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Posts Tagged ‘pets’

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My garden is full of butterflies!

In other news, I started this blog as a writing exercise, though these past few months, I find I’ve been quite the couch potato.

Some big things have happened recently, which I should write more about. But for now, just a list:

1. DaddyNell went in for minor surgery earlier this month. Something went terribly wrong and he almost died. He’s still at a rehab facility but should be coming home shortly.

2. My dog Nanaline has had some health challenges and is starting to have trouble walking.

3. I became a vegan. It wasn’t such a stretch for me since I’ve been vegetarian for about 25 years. However the real test will occur when I travel next month.

4. I told my boss I was leaving my job in April. That’s actually a very big step for me, since I don’t know where I’ll end up after my Camino. But I am trusting that I will find the right place to live and soulful employment.

So, like the butterflies in my garden, I am free to fly away …

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Okay, she’s not a pony, but Nanaline is cream-colored. And, as my pet dog, she’s one of my favorite things.

Nan’s half lab/half chow, with half a black tongue to prove it! (Sorry, she won’t keep her mouth open long enough for me to take a picture.)

She’s the fourth dog with whom I’ve shared my life. First there was Molly Dog, a golden retriever whom I bought as a puppy. Molly lived to the ripe old age of 14.

Next was Cameron, a black and brown dog who was abandoned by some neighbors. Having had a rough life before she moved in with me, Cami was in constant need of reassurance that she was loved. She was probably about seven when she died of kidney disease.

Then came Bailey and Nanaline, littermates adopted from a rescue organization. I got them in 2002; Bailey passed away in December.

Each of these girls were/are mid-size dogs, in the 60- to 70-pound range. Perfect size for light wrestling! Luckily they all loved long walks in the woods.

Molly and Cami were the perfect size to snuggle up against on cold winter evenings. However, Bailey and Nanaline stayed away from the furniture, and the few times I tried to get them on the bed, they panicked. That meant no snuggling unless it was on the hardwoods.

So Miss Nanaline has been an only dog for about four months now. And she seems to have settled into a comfortable routine. There is some dementia, along with arthritis, cataracts and hearing loss. Sometimes she wanders around the house aimlessly, but she’s nowhere near as nervous as Bailey was. And she sleeps at night!!!

The good news is that she’s increased her interactions with me; she now comes up and demands to be petted the way she used to. And sometimes she even tries to chase Patches the cat, so there’s still some life in my old dog yet.

Since I’m a dog person, I’ll probably always have one or two dogs in my life. And I’ll most likely always adopt from a shelter or rescue organization. While it might be more challenging to work with a rescue animal, there’s something quite special about knowing you helped that animal learn to trust and bond with humans.

So when the cat scratches or the bee stings, and I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my wonderful dogs and then I don’t feel so bad. (Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.)

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Another of my favorite things is my cat, Patches.   But before talking about the greatness that is Patches,I’ll share a brief explanation of how I, a dog person, became the “crazy cat lady” in my neighborhood.

I moved to my current house in December 2001.  In the summer of 2002, two things happened:  I started noticing several ferals with kittens around my yard, and I adopted two dogs who thought cats were toys.  (Insert sad story here.)

Anyway, at the time, the rescue organization from which I adopted my dogs was willing to help me trap the ferals and try to find homes for them.   However, my neighbors B and T strongly resisted that idea.  Seems they wanted the cats around to kill the mice, and they fed them just enough to keep them hanging around.

However, B and T didn’t really feed the ferals enough, and they certainly didn’t attempt to spay/neuter any of them.   One of the mama cats was so starved that she jumped on the deck table while we were eating and tried to take food off our plates.  WHILE WE WERE THERE.  AND SHE WAS FERAL!!!!

That incident, plus the already alluded to problem with my dogs, led me to agree  that the cats could stay but they had to be fed properly and they had to be spayed and neutered.  NO MORE KITTENS!!!  My neighbors agreed in principle.  However, as you may guess, I was the one who ended up feeding, trapping, spaying/neutering, and attempting to socialize the cats.

So, long story short, this dog person has spent the past 12 years spaying/neutering seven cats and finding homes for seven others.  The lucky ones to find homes were not feral; rather, they were former house cats or newly born kittens who had been dumped.   The cats who were born feral ended up staying around my house, since it’s just a lot of hard work to socialize a feral, and people in the market for cats opt for ones that are already people friendly.

Those seven ferals have had a pretty sweet life: shelter in my house’s crawl space, as well as access to cat chow,  to water, to plenty of mice if they choose to hunt.  They also have a big back yard in which to roam. Unfortunately some chose to roam across the highway, and, as you may guess, that never ends well…

As of today, Patches is one of only two cats to live at my house.  (The other, Shasta, encamped late last fall and still needs to be spayed.  She’s not around on a set schedule, so I have my work cut out for me.)

Anyway, back to Patches.  He showed up at my house three years ago and decided it was going to be his home.  At the time, he had to contend with my already entrenched cat, Atticus.  The two would fight constantly.  Atticus was a much bigger, stronger cat, so Patches was much worse for wear.  But no amount of fighting would keep him away.

The two called a truce after Patches got neutered and Atticus got tired of being sprayed with the garden hose.  And now that Atticus has passed on, Patches has full run of the yard.  He is living life large.

So  now to why Patches is one of my favorite things:  (Atticus was too, but for different reasons….)

Patches emits joy. He is always happy to see me.

Patches purrs so loudly and strongly that his whole body shakes.

Patches is a talker; he just walks around and meows.  During the summer, he will sit outside my bedroom window and let me know if I’m late with breakfast.

Patches is ecstatic to be fed.  As one of my pet-sitters noted, he never misses a meal.   He doesn’t overeat, though.  He is a bit chunky now that it’s cold outside, but he’ll drop that weight once it’s warmer.

Patches will often follow me around the back yard.  He likes to be my garden buddy.

Patches is silly.  He has been known to taunt the dogs, getting close enough to them to tempt them, but not so close  as to risk his life.

Patches takes advantage of his surroundings.  He has created beds in the most unusual places:

 

Patches is a mouser.   Yes, I do love that about him.    I only wish he would dispose of the mice somewhere other than by the back door!

For these reasons and more, Patches is one of my favorite things.  So when the dog bites or the bee stings, I simply remember sweet little Patches, and then I don’t feel so bad.  (Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.)

 

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Recipe for compost

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To make compost, use the following ingredients:

Browns (carbons): such as leaves, sticks, straw, dead plants from the garden, shredded cardboard

Greens (nitrogen): such as fresh grass clippings, veggie scraps, some food waste, some manures

Place compost pile in a sunny area so it can heat up. Mix ingredients. Stir pile and occasionally add water.

Cat optional.

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All Good Gifts

Just an update that Bailey made her transition on Friday, and boy, was she ready to go! She could not have made that more clear, so for that gift, I am most grateful.

I spent the weekend mostly at home with my other dog, Nanaline, trying to decompress from and honor the gifts from a challenging year of vet appointments, financial expenses and sleepless nights.

One gift was for Bailey’s littermate, Nanaline. The two were extremely bonded, so much so that the rescue organization that found them wanted them to be adopted together. That meant spending a year and a half in foster homes until someone crazy enough to want two big dogs who needed a lot of exercise (me!) came along.

But this past year saw Bailey withdraw from, lose patience with, and sometimes even attack Nanaline. So, while they both lived in the same house, they really began living separately. It got to where Nanaline would not walk near Bailey unless I were there to shield her.

Now that Bailey is gone, Nanaline doesn’t quite know how to be on her own. But she’s feeling freer to move around the house, and she has resumed a heavy sleep schedule. Hopefully Bailey’s distancing behavior will have prepared Nanaline for being an only dog.

Other gifts of the past year were for me. I had the pleasure of meeting several new vets and feeling very supported by their loving care for my dog. And I was able to have a perfectly acceptable excuse to stay home and spend precious time with Bailey.

However, the main gift was learning to be okay with what is. I could take Bailey to rehab and acupuncture. I could give her a plethora of medicine, herbs and flower essences. I could change my schedule to be home more often. I could stay up nights trying to soothe her fears. But none of those actions made her dementia go away. I couldn’t cure her. I had to accept what was before me, recognize what actions were mine to take, and then let the rest go.

So I did the best I could, was sad to watch my dog suffer, and then eventually listened when she said it was time.

I feel fortunate that I was the crazy enough person to adopt these two big dogs who needed lots of exercise.  And while I am saddened that the last year of Bailey’s life was not as peaceful as I would have liked, I am grateful for the gifts she gave me along the way.   The easy ones and the challenging ones.

May Bailey be at peace, may she be free of suffering.  May she be filled with loving kindness, may she be at ease.  May she know the everlasting joy of her one true nature.

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Wow.. That was hard!

So I did it; I scheduled an appointment for Bailey’s euthanasia.

Now that it’s done, I feel a sense of relief.

I went ahead and made the appointment after talking with an animal communicator on Thursday. She confirmed that Bailey was ready to go, and that she’s okay with me helping her go. She would prefer to go home, and waiting until after the holidays is too long.

The animal communicator also said that animals are okay with dying; that they aren’t attached to their bodies the way we humans are. She also said that, by my scheduling an appointment and letting Bailey know, Bailey will then have permission to try and go on her own, if she can.

Interesting that as further confirmation of Bailey being ready to go, when I got home yesterday, I found the house in a state of semi-destruction. So the nervousness has bled over into daytime.

So I took the first step.  I’m hoping Bailey’s higher self will let her physical self know that the end is near and she can relax.  Otherwise I’ll have to move things up a bit.

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At long last, sleep

Yay! Bailey slept through the night last night. Well, to be honest, there was the 1 a.m. potty break, but that doesn’t count. And there was the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, but that doesn’t count, either. It was all the hours in between that mattered.

To be honest, yesterday I had thought that it was nearing time to let her go. Sunday had been yet another night of being woken up at midnight, followed by 5- or 10-minute naps here and there until dawn broke. This has been happening all too often, and I think we all felt broken and defeated. Even my other dog Nanaline was suffering, what with Bailey stomping over her all night long.

In a last-ditch effort to ease Bailey’s angst, I took her in for acupuncture. I also told her that if the nights didn’t become easier for her over the next week, then I’d take that as a sign that she was ready to go, and I’d make that dreaded appointment.

I also scheduled a talk for this Thursday with an animal communicator. While I think I am pretty good at reading my dogs, this conversation might make me feel better about any decisions I’ll be having to make.

So what changed? Maybe it was the acupuncture relaxing her. Maybe it was giving her a different pain medication at night. Maybe it was her happiness that I was finally listening to her and would let her go.

Whatever it was, we all slept well. Nanaline found a safe space by the front door where she wouldn’t be trampled. Bailey curled up on her bed in the hallway. And I was able to burrow happily under my down comforter.

And what a difference a good night’s sleep made! Bailey looked happier this morning, and I know my mood was much improved.

So will this last? Who knows. But for this moment, I feel okay, and a little more fortified for what’s to come.

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