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Lucy

Our German shephard, Zella, died earlier this year.  Zella did NOT like being inside.  She was a perimeter dog and felt caged in when indoors.  Our blue heeler, on the other hand, LOVES being inside.  But bringing Lucy in and leaving Zella out just upset Zella–she would then be miserable alone outside or with Lucy inside.  So Lucy stayed outside too.

Now that Zella is gone, we are acclimating Lucy (and ourselves) to having her being an indoor dog.  We are letting her inside when we are home so that she can learn her limits–which toys are hers and which are NOT; which food is hers and which is the (poor) cat’s; which rooms she cannot go in (the one with carpet).  We haven’t been brave enough to leave her inside to have the run of the place without us yet.

Just having her in and getting past that excited-to-have-inside-attention phase has been delightful.  She is such a happy dog, and she adds such a deeper layer to our family.  I am glad we are all enjoying each other.

Sun Won’t Remember Zella

Zella died today.  She was our 11+ year old German shepherd.  Actually, she was my husband’s dog.  He came with a dog, I came with a cat; they are both now gone.

I was never a dog person, especially a large dog person.  The main reason for this was that I was not around dogs growing up.  We were a cat family.  So when I met CS and he had a large dog, it took a while for me to even go in the back yard to meet her.  And slowly I learned how sweet and gentle she was.  Then CS went out of town and asked if I’d feed her.  Wha?  I wasn’t THAT into her.  But the things we do for love!  And I learned she was a sweetie.

Then CS and I got married.  And Zella stayed in her back yard and me inside.  Then CS went out of town again.  And I took it upon myself to walk Zella in his absence.  She loved it.  And so did I.  And we walked every day.  She was very well behaved; she was a gentle giant.

Within the year, I decided Zella was lonely and needed a friend.  Enter Lucy, our (then) puppy Australian cattle dog, or blue heeler.  They got along fine.  And we began to walk both dogs.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and we evacuated.  After the tension of a 13 hour car ride, we were all testy.  Once in the hotel, Lucy and Zella went at each other.  And this “dog thing” all being new to me, I jumped in to separate them.  And got bit.  By Zella.  Some stitches later in my left wrist, I regained the fear I once had of large dogs.

Since the bite, almost three years now, if CS or I spent time with the dogs, they’d get jealous of the other’s attention from us.  And they’d start to fight; it was the only time they fought.  And it forced me not to spend time with them both.  And as Zella aged, she got more aggressive.  So our walks all but ended.  And I’d feel guilty walking Lucy and not Zella, also, so my walks with Lucy all but ended, too.

The two dogs would sleep inside on hot, cold or wet nights.  When I got pregnant, their room needed to be converted to the nursery.  To accommodate the dogs, we built a porch on the back of the house.  The dogs took to it right away; it was immediately their space.

In the past six months, Zella has been struggling with walking.  Her hip displasia was really kicking in.  It got to where she’d not even leave the screened-in porch for any reason.  It got messy in the porch, and we knew she was on the decline.

Yesterday, she couldn’t walk.  And she whimpered when she was moved.  Today, CS took her to the vet and they “put her down.”  And we cleaned the back porch, then swung Sun in her swing and drank a glass of wine sitting on our barely used new outdoor furniture.  And we watched Lucy look for Zella.

It is going to take time for us to adjust to life without Zella.  Even our neighbors will miss her (two snuck her food and another would play with her).  I feel guilty for not being a better momma to her, especially since Sun’s birth, but really since Katrina; I feel bad for CS’s loss; I ache more so for the loss Lucy will realize in the next day or so (the vet prepared us for odd behavior to expect from her as she realizes Zella isn’t coming home to her); and I hate that Sun won’t remember her.  Zella was a good pet, every bit a member of this family.  And she is already sorely, sorely missed.

Georg Williams‘ rendering of Zella on oil.

 

Enough Already

I am slowly coming around to feeling completely like myself.  But my irritability is still high, a sure sign I am not myself.  Here’s two examples.

The cat.  Peanut has been using our bathroom floor as, well, toilet paper.  Don’t know why.  Just know that I walk in to the bathroom to brush my teeth and there’s this nice long smear.  Oh, the expletives.  CS tells me that she’s obviously needing to go to the vet because something must be wrong.  That is certainly logical and the answer that gives Peanut the benefit of the doubt.  I, on the other hand, think nothing logical.  I want to kick her in her smearing ass and throw her outside.  Twice in two days this has happened.  I will call the vet to try to get an appointment tomorrow.  In the meantime, it is best if Peanut avoids me at all costs.

My blog.  I have nothing to say these days.  I was feeling very positive about finding my voice here and enjoying what I wrote.  But lately, I feel uninspired, that my writing is flat and my topics are tired.  A friend installed a new feature for me to look at my blog stats differently.  So now I have been paying way too much attention to those numbers.  And it just annoys me because I honestly don’t blog for the comments I get or the number of visits I get.  But.  There I am looking at the stats three different ways now.  (Why do all three show different numbers for the same thing?? So confusing.  Don’t answer!  It will only feed this negative energy!)

Ah.

So if I am not posting here often, it’s a public service of not putting dull posts out there.  A public service, that is, to the ten of you that read my blog.  And to you ten, thanks.  I do appreciate the readership.

Peanut on Sun

So little Sun has very healthy lungs. She can really wail! And that is to be expected. What we had not expected was Peanut’s reaction to her crying or to the baby altogether.

Peanut has always slept with us, and she has a tendency to want to sleep on one’s throat. Needless to say, we were worried she’d suffocate the baby without even meaning to. So we’ve kept a close eye on Peanut around Sun. And this is what we discovered:

Peanut is protective of Sun! Whenever Sun really gets a-wailing, Peanut comes running in, crying as well, with a look in her eye that says to us, “Do something! This baby needs help!” The cat has not once even tried to sleep near the baby, let alone on top of her. It’s as though she immediately knew of the importance Sun plays in the family–that the baby is higher in the chain than she, Peanut, is. And Peanut is totally okay with that–in fact, she sees to it that the baby gets what she needs. And if the cat thinks Sun needs something she isn’t getting, she does not hesitate to let us know.

Very interesting kitty behavior. We are both surprised and pleased with the way things developed. Who’d have expected the cat to act like a big sister??

As I have already mentioned, we adopted a kitty to become the shop kitty of our new store. The idea was that Peanut was to live at the store. That’s what shop kitties do. But CS didn’t like that she’d be alone through the one day a week the store was closed. So on Sunday evenings, he’d bring her home and then take her back on Tuesday. Within a very short time, CS decided that that was not enough. He didn’t like her being left alone during the evenings after the shop was closed. I explained that it was no different than the time she’d be alone at the house while we were at work. I couldn’t get through to him. So next thing I know he is driving kitty to and from work with him every day. I thought Peanut would get used to this drive–even come to enjoy it. I was wrong. Apparently the noise affects their inner ears and that is why cats don’t like to be in cars.

So here’s Peanut, the shop kitty, being driven around town against her will to avoid being left alone. It made no sense to me. Soon enough, however, there’d be a reason why CS could not take kitty with him to work on a given day–he had to make a stop on the way or some such other lame excuse. Then, frankly, he just stopped doing it all together. So then Peanut began to live in our home 24/7 and was left alone during the day every day.

Then we went out of town for a week and brought kitty back to the shop. Her previous family came in to feed her along with the help of the (non-cat loving) employees. This did not go well–actually, it went just fine. It’s just that our employees whined and CS used it as the final excuse to keep Peanut from resuming her duties as the shop kitty. Can you guess her crime? She pooped on the floor. Ohmygod, call animal control. I am sure she did it as an act of rebellion. Maybe she knew the consequences of her act, as she is quite the smart little thing. The result: she has been our house kitty ever since.

Well that is all fine, I suppose. But here’s a typical evening at home with Peanut:

I get home before CS. She cries her head off like she hasn’t eaten in a week. I feed her. She gobbles it down, then goes to sit by herself. Then she naps. Then we hear the door of CS’s car. Well, that just perks her right up. Once CS is inside and settled on the sofa, it is less than 2 minutes before Peanut is crawling to him to curl onto his lap. Often, this somehow requires her to walk over me to get to him. He explains that when he’s home alone with her, she sits on his hands as he tries to do work on the computer. I have seen her do this to CS; she has never done this to me.

Then the coup de grace comes when we go to bed. For some reason, this cat MUST sleep on my side of the bed (I think it’s because I am closer to the door and she likes the vantage point). And she’s a bed hog. But before she settles down to sleep and wrangles me to the dreaded middle of the bed (I know, I need to just kick her out of the bed–you don’t know the single-minded determination of this cat), most nights she unceremoniously crawls over me to make biscuits on CS–an act cats do on their (surrogate) mothers. Of course, this just makes CS laugh. ha ha ha.

I just pray that Baby likes me a wee bit more than she likes CS. But I fear she’ll be just like the other animals and babies in our world–uncannily attracted to CS’s inner calm. Ugh.

Zella is the senior animal in our zoo. She is our 10 year old german shepherd. She’s HUGE, weighing in at around 130 lbs (she’s lost weight in the last year). Her jaw is bigger than my head. Captain Sarcastic already had her when we met. Having never been around large animals, it took quite a long while for me to learn to trust her. But once I did learn to trust her, I found I loved her, too. Deep down, she’s a complete sweetie pie. She doesn’t listen very well, but makes up for that by being very well behaved (she doesn’t jump on people or bark at the mailman or chase other dogs) with one general exception, Lucy.

Lucy is our four year old blue heeler. She is a bundle of energy. We got Lucy because I thought Zella would enjoy a little sister. Shows you what I knew about dogs! They DO get along, but Zella is jealous of all things Lucy. So if Lucy has a toy, Zella wants THAT toy. And Lucy KNOWS this. So Lucy will run around with a toy in her mouth and get Zella to chase her. If Zella is lucky enough to capture the toy, she holds it in her mouth for all of 30 seconds then places it on the ground . . . which Lucy promptly steals. Then it starts over. All this time, Zella is whining, er, I mean barking her big ole head off to no avail.

Zella is the laid back dog. Think Joe Cool. Lucy is the guy you want at your party (until you don’t). The lamp shade will end up on her head before the night is over. She’s gregarious and playful, a seeker of approval, and easy to forgive. But, Lucy is not as well behaved as Zella (though she does tend to listen better). She jumps on everyone, barks at all strangers, and whimpers pathetically to get her way. Here’s a picture we took of her at the Bridge Bar Benefit 2005 (it was a costume thingy for dogs benefiting the local SPCA; Lucy didn’t come close to winning. This Willie Nelson, as memory serves, stole the show. He even had a little guitar strapped around him!)

Having been with CS for almost 9 years, we have plenty of pet stories. Some hysterical, some (physically) painful, some sad. I am sure they will find their way to this website.

Three animals live with us. Two dogs and one cat. The cat lives indoors (ala Babe) and has “outside privileges,” whereas the dogs stay outdoors and have “inside privileges.”

Before I was married, I had a cat that loved no one but me. Although she did come to stand Captain Sarcastic and he did come to love her, that cat’s love for me was a jealous love. It was great! Then she died, and CS and I bought a shop and I decided it needed a shop kitty. And I remembered that a friend at work had a cat he and his wife had been caring for in their neighborhood and for whom they’d been attempting to locate a permanent home. She became the shop kitty.

She’s a bit of a small cat, but very street wise. She’s a tortoiseshell with three colors–black, cream and a touch of white on her tail. The black and cream colors form a straight line down her nose–thus, while living on the streets, a six year old dubbed her “One.” And we are told that her previous owner (just prior to living on the streets) called her “Sassafras.” This woman was not the cat’s first owner. So there is at least one other name that she’s been called.

When we agreed to take her, I began to think of new names. As much as I hate changing an animal’s name, I really did not like the names One or Sassafras. Sassafras in particular irked me. What kind of name is this for a cat? In New Orleans, you get a lot of pets with names like Dixie and Gumbo and the like. This was in the same vein–Sassafras is the plant from which file powder is made–the thickening agent for gumbo. She was no Sassafras. So we decided on “Gonzo” ala Hunter Thompson. But that never really took. Then a customer came into the shop, saw her and screeched, “Petina!” “Do you know her?” we asked. She did not–but to her, this was a Petina if ever she’d seen one. We vetoed Petina to stay with One.

But being small, I started to call her Peanut as a nickname. Then she got sick and we had to take her to the vet. When I called to make the appointment, they asked her name. I froze. Sassafras, One, Gonzo, Petina, Peanut. Who is she? I blurted out Peanut. How stupid is Peanut for the name of a cat? How unoriginal! But Peanut she’s become. For us. In the end, it seems to me that a cat who has at least five names really has no name at all. I mean, maybe she herself knows her real name, and that’ll have to do for us.