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Posts Tagged ‘love of animals’



By Elizabeth Statmore


I wanted to find that Anne Lamott essay on their dog’s dying, but it’s in another book and I don’t have time to find it right now.

This is the first work day without Fromage, and I can already tell there are going to be a lot of awful firsts like this — first Trash Night without him, for example. Trash Night was Fromage’s favorite holiday. Lucky for him, it came every week. Tuesday nights, after dinner, we would bring the trash and recycling and composting down the front stairs and haul the wheeled cans to the curb — black for rubbish, blue for recycling, green for compostables.

David would wind him up as I started gathering the bags in the kitchen. “Trash Night!” he would exclaim to Fromage. “Trash Night!” And Fromage would start to dance around the room excitedly, wagging his tail hard and barking.

“Trash Night! Trash Night!”

Bark! Bark! Bark!

Being descended from a long line of working dogs and shepherds, he would herd me with our bags toward the front door, barking as if to yell, “Hurry up! It’s Trash Night, dammit!”

As far as he was concerned, the best nights were the ones when we needed to make the trip to the sidewalk more than once. He would dash up the stairs and bark down at me, urging me on. While I dealt with the carts and the bags, he would amble over to lift his leg and pee on a nearby sidewalk tree. it was his holiday — and now he is going to miss it forever more as we are going to miss him.

This hole in my heart feels bottomless, and it makes me wonder if I will ever feel whole again. I miss him with an ache and an urgency I can’t describe with words. This is my life now.

***
8:00 p.m. insight — Fromage does not want us to be lonely. He wants us to adopt another dog who can watch over us.

He loves us and doesn’t want us to be lonely.

He stayed as long as he could, but he just couldn’t do his job of taking care of us any more and he had to go. He’d dragged himself through sickness and dying, and it was time for him to leave us.

But he doesn’t want us to be lonely for too long.

He loves us and wishes us the best. It’s not a betrayal of him for us to love a new dog.


_________________________



About Elizabeth: Elizabeth Statmore is a San Francisco-based writer and teacher of writing and mathematics. She is a long-time practitioner and teacher of Writing Practice, which she learned from Natalie Goldberg. A frequent contributor to KQED-FM, Elizabeth’s last posts for red Ravine include Seed Starting, a piece about writers as gardeners, and Writing The “Remembering Grace Paley” Piece — a step-by-step tutorial on how she turned a raw piece of writing into a finished radio commentary. Elizabeth was also one of our first guest writers, contributing the post Abandoned Is… Fromage was her dog and spirit guide of almost fourteen years.

The Gifts Of Trash Night is Part II in a series of three Writing Practices about the love and loss of Fromage. Part I is titled Long.

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Black Bear Lily On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, DenCam provided by the NABC/WRI, photo snapshot 2010 by QuoinMonkey.


If you’ve never seen a wild black bear gently lick her paws, roll over in her den, or blow puffs of winter breath in sub-zero temperatures, Lily will change your life. I used to think hibernating bears went into their dens and peacefully slept all Winter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On Friday January 8th, documentary veteran Doug Hajicek installed an Infra Red camera system into a black bear’s den near Ely, Minnesota. And not just any black bear. Her name is Lily. Three-year-old Lily is part of the long-term study of black bear ecology and behavior being conducted by Lynn Rogers at Ely’s Wildlife Research Institute, less than 30 miles from the Canadian border. Lily is the daughter of 9-year-old June, and it is believed that Lily is pregnant. There is an above average chance she will give birth in mid January.

The Full Moon in January, which I’ve often celebrated as the Wolf Moon, is sometimes known as the Bear Moon. Last week under the New Bear Moon, I listened to Cathy Wurzer interview Doug Hajicek on MPR. Then Liz and I started following Lily on Facebook. We also watched her on the Today Show. And have been reading bear facts at the North American Bear Center and checking in to Lily’s Bear Cam ever since.

No one has ever seen a wild bear give birth to cubs. Some mornings, I can’t take my eyes off the screen. If the miracle happens, it will be the first time in history it has ever been filmed. Bearing witness. It is a powerful thing.


Lily's Eye On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




To view the magic for yourself, check out these links:






Black Bear Snout, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine under the New Bear Moon, Sunday, January 17th,




Other Local Color posts from Minnesota & New Mexico:

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Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

Bat photos provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande
Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved.

 
 
 
There is a cycle in our community that has to do with the seasons at dusk. It begins when our Rio Grande Valley evenings start to warm in spring, pulling us out onto the patio. We look into the purple-orange sky and notice a black flicker here, another there, appearing in herky-jerky fashion. By fall, the air becomes dewy and cool at sunset, and the dancing black flashes are few until finally, they’re gone. This is the coming and going of bats.

Yes, bats. Mice with wings. Strange little critters that frighten some but delight many, including us. They live—or, perhaps the proper term is hang out—on our (ybonesy’s) property in two bat houses that sit on long poles out on the grounds, a sort of summer residence for bats.

Maybe it’s the season, or perhaps fueled by a desire to not take our bat companions for granted, we decided to learn more about these amazing flying mammals. We sent our questions to bat guru Michelle McCaulley, director of the bat program that set up our bat houses and many more like them. Michelle shed light on these nocturnal creatures.
 
 
 
 
 

Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

 



Fifteen Questions with Michelle McCaulley



Q. You have a pretty unconventional job; can you describe your role as it pertains to bats in the community?

A. I see myself as a biologist—that is actually what my degree is in—and an educator and conservationist, not only when it comes to bats in my community but other animals as well.


Q. How did you get involved in this program?

A. My father, Jim McCaulley, had started the Corrales Bat Habitat Program, installing 30 houses with a small grant from US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners Program in 2002. When he passed away in 2005, I was thrilled and honored to continue with this mission. It was also a chance to do what I love, which is to study animals—in this case, bats.


Q. How long has the program been in existence, and how has it been received in the community?

A. The Corrales Bat Habitat Program began in 2002 with 30 houses. In 2006, the name was changed to Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, and it became a non-profit 501 (3)(c) tax-exempt organization. To date there are over 60 sponsored bat houses, primarily in the Village of Corrales but also around the rest of New Mexico. The Village of Corrales passed a resolution about eight years ago in support of the program. Residents have been enthusiastic and very supportive ever since. I usually have a waiting list of willing sponsors who would like to enroll in the Rio Grande Basin Bat Habitat Expansion Program.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Bats are extremely beneficial, which is, I assume, large part of why this program exists. Can you expand on the benefits of bats in a community?

A. Not only do bats consume half of their body weight a night eating insects, they are primary pollinators of some plants. If you like tequila, thank a bat. Bats pollinate the agave from which tequila is derived. Bats are also a good biological indicator for healthy communities. Spraying of insecticides and pesticides is very harmful to bats because the chemicals are stored in a bat’s fat reserves, which could affect how well that bat survives the winter to live another year. The bats that live in NM are insectivorous bats meaning they only eat insects.


Q. We understand that bat season is winding down. What exactly do bats do as the weather gets cooler?

A. There is not a lot known about exactly when and where bats go for winter. We know migrating birds follow the same route each winter and back each summer, but this is not clear for bats. Many species of bats take up winter residence in caves, some in trees and rock crevices. For our bats in Corrales, they could be wintering as close as the Sandia Mountains. They hibernate like many other mammal species, and the weight they have gained in the summer sustains them through the winter. If disturbed during hibernation, bats use more energy and may not have enough reserves to make it through this time. In the end the disturbance could cost the bat its life.


Q. What is the general state of bats in the area? Are they thriving?

A. It is difficult to tell just by the data I have collected from bats using our artificial bat habitat. There would be other ongoing factors to consider, as well more information about bat behavior in our area. I have not compiled the information gathered from this year, but in the past three years, the use of the houses has increased from ~50% to 74% by 2008. The increase could indicate a temperature preference for the artificial habitat or a loss of preferred nature habitat, for example.


Q. We understand there are some pretty major threats to bats in other parts of the world, and that large populations of bats are dying out as a result. Is there a risk that New Mexico bats will be affected?

A. In the past, the pet trade, loss of habitat, and indiscriminate killing of bats have all been threats. However, an even larger threat to cave bats has emerged, especially in the Northeast. Bats are dying from White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS was named such because of the white fungus around the noses of bats found emaciated, flying (not hibernating) and dying during winter months. The fungus was also on their wings and other body parts. It is unclear how the fungus is affecting the bats or whether it is the cause of the deaths or a symptom of some larger ailment. At this time WNS has not been documented in NM.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. As we head toward Halloween, we’re reminded about the way bats are always associated with this holiday. Is that a plus or minus, in your opinion?

A. I think it’s a plus. The Halloween season is an opportune time to educate people about bats and help dispel some the myths in the process.


Q. What time of year will we see the bats active again?

A. They will return sometime in May. They typically follow the hummingbirds, so when you have a hummer you mostly likely will see bats.


Q. Tell us a little bit about the mating and communal habits of bats?

A. Typically bats mate in the fall but delay ovulation and fertilization. The egg does not release from the female’s ovary to unite with the sperm for fertilization until the following spring. Both sexes congregate for hibernation. In the spring most females bear and raise the young together until the young are furred and ready to fly. Females usually bear one offspring.


Q. Can you talk about bats and disease? I think there’s a fear that bats carry disease, such as Rabies, and that bats can be dangerous. Do bats carry many diseases or is this a myth?

A. Bats, like any other mammal can contract rabies from another infected animal. Only ½ of one percent of bats contract rabies. The best protection from being bitten by any wild animal is to not handle the animal and call a professional for help. Always vaccinate your pets as well. Bats are good combatants again West Nile Virus (WNV) as some of their diet is made up of mosquitoes when this prey is available. Bats will not become infected by WNV by eating an infected mosquito but may be if bitten by a mosquito. Bats are considered a dead end host for WNV because the infected bat will not transmit the disease to humans or any other animal. I am a certified bat rehabilitator in NM, by the way, and so I can be called in when bats are found sick and/or hurt.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Are there similar bat programs in other communities that you know of?

A. To the best of my knowledge, the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project is not only the largest community bat project; according to Bat Conservation International (BCI) we are the only program of our kind. The complied data from each bat year is submitted to BCI and to the USFWS Partners Program. Corrales should be very proud, this is a great honor and a testament to village motto for being animal friendly.


Q. Any resources you’d like to highlight for anyone interested in more information on bats?

A. Yes, please visit my website for more information about bats, bat houses, and our mission. We also offer several gifts that are sure to please the bat lover in your life!

In addition, I work with and am Secretary for Bat World Sanctuary, located in Mineral Wells, Texas. They are largest bat sanctuary, as well as a teaching facility for rehabilitators of insectivorous bats. They care for hundreds of insectivorous and fruit bats rescued each year from inhumane conditions or sometimes from the pet trade.


Q. What is your favorite bat fact or bat story that you can share with our readers?

A. I can’t pick a favorite because everything about bats is remarkable to me. After you get to know a bat, you’ll see that they, too, have their own personalities and are very kind creatures.


Q. Anything else you’d like to share about bats?

A. This is only a tidbit of bat information. I encourage everyone to learn more, not only bats, but all of the other wonderful animals that share your community, state, and planet. Each one is incredible in its own way, worth appreciating and certainly worth protecting. If everyone would play a small part, even in their own community, our planet would certainly be a better place.





Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved







Michelle McCaulley runs the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, which was created by her late father, Jim McCaulley. Michelle planted the idea for the project when, as she recounts on her website, In 1999, I built my parents a nursery style bat house. They installed the house beside the 1/4 acre pond on their property. Their house was occupied the very first spring with over 150 insect munching bats. The house is a successful nursery. The prosperity of this house sparked an unusual idea.

So in January of 2001, my father Jim McCaulley, drafted a preliminary plan for a pilot project to build about 30 bat houses to be installed within the Village of Corrales. The goal was to provide an natural alternative to insect control rather than spraying insecticides, while also providing additional habitat. The plan was reviewed, approved and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) under the auspices of the Partners for Wildlife program.

Michelle continues the program today, a bat evangelist spreading the truth about the benefits of bats and other wildlife. Thank you, Michelle, for your dedication, energy, and passion to and for these wonderful creatures. We love them!

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Howling Reporter newsletter, Memorial to Raven, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo of Raven © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf, all rights reserved

Raven, Howling Reporter (Summer 2009), image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
There on the cover of the new issue of the Howling Reporter was a giant close-up of Raven, his muzzle tinged with silver, eyes piercing, posture regal. My eyes drifted down to the right-hand corner, RAVEN 04-04-95 – 04-12-09, and I called to Jim. “Oh no! Raven died.”
 
We have Ms. Kimball to thank for the fact that we got to known Raven. Dee’s 4th grade teacher assigned her students and their families to take a field trip somewhere they’d never been in New Mexico. We picked the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, west of Albuquerque, through the Navajo village of Ramah and down a long gravel road, in the isolated mountain community of Candy Kitchen.

It was a Friday in January, 2006. We stopped for breakfast at a mission-turned-art-gallery in Grants, then hit the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in the Zuni Mountains. We marvelled over Inscription Rock—at the El Morro National Monument—where travelers have been leaving writings in the soft sandstone for centuries. But the best treat of all was seeing the wolves.

We arrived late in the day, and as we scrambled out of the Subaru into the winter air we heard a chorus of howls coming from what seemed like all directions. Thrilled by the eerie wailing, we rushed the front door of the hogan that housed the visitor information and gift shop.

Next tour was at 4p. We wandered the warm cave-like space, letting the girls each pick out one item. Dee chose a small pouch of wolf hair, Em a frog fetish.

A young woman named Angel was our guide. We were the only people on the tour. We started with the oldest wolves, in the earliest enclosures, the ones that went in when the sanctuary was young and could afford only to set aside small areas for the wolves. Over time, as the sanctuary grew the enclosures began to encompass the natural surroundings. Raven’s area was expansive and incorporated trees, brush, and rocks that were already in the spot where the enclosure was built.

Angel told us how each animal was characterized by how much wolf content it contained. Some were pure wolf; high-content wolf-dogs were mostly wolf and low-content wolf-dogs mostly dog. We even met a pure dog that a previous owner had mistakenly identified as a wolf-dog and abandoned. Raven was a black Timber wolf, ebony in his youth but increasingly silver around his face as he aged.

A lanky man with disheveled brown hair, I think his name was Ian, joined us as we admired Raven. Raven was imposing yet friendly; he came to the fence to see us. “Want to howl with Raven,” Ian asked. “Yes, yes,” we chimed. “OK, on the count of three.” Ian started howling, then Raven, then we joined in, the steam from our breath rising like smoke above us.

Ian asked if Jim wanted to formally greet Raven. “Sure,” Jim said. Ian walked along the fence line with the black wolf, so closely that Raven’s fur touched Ian’s leg and hand and vice versa. “See, we’re rubbing fur,” he told Jim, “You try it.”

Jim walked to the fence and stood waiting. Raven, understanding what was happening, walked to Jim and rubbed his fur along Jim’s leg, then circled back and did it again. “Cool.” Jim was grinning when he turned in our direction.

We left the sanctuary reluctantly, as the light was leaving the day. Driving home in darkness, we said hardly a word. Raven, the other wolves, the entire field trip left us full and content. 

 

Raven and Sanctuary Director Leyton Cougar, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Phil Sonier, all rights reservedThe next day, Saturday, Jim went to Western Warehouse to buy a new pair of work boots. He saw a crowd near the entrance to the Sunflower Market next door. As he approached he suddenly noticed a big black wolf on a lead, straining through the crowd in his direction. People moved aside to let the wolf stare, like a pointing spaniel, at the thing grabbing its attention. Raven, recognizing Jim’s scent from the day before, wanted to say Hello.
 
“Raven’s at the Sunflower. Hurry, they’re leaving soon.” It was Jim, calling on the cell phone. Em and I arrived just as Raven’s handler and director of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Leyton Cougar, was loading Raven into a white van. We pulled up next to the van and jumped out of the car, explaining that we’d met the wolf almost exactly 24 hours before. Leyton let us pet Raven while he finished loading the van. Raven licked Em’s face.

We saw Raven a few other times during his ambassador trips to Albuquerque. The last time I saw him was at Whole Foods. By then he had retired from big engagements. Someone said that he’d become sensitive to loud noise and crowds. I came back to the house gushing in dreamy tones about Raven. He had the power to make you fall in love every time you saw him.

We all cried as we read Leyton’s tribute to Raven in the Howling Reporter. Angel also wrote a moving piece, as did others who had the honor to live and work with this amazing creature. We learned that Raven came within days of being euthanized at the age of two, after his owner suffered a heart attack and couldn’t pay the cost to transport Raven to the sanctuary. A visitor to Candy Kitchen, hearing the plight of a wolf that would be put down if someone didn’t intervene, wrote a check for her last $400. Because of her, Raven was able to live twelve more years and teach young and old about the true nature of wolves.

Jim and I will make a donation to the sanctuary in Raven’s memory. We hope you’ll learn as much as possible about this incredible place and consider visiting it some day if you ever get a chance.
 
 
 
 

Raven, image reprinted from website with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Angie Albrecht, all rights reserved

 


He was almost two years old when we met. He had midnight black fur with silver tips and a white flash on his chest. His presence was commanding. His eyes, like amber fire, reflected his energetic, electric personality.

I will never forget our first encounter and the shiver of fear that ripped through my body as he grabbed me by my right arm—the same arm that just three years prior, had been ripped open by an angry wolf-dog, who put me in the hospital for eleven days.

Raven didn’t hurt me that first day. He gave me something…or perhaps he flipped a switch inside of me. Whatever it was, it began something beautiful, a unique relationship between a man and a beast. Raven was born an ambassador for the wolf world. He was the go-between, sent to teach humans the truth about wolves. He dispelled the myth that wolves are the big bad beast that will run amuck and eat your children. They are family oriented social creatures who love and respect each member of their pack. He told the world that wolves are not a threat to man and are a necessary, intrinsic and intricate part of nature and our ecosystem.

~Leyton Cougar, Director of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, excerpted from the Howling Reporter newsletter, with permission




Raven & Leyton's Last Day, image reprinted with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, all rights reserved

Raven & Leyton’s Last Day, image reprinted with
permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo
© 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. All rights reserved.





To read the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary memorial to Raven, click here. To meet the sanctuary’s wolves, click here, and here to meet the wolf-dogs. If you’re interested in making a donation in support of wolf rescue and care, please click here.

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Chaco Bell, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Chaco Bell, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December
2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All
rights reserved.



It’s still the dead of Winter in Minnesota, and we’ve got the temperatures to prove it. How do you know it’s January in Minnesota?


  • it’s -8 when you get up in the morning (that’s on a good day, without wind chills)
  • running water (if you’ve got water at all) sputters and spits through sluggish, half-frozen pipes
  • water turned off from 10:30pm Friday to Noon the following Saturday, after you are greeted post-work by a broken water main that creates an ice skating rink on the street in front of your house. All we needed was Kristi Yamaguchi (did you know she was one of the first to be photographed by Annie Liebovitz for the ‘Milk Mustache’ campaign?).
  • the annual Art Shanty Projects kicks off on Medicine Lake
  • the U.S. Pond Hockey Association holds its annual tournament on frigid Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis (See the winners of  the nearly 1,600 pond hockey fanatics that participated in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships of 2009)
  • close to 9,000 anglers gather on Gull Lake’s Hole in the Day Bay north of Brainerd for the World’s largest ice contest — the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza (from an aerial view, you could swear those were gopher holes!)


Meantime, life inside home and hearth goes on. The week before Winter Solstice, our middle-aged cat Chaco (named after the canyon in New Mexico, elevation: 6200 feet) became seriously ill; we got him into the vet on December 18th. By the weekend, he needed to go to emergency care for IV fluids, medication, and monitoring, then back to our clinic on Monday. So began the last 6 weeks of caring for a chronically ill cat.

On our last visit to Dr. Heidi, she checked his blood again, and after treating a massive infection with three prescriptions of antibiotics, it seems his numbers are up on the kidneys, yet his anemia remains below the norm. He tires easily, but is eating, drinking, sometimes playing. He’s gained 1.2 lbs. of the 2 lbs. he lost. But there’s that nagging anemia.

The problem with anemia in cats is that it’s hard to diagnose the origin; it can be anything, including chronic kidney disease. We’ve elected home treatment for another month to see if we can get his anemia under control. This means continuing antibiotics, vitamin paste, subcutaneous fluids every 2 or 3 days, prescription foods tailored for kidneys (rich in lean meat, low in fats and additives), and monitoring his habits and schedule.



Chaco -- Room To Heal, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Chaco — “Room To Heal”, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, December 2008, photo ©
2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved.



Those of you who have cared for ill animals know the drill. It’s good to call on friends who’ve been through a “cat crisis” when you need to make hard financial and emotional decisions involving care for ill pets. It’s truly a miracle that Chaco is alive. Right before Christmas, our vet told us the staff was begging her to put him down. But she saw a few signs of hope in his numbers; otherwise, I would be doing a very different kind of post.

The bottom line with seriously ill pets, is that it’s a very personal decision you must make about how much money to spend (prepare to dip into your savings), what kind of long-term care you are willing to sustain, and if the animal’s quality of life can be maintained without pain and hardship on either side. Tough choices.

Liz and I take it a day at a time. And are happy for the time we have left with Chaco, whatever that may be. On March 22nd, he’ll be 13 years old. With Liz caring for him most of his life, he’s lived like a prince!

We’ve learned quite a bit about cat care over the last month. Perhaps others can benefit from what we’ve been through.


 

Creature Comforts – 10 Cat Care Tips


Below is a short list of Creature Comforts that have made our lives easier over the last 6 weeks of caring for a chronically ill cat. Some can be found around the house. Others take a little cash up front, but we found it helpful to stock up on items that make long-term medical care more bearable for both cats and humans.

We created a home base (see photo above) tucked away in the bedroom where we could monitor Chaco, and followed his movements closely during the first few weeks. Creating a space where he felt safe was important. We also set aside a centralized place in the kitchen for his food, meds, syringes, vitamins, and a high place to hang the Sub-Q bag. Below are other ideas and product brands, but experiment and find what works best for you.



Products and items we’ve found to be helpful during the critical first week:


  1. Complete For Cats, A Fresh Approach To Home, disposable litter box — portable, made with 100% biodegradable, recycled paper with a unique, patented material that will not leak, tear, or shred.
  2. ExquisiCat Scoop, hard clumping, easy scooping litter —  or Scoop Away Odor Control litter. Make clean-up as easy as you can; you’re going to be tired!
  3. Simply Out! 30 floor protection pads — extra thick, ultra absorbent, fragrance free, leak-proof. Treated to attract pets, controls odors, no leaks, guaranteed (pet training pads but work great when pets are sick).
  4. Old towels and rags, plastic tarp as a base — and sanitary wipes like Scott MoistWipes. You may go through a lot of these.
  5. Heating pad, water bottle, reflective heater — to keep everything warmed up and cozy!


Products and items we’ve found to be helpful over the long haul:


  1. Sub-Q fluids and fresh needles on hand, along with web links to videos on giving subcutaneous fluids — Videos can help augment the vet training you receive before bringing your pet home. We found that watching a few different videos gave us a better-rounded picture of the process, and details of ways to handle problems that cropped up along the way. (If you are needle phobic, Sub-Q is NOT for you. You may have to pay your vet to administer fluids.)
  2. Stash of prescription foods (wet & dry), medications, and droppers for water and meds — cats like food, meds, and Sub-Q fluids better at room temperature. Experiment with different prescription foods until you find a few your cat likes. Two of our cats will drink from a dropper (good to know when they don’t feel well enough to drink on their own).
  3. SmartyKat Kitty Canyon Pet Bed — all of our cats love this. It’s plush, deep, and flips inside-out for a quick style change! It’s also Eco-friendly, made of EcoRest fibers, using 8 recycled 1-liter soda bottles. In the beginning, when Chaco was having trouble walking, carrying him this way gave us more mobility.
  4. Collar with bell to track movements in the night — Liz had one of Chaco’s old collars around and we strapped it on so we could track where he was during the night.
  5. Keep a handwritten log of your cat’s progress, from beginning to end — you can’t keep all this in your head! We made up a grid with categories for Meds, Food, Sub-Q, Bathroom Habits. You’ll also want to keep your veterinary and emergency clinics’ numbers handy at home, in your cell phone, and in your wallet. We have made a lot of phone calls!


I know there are many who have done long-term care for aging or sick pets. If you’ve got any other cat or pet care tips, we’d love to hear them. Please feel free to add them to this post. And remember, cat care is stressful, so take advantage of all the winter sports the Great White North has to offer and get some exercise!



Miracle Cat, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Miracle Cat, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Helpful Links:



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 26th, 2009

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Its Time For Mr. Stripey Pants To Come For A Visit!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It’s Time For Mr. Stripey Pants To Come In For A Visit!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Right after I did the piece on postcards and letter writing, this arrived for Mr. Stripey Pants — a personal note from Dick Van Dyke himself (did you know Mr. Van Dyke was born in Missouri?). I remember Dick Van Dyke most for The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But why is he writing to Mr. Stripey Pants?

Well, it’s time for Pants to go in for his Senior Exam. It’s true what Mary Poppins says — a spoonful of sugar really does helps the medicine go down. But Pants doesn’t mind the vet. It’s Chaco who gets freaked out.

Anyway, as Mr. Stripey Pants prepares for the fall elections, we’ll be taking him in for his Senior Exam. He’ll be 11 years old in November. And when cats start to age, it’s more important than ever to catch things early.

But what about this mail thing? Pets are becoming so important in our electronic (and increasingly isolated) day-to-day lives, that we’re receiving slick, 4-color magazines as appointment reminders from veterinarians. But is it really right that Mr. Stripey Pants receives more personal mail than I do?




Mr. Stripey Pants Goes Postal, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mr. Stripey Pants Goes Postal, Pants preparing to read his mail from Dick Van Dyke, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



      Pants Paw-ses To Read His Mail, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Stripey Pants Snuggles Up To Dick Van Dyke, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Its Time For Mr. Stripey Pants To Come In For A Visit!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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Who, Me?, Sony the Pug on Friday, the day before she got sick. Photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



The Vet called about an hour ago to ask if we were missing a pecan.

It turns out that 12-month-old Sony had one lodged in her intestine, which the Vet (my new heroine) found when she went in and opened up our little pug’s stomach this afternoon. The pecan, it seems, blocked food and liquid from passing through her stomach, causing it to swell up like a balloon.

She’s not out of the woods yet, although my-heroine-the-Vet said that Sony was awake and alert right after the operation. Medical folk will be at the animal hospital around the clock tonight, and tomorrow evening they’ll try to feed her something. If all goes well, we’ll pick her up on Tuesday.

Whew. What a relief.

I was worried they’d cut her open and find nothing. At least now we know what caused Sony to get gradually sick over these past two weeks until she finally reached the point this morning of not being able to keep anything down. Poor baby. We decided to take her in when we noticed her stomach had expanded so much that her left leg was starting to stick out and she could hardly lie down.

We’ve tried to “Sony-proof” our house, with mixed results. Every now and then I catch her trying to swallow a rubber band or eat the stuffing out of a toy. About two or so weeks ago I caught her outside with a pecan in her mouth. I got it away from her, and if my memory serves me correctly, threw it way out of reach — or so I thought! Little did I know.

From here on out, we’re going to be way more vigilent when Sony is outside. This isn’t the first time she’s had to be rushed to the Vet because she ate something discovered while snorting around under the old trees. She’s just not an outdoor dog. Which is too bad, because she love-love-loves being outside with her big bros.

If you get a chance, please send her some positive vibes. And if all goes well, she’ll be safe and sound at home — indoors! — in two days.



                                       



***UPDATE*** — Sony is safely esconced at home, currently lying in her snuggly fleece bed. Her face is thin, her eyes alarmingly protruding. But she is good ol’ silly-sly-huggable-lovable-snuffaloffagus-nutty Sony.

Look what the vet sent home with us. After taking this shot, for posterity, I placed the menacing nut into the bottom of the trash bin. Good riddance!




-Related to posts A Girl With A Curl & Her Pug, In Spring, and Ten Things About Sony The Pug.

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