dog who made the unforgivable mistake of putting a paw on her cage.  He wasn’t being mean.  He was standing on his hind legs to look at her (ok) and then put a front paw out for balance on her cage (NOT OK).  She flew at the front of the cage while screaming.  That poor dog was probably scarred for life.

She likes to listen to Pandora. She has a wide range of tastes from classical to rock to old school hip hop channels. I made the husband stop playing the Old School Hip Hop channel just in case she decided to start talking again.


28 Mar, 2020

RIP Freckles

/ posted in: FamilyPets

We said goodbye to Freckles yesterday.  It was a hard but necessary decision.

We adopted her on December 1, 2009 from English Springer Spaniel Rescue. She was 5 years old. She had been in a kill shelter in Toledo. From her life long hatred of and fool behavior in cages, I’m sure she was a complete nut job in the shelter. She wasn’t a full Springer but the rescue pulled her out anyway. DNA testing showed her to be 33% Springer, 33% beagle with some Brittany, Dalmatian, and Pomeranian thrown in the mix. (I still think the Pomeranian DNA was from the ghost of Snowball spitting on the sample.)

If she was truly 5 then she was 15.5 when she died. She could have been older. It was hard to say.

She was getting very frail and very senile. She had to be reminded often of how to work doors. We have french doors onto our deck. She would go outside and then stand at the door that has never opened and get mad that I wasn’t letting her in. I’d have to physically guide her through the open door to get back inside. She’d go to find her food and end up on the wrong side of the doorway that her food was beside. She’d be sort of in the right spot but with a wall in between her and her food. But she was still able to run through the house when it was breakfast time. Then she’d sleep all the day to recover.

She couldn’t do stairs anymore or get on the couch. Her world kept getting smaller as we blocked off areas where she might fall. She went off dog food about a year ago and was getting special cooked food flown in from San Francisco.

Rules didn’t apply anymore. She did this when she could still get on furniture and I was eating. Why not walk across the end tables? Cats do.

It will be weird here without hearing her nails clicking down the hall.

We are getting this picture printed out to hang in the hall.

Freckles 2014

18 Dec, 2018

To Sum Up

/ posted in: FamilyPets


Dealing with the repeated malware and spam attacks on the blog, sapped my will.  By the time it was all fixed I didn’t even want to look at the blog and I wasn’t even doing any of the fixing.  But there is so much that has gone on that I need to explain to sum up.

  1. I haven’t talked at all about our trip to France.  What’s the point of a blog if I can’t make you listen to my vacation stories? 
  2. I’ve actually read books this month.  I know, it surprised me too.
  3. The husband had surgery on his foot yesterday.  He’ll be laid up for 3 months including being unable to drive because he isn’t flexible enough to cross his legs and drive with his left foot which is what I would do.  I’m going to try to be patient and kind although I already said out loud to him that it would probably be best if I just suffocated him with a pillow in the hospital to save us all the irritation.  He is not a person who manages inconveniences well and not a person who suffers in silence.  I keep flashing back to my 3 months on crutches where I had to hire help because the husband-at-the-time couldn’t be bothered to help with horses besides carrying some water.  I traveled alone on planes.  I judged events in the woods without whining.  I will try not to think of this when this husband inevitably yells for me for the 14,000th time because he dropped the remote. 
  4. Contrary to what my uncle thinks, we did not adopt a bat.  Meet Lucy. 
16 Oct, 2018

RIP Powder

/ posted in: Pets

more hexi with Powder

The absolute Queen of our house died on October 7. I haven’t written about it because it is hard to sum up Powder.

I got her and her brother because they had been abandoned in a trailer park along with another litter mate when their people moved away. (This was lasting trauma for her. Every time we moved afterwards she would try to frantically put herself into moving boxes or into the truck to make sure she went too.)

They were supposed to be barn cats but her brother decided he wanted to come inside. Eventually he liked it so much that he literally dragged her into the house by the scruff of her neck.

She was inside and outside while we lived on the farm. She once went on walkabout for 3 months and then sauntered on home like she’d been gone for an hour. She was a mighty hunter who didn’t tolerate playing with prey. Her brother drove her crazy because he liked to torment mice and she just wanted to kill them.

After her brother died and we got another kitten she pouted in the rafters of the garage for 3 days until I went out and yelled at her. I didn’t know that a few years later she’d pout on a dresser for 18 months to protest Freckles coming into her life.

When our Pomeranian Snowball was dying, Powder guarded her from our other cat who liked to come over and touch Snowball on the top of her head. That made Snowball insanely angry but she couldn’t do anything about it because she was too weak. Powder made sure Riley left the dog alone.

She did not approve of medical procedures. I often had to buy apology presents for my techs after they worked with her. I have a picture of her broken off nail embedded in my thumb after an attempt to draw blood from her. She had several chronic health problems that required meds and monitoring. She decided to take the meds if they were custom blended in her favorite flavorings. No pills for her highness.

She stayed alive much longer than I expected in her condition. We made a lot of allowances in the house for her. When stairs got hard to go up and down as many times as she had to with kidney disease, she got her own litter box in the living room with potty pads because she didn’t like litter.

In spite of it all she still disapproved of most everything we did. I don’t know how to act without someone harrumphing at everything I do. She loved the husband. She considered him her pet. He could do no wrong. Even when he did do wrong, she would come at yell at me about it. I guess she figured I was in charge of him since I brought him home and I should have him under better control.

I had a plan for her.  I figured when she stopped eating or at least when she stopped trying to constantly steal my food, it was time.  It never happened.  She ended up going blind in one eye on a Thursday and then the other eye on Sunday.  With all her other issues and general poor condition, we decided it wasn’t fair to her to make her adapt to this too. I’m sure she was shutting down and it was just a matter of days before something else happened.  I had to wait for her to finish eating a huge bowl of food that the husband gave her before sedating her. I guess she died doing what she loved.  She was 16 and a half years old.

The house is quieter.  Paul doesn’t know who to pounce on now.  The husband is sad and I don’t wake up with a cat on my head who is spitting mad because I had the nerve to move.  Freckles hasn’t seemed to notice. 

The husband now has seniority.  There are no more pets who were here before him.


04 Sep, 2018

A Tale of Two Kitties

/ posted in: Pets

The husband said a mouse was in the garage.  He wanted to make a live trap. I was horrified.  “We have cats!”

Him – “My way leaves the mouse alive. Aren’t you a vegetarian?”

“The cats aren’t.”

We looked at each other in the silent acknowledgement of the pros and cons of this plan. “Ok, well try the cats first and then get a trap,” he decided.




  • The mightiest hunter who ever did live. I’ve seen her chilling in the yard and then jump up and snag a bird flying 5 feet over her head. A lot of yelling about how we don’t eat birds followed while she ate her bird.  She doesn’t play with prey. She kills in seconds and gets on with her life.


  • She’s 15 years old and very frail now. Her mass murdering days are behind her. But maybe she has one more hunt in her.
  • Did I mention how frail she is? A good sized mouse might win that fight.




  • He’s in the prime of his life. No weakness here.
  • He loves to hunt things. He hunts his toys, bugs, lint, and Powder despite being repeatedly told to leave old ladies alone. It is time to show him what he has been practicing for.


  • He was born in a shelter and has been an indoor cat all his life. “Mouse” is just a shape toys come in
  • He’s afraid of the garage since he heard the garage door opener up close.


I took Powder to the garage and told her the mission.  She immediately started a perimeter patrol.  I went to get Paul. He panicked when he saw he was headed to the garage and put 4 puncture wounds and 1 laceration on my left bicep.  Eventually we were all in the garage. Powder had finished her first circuit and walked up to me. Paul started screaming and crying and pawing at the door to the house.

Powder looked at him with total disgust. “Back in my day cats didn’t have to be taught how to cat.  Kittens these days are too soft!”

I let him back in the house before he had a heart attack.  Powder stomped off on perimeter patrol number 2.

I went upstairs. Paul stayed by the door to the garage crying piteously because we had abandoned Powder to certain death in the horrible GARAGE.

1 hour later Paul was done crying (probably because he had given up all hope of ever seeing Powder again).  The husband went downstairs. Powder hadn’t found a mouse but she was mighty proud of herself and did not want to come in.  I checked an hour later with a nervous Paul peering around the door to see if she was still alive.  She reported the situation as under control from her station on the mat. She supposed she could come in. She slowly sauntered in with a superior glance at her fraidy cat housemate. Hopefully, she left enough scent to let everyone know that apex predators live here (Well, one apex predator at least) and prey should stay out.

She was very full of herself all night. She had a strut to her stride that I hadn’t seen in a while.  Give an old lady a job and she gets all her self esteem back.

No mice have been seen.  Either they ran away from Paul’s horrible screeching or they died laughing. 

21 Dec, 2017

The Saga of the Stairs

/ posted in: Pets

One of the things I recommend to make older pets’ lives easier are stairs to get onto beds or couches whenever jumping is getting difficult.  In January 2017 I took my own advice and ordered a set of stairs to go up to our bed.  Powder was almost 15 and Freckles was 12 or 13.  I thought they’d appreciate a little help in addition to arthritis care since both were starting to have a bit of trouble sometimes.  I was wrong.

I offended both of them to the very core of their beings.


I have changed the places where the stairs are.  I have used treats to get Freckles to go up the stairs.  Freckles is the most food motivated dog in existence but she would turn down a treat if she had to use the stairs to get it.  I physically lifted her and moved each locked, rigid limb up the stairs to show her it was safe.  She was not having it.

I wouldn’t have forced the issue if she wasn’t doing so much crashing.  She would try to jump on the bed and miss the jump causing her to crash onto the floor.  She was hurting herself.  She didn’t care.  She would not use the stairs.

It isn’t like she doesn’t know about stairs.  She climbs stairs to go in and out several times a day.  She’s fine with them.  But she had focused all her hatred on these particular four offensive stairs.

In the last few months a few times she would stand with her chin resting on the side of the bed and whimper.  She just couldn’t manage the jump.  I would remind her of the stairs and put her front feet on the first step.  She’d decide that what she really wanted to was to sleep on the floor.  Stubborn mutt.  Sometimes I’d pick her up and put her in bed because I felt bad for her.  Sometimes I’d say, “Ok, if that’s what you want” and let her lay on the floor.  She wouldn’t use the stairs.

One time she stood with her front feet on the edge of the bed asking to be picked up.  I patted the stairs.  She put her front feet on the top step and gave me a look like, “See!  These things aren’t helpful at all!”

Last month, she started to give in.  She’d ask to be picked up and I would pat the stairs and then she would use them.  She would not voluntarily use the stairs though.  I had to suggest it first.  Then one day I felt her quietly step onto the bed.  I gasped but held down my excitement.  I decided to play it cool.  Pretend it was an ordinary thing for her to choose to use the stairs.  A little while later I gave her a hug and told her she was a very good dog.  She pretended not to know what I was nattering on about.

Now, 11 months after I bought the stairs to make their lives better, I have a dog who freely chooses to use them about 20% of the time to get on the bed.  I have an old lady cat who has never even lowered herself to acknowledge their existence.  This is the normal view at my house.


Two old ladies on the floor not even making eye contact with the stairs and one four year old cat who has loved, understood, and used the stairs since the day they came home.

If 2017 was the Year of Freckles Deciding To Go Up the Stairs maybe 2018 will be the Year of Admitting Stairs Work Both Ways since she still insists on jumping off and occasionally hurts her bad toe.  I’m not holding my breath.  


—– I just heard that the husband saw her going down the stairs Tuesday morning when no one was in the room.  That sneaky, stubborn, little….

05 Oct, 2016

Happy Paul-iversary

/ posted in: Pets


Yesterday was our one year anniversary of adopting Paul.  He was such a worried little kitty.  


He had been born at the shelter and adopted as a kitten.  He was returned to the shelter after 11 months for being too active.  He’d been there over year before we found him.  The husband wanted him because he was cleaning himself when he first saw him and personal hygiene is important.  He was also hanging out with a calico in the cat room and he figured that was good practice for living with Powder.

It took him a long time to get comfortable.  Every step was a hard one.  He hid in a closet for weeks and then under the bed for longer.  We knew when he started coming out at night because he was finding cat toys under couches and bringing them out to play.

After a while he’d come out but wouldn’t come into the living room.  He’d sit at the doorway and look in.  I’m assuming it was a Powder rule that he wasn’t welcome.  Now he hangs out in the living room with us.  The final frontier was the bed.

This was this morning.  Now he has his own designated space during reading time.


He’s a thief.  He takes anything he can.  Let’s not forget the Fitbit incident.  He loves to steal ear plugs.  He plays with them and then leaves them for Freckles to eat.  We’ve been getting better about putting the ear plugs in drawers.  The other day I heard Freckles crunching on something and she didn’t seem happy.  Turns out Paul had bit the earbuds off a pair of headphones and fed them too her.  She didn’t like this new type of crunchy ear candy.  I got them from her before she ate them.

He tries so hard to be tough but Powder still steals his food if we don’t watch.  The other day Freckles jumped up on the bed and laid down partially on top of him.  He was so offended.  He took a second to psych himself up.  Then he puffed himself has big as he could and hissed right in her face.  She was asleep already and didn’t react.  He was so sad.  He looked over at me.  I commiserated with him.  “It’s hard being a bad ass when no one notices.”


Here’s to seeing what else you decide to do now that you are comfortable.

24 Jun, 2016

Let’s Look at Puppies

/ posted in: Pets

I’m sick. I have a cold. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? This is a monster cold though. I don’t get sick. If I get a bit of a tickle in the throat I drink cups of ginger tea with honey and it magically goes away. Not this one.

I’m the kind of sick where the other day I started coughing so hard in the exam room that I lost the ability to speak, excused myself with hand gestures, headed towards my office while doubling over coughing, and then got a bloody nose that sprayed blood all over myself and my surroundings. My coworkers have pictures of the carnage because they are helpful. Maybe I shouldn’t be at work, you say? Yeah, the other doctors are in Montana and Korea.

This is all in the middle of MAJOR work drama that I unexpectedly found myself right in the middle of this week. If the dust ever settles on this, I’ll tell this fine story of greed, lying, mansplaining, and patronization. It’s a good one.

So that’s why I didn’t feel up to putting the finishing touches on my blog drafts and publishing. We’ll resume next week. In the mean time – Let’s Look at Puppies!

The husband and I went to a dog festival in a little village near here. Zoar was settled by German separatists who tried to found a utopian community. That never works. They always end up banning sex and that’s the end of that.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

We started out watching Dock Diving. The goal is for the dog to jump off the platform into the water. Longest jump wins.

Some were enthusiastic.

Others not so much

Some were more enthusiastic than I expected them to be

The dock diving was a competition but there was also a lure chasing course. There is a wire laid out close to the ground in a loop. Plastic bags are tied to a shuttle on the wire. A person runs the shuttle by remote control. Dogs chase the bag. Fastest time through the course wins.

Anyone could try it with their dog. Some dogs chased the bag around the course. The smarter dogs (Malinois, Border Collies) were watching the course while they were in line and came out with a plan. They would cut up the middle to where the bag would be and wait for it. Others would step on the line to have it pop off the rollers it was on so the bag couldn’t move. The husband and I cheered for the smart dogs. We figured they were the real winners even though they did it wrong.

Other dogs just wanted to be adored by the crowd.

This is the same Bearded Collie from the little dock diving jump above.

09 Feb, 2016

The Journeys of a Fitbit

/ posted in: Pets


My cat Paul is a thief.

He likes to steal earplugs.  He takes them off the nightstand and throws them on the ground.  Then eventually Freckles eats them if I don’t find them first.  We’ve taken to having to hide our earplugs in safe spaces to keep them from him.  He’s a quick little bugger.  If we don’t put them away immediately, he has them.

So, last Monday morning he was on the nightstand looking for earplugs.  I heard a clunk which I recognized as the sound of my fitbit hitting the floor.  He took that once before and put 27 steps on it before getting bored.  It was early and I didn’t want to get up yet so I ignored him.  When I did get up, I couldn’t find the fitbit anywhere.  I had been having a pretty stressful week and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I had a bit of a breakdown that ended with me in the bathroom with Freckles nearby but not making eye contact and Paul sitting at my side petting my leg with his paw like he was worried that I was broken.

Monday night – still can’t find it.  Starting to wonder if just maybe Freckles got confused in the dark and ate it before she realized that it wasn’t an earplug.  Check computer but it hasn’t updated

Tuesday – can’t find it.  When I come home, Freckles has vomited and seems a bit subdued.

Wednesday – Freckles doesn’t want to go for her morning walk.  Get texts at work that husband has come home to lots of vomit and a very lethargic dog.  Tell him to bring her to work.  Run bloodwork which is fine.  I don’t have an xray machine so I run her to an emergency clinic after work to look for my fitbit.  She is the only dog there at the time and is having a blast.  Everything is about her – as it should be.   Xrays show no fitbit.  Sorry I suspected you of nefarious dealings, Freckles.  So now I’m out lots of money, still don’t have a fitbit, and I have a sick dog.  However, her adventures in medicine seem to make her feel much better and she recovers.

Thursday – Freckles feels better.  Paul decides the game is over and brings out the fitbit and leaves it in the middle of the living room floor.  It has 172 steps on it for Thursday but none for the other missing days.

Friday – Ok, back on track.  I have a three day weekend.  Gonna get a lot done.

Saturday – And I’m dead.  It started at 3 AM.  I’ll spare you the gory details but eventually I had a 102.1 fever, which I have to work hard to remind myself isn’t normal in humans.  Wiped out for the rest of the weekend.  I didn’t eat or drink anything for days.  That usually means I’ve gained weight by some mystical process invented by malicious gods.

And that’s why I don’t have a Reader’s Workout post for the week.

22 Nov, 2015

What’s Going on Around Here?

/ posted in: Pets

Powder went to the cardiologist and no one was injured

Powder had to go get an echocardiogram because of her worsening heart murmur and bad bloodwork.  Since she was horrible to try to get the blood from, I was worried about her behavior at the cardiologist’s.

She was a complete angel.  The only time she got even a little testy was when they were fussing too much trying to get her blood pressure.  All she did was stand up and decide to leave.  No teeth.  No claws.  I was so proud.  She even laid perfectly still on her side for the echo. I was shocked.

She has off the charts high blood pressure and when her heart rate goes up, one of her valves in her heart flips the wrong way and partially blocks her aorta.  No congestive heart failure.

Now she’s on meds for her blood pressure and her hyperthyroidism.  We have a routine.  She gets 3/4 of a small can of cat food.  Her blood pressure meds are made up into a liquid with fish flavoring and she eats them in her food at night.  In the morning, while she is eating, she gets her thyroid meds rubbed on her ear to be absorbed transdermally.

Because everyone else wants to get involved in this, the remaining 1/4 can of food is split between Paul and Freckles.  Now we can’t even go into the kitchen without all the mammalian pets in the house running in and assuming the position beside their respective plates.  Spoiled brats.  I’ve given Paul and Freckles a talking to about chasing the old lady with a bad heart and high blood pressure.  I don’t think they care.

I’ve Made A Whovian of Him

Remember back when my husband was refusing to watch Doctor Who with me? He’s hooked now.  He got a TARDIS mug and Jammie Dodgers for his birthday.  I came home last night and he was seriously considering buying a TARDIS shower curtain for our green and beige bathroom.  He’s always been a big stickler for everything matching so I reminded him that TARDIS blue doesn’t match our bathroom.  He yelled, “It’s a TARDIS woman!  It @$#$%%^ goes with anything!”  I hugged him and told him that I was so very proud of him.

When I came home from the dog park this morning he was watching a video on youtube that showed River Song’s story cut in chronological order so it makes more sense.  It made him teary.  My work here is done and he hasn’t even gotten to the 50th anniversary episode yet.

I’m Still Writing

I’m at 35,666 words into my NaNoWriMo story.  Not bad for having no idea where this is going.  I started with a character and a setting and no idea of the plot.  Last week a character went rogue and got rid of my main bad guy way too early in the story so I’ve been improvising.  The husband can’t understand when I say that I have no idea what is going to happen next.  It is exciting to see what comes out.

It’s Almost Thanksgiving

And I still have roses blooming!

My birthday is Thursday which is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Having a birthday on a holiday is generally no fun but I’m embracing it this year. I’ve decided to treat the whole day as a national celebration of thankgiving for my birth and am giving people the day off work with my blessing.

What’s Going On In Your World?


15 Nov, 2015

Book Mail and the Battle of Powder

/ posted in: PetsReading

I don’t usually get a lot of bookish stuff in the mail but this week was an exception.

#bookmail from Catherine in Nova Scotia for the All Hallows’ swap organized by @ac_wise

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Last year Powder cat got sick. In the course of figuring out what was wrong, we heard a heart murmur for the first time on her. Fast forward to now, she’s losing weight. I know I have to work on her but she is not a good patient. The last time she had something major done I ended up having to buy people apology chocolate.

I took her to work one day last week. I was going to hold her and a tech draw her blood. Should be easy. Yeah. Powder goes from ok to “Die!” in a second and with no warning. She was gnawing on my hand but I told the tech to keep going. Round one ended with me looking like this and no blood collected.

At this point I’m holding a perfectly calm cat in my left arm and asking the tech to remove the piece of claw she embedded into me. Of course the tech said no because she needed to get a good picture and then she wanted me to go show other people in the clinic.

Round two – We decided to have two techs try because sometimes animals are better if Mommy isn’t there. They were over there for about 10 seconds when I hear a lion roar and one tech yell, “Your cat is the devil!” I walk over to see one tech holding her bleeding hand, one tech on the floor, and Powder running out of the room. (Remember we pull blood from cats all day long. This is never an issue.)

Round three – I retrieve Powder. I decide that we either need to really fight her or anesthetize her. Neither is good for a cat with an undiagnosed heart ailment but I figure anesthetizing her will cause the least collateral damage. I put a mask over her face and she goes to sleep quickly. We pull the blood. I turn off the gas. She’s been under about 2 minutes. She decides to stop breathing which causes technician panic. She (the cat) got over it. The technician hasn’t yet. Apology chocolate was brought in again.

Now Powder has an appointment this week with a cardiologist. I want to know exactly what is going on because this isn’t a cat who will tolerate taking lots of meds. She needs the most important one. I will probably be injured repeatedly medicating her. The cardiologist she will go to will come to my clinic if we wanted. I imagined what staff member I would ask to come in early to help with Powder. I decided I couldn’t afford that much chocolate. We’re going to the cardiologist’s office. I’m preparing my warning speech now.  “Yes, she’s 13 years old and sick and very sweet but apparently also the devil…”


Do you like books?  Do you like food?  Do you like books about food?  Check out Foodies Read!


I already have lots of food books on my TBR pile.  I’m aiming for at least one book a month but will probably read more.  I’m going to claim a la carte status instead of a challenge level.  I don’t like the pressure of having to read a set amount of books even if I am running the challenge.  I’m a rebel!

Join me for the fun.  There will be prizes throughout the year!

24 Oct, 2015

Animal Updates

/ posted in: Pets

Paul Update

(Yes, I am aware this is the same picture I keep posting of Paul but he is elusive, like a trying to photograph a snow leopard….)

We adopted Paul close to 3 weeks ago now. The first week was rough. He hid constantly. I had to beg him to eat. Our only signs of progress was when he would move a little towards my hand if I reached under the bed to pet him.

I was really worried because we were heading on vacation for the next week. I have a great pet sitting service that comes in but I didn’t want to upend his world all over again. They ended up setting him all up in the bedroom and keeping him closed in there because he was hiding from them and they weren’t sure he was eating. They gave him as much attention as he’d allow.

The night we came home I walked into the bathroom and saw movement behind me. I turned around and there was Paul, standing up like a normal cat. I had only ever seen him move in a crouch. Here he was walking around the bedroom like he owned the place. That night he jumped on the bed but bolted when he realized there were 2 humans, a dog, and a cat already on it. I figure he’d been sleeping on it all week and was quite put out that suddenly we were all sleeping on HIS bed!

Now he’s pretty darn brave. He comes out mostly at night and hides under something during the day. He’s jumping up on the bed at night to get petting. He doesn’t stay long but that seems to be because he loses interest more than him being too scared. He likes to sit with the husband on the couch in the morning for petting. I think he’s starting to eat out of the communal cat bowl. He still gets overwhelmed by Freckles’ love especially when she hits him in the head with her tail but he seems more exasperated than scared.



Jules is our parrot.  She’s been here for 5 years.  She doesn’t talk.  On the first morning after her adoption she said, “Hello” to me when I uncovered her cage.  She has said nothing since.  She vocalizes all the time but no words.

The other day the husband decided to open a few windows.  After a while a strong breeze blew through on and startled her.  She fell off her perch.  (She gets dramatic when startled.)  She climbed back up, looked at him, and said clear as day, “It’s cold.”  He stared at her and said, “Sorry.  I’ll close the window.”  He did and she was satisfied.

I wasn’t home and he was quite put out when he relayed this story.  He said that she had been holding out on us.  Not only can she talk but she talks in sentences.  It seems uncharitable that she breaks 5 years of silence just to complain though. 

I went out and opened the cage.  She’s been being a complete b!tch recently about coming out of her cage.  She hasn’t wanted too and a few times I forced her out because I didn’t want her to get in the habit of being cage-bound.  That night I just wanted to pet her but she strolled right out onto my arm like it was normal.  I have a working theory that the real Jules died while we were on vacation and the pet sitters got us a new bird.  I’m ok with that because this bird is much nicer.

09 Oct, 2015

Introducing — Paul!

/ posted in: Pets

We have a new family member here.  Things have been rough since losing Riley but I had been on the lookout for a new cat.  Cats generally just show up but the husband was getting impatient.

Last Sunday we went to an auto parts store.  There is a large private animal shelter next door.  The husband was staring at it.  He said that I hadn’t even looked there.  I said that I had looked on the website.  He kept staring.  I asked if he wanted to go in.  He said yes.

I told him that this was a bad time to get a cat because we are going on vacation soon.  He agreed to just look.  I should have known better.

The cats at this shelter are kept in small glass rooms in groups of about 5-6 cats.  You can go into each room and sit in a chair and meet the cats.  When the husband walked up to room 10 he saw a large tiger cat sitting on a cat tree by the window cleaning himself.  He was impressed by the cleanliness.  Riley was a bit lacking in personal hygiene.  Powder would occasionally make a point to walk up and sniff his head and walk away in disgust.  That would shame him into bathing himself.

This was a quiet cat who liked getting petted but wasn’t obnoxious about it.  He was born at the shelter in 2013.  His name was Terry.  He was adopted when he was 3 months old. He was returned 11 months later for being too active.  (Seriously?  They had him through the horrible kitten crazy months.  He had probably almost outgrown the crazy when they brought him back.) He’s been at the shelter since last July.  His first family named him Paul.  Who names a cat Paul?  It is sticking though.

He got vaccinated before we left the shelter so he was quite angry.  He spent the first night hiding in the computer room.

The second day I made him get out from under a dresser and told him I was tired of his self-indulgent pity party. I moved him to a bathroom with no hiding spaces. I also brought home a pheromone collar to calm him. It worked. In 15 minutes he was demanding belly rubs.

The next day he moved to the bedroom and therefore had to interact with Freckles and Powder.  Powder is pointedly ignoring him.  Freckles wants to be friends so badly!  Every time he came out from under the bed, she’d be in his face wanting to love him.  The dog has no chill.  He ignored her except for the one time he smacked her for putting her nose in his ear.

He has been staying either under the bed or in the closet.  He likes to be petted a lot but won’t initiate.  He also isn’t eating to my liking.  He’s getting canned food to try to get him to eat and that is making everyone else so jealous.  He’s learning to eat while a dog is literally trying to break through the door to get to the yummy food.

Now he has full run of the house.  He goes out of the bedroom at night.  The first night he was roaming I found some cat toys that I haven’t seen in years spread out in the living room.  He’s starting to walk over to me to get petted instead of making me crawl under the bed.  We keep reminding ourselves that this is normal cat behavior.  Living with aggressively friendly cats can make you forget that.  I do NOTHING alone with Powder around.  Riley used to think that when I sat on the toilet it meant that I wanted a cuddle.  But even as in your face as Riley could be, he only did it for a few minutes a day.  Powder’s constant need to supervise my every move is an anomaly in the cat world, not Paul’s behavior.

I think he’s going to be fine.  It won’t surprise if he eventually comes more out of his shell.  It has been less than an week so far.  Someday I may look back on this post and laugh about talking about his shyness.

18 Sep, 2015

No More Lessons, Please

/ posted in: FamilyPets

Did you ever have one of those times when you were just convinced that the Universe was just piling on?

I’ve realized over the last two weeks that I’m generally a pretty happy and optimistic person no matter how hard I try to be cynical and that being borderline depressed is really weird for me.

It started with Riley.


There was much sadness from the humans and animals in the house. Probably not so much in the chipmunk community. Everybody loved Riley even when they don’t love anyone else. Following quickly after his death was news of job instability and then the death of a close relative of a coworker.

Then came Freckles. She’s had a small mass on her eyelid for a long time. On Monday she jumped up on the chair beside me with pus running out of her eye. Her tiny mass was suddenly three times the size and there was another one beside it. That’s when I decided that the universe was just screwing with us.

I often remark that veterinarians’ animals don’t receive health care on the schedule that we recommend for clients but when they do need health care – they get HEALTH CARE. Within minutes I had appointments for her with two local ophthomologists to see who could take it off first. I saw one on Wednesday who said that he thinks it had been growing inside her eyelid the whole time and suddenly broke through. She had surgery later that day. As the husband told her that night, “Two days after the identification of a problem, you had a board-certified eye doctor doing laser surgery on you over his lunch break? I don’t get that kind of boutique medical care.”

Then there came the news of another death of a friend.  People kept calling here to process their feelings about the news.

I’m ready to be done with drama for a while, please.

There are some good things that have come out of this all:

  • Powder and Freckles, sworn enemies at least in Powder’s mind, have become almost friendly.  I’ve seen them standing beside each other on the floor near Freckles’ water bowl.  This was such disputed territory that we had to give Powder her own bowl because she wouldn’t go near Freckles’.  They are ok with sitting on the same large chair with me at the same time.  This is major for a Powder Cat who refused to be off of the top of a wardrobe for 18 months after we brought Freckles home.
  • The husband’s stress levels have come down.  As this chain of events started I was worried about stress affecting him but as it piled up, he actually got better.  He seems to be letting go of worries a bit which is great for him.
  • Freckles actually didn’t act a fool during her hospital stay.  She has a huge cage phobia.  I was reluctant to leave her because the last time I caged her after an operation she banged her head repeatedly into the cage in an attempt to get out.  I told the staff at the referral hospital my concerns.  “Really.  She’s an idiot,” I said while Freckles gazed up at them beautifically.  They gave me the concerned pet owner speech.  I told them that I was going to say I told them so.  When I went to work and told the staff at my office that I left her there they said that we were never going to be able to refer to that hospital again.  Meanwhile Freckles apparently was given the option to stay outside her cage and CHOSE to lay quietly on a blanket inside a cage with no histrionics at all.  Thanks for making me look like a crazy pet owner.

So I’m glad that some good things have happened but I’d like to be done learning lessons for a while, please and thank you.

12 Sep, 2015

My No Good, Horrible, Rotten, Bad Week

/ posted in: Pets

Monday late afternoon the cats were lounging on the porch.  I wanted them to come in for the night so I grabbed Powder and hauled her inside.  I went back for Riley but he looked away from me and obviously didn’t want me to pick him up.  I told him, “Fine.  Stay out here then.”  He’s my cat that always wants to be outside and has spent most of his life spending the nights outside.

I didn’t know that it was the last time I’d see him.

I started to worry when he didn’t want in Tuesday morning.  I was panicking by Tuesday night.  There were neighborhood searches and signs put up.  I have a theory about what happened to him but without a body there is no proof.  I’m sure he’s dead.  This isn’t a house cat who goes outside and gets scared and hides.

Cats that go outside don’t die of old age usually.  I know that and have experienced that often while sharing my life with barn cats but this death hurt extra.  He was my lover boy who always wanted a cuddle.  We are hysterical and devastated.  There has been sobbing all week.  Powder is clearly grieving.  She took care of him from the time he was 6 weeks old.  Nine years later she still sniffed him when he came in from outside and would give him a cuff upside the head if she didn’t approve of where he’d been.

We still automatically check the patio doors when we walk into the room to make sure he isn’t asking to come in.  It is a jolt every time he isn’t there and we remember all over again.

It’s taken me this long to be able to write this without getting hysterical and there aren’t any pictures because I can’t face that yet.  Maybe later.

25 Feb, 2015

Adventures in Babysitting

/ posted in: Pets

I have a coworker who was going to have exploratory brain surgery. She texted me on a Tuesday two weeks ago to see if I would keep one of her cats whenever her surgery was scheduled. I agreed to this theoretical question. Ten minutes later she texted back and said that she had just gotten off the phone with the doctor and her surgery would be Friday. They had to leave to get to the doctor on Wednesday so could she drop off the cat in a few hours? That gave me no time to kitty proof a bedroom since I was at work.

The cat has cerebellar hypoplasia. That is a birth defect where the part of the brain that controls motor function didn’t develop correctly. This cat is pretty severely affected. She is able to stand but can only walk for a few steps before she falls over. She can’t climb or jump. She’s been this way since birth though so she thinks she is normal. I didn’t think she could get into anything but I asked anyway and was assured that she didn’t get into anything. <— That’s called foreshadowing in English class.

She was pretty freaked out by going to a new house and especially freaked out about going home with the evil vet. On Wednesday morning before work she ran away from me and hid under the bed.

At 5:30 Wednesday night the husband called me at work.

“Did you take the cat with you to work?”
“She’s not in the bedroom.”
“She has to be in the bedroom. She was under the bed when I left.”
“She’s not under there. There is that crawl space in the wall. She’s in the wall!”

The crawl space has a heavy panel in front of it. It opens a space behind our bathrooms to access the plumbing. I had a hard time getting it open. My cats have never bothered it. There is no way a disabled, uncoordinated cat can get in there. That’s the logical response. I started to panic. If you are babysitting a cat for a person having brain surgery of course the cat would find a way to get in there.

“Is the panel open?”
“It moves.” Imagine the whole string of expletives about the cat in the wall from the husband.
“Go in there and see if she’s there.”
“I have to move the bed to get to it. I’ll call you back.”

I’m shaking at work. I have an hour and a half until I can leave. I’m imagining having the call the cat’s owner. “So, I killed your cat in less than a day. Have a happy brain surgery!”

He texted back. “She’s not in there. She’s gone.”
“Where could she go from there? Basement?”

I’m having visions of her falling through holes for the plumbing. A normal cat could fall one story. She can’t catch herself. Dead cat in the basement visions start.

He texts back. “Not in the basement.”

Then nothing for 10 minutes and I am in full panic mode.

Text “Freckles found her. She was under the dresser.”

Under the dresser. She never left the room. Of course she couldn’t leave the room. Of course he didn’t look under the other piece of furniture before he started imagining disaster.

“She seemed pretty scared.”

Of course she did. There was a crazy man who came in the room and started swearing and then moved the bed and disappeared into the wall. I’d be freaked too.

After I calmed down I was talking to other people at work. We imagined what we could have done if we hadn’t found the cat. It wasn’t like we could go find another orange and white wobbly cat and pass her off as the same cat.

  1. “Um, I had some time with her this week so I managed to fix her brain.”
  2. “Wow, brain surgery must of messed you up to make you think you had a twitchy orange cat instead of this perfectly normal black cat that you’ve had all along.”


It has been two weeks since the events described in this post and I think I’ve mostly recovered. It took a few years off my life, I think.

06 Jan, 2015

An Epic Battle of the Wills

/ posted in: Pets

To understand this story you must first accept the basic premise that I tell clients all the time when they ask why their dog does something weird – Dogs Are Gross.  Freckles, for example, likes to help out with the cleaning of the litterboxes.

We recently moved our upstairs litterbox downstairs.  One side effect is that we know when we hear the pitter patter of little doggie feet heading downstairs that she’s up to no good.

Freckles decided that she needed to go out at 1:30 in the morning. When she came back she decided that it would be nice to have a little snack. She headed downstairs. I asked where she was going. She turned and casually strolled back upstairs. We went to bed.

Immediately she ran back out if the room. I followed. When she heard me she detoured to get a drink. I made her go back to bed.

I closed the door but didn’t latch it. I have a theory that my cats are inter-dimensional beings who lose their powers if the doors closed. That’s the only way to explain why they throw themselves against the doors and scream any time the doors latched. Freckles hurled herself out of bed as soon as I lay down. She managed to bump the door open with dexterity she doesn’t usually have. I followed her again.

We stared at each other in the kitchen. She went over and took one sip out of her water bowl. She laid down in the kitchen. “Really? You expect me to believe that you want to sleep in the kitchen for the first time ever? Get back to bed.” She glared at me but followed.

We both got in bed. She bolted as soon as I was still.

I laid down on the couch which is comfy and is right by the stairs. She walked in and stared at me for a while. This was an unexpected hiccup in her plan. She stomped off to her food bowl. She is free fed so she had a snack while she thought about what do to next. She stuck her head back in the living room. I was still there. More snack. She barked at a cat and then chased her. She came and sat on the couch and glared in my direction. Then she went and ate a full meal to make the bad feelings go away.

Eventually I fell asleep. She may have snuck past me in the night. I’m not sure. She may have just gone to bed and slept on my pillow.

Nice to know my parenting can be as annoying to a dog as it is to children.