Category Archives: Pets

so long, big guy

I love my kitties. I dream of a house full of happy, purring cats that play, eat, sleep — and reliably use either a cat box or the great outdoors. But for the third time, we have a cat that is breaking the rules, and I will not keep a cat that uses the house as a litterbox.

Tomorrow, I must say goodbye to my deskmate, Archie: our big, soft, lazy, always-indoors, purring, attention-demanding, striped boy. For reasons known only to himself, he’s decided that deep-pile carpet is the place to go. He’s happy, and the litterboxes are plentiful; but he’s developed a preference for carpet, and research and experience indicate that he isn’t likely to change.

I’d give up our two dogs in a heartbeat (I only tolerate them, and will never voluntarily have another). I love cats so much, and yet I must let another one go. It’s hugely unfair, and I am heartbroken.

spring must-haves for your animal friends

Here are a few items that you’ll absolutely want to invest in — I’m placing my orders today.

From Archie McPhee: Squirrel Underpants!“Are you sick and tired of squirrels running naked in the trees around your house? Have you had to hide your children’s eyes when a tiny furry streaker crosses the sidewalk in front of you? We’ve got the answer, Squirrel Underpants. All you have to do is catch a squirrel, restrain him carefully, slide on a pair of tiny tighty-whiteys and then let him go. Each pair of 100% cotton briefs is “Proudly Made in America” and features a 2″ waist and a tail hole cut in the back. Help the squirrels hide their nuts for the winter!”

Also from Archie McPhee, a Dog to Unicorn Transformation Kit!“This is not a costume. This is a kit to completely transform your beloved pug or beagle from a cute canine to the ultimate unicorn. It includes screw-in horn, hoof attachments, medical grade glue, peroxide, mane fur, a tail and a handful of glitter! Just peroxide the color out of your dogs hair and attach the fur and accessories with glue. Once you have the horn in place (Dremel not included) your beloved pooch will be ready to accompany you to fairyland. Please specify size of dog when ordering. Not legal in California, New Mexico and part of Maine.”

And of course, no household like mine, where cats run rampant, can be complete without several of these handy gadgets:

the kitten has discovered that toilet paper unrolls

She has also, twice this morning, mistaken my leg for a scratching post.

She’s lucky she’s so damned cute.

one big happy family

There’s always room for one more. All the cats and dogs are getting along famously (except Myra, who doesn’t get along with anyone).

For much of his life, Archie (the orange tabby) has loved to sleep under the warmth of my desk lamp while I’m working. Yesterday, while he was away, Alice discovered this comfy, warm spot for herself. Later, when Archie jumped up there and found his spot taken, he didn’t get upset — he just shoved her over a little bit and settled down.

You can see the corner of my computer monitor above him. It’s lucky this happened at the end of my work day, because it’s hard to work when about a quarter of the screen is obscured by orange fur. 🙂

hoping for good luck a month, I play poker.

It’s a long story. I played poker with members of my dad’s family from when I was little until I was a teenager and they all became born-again Christians and decided that God frowned on a flush beating a straight. My dad played poker with a group of other local school administrators, and when I was grown up and back home he’d invite me to play when he hosted. Eventually I became the group’s first Permanent Female Member. I’m the youngest by at least 20 years, which is nice because that isn’t often the case for me any more. We now have two women in the group, and the guys like to bitch about how they used to win once in a while, until they let all those females in… 😀

The group has 6 members, and we take turns hosting.Tonight is my turn. But here’s the thing.

  • A year ago, the evening I hosted, our golden retriever went into a seizure that we couldn’t bring her out of. We called our veterinarian, who told us to bring her to the clinic (at 10:00 p.m.) and he’d meet us there. Our guests left early, and we spent an hour at the clinic while the vet pumped increasing amounts of valium and phenobarbitol into our golden girl until she finally relaxed. It was a scary night. (The dog is now on maintenance meds, although she still seizures occasionally.)
  • Six months ago, when I hosted, it was the night before school started. Part way through the evening, my daughter called me into the living room to say that it hurt her to pee. Shades of horrible, UTI-cursed, pre-child-bearing years of my life: I knew what it meant. Called various urgent care centers; all closed. Called our pediatrician; she refused to call in a prescription, saying we should bring C to her office the next day. The first day of school. C was frantic. Called Humana’s nurse line, where a saintly woman gave me an authorization number to take C to the ER. Our card-playing guests once again went home early. Spent a couple of not-too-awful hours at the ER and came home with prescriptions, so all was well.

I don’t believe in Fate, Destiny, Bad Karma, etc. But you know, these things come in threes… Will a blizzard knock out all power in the region? Will one of the kitties fall over, deathly ill? Will my son fall off his bike and break his arm? Or will the night be crisis free?

Wish me luck — and I wouldn’t mind winning some money, either!

my early birthday gift

The kids and I went to the animal shelter thinking of bringing home a male kitten named Randall. Instead, I’m delighted to introduce our new little girl: Alice. we were at the shelter it was clear that she was the one for us: outgoing, friendly, and curious about the world. She’s about three months old and tiny (especially compared to our other cats). Her left side is entirely white; her right side, her back, her face, and the underside of her back feet have a few random splotches of tan and grey — and her tail is entirely calico, as if some other cat’s tail was attached to her by accident. other cats reacted as we expected: with shock and horror that we would bring this Vile Thing into the house. They took turns hanging around, 15 feet away or so, watching her with suspicion, and occasionally coming closer to hiss and generally act silly.

Once Alice got comfortable she started skittering around the room with her tail puffed up, doing her best crazy-kitten romp.

After a long of evening of playing and exploring she finally went to sleep for a little while. When we went to bed, though, she began crying, so I brought her up with us; she slept a few hours and spent a few other hours mewing, purring loudly, and playing with my hands and face. I think I did sleep a little at some point… But all our kittens have done this on their first night (they’re in a big, new, strange place, after all), and tonight she’ll be more confident in her surroundings.

I almost forgot to explain her name. When we chose a female kitten, the kids and I had no name ready. As I filled out adoption paperwork, we sifted through possibilities from our favorite movies, but nothing clicked. Then my son suggested Alice, for the heroine zombie-killer in the Resident Evil trilogy (which he finished watching yesterday — for more about that, see my Movies page). Our new kitten seems like a kick-butt, take-no-prisoners sort of girl, I like Milla Jovovich, and the name also could be from Alice in Wonderland or even Alice Cooper, so Alice it is. 🙂

room for one more birthday is a month away, but I’m getting my present early. As soon as my kids are home from school on Tuesday, we’ll head to the animal shelter and choose a new kitten.

We’d like to get a white kitten, to fill out our color set, but they’re relatively rare. Some variety of tabby is more likely. And the most important factor by far is personality. Our four cats have all found their way into our homes by virtue of being outgoing and friendly — they came to us, rather than us forcing ourselves on them. Now, as adults, they’re always around us, purring and lying on our laps and asking to be held or petted. When we enter the visiting room at the shelter to meet whatever kittens are available for adoption, we’ll be waiting for the little guy who immediately makes his way over to climb our legs and express his fervent desire to be Our Cat, purring all the while.

I much prefer a male kitten, based on past experience with assorted cats. Yesterday my daughter and I spent considerable time in discussion of what his name should be.’ve used up the names of my favorite book characters (see this entry and this one), so we branched out into movies: Jason, Bourne, James, Neo, Bruce, Clive… nothing seemed quite right. Then my eye fell on the Clerks II DVD. Dante? My daugher made a face. Elias? Not quite. Randall? Yes! I hear the name and instantly see a highly energetic ball of fur racing around the house and announcing his presence with authority. (Bonus points to whoever tells me what movie features a character who wants to announce his presence with authority.)

Somewhere tonight there’s a kitten who doesn’t know yet that his name is Randall and he’s coming to live soon with 4 other cats and 2 dogs in a very loving home. Sweet dreams, kitty cat.

grrr please remind me why I love my animals so much. This morning my assorted pets have been expensive (Myra) and disgusting (Archie — but I’m sure the dogs have been doing disgusting things, too, and I just haven’t seen them), and they have caused me worry to a greater (Myra) or lesser (Bob) extent.

Granted that I think people who don’t have pets lead boring lives, I could do with less-interesting animal companionship today.

world’s happiest Golden Retriever

Want to make your Golden Retriever happy? Take her for a ride in a convertible. Even better, take her for a ride that ends at a park where she and your Black Lab can cavort in a creek. Sure, on the way back, my son and I were in the back seat with about 120 pounds of damp dog lying on and around us; but it was all good. 🙂

Photo of Lily by my daughter

primary goodies

I was the 76th person to vote in my precinct a little while ago. Indiana holds local elections and primaries today, and I had only a few choices to make on my ballot: which candidate to support for the Democratic nomination for mayor, and nominees for seats on the city council. Given the seemingly less-than-urgent nature of this election, I expect turnout to be maybe 10% if we’re lucky.

As always, I don’t understand why people don’t vote. It took maybe 15 minutes out of my day. It’s exciting, in a wonky sort of way. It’s one of the best benefits of living in the great democracy that is the United States. (It’s also a good way to distract yourself if your big, stupid golden retriever has just killed one of the baby robins that was born in a nest above your deck; and that you’ve been watching eat and grow for a couple of weeks; and that you were thrilled to actually see fledge, hurling itself bravely from the nest with the warbled encouragement of its mother, only to land on the ground and be immediately mauled by the big, stupid dog who would not come away or stop no matter how loudly you yelled.)

The most interesting part of voting today was the assortment of goodies I was handed by volunteers outside my polling place. I don’t think they’re allowed to say anything in support of their candidate, because as I walked to the door they approached me, mute and smiling, one at a time, holding out their tokens of electoral regard. Here’s the count:

  • bag (useful for holding everything) containing a comb.
  • 1 pencil (always useful).
  • 1 emery board from a former mayor who’s trying to get reelected.
  • 5 emery boards from the current mayor who’s also trying to get reelected (this seems like overkill to me, or compensation, or something).
  • 1 business card (booooring; this candidate needs to learn from the others).
  • The winner: a bag of Hershey’s kisses from a man running for city council, who owns a jewelry store and thus knows a lot about small metallic objects. The note with the candy reads “A Kiss for Your Vote.” The bag contains 9 kisses, so it’s possible that he’s encouraging vote fraud; but I’m choosing not to worry about it.

If I got all this stuff on the day of some piddly local races, imagine what they’ll be handing out next year during the presidential primary. Heck, I’m figuring Hillary Clinton should be good for at least 50 bucks.