February 28, 2006
I didn't mean to get another cat. I certainly didn't mean to get a cat that was 5 months old and used to having a house entirely by herself. But mean to or not, I did.
About a year after I got Shadow, and he had firmly established himself as the 4th dog in the family (he would go "out" with the dogs, he would go up to the pen with the dogs (although he didn't stay in the pen), he was raised with three dogs and in fact, believed himself to be a dog), a co-worker started complaining that he had to get rid of his cat. I asked why and his reply was that the cat was to darned energetic.
I knew how old the cat was because he had gotten it from a litter that another co-worker's cat had had. I asked Brian, the co-worker, what he expected out of a kitten. "But, she is just too hyper," he grumbled. Brian should not have gotten a cat in the first place; he was rarely home, so of course the cat was frantic for attention when he was there.
After a couple of weeks, Brian said he ws going to have to take the cat to a shelter. I asked why and Brian said because he couldn't find anyone to take it.
This is where I got caught. I was pretty sure the shelter would put the cat down. i knew several people that had gotten a kitten from the same litter, and every one of them had tested positive for feline leukemia. Shelters will not even think about harboring a cat with that disease. However, there was always the posibility that the cat didn't have the disease - after all, the mother's owners insisted that the mother had been tested and came out clean.
Anyway, I told Brian not to do anything until I talked to the Wonderful Spouse.
I explained the situation to WS and he agreed that if Brian could not find a home for the cat, we would take it in. At that point in time, we had 3 dogs (Niki, Bogie and Sampson), 1 cat (Shadow) and 4 (or 3) birds. I wasn't concerned about the dogs, they were used to different animals coming into the house. I wasn't worried about the birds either. I was solely worried about Shadow. Not becuase of the possibility of feline leukemia, Shadow got his shot every year, but because I wasn't sure what he would do about another cat in the house. Shadow more ore less ignored the neighbor's cat, , but it's one thing to ignore an animal in our driveway and quite another to tolerate it in the house.
Surprise, surprise, Brian finally told me to come get Cleo. With her came her litter box, toys, dishes and food. She went into the cat carrier without any fuss.
I got her home, and after beating the dogs off (not really, I just took her to a room and closed the door), I let her out to explore the room. Into that room went all of her belongings. She had a private evening and night. The dogs got to snuffle at the door, and she got used to the smells of all the resident animals. The next day, the dogs went to the pen, I opened the door to Cleo's room, then WS and I went to work.
i shouldn't have worried about Shadow; he took an instant liking to her. She and he were rarely far apart after that first day. The dogs were older, so they just sniffed and gave her a nod of approval - even letting her play with their tails. Cleo was a spastic, energetic kitten/cat. She would get the "spooks" and go tearing around the house for no reason. She was also a loving cat, constantly in someone's lap for pets.
I immediatly took her in for shots. With the results of the blood test her sentence was announced, "She has feline leukemia." I discussed everything at length with the vet - everything from putting her down right away, to returning her to the previous owner, to how to lessen any risk to Shadow. Since I had already been prepared for this possibility, I didn't waver and told the vet that I would keep her for however long she survived.
The kicker was that the vet couldn't even give an estimate of life span. Some cats live only a couple of months, others live into their teens with the disease. It all depended upon Cleo's constitution and genetics.
I had Cleo spayed soon after the shots. The vet was careful to explain that with feline leukemia she may have a bad reaction to the anesthsia or contract an infection. She amazed everyone by not having any problems with the surgery at all.
Several weeks after she got her stitches out, I began letting her outside. She had never seen the big old world. It excited and frightened her at the same time. At first, she wouldn't stay out but a couple of minutes, but the time gradually lengthened. But she never liked to be out for more than an hour.
Shadow was usually her escort. That was a good thing because the neighbor's cat, Dinah, took a dislike to Cleo and would try to pick a fight. Shadow never did anything but sit himself between Dinah and Cleo, but that was enough. Dinah would eventually go her way, and Cleo would go her way (with Shadow trailing behind).
On evening Cleo did not come in. She didn't show up the next day either - nor the next. I was giving up hope, when on the 4th day she showed up bedraggled and barely able to move her hind end. I took her to the vet and the diagnosis was no good. She hadn't been injured - no broken bones - she had an agressive cancer near the tailbone which was affecting her hind legs. It was also evident that it was very painful.
After less than a year, about 8 months in our household, I had to release her from the pain. It was such a shock that she had gone downhill so fast. But the vet said that that was very common for cats with feline leukemia. I told the vet, "I knwe we wouldn't have much time with her, but I was hoping for just a little more." Unfortunately, that wasn't to be.
Poor Cleo. She was a dainty little thing, but never sick until cancer found her. It was amazing how quickly she melded into our family. I was glad that we were able to provide her with a loving home for the little bit of time that she had left.
February 10, 2006
Bogie, Niki, Sampson
July of 1989 I started looking for another dog. I wanted a northern breed mix (husky, malamute etc.) since he/she would be expected to stay outside while we were at work - even thru the winter. I heard of some puppies that were lab/samoyed mix, and went to take a look. The mother was purebred samoyed, the father purebred yellow lab. The owner of the samoyed was giving the puppies away, but taking donation to have her dog spayed (she had rescued the dog not too long before and was not too pleased that she had puppies). I took my time, determining which pup had just the right temperament; bold, but not too dominant, curious, friendly, and not clingy to littermates. The pups were too young to leave their mother at that time, so she marked the ear of the one I picked with a sharpie marker so I would get the right one when I came back.
About a week later, I happened upon an add for a free adult husky/shepherd mix. I called the number given and discovered it was a boarding kennel. They had kindly taken in a stray, and no one had claimed it, so they were looking for a home for her. I went to look at her, and saw that she was a true Heinz57. She had droopy ears as if she had some Lab in her. Her markings may have been the combination of shephard and husky (and others), but her undercoat and curly tail definitely pointed to husky. The poor girl had been dumped, with her leather color, but no tags.
She was overly enthusiastic; as soon as the door to the kennel was open she almost bowled me over - quite a feat for a 35 lb. dog! She also had a deformed, or broken but not set, leg which made her front right leg crooked. That did not slow her down a bit. As she was busy wriggling in my lap, licking my face, and being a generally happy dog, I realized that no one else was likely to give her a home. With her crooked leg, they were not likely to notice the intelligent eyes or the unhesitating trust she gave to a complete stranger.
I told the kennel owner that I would take her. Upon taking her to the truck, I found out one of her
quirks - she would not get into a vehicle. Her demeanor immediatly changed from a happy dog to one that thought she was in trouble - or worse. I picked her up and put her in the truck, where she road peacably enough, but nervously.
I got her home, put her on a leash and introduced her to Bogie. She was happy to meet him, and Boige - he was ecstatic. It was as if I had brought his long lost sister, Argent, home; there was absolutely no hesitation on his part in accepting her as part of the family. New didn't have any trouble with Niki either, Niki seemed to already have experience with cats, and didn't get too pushy.
Niki was about 8 months old when we got her (she went into her 1st heat 4 days after bringing her home), so she still had some growing to do. By the time all was said and done, she went from a 35 pound dog that was shorter than Bogie to a 55 pound dog that was pretty much the same size as she was.
2 weeks after bringing Niki home, we made the final addition to our family, I brought home Sampson when he was 7 weeks old (and 7 pounds). Niki seemed to think Sampson was her pup, she played mother to him and even woke us up when Sampson needed out, so he wouldn't have to mess in his "crate". The amazing, and totally stupid, thing about that was she wasn't housetrained. She was obviously very familiar with a cable, and had not been let into the house. She had a very bad habit of jumping on people and was very needy of attention. Anyway, Sampson was fully housetrained before Niki was - all due to Niki's help.
By the time Sampson grew to adult size, he was a 75 pound dog (except when he got fat, then he became an 85 pound bruiser). However, the hierachy in the house did not follow the size of the members; Bogie was apparently in charge, except when Niki had had enough with one or the other - then she showed that whe was truly the top dog. Sampson was low man on the totem pole, but that really didn't mean much. Everyone got along so well, and they were all pretty mellow dogs, so rarely was position in the household even displayed, much less used.
Those 3 dogs saw so many changes, they saw birds come in (at one time we had 4), they saw New to the end of her life, Introduced Shadow, Cleo, Tory and Indy to dogdom, saw the house from when it was barely a shell to completion, and saw the time when we had no neighbors to when all the current houses were built.
They rode non-complaining thru shift changes (2nd shift, 3rd shift, 2nd shift, 3re, 2nd, 1st) and thru my going back to school. Niki became rock solid - no more jumping, no greediness for attention; Sampson stayed our silly little boy - never really seeming to grow up out of late puppyhood; Bogie took after his father, stoic and non-demanding.
In April of 2001 Bogie became very feeble. We had been carrying him up the stairs for almost a year at that point (he had arthritis in his back). He hated to be carried, but became resigned to it. He hung on until the snow melted from the front yard, then on the 27th we knew it was time to let him go with the dignity he had always displayed thru his life so we took him to the vet's one last time.
Niki's health immediatly went downhil for no apparent reason and we put her down 5 weeks later. Sampson was devestated (as told on a post about Prince). He greeted Missy into our household the way Bogie had taught him - without any problems.
Then in early 2003 (has it really been 3 years since he left us?), Sampson died on the after an operation.
Bogie, Niki and Sampson were quite the team. Three dogs in a house seems like a lot, but they all fit together and made it work. Never again could we find the combinations of personalities and attitudes that made up this household at that time in our lives.
They are all still sorely missed.
January 22, 2006
New the Cat
New was a well-travelled cat. She was born in Florida, where she resided with my mother (Cop Car). Cop Car got the cat from some neighborhood boys on New Year's Day, thus the name "New" (I'm sure Cop Car will correct me if I get any of the begining parts wrong). After a while, Cop Car got tired of Florida and moved to New Mexico, taking New with her.
After a while, for reasons that don't matter, Cop Car asked if I would take care of New, I agreed and New moved to Kansas. At that point, we did not have any other animals. Occasionally Omar, the cat from next door, would visit, but New didn't mind that. Omar was a well behaved tomcat that didn't try to eat New's food, he would stroll in for a little attention (probably to get away from the young child for a while), then go back next door.
Another neighbor's cat, Snowball lived with us for a couple of months too. Once again, she didn't seem to mind.
New did not know what to think when John and Shilo moved in. Shilo didn't know what to think of the cat either, so they were even. Once New got over hissing from a distance and hiding under the bed, she taught Shilo just who was boss by boxing Shilo in the nose. Shilo decided right then and there that she wasn't going to mess with the cat. The funny part was that New had no front claws. She didn't seem to realize it and apparently neither did Shilo. New dealt much the same way with Bogie and Argent when we brought them home.
New thought she was part dog. Whenever we took the dogs for a walk, she would trail behind us. If we went too far (more than 1/4 mile), she would stop, sit down and groom herself (or watch the world go by) until we came back. Then she would follow us back home.
Her move to NH was uneventful. She did well at the BIL's house as well as both apartments. She took the move to the new house with her usual aplomb. That cat was just plain unflappable. She trained Niki and Sampson not to mess with her and she developed "The Game". To watch her, you would think she just plumb hated dogs. If you were looking, and she was within 5 feet of a dog,she would arch up and swat at it (never getting close). But, if no one was around, or she thought you weren't paying attention, she would go over and rub on the dogs and even lick them. It was hilarious to watch the transformation when she suddenly realized someone was watching, she would go from rubbing and purring a dog to arching and swatting at it in the blink of an eye. It kept the dogs confused and kept us entertained.
It did't take New long to figure out that she wasn't to mess with inside birds. When I brought Petie, the cockatiel, home, she was intrigued. I could see the thought process going something like, "Cool! Mom has brought me a play toy!" She learned however that Petie was not to be messed with when I had the bird out on my shoulder and New got a little over-curious. I tapped her nose and said "NO!" that was all it took. From then on, she might come cuddle in my lap while I had the bird out, but she
pretty much ignored Petie. She didn't even bother eyeballing O'Hara, Skruffy or Katie when I brought them home (that saved New from getting a painful lesson from O'Hara anyway).
New lived until 1998, to about the age of 16. She suddenly started sleeping under the blankets of the water bed, and quit eating. I took her to the vet and it was determined that she was experiencing kidney failure. They tried flushing water under her skin, but after 3 days, she still refused to eat and her weight was down from 7 lbs. to 3.5 lbs.
We decided that she had given up. She had had a nice long life, full of variety and adventure, it was time to let her go. I went and pet her as the vet gave her the shot that eased her from life.
We finally got one right.
Just as a side note: I never realized how much like New and Shadow looks until I started going thru the old pictures.
So, less than a year after we moved to NH, Bogie was an only dog. He was still living at the BILs house too. It was heart-wrenching every time we went over to visit. When Bogie was let off the cable, he would run to the truck and jump up and down next to every window; looking inside - trying to see if Argent was in there. Maybe this time she would be there and we would let her out to play. He was always depressed when she didn't appear.
We kept looking at land, but houses were so expensive we didn't think we would ever be able to afford one. I had started working at "S"inc, where I would end up staying for 13 years. WS was working at the big Steel Company, a place he stayed for 10 years. One day WS came home and said we had to go look at a house. Someone he worked with had told him about it, and the pricewas within what we thought we could afford. The only hitch was that the house was a shell - unfinished - and had been empty for a couple of years.
We went to look at it, WS swore he could do the work it needed, and we went to talk to the real estate agent. To make a long story short, after much work, the bank agreed to finance it and we moved in in January of 1989.
We immediately moved Bogie from BILs place to our house. Bogie loved it there; the trees, the scents, the solitude fit him (that was way before we had neighbors). That spring, we built him a 25L x 25W x 6T pen. People thought we were nuts, spending huge money (for us) on fencing so he could have a nice large area to roam when we were away. But, we didn't want him on a cable longer than necessary. He had a cable at the front door, so we could let him out without him running off to kill someone's chickens, but if we weren't there to watch him, he was safe in the pen (if not in the house).
In June of 1989, we went back to Kansas to visit family and friends. Bogie, of course, went with us. He had a grand time meeting with his sire, Leroy, again.
After we got back from the trip I got on "gotta have another dog" kick.
And this is where the story becomes jumbled because it morphs into a Bogie-Niki-Sampson (as O'Hara, the bird, says) story that really can't be seperated out. Unfortunately, you will have to wait a bit for that as I still haven't talked about New, the cat, and she definitely has to have her part told.
January 21, 2006
Argent and Bogie
Argent and Bogie were the product of the accidental mating of one neighbor's purebred Siberian Husky and another neighbor's husky (or malamut)/shepherd mix (Lonnie claimed that Leroy was a Russian Wolfhound/shepard mix but he sure didn't look like it).
WS and I each claimed a puppy, Lonnie claimed one, 3 friends each claimed one. I don't recall what happened with the other ones (or maybe I am mis-remembering and there were only 6 pups).
WS claimed Bogie, a male. I claimed Argent, a female. They certainly didn't look like brother and sister. Bogie was black with tan points and white underbelly - and his fur was very long. Argent was silver (Argent meaning "covered with or tinged with the color of silver; "silvery hair" ), with short,
sleek fur. They both had the classic "husky face".
Shilo didn't want the pups in "her" space. She would hiss at them if they got too close to her (yes, Shilo actually hissed - a trick she evidently learned from the cat). However, she did like to get into "their" space and play with them.
As the pups grew older, we started training them for sled pulling. Lonnie, two of the friends
and us would get them together and hook them to a home-made sled and harness. They never really
learned any commands, someone held them, someone drove a vehicle in front of them, and the holder let them go when the rider was ready (or not so ready as the case was at times). Following the vehicle down the road was the only way of "controlling" their course.
Everyone had fun with these rides, and the dogs loved to run. If one them got tired or lazy, it was pulled from the team and rode in the guiding vehicle. Even then, the riding dog loved to watch its sibblings running behind.
Argent developed a slight hip problem (either a strain or maybe early displasia) before she was a year old, so many times she was a passanger during most of the sledding.
When Bogie and Argent were a little over a year old, we moved to NH. The two pups and the cat rode with me in the car and Shilo rode with WS in the UHaul. once we got the the BIL's house (where
we lived for the first couple of months), Bogie and Argent were relegated as outside dogs and were tied up in the woods, sharing a doghouse between them. The house was quite
cozy crowded with BIL, SIL, their baby, their dog, their cat, Shilo, our cat, WS and myself.
We found our first apartment, which we could take the cat, but not any dogs. The pups were left
with BIL for safekeeping, while we continued looking for a place we could live in that allowed dogs. Not too long after that, was when Shilo got in trouble and we had to put her down. We lived out a 6 month lease in the 1st appartment and then found another apartment (less than a block away) for the next 6 months. At that point, we were actively looking for a place to buy; looking at land and houses both.
During the winter of 97-98, Argent got into trouble. She and Bogie were still kept on cables and sharing a dog house. Argent got a hind paw wrapped in Bogies cable, and it pulled tight. Apparently
this happened in the morning, so no one knew anything was wrong until that evening. Her paw was very cold. She was taken to a local vet's for treatment. The next day, I went to the vet's, not knowing what to expect. At that point I had only gotten a sketchy 3rd hand tale (from BIL to SIL to
WS to me)
The vet was not overly encouraging even though they had gotten her paw thawed out. The good news was that she had some blood flow to her middle nail (he cut the quick to determine that), the bad news was that the blood flow seemed to be very sluggish. Still, I told them we would see if we could save her leg. I had gotten permission from our landlord to keep the dog there for a week or two, so she could stay indoors while she recuperated.
Unfortunately, the bloodflow weakened, then stopped altogether. The vet said that the leg could be
amputated and she could lead a fairly normal life. However, she would need to stay indoors for up to 6 months while the cut healed.
Once again we were stuck. The landlord wouldn't go for haveing the dog in the apartment that long,
and BIL could not realistically be expected to take care of her (nor have her in the house) for that
long. I took her back to the apartment and we spent the night treating her special - spoiling her.
The next morning we took her in and stayed with her while the vet gave her that final shot.
Once again, we had failed our charge.
January 16, 2006
Shilo came to our apartment in Kansas with John, a room mate. She was 5-6 years old when she arrived. We weren't quite sure what to expect, us with no dogs but with one cat (New, who I will write about some other time).
Shilo, despite her flaws, soon wormed her way into our hearts. Her flaws were many; John had raised her in a way that guaranteed that. One moment he would praise her (or laugh) when she did something - the next time he would yell at her or kick her. She was also (supposedly) trained as a guard dog, trained to guard John's wife and kids. John's wife lift with the kids, leaving john with his car and Shilo. The car in great shape, Shilo was neurotic.
Shilo soon became my companion whenever I went somewhere. She loved to go for a ride, and would sit in the passanger seat checking out the scenery. If someone got too close to the car, she would bark her fool head off. The first time I took her with me, a neighbor and I went to the grocery store. When we came back out, she was barking so hard that I wasn't sure she would let us back in the car. Once she shut up for a moment and yelled out "Hi Shilo," she decided to let us in. I don't know what we would have done if that hadn't worked, but it did.
Shilo loved water. We would take her fishing with us and throw rocks for her to chase (scaring the fish, but we didn't care). We would throw a pebble into the water and she would bring out a rock much bigger:
Sometimes she would get disgusted because there weren't any rocks large enough for her to bother bringing back
John left us in 1985. He went to California, where he had come form, saying he would be back in a month or two. "If I don't come back, I know Shilo will be in good hands," he said. He never came back. Shilo moped for a while, but she soon snapped out of it.
Shilo was really confused when we brought two puppies home in April of 1986 (more on Bogie and Argent in another post). She was jealous of them, but drawn to them. When they got to be about 6 months old, we would take them out to a country road, dump them out of the car, and let them follow the car for a couple of miles. Shilo loved that at first. She could stay ahead of them for the first mile, running about 20 MPH. We would stop and pick her up and then lead the pups for another mile or two. As the puppies grew older (and became more focused), she found herself losing ground, no longer able to lead the pack as many of them could run at 25 MPH. She would struggle mightily, but at 8 years old, she could no longer lead the chase.
She came to New Hampshire with us (we ahuled 3 dogs and a cat with us). Unfortunately, she never got to see the house. We were living in apartments, trying to find a place to buy, and the pets were farmed out to other people (except the cat). Shilo bit a child - not badly, but enough for that family not to want to keep her (I couldn't blame them). She stayed with another family, until she and the resident dog got into a fight and the woman became scared of her.
We had no place left to keep her, so we had to put her to sleep. She was the first pet WS and I had to take in to be put down. She was so good at the vet's office, as usual, looking forlorn because of her hurt leg (injured in the dogfight - the other dog was fine). We sat with her on the floor as the vet gave her the shot. She slowly slid down and was gone, so suddenly and quietly we couldn't believe it.
Poor Shilo, she was always as good as she knew how to be - she tried her best. People always let her down; in the end, we were no different.