Vanishing act


Two things managed to disappear Thanksgiving eve: a portion of my bed’s new quilt and my cat Cora.

The night wound down like it would after any successful holiday feast. I was grateful to be wearing plus-size yoga pants, which were extremely forgiving after a smoked turkey dinner and all the fixin’s. Cora hopped up on the kitchen counter, and I scooped her up, waltzing into the dining room.

I wouldn’t see her again for 24 hours.

The house was full. Matt and I were eager to entertain, our first major holiday in our new house. Guests included Matt’s uncle, his cousin and her husband, along with their adorable two pups Tippy and Coochie. In addition to our dogs Charlie and recent addition Max, this brought the total dog number up to four for the weekend.

max

Max is the newest member of our family. He has a taste for quilts.

The activity was unusual for our normally quiet household. Especially with us smoking the turkey in the yard, there was a lot of traffic in and out of the house. It’s hard to know when it happened, but sometime that night, Cora quietly slipped out into the darkness.

We consider Cora an indoor cat, but always joked that she would know how to hold her own since she has 23 legendary toes. Meaning 23 claws. The rescue we found her at said she spent considerable time on the streets before we adopted her, so we think of her as a tough cookie.

Under covers

Sometime well past midnight, I dragged myself to bed and conked out. Both of my dogs, Charlie and Max, curled up into me, a Jenga-like puzzle of paws, legs and fur. I fell into a deep slumber.

Until I heard something like fabric ripping.

I was sure it was a dream. But then I heard it again. I sat up, and turned on the lamp next to my bed. Max was down by my feet, with our brand-new quilt in his mouth. I pulled it away, only to find, not one, but two huge holes. Like the size of pancakes. All he needed was syrup. He literally ate the two holes, leaving no fabric evidence behind.

quilt

The evidence. Max was caught with the quilt in his mouth. No more late-night snacks allowed!

Having no idea of what to do, I took him outside for a potty, hoping he would barf up the fabric. I fell asleep on the recliner waiting for him to finish his business in the dark.

We felt our way back up the stairs, and I climbed into bed, carefully pushing the holes to the side of my feet. Max slept in his dog bed on the floor.

Search party

In the morning, I took note that Cora still was not around. But I soon busied myself with making two quiches for breakfast. After Matt’s cousin, her husband and their pups left, my mind returned to Cora. I figured she must be hiding because of all the activity.

I also kept a close eye on Max. I’m happy to report that he pooped throughout the day, and he ate both breakfast and dinner. My anxiety about a possible blockage from the quilt started to dissipate.

Matt jostled me out of my daydream.

“Have you seen Cora?”

cora

Cora took herself on a 24-hour adventure. She’s no worse for the wear.

I hadn’t. I checked her cat food. Not touched since the day before. Highly unusual since this cat does not miss a meal. Also, her litter box was not used in what appeared to be a day.

Matt and I split up, checking closets, the basement, under the couch, beneath the beds. “Kitty-kitty Cora!!!” we cried out, hearing nothing in reply.

“She’s got to be here somewhere,” Matt said.

As we left for dinner, I saw the weather would drop to 30 degrees this night. When she got out the day before, it was still an unseasonable 58 degrees. I imagined Cora huddling under a wet bush, shivering in the cold.

“Don’t worry, I’ll find her,” I said.

Warm welcome

When we returned from dinner, I grabbed a strong flashlight and went in the front yard.

“Kitty-kitty Cora! Mew mew mew-mew!!!”

I flashed the light in the front bushes, and up an enormous oak tree. I called out her name once more, and waited.

Then I heard something. I thought it might be a meow, but I also thought I could have imagined it. So I called out her name again. Then I heard it loud and clear: “MEOW!” She sounded about 10 feet away, and I found her on the other side of my fence in a dog run out back.

I ran into the house, and told Matt to grab a towel. “I found her!” I blurted out.

Once I walked into the dog run, I called out her name. I couldn’t see very well, even with the flash light. I pointed the light in the far corner, where I keep the temporary chicken coop from when we first moved into the house. I stood still, and gasped as Cora walked out the front door of the coop. It had rained for the last 24 hours, and she was bone dry. The coop, still filled with straw bedding from the chickens, kept her dry and warm. I scooped her up, and put her into the towel Matt held out in front of him.

tempcoop

The unused chicken coop Cora took refuge in during her extraordinary odyssey.

Once in the house, both Charlie and Max sniffed her and offered a warm welcome.

To celebrate, Matt placed her on top of the cat tree and gave her a handful of treats. She quickly gobbled them up, then casually licked at her fur, totally nonplussed by her vanishing act.

Angry Eyebrows


This is not Cheddar. Angry Eyebrows took him away before we could snap a pic. This is a different ginger cat I spotted at another adoption fair. Super cute. I visited him twice.

This is not Cheddar. Angry Eyebrows took him away before we could snap a pic. This is a different ginger cat I spotted at another adoption fair. Super cute. I visited him twice.

Ask Matt what my favorite part of going to the pet store is and he’ll easily answer you.

“The cats. She loves to see the cats.”

Every time we go to PetCo or Petsmart, I immediately make a beeline for the spot where rescue organizations set up shop with their furry felines. It’s been months since we lost Pink, and I can’t deny that I miss the pussycat purr in our home.

Last weekend we needed dog treats and we decided to go to PetCo since it carries Charlie’s favorite in bulk. We also put the treats on top of Lexie’s kibble to encourage her to eat.

We walked in the store, and right into heaven … or should I say a cat adoption fair.

The second cage had an orange stripey cat. he came right to the front and pressed his body against the bars. I’m a sucker for a ginger.

“He’s a cutie!” I whispered to Matt. He nodded.

As I pushed my finger through the cage bars to touch the kitty’s nose, a woman wormed her way between Matt and me.

“Would you like to hold him?” she asked, already opening the cage and reaching in to grab the cat.

“Umm, sure,” I said. I was happy to hold a cat again, but not exactly sure I was ready to make a commitment right then and there.

The woman put the cat in my arms. As I looked up to ask the cat’s name, I was startled. By the woman’s angry eyebrows. They were clearly painted on … in an angry fashion.

“His name is Cheddar,” she said. We asked if he got along with dogs, and she said she had one dog at home but she wasn’t really sure how they got along. The woman told us she has numerous cats, and they all got along.

We told Angry Eyebrows that we had two dogs, and she bristled. We said they were relatively small, and lived with a cat before. She looked away, disinterested.

Matt ran his fingers over Cheddar’s paws, and asked if he was declawed. She said no, and we both expressed relief. Me because I don’t believe in declawing a cat, and Matt began to mention the … (record player screeches)

The dog door.

“Oh, do you want an outdoor cat? We don’t allow outdoor cats. We want our cats to stay indoors. Always. It’s too dangerous for cats to be outside. ….” (fade to black)

Oh. No.

I explained that Pink was not an outside cat. She loved sleeping on her cat perch or the couch. But she had wandered out the dog door a few times, only to wander about five or six feet before running back inside. I explained all of this, but Angry Eyebrows wasn’t having any of it.

She grabbed Cheddar, and pulled him tightly to her chest. And with that, our cat adoption interview was over.

This was for a cat we didn’t really want to adopt in the first place, but suddenly I was pissed that I was summarily dismissed.

I wondered if we would ever be allowed to adopt a cat with our dog door. I imagined us boarding over the hole in the side door, and growing frustrated as Charlie took to pooping in the library again. With gusto.

Could it be Angry Eyebrows was right?

Regardless, I came to accept it just wasn’t the right cat.

We’ll keep looking. I know the fuzzball is out there.

FurFamHORZNTL

Addressing anxiety


Matt distracts Charlie as a tech readies to give him a shot.

Matt distracts Charlie as a tech readies to give him a shot.

We recently brought Lex and Charlie to the vet to get them up-to-date on their shots.

For Lex, this was old hat. She calmly waited for her shot, and didn’t even try to hop off the exam table.

Charlie, however, was another story. He wiggled and whined and twisted and turned. The vet tech told us not to fret, that she had it under control. And then Charlie would break free. Matt stepped in to help calm Charlie, gently rubbing his nose and telling him he was such a gooooood boy.

I took this opportunity to speak with the vet about Charlie’s anxiety. I told her about his destruction, the couch cushions, the window sills, the Thundershirt. His insistence upon pooping in the house, even though we have a dog door.

She suggested leaving him for short periods of time, and seeing how he reacts. Rewarding good behavior, then leaving him for longer periods of time.

Other alternatives tossed around include consulting a behaviorist, purchasing a special collar and anxiety medication.

We’ve opted to introduce neighborhood walks, in addition to our running games in the back yard. Also, we have increased the number of times and length we leave him alone. For extended periods of time (for example eight hours or more) we have opted to board the dogs at Camp Bow Wow, which they love.

I have been experiencing medical issues that have prevented me from being as actively involved with Charlie as I would like. I’m hoping to get this resolved by summertime.

I think Charlie would like a new walking partner.

FurFamHORZNTL

Birthday boy


Charlie sniffs out his birthday pupcake, then almost chokes trying to swallow it whole.

Charlie sniffs out his birthday pupcake, then almost chokes trying to swallow it whole.

Today we had a birthday to celebrate.

Charlie has turned 1 year old!

To mark the occasion, I picked up a couple of pupcakes from the Cupcake Station. Lex took hers on top of a bed of salmon kibble, while Charlie somewhat patiently posed for a gazillion birthday photos. Before Matt snapped the perfect picture, Charlie snatched the cupcake, prompting me to scream. The poor pup spit it out, and tried to hide under a table.

Yeah. Smooth move mom.

I lured Charlie back to the table with the pupcake, and soothing words. When Matt said it was OK for Charlie to eat the treat, he excitedly grabbed it and swallowed it whole.

It wasn’t a grand birthday celebration, but it was officially the first time I’ve ever marked the birthday of a pet. In all honestly, I’ve never known the exact birthday of my pets. I’ve gotten close before. Like I’m pretty sure Lexie was born in June or July almost 15 years ago. But a specific date? You got me.

It’s quite a milestone for Charlie. Turning 1 means he graduated to adult dog food. I’m hoping it also means he’ll quit pooping in the basement. And the library. And chewing the couch.

You’re a big boy now, Charlie. I really want to think your teething and potty training days are behind you.

One year ago, Charlie’s mom gave birth to him and a brother, named Dalton. Somehow they ended up at a kill shelter in Kentucky, and right before they were to be put to sleep, they were rescued by the True Heart Min Pin Rescue. Dalton found a loving family in Kentucky, and we think of him often.

The rescue organization drove Charlie up to us in Michigan last June, and the rest is history.

It’s been an amazing journey so far, loving Charlie as he grew from a young pup into this fine dog.

Even if he still poops in the basement.

FurFamHORZNTL

Snow, sleep and kittens!


Charlie surveys his first snowfall.

Charlie surveys his first snowfall. (Photo by Bryan Bogater)

Special note: We got caught up in the holiday excitement, and just realized we haven’t posted a blog in a while. Today’s entry should get us all caught up. Happy New Year!

Christmas came a day late for Charlie, but he says it was well worth the wait.

Mother nature delivered his first snow.

In all honesty, my brother has ordered up the storm. He flew in from Ft. Lauderdale earlier in the day, and had specifically requested a sizable amount of snow. He told me if he had to be in freezing temperatures while visiting me, the least I could do is provide a scenic snowy backdrop.

So once we returned from the airport with Bryan, snowflakes began to fall. Charlie hopped up on the couch, and watched through the front window. His eyes grew pensive, as he pressed his brown nose against the glass.

Charlie romps in the snow.

Charlie romps in the snow.

What is that white stuff falling from the sky?

It was dark by the time we had several inches on the ground. Matt and walked out back with Charlie to see his reaction. He pranced through the yard, occasionally stopping to grab a mouthful of snow. As we pretended to snatch him up, Charlie ran full tilt, losing traction in the snow as he tried to replicate his usual tight corners.

Lex stepped delicately in the snow, and did her best to avoid Charlie as he flew by.

With the snow came some interesting developments.

First, our sand-in-the-house problem instantly disappeared! We now can walk barefoot inside, and no longer build sand castles on our couch.

Second, dog toys started disappearing. Then reappearing … covered in snow. At first it was a collection of squeaky toys. The hedgehog and the chipmunk, specifically. They were gone, then a day later reappeared as a snowball on the couch. Interestingly, Charlie switched it up to include his Nylabones and a deer antler.

Apparently, he prefers his chewies chilled, thank you very much.

Lounging Lexie

It seems that Lex has fully recovered from her vertigo scare. And while she has not had any more dizzy spells, she spends most of her time sleeping, these days. Her favorite spot has become a high-back chair in the front room, closest to the heat register. When she curls up on the chair, I cover her with a blanket, and she’s instantly out.

Lex snags one of Charlie's frozen Nylabones.

Lex snags a frozen Nylabone.

When she’s awake, Lexie has amazed us with her energy. She’s eating well, and consistently, and often has enough energy to instigate a wrestling match with Charlie.

When Matt spoke with our vet for the vertigo follow-up visit, she said Lexie’s kidney values are within healthy range, but on the high end of normal. She said this meant we did a great job with her special kidney diet, but that we have to keep a close eye on her. Considering Lex had one paw in the grave just six months ago, I call this a victory.

In the last couple weeks, Lex has really turned into a snuggle bug. Now that she can hop up on the couch on her own power again, she will tuck herself tight next to Matt or me. When she’s wanting to melt hearts, she’ll gently place her snout on my chest and stare up at me. Awwwe.

Smitten with kittens

In the last month or so, when Matt and I go to PetSmart or Petco, the first thing I do is make a beeline for the cat display. Both pet stores provide space to local rescue organizations for cat adoptions.

After losing Pink last fall, Matt and I both agreed that we would not get another cat. For 10 years, we said.

Some ginger cuties I spotted at Petco.

Some ginger cuties I spotted at Petco.

It’s funny how looking at those sweet fuzzy faces can makes our resolve dissolve.

I’ve secretly been taking photos of cute kittens for a couple months. And now I can’t disguise my excitement when it’s time to see the kitties. Matt always indulges me, but tonight a certain little kitten stole our hearts.

He was a small grey and white striped kitten, full of spunk and spasms. He saw us looking at him, and put on his best cute kitten show. We fell hard, and Matt noted he’d probably get along with Charlie.

“You should see if we can have a visit with him,” Matt said.

I almost fell over, but ran to a store associate before he changed his mind. It ends up the rescue organization only has meet-and-greets on the weekends, so we’ll have to come back.

The little fuzzball may the the one. Or maybe not. But I cannot lie. I’ve got kitten love in my heart again. Meow.

FurFamHORZNTL

Dog drama resolved


It was a rough day. After announcing to all my friends and family that our soon-to-be adopted pup would arrive for a home visit on Friday, I received a call this morning saying his trip to Michigan was on hold. I was told to hold tight for a return phone call.

I was sure I would not hear back. I called Matt on the way home from work hoping for distraction. We did our best to avoid the topic but I could hear the disappointment in his voice.

Well, when the going gets rough, I go to Cupcake Station. I picked up two Originals for us, and a pupcake for Lexie. For a dog who hates carrots, she sure devoured her carrot cake creation. The chocolate frosting on our cupcakes was divine, and temporarily transported Matt and me away from frustration.

The phone call finally came at 7:57 p.m.

Jackie, a rescue volunteer in Kentucky, told me Scout would arrive Friday afternoon. I could barely make her out because she has a bad cold, so I plugged one ear and listened really hard until I heard confirmation. She said that the other dogs originally scheduled for transport had all fallen off the roster. But since I had rearranged my work schedule so I could be there for the home visit, they would send Scout solo after all.

I couldn’t believe it. We would finally meet Scout!

Jackie asked if I was sure Scout is the one. It was a six-and-a-half hour drive from Kentucky.

I assured her that Matt and I are more than ready to meet the pup. I told her I already had written a blog post about him and showed off his photo to anyone willing to humor me.

So now, it’s really for real. I’ve got to get cleaning.

Maybe I’ll pick up a pupcake or two for Friday.

A home visit? Finally.


Our efforts scouting for a dog finally paid off. We have a home visit scheduled for Friday!

For those not in the know, this is the magical step before an actual pet adoption can take place with most private rescue organizations. The pup, named Scout, is being hosted by a rescue out of Belleville, Mich., and will be driven to Michigan from Kentucky, where it currently is being fostered. Sound complicated?

Let me back up. I’ll show you complicated.

Matt and I will meet Scout on Friday. He’s supposed to be partly border collie, but looks mostly Brittany spaniel to us.

When Matt first showed me a picture of Scout, I didn’t even pause before barking out my order.

“Fill out an application!”

“Really?” Matt asked, then paused to look at the profile: a stout pup that mostly looked like a brittany spaniel. It was clear Matt was still burned by the collective Ranger/Daisy experiences.

“Do it,” I said.

But doing it was not an easy task. The application was mammoth, asking everything from our understanding of the dog’s breed (with examples of how we researched this information) to what we would do if we could no longer keep the dog. It also asked for two personal references (including their phone numbers AND emails!) and contact information for our current vet.

Matt was daunted.

“I don’t want to do this,” he complained, about 10 minutes into the process.

“Babe, it’s worth it. Push through,” I reassured him.

Another 10 minutes later, and Matt was stumped.

I reached out, asking for his computer. “C’mon, let me finish it up.”

“It’s just so invasive,” he said. “They’ll know where we live and we haven’t even seen the dog yet. They’ll even know we have a dog door!”

We sent out the app, and I got busy sending thank-you emails to my friends for putting in a good word. I later found out they each had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire asking everything from where my existing pets sleep to my disciplinary approach.

That night I received an email saying the application was received, and that it could be expedited by faxing vaccination records for my current pets. Amazingly, I has those papers handy, and sent them off. I soon received a second email thanking me, and letting me know the adoption process could take up to three weeks since the organization is run completely by volunteers. The woman also explained in detail how the adoption process worked.

Matt and I were pleased with this news since, well, it was news. After our last experience, this little crumb of communication felt like a steak dinner.

Next we received an email saying the reference portion of our interview was complete, and that Scout’s foster parents or a rescue representative would be in touch to interview us.

That Thursday I received a phone call during my lunch break. Seeing the number was from Kentucky, I eagerly picked it up. A woman with the rescue’s main office had a few questions for me, then she said all my paperwork was in order, and she hoped to conduct a home visit within two weeks. My heart just about jumped out of my chest. We were making progress. Finally.

After a long four-day weekend of no communication, we felt less hopeful. So I jumped in the driver’s seat and called the woman in Kentucky. It ends up she was about to call me to ask about availability for a home visit. She offered Friday, and I said Matt would definitely be there, and I would be able to meet after work.

It’s finally feeling possible. Possible that Matt and I could soon be parents to a new pup. It’s hard to keep our emotions in check, while giving ourselves permission to whoop it up a bit. I called my mom to share my excitement. I imagined Scout, with his soft brown ears, in my house and meeting Lexie.

Matt and I considered buying another dog bed for the front room. But we decided to hold off. We know better.

One thing at a time.

Radio silence


Two weeks after walking away from Ranger, a Facebook alert told me he had been adopted. I didn’t have much time to contemplate this development, as Matt was eager to get my attention.

“Look, look,” he pleaded, trying to pry me away from Facebook. “Pleeeease look!”

I turned my head, and saw the sweetest dog staring back at me. Matt was holding up his computer, open to a black and white dog he found on Petfinder.com.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s the cutest dog, ever!!!” Matt told me.

I scooched in close so we could read the dog’s profile together. She had an unfortunate name, but her profile seemed to make up for that. It said she was “house trained, great with kids, cats and other dogs. Zero food aggression and very well mannered.” The organization advised against using a crate with her. Lexie was the same way when I brought her home; she hated to be confined. This new pup was a border collie/spaniel mix, although it almost looked like the mix more likely involved a corgi. Kinda goofy looking, but we liked that.

“Do you think she’ll be able to jump onto the bed? It says she’s only 24 pounds, so she’s small,” Matt asked.

We decided we would put an ottoman at the base of the bed, just in case. And the name. We had to do something about that. We decided upon Daisy. Yes. She would be our sweet Daisy girl.

Adopting her required submitting an application to a private rescue organization. This was a new experience for both of us, but we were eager to try something different after the humane society debacle with Ranger.

The application was thorough, and turned Matt off. Still, he plugged away, thinking about sweet Daisy.

The next morning, I called up her profile to swoon and think of all the things we would do once Daisy joined our family. I was shocked to see “Pending” next to her name. Butterflies exploded in my stomach. The organization must have fast-tracked her application! I called Matt, and he shared my excitement.

“You know, we’ll have to get her a sweater,” I said.

Two days later, Matt received an email from a woman at the rescue. She said she had contacted our veterinarian for a background check, and that the office had no record of Matt or Lexie. Well, that was because Lexie is under my name at the vet. Easy enough to fix, we sent the volunteer my name, along with a pic of Lexie from a recent camping trip. We were shameless about trying to sweeten the pot.

One day turned into two days, then three. Absolute radio silence. Out of desperation, I decided to give my investigative skills a try. The first place I turned? Facebook, of course. I found the rescue organization’s official page, and furiously began reading all the posts.

About 25 posts down, I found an entry by an apparent foster asking if a dog has five applications, do you call all five? She then mentioned Daisy by name, and said she would be at a meet-and-greet the next day.

Immediately, I sent the woman a Facebook message, asking if the pet store visit was a sure thing, that I was one of the applicants and would like to meet Daisy in person.

Radio silence.

When she later posted something else about Daisy without answering my note, anger began to brew in me. Two days went by. She posted a message about Daisy’s successful event. She posted about needing people to help her do home visits in Grand Blanc, Livonia and Downriver. But not Ferndale, where we live.

Daisy was slipping through our fingers.

Several days later, Matt sent the rescue contact a simple email inquiry: “Any updates?”

Again, nothing.

Two days later, Matt received two emails within moments of each other. The first one, from a volunteer we had not dealt with before, said Daisy was in the process of being adopted. She said the organization is shorthanded on volunteers, and urged us to get a home visit done to get approved for adoption. The second email, from the original volunteer, oddly spoke as if we still had a chance with Daisy. She said they were reviewing applications and evaluating which home would be a fit.

Within the hour, Daisy’s profile again was marked “Pending.”

That evening, we exchanged emails with the main volunteer, who now is eager for us to complete a home visit in hopes of better positioning us for an adoption. All this seems so much to go through to adopt a dog. Of course, I’m grateful they look out for the pups, but this process has left us somewhat battered and emotionally exhausted. And this is only dog number two.

Matt and I had just wasted almost two weeks waiting on communication that never came. Two weeks that we could have spent looking at other dogs. We needed to either change up our game, or take a break.

I appears we are back to the dating pool.

Epilogue:

While cruising the rescue organization’s Facebook page to research this blog entry, I came across a post from Daisy’s foster mom. Apparently, while she was crated, Daisy managed to tear up the foster mom’s carpet and padding. She suggested that anxiety (never mentioned in the profile) was an ongoing issue for the dog, and wondered if a trainer or meds might help the new owners.

Ah, yeah. Dodged a bullet.