Tag Archives: animals

Aaaaccckkkkk!!! 

I have missed 6 days!! I’m not so much writing a story today as a run-of-the-mill blog post. Heck, it might even border on mildly boring, but as I’ve had a couple of adult beverages … I don’t really have a snappy end to that sentence. 😄

Okay, so the kitty kat got her stitches out today. She does has an infection, most likely from licking the wound site, but she got a shot of antibiotics. There’s a bit of inflammation, too, but our vet is hopeful that it is just partial post-op inflammation and infection. 

We did get the biopsy results, and it is intermediate mammary adenocarcinoma. Runs in the family. We’re still staying hopeful, though, since the vet did cut ahead of the direction of the growth that she’ll be all right for awhile. 

On lighter news, we did have a busy memorial weekend of a college graduation and a birthday party. Thankfully, the graduation was at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, and as it’s a small liberal arts college, there were only 206 graduating, so it didn’t take five hours! Of course, it was bright and early at 9:30 am, and we pretty much stayed outside for about 7 hrs, so between the sunny commencement and many games of corn hole, I got a little sunburnt. Not too bad, and thankfully when we got to the birthday party, the hostess made me go inside and get lotion. 

My husband’s and my work schedule has been ridiculously off center this whole week, so there’s been a couple of nights with 3-4 hrs of sleep, and not much of us seeing each other. I hate those weeks. I had today off, and he worked early, so it was super nice to have the whole afternoon and evening together. We finally had to come inside when it got too dark to see our Simpsons edition Uno card game. I am losing spectacularly! Here’s hoping tomorrow I can make a comeback, as we had to stop in the middle of the current round, and it will start with the second reshuffle of the deck in the same round. We have intense Uno battles, but maybe that’s easy to do with only two players! 

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and story tomorrow, promise! 



A Not-So-Story A Day May #19

*Depressing Post Alert*

For any of you who have followed this blog for a long time, you’ll know about our previous cats. All new followers probably don’t, unless you actually like reading through 2-3 years worth of blog posts. 🙂 So for a short version for everyone new to the blog, my husband and I had three cats. For 12 years. Lexus, the mama cat, and Jupiter and Isis, her two daughters. Lexus developed mammary cancer, which eventually spread to her lymph nodes and then pretty much everywhere else in her body. Jupiter, who had a heart problem that we managed well for five-six years, also developed a tumor in one of her mammary glands, and after that was removed, she developed two tumors in her lungs. Now, both of those cats passed in 2012, two months apart.

Fast-forward to 2015, and by now we’d figured that we really dogged a bullet with the bad genetic lottery concerning this family of cats. Alas, that seems not longer the case. Two weeks ago I felt a lump on Isis, on her lower belly. It was small, and while we try to consistently feel her belly for any lumps (for the past three years) she’s not a lap cat. But, she never has been, unless she’s feeling like it and even then rubbing her belly was not high on her list. Isis does like to curl up with Tim between his knees at bedtime, or she sleeps on my pillow, above my head, so she can be a snuggler, plus being 15 has mellowed her out a little. Anyway, the lump. We made a trip to our wonderful vet, who recommended surgery, which I expected. Isis got an EKG last week because she does have an age-related heart murmur, but my vet wanted to recheck her heart so there would be no issues with anesthesia. Today, she had her surgery.

We’ve been staying positive about the whole thing, and I’ve been doing well … until last night. With Lexus, her surgery gave us another 7 months with her, and she had five tumors and one entire side of mammary glands removed. (A ten inch incision is pretty much the entire cat, btw) Now all I could think about last night was how her sister, Jupiter, had one small tumor removed, and died three months later.  I keep thinking about how she’s the last of the original three, and we’ve had her since she was in her mother’s belly. I held this cat when she was one week old, and she’s been my cat ever since. I don’t know what I would possibly do without my vocal, grumpy, sweet girl, who, like her mother and sister, purrs loudly and uses her vocal chords often. Our current two kitties purr, but it’s a quiet purr, and they aren’t very vocal cats. I’m not sure how I would even adjust to that kind of quiet.

Now, you might be thinking, well, Isis just had surgery, like 12 hours ago, and a sample of the growth was sent off, and the biopsy results will be back in a few days. You might think, why even worry about it being cancerous when you don’t have 100% proof that it is. The problem lies with felines. You see, for all you dog people out there, canines get growths sometimes. They develop warts and cysts, and benign tumors. With cats, the malignancy rate is about 90%. Couple that awful fact with an established family history of heart disease and cancer, and the odds are not in her favor. Sure, my vet cut out the growth and the four tiny nodules that were developing, and got the tissue ahead of it to cut off the chain, but that does not reassure me. I did chuckle when my vet called me after the surgery and said Isis ended up with a four inch incision. Caring for Lexus after her surgery three years ago will never have me worried about incisions again. (Seriously, ten inches. On a cat!)

I haven’t cried in a few hours, so I figure that’s got to be something. Of course, I had a pretty sleepless night, since Isis gets Hangry, and she couldn’t have food or water after 10pm. She fussed at bedtime, after bedtime, and started walking around, yelling at me and one of the other cats about 4am this morning.

Right now, she’s lying on her favorite blanket in our bedroom, pain pill in her system so hopefully she’ll get some rest tonight. I did manage to get this awesome shot of her this morning. She’s not and has never been a fan of getting in the cat carrier, and while it’s easier these days than it used to be, she found a bit of the old flare of defiance and got behind the headboard. Then, one of my facebook friends made the greatest comment about the picture, saying it looked like Gandalf’s “Fly, you fools.” face. I think I’m going to need someone to photo shop a wizard hat on her.

I'm not getting in that carrier.


Story (Anecdote??) A Day May #15

Tomorrow, I will have an actual story. Promise, precious. Today, I’ve got an amusing list:

Things Talulah Brings Into The Living Room

I swear, no depth of counter space is enough for this leggy girl. Once, I walked out of the kitchen through the dining room, and had to do one of those double takes as our dog was standing atop the buffet. I don’t know how she got up there, and she made Zero noise doing it, nor did she knock over any photos or the vase of flowers. What a clown dog. Anyways, many of these things are seen as she is trotting by us while we are sitting on the couch, items hanging from her mouth while she gives the most casual look possible. (I promise, we aren’t trying to kill our dog). I generally only took pictures when it wasn’t life threatening. 🙂

A large, serrated bread knife, carried by the handle.

A gallon Arizona tea container.

Scissors

A roll of potty pickup bags

An empty 24-case pack of Dr. Pepper cardboard

Her 3-legged brother, dragging him across the floor by his collar

Various pieces of tupperware, dishtowels, and pot holders

Mail

My new book of checks that I insanely left sitting on the edge of the counter right after I opened them

The ‘wipe our feet’ mat from the back porch

Photo May 15, 7 35 47 PM Photo May 15, 7 35 55 PM Photo May 15, 7 36 01 PM Photo May 15, 7 36 09 PM


What Adopting A Dog Taught Me

Ignoring the fact that I’ve been absent from my tiny corner of the blogging internet for well over a year, I’ll just jump in like I haven’t.

What follows is also an insanely frank conversation about depression.

Anyone who knows me personally, or has followed this blog, knows that we have cats. A person might recall the death of two of our cats in late 2012, and then adoption of two kittens in 2013. Now this is relevant to the dogs because of the manner of how we came around to adopting. Basically, once we realized that our delightfully adorable six month old kitten was too much for our old, grumpy girl cat, we decided to get another. This decision came about on a warm, May evening, outside on the patio, after my husband and I had had a few delicious, refreshing, beverages. Boiled down even more, Tim got drunk, I got drunk, and he talked me into getting another kitten. Three days later, we had the 10 week old Simon.

Fast forward a year. We’d been kicking around the idea of getting a dog. Tim has forever wanted one, but with living in apartments, it was never a good idea, but now with the house, well … we talked about it, he kept resisting, and finally, I took matters into my own hands.

By way of Facebook and Tim making me like all these animal rescue groups, I discovered a local rescue group that takes in particularly abused and neglected animals. I went to the website. I browsed. I downloaded the application, stealthily filling it out one night while we watched TV, and broached the subject a few times, even showing Tim some of the dogs they had for adoption. He was still resistant, for some reasons I can’t even remember.  So like any good wife, I got him drunk and then showed him pictures.

An eight month old boxer-hound mix named Talulah stole his heart. We sent in an application, 75% already filled out thanks to my scheming to get my husband the dog he always wanted, and waited. Our references were called, I exchanged a few calls with the adoption coordinators, and we had a home visit, which sounds super serious, like adopting a baby, but many of these dogs and cats lived horrid lives prior to being rescued. And then, like a storm cloud settling over our heads, we found out that we weren’t the only applicants for this puppy. (Turns out little Talulah, having been available for several months, had no interested parties until the week we decided to adopt her.)

Days went by. About two weeks maybe? I, who does not and does not have children, suddenly felt like an anxious parent, waiting on an adoption agency to tell us that we could have a baby. When we finally got the call that we could go meet the dog, we both felt this insane amount of relief. Having no foster family either, Talulah had been staying at a boarding facility. A really nice place, but still not the same as a home. We met one of the adoption coordinators at the boarding place, and then met what is quite possibly the happiest dog in the world. Crazy, whole-body wiggling, jumping, dog. According to the groomer at the boarding facility, Talulah had had several visitors. I have no idea what made them decide on us, but even if they hadn’t, after that day it was obvious that Tim and Talulah were best friends. Ten minutes after being outside, Tim was laying in the grass with this dog laying on top of him. We couldn’t have separated them even if we wanted to.

We came back the next day and picked her up and took her home. At this point, we were fostering her because she’d suffered through severe demodectic mange, and while she was totally fur-covered when we met her, she still had a few more weeks of medical shampoo baths and one final test before being fully cleared for adoption.

The first couple of days went well. We kept her in our spare bedroom, giving everyone time to adjust. One morning, she saw a possum outside, and that was when we became acquainted with her barking. And more barking. And, eventually, crying noises when we would leave the house, or put her up in her room. Thus began the longest few weeks of my life.

You see, having no children, wanting no children, knowing full well the scope of my depression/anxiety, (and the almost certainty of passing those genes on) I now had a 53 lb child living in my home. Having cats for the past 14 years was in no way the same as having a dog, and we’ve always had snuggly, co-dependant felines. And when Talulah would get frustrated, I would get frustrated. She was big. She was loud. Intrusive. Always seeming to need my attention. And the more frustrated and upset I became, the higher pitched her whines, cries, and barks would become. There were several times when I broke down in tears, telling Tim that I could not take care of this puppy. Her needs, the closest thing I’d come to constant caring for another living creature, was too much. She needed too much. I felt like she and Tim were bonded while she did not care for me the same amount, and probably wouldn’t. I felt like I had post-partum depression.

Depression is a bitch. I can remember being depressed, clinically, chronically depressed since childhood. When I finally realized that I couldn’t live my life in a constant state of worry, panic, and soul-crushing worthlessness, I went to my doctor, and thankfully for me, medication saved my life. Which is not to say that I never experience regression, because I do, but I keep taking my medication, and I know there will be an end to the episode a few days away that doesn’t involve me plotting my suicide.

Getting that dog? That dog, that amazing, beautiful, still the happiest creature to roam this planet dog? She taught me what I knew  – I don’t want children. I’ll never want children. And while I do have moments of wistful ponderings at what might have been, it will never be more than my desire to not have kids. If not being able to figure out what a puppy needed made me feel like punching a wall until my hand broke, I can’t even imagine what pregnancy hormones would do to me. And I know from experience that not taking my medication, which I wouldn’t be able to do if I were pregnant, never goes well. I lived for so long just trying to cope that I’ll never willingly go back to that state of mind after knowing what not just hanging on is like. You wouldn’t think that level of depression and helplessness could be brought on by getting a dog. But, after reading many stories from many women who experienced the same thing, I felt better. And most of these women had human babies too, not just canine ones.

It has been an eye-opener adopting a dog (which, of course, we did officially about a month after we initially got her). Tim and I figured out that a dog is the nearest thing to having kids. Going away for a weekend? Leave out enough food and water and a clean litter box and your cats will be more than just fine. Got a dog? Well, as I’m sure lots of people know, that’s a whole different world.

So where does that leave me? Well, like I said, at the beginning it was a rough few first weeks. Now? I can’t imagine not having her. (Even if I do joke to Tim about that time we were down to just one pet in the house) Seeing our puppy transform and change, to grow comfortable in a home of her own has been amazing. The first couple of months we couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom, or make any noise without hearing her feet hit the floor, and the barking start. Now I could drop an armload of dishes and she would probably ignore it. Probably. With the majority of her mannerisms portraying the boxer part of her DNA, she is still a puppy at her current age of a year and nine months. We’ve learned that no surface is too high, and she still loves chewing on any sort of paper product she can get her paws upon. And if you’ve never been around a boxer breed or owned one, that name is entirely appropriate. They use their paws in the way cats do, grabbing things and holding them by curling their paws around items, and they absolutely punch you. We’ve both been punched by this dog, once in the eye for me.

Nowadays, we have five animals. Three cats, and yes, two dogs. We fostered a dog from the group we adopted Talulah from, and after about a month, when Talulah decided she actually did like him and could share all her toys, we ended up keeping him, because she found her canine best friend in a three-legged Australian Shepard. We took him in four days after his amputation surgery, which was an interesting experience. I’ll never forget sitting on the floor of the patient room in the veterinary hospital asking the vet if I should carry this dog down the four back steps to the yard when he needed to go out and her super casual reply of, “Nah, he’s fine.”. I know there are three and two-legged dogs and cats, but I’d never encountered one, and I had certainly had never cared for one, especially a dog that came with 30-something staples.

I think menagerie is a great way to describe the household. It’s what Tim and I say when people ask how we are, or about the house or pets. Soon to follow is something probably fiction-writing related, or house renovation themed.

She's helping with the veggie garden project by eating my gardening gloves.

She’s helping with the veggie garden project by eating my gardening gloves.

Runs as fast as the four-legged goofball, and was never happier than out in the snow two months ago.

Runs as fast as the four-legged goofball, and was never happier than out in the snow two months ago.

Talulah and Bo

** If anyone is interested in the ‘before’ pictures of Talulah or Bo, they can be found on The Arrow Fund’s website. There are a lot of graphic pictures, as this rescue group takes in cases that many people wouldn’t. You can find our Lula under the Happy Tails section. **
http://thearrowfund.org/


Good Things Come in Tiny Packages

We got a kitten. It wasn’t something we were looking to do, even though I made my husband go look at the shelter animals every time we went to Petsmart over the last few months. It sort of just happened. A former co-worker of his from WV sent him a message one evening, which led to adorable kitten pictures and an offer for us to take this tiny furball she was fostering. We decided what the heck.

Not having had kittens for thirteen years, we’ve forgotten how rambunctious they are. Hyper adult cat is a lot different from hyper 4-month cat. Sure, everyone knows this, we even know this, but somehow time erases exactly how different.

Now we have kitten standing at the window, batting at the blind pulls. Kitten creeping behind our grumpy 13-yr old Isis, in an attempt to eat from the bowl that isn’t hers. Kitten chasing whatever she can bat around, and, oh yeah, we adopted her in the middle of her teething months.

However much an adjustment this is, it’s completely worth it. From the first night we brought her home, our new kitty was eager to explore the house. She’s extremely affectionate, and loves nothing more than to climb up my back, (oooh, tiny claws) and sit upon my shoulder, like a parrot. If I stand next to my husband, she’ll walk back and forth across our shoulders, alternating which one of us to hang out with. If she sleeps with Tim, she either curls up on his lap or above his shoulder. Sleeping with me means she MUST be right at my throat. She insists on laying right below my chin, and while it may be uncomfortable, thank goodness I’m a side sleeper and she’s damn cute. If I’m sitting, she wants to nap on the top of my chest, also with her head below my chin. Seriously adorable.

Lately, life has been consisting of work, work, more work, and house renovations, so it’s been a nice distraction having a pouncing, stuffed mouse playing, finger nibbling bundle of energy around. Our older cat would disagree, but she’s slowly adjusting. 😀

Karly the Kitten! The people at the shelter thought she was a boy. Turns out you can't neuter a girl, so we added a girly 'y' to Karl's name.

Karly the Kitten! Originally named Karl, because the people at the shelter she was rescued from thought she was a boy. (Turns out, you can’t neuter a girl.) Once we found out we were getting a girl, we added the girly ‘Y’ to the name. I like to call her Karly Simon Garfunkel.


Habits

 

I used to use Biofreeze, but our cat Lexus’ uncanny attraction to all things mint eventually forced me to find some non-scented pain relief cream. That cat’s love of mint may have exceeded her love of catnip. And I mean anything with or smelling of menthol, spearmint, peppermint, and wintergreen. She was a social cat who liked to be with her people. She loved to sit on the bathroom counter when I showered, or when I did my end of day face washing and tooth brushing. At times, brushing one’s teeth became a chore of trying to shut the door before she got in. When my husband would leave his gum in his pocket, she would smell it through his jeans if she was sitting on his lap. Mint made her incredibly high and crazy – like drooling catnip fanatic crazy. Her eyes would get this ‘crazed ex-girlfriend stalking you’ sheen. And, yes, I’ll admit there were plenty of times I would blow my breath in her direction after brushing my teeth just to see it.

Since childhood, when I get milk out of the refrigerator, I shake the carton. Don’t know why. Every single time. That sound would bring her running. Lexus loooooved her 2% milk. She’d drink 1% if we had it, and always turned up her nose at skim. A kitty after my own heart. We wanted to eat an ice cream sandwich? No joke, the sound of unwrapping an ice cream sandwich, no matter how hard we tried to be quiet or slow, would also bring her running to the kitchen, even from a dead sleep two rooms away. Our other two cats, her daughters, get wet food; Lexus – dry. Separate eating spaces even. Not too far apart, but even friendly cats can get super territorial when it is feeding time.

On October 3 when we arrived home from work, we came to decision that it was time for her. She barely ate the day before, and had nothing to eat or drink that day, or the next. She increasingly had difficulty walking. That night was the worst. With all the tumors in her lungs, we were told to not just watch her food intake, but her breathing. That was still fine, but that night when my husband picked her up and laid her on the couch, she lay on her side all night, in the same position, motionless until I got up at my usual 5:45am. Honestly, we both half-expected her to have died during the night. I thought how much easier that would be, if she would just slip away in her sleep. One of the other things that bothered me was that she did not purr anymore. I hadn’t heard it a couple of weeks. Every once in a while, I thought I would catch the slightest vibration when petting her, but the sound had vanished.

On October 5, after both of us spending the night on the couch with her, we took her to the vet a couple of hours after they opened. For a cat who had barely moved and had not eaten or drank anything in three days, she made a remarkable show of life. She even bit the veterinarian who put her to sleep, which is fine, because that vet is my least favorite of the doctors in that office.  🙂

In some ways, I think we could have kept her with us a few more days. But then I think of how much more pain she might have been in if we had. No food, dehydration, and tumors ravaging her tiny body are so much worse than any selfish decision we could have made. The tumor on the underside of her jaw had doubled in a month. The ones covering her stomach felt like they had multiplied. I know there are people in this world who would have taken their animal to the vet, gotten them IV fluids, force fed them, but that seems cruel to me.

My husband had to go to work that day, and I felt so awful for him. Had there been anyone to cover his shift, I know he would have stayed home. I was off work, thankfully, and once home alone, I did okay. I did okay until 6pm rolled around, which is dinner time in our household. I realized for the first time in twelve years I only had two cats to feed. I realized when I opened the freezer that evening and saw the box of ice cream sandwiches that I would never have to worry about trying to eat one in peace again. I don’t need to shut the bathroom door to brush my teeth, and my husband can leave his mint-flavored gum anywhere he pleases now. Neither of the other two cats meows incessantly for a bowl of milk when I get it from the refrigerator, so it’s a quiet occasion except for the shaking. All of these strange little habits finely honed for twelve years, which is how long I lived with that cat. It’s depressing to realize the actions that have become second nature are no longer needed.

We went to the funeral home a few days ago, picked out a nice urn, and collected her ashes. One of the catnip toys we have is this grey mouse. It’s awful looking now. Completely ratty, no tail, and half the fur missing. It was one of Lexus’ favorites, so I put in inside the urn, and as one of my friends at work stated, I did begin to feel a little better once she was home.


Cancer, Cider, and the Autumnal Equinox.

So many cat meds. So few cats.

We have three cats. Isis is perfectly healthy, Jupiter has a heart condition and recently had a tumor and several cysts removed and thinks she is perfectly healthy, and Lexus, their mother, is not so good. 2012 hasn’t been a great year for health. Our turtle died on Valentine’s Day, Lexus had 5 tumors removed in March, my grandmother passed a couple of months ago, and my dad was in the hospital for several weeks. He has since returned home and is doing great, so that’s one silver lining! 🙂

We knew the chances of Lexus’ cancer coming back/spreading was likely. I’ve learned that mammary cancer in cats is almost always 90% malignant, and feline mammary adenocarinomas are aggressive and invasive, most often spreading to the lymph nodes and organs. This is what has happened to our cat. Lexus and I recently made the 3-hour trek to Columbus, OH, so she could see one of the veterinary oncologists at Ohio State University’s vet school. And let me tell you, they are fantastic there. So wonderful and caring. Before I drove up there, we knew her cancer had come back, but not to what extent, or what we could do for her. During the time while the kitty was sedated for her chest x-rays, I did get to go to Barnes & Noble and eat at P.F. Changs , so it wasn’t a completely awful day.

So now we have the information and means to make her comfortable. My husband got Lexus when she was a kitten, thirteen years ago. His roommate had a boy cat and well … you know. So we’ve had Lexus for 13+ years, and the other two for 12. I know taking care of an ill person is not the same as an ill pet, but we are still taking care of a living creature. She has a personality, quirks, does different things than our other cats, all the sorts of things that make a living thing distinguishable from another of the same species. It is a strange experience, sort of surreal I guess, to know this little furball that has been with us everyday for 13 years won’t be here much longer. In a way, I think I am glad to go through it. And I’m glad that we taking care of her, and especially happy that we are on vacation right now, so we can spend more time with her. She’s on a steroid and appetite stimulant, and it’s been a bit frustrating to find something she will eat besides the endless packets of Starkist tuna. 🙂 She did devour 2 slices of ham the other day, and, of course, still loves having the middle part of an ice cream sandwich, which pretty much means I get to eat ice cream sandwiches. Win-win.

And speaking of things I like to consume, I picked up some Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider. It’s pretty good. Surprisingly, even. A bit sweet, not overly carbonated. A friend is up this weekend, and instead of making beer as he and my husband do, we are attempting to make a hard apple cider. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider

Today is also the Autumnal Equinox, or the first day of fall for all you non-equinox knowing peeps out there. Today marks my favorite time of the year. I adore fall: the colors of the leaves, the cooler weather, warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks, cooler weather, flowering mums and pumpkins everywhere, and did I mention the weather??!! Perfect temperatures in the fall and spring. Makes me wish I could stop time and stay in an eternal loop of fall and spring, with maybe a couple of weeks of summer or winter thrown in.


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