Sweet-Talking the Cat

Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 12:31 PM

I talk to my animals all the time. While I’m sure they’re not understanding the details, I believe they understand, through my voice tone and inflection, the message that I am trying to impart.

I read a lovely article the other day about how we should talk to our animals and how they actually do understand what we are the saying. The article went on to describe a dog who needed medical treatment and through calmly talking though what she was doing and why she was doing it, the author helped to calm the dog down enough that she was able to treat him without difficulty. The dog understood that she was helping him. What I wonderful, idea, I thought. The next time I have to give one of the animals medicine, I’m going to try this.

This morning, Herbie’s treatment escalated from the yucky paste stuff he doesn’t like but we can still get him to eat by smearing it on his feet (OCD cat tendencies to clean themselves apparently trump yucky tasting medicine), to needing to take a pill.

Herbie does not take pills. Period. Ever. We’ve tried before. He squirms and bites and no matter how far you can push it in his mouth he always manages to spit it back out, often times with impressive velocity, which causes the pill to bounce off counters and floors, flinging itself into unknown regions. Unknown regions are not okay when you have two dogs that will eat anything they find. Unknown regions involve a lot of time spent on hands and knees, searching, until the pill is found. We try to avoid unknown regions at all costs.

Dennis was skeptical when I returned from the vet this morning with a pill bottle. Then I showed him the liquid. I convinced the vet to give me the medication in both forms so I’d be assured I could get at least one into Herbie. The vet warned me that the liquid form tastes bitter and will cause Herbie to immediately foam at the mouth when he takes it. Wonderful. I decided we’re trying to get the pill down him first.

I told Dennis about the article I read. Using my most calming, soothing voice, I explained to Herbie that he needed to take a pill for a few days so he would feel better. I showed him the pill, which is small, no bigger than the kibbles he gulps down by the mouthful without chewing. I ended our conversation on a high note, acknowledging the problems he and I have had with pills in the past, and assuring him that I am confident those times are over and we’ve got this. He would have no problem taking the pill.

In a complete show of confidence that this was going to work, I sat Herbie on the kitchen island and tried to pry his mouth open and pop the pill in myself, without having Dennis hold him.

Okay, so maybe I was a little over-confident. I retrieved Herbie from the top of the cabinet and put him back on the kitchen island. Dennis held him done while I cooed to Herbie, assuring him the pill would be gone before he knew it. Herbie, however, refused to unclench his jaws. Once I got them to open part way I tried to pop the pill in but he clamped them shut before I could get it in. He did graze the side of my finger with his teeth.

I tried telling Herbie again, in a slightly more firm tone this time, that taking the pill was for his own good. There is no need to bite me as this will help no one. For try number three Dennis held Herbie by securing his back and front feet so all I had to deal with was his head. I reminded Herbie again in a soft, and reassuring voice, that I was going to give him his pill. I managed to pin his head against Dennis’ shoulder, pry his jaw apart far enough to fling the pill inside. I quickly clamped down his mouth and stroked his throat gently to get him to swallow. He wouldn’t swallow, though, so I got my small syringe of water I had prepare and I squirted that inside the side of his cheeks.

It was at that point all that hell broke loose. Herbie opened his mouth and projectile spitted the water and the pill out and on to the floor. The pill bounced into unknown regions. Herbie then kicked off from Dennis with his back feet (claws extended,  of course) and fled the scene while Sammy came running toward us to investigate what tastey morsel he heard fall to the floor.

I glanced around frantically for the pill while Dennis examined his scratches. It was two feet away from me, near the water bowl. Sammy saw it, too, and he was closer than me. I lunged for it, yelling “Sammy, Leave it!” In my best authoritative voice. Thankfully, that worked, and Sammy hesitated just long enough for me grab the pill before he ate it.

We regrouped. Clearly, the article was not meant for cats. You may be able to sweet talk a dog, but cats are different. They know what they know and they’re not about to listen to outside input.

Dennis washed off his scratches and I went upstairs to retrieve the glowering, slightly wet Herbie who was glaring at me from the top of the armoire in the bedroom.

As I carried Herbie downstairs I told him to suck it up and take it like a man. He was going to get medicated today one way or the other.

For our next try, Dennis pinned Herbie down on the counter and I got out the dreaded liquid syringe. I drew in the medicine. 1 ml. It doesn’t sound like a lot, it didn’t even look like a lot, but let me tell you, it was A LOT. I tried put in a small amount in the corner of Herbie’s mouth, but the foaming started immediately, as expected, which made Herbie clamp down his jaws even harder. When I finally pried his mouth open again, I squirted the remaining contents of the syringe inside. Poor, Herbie. He started foaming like a washing machine with too much soap.

It must taste terrible because Herbie shook his head several times sending foamy cat spittle all over us and the  kitchen. Then he left to give himself a bath on the floor of the family room in the sun while I Lysoled the kitchen.. Is Lysoled even a verb? It is in our house!

The most disconcerting part of this whole event is that we get to do this again in another 12 hours. And every 12 hours after that every day for the next week. We’’re going to become experts at this, Dennis and I, if we survive. And I’m going to need to buy more Lysol wipes. It’s going to be a long week.

Herbie eyes

There is no sweet-talking this guy into taking yucky medicine.

1:23 pm

Summer Solstice and Vet Visits

June 21st, 2018 2:27 PM

Today is the summer solstice. Last year, I wrote a blog post with several 6-month goals to work toward completing by the winter solstice. I’m not doing that this year.

I’ve haven’t checked back to see what my goals were last year at this time, but I’m sure I didn’t meet them. Life can change on a dime, and it did for me last year around this time. Since I blogged through that difficult time, now I have a written record of what I was doing and feeling on each day. I could look back and remember details I’ve no doubt forgot, but I’m not doing that this year, either.

Okay, maybe I’ll set one goal. It will be to move forward through June and July without looking back. Not realistic. I will move forward through June and July without ruminating on what was. Kinda like I did with Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday. Acknowledge it’s different, acknowledge it’s part of the life cycle and move on.

Speaking of moving on, the real topic of today’s blog is not the summer solstice, it’s part 2 of my wonderful week without Dennis.

Things always seem to go to crap when Dennis is out of town. One time, I tripped and fell while carrying Frankie, our cat. So as not to land on him, I turned right and landed on my bad shoulder that I dislocated in Mexico a few years ago. Of course, I dislocated it again when I fell. Since I was home alone, I had to figure out how to maneuver it myself to get it back into place.

Last time he was gone, the dogs tripped me when I was coming into the house and I fell again. (Honestly, I rarely fall. It just seems to happen when Dennis is away). Thankfully, nothing was knocked out of joint that time, I was just really sore for a few days.

This time, in addition to my getting sick which I blogged about yesterday, (see the post here) Herbie, our cat, also had a minor health issue and  he had to go to the vet on Wednesday morning.

Dr. Ted, our vet,  is a very nice man. He’s the one who didn’t charge us to diagnose Charlie’s nipple (read about that adventure here). He’s a rather tall man, blonde and extremely gentle and soft-spoken. I’ve taken my animals to him for years and he’s gotten to know me. Probably a little better than he cares to.

About a year ago, I had Frankie on the examining table in his office. I was holding, Dr. Ted was examining and Frankie moved, so I leaned in to restrain him. I leaned in a little too far and my breasts assaulted Dr. Ted’s hand. This was no slight brush of the hand incident. This was a full-on, you-better-be-buying-me-dinner moment. I was mortified, but not as mortified as poor Dr. Ted. That poor man turned seven shades of red. Neither he nor I, ever acknowledged the moment, but I swear he stands a little farther away from me now than he used to.

So today, after examining Herbie, Dr. Ted said I needed to give him medicine. I remember this particular medicine. Herbie has had it before. It’s thick, like wet cement and Herbie hates it. Dennis and I can rarely get him to take it and we go through three doses for every one we get him to eat.

I explained to Dr. Ted and his vet tech that I was home alone until late that night and I asked if they could help me give Herbie the first dose. Being the very nice man that he is, Dr. Ted readily agreed.

Then came the moment of the truth. We looked at each other, Dr. Ted and I, both of us wondering how we were going to manage this. Was he remembering the last time we got in close and personal over an animal? I sure was!

I wanted no chance of a repeat performance so I went for the hind end of Herbie, far, far away from Dr. Ted who was going to give the dose. The vet tech held down his middle torso. Between the three us, it took three tries, but Dr. Ted was able to administer the dose without getting bit by Herbie or enduring another embarrassing moment with me. Another successful Mellem vet visit under his belt. I wonder if he cringes when he sees my name on his schedule?

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Herbie chilling out at the vet. He’s a very laid back guy.

So this has been my week, thus far. Not a stellar one, but not the worst I’ve experienced either. And I’m sure that this one may be a bit more entertaining to look back on next year at this time than the last one is.

3:02 PM

Charlie the Survivor and Sammy the Protector

June 20, 2018 4:19 PM

It’s been a busy, busy week. Dennis has been away on a business trip since Sunday night, so it’s just been me and the menagerie at home. I know some writers have great bursts of productivity when they sequester themselves away in a hotel alone for several days so I thought I’d give that a try this week.

I have to say, I got a lot of writing accomplished on Sunday night through yesterday. I worked on a story that I haven’t touched for four or five years and I made significant progress. I also did lots of research for it, which means I googled things like “what countries don’t have extradition treaties with the US?”, “what countries have anonymous offshore banking”, “what countries operate offshore gambling casinos”, “how to open and get money from offshore accounts”, and “what places are safe to live in the Caribbean”. (Hello, nice Mr. NSA agent. I’m writing a book. Honestly!)

If Dennis and I get audited by the IRS next year, it won’t be a coincidence.

Since I was putting in 10 to 12 hours a day writing, I didn’t bother to cook for myself. One of my meals was a frozen chicken pot pie made by a grocery store that I bought and froze a few months ago. I had that last night. As I was eating it, (it wasn’t very good) I wondered if the chicken was ok in it. It wasn’t terrible, but it tasted a bit off. For future reference, if you have to ask the question, “is the chicken good?” the answer should always, unequivocally be NO!

I was pretty tired last night, so the dogs and I were asleep by 11:00 which is early for me. At 12:30 I woke up, not feeling so well. I had to turn on the light, which I normally don’t do when I get up so I don’t disturb the dogs. Nothing I could do about it last night, I woke both of them up.

As I continued to feel worse, I went into the bathroom and was sick. Now normally, I wouldn’t write about such an event, however, it truly showed the difference in the personalities of the two dogs. As I was being sick, Sammy was right there next to me doing the doggy-equivalent of holding my hair back. He was so nervous that he was dancing around me and rubbing up against my legs. Charlie, The Survivor, on the other hand, was still in bed, sending death glares my way for waking him up and leaving the light on.

That’s the thing about survivors, they are able to detach from anyone and anything as long as they are taken care of. I suspect that’s why Charlie was able to detach from my mom and settle in so easily at my house when she died. Same thing with the kennel. He missed me, but his needs were met so life went on. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m probably Charlie’s favorite person. As long as I keep the light off and puke quietly so I don’t disturb him.

Today, Sammy has rarely left my side. Thankfully, being sick was a short-lived event, but I still only got about four hours of sleep. Two of the cats and Sammy were wide awake and ready to play at 5:30 AM this morning. I’m really looking forward to longer nights and shorter days. If you’ve read this blog before, you know why. If you haven’t, you can find out why here.

I’m moving a little slower today than usual. I had some errands I needed to run this morning and while I was out I decided to stop at the library and pick up an actual book to read outside this afternoon (as opposed to my kindle). Sometimes it’s good to have a real book to curl up with. It was a curl up with a book kind of day.

So this afternoon, instead of making more progress on my writing, I’m lounging on the swing with the dogs. Sammy has been close by the entire time.  Every time I cough, he jumps on me and peers into my face with anxious eyes to see if I’m okay. (I assured him that I am, I just have allergies.) Talking to my animals is not abnormal for me, I do it all time. Not usually to the extent of describing my medical diagnosis, however. I guess that’s what three days of solitude with only animals to talk to will do to a person. Good thing Dennis gets home tonight.

Besides, I think Sammy and I have taken our relationship to a new level. He’s now Sammy The Protector to me.

Now I have a Protector and a Survivor. That’s a pretty good combination. Between the two of them, I think I have all my bases covered.

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This is my view from the swing. Sammy is sitting on my stomach and Charlie is wrapped around my feet. Life is good.

4:50 PM

 

How Not to Give your Dog a Bath

June 17, 2018 12:55 PM for June 15, 2018

I have a new found respect for dog groomers. Their jobs are not easy.  Friday, before my wonderful Meijer shopping trip, I decided to give the dogs a bath. I bought a fancy shampoo and conditioner about a year ago that I haven’t used. It’ll be fun, I thought, to give Sammy a nice bath and condition his coat.

I’ve given Sammy a bath several times in the past. He’s has this thick coat, though, that is almost cat-like. It’s soft, he sheds, and, my favorite aspect, he doesn’t smell. Sammy can get a bath once every couple of months and be fine.

Charlie is a different story. Charlie has a thin, curly coat that I keep clipped short. About three weeks out from his bath, Charlie gets a bit odiferous. After four weeks, he’s downright stinky. If he goes any longer than four weeks between baths, I’m spot cleaning him with a wet wash cloth and soap trying to beat back the scent.

My mom was very particular about who she allowed to groom Charlie. He has very sensitive skin and is prone to razor burns (according to my mother). I figured I better skip the hair conditioner on Charlie.

Mom used a groomer that has a mobile grooming salon that she would bring to my mom’s house. Since having Charlie, I’ve been having her come every four weeks to bathe and groom Charlie. Since Sammy doesn’t get stinky, I have her give him a bath and a small trim every other visit to save money. It’s been at least a year since I’ve given Sammy a bath myself.

The last time I saw the groomer, her next opening was five weeks away. This is one week beyond Def-con 1 of stinkiness for Charlie.

Last Thursday night, three weeks into our five-week wait for the groomer, I was sitting outside with the dogs. I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Oh-oh.

That night, when Sammy jumped on my lap, I noticed a gamey odor on him. On Charlie, the same gamey odor blended into his normal 3-week-from-being-groomed- dog stink that was already a bit more pronounced than usual (I think because of the kennel stay). I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and give the dogs baths on Friday.

I don’t know if Charlie has ever had a bath at home. I don’t think so. I don’t think my mom gave him one and I know I haven’t. When I inherited Charlie, I also inherited the groomer. I’ve been spoiled.

Being that Charlie is almost 17 pounds, I didn’t think he’d fit in the kitchen sink where I normally bathe Sammy, who is only 10 pounds. I decided to bathe them in our walk-in shower in the master bathroom.

I put on sweats and got both dogs into the bathroom. They were excited to be able to come upstairs with me in the morning. Normally, they stay downstairs with Dennis while I get ready.

I decided to do Charlie first and get the worst over with. I was not looking forward to giving Charlie a shower. I expected him to be nervous and shake the whole time. I envisioned struggles to run out of the shower stall and him cowering in the corner while I tried to spritz him with the hand-held sprayer.

My fears for Charlie were, once again, unfounded.  He was a bit perplexed as to why I was carrying him into the shower, but as soon as the warm water hit him, I think he understood. He stood perfectly still and let me wash him, and turn him as I needed to. He even let me wash his face and rinse it with the sprayer. I towel dried him for a minute and let him go to wander the bathroom.

Then it was Sammy’s turn. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw what was happening with Charlie and he wanted no part of it. While Charlie stood in the middle of the bathroom shaking himself, Sammy was playing keep-away — with me trying to catch him in my wet, bare feet on the slippery floor. Eventually, I cornered him and picked him up.

Once I got him in the shower and set him down on the floor, he bolted before I could get the shower door closed. I got back out of the shower and chased him around the bathroom in my now wetter feet until I cornered him again. This time, I outsmarted him and closed the shower door before I set him down.

He did okay as I was running the warm water over him. However, it’s been a year since I bathed Sammy myself, and I forgot about his undercoat. Sammy is like a little otter when he gets wet. The top part of his coat repels water, and his thick furry undercoat stays dry. I had to put the hand-held sprayer an inch from his skin, to soak his undercoat.

In this midst of doing this, Herbie, our water-loving cat, managed to get into the bathroom without my knowing. Hearing the shower on, he nudged the shower door open a few inches like he always does. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw his opportunity for freedom and he grabbed it!

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Herbie the water bug.

Sammy went tearing out of the shower stall sopping wet and ran into the bedroom. In my haste to catch him, I dropped the handheld sprayer in the shower which banged off the shower wall and spun water around the bathroom like a sprinkler. It got the walls, it got the floor, it got the water-loving cat who decided he doesn’t love that much water and took off. Charlie stood there, looking at me perplexed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

At this point, I was as wet as the dog. I got back out of the shower, skated across the wet bathroom floor with my wet, bare feet into the master bedroom only to find Sammy rolling on his back in the middle of our bed. Herbie was on the floor next to the bed licking himself and giving me the evil-cat-eye for spraying him with the hose.

I retrieved the two old towels I had out for Sammy, dried off the bathroom floor and the walls. I got a fresh, good towel, put it next to the shower and went to catch Sammy who was now grinding his wet head into my pillow.

We went back into the bathroom and I made sure the bathroom door was securely shut this time. I carried Sammy back into the shower, shut the shower door and started over. Most of Sammy’s top coat was already dry, but his undercoat was still damp.

I successfully shampooed Sammy okay, but when it came time to rinse I realized I might have used a little too much shampoo. Bubbles were pouring out of his undercoat in an alarming quantity. It was like pouring cold root beer over ice cream. Pure bubbles.

The more water I ran over him, the more bubbles I got. I bent over so long, that I started to get dizzy, so I sat down on the bench in the shower, put Sammy on my lap, and let the hand-held sprayer run over both of us until the bubbles finally stopped.  It took about three minutes. At this point, I decided we were done with bath time and I opted not to use the doggie hair conditioner.

I turned off the water and I put Sammy on the floor of shower where he immediately shook himself, managing to spray water everywhere including my hair and my face and my glasses. I dried my face and Sammy with the last towel. Then I let Sammy out of the shower stall, where he went into the middle of the bathroom and shook again. And again. He shook himself a total of three times which ensured that whatever part of the bathroom hadn’t yet been hosed down, was now wet. The mirror was dabbled with water droplets. So was the window. My make up table had a sheen of water over it, and there was no longer a dry towel to be had.

I took off my wet clothes and left them in a heap in shower and I opened the bathroom door to the master bedroom. Sammy made a beeline for the bed and rolled around on the comforter. Charlie joined him.

I decided I might as well shower for real this time, so I closed the bedroom door so the dogs couldn’t escape and cause mischief. I gathered the wet towels into a heap in the corner along with my clothes, and then I cleaned the shower stall and took a shower. I found an old beach towel to dry off with. By the time I was done and had dressed in dry clothes about twenty minutes had passed.

I sat on my now damp bed with dog brushes and started to brush Charlie. I was so happy to find that he was almost dry. It took about a minute and a half for me to run a brush through his hair and he was done.

And then there was Sammy. Sammy looked mostly dry but when I put him on the bed to brush him, I found that his undercoat was still sopping wet. I swear, it’s like a sponge! Out came the hair dryer, and I spent the next twenty minutes blow drying the dog. Not how either one of us wanted to start our day. Once he was finally dry, I spent the next ten minutes brushing him. I never spent this much time on my own hair even when it was longer.

Finally, we were done. The dogs were dried off, I was dried off and the bathroom was dry-ish. The bed, however, was not. It was damp and had a strong odor of wet dog.

I stripped off the comforter and sheets, put them with the wet towels and put on fresh sheets.

Then I let the dogs out of the room.

There was great joy and exuberance as the dogs celebrated their freedom. They ran at full bore through the upstairs and then downstairs where the three cats were lying in the sun on the floor taking sun baths.

It looked like an explosion of cats when the dogs came running into the room. Each cat immediately jumped up and fled to higher ground. One jumped to the kitchen counter and the other two scaled cat gyms.

Four loads of laundry later, I was finally done with the after effects of bath time. Dennis was forced to towel off that morning with a couple of hand towels but he was a good sport about it. Both dogs were super soft and smelled wonderful.

Later that afternoon, as I sat outside with the dogs, I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Seriously?

Is it wrong to febreeze a dog?

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Here is Mr. High-Maintenance himself looking all cute and sweet-smelling.

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Mr. Low Maintenance looking very chill after his bath.

 

1:58 PM

 

Checkout Clerks and Crocheted Pants

June 15, 2018 1:55 PM

I got a glimpse into the how the other half lives today.  And it happened, of all places, in the checkout line at my local Meijer store.

For those of you who don’t have a Meijer store, it’s similar to a Target with a super large grocery store attached. Our Meijer has meat and produce that rivals the high-end expensive grocery stores in my area.

I go to Meijer once or twice a month, usually when they have half pork loins on sale. Pork loin is one of the main foods Charlie can eat, so when it goes on sale, I make a trek to Meijer and buy a lot of it. At least eighteen to twenty pounds at a time.

Meijer canned vegetables are inexpensive, and they have the handy pop tops. Normally, a pop-top can vs. a can-opener can wouldn’t motivate me to hike a store roughly the size of a two football fields to buy it. However, when I’m making Veg for Charlie, having pop top cans makes a big difference. I use twenty cans of carrots and greens beans. That’s a lot of cans to open manually and my can opener is slow.

One Meijer trip a month is dedicated to buying 20 cans of canned pop-top veg for Charlie. I try to not combine the veg purchase with the pork purchase in the same shopping trip. The cart gets pretty heavy to push around with 20 pounds of pork and 20 cans of vegetables in it.

I was in a hurry today, though, so I bought both pork and veg. And I shopped for our Sheepshead card group party. We rotate playing at different houses, and it’s our turn to host this month. I grabbed a few bags of junk food, and some cute little bakery angel food cakes for strawberry shortcake. I needed bacon for a recipe I’m making. Meijer only had the super, big, two pound package of the brand I like, so I had that in my cart as well.

While I was in the meat section, I tossed a package of brisket burgers in the cart for dinner tonight. So while I didn’t buy a lot of different items, my cart was pretty heavy and laden down with meat. Lots and lots of meat.

There are down sides to Meijer. The main one is that most of the check out lanes are self-service. There are very few checkout lanes that are manned by Meijer employees and, in my experience, Meijer checkout clerks are the slowest individuals I’ve seen work a register.  I can check myself out and bag my merchandise much quicker than going through a checkout lane.

However, today, I was feeling lazy, and I was pushing about twenty-five pounds of meat plus all my veg canned goods and I just didn’t feel like bagging it all myself. The check out lanes weren’t busy, so I gave it a shot.

There was a lady with a pre-teen daughter in line ahead of me. The lady was probably in her mid-thirties and she was tall and slender. I noticed this because she was wearing black crocheted pants like these.

black crochet pants

I thought they were cute on her. Never in my life, even at my thinnest weight ever, could I pull off wearing crocheted pants. I would have to sandwich my thighs into them and little pillows of flesh would be poking out of the crocheted holes. When I peeled them off at night, the indentation from the crocheting would leave patterns on my thighs. Kind of like when you cut a tied rump roast out of it twine. Not a cute look.

When it was the Crocheted Pants’ turn to be checked out, the checkout clerk decided he needed to refill his bags. He still had, what looked like to me, plenty of plastic bags on his carousel, but apparently I was wrong. He needed more. Many more.

While I waited for him to get the bags from another lane, and load them up on the carousel (moving in slow motion the entire time, I swear!) I had plenty of time to survey the items Crocheted Pants had on the conveyor belt.

She had organic milk, frozen salmon burgers and tuna. I considered leaving the line to swap my brisket patties for salmon burgers for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure Dennis would love that. I’ve also considered making riced cauliflower “mashed potatoes” for Dennis in the past. I like being married though, and I think passing salmon off for brisket or cauliflower off for potatoes is grounds for divorce in Dennis’ mind.

Accompanying the salmon burgers, Crochet Pants also had a plethora of green veggies – fresh, not canned. She had some box that boasted quinoa as an ingredient and several frozen entrees that said Vegetarian in big, bold letters.

And there I stood, behind this bounty of healty food, with twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart. The contents of my entire cart looked like a mound of flesh – except for the canned veg and a couple bags of junk food. I wanted to tell her, it’s for the dog! All the pork is for the dog! We eat fresh vegetables, too. The canned veg is for the dog! The two pounds of bacon are for a party. So are the bags of junk food! Truly, this isn’t how we eat every day.

As we continued waiting, Crochet Pants and I, for the checkout guy to finish loading his bags, Crochet Pants’ daughter started to get restless. She was surveying the candy that lined the aisle for all the impulse purchases. Eventually, she grabbed one and started badgering her mother for it.

What did she grab? Peanut Butter cups? Nope. Snickers? Nope. Gummy Bears? Wrong again. She grabbed Extra Sugar Free gum.  Her impulse purchase was sugarless gum. Even the kid eats healthy!

Perhaps, I thought, if I ate that way, I too, could wear black crochet pants without my thighs poking through like a bratwurst splitting out of its’ casing.

Did I mention that Dennis is barbecuing a beef brisket for our card party tomorrow?

brisket

This is why I will never wear black crocheted pants.

When the clerk finally finished loading his plastic bags, Crochet Pants Lady produced her own reusable shopping bags for him to pack her groceries in. I would say if she produced those earlier maybe the checkout clerk would have delayed the restocking of the bag routine, but he probably saw twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart heading his way. I don’t think it would have mattered.

As the checkout clerk slowly, and methodically checked out Chrochet Pants’ groceries (I saw tofu go by!) and there was more space on the conveyor belt, I started to load my meat on it. Each pork roast was at least five pounds and encased in plastic. They made a thwap sound as I hauled them onto the conveyor, similar to the sound my thighs would make as they slapped together if I wore crocheted pants. But the meat is for the dog! Really! 

Two pounds of bacon went on top of the roasts. It’s for a party. I won’t even use it all. It’s just the size they had.

When it was finally my turn to get checked out, I have to admit, I was cranky. At this point, I had spent more time waiting in the checkout line than I did shopping. I was not in mood to make small talk with the checkout guy. Apparently, he didn’t sense this.

When he saw all my pork, he laughed, and made a comment about how we must be grilling out a lot this weekend. Finally, I thought, it’s my chance to explain the plethora of meat! Unfortunately, Crochet Pants was long gone and would never know.

“It’s for my dog!” I said. “He has allergies and all he can eat is pork and lamb. I like to stock up when it’s on sale.”

The checkout guy looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Your dog?” he said, as if I told him I was going to throw the meat directly into the garbage. Obviously, he was implying that no one should be spending that kind of money on an animal. My pork was on sale for $1.30 a pound. I wonder what he would have said if I had bought the ground lamb, like I sometimes do, at $9.99 a pound?

My crankiness with this guy was escalating.

After a few moments, he said, “I have to ask so I can tell my wife tonight. How does your dog like his pork prepared?” His words were polite, his tone was not. He was judgemental and condescending. Those are the nice words that I thought. There’s were others I won’t share here.

I explained my process of grounding the meat, mashing the vegetables and frying it all together. I was very polite, even though I didn’t want to be. I did not share that the dog belonged to my dead mother and I was doing what I had to do to keep him alive and happy. No need to justify my choice. I also held back the urge to sarcastically comment how glad I was to be offering conversation for him and wife tonight. I guess it’s only fair that I provide some entertainment for him, since he provided a blog post for me.

In the few minutes I spent talking with this guy, I decided that someone who is in their late fifties and clerking at Meijer probably didn’t take the job to pass the time. That’s hard work and a lot of standing. I am fortunate that we have to means to be able to purchase the food Charlie needs. Not everyone would be able to do that. I don’t know if that is the situation that caused the clerk’s attitude or not. Maybe he’s just not an animal person. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former and not the latter.

It was an experience using the Meijer checkout today. It showed me a glimpse into two different ways of life and attitudes. One made me chuckle. One made me mad. Next time, though, I’m going back to self checkout, no matter how many pounds of meat I’m lugging around.

2:51 PM

A Dose of Reality

Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:52 AM

I’ve been feeling a bit old these days. Not old as in body aches and creaks, although those are there sometimes. Old, as in seeing tangible evidence of the years that have passed and recognizing the undeniable truth that I, too, have passed from one stage in life to another. Kind of like seeing a tree that was a twig when you planted it and fifteen years later it’s a 30-footer. I’ve got plenty of those in my yard.

The incident that got me thinking about the stages of life is one that’s actually far removed from me now. I heard about it third hand, but it still impacted me.

I found out this week that my ex-husband retired from his profession last week. I remember when he got his first paycheck once he finished his apprenticeship and how excited he was for the bump in income. We weren’t yet engaged, but we were close. There’s a lot of mileage between that close-to-engaged-couple and the ex-spouses/co-parents that we are now and only some of it can be measured in years.

I still find it hard to believe that the young man who was so excited to finally be starting his career has retired. Granted, my ex-husband is only fifty-five and that is young to retire, however, his was a profession that is hard on the body. Retiring after thirty years isn’t uncommon. But still. I was once married to someone who is now retired.

Dennis and I were talking about this yesterday and it brought up the topic of waiting to do things in life. Many people sacrifice and forgo pleasures in the present to enjoy themselves in their retirement. My paternal grandpa was like that. He was a motorcycle police officer in Milwaukee for thirty-years. His greatest dream was to retire to Florida. I suppose riding around on a motorcycle in January in Wisconsin will make a person yearn for warmth.

It worked out for him. Once he got his thirty years in on the force in the mid 1950’s, he retired and moved to Florida. He was in his early fifties, probably about the age I am now. Granpa worked on the force down in Florida for a bit, too, as well as sold cars for a time. He lived in Florida until 1979, when he passed away.

Other people aren’t as lucky as my grandpa. They put-off dreams until retirement and then health problems crop up, and retirement never comes. Or it comes, but they aren’t able to physically do the dream anymore.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to pursue the lifelong dream, whether it be a large purchase, relocating your life or taking the dream trip?

Two years ago, when I turned fifty, I did act on a lifelong dream. I got a dog. And although conditions weren’t ideal to get one, (we ended up fencing in our front yard because we don’t have a back yard and now I’m pretty sure we’re the house the neighbors are worried is hurting their resale value), I’m still glad I did it.

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Our house, Pre-Dog. Notice how small the pine trees are.

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Same view, Post-Dog, 9 years later. Look how big the pines are! It’s hard to see the fence from this view, but it’s there.

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House, Post-Dog, closer view.

Getting Sammy is the exception, though. Normally, I tend to fall in the procrastinator category where I opt to save the money instead of spend it, over-think the downsides and eventually decide that now isn’t the right time to do whatever.

Except, I am now old enough to have been married to someone who is now retired.  I am roughly the same age as my grandpa was when he made his “next stage in life” dream come true.

Does that means the right time is now to start seriously looking at making those someday dreams come true?

 

9:20 AM

 

 

 

Rambo Dog!

Monday, June 11th, 2018 7:20 PM for Sunday, June 10th

Yesterday was a rough pet day around our house. Three of the five had potential medical issues.

Yesterday was a rough day for the pet parents, too.

Frankie, our live-wire kitty who doesn’t realize he’s going on 6, managed to injure a leg while playing with me. He loves to jump and spin with a wand toy that has three feathers attached to it. Yesterday, he must have overdid it because after our play session, he was limping and favoring a leg. It wasn’t bad enough to take him to the emergency pet vet, but I did fear we’d be going in this morning to have it checked. Thankfully, after sleeping the afternoon away in the master bedroom, he woke up fine. No clue what happened but it was scary!

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The second incident occurred with Herbie, our other wild-child cat who is Frankie’s 3/4 brother (same mom and dad’s were brothers. Sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer, doesn’t it?) Herbie is a bit of a brute. He’s larger than his brother, Frankie, and he’s not nearly as smart. Sounds kinda mean, I know, but it’s true. Where we have to make sure Frankie isn’t smart enough to get into a situation that will hurt himself (like figuring out how to get on the top of the shower rail and be unable to get down) with Herbie we have to watch and make sure he doesn’t do anything dumb that will get himself hurt.

The problem is Herbie is very stubborn, He wants what he wants and he’s unlikely to  concede defeat without a battle. A stubborn streak combined with not-so-many-smarts can make for a bad situation. Which it did.

Herbie, unbeknownst to me, decided to sleep directly under the recliner part of my chair. When I went to put the chair down, I noticed there some resistance. As I was trying to move it up again to check what it was stuck on, Herbie launched himself out the side, fur all disheveled, shaking his head and grumbling.

Thankfully, we have a recliner that moves up and down with a motor, and it moves very slowly. I, literally, cannot get out of this chair fast. It takes a good 8 – 10 seconds for it to go up and down. This is actually the exact reason we spent the extra money to get a recliner with a motor rather than the normal manual kind. I’ve had experience with closing a cat in one of the kind that snaps down and it was very, very scary. It involved a day long vet stay and I was very lucky that she wasn’t injured and I could take her home.

Now if it was Frankie lying under the recliner and he saw it starting to inch its way down toward his head, he would leave. And if he didn’t, once the recliner touched any part of him, he certainly would leave and probably yowl, too. Not Herbie. Herbie stuck it out until he had no other option but to move or get crushed.

Thankfully, Herbie was fine, although he ignored me for several hours. The incident brought back some very bad memories for me. It was scary.

Herbie eyes

Herbie

Charlie, The Survivor, was our third problem child yesterday, in two different ways. If you read this blog, you know how I’ve talked about having to make dog food every week for Charlie because he has food allergies.

His primary allergies are chicken and wheat products which means dog kibble is off-limits for him. Which is fine by Charlie since he’s never eaten dog kibble in his life. He refused to eat it as a puppy so my mom always cooked food for him.

Once he started living with us, Charlie saw Sammy eat cat kibble as a treat, so he stole a piece. He liked it a lot! Now as a treat, I will give Charlie a few pieces of cat kibble several times a week.

We always keep a bowl of dog kibble out for Sammy. Charlie has never been interested in it because he doesn’t like kibble and because he refuses to eat food out of a bowl. He literally will not eat off a dish or a bowl. He eats on a plastic placemat. This bowl-aversion does not carry into his water consumption which he handles just fine out of a bowl. (Thank goodness! Not sure what I’d do if he didn’t).

Yesterday afternoon, for what ever reason, (he had his breakfast and lunch) Charlie decided to try Sammy’s dog kibbles. And, apparently he liked them since he ate the entire bowl! That about a cup and half of dog kibbles made of chicken and wheat consumed by a small dog with chicken and wheat allergies. I braced myself for the worst.

I waited. I watched him. I took him outside extra times. Nothing. No effect whatsoever. None today either. Dare I hope that he outgrew this allergy (and bowl aversion!) and can now eat kibble? No more veg days! Or at least less of them? I would be very happy if that ends up to be the case, however, I’m not getting my hopes up. I will give it another few days and let him have some more kibble again and see what happens.

The second thing Charlie managed to do, has left me in awe of his bravery and strength. During one of his potty breaks outside at dusk, Charlie stepped on a honey bee and he got stung. He came limping into the house on three legs, licking frantically at his foot.

I’ve never had an animal stung by bee before, so I grabbed my mom’s old dog first aid book and looked up what to do to help him. Turned out it’s basically the same thing you do to treat a human bee sting. Watch out for anaphylactic shock. None, thank God. Scrape the stinger out with a credit card. Not easy to do on a furry paw, but Dennis managed to get it. Apply a baking soda poultice to the spot. Again, not so easy on the bottom of a paw, but we managed. Finally, rinse it off and apply ice to reduce swelling. That one didn’t go so great. Charlie was pretty much done with the whole thing by the ice part.

The book said to expect pain and swelling for a day or two at least, and that we could give him benedryl to help reduce swelling. I was expecting a couple days of him being laid up, and us having to carrying up and down the stairs.

Through the entire ordeal, Charlie didn’t yip once. Not even when he got stung. (I swear like banshee when I get stung.) After tolerating our futzing with the sting for about a half hour, Charlie limped over to his bed on three legs and went to sleep. He’d wake up every so often, lick his foot a few times and go back to sleep. By the time we went to bed, Charlie was fine. He bounded up the stairs two at a time like he does every night. He jumped on the bed before I could lift him up. No limping at all.

Today, there is no sign there was ever anything wrong with his foot, I can’t see any swelling at he’s running around the house as usual. He even went for a short walk today.

I am newly impressed with Charlie. I’ve now nicknamed him Rambo. He is one tough dog!

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Charlie AKA Rambo

Dennis and I are grateful that today was much less eventful in our house. And I now always wear shoes out in the yard. I’m not as tough as Charlie.

7:56 pm

 

 

Admitting my Prejudice

June 10, 2018 2:15 PM for June 9, 2018

Yesterday, while I was browsing the vegetables at the farmer’s market, I realized that I am prejudiced.

Prejudice is not a word I use lightly, and I do so now with even more caution considering our current political and social culture in the USA. Prejudice, however, is the only word I can give for my knee jerk, gut reaction, that I had yesterday.

For the past several years, we’ve gone to this particular farmer’s market and we found a vendor that has really good lettuce. It’s huge, it’s tender and it’s always freshly picked. I know this because over the years we have chatted with the gentleman who sells it.

This gentleman is probably in this mid – thirties and he is always there with his son. Both father and son are nice looking — blonde hair, blue eyes. Both are always clean and presentable with short hair cuts, and ironed button down shirts tucked into nice shorts or jeans.

The son, in particular, has always impressed me. At ten or eleven, he possesses politeness and poise well beyond his years. He’s respectful and his manners are impeccable. This vendor sometimes sells bushes and larger plants and I’ve heard the son offer to carry these items to the car. He comes off as being a really nice, well-brought up kid.

We came to like this vendor and we always go to him first. It’s been that way for a couple of years.

And then on the last day that we attended the farmer’s market last year, this nice man had his son and his daughter with him. It was the first time I’ve seen the daughter. She was clean and well-pressed, like her brother, although she had long hair and was wearing a long-ish skirt instead of pants or shorts like the son.

Perhaps I watch too much Handmaid’s Tale, but the skirt made me think of the repressive, fundamental Christian faiths where the women always wear mid-calf lengths skirts — Michelle Dugger style.

The type of religions that demand women always defer to the man’s opinions. Where women live with their fathers until they are married off and their purpose in life is to reproduce. Groups where birth control is frowned upon and abortion is forbidden. Groups that believe homosexuality is a grave sin and AIDS was God’s way of punishing the sinners. Groups that don’t believe in gay marriage and produce offspring that could one day refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple getting married.

Whew. That’s a lot of baggage to put on a single garment choice of a little girl on one day.

I never gave it another thought until yesterday, when we saw the nice man selling his lettuce. His son was there again, too. A little taller than last year and still neatly dressed in a button down shirt and jeans. His daughter was there, too. In her long hair, blouse and her mid-calf denim skirt.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but my initial thought was to not buy lettuce from him anymore so I’m not supporting a faith that subjugate women.

I am not partial to any particular religion myself. I consider myself an agnostic or spiritual but not religious. I don’t put any more credence in one faith over another. I’ve known people from all kinds faiths – Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Jewish, Muslin, Hindu and Jehovah Witnesses. While I’ve occasionally been on the receiving end of prejudice being that I don’t practice an organized religion myself, I can honestly say that I’ve never cared about anyone else’s beliefs before this.

So why have the problem with the lettuce vendor and his faith?

I don’t know. I wish I understood why I reacted the way I did, but I honestly don’t. I was ashamed of myself at having that initial thought, though. I felt like I was the same kind of narrow-minded discrimenatory ass as the guy who won the Supreme Court Case last week  where he refused to make a wedding cake for the gay couple in Colorado.

I know that even if this family is a conservative, fundamental Christian family, it doesn’t mean they believe women are inferior, or homosexuality is evil. And even if they do, they are entitled to their beliefs, the same as I am entitled to disagree with them. This the very thing that being an American is all about and it’s a privilege I believe is worth fighting to preserve. It’s not enough to just spout the words. It’s the actions that make it real and that applies to beliefs on both sides of the issue.

As long as the lettuce vendor doesn’t care that he is selling lettuce to an agnostic, I will be fine with purchasing it. And shame of me for ever considering otherwise.

We purchased our lettuce from the vendor, yesterday, same as always. His son will still well-spoken and polite as was his daughter. I told the vendor we were happy to see him return to the farmer’s market because he always has the best produce.

And I meant it.

3:02 pm

 

What Not to Do to Your Dog in Public

Saturday, June 9, 2018 1:26 pm

For the first time this year, Dennis and I took Sammy to the farmer’s market in Waukesha this morning.

One of the reasons I wanted to get a dog, almost 2 years ago now, was so that I could have an animal I could hang out with outside of the house. Someone who could ride with me in the car to get a hamburger or ice cream. Go to a farmer’s markets and outdoor flea markets on occasion.

I love my cats dearly, but they’re not all that enthused about jumping in the van and going for a ride. And I’ve tried walking them on leashes. They were very adept at crouching on the ground with their claws embedded into the earth, but as far actually moving with the leash on, not so much.

I was surprised, and dismayed when we took Sammy to his first farmer’s market a year ago. He hated it. He cowered at all the people. He barked at all the dogs and wouldn’t let anyone, human or animal, get near him. When we tried to take him through a drive through for a hamburger, he barked and growled at anyone who happened to pass within six feet of our car.

Not what I expected.

Dennis enrolled Sammy into a socialization class at our local HAWS last summer. Sammy learned how to let other dogs approach him and Dennis learned how to help him feel safe when other dogs and people were around. Today Dennis put all that training to the test and then some.

Being the first time he’s been in public since last fall, Sammy was a little more on edge at the farmer’s market than normal. He has to get used to it again, but he was still doing well. Sammy prefers to walk with Dennis when we’re there. I think it’s because he did the HAWS training with him. Or maybe it’s because Dennis prefers to walk with Sammy when we’re there.

You see, Sammy is a magnet for attention. As we walk him down the aisle people literally stop and comment to each other and us about what an adorable dog he is. Several people called him the “laughing dog today”. I swear Dennis walks a little taller with an uncharacteristic perky spring in his step when he’s walking Sammy at the farmer’s market. (I’m the one bringing up the rear of the group juggling all the bags.)

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Sammy is wearing his smile here.

Today, though, Dennis took Sammy’s socialization exercises one step further than ever before. Probably further than anyone at HAWS ever expected one of their doggie-graduates to have to endure.

A family came up to ask and asked if Sammy was a Pekingese. I said he was not, he was part Pomeranian, part Shih-Tzu. The husband replied that they had a Pomeranian at home that they loved.

To my shock (and embarrassment), Dennis scooped up Sammy, flipped him on his back and showed this family how when you turn Sammy upside down his ears flip-up and he looks just like a Pom. The dog who, last year at this time, was so freaked out he couldn’t go in public was now being tipped on his back so strangers could admire his ears.

The family was a bit taken back and didn’t know what to say, although, they did comment that Sammy didn’t look all that thrilled about the whole thing. I wonder if HAWS has a class to socialize humans on the things not to make your dog endure while in public?

Sammy handled the situation like a champ. I was proud of him. We tried to reward him for literally having exposed his vulnerable underbelly to strangers with hot, homemade donuts but he wasn’t interested. Dennis, however, was.

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Sammy ignoring his piece of donut

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Fresh, hot donuts. Yum!

I’ve heard some people go to the farmer’s market to get fresh vegetables. We go for fresh made donuts.

Sometimes I do buy vegetables, too. But it’s usually to make things like Beef Stroganoff and strawberry rhubarb crumble.  I resisted buying the fresh dill for Swedish meatballs. And in a small nod to health, I bought a head of lettuce.

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Since the donut treat was a bust, I wanted to make sure Sammy had something he really enjoyed to attach to our outing. I suspect he still only tolerates going to the farmer’s market, even when he isn’t flipped on his back, so we needed another place to stop.

The answer was easy: Five Guys Burgers. Sammy’s favorite place to go.  He even knows the name. Say Five Guys at home and he gets all excited and runs to the door.

Come to think of it, so does Dennis.

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Watching for Dennis to bring the goodies

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Waiting for the next bite

2:24 pm

Fight Like Cats and Dogs? Not in Our House!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 9:40 AM

It is a commonly held belief that cats and dogs do not get along. We’ve all heard the cliche’ “fight like cats and dogs”.

Personally, I’ve never thought that is the case. When I grew up we always had a cat and a dog and they never fought. When I was newly married to my first husband we had a cat and dog, too, before we had our son. They never fought either.

Naturally, when I brought in Sammy a year and half ago, and then Charlie nine months later, I had the expectation that the dogs would not fight with the three cats.

And they do not. They actually play together which we need to monitor because the dogs can get a bit loud and overbearing; but they never fight. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

There are vast differences, though, in cats vs. dogs.

After a vacation where you lock a dog in a 5 X 8 room in a kennel for four days, they will greet you with unbridled love and enthusiasm. Their joy in seeing you will be boundless and there will be much licking, tail wagging and maybe even a little excited piddling. The fact that you were the one who left them for four days in an uncomfortable situation will never occur to them. As soon as they see you, you will be best buds again.

Cats are a bit different. After leaving them at home when you go on vacation, without barking dogs, and a pet sitter who visits and feeds them, pets them and plays with them not once, but twice a day, they will, in fact, ignore you when they see you. They know that you abandoned them and they will  look at you as if you are the lowest, most insignificant, non-entity they have ever seen. Until they decide they forgive you and insist on cuddling up on your head all night.

Nights. That is one thing I didn’t consider when I added dogs to our household. Dogs sleep schedules are much like human’s. They sleep at night and are up during the day. They are diurnal beasts. Cats are nocturnal beasts. The sleep all day and are up at night.

With three cats and two dogs, this combination of animals pretty much guarantees that some animal will want attention from Dennis and/or myself every hour of every day. This causes problems as we would enjoy uninterrupted sleep for at least five hours a night.

And then there’s that magic time of year that we are in right now, when the days grow long and the sun rises earlier. When the sun rises, so do the dogs. When the sun rises in the vicinity of 5 AM there is an overlap between the nocturnal beasts’ nighttime playtime and the diurnal beasts’ daytime playtime.

This is not good news for the humans in the house who now have two species cavorting at the end of the bed instead of just one.

There is now a competition for who gets to wake us up first. Will it be the cuddly cat who knows he only needs to purr to get me to pet him or will it be the dog who thinks licking whatever skin happens to be exposed will bring him attention? It could also be the cat who nibbles my nose to wake me. At least she’s gentle. Usually.

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Lucy, the nose nipper as seen on our web cam from when we were in Las vegas

Lately, it’s been the whining, barking dog who insists he has to go outside because it’s light out who has been getting us up. (This is the same dog who will refuse to go outside in winter until the sun comes up which is a good two hours later than it does now.)

I’ve heard there are people who lock their animals out of the bedroom at night. We’ve tried that and have the shredded carpet outside the bedroom door to prove it. Cats do not like to be locked out of anywhere. Dogs don’t like it either.  That’s one area that they are both the same.

I believe this dichotomy between sleep schedules is the real reason the combining of the species has been discouraged throughout the ages. It has nothing to do with them fighting.

I am probably the only person in the state who is looking forward to the days growing shorter.

10:38 am