Sunday, December 30, 2007

Going to the Dogs!

The saga of dogs at my house has been a series of ups and downs! Two dogs that didn't get put in the house soon enough when the fireworks started one 4th of July disappeared. Frosty and Maxx got frightened, jumped fence and were never seen again. A pup that died suddenly from a case of parvo, a basset hound that I wanted to keep, but could not get to stop climbing a fence. That was a sight! But he had to go back to whence he came.

Then came a dachshund, a gift from my "first X-husband" to my daughter. She came with the name Daisy. What an awful name for a little dog. The name was quickly changed to Cinnamon. Cinny lived comfortably for several years as an only dog. Then a neighbor was getting evicted. This neighbor had an elderly Scottish Terrier, a female named Scotti (how original). The neighbor did not know where he was going and figured he would have to take Scotti to PAWS. I know the luck of older animals when they are at the shelter and told the neighbor that Scotti could stay with us. I let him know that if he found a place and wanted Scotti back, that was fine. I saw the neighbor twice after that and Scotti remained with us.

Scotti's hearing was failing. She depended on Cinny. Cinny would get Scotti when it was time to come in or when the food was put out. Cinny was an assistive animal for Scotti. Unfortunately, Cinny decided to dig out under the fence and was hit by a car at the end of our driveway. No one stopped to let us know. If Leah and I were sad, Scotti was devastated. Scotti needed a friend, so it was off to PAWS.

That's when I found Mikiya (Mikki). A cute little Spaniel mix with Papillion ears. A gentle dog that took to the role of assistive animal like a duck takes to water. Mikki quickly learned that Scotti needed her help and she was glad to oblige. Scotti eventually became totally deaf. After about five years with us, the arthritis became very bad and she had to be carried up and down steps - which also meant carried outside. A trip to the groomer meant baby aspirin so she could stand long enough to get clipped. But she still seemed happy. Two years ago, she got sick. As long as she was in the hospital on IV fluids, she did pretty well. Off the fluids, her kidneys shut down. It was with sadness and love that I held Scotti as she was given the shot that ended her life.

Mikki no longer had a job to do, no mission. She became very withdrawn. Just as Scotti had needed a dog, now Mikki needed one too. Off to PAWS again! Little dog, playmate for Mikki, young enough to be around for awhile, enter Miniya (Minni).

Minni is a ball of energy. A little terrier mix and smart as a whip. The dogs get along well together. They have a circular "rut" in the backyard where they play tag. They play tug-o-war with their toys and often curl up next to each other to sleep. They let me know quite loudly if anyone comes close to the house. They love to play and have never been aggressive toward anyone. They bark, but the tail keeps right on wagging.

Stuffed toys last about ten minutes at the most. There is a game called "Get the Damn Squeaker Out" that they play with all of them. Fetch can last for hours. They have me well trained. Although Mikki is a little taller, they are equal in weight and strength, so the winner of a tug of war match isn't known until the very end. There are days when I do not make it home to let them outside during the middle of the day. Bless their little hearts, they do not make a mess. They are ready to go outside when I get home, but they have managed to "hold" everything until I get there.

I really lucked out with these two "pound puppies".

What would we do without them......

As I peruse the forums, I am struck by the number of people who have pictures of their pets as their avatars. I know how much my animals mean to me and don't have any idea what life would be like without them. As you can see below, I recently lost a cat that had been with me nearly 16 years. Made a trip to PAWS yesterday, but I did not meet any cat that wanted to join the family enough to talk to me. My most recent addition to the family has adjusted well and is quite a lap cat (a fact that does not thrill some of the other would-be lap sitters) . Oliver is a real beauty and likes to play with the shower curtain. He basically ignores the dogs and has made friends with the other cats.

Before Oliver, Prince Gustov, better known as Gus, joined the family. Gus is also a lap sitter that made a rapid adjustment to the house. I have learned that if I have patience, the perfect animal will show up at PAWS. He has a distinctive face. Reminds me of some movie character, but I have not figured it out yet. It was the expression on his face that drew me to him. Gus is calm and loving. If not in my lap, he likes to be close by as this visit to the bathroom shows. Like most of my cats, Gus is a fairly large, long haired feline. Someday, I hope to add a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat to the family. There is always room for one or two more cats at the food dishes and litter boxes!

This is Caspian. A large, short haired cat that is usually pretty shy. He has come out of his shell quite a bit and likes his share of attention and an occasional sit in a lap. He is seen here in one of his favorite hiding places - a basket/pillow that is under a small table with a floor length table cloth. He doesn't mind being disturbed as long as a little petting goes along with it. For about the first year that Caspian lived with me, he would only demand attention at bedtime. He wanted to curl up on a pillow next to my head. Since animals are no longer allowed in the bedroom, he has begun to seek attention at other times, too.

Eighteen pounds of love, that describes Trumpkin. Winter of 1993, I was visited by a big orange tomcat that moved in for the winter and left again that next spring. I had wanted a big, orange cat ever since sharing that winter with a cat we called George. Well a trip to PAWS led me to a cage with a big, orange cat named Trumpkin and his cage-mate, Caspian. They had been raised together and surrendered by their owner when a new baby joined the household. I did not have the heart to separate them, so I adopted them both. Trump is a lover and a lap sitter. He is also a nipper, and if the attention does not come fast enough, will give a little bite to let you know that he is there and wants a little lovin'. Trump has the most beautiful yellow eyes.

Sitting in the bathtub is Rush. Rush was adopted along with Leo who passed away in February 2007. Rush is an absolute hoot! He was named on the way home from PAWS. He was not meowing, he was howling and screaming! I thought what a loud, obnoxious, demanding personality - Rush Limbaugh - Rush became this beautiful cats name. He is still loud and demanding, but not obnoxious. He is a real attention seeker and a great lap warmer. He will often sit on his haunches in my lap, with a paw on each of my shoulders, like a baby giving a hug. He is a real sweetheart and still does not like to go in a cat carrier. Thank goodness, it is only once a year for the trip to the vet. He becomes obnoxious in addition to loud and demanding when the carrier is close by.

Meet Libby. A dainty little girl that almost did not make it. Libby was found at PAWS. She had an injured leg. I was allowed to take her for x-rays that showed the leg to have been shattered in at least five places. She also had an upper respiratory problem. PAWS suggested that I pick a different cat. No Way! Libby was nursed back to health, the injured leg amputated and then she was spayed. Her name is actually Liberty for obvious reasons, but Libby suits her just fine. The lack of a leg does not slow her down or keep her from getting wherever she wants to go. What a doll!

Harriet, wonderful, gentle and loving. Harriet was found as a kitten, about four months old or so in 1994. She was roaming at Harrison Homes. Someone had put a red "X" on the top of her head. I could not resist her beautiful blue eyes and brought her home. I was afraid the X was a target. Harriet requires a lot of brushing since she sheds a great deal. I think she does it on purpose for the attention. Harriet is now the second oldest of the cats, but is in good health. Leah took her to Chicago for awhile, but she did not adjust well to the change or being an only cat. When she came back home, it took her a long time to get over the trauma of the change. She is back to being herself now.

The Grand Old Man!!! Smokey was probably at least two years old when he joined the family in 1990. There is no way of knowing how old he is, but he is at least 18 or 19 years old. He sleeps a lot more now and likes to curl up in front of a heat vent in the kitchen. He was sick a couple years ago. We thought we might lose him. He spent a week in the hospital and had a slow recovery, but has regained the weight he lost and probably a little more. His coat is not as soft as it used to be. He will let you know when he has had enough - there is a special growl that says "Leave me alone". He is still referred to as the Attack Cat, a name he earned!

Cats - a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and attitudes. Not a pedigree or "papers" among them and I wouldn't trade any of them. My dogs are neat dogs, but they are not cats!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My New Year's Resolution has generally been to not make any resolutions. But I just finished reading a fellow blogger's post that has inspired me to get back in control. I haven't totally lost control, but I am losing it! Unless a person has known me for at least ten years, it is hard for them to believe the path I have been down. October 1997, I tipped the scale at 210 pounds. This was at the Doctor's visit that led to the cancer diagnosis. Chemotherapy left me with mouth sores that kept me from eating. I survived on Cream of Tomato soup and lost about 30 pounds. For some reason, chemo also changed the taste buds so that for awhile chocolate or anything sweet turned my stomach. Over time, I gained back about 10 pounds of what I had lost.

Eventually, I saw a copy of the Adkins diet book. I couldn't do Adkins, but I did cut out a lot of the sugar and other carbs. Over a period of about 14 months, I dropped down to 128 pounds. That was a psychological milestone for me. I remember being a chubby kid and being weighed at the end of 5th grade and weighing 128. As an adult, I was too thin at that weight and looked sick. I added some more carbs back to my diet. For a long time, I stabilized at around 135 and that was great. I tried to watch it pretty closely and stayed within a 10 pound range (130 - 140).

For the last several months, the sugar addiction has been hitting in full force. I am a closet addict. People normally do not see me eat the sugary things I love, but the results are there for all the world to see, like any addiction. I have not hit 145 yet, but if I do not regain control, I will. Then 150 and then, who knows. So, for that reason, I am breaking down and making a resolution for 2008.

I resolve to regain control of my addiction to sugar. I will return to what worked for me. I will "graze" on fresh fruits and vegetables during the day and eat a balanced meal at night. I will maintain my weight within my acceptable 10 pound range. When I was "grazing", I developed great metabolism and was able to indulge now and then without going off the deep end. I want to get back to that point. No, I will get back to that point.

Here's to a great 2008 for all of us!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today is the first full day of winter! Yeah! That makes us one day closer to the first full day of Spring. Winter is slow down time. Planning time, thinking time, reflection time, valuable time for those of us who seldom slow down. The argument between Me, Myself and I has already started. The more I think about it, the more I want to retire next year. That will give me a year to risk the possibility of life without insurance. It is not the 13 1/3 percent reduction in Social Security benefits that bothers me, it's the lack of insurance before Medicare would kick in. Fortunately, I am healthy and have been for the last several years. 1997 brought a breast cancer diagnosis. 1998 brought a parathyroid tumor (benign) diagnosis. 1999 brought a bone tumor (also benign) diagnosis. Since then, not even a serious common cold.

I don't think I would have too much trouble finding a part-time job to supplement Social Security and retirement savings. The finances are in pretty good shape and will be even better by November 1, 2008. I am not tired of working, in fact, I really like my job. I just don't like the stress level that goes along with it. January 2008 will make sixteen years in the same place. That's a long time. I don't see myself making it to seventeen years. It will be interesting to see how I think when it gets closer to August 1st. That's when I would have to notify Social Security that I would be retiring in three months. I know this is not the last time I will have this internal discussion, it certainly is not the first time.

For now, a tentative decision has been made - subject to change of course! November 1, 2008, I plan to be out of there and on to the great adventure of retirement!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Passage

Spring 1992, Leah and I moved into our home. That summer a cat showed up on our door step. She was a pretty gray and white cat, young, but fully grown. She seemed to make herself right at home. Leah named her Skyler because she looked like a cloudy sky. Skyler loved everybody.Where other cats may hide when strangers come into the house, Sky would make herself at home on their lap. A sweet and gentle addition to our home for 15 1/2 years. Skyler died today. Good bye, Sky.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Need To Take My Own Advice

I have not written lately. Not because of time limits. I have had plenty of time. I just did not have anything remarkable to expound on or an ax to grind. Now I realize I have an ax to grind with myself. There are a lot of "trite old sayings" that I use for myself or to assist people when they are looking for the "tree in the forest". Many of them are hold overs from when I worked at the substance abuse treatment center. "You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone" is one of my favorites. The definition of lunacy is obvious, "Doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results". To be successful we usually need to "change our playgrounds and playmates". I forgot the very one I needed.

Over at one of the local forums that will remain nameless, there is a guy (I guess it is a guy, I have no way to know for sure) that has been driving me nuts. Long, verbose posts, language meant to incite, verbal attacks on anyone who dares to disagree with his (her) view. And, damned if I didn't fall into it. Some statements were made that really angered me. I tried to respond politely, but to no avail. The confrontation continued on a couple of threads. I forgot all about, "Don't let anyone live in your head rent free". I was not only letting him (her) live in my head rent free, I also furnished the apartment and paid the utilities.

No more! My last post to any of the comments made by this individual was, "I will no longer add fuel to the flame." As much as I wanted to say a final "fuck off", I resisted. I have no need to defend my thoughts. They are mine and that is all that matters.