Friday "Fun"

This might be fun for Mom ... but Phoebe and I are not amused!  (Phoebe especially!)

P.S.  Mom says this little exercise is not for her own amusement.  (Yeah, right!)  She says it is actually to teach/reinforce our impulse control so that when we are out on walks and sniff something that smells appetizing, or if, in the house, while the humans are cooking or eating, they may drop something that we shouldn't have, we will remember that "leave it" means we shouldn't eat it or even sniff it too closely, no matter how yummy it smells.  Now, in fairness to Mom, she didn't tell us to "leave" these cookies.  She told us to "wait."  But even still - what is the point?  WE know she's going to let us eat the cookies.  SHE knows she's going to let us eat the cookies.  So why delay the inevitable?  Perhaps it is to give the cookies a chance to come to terms with the fact that they're about to be eaten?  

P.P.S.  The cookies were yummy!  Thanks, Mom.  I guess ... 


Tucker-iffic Thursday

Hi, everyone!  It's me, Tucker!  You know, the publisher and editor-in-chief of this blog.  The oldest, most responsible sibling.  The star, truth be told.  And I know what you're thinking ... it's been way too long since you've seen me.  How long has it been?  Well, it's been eight days ... I checked.  And in case you don't remember ... HERE IS WHAT I WAS DOING THE LAST TIME YOU SAW ME.

Look familiar? 

Hey, what can I say?  Being the star is hard work! 

P.S.  A couple of you have asked what happened to our BLUE BED. Well, I am not a tattletale.  So I won't tell you that when A CERTAIN ENGLISH BULLDOG (hereafter referred to as A.C.E.B.) had to come to our office for a week while her dad was out of town (her mom works with our mom) not only could we not come to work all week (well, we could but we really didn't want to because A.C.E.B. plays rougher with us than we enjoy) but she also happened to want to lay down on our bed and got all her bulldog stink and a goodly portion of bulldog drool all over it.  Now, we are not prejudiced against Bulldogs.  We have met some very nice ones in fact, and Mom says that she has some wonderful memories of some Bulldogs she knew when she was a little kid.  You know, back when there were dinosaurs and stuff.  But we like our own stink, thanks very much, and we are not all that much for drool as  a general rule.  So we, very nicely I thought, gave her the bed to take with her when she left.  And we got the nice new one I am resting in right now.  I have to admit, I do kind of miss the big blue bed.  But this new one is pretty nice, too.  The sides are, it turns out, quite convenient for resting one's head on.

Have a great day, everybody!  And try to sneak a nap in some time today if you can ... it really does make you feel better!  Plus, I am pretty sure that when I wake up from a nice nap I look even more adorable than I did when I went to sleep.  It doesn't seem possible but I swear it's true!


The Miracle of a Second Chance

As 2011 comes to a close and we look forward to the New Year, I am, as I do every year about this time, beginning to think about my New Year's resolutions.  I have a list started, and some of the items on the list are pretty trivial in the scheme of things (clean out every closet in the house, learn how to make a really good risotto), and others that are not so trivial.  I won't share all of them with you here, but one very important one I actually already blogged about a few days before Christmas.  

And then on Christmas Day, I happened to have been made aware of a little dog named Scout who needed my help. 

Photo credit:  Heidi's Legacy
 I made a donation of course, and in the past, that would probably have been the end of it.  As I said in my previous post about Scout, asking for help is not something I'm very good at.  I'm more a go it alone type of girl.  But this help isn't for me, it's for Scout.  And the truth is, Scout needs more help than I am able to give right now.  Which is why I'm turning to all of you.  For a little over a year now I've been a part of this wonderful world of animal bloggers, and I've seen the miracles that can happen when a bunch of like-minded people get together.  I've been honored and humbled to play a small part in  some of the miracles that others of you have wrought, and now I'm asking for your help in making a miracle happen for Scout.  If you can make a donation (which I know some of you have already done, and I thank you!), that would be wonderful.  But if you can't, that's ok, too.  All I ask is that you put the word out on your own blogs and FB pages, so that maybe this message will reach someone who IS able to donate, since as of right now, Scout is still $491 away from her goal.

Scout has a wonderful foster family who is lovingly caring for her as she recuperates from a broken leg, a very painful injury which actually got her mistakenly labeled as a fear biter and unadoptable in the shelter she was in, and was nearly responsible for her never making it out of that shelter alive.  When I think about this it just tortures me.  Imagine being in such tremendous pain from an injury as serious as a broken leg, and having people not only not realize that you were injured and in pain, but also assign you a false label such as "fear biter" as a result.  

From all accounts, Scout is a bright, happy dog who, now that she is on the road to recovery, is enjoying socializing with other dogs and loves her foster mom.  With any luck, she will make a full recovery from this injury and go on to be adopted by a wonderful family who will love and cherish her, the way I do Tucker, and of course, Phoebe, who is herself an alumni of the very same rescue, Heidi's Legacy, that is currently fostering Scout.

Recently, I came across one of the photos of Phoebe that her foster mom sent me when we were working to finalize the adoption:

Adorable, right?  And check out that CURL!

And here are some of my favorite more recent photos of Phoebe.  (Notice the curl is still very much in evidence!)  

Phoebe back then was adorable no question.  But Phoebe now?  What a difference!  And the difference is that now, unlike when that first photo was taken when she was in her foster home, there is the confidence born of feeling loved and secure shining out of her eyes.  Not that Phoebe's foster mom didn't love her.  She loved her very much,  I know. But now, almost four years later, those frightening days in a large, overcrowded shelter are, I hope, all but forgotten.  Phoebe is very dearly loved, and she knows it.  She wakes up loved every day, and at night the last thing she hears before she falls asleep is my voice wishing her sweet dreams.  Through the efforts of Heidi's Legacy, she went from being "just another dog" in a high kill shelter facing a very uncertain future to a dog whose future, I hope, holds nothing but love and happiness, or at least it will if I have anything to say about it.  Every dog deserves a happy ending like the one that Phoebe, thanks to Heidi's Legacy, is living.  Unfortunately not all of them will get it.  But little Scout is already well on her way, and she just needs a little help from us to make her dreams of that rosy future a reality.

Meanwhile, Phoebe has dug all of her toy and treat money out from under the sofa cushions or wherever it is she's been hiding it, and has purchased some raffle items that she would like to give away to a random winner.  All you have to do to be entered to win is make a donation of at least $20 to Scout's ChipIn, leave a comment at the Chip In page mentioning Phoebe's name, and leave a comment here.  We'll announce the randomly drawn winner  here on January 2nd.

Item #1:  Interactive Toy Basket for Dogs, a $40 value
This basket contains two interactive toys (a Tug-A-Jug and a Twist N' Treat) and a bag of Zuke's Naturals treats, suitable for training or for use in either of the toys). 

Photo credit:  www.organicpetboutique.com

Item #2: Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook Kit (with 3 cookie cutters), a $20 value 
Photo credit:  www.organicpetboutique.com

The winner will receive both of these items, not just one.  

NOTE:  Because Scout is a dog and not a cat, I chose dog appropriate raffle items.  However, if you want to help Scout but live with a cat or cats, know that it is not my intention to leave you out.  If you should make a donation and should win the drawing, you will receive a $60 gift certificate to Organic Pet Boutique and they do have many very nice cat-appropriate items for you to choose from, in which case, since Phoebe has already chosen and paid for these items, we will draw a second winner and award two prizes.  Sound fair?

P.S.  If you have ALREADY donated, all you need to do is comment and let me know so I can enter you into the drawing.


Hoping for a Christmas Miracle ...

Everyone ... I'd like you to meet Scout. 

 Scout is currently in foster care with Heidi's Legacy, which happens to be the very same rescue organization to which I personally owe a huge debt of gratitude, as they are the ones who pulled Phoebe (then called Gissel) out of a Miami shelter, got her into a foster home, and then allowed me to adopt her.

Adorable little Scout was, herself, left at a kill shelter and, having been labeled a "possible fear biter," it was doubtful that she would make it out.  However, Scout's foster family saw her, and offered to help her through her issues, whatever they might be, and so she was able to be saved.  Once out of the shelter, though, it was determined that one of Scout's little legs was broken, and was obviously causing her intense pain, which was undoubtedly what was causing the alleged "fear biting" problems. Scout has now had surgery, and it is reported that despite the pain she is still in as she recovers, she is a very sweet little dog who hopefully will make some lucky person or family very happy once she is recovered enough to be adopted.  Scout's orthopedic surgery and follow up care will total close to $1,000 at the present estimate and that, my friends, is where you come in. 

A link to Scout's Chip In page is HERE and as of this writing, Scout is still about $700 short of her goal of $1,000.  I know how great the blogging community is about getting the word out about animals in need, and it would mean a lot to me if you would all spread the word about Scout.  I know it's the holidays, I know that money is tight for many of you, and frankly, it's rather difficult for me to put this out there.  Asking for help is, actually, not something I'm particularly good at.  But although I'll probably never meet Scout in person, her plight nonetheless feels very personal to me because she is being fostered by the very same organization whose selfless work on behalf of animals in need made it possible for Phoebe to be rescued, and for me to adopt her, Phoebe who is lying next to me on the couch as I write this, lying, actually, on top of Tucker who is lying next to me, as she does almost every night, and every now and then when I reach down to cup my hand over the small, warm dome of her head, her little tail switches back and forth in response, even in her sleep. 

This peaceful, happy scene of love and contentment would not have been possible without Heidi's Legacy.  Because of this wonderful organization, Phoebe's life, and mine, and Tucker's, were forever changed for the better.  And now, because of them, little Scout has gotten the surgery she needed, and is receiving the loving care of her foster family as she recovers.  And maybe some day very soon, she'll be adopted by a family who will love her every bit as much as I love Phoebe.  This is important work that this organization is doing.  Lifechanging.  Indeed lifesaving, for the many animals they have stood in the gap for since the organization was founded in 2002.  Please consider giving whatever you can spare to further their cause and help little Scout, and please pass the word along on your own blogs and Facebook pages.  Let's get Scout her Christmas miracle.

Season's blessings,  

Tucker, Olivia, Tanner, Phoebe, Finn, and The MP


Hostess gift for dog lovers

What do you take as a hostess gift to a holiday party when one of the co-hosts of the party is a canine?  We helped Mom make this festive Christmas tree for our Labrador friend, M.  Shh, don't tell him, but we ate one or two of the cookies.  

Merry Merry everyone!


Holiday Hopes and New Year's Resolutions

I have a dream ... and let me be frank ... it's a big one ... probably, almost certainly, an impossible one.  It's that all animals everywhere be as dearly loved and well cared for as those lounging on the sofas or curled up by the firesides of those of you reading this blog post right now. 

 My dream is that every animal could know the pleasure of a gentle touch, the security of a safe and loving home, the feeling of a full stomach as they lie down to sleep at night in safety and comfort, either in their own cozy bed or snuggled up next to the humans who delight in so lovingly caring for them.  

Every animal deserves a soft, cozy bed like the one that Tucker & Phoebe relax in at my office.  

The truth is ... when you come right down to it, dogs and cats have very simple needs and desires.  They don't really care about fancy collars, or expensive sweaters, dog treats shaped like human cupcakes, or fabric "cigars" filled with catnip.  They may enjoy them, or not, but for the most part those are things that humans care about.  Don't get me wrong ... I'm the first one to admit that I enjoy indulging my animals with some of the very same items I just mentioned, and that's not counting the cakes I bake to celebrate their birthdays (which they enjoy very much) or the Halloween costumes I dress them up in (which they really do not find so enjoyable).  I do this not because I think they really care that much one way or the other, but because it gives me pleasure to give them these things, although not in lieu of the things they really desire, like my time and affection, a brisk walk, a roll in the grass, a romp in the yard, or the joy of chasing down and "killing" a squeaky stuffed toy or catnip mouse.  

Given how little dogs and cats really need to be happy, it is all the sadder to me that so many of them will never enjoy what they all, when you get to the very crux of it, want most of all, which is, simply, someone to love who loves them in return, and a place to belong.  However humble the home, so long as they are truly loved and valued, and their basic needs are met, they will be happy, indeed will thrive.  Why, then, do so many of them languish in shelters waiting in vain for that day of joyous homecoming that never arrives, or die unnoticed and unmourned on highways or in back alleys?

The answer is as simple as it is heartbreaking ... according to recent statistics, there are 45 cats and 15 dogs born for every human.  You don't have to be a mathematician to very quickly figure out that due to irresponsible individuals who refuse to spay or neuter their animals, the dogs and cats on this planet outnumber the humans by as much as 45 to 1, and that is a recipe for homelessness, hunger, misery, and the unnecessary and tragic putting to death of between three and four million dogs and cats each year in the United States alone, according to the HSUS.    And in the face of such statistics, it would be easy to be beset by hopelessness and despair, or to feel that the solitary efforts of one person to make a difference or effect a change are so insignificant as to be little more than wasted effort.  

Like the story of the little boy and the starfish that we've all heard so many times that it often seems to have lost its meaning, what does the saving of one really matter in the face of so many other, overwhelming, losses?  It's easy to think that, since anything that we can do is so small in the face of all that needs to be done, what's the point of even trying.  But imagine, just imagine, if everyone felt that way?  

Imagine if there were not shelter workers willing to work long, hard hours at a very difficult, often heartbreaking, job for very little money just to make a difference?  Imagine if there were not independent rescue organizations, and the  special angels we call foster families, willing to open their own homes, not to mention wallets, to animals who, because their time has run out in a shelter, have nowhere else to go.  

Imagine ... just imagine ... if that one life that wasn't saved because someone was too tired or too busy or too overworked or too overwhelmed was the one curled up next to you right now on the couch.  

The reality is that not everyone can work in a shelter.  Not everyone wants, or can afford, to.  The pay is certainly not commensurate with the importance of the work that is being done by these individuals, and even if the pay was better, there is not enough money in the world to make what these people do every day any easier, or any less heartbreaking.  What more difficult task could there be for someone who loves animals than to be forced to be a party to the senseless deaths of the millions of animals per year who are killed for no other crime than that of having been born in the first place into a world where there was no room for them, and no place for them to go?  

Not everyone, for many different reasons, can found a rescue organization, recruit volunteers and foster families, and figure out how to raise the funds necessary to care for the animals they save for months or even years at a time before the right person or family is found to adopt them, if one ever is.  Not everyone, regardless of finances, is able to take an animal into their home, care for him as if he were their own, and then selflessly give him up when a forever family is found. 

But here's the good news.  There is no one right or best or only way to make a difference.  If you can't adopt an animal you can foster one.  If you can't adopt or foster you can volunteer for a shelter or rescue organization.  You can raise funds.  You can donate money or time, or whatever you have to give.  But whatever the limitations, of time, of money, of space, of emotional fortitude, the inability to do one specific thing to make a difference is no reason, no reason at all, to simply do nothing.  

In this community of animal lovers that flourishes so ably and well here in the Blog-o-sphere, there are, just as there are in "real life," the heroes, the legends, the superstars.  Then, also as in the "real world," there are the lesser lights.  We can't all be superstars, unfortunately.  But we should not, because we fear that whatever light we have to shine will not burn as brightly as we might wish, be reluctant to shine at all.  We should not, because we cannot do everything, refuse to do nothing at all.

Whatever contribution you have to make .. make it.  Whatever light is yours to shine ... shine it.  Whatever feeble spark to make a small difference in this world may exist within you, make it your mission to nurture that spark.  Cup it carefully in your hands, and breathe on it ever so gently, that it may come to glowing life.

In reading one of my favorite blogs today, I saw a picture of this little girl: 

Estelle, from It's a Pittie rescue (photo credit to rescue of same name)
Naturally, the sight of this sweet little face touched my heart, although, when I went to look at the rescue's website, I found myself particularly drawn to this little cutie: 

Faylean, also from  It's a Pittie  (photo credit to rescue of same name)
Unfortunately, I can't adopt Faylean or Estelle right now.  I torture myself constantly with the idea of getting a third dog, but while I will never say never, I know that right now isn't really the right time.  I don't live in Chicago, so I can't foster them either, but I decided to make it my Christmas present to myself to make a small donation to It's a Pittie in honor of Estelle and Faylean. 

It's not a big thing.  It's not a life-changing thing.  None of the little things I do, during the holidays and throughout the year where and when I can, to try to make a difference, are all that momentous in the scheme of things.  In November when I take my annual donation of food and toys and treats to the shelter that helped stand between Tucker and a world that must have looked awfully big and scary and lonely to a scruffy little dog looking for someone to love, I always wish I could do more.  In February when I make a similar contribution to the rescue group who pulled Phoebe out of a Miami shelter and found her a loving foster family to care for her as their own until I arrived to take her home forever, I feel the same way.  The things I do are not big things, but neither are they nothing at all.  

My resolution this New Year, which, as hard as it is for me to believe it, is almost upon us, is to continue doing what I can when I can, and to not fail to do something just because I can't do everything.  But I also want to find ways to do more, to hold myself more accountable for making a difference in the world.  Wanting it, wishing for it, and dreaming about it aren't enough.  I have to continue to take the actions I've taken in the past, but I also have to actively look for other ways to make a difference.  As the saying goes, if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.  Or, as the song says, which is perhaps more appropriate to the time of year:  let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

May peace be with all of you this holiday season, and in the coming New Year.  

On this Wednesday Finn is WONDERING ...


No Sun on Saturday ...

Hi, Blog Friends!  It's me, Tucker, with your Saturday morning weather report.  Which, here in Tampa, is, pretty  gloomy.  All day yesterday and so far today the sky has been gray and depressing-looking, but the rain never comes.  Mom says we can't go to the park, though, because probably as soon as we get there the rain will start. Also, she has a pretty bad cold, so between that and the weather, I can pretty much predict we'll be stuck in the house all day. 

That's kinda boring, so instead of showing you pictures of that, here are a few we haven't posted yet, of me, Phoebe, and Cosmo, relaxing in the sun on Thanksgiving day.  Now THAT was a great day!  After all, what could be better than lying in the warm sun with your friends while the smell of roasting turkey permeates the air? I can't think of anything, can you?

Hope everyone out there in Blog Land has a wonderful Saturday! 

BREAKING NEWS! Guess what Mom just took out of the refrigerator?  A TURKEY!  She said that since we are going to be home all day this is a perfect opportunity to make sure that the cats get some roasted turkey, too, since they had to stay home on Thanksgiving and be sat on.  I know some cats like to travel, but ours don't, so when we travel, they stay home and get sat on.  Hey, do you think I've developed the power of telepathy?  Because if I can think about something hard enough that Mom will pick up on it, there is basically no reason why I can't get absolutely everything I want!  SCORE!!!!!  This is turning out to be a pretty good day!   I hope Mom's nose isn't so stuffed up that she can't smell the turkey cooking! 


Dreams of love and loss ...

* Disclaimer:  Before I worry anyone, let me assure you ... everyone here is absolutely fine.

BUT ... I did have a rather ugly nightmare last night, one from which I've only just woken up, and was, frankly, so shaken and disturbed by that though I rarely rise before nine on a weekend, I didn't want to, and really couldn't, go back to sleep, though it was, at the time, only a few minutes past four am.

I've always been someone who could remember her dreams in vivid detail, and sometimes I can even trick myself into dreaming about what I want to, by visualizing it as I'm falling asleep, though that worked better when I was a kid, when, I guess, there was less "stuff" rattling around up there in my head.  So far this little game I sometimes play with my subconscious hasn't parlayed itself into any Stephenie Meyer sparkly boy and normal girl in the meadow moments, and it sure hasn't helped me sell 70+ million novels worldwide, more's the pity.  But what it does mean is that when I have a nice dream, which I do have, at least as often as I have not-so-nice ones, I can actually remember it once I'm awake, at least if I make a conscious effort to do so.  And in that way, things that haven't happened (yet, or ever) can become nearly real, become an almost, if not quite, bona fide memory.

This is something I used to, unintentionally, blur the lines of a bit as a kid, to the extent that I would occasionally, especially as a small child, say something that would kind of freak my mom out, like the time when I was about five when I woke up and asked her "Mom, where is my blue bird?"  And when she questioned me about which bird, as she was certainly within rights to do, as our household was an avian free zone at that time, and we had no birds living there, blue or otherwise, I passionately insisted for a number of minutes that I had gotten a blue budgerigar, whose name was Blue Boy (I know, very original!), and his cage had been hanging just above my bed when I went to sleep, and exactly where was Blue Boy now?  Blue Boy, of course, didn't exist, and never had, though my mother had had a blue budgie named Chipper as a child, about whom she had often told me, and some older children down the street with whom I occasionally played, also had one, whose name was Charlie.  Mom was eventually  able to convince me that Blue Boy wasn't real, about which I was bitterly disappointed, but not that long later, I was gifted with not a blue budgie, but a green one, who I named Perky.  

Of course, all dreams can't be happy ones.  It doesn't work that way.  Love and loss.  Joy and sorrow.  The thrill of victory.  The agony of defeat.  These alter egos seem doomed to walk in lock step, and you just don't get one without the other.  So every now and then, I'll have a really awful dream, and possibly because I've nurtured my ability to retain and recall my dreams upon awaking, it can be really hard for me to shake a nightmare, even once I'm fully awake and have realized that whatever gruesome images have stolen my sleep are not real, but were instead manufactured in my subconscious.  

Last night's dream was particularly horrible, though, for once, I can't recall a lot of the details, but in it, all the cats were out in the back yard, someplace, frankly, that they'd never ever be in the first place, since they're strictly indoor cats whose only access to the outdoors is via the enclosed cat porch where they can bask in the sunshine and stalk lizards in safety, and Finn, while investigating a wood pile (that doesn't exist by the way) was set upon and mercilessly stung by swarms and swarms of bees, which also stung me repeatedly as I tried to grab him and carry him to safety.  Something I was, to be blunt, unable to do, and he died in my arms as I clutched him and sobbed.

On that note, I woke up, heart pounding and sick with imagined grief, to find that Finn had not met his end after all, but was curled up, purring his usual night-time symphony of content, on the pillow not three inches from my head.  Still, though, I was disturbed enough to rise from my warm bed and come out to the living room to flip mindlessly through infomercials for magic blenders and miracle hair care products in an effort to chase away the dregs of a nightmare that, however briefly, had felt all too real.  

And as I sat here, I was thinking about how Finn will be two years old in a couple of months, and about how much I have grown to love, and in fact, cherish him, during the nineteen or so months he's been here.  How he's gone from being a scared, scrawny, sick feral kitten that I felt compassion and pity for, and wanted to help, but not get too close to, lest I fall in love with him and want to keep him (yeah, imagine that), to a beautiful, sleek, adult cat I unreservedly adore, who meets me at the door each evening with as much enthusiasm as if I were returning from battle (which let's face it, after a long day in the advertising world I sometimes feel like I have), comes running when I call him and then stretches up on his back legs so that I can grasp him under the armpits and swing him up into my arms like a child, the better to kiss his little black nose.  

Obviously I don't know exactly when Finn was born, or even where.  All I know is that he was approximately four months old when he entered my life, which means he'll be turning two some time in January, a month, coincidentally, in which my beloved Dakotah was born, and also the month in which he died, leaving the world sixteen years almost to the day after he entered it.  Something which has been on my mind not a little bit lately, and which might have something to do with this dream, especially considering that had Dakotah's exit from the world and Finn's arrival in it not been separated by two years, they may very well have been housemates.  When you think about it that way, it has a certain symmetry.  Love and loss again, in all its guises. I loved Dakotah for sixteen years, after all, love him still, in fact, just as I love Finn now, but will someday lose him.  

But not today.  (And not on account of any stupid bees!) 



December is here!

Hi, everyone - it's me, Tucker!  December 1st is here - just 24 more days till Christmas! And by sheer coincidence it got cold (cool?) enough for us to get our sweaters out!  Of course the cooler weather makes us frisky, so earlier we went outside and ran around for awhile.  Now we're tired.  I have said it before, but I'll say it again ... being a working dog is hard work!

Happy Thursday everyone!  


Home for the holidays ...

As we are now fully into the holiday season, I find myself reflecting more than usual on the themes of home, family, and all the good times and shared experiences that bind people together, be they related by blood, by marriage, or even through the bonds of long and intimate friendships which often feel as strong as, or stronger than, any blood ties.  The faces I see in my head when I think of the word family include my parents, my sister to whom I'm extremely close, two favorite aunts and cousins, and a few friends with whom I've been laughing and sharing confidences for, in some cases, more than half my lifetime.  

Naturally, there are more than a few furry faces in my minds' eye as well, as there is no doubt that Tucker, Phoebe, Olivia, Tanner, and Finn, as well as other dogs and cats I've loved and lost over the years, are indisputably family to me.  As such, they obviously play a significant role in familial celebrations, which, for me, have even more significance because of the fact that all five of them ended up in a happy, secure home where they are deeply loved and cherished only by the grace of happenstance and random good fortune.  Given their less than auspicious beginnings, their lives could have been far different, and the fact that they all somehow ended up here  is nothing short of miraculous to me, a miracle which, I don't mind saying, has been at least as much to my benefit as theirs, if not more so, because I quite simply couldn't imagine my life without any of them, even while I know that I will someday not only have to imagine it, but live it.  

When my thoughts travel down this particular path, though, I can't help but be mindful of all the people out there who are bereft of family and friends during a time of year when not having the comfort and security of those long and intimate relationships must be particularly painful.  And of course, I also think about all the animals out there who don't have the luxury of lounging on comfy beds or snuggling on couches, who are lucky if they get anything at all to eat, let alone the nutritious (and hopefully delicious) foods I so carefully prepare for my fur monsters, who are in shelters facing the prospect of being euthanized at worst, or, at best, living out their lives in a cage.  I think about the dogs and cats who are roaming the streets with nowhere safe and warm to sleep, scavenging for scraps and garbage, or who are tied up to sheds or in yards or rusting mobile homes with nothing to drink but dirty, slimy water (that is, if the water hasn't frozen in the wintertime).  The scope of the horror, in all its myriad variations, is past imagining, really, and yet it is happening thousands of times over even as I write these words.  

So as the holiday season ramps up to full throttle, I can only be grateful, anew, at my own good fortune.  I have a wonderful family (human and canine/feline), a few close friends I know I can always count on, a secure and stable job, a home I enjoy coming home to, and all in all a pretty darn good and happy life, even with all the stresses and sometimes petty worries that seem to be an unavoidable part of the human condition.  And my heart, therefore, hurts for those who are not as fortunate.  There are a lot of lonely people in the world, as well as a lot of animals facing very uncertain futures.  Wouldn't it be great if some of them could find each other?  

I think about animals like Bruno, a lovely young Husky/Akita mix who is looking for HIS home, both for the holidays and forevermore.  I learned about Bruno on this blog , which is a site devoted to photographer Rachel Lauren's photography clients.  Rachel's blog is one of my very favorites, and one that I try to visit every day.  Her photos are stunning, so if you haven't checked her blog out in the past, you really ought to.  And in fact, she took a beautiful photo of Bruno, below. 

Photo Credit:  with kind permission of Rachel Lauren Photography
If you or someone you know is looking for a beautiful boy like Bruno, you can contact Rachel at rachellaurenphotography@gmail.com

Let's get this guy a home for the holidays, ok?  

And may all YOUR days this holiday season be merry and bright.


On this Wednesday Phoebe is WONDERING ...

Ha ha - just kidding!  I weigh 9.5 pounds which Mom and Dr. H. say is perfect for my body frame.  Mom just thought it was a funny picture!  Mothers!!!! 

P.S.  Tomorrow is turkey day!  YUMMY!


Monday Meows ...

Hi, everyone ... it's me, Olivia!  Can you believe it's Monday ALREADY?  I don't know how come the weekends are so short and the weeks are so LONG! Shouldn't it be the other way around?  

Anyway, we didn't do much this weekend because Mom said she needed to relax.  Fortunately, being a cat, I have a PhD in relaxation.  See what I mean? 

Have a great week, everyone!  Only four days till Thanksgiving!  


A hidden menace ...

Chances are when you think of dangerous animals ... it's probably animals like these that spring most readily to mind:

 King Cobra:  Click link for photo source

Great White Shark: Click link for photo source

But you would be wrong.

The most dangerous animal known to man is minute in size compared to the Bengal tiger or great white shark, and far less fearsome in appearance than the king cobra.  Most frightening of all, they live among us and are brilliant at camouflaging the danger they pose under a deceptively cute and fluffy exterior.  Yes, friends, I tell you true.  The most dangerous animal known to man is ...

Nova, adoptable through The Humane Society of Tampa Bay

No, your eyes do not deceive you.  The picture above is, indeed, of a kitten! 

For the record, no, I'm not delusional.  I'm well aware that most people would not consider a tiny, sweet, essentially defenseless little kitten like Nova, above, dangerous in any way.  The idea, in fact, that those tiny kitten claws and impossibly white little milk teeth could pose any danger is almost laughable.  On the contrary ... the very fact of their defenselessness  triggers the protective nature in even those humans who think they have been immunized against tiny, adorable little balls of purring fluff.

And that, my friends, is how they get you!  (Or, at least, it is how three of them have gotten me in the past, and how one of them ALMOST got me tonight!)  Here's the thing.  I love puppies.  I love absolutely everything about them, from the the tips of their curiously sniffing little noses to the tips of their waggling little tails.  And puppy breath, as far as I am concerned, is the most delicious thing in the entire world.  Why no parfumier has yet found a way to bottle and sell Eau de Puppy Breath remains a perennial mystery to me.  They would make a fortune!  And yet ... for my money, the kitten is the most perfect baby animal imaginable.  Tiny, adorable, innocent, endlessly playful and inquisitive, and ... wait for it ... potty training is factory installed.

Any reasonably intelligent person knows that puppies are a lot of work.   So when you're contemplating getting a puppy you know you're in for three or four months, minimum, of relentless vigilance, and even after that, it's not till the puppy/dog is about two years old, or thereabouts, that you can begin to relax a little.  There is crate training, potty training, leash training, and basic obedience training to master, and as anyone who has ever successfully lived with a dog knows, training is ongoing, or can be, pretty much for the life of the dog.  

A kitten on the other hand is a very different experience.  You bring the kitten home, install the litter box and a cat tree/scratching post, show him where the food and water is, do some basic kitten-proofing, and that's about it.  No waking up in the middle of the night to take the puppy out.  No worrying about leash training or potty training or passing puppy kindergarten.  Just the pure, unadulterated bliss of snuggling with a tiny, sweetly purring little fur creature.   

Plus, who doesn't love the misplaced bravado of a kitten?  That oh-so-ferocious-sounding hiss, the comically arched back and the little spike of fluffed up tail they exhibit when they're startled.  Delicious!

It isn't until about six months later, in fact, that the honeymoon ends.  Overnight, it seems, the halo atop your little angel's head seems to be tarnishing a bit.  They start being able to jump higher and pretty soon they're peering smugly down at you from all sorts of precarious positions, leaving you in constant fear that they'll break their neck, a leg, or something equally irreplaceable.  No possession, no matter how high up or seemingly secure, is truly safe.  And this anti-honeymoon lasts, I am here to tell you from experience times 3, for a very long time.  Far longer, certainly, than the all-too-fleeting weeks or months of kittenhood.

By then, of course, all is lost.  Said kitten-turned-cat owns you, heart and soul, and no matter what they do, or what priceless heirlooms they may destroy, (fortunately for me, I don't have any of those) you remain just as devoted to them as you were when they were small.

Finn, for example, by far the most mischievous of the three cats, has, in his slightly less than two years of life, broken three lamps and my favorite picture frame, and that's just off the top of my head.  The path of destruction he has cut through my home rivals that of a natural disaster.  And yet ... I couldn't possibly love him more.  As I recently said to our long-suffering pet sitter, so long as he doesn't break his neck or a leg, I could honestly not care less what else he happens to destroy.  But even the ongoing anti-honeymoon with Finn has not knocked any sense into me, it seems.

Tonight, I was at Petco, picking up some treats for the pups, and while waiting at the register, my attention was caught by  a little white paw waving frantically out at me from a nearby cage (a local rescue had some kittens placed there for adoption), so of course I wandered over to say hello.  As I stood cooing at the little gray and white kitten to whom the paw belonged,  I was joined by a man.  We got to talking, and I learned that he had a cat and dog at home, but had just lost another of his cats, who he'd had for eleven years.  He asked me whether I was considering adopting the kitten I was fawning over, and I immediately said no, that I had three cats and two dogs at home, but I'll confess ... inside, I was wavering.  Quite frankly, the two female kittens (one tortie and one very unusually marked tabby with lots of white), were far more striking to look at, but the little gray and white guy had some serious personality, and I could feel myself growing weaker by the second.  I was falling under the spell that all kittens seem so adept at weaving.

Fortunately, I was able to talk some sense into myself just in the nick of time.  As I stood talking to this nice man about whether he ought to follow his instincts and adopt one of these adorable kittens to help fill the hole in his home left by the cat he had recently lost an employee approached to ask me if I'd like to take Mr. Personality out of the cage to get better acquainted.  I said no, through gritted teeth, and can only hope that the little guy who so captivated me earlier this evening will be sleeping in a new home before too many more nights have passed.  With a personality like his, I feel sure that he will be.

Meanwhile,  this little cutie:

is sleeping in HER new home TONIGHT!  Formerly Layla, now rechristened Nutmeg by her new dad, she has found a new home for the holidays, and hopefully for the rest of her life, regardless of what havoc she may wreak when that factory-installed kitten halo begins to tarnish, as it inevitably will.

So yes, I may have narrowly escaped the clutches of this most dangerous of all creatures, but another of my fellow humans was not so fortunate.  I wish Nutmeg and her new dad much happiness together, but I have to admit, as I sit here on my sofa watching Finn size up the fireplace mantel and the matched set of potted topiaries thereon that he has previously left unmolested but which all of a sudden seem to have become as riveting as though they were comprised of equal parts catnip and tuna, a tiny part of me can't help but think ...