Zip is the Bottom of the Pack

In September we adopted/rescued Zip our dog.  Based on past experience with the pets we have had over the years, we knew it would be awhile as he and the cat sorted out their relationship.  We have watched at times unsure where this relationship was going.   This week it became clear how it was going to work.

Our cat was a ten-year-old rescue when we got her.   She had been in the shelter for six months and had no front claws. Corabelle was not a fountain of self confidence or assertiveness.   Her relationship with Harley, our previous dog, had been one of an quiet truce.   Neither acknowledged one another more than necessary and when they did it was usually with a snarky look.   CoraBelle did not have much use for dogs, and would prefer that they not be there, but would tolerate them if we insisted on one.

Zip had lived with a senior woman and two senior dogs before she passed away.   He had not lived with cats and by all accounts had a sedentary indoor lifestyle.    After living with us, he has decided that there should be some times of intense play and zipping around the house.   He has also shown interest in playing with the cat and  sleeping with the cat. Up to this point the cat is unsure why she should allow either of these.  To Zip the cat was his friend, who cared that she was a cat, she was an animal that was good enough for him.   We were not sure how this was all going to fit in with CoraBelle’s idea of life at home.

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But….but….but…that is my toy

This last week CoraBelle decided she was the top of the pecking order.   She decided  to hog the dog toys and making the dog watch as she slept on his toy stash.   Zip is fast enough he could have made his way and stole his toy back but instead he deferred to her.    I am guessing that she thought enough of this running around and she was going to a stop to it. Zip, though he had nothing to fear from a older clawless cat, gets it and has recognized her as the top of the pecking order in this house.  It appears that the cat has chosen to interact with this dog and by controlling the dog toys control the dog.    I can’t wait to see where else this takes them.

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Tender Heart

Everyone has things that bring out their tender heart.   For me it is senior animals in shelters.   I wish I could bring them all home.  It breaks my heart to see them there.

I have a dog that was eight and a cat that was ten when they were turned into the shelter.   Their stories are like so many others who should being enjoying their golden years, instead are uprooted from the only home they have known and sent to a shelter environment.   Our dog only spent a few weeks in the shelter, unfortunately our cat spent over half a year before we adopted her.

Senior pets are often slow to be adopted because folks are generally attracted to those young cute kittens and puppies.   Most senior pets have some basic skills and likely a couple bad habits as well.  What is unique about the senior pet is that they are very anxious to please and forever grateful when rescue them.   They will forever be thankful to you for picking them.   This gratitude makes them much easier to train and teach them the rules of your home.

Now that I have more time of my own I find myself stopping at the local shelter volunteering  and spending time with the animals there.  I know I can’t take them home, but I can make their time at the shelter a little less lonely.  Sooner or later a senior lover like me will find them and take them to their forever home.

I just learned that November is adopt a senior pet month….how cool is that.

 

Joy of Pets

blog-04-13I just spent the better part of the week on the road for work.   I am home again and reminded the joy of owning pets.  Each of them brings something different to the the household.   My dog brings a sense of spunkiness and a challenge of a stubborn personality.    My cat brings that that quiet acceptance.  All of it so enjoyable after a week away from it.

Keep It Close to Home

Recently a friend wrote about charitable giving .   It is something that thousands of us do each day, all the while hoping that our gift makes the kind of difference we hope for.   There are so many places to give how do we pick?

Working for a nonprofit I could rattle on about things to look for and how to pick your charity.   I will save that for another day and another writing.    Instead I suggest that you think about the charities that have touched you, your family,  friends and co-workers.   It won’t take long and you will soon have a long list that has made a difference for you.   When you have your list, always look at the lowest local level to give.   Odds are the local chapter was the one that made a difference to those you know.    Here are some of my favorite charities and why.

Beaverhead County Search and Rescue   They were there the night I suffered from hypothermia.   Volunteers took time off of their regular day jobs and came out and brought me back out to civilization after a night out in the winter elements.    We make a donation to them each February as a reminder of how many folks give of themselves but we never know about them until we need them.  There is likely a volunteer group in your area who is unsung and needs your financial help.

Heart of the Valley Shelter   We give in June when shelters always seem to be exploding at the seams with puppies and kittens.   We always give to the last shelter we adopted a pet from.  It means we have given to different shelters over the years.     Local shelters are on the ground and their funds are desperately needed.   When you adopt now days your pet has already been treated for health and spay or neutered.    Giving to a local shelter can make a difference in local pet overpopulation.

Local Food Bank  I know people who are living on the food edge.   My local county statistics report that nearly a quarter of the children are food insecure, aka hungry, locally.   The food you give to a national organization may never get close to your community.    I sign up for monthly giving equally the cost of two coffee drinks.   I don’t miss it and I am sure that they can do more with the cash than I could have ever done with it.   Hunger is a hidden problem, you don’t know what is friends cupboards at home.

Southwest Montana Mammography Program  This is a new one for me. I had always given to various breast cancer causes, but never felt very connected.   I felt compelled as a woman that every October I should write a check to some pink ribbon charity.   This year I had a friend who had a breast biopsy, who was under-insured.  When she got the bill this charity she was flabbergasted at the expense, and questioned the costs and how she would pay this.    This charity stepped up and took care of her bill, and encouraged her to get the second suggested biopsy.   Susan Koman has given grants to the local charity in the past.    Now I will be giving in the future, this charity is quietly make a difference to women in my community.  I never thought about local women who were skipping mammograms because of expenses.   I am sure there are thousands of them.

Memorial Rifle Squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery  This was a local volunteer group who for the last 34 years has provided veterans with a military honors ceremonial burial with a  rile shots, flag folding and taps.    They have done this free of charge, never missing a funeral no matter the weather.   We first knew of it why my father-in-law was buried.   Coming from a military family we know how important this is to military families.   Now with more vets than ever this organization can use help to cover all the expenses they incur.

Local Library With the changing world it seems like your local library may be a dinosaur.   Libraries now days are more than just books.   The provide computers for use to people who have none, books both with pages and electronic for your e-reader, hot spots for free internet access and classes.    Today people have to apply for jobs online and without the library they are left out.   Kids who have not computer at home depend on it for school work, applying to college and getting ready to be productive adults.  They host free tax seminars, book clubs and so much more.   Libraries provide so much to our communities.

Local Hospice Hospice has been there for our family in our hometowns as our parents entered their last days.    They were there providing us with support  we did not know we needed.    We have since moved away, and now give to the local hospice who has been there for our friends and someday may be there for us as well.

I hope that this list has made you think about how you can make a difference with your giving.   I really think that giving at the local level can make a bigger difference because more of your dollar ends up making a difference.   Odds are your gift will probably impact a someone you know.

Adult Cat finds a New Home

2013-07-13-Lily-editThere is something about adult animals that go to a shelter that break my heart.    I know sometimes it is as the result of unforeseen and unmanageable circumstances and when those are the reasons it  pulls at my heart strings.  One of the  hardest reasons for a pet surrender is when a person dies or goes in to a long-term-care facility and their life’s companion can’t find a home short of the shelter.   Any cat who is ten or older and suddenly find themselves at a shelter, my mind wonders what they must think happened.   I read those stories and know that I could become one of those crazy pet owners who has too many animals.   I allow myself one cat and one dog.   That’s my limit based on time we give our pets and the economics of being a responsible pet owner.

We once again found ourselves catless and I wasn’t sure when we would add a cat back into our home.   You never are sure when the time will be right let go of your sadness and move on.   Then if you are like me and are drawn to the older cats, there are so many of them. How to know which one is yours based on that picture online and a visit at the cat room at the shelter?   Your tender heart grows sadder with each story.   Yet, you know that there is only one cat you can change the life of, which one is it?

I found what I thought was supposed to be our  cat last week.  She was nearly 11 years old, and had been turned in because they had a new baby and the husband did not want her around the baby.  She had been at the shelter since March.   I called the shelter and it turns out someone had already put in a potential adoption for her.   I knew destiny had found her a home and she wasn’t mine, even though I was sure she should be.    This week she was still there and when I check it turned out the first person did not pan out.    My gut was telling me go meet this cat.   So we headed off to the city to the shelter for a meet and greet. We came home with a new cat.

The transition period is going well.   We are still waiting for her to tell us what her name is suppose to be.   She has a safe space where the dog is not allowed.   She has wandered out of her space  and explored her surroundings last evening after our dog, Harley, headed to his crate for the night.   But it is going to take a little while for her to find her footing.   She lost the only home she knew, spent four months in the limbo of a shelter, and now moved into a house.   She has no idea what that means, but we have time and patience while she finds her footing in her forever home.

Life with a Dog is Better

Mr. Ranger Sir & Harley

Mr. Ranger Sir & Harley

We went out exploring and I captured this snapshot of the men in my life.  It captures how in tandem they can be . As we were walking down the country road, they both heard something that made them stop, look and listen.   This is remarkable because we did not raise him from a puppy, but got him when he was five-years old from a shelter as someone’s cast off pet.  In the three years we have had him, he has become ours.

For me he is a constant companion.  Working from home he spends  hours with me.   His days are spent in the office, lounging around not asking for much, but always there.     He is my walking and hiking partner, be it paved road or forest trail he is always ready and a tireless companion.   Lastly I have discovered he is also my protector.   When the man of the house is gone, he sleeps not with me, or in his kennel as he usually does,  but watching out the window, providing notice when someone arrives friend or foe.

For Mr. Ranger Sir Harley is the calming and diffusing element for the stress that his life brings.   When Mr. Ranger Sir gets home from work Harley knows the fun half of the family is in the house.   He gets himself all wound up, barking and twirling in circles as terriers are suppose to do,  because it is time for  play.   I am not sure if Harley does that because he needs some activity or he senses his man needs to unwind and a mental diversion from all that has happened in a hard day at work.   The are inseparable when they are both home.   They bring out the best and worst in one another and only boys can do.

Harley is by no means a perfect pet or dog.   He is a Cairn Terrier and has a bit of a terrier attitude at times, and does things on his own schedule, his own way.   He may be a small dog, but by no means a lap dog.   Don’t think you will lower your blood pressure by petting  him as he sits on your lap.   He’d rather lay on the floor.  After we had him about two years he decided he’d like to chase the few cars and trucks that come down the road ; luckily it is a dead end.   Lastly he came with mental baggage and dislikes others fees and hates men’s workboots.   No amount of consistent behavior modification work as stopped or changed any of that.

In spite of it all our life is better because he is in it.   Life is better with a dog in it.

What I did with My Friday Afternoon

cat-friendThose of you who follow this blog know I am a cat person, who brought home a shelter cat who hates me and loves my husband.    This is the first cat we ever had that has NO use for me whatsoever.   I  have given her lots of time and tried so hard to win her over, but two years later it is no go.   She will still walk out of a room when I enter.   She will walk around me to get to my husband.  I want someone to sit on my lap, purr and enjoy being petted.

Now we have a dog, who is a companion animal to both my husband and me.   He likes to be petted, but he is a terrier who doesn’t crave that “lap dog attention.”  So he will sit for a bit on your lap for an ear rub, but he is soon back to sleeping on the floor.

I have been watching the area shelters and thinking about a second cat. I am not a person who is attracted to kittens, I love the adult cats who suddenly find themselves booted out.    If you tell me the owner died or went to a facility my hear screams for that cat.   I know one has be careful when considering an adult or senior cat.   I am the person that a shelter loves to see, because I don’t care about the “babies.”  What I do know about adult cats is old habits are not likely to go away.   Life has already been hard for adult cats in a shelter setting and telling them they would be joining a sassy cat and a terrier could be just too much to ask.

Friday I stopped by the shelter to look at the cats they had on hand.     I sat in the cat rooms talking to the cats, hoping to make a connection.    For some reason my cat karma is dead.   Given the option of me, the kid doing community service sulking on a bench checking their smart phone or just hanging out alone I was the last option.   No one came up and snuggled with me, though a few were interested in the kid, who was more interested in their phone.      Any cat  who I disturbed to pet and chat with acted like I was going to tell them their number was up.   No cat wanted to hang out with me.   I left without a cat.   My time to have a cat of my own was not yet to be.