Watch Me!

I consider "watch me" (I personally use just "watch" - because I'm lazy and it's quicker!) an invaluable verbal cue for my dogs to master, and it comes in handy in any number of day to day scenarios, a case in point being when you are trying to take their pictures.  

Witness ... 


The World Outside

One of the best things I ever did (for myself and my cats) was about a year and a half ago, when I  enclosed an approximately twelve by twelve by eight foot area of my back deck for the cats.   Prior to moving to my current home about six years ago, I had a townhouse nearby that was unique in two respects:  it had a small fenced yard that was perfect for letting the dogs out on late nights and early mornings AND a six by six by eight screened patio that Olivia, then the only cat, greatly enjoyed.  I couldn't really tell you why I waited so long to create this new enclosure, which the cats access from the french doors off my bedroom, but I wish I had done it years ago.

Prior to doing so, however, I had satisfied the cats' desire to be outdoors with my desire to keep them safe by outfitting them with harnesses and taking them on leashed strolls around the fenced backyard. All the cats really enjoyed this, but PE (post enclosure), we got out of the habit, I guess because of my own laziness and/or the belief that the cats didn't really need to go out on leash anymore since they could go out in the cat safe enclosure basically anytime they wanted, so long as I was home to keep an eye and ear out for any trouble.  

Last weekend, though, it was so nice out on Saturday that I decided to give each cat a turn about the yard (while the other two watched most enviously from the mudroom window).  Of course, it wasn't until I was about to bring Finn out for his turn that it dawned on me to grab the camera.  Needless to say, they all three had a great time, and I have promised them that I'll be much more diligent about making sure that they get this opportunity more frequently from now on.  

God made the cat in order that man might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger. 
- Fernand Mery 

Hey, what kind of scratching post is THIS?  

Tiger no.  Panther ... YES!  

Always take time to stop and smell pose in front of the flowers.

I am a house panther - see me stalk! 


Working Dog Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!  It's me, Phoebe!  I'm  at the office with Mom today, and she said it's going to be a busy day and she will need my help.  I am always here for Mom, but since I've been working hard for almost a whole hour now, I think I deserve a break, so I'm just going to curl up in my bed and maybe catch a quick nap with my buddy The Sock Monkey.




Perception is reality ...

"Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage ..."  - Richard Lovelace 

Cosmo says ... Especially when there are all these great smells over by them!


Play Date at the Park

Last Sunday it was a beautiful, crisp day so we headed out to a local neighborhood park to meet up with my aunt & uncle and their young English Bulldog, Bella, about whom I've written before here, to chat, enjoy the beautiful weather, and let the dogs run around. 

Tucker doesn't exactly love Bella ... she's bigger, heavier, and has no concept of personal space or doggy etiquette (Tuck is doing his best to educate her on this front, but to little discernible improvement thus far) ... but as long as he isn't in a confined space with her, he is ok.  And they actually did have a good time together sniffing around this park, which they had basically to themselves except for some neighborhood kids who were kicking a soccer ball around.

Some snaps from the outing: 

Tucker was warmly attired for the outing in his red hoodie ... and sporting his new ID tag (more on that later!) 

Tucker & Bella exploring the bridge ... 

Tucker exploring the bridge (this might be my favorite photo of the day) 

More of Tucker on the bridge ... lots to see from up here! 

Bella decided to see if her face would fit through the bars like Tucker's did.  (It doesn't.) 

Bella descending the bridge steps ...

When Bella's play became rougher than he preferred, Tucker simply climbed a tree ... 

 Ha ha you silly Bulldog ... you can't get me up here! 

Not one to dwell on lost opportunities, Bella decided to abandon trying to chew on Tucker's legs (in the most playful manner - no malice intended) and pose for a few more photos.

She really wanted the treat I had in my hand.

No one could say she isn't photogenic! 
Oh, we're leaving?  I guess I'd better get down from here, then! 


Olivia's Opinions ... #5,431

Disclaimer:  This is not my five thousand four hundred and thirty-first post in this series.  For one thing, I haven't even been alive on this earth that many days, and we haven't been blogging NEARLY that long.  But I  chose that number at random for two reasons.  #1 is that I couldn't remember what number I was on.  #2 is that I have a LOT of opinions, and I like to voice them ... loudly.  It's true - ask anyone. So it's entirely possible that I could have HAD this many opinions ... even if I haven't posted them all here.  I would have to have my own blog AND a full time staff for that, and Mom says we don't have enough green paper to hire anyone.   


My Opinion for today (call it whatever number you want, I don't care) is that just because Mom asks me to look at her so she can take my picture ... 

doesn't mean I have to listen.  I wasn't feeling in the mood for a photo shoot for one, and for another, this shot shows off my new collar!

P.S.  Mom was trying to be "artsy" again and I guess she did SOMETHING to the original photo because now it looks all vintage-y or something.  Whatever - you can still see my collar ... isn't it pretty? (And now Phoebe and I match!)



P.S.S.  Plus this photo shows that my one ear is calico patterned and my other ear is white.  Something you may not have known about me before! 


Pillars of Strength ... for K and KB

This Valentine's Day, as every day, I woke up to two dogs who, as soon as my voice telling them good morning roused them from sleep, popped their heads out from under the blankets, and commenced wagging their tails so furiously that the comforter seemed, for a moment, possessed.  After tousling Tucker's already tousled head, kissing Phoebe on her little black nose and letting them both out into the yard to do their morning sniff-around, I went back inside to wish the three cats good morning and get breakfast for everyone.  Our routine is the same every morning (and evening for that matter), but far from finding it boring or tedious, I actually find deep satisfaction and contentment, even joy, in these seemingly mundane rituals, and I know I'm not the only one.  The steadfast companionship of our animal companions is a gift beyond price to those who love them, and never is this gift more prized than when circumstances of advancing age or the diagnosis of some fearsome disease threatens to take our beloved companions from us.

Today we celebrate the cherished bond between KB and her Labrador, K, of Romping and Rolling in the Rockies and the battle they are currently waging against K's recent osteosarcoma diagnosis.  I only discovered KB's blog recently, but I quickly became a convert.  KB's photos are incredible - in fact, I lack words - but there is more to it than that.  Each photo tells a powerful story to me, and the story is one of love and courage, and the unshakable bond between human and canine.  It's a universal story to be sure, but it is also, when seen through KB's lens, a deeply personal one.  

Obviously, we wish both K and KB the best, and are sending all possible good thoughts and prayers their way, in hopes that this terrible disease K is currently battling, with KB ever by her side of course, will be vanquished, and K restored to full health.  Won't you stop by their blog today and offer your good wishes, too?

KB and K, if you read this today, please know that you are in our thoughts. 


Five Faces of Tucker

So ... as I promised to way back when ... when I was taking part in a Pet Blogger Challenge, I have, indeed, invested in a better camera.  I have now, also, invested in a beginning photography class, and I now know all about the rule of thirds, filling the frame, angle of attack, aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, etc. ... in theory, anyway.  But, as is often the case, understanding these things is one thing.  Applying these principles in my actual photography is something else again.  Overall, I'd say I am failing dismally.  One of the hardest things, for me, is realizing that I have been, apparently, holding the camera and changing the focus incorrectly.  THAT is a hard habit to break.  

I was, however, rather pleased with this shot of Tucker taken the weekend before last ... and whether that's because my photography is improving or because I just have an emotional attachment to the photo's subject, I can't really say, but I like it, and it's my blog (er, Tucker's) and so I'm posting it. 

This photo, unlike most of the photos I take, was actually minimally post-processed - just a bit of cropping.  But I did discover this photo-editing site, called PhotoFunia.com  and I did indeed have fun putting some different filters on this same picture to see what I came up with.  

Overall, I have to say, I like the original photo the best.  Who even knows how many rules of photography I broke here, but I know I held my camera correctly, if that counts!  Which of the "five faces of Tucker" do YOU like the best?


Finn - Cat of Mystery

Finn has always seemed, to me, to be a bit mysterious, right from the start in fact, from the morning I arrived at our old office building early one morning to find him lying at the edge of the parking lot so emaciated and still that I thought he was dead.  He was so weak and depleted that I was able to get within inches of him before he startled awake and ran, in a disturbingly unsteady fashion, away.  After he had been devouring the food I set out for him for a day or two, however, he seemed much stronger, and gave me quite a run for my money trying to trap him.  Not to brag or anything, but I've trapped more than a few feral cats in my day, and in Miss Olivia's case since she would NOT go in the trap for love, money, or canned tuna, I had to corner her under a building and trap her with my all-but-bare hands, nothing but a flimsy hand towel between my flesh and her angry kitten teeth and flailing kitten claws.  In that case, though, I was far more afraid of the spiders, rats, or whatever else might have been under that building besides myself and a very dirty kitten than I was of Olivia biting or scratching me. 

But I digress ... 

The thing about Olivia, and Tanner two years later, is that they were somewhat known quantities.  Their mothers were feral cats who had made our office building and environs their home territory, and between the squirrels, mice, and birds they were quite adept at catching, and the food that I and another cat-lover in an adjoining office building set out for them, they made out ok.  I worried about their health, about them getting hit by cars or contracting a disease due to being unvaccinated, but at that time our county did not have a viable feral cat TNR (trap-neuter-release) plan in place, and I didn't want them to end up at a shelter where they would almost certainly be put down. I would have trapped them eventually and gotten them spayed, and vaccinated, but before I could do that I realized that one of them, Olivia's mother, was pregnant, and I didn't want to cause her any undue stress that might cause her to miscarry.  Tanner's mother was a similar story. 

Finn, though, was a puzzle.  As far as I knew, there were no more feral cats in the immediate vicinity, and definitely no pregnant females that I had seen.  So to have this four month old, completely feral, kitten show up totally alone - no mother, no siblings - was bizarre to me.  I half wondered if he hadn't escaped or wandered away from someone's home somewhere and just gotten lost and disoriented, but his behavior was clearly that of a feral cat, so I quickly ruled that out.  

Even more of a puzzle is how he ended up staying here ... when I was so crystal clear on the fact that I didn't want or need another cat and did everything short of rent billboard space trying to find him a new home.

Then again ... it is very difficult not to fall in love with a kitten, particularly one so small, vulnerable, alone in the world, and so obviously in need of someone to love and care for him.  And boy do I love my crazy kitten, who is no longer a kitten now that he's turned two!  But being that he's not only the youngest cat but the smallest by a considerable margin, he still seems like a kitten to me. He's also a very different cat than they are, in almost every way.  

He fetches, for one.  And begs for mushrooms from my pizza.  And likes french fries.  And refuses to let me clip his hind toenails.  And purrs his whole-body-vibrating purr as soon as he sees me.  And runs to meet me at the front door, just like the dogs do.  And watches TV.  Every animal is an individual of course.  Even those of the same age and breed and gender.  Even siblings.  But Finn is different in a different way, if that makes sense, which, I realize, probably doesn't.  

And as much as I love Olivia & Tanner ... and I do ... Finn will always claim a very special part of my heart as his own.  And I will always wonder just exactly where he came from ... and how he found his way to me.  I like to think that maybe he knew he would be safe here, and loved, and cared for.  And maybe, just maybe, he knew that even though I thought I didn't want another cat, if that cat was HIM he would be exactly what I needed.  

Finn says: "I know all ... but my little cat lips are sealed!  (Unless there is food involved!)"


Why oh why ..

Hi, everyone, it's me, Tucker.

And I just have to ask ... WHY is it that whenever I settle down for a nice nap, Mom decides THAT is the time to take my picture? Mom, seriously ... do you have ANY IDEA how much beauty sleep it takes to stay this adorable?  Do you SEE how tired my eyes are? 

Obviously NOT!  

What's that Cosmo? 

Cosmo agrees.



Hi, everyone, it's me, Tucker.  And I don't know about you, but I was NOT ready for Monday today.  I had a very busy weekend, capped off by staying up late to cheer for the Giants to beat the Patriots!  (My apologies to any Patriots fans still nursing some battle wounds today, but Mom has always been an Eli Manning fan, so I told her I'd help her cheer the Giants to victory!  And it worked!  Am I awesome or what?)

Problem is - Monday is a work day so I had to be up early to accompany Mom to the office.  Fortunately she doesn't mind when I sneak in a quick nap at my "desk."

All in favor of making Post-Super-Bowl-Monday a national holiday, please say "aye!" 


We've Been Remiss ...

Hi, everyone ... MP here! 

And I have to say ... I'm a bit embarrassed.  As tends to happen now and then, I have been crazy busy lately, and quite frankly it was either neglect the blog or neglect the animals I would have been blogging about, and obviously I chose the former.  I hate feeling like a slacker in any capacity, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable.  One thing I REALLY hate to slack on, though, is acknowledging a kindness when it is offered, and it is this that I am embarrassed, not to mention apologetic, about. 

Specifically, a week or so ago, Carolyn and Austin over at Catachresis gave us an award. 

Lief means, I am told, sweet in Dutch, and recipients of the award are supposed to pass this award along to three other "sweet" blogs. 

This was really tough to do ... I read a lot of blogs ... and there are several that I consider "daily must reads."  But most of those I've acknowledged in the past when we've received awards.  I wanted these three to be some that I hadn't given a shout out to before, and then when I really started considering it, there were far more than three I wanted to mention.  Still, especially since I am so tardy in thanking Carolyn and Austin for passing this award on to us, I wanted to play by the rules. 

So without further ado, here are three blogs I find especially "sweet."

1) House of Carnivores (The cast of characters of this blog are greyhounds Argos and Maera, and cats Charlotte, Annie, and Bit, as well as the human, and blog author, Mel.  It's no secret that I have a weakness for sighthounds, so I enjoy feasting my eyes on Argos' and Maera's gorgeousness, but that's only part of the draw for me about this blog.  Mel writes with such obvious love about her houseful of animal companions, and so much of what she writes often feels like something I could have written, or wish that I had.  You know how sometimes you "run into" someone online, whether in a discussion forum, blog, or whatever, and feel that you could be friends with them in real life?  I feel this way every time I read Mel's blog.)

2) Katie Isabella (Katie Isaballa is a lovely long-haired tuxedo kitty who is very new to the blogging world, though her mom is not.  Katie's mission is to color the world of her newly adopted mom with love, and to ease her sadness after the loss of Katie's angel sister, Admiral Hestorb.  We have only just met Katie, but we can't wait to get to know her better.)

3) Urban Hounds (A houseful of some of the cutest canine urbanites in some of the most adorable outfits you've ever seen.  Add to this some terrific recipes for both humans and canines alike, sightseeing tours of NYC with pups in tow, plus book and product reviews, and it all adds up to a blog that is one of my daily "must reads.")

Thanks again to Carolyn and Austin for this award.  If we could, we'd give it right back to you.  And thanks to our three chosen blogs for making the Blog-o-sphere a lot sweeter!

Snoozing on Saturday

Hi, everyone ... it's me, Olivia!  I heard from the little man inside the talking box in the armoire that it was supposed to get cold again today.  Also, it's raining out, so I can't even go out on the cat porch and stalk lizards. It hardly even counts as the weekend without a little bit of lizard stalking.  So I've decided to just stay in bed today.  

Happy Saturday, everybody!