Meeting Cora … and her 25 toes


Cora strikes a pose in a sunbeam.

Cora strikes a pose in a sunbeam.

Cora is a cool cat, from head to toe — all 25 of them!

We met this Hemingway polydactyl (many-toed) cat on Saturday at Shelter to Home, a cat-focused shelter located Downriver.

The trip in itself was a big deal because it was my first big excursion since a hysterectomy two weeks ago.

I had spotted Cora’s profile that morning, but didn’t say anything to Matt. It was a big enough deal that he was looking at cat profiles completely unprovoked. Pink has been gone for six months, and as much as we both agreed we would never get another cat, somehow the house seems incomplete without one.

We came upon Cora when we walked up the stairs of the Victorian home that houses the shelter. She greeted us from her spot in the upper landing’s window.

We counted at least seven toes on this paw.

We counted at least seven toes on this paw.

Cora was the first cat we saw, and our hostess wanted to keep the tour going since there were at least 14 more cats to meet. But we sat down with Cora, and let her climb on our laps. She purred as we touched her feet, the base of her tail … even her belly. Oh, what a lover.

Then Matt picked her up,

I couldn’t hear a thing through the purr machine.

Finally we broke away from Cora, and continued with the tour. We told the shelter worker about Lexie, our almost 15-year-old dog, and Charlie, our energetic 1-year-old pup. We mentioned the dog door, and emphasized that any cat we adopt will be an indoor cat. The worker seemed happy with this, and even told us about enclosed tents designed for cats if we did wish to bring our cat outside for supervised fun.

Since it was difficult for me to bend down, Matt stopped to pet a few of the felines, and played with a shy calico in the hallway. But once we got downstairs, he asked about Cora.

We started out the day looking for a high energy youthful cat who likes dogs. Cora’s energy level is best described as “chill” and it’s unclear if she’s ever seen a dog. Matt usually gravitates toward big cats, and Cora is on the teeny side. She’s also a mum who recently gave birth to four kittens.

Not exactly what we had in mind, and yet she feels the perfect fit.

This has got to be the coolest animal shelter we have visited.

This has got to be the coolest animal shelter we have visited.

We took an application, and said we would be in touch.

As we walked to the car, a smile creeped across my face. This was definitely further than I got with Lola the tortie cat.

When we got home Saturday, I filled out the application.

Of course once I was done, Matt got cold feet.

“I’m not sure. I’m not ready. I don’t know if Cora is the right cat,” he nervously said.

I signed my name at the bottom of the application, and let him talk. The next day, I disclosed my plan of action.

Before we make a final decision, I want to bring Charlie in to meet Cora.

Matt agreed.

So now I will send in our application and wait.

We’ll be on our toes, and ready to go.

FurFamHORZNTL

Close encounter


After thinking on it for a week, Matt and I packed Charlie in the car today and drove up to PetCo for a meet-and-greet with Lola.

The tortie kitten was sleeping in her cage when we arrived. I poked at her back through the cage bars, and the rescue volunteer came up to see if we needed help.

Lola, a sweet tortie.

Lola, a sweet tortie.

I explained we spotted Lola last week, and that we wanted to see her up close and personal. Also, we brought our dog to make sure they were compatible.

The man opened the cage door and grabbed Lola by the nape of her neck. He pulled her in close to his chest, but invited me to pet her.

We chit-chatted. I told him that we were expert cat owners. I shared about Pink, and how we lost her to kidney disease last fall. I explained Charlie loved Pink, that they often played and even slept together.

Matt lifted Charlie up in the air and gently pushed his snout toward Lola. Both of them seemed nonplussed. No big deal at all.

I reached in and rubbed Lola again. I was wondering if he was ever going to let me hold her. I pushed my hand  between her and the adoption guy, and he pulled her closer.

“How about if I put her down so Charlie can sniff her?” he asked.

I thought it was odd that he clearly didn’t want me to hold the cat, but that he was going to let Charlie and Lola interact.

He put Lola down, and Charlie hid behind Matt’s knees. No signs of aggression at all.

The man encouraged us to fill out an adoption application, or to do it online when we got home. I felt odd about filling put an application for a cat I never got to hold. How would I know if she would cuddle me??

We agreed that we would think about it.

As we walked away, we were surprised to see Angry Eyebrows run up to him. We wondered if she had told him about our dog door.

On the drive home, we discussed our options. Matt was upfront. He didn’t think we were ready for a cat.

You’re about to have surgery,” he said to me. “I have concerns about the cat jumping on your stomach, or even about the cleanliness of another animal in the house as you recover.”

I understood. I wondered if it would be too much transition right before I was out of commission for six weeks. How fair would it be to get a cat (that I wanted) and to expect Matt to care for it while I recuperated? Not that Matt wouldn’t want to care for Lola, but I believe if I’m going to get an animal, it should be a joint effort to care for it. And if I know I’m going to be down-for-the-count for six weeks, why not wait until I am healthy enough to coparent?

We would not be adopting Lola.

This decision made me sad, but in the end I felt it was the best for this sweet kitten.

I know the right cat will come to me.

And at the next close encounter, I will be ready.

FurFamHORZNTL

Smitten kitten


So we needed puppy treats. I swear.

Lola wonders what's taking us so long. "Adopt me, already!"

Lola wonders what’s taking us so long. “Adopt me, already!”

And that meant we got to see the cats on display at PetCo. Matt and I both walked right up to Lola, a 7-month-old tortoiseshell kitten. She was curled up in a ball, snoozing away. We stuck our fingers through the cage and ruffled her tri-colored fur.

Lola sleepily tossed her head over her shoulder and looked me over with one eye. She slinked her body a few inches so she could get a better look. I slid my finger under her chin, and rubbed. She closed her eyes and purred.

This was one smitten kitten.

“She’s cute,” Matt said. “I bet she’d love playing with Charlie. She’d probably keep him in line!”

I imagined Lola running through the house, maybe batting Charlie in the face then scurrying off to hide. I’m sure Lexie would be nonplussed.

It’s been five months since Pink died. At the time we swore we wouldn’t get another cat for 10 years. So much for promises. I can feel our resolve slowly giving way.

We couldn't get Lola to look straight at us for a photo, so this is a pic of the profile photo on her cage.

We couldn’t get Lola to look straight at us for a photo, so this is a pic of the profile photo on her cage.

The adoption papers indicated Lola was with a family until one of the children became allergic to her. What caught our eyes the most was the following comment: “I love to talk, as most torties do.”

I wondered what this meant, so I Googled it. Apparently, tortie cats are known to be especially verbal,  through meows, purrs and hisses. I looked at Lola in that cage. I couldn’t elicit any sort of sound from her. I was curious about what her meow sounds like.

I also found out that tortie cats are believed to be good luck, and sometimes are referred to as  money cats. Seriously. Can anyone give me one reason why we shouldn’t consider this cat??

I thought about her curled up on my lap, especially as I recuperate from my upcoming hysterectomy. She looked like a total snuggle bunny. Since I’m guessing the dogs most likely won’t be welcome anywhere near my lap, a little kitten sounds like the perfect recovery buddy.

As Matt took dozens of photos of Lola, I scribbled down the contact information for the adoption agency. I leaned in close to take a video and … oh my, WHAT’S THAT SMELL???

Lola casually gave us a look that reassured that it was not her. She did not just take a humongous poop while we were fawning over her. The tenants downstairs are an embarrassment, she said with her green eyes.

We peeked down below, and the black cat seemed pleased with himself.

Once we got in the car, I looked up Lola’s profile on the adoption agency’s website. I’m nervous about possibly adopting another cat. But I am curious about this one.

It looks like the next step is to fill out an application to set up a meet-and-greet.

We’ll keep you posted.

FurFamHORZNTL

Lexie loves salmon!


Lex gobbles down a bowl of salmon kibble.

Lex gobbles down a bowl of salmon kibble.

I’m proud to report Lex is not only eating regularly, but she’s eating with gusto!

When our wee pup Charlie recently grew old enough to become a dog, we graduated him to big boy food. We studied our choices for months in anticipation of the switch.

We made our final decision at Costco, when we found Nature’s Domain: Salmon meal & sweet potato formula for dogs (Kirkland Signature brand). It had never occurred to us to feed fish to our dogs. But Matt had heard fish oil was good for a dog’s coat, so his eyes locked on the bag of salmon kibble.

After we brought it home, we filled both dog bowls up with kibble. We decided to include Lexie at least on the first bowl to see if she would give it a go. Every since she was diagnosed with kidney failure last summer, her appetite has been fickle. We finally settled into a routine of feeding her wet holistic dog food (sometimes by hand) and occasionally supplementing with a kidney-friendly can of dog food. It wasn’t a kidney-perfect diet, but most days she would entertain us and eat a bit. She no longer was skin and bones, sitting at death’s door.

Lex has a ball!

Lex has a ball!

So we filled her bowl to the brim with salmon, and watched. She quickly sniffed something new in the air, and checked out her bowl. Lex grabbed a piece of food and thoughtfully chewed it up. She looked back over her shoulder at us, then lowered her face back into the bowl. She didn’t resurface until it was empty.

Lex now repeats this ritual twice a day, almost like she’s a normal dog again. When we forget dinnertime, she’s quick to gently bite our hands, or rambunctiously whine until we feed her. In full disclosure, we still dress up the bowl with dog treats to get her started, but once she’s eating she finishes the bowl on her own.

Could there possibly be a negative in this joyous situation?

I rarely get to sing the “Eat your nummies!” song anymore.

Now that Lex is eating regularly, the physical transformation is undeniable. Her eyes are more alert and her fur is super shiny. She hops up on the couch and her special chair with ease. This after months of me lifting her up.

Lex STILL has a ball!

Lex STILL has a ball!

And best of all, her energy level is at an all-time high. This means she gets to play, and play hard with Charlie. She trots out into the back of the yard, then rushes back full-tilt, running like a puppy.

Not bad for a gal who will turn 15 in a few months.

She’s also started playing with toys again. In particular, she loved these teeny tennis balls made specifically for dogs. She plays catch in the house, and races Charlie to retrieve the ball from the hallway. She also will carry the ball around the house, rolling it around in her mouth.

She also recently developed an affection for Charlie’s deer antler. She’s taken it from him a few times, but then has no idea what to do with it. She’ll sniff it and mouth it, but she’s really lost the dexterity to actually have a chewing session.

Still, it’s cute to see her try. I do believe Lex has got her groove back.

FurFamHORZNTL

Vertigo


Lexie shakes off the dizziness. She's ready for another nap.

Lexie shakes off the dizziness. She’s ready for another nap.

It’s amazing how quickly things can fall apart.

Lex had just hopped up on the couch, and collapsed in my lap. The toxic smell of charcoal fluid washed over me. I leaned over, and could smell it all over her back. When I quickly put her on the floor and ushered her to the bathroom for a bath, she stumbled, and pulled her front left paw into her side. Her head jerked, and violently turned to the side.

Something was terribly wrong.

I frantically washed her, but discovered the fluid was only on her back, not in her mouth. I was terribly confused.

“We have to get her to emergency vet,” I told Matt, as he held her up.

We rushed her to the vet, and I silently wondered if I would return home without her.

The vet instantly ran some blood work, and came back with an unexpected development. Her kidney levels were healthy, all within range. When I explained how she was diagnosed with kidney failure last summer, and that she almost died, he said she most likely had acute failure. And this is something a dog can recover from, which apparently she has.

Then the vet offered his diagnosis. Lexie had vertigo, an intense dizziness that causes stumbling and twitchy movement. It’s unclear what caused the condition, but he said her dementia may have played a role.

Also, the charcoal fluid was a red herring. She most likely had a dizzy spell and fell on the bottle, which I had left on the ground.

Lexie paced the small vet room, as the doctor explained treatment options. She leaned into the wall, and walked all four corners, over and over again. The vet gave her a sedative so she would get some reprieve from the pacing, along with an antibiotic and a motion sickness medication.

Several hundred dollars later, we were headed home, Lex nodding off in the back seat.

Today, she is exhausted, and still experiencing the effects of the sedative. She had trouble standing on her own, and needs to be carried down the stairs so she can go outside.

It’s hard to know if she’ll come out of this, or what our next steps are. Lex is 14-and-a-half years old. She’s a gracious elder pup, who has lived a phenomenal life. She’s excelled as a big sister to Charlie, and a teacher to everyone around her.

As quickly as things fell apart, I’m desperately trying to piece everything back together.

I believe she’s still got something to give, and I still have a lot to learn.

FurFamHORZNTL

Dirt season


Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Matt brushed at the sand collecting on the couch cushions.

“This is awful!” he exclaimed. “The dogs are tracking in mud every time they go outside. This place is filthy!”

I knew it was time to tell Matt. I sat down next to him, and took a deep breath.

“Since you are a relative newcomer to the house, I think it’s time we had a talk,” I said, gently placing my hand on his leg for emphasis. “In my home, there are only two seasons: dirt and dirt-free. In the fall and spring, the dogs track in all sorts of mud and sand. The trade off is that when the snow falls, and in the summer when the grass grows, we get a reprieve.”

Matt looked at me like I was a crazy woman.

“You want me to get used to this?” he asked, incredulous.

“Winter’s just a couple weeks away,” I said, looking out the front window. “Snow is just around the corner.”

Just then we heard an explosive boom, followed by what seemed like a zillion pieces of hail landing on the kitchen floor. As I ran to the hallway I just about tripped over Lexie, who was uncharacteristically moving fast. Her feet slipped on the wood floor as her momentum pushed her past me.

I glanced into the kitchen, and saw the wreckage of her run. She had cut the corner by the stove a bit too close, and made a direct hit on Charlie’s puppy kibble. That was the boom. When she hit the bowl, it sent pieces of food throughout the kitchen like confetti.

Charlie didn’t miss a beat. He arrived within seconds, and authoritatively surveyed the scene. He gave a couple quick sniffs, and quickly came up with a game plan. He would start from the outside, and work his way back toward the bowl.

Seeing Charlie had a plan of attack, I returned to Matt on the couch.

Where's the broom?!?

Where’s the broom?!?

“Do I even want to know what happ…” he started to say. I put up my hand and told him I had the situation under control. If I had any luck, Charlie would have the mess cleaned up by the time I was finished convincing Matt the snow fairy would visit that evening.

Matt grabbed the broom, which has taken a permanent spot in our living room during dirt season, and started sweeping at the tsunami of sand at my feet.

“Look!” he said pointing down at a small pile of sand. “I’ve only taken one swipe, and look at all of that dirt!”

I felt the confession would be enough. That it’s just the way our house operates. Dirt season stinks, but there’s no way around it, aside from wiping the dogs’ paws each time they come in. With a dog door, that’s nearly impossible.

But it was too much for Matt. He was unprepared. It was clear I should have briefed him weeks before. But now we were blinded by a sandstorm in our own home.

I took the broom, and finished sweeping the room. I didn’t mention that it was my third time sweeping that day.

And when Matt wasn’t looking, I said a small prayer for snow.

FurFamHORZNTL

Daddy’s little helper


Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt  says he agrees.

Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt says he agrees.

Matt woke up Thursday morning to a nagging migraine.

While he had experienced headaches before, this one seemed different. It lasted all day, and by evening he grew nauseous. I left to go to a meeting, and by the time I returned Matt was very sick. He had vomited several times while I was gone, and felt terrible.

As the night went on, his condition grew worse. And Charlie worried.

I could hear Matt heaving in the bathroom, and went to check on him. I stood at the door, peeking in, and Charlie nosed the door open, softly walking toward Matt. “Charlie NO!” I said, but it was too late. He walked to where Matt lay curled around the toilet, gently rubbed his nose on his hand, then sat down.

He wasn’t leaving.

While Matt grew sicker, he refused to go to the doctor. So I went to bed and hoped for the best. As I slept, Matt grew seriously ill, back spasms gripping his body, followed by violent retching sessions. Matt later told me he never got a wink of sleep, and that Charlie never left his side.

By morning, I found Matt laying face down on the bathroom floor. Charlie sat nearby, his brown ears pulled back, his puppy lips pursed.

Matt finally agreed to get medical care.

I called in sick, filled Charlie’s purple KONG with liver treats, then rushed Matt to the hospital.

Matt quickly was diagnosed with kidney stones, and eventually was kept for overnight observation. After about six hours, I took a break to run home to grab some toiletries, and to check on the dogs. Charlie greeted me tentatively, and looked out the front window looking for Matt. I quickly grabbed what I needed, fed the dogs and drove back to the hospital.

About 12 hours later (around 4 a.m.) I decided to run home to grab a bit of sleep. Both dogs were staring out the front window when I pulled up. Charlie hugged my legs with his paws, and softly cried. I had never heard him do that before, and my heart melted. I pulled Charlie into my arms and held him as he continued to whimper. I whispered in his ear.

“Daddy’s gonna be all right. Daddy loves you.”

He anxiously licked my nose.

Amazingly, after leaving the dogs alone for 12 hours the house was in perfect condition. I was grateful for that gift, and promptly slept for about three hours.

At 8 a.m. I woke up, and spoke with Matt. The doctors were filling out his discharge paperwork, so I could come get him. I was gone just a few hours, and Lex and Charlie were dutifully watching out the window when we returned.

The first thing we noticed was the fluff. Everywhere. It took me a moment to realize what happened, then Matt screamed out confirmation.

“You ate the bleepin’ comforter!!!” he screamed at Charlie.

Charlie dropped to his stomach, and wiggled his way out of the room.

After everything we had just been through, I was pretty sure a tore up comforter was the least of our worries. Matt grabbed the blanket, and threw it down into the basement.

Charlie trotted after Matt, following him to the couch.

“C’mon,” Matt said, patting the cushion next to him.

Without hesitation, Charlie in one motion hopped up and snuggled into Matt’s side.

Charlie was glad to have his daddy home.

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FurFamHORZNTL

Looking for Love Stories


Basil earned an Our Furever Family mug for sharing the story of how he found his Mummy.

Our adoption journey was filled with triumphs, challenges and heartbreak … and ultimately led us to Charlie. It’s been six months since we’ve adopted this spunky border collie mix, and we’ve enjoyed sharing his (mis)adventures with you.

Now that we have Charlie, it’s easy to forget the road we traversed to get him. First we fell in love with Ranger, then he fell through our fingers. Then the meet-and-greet was bungled with Demi, a cute-but-troubled border collie mix. We found Charlie on a website, and even though he was fostered in Kentucky, we took a chance on the pup who stole our hearts. The rest is history.

We’ve enjoyed hearing your stories, and our fans want more! How did you fall in love? Tell us how your pet came into your life in 500 words or less.

Eligibility requirements:

  • The pet must be a member of your family.
  • Be sure to include a photo.
  • You must be a subscriber to Our Furever Family. For directions on how to follow this blog, see instructions at the bottom of this page.

The best stories will receive an Our Furever Family coffee mug that we had specially designed for our fans.

Send your submissions to ourfureverfamily@gmail.com.

We’re glad you are part of Our Furever Family. And we look forward to learning more about yours.

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Table scraps


Charlie and Roxy take a break from Thanksgiving scavenging. The stakes were high, the bounty even higher.

Table scraps have always been a no-no for Charlie, until Thanksgiving rolled around.

He arrived with a solid strategy that relied on the cute factor and an element of surprise.

At first he was all nonchalant. Chasing the ball. Sitting pretty. But he clearly had big plans. And he was fixing to change up the rules big time.

Charlie waited until everyone sat down to eat, then slid under the table, darting back and forth looking for a friendly pair of legs. That’s when he sprang his plan into action. Charlie nuzzled his snout into someone’s lap, then pushed his nose so it peeked under the tablecloth. Over and over again he pushed his disembodied, freckled nose into someone’s lap, and he trotted away with a mouthful of bounty. He scored turkey skin, handfuls of stuffing, broccoli florets.

Of course, this kind of behavior is hardly tolerated in most households, even in the most liberal dog-loving families. It’s not even allowed in our home.

Charlie and Coochie.

But this Thanksgiving was no normal holiday. It was a virtual cornucopia of canine energy, with five dogs in attendance. In addition to Charlie, we had Tippy and Coochie (who belong to Matt’s cousin Emily and her husband Loren), Spike (who owns Matt’s uncle, Joel) and Roxy (Matt’s mom’s dog). I think this chaos was made somewhat manageable because Tippy, Coochie and Spike each weigh less than 10 pounds, and we left Miss Lexie at home so she could have the couch to herself for the evening.

Charlie was a quick study. He wasted no time figuring out who would slip him tasty treats, and he made repeat visits. It also helped that none of the other dogs caught on to his ruse. The table scraps were his for the taking!

When the dinner was over, Charlie wandered off, content to defluff a squeaky duck. Roxy may or may not have licked all of the salted chocolates. Since people I really, really like had one or two, I’ll never tell.

Sleepy Lexie doesn’t want to eat.

When we got home, our arms full of wrapped leftovers, we found Lex exactly where we left her: snoozing on the couch. Her chunky holistic senior wet dog food — we left it out for Lex to eat at her leisure — remained untouched.

Charlie, with his full belly, could hardly keep his eyes open. Soon he was snoring, of course on the couch. I took this cue to encourage Lex to eat a holiday meal. She humored me for a while, then decided she would rather be sleeping as well.

I think all the turkey I ate was starting to kick in, and suddenly catching some shut-eye sounded like a great idea. I slipped into my pajamas, ate one last chocolate chip cookie then kissed the pups goodnight.

Zzzzzz.

We had a big day, and a pile of leftovers ahead of us.


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Lights out


Zzzzzzzz. Snort, snore. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Dear mommy and daddy,

We had a really rough day. We had to get up early with you, then fall asleep at your feet as you watched the morning news. Lexie lucked out because she was allowed on the couch. I sneaked up there, but just as I was about to nod off, daddy screamed “Off the couch!!” The dog bed was almost as comfy.

When you left, I was sitting on top of the couch watching through the window as you pulled out of the driveway. I know you think I stayed in that spot for the three hours you were gone, but I had more important tasks to take care of. I took all five of my femur bones into the yard, and started plotting where I would like to bury them. You see, I’ve been studying the squirrels, and I think they’re on to something. I’ve seen them bury those nuts, and I think I’ve mastered their technique. I’ve been practicing in the yard. But each time I think I’ve perfected my approach, you come out, pitch a fit and fill the hole. Next time I’m practicing out behind the shed. You never go back there.

I could hear daddy’s truck from about a mile away (us dogs have amazing hearing!), so by the time you got home I was back up in the window. The only clue that I ever left the couch was the small pile of dirt I left on the cushions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m real tired. Lexie’s old and sleeps all the time. But I’m the little man of the house, and I had things to take care of. Like tracking down all three of the stuffed chipmunks. Just so you know, only one of the squeakers still works.

I want to go to sleep, but you both are wide awake. So I’m just gonna take a quick snooze here on the floor until we can snuggle in bed. But before I fall asleep, I’m going to check out the bathroom to make sure there’s nothing yummy in the trash can. You’d be surprised what I find in there!

Saving you sloppy puppy kisses. And I promise not to hog the middle of the bed tonight.

Love,

Charlie (and Lexie)

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