Our Christmas Cat – An Open Letter

To the person who owned our Christmas Cat:

On Friday, I found your cat. He walked with a limp and looked, for lack of a better word, ragged. He was friendly and had a notched ear. I was sure he was a feral, but he seemed like he needed help. So I scooped him up and carried him into my home. I gave him food and water and a safe place to sleep. He is skin and bones and so full of love.

Feral KittyToday, I took him to the vet. They informed me he is likely at least 15 years old. He is obviously too thin, missing many teeth, nearly blind, and likely suffers from numerous age related diseases. It seems I took him in just in time for his final months. My humble apartment will be his retirement home.

I am not telling you this because I assume you’ve dumped him. In fact it’s quite the opposite; I believe you loved this boy. You see, when my vet scanned him for a microchip, they found one. But it was incorrectly registered to a dog on the other side of the country. The phone number associated with it was disconnected, and thus the owner unreachable.

bathtime for the new catI feel heartbroken for your cat. I’m sure he misses you, and for his sake I have to assume you miss him too. I just want you to know that even if I never find you, I will give your baby the same love you did way back when. I will make sure his bowl is always full of food and his bed stays warm and dry. Anytime he meows I will come running. He can’t see me, but I’m making sure that he feels the love you would give him if you could. I am sorry you’ve lost your baby, and that I haven’t been able to find you. Please don’t worry about him. He’s got a home for Christmas.

Family time with Christmas CatSincerely,
Your kitty’s loving caretaker

Happy Mother’s Day!

I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there. If you consider yourself a mom, that’s what matters. Biological moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, legal guardians, furmoms, etc. You all do great things. Please treat yourself today.

Happy Mother's Day to all mommas!

My mom is a biological momma and a furmom.

Specifically, I’d like to say Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. You raised me well. I know I was an annoying child. I distinctly remember quoting Lion King every single day for who knows how long. I also remember the long list of unreasonable fears I had, from carbon monoxide poisoning to snakes hiding at the foot of my bed. You sat with me and put up with terrible television shows until I was wise enough to be introduced to the good stuff. You’ve created a fangirl-ing monster, but I have you and dad to thank for anything that’s not on Adult Swim.

Mom puts up with selfies. Thanks, mom!

Mom accompanies me to Disney and then puts up with selfies. Thanks, mom!

You were the first person to follow my blog. You went beyond the bare minimum for my education, even paying for the degree that I totally ended up using. You tutored me, encouraged me, and drove me to school and music lessons. You were never too harsh when explaining I couldn’t simply move to LA and become an actress or singer. You buy my furkid gifts and treats and babysit her without complaint. (Even when she drags you to the emergency vet for surprise surgery.)

Whether or not you think all of my schemes are brilliant ideas, I always feel like you have my back. And that is priceless. Thank you for everything you do, Mom. I love you.

Momma with a sloth friend.

My momma, loving on a sloth, of course.

My thoughts today, to Miss Lana: I would joke that I’m sorry you ended up with a ‘mom’ like me, but we both know we’re a good match. You’ve driven me insane from time to time, but I love you from the bottom of my heart. You’re goofy and stubborn and such a diva, but you are the most loyal companion I could have asked for. You’ve comforted me in sickness and in sadness, and made me laugh when I’ve been wallowing in self-pity. You are fantastic, Kid. Keep it up. Thanks for letting me be your momma.

My little girl. <3

My little girl. <3

To my former fosters: You will always be my children. Deal with it. I’ve loved you as though you were my own, and I am so happy you have new families who love you just as much. I hope that if you remember me, you don’t ever think that I abandoned you. Instead, I hope that you can sense that there always was and always will be a place for each of you in my heart.

Love cuddling with the babies.

Love cuddling with the babies. Also, shout out to any other Disney Alumni!

To the moms who adopted my former fosters: You are wonderful. You not only have great taste in dogs, but you rescued yours! I can’t thank you enough for finding room in your homes and your hearts for these furkids. I miss them terribly from time to time, but I trust they are in good hands. Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day.

To my ‘stranger on the porch’: I don’t know if you have another family. Only time will tell. But you always have a safe place to stay with us.

Stranger on the porch, you are for now my child, too.

Stranger on the porch, you are for now my child, too.

I love being a mom to my furry little kids. They are worth every mess, every sleepless night, all the money they eat (both literally and figuratively), and the time they take. Being a ‘mom’ has changed me to my very core. It’s one of my favorite parts of my identity. Being a mom has fantastic rewards, 365 days of the year, and I’m grateful I can experience them.

Obviously. (Source.)

Obviously. (Source.)

A Retirement Home For Dogs?

My first reaction to a Japanese pet company opening the world’s first pet retirement home (see article here) was confusion. I imagined that most people willing to support their old dog financially would also be willing to take care of it physically. But, now that I’ve had a couple of days to mull it over, I’m pretty bummed I didn’t think of the idea first. And pretty sad I don’t live in Japan.

Desi Senior Dog Mutt

Of course there are people who work all day, maybe even juggle multiple jobs or have to travel for work. Of course there are dogs with crazy medical needs the average owner feels incapable of meeting. So no, this idea may not save the old dogs who are dumped at the pound when their age becomes an ‘inconvenience’. But it may still be the best option for many loving families. At least those willing to shell out a pretty penny. It looks like the average cost is expected to be about $1,000 per month for the fancy new facility.

Like a nursing home for humans, visitors are welcome to come spend time with their beloved old friends as often as they want. Evidently, dogs in the senior care center have access to a special doggie gym, a pool, and of course round-the-clock veterinary care.

Dogs Window MuttsBut it turns out, this isn’t actually the first retirement home for dogs, as the original article led me to believe. Another retirement home in Japan opened back in 2007. The original also has access to veterinarians all day long and someone to give the dogs a little bit of exercise and love. Additionally, I’m ecstatic to see that they utilize “puppy therapy” with the elderly dogs. They bring young rescue dogs to act as therapy dogs to the seniors! I love everything about this! I’d probably even sponsor an elderly stray if only I had the money to do so.

While I’d feel guilty leaving my senior pooch in her golden years, it must also be somewhat comforting to leave your dog in the hands of professionals who have all day long to monitor health and love on them. I want my girl to know I’m there for her no matter what. But after seeing how much Desi desired constant company when she was close to the end, I image any person who has the time to pet and cuddle is good for them. Even better that the owner can still come visit daily.

Desi Senior Dog MuttIn fact, I think I’d love to work in one of these retirement homes. Wouldn’t every dog lover? But I am curious: Would you ever leave your elderly pet in a retirement home? Would you sponsor a homeless senior so they could enjoy the last chapter of their life?

10 Reasons I Chose A Mutt Over A Purebred Dog

When I found Lana online, I made an appointment to meet her, and the next day to meet a purebred Border Collie from the same rescue. I had already started to picture my life with Ferris, the Collie. I was sure he would be the one for me. But, obviously I chose Lana. There are plenty of dog breeds I adore. But to me, nothing beats a good old fashioned mutt. And I can give you ten reasons why.

"10 Reasons I Chose A Mutt Over A Purebred" -A humorous, not preachy look at why one dog blogger chose her mixed breedMutts live longer. Continue reading

Is Your Dog Fat?

I took the girls to the vet recently – Lana to get her blood tested (because of her Proin prescription) and Desi to get her shots updated. For some reason, Lana is terrified of the vet. She’s never had a bad experience (or even one without treats, for that matter), but she still hates it. We walk through the door and a dog barks. Lana’s out the door before I can reassure her. She spends the next several minutes while I sign us in and take a seat with her tail between her legs. She doesn’t even think about the fact that Desi is calm as ever.

The vet tech asks Lana to step on the scale. I point to it and much to my surprise, she complies immediately. She weighs a little over 50 pounds. We turn around to walk into the exam room and I feel  a tug on the leash. Desi is standing on the scale. No doubt she knew that’s what normally happens at the vet’s office (even though she didn’t actually need to be weighed this time). Unfortunately, she has lost a little bit of weight. The veterinarian assures me both girls are still at a good weight. We know to watch Desi, as losing too much weight could indicate the big problem, and we know to watch Lana, because her long legs and body means being even a little overweight could be devastating for her hips and back.

But the thing is, it’s not just our girls. Weight is important to control for any dog (or person, for that matter). Do you know how many dogs are overweight in the United States? In the U.S., more than 50% of dogs (and cats) are overweight; about 20% are obese.

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Banner

Statistics from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. (Click the logo to go to their website.)

I get the excuses, I really do.

But giving my dog treats is a universal way to show them I love them!  Honestly, they know you love them. Dogs can tell. They’re smart. And guess what – they love you too. And they’ll love you longer if they are healthy enough to live longer.

I cut down on my dog’s food, but he’s obviously still hungry.  You sure about that? Because I eat food all the time without being hungry. Because it tastes good. Because I’m bored. Because it’s available to me. Don’t assume that because your dog is begging for food it’s because they’re hungry. They’re begging for treats, not nutrition. As long as you gradually cut down the amount you feed them, you shouldn’t endanger them.

I have a wonky schedule and it’s best if I free feed.  While this MAY work for some dogs, it does not work for most. I, too, have a wonky schedule, and you know what? I think it was good for Lana. She doesn’t start begging for food at a certain time, because she’s used to going with the flow. And she’s, as the vet says, at a ‘perfect weight’. You’re not going to hurt them by feeding them at 5 one day and at 7 another. (It’s way better than being in the wild and not knowing if food is coming at all on any given day!)

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Lana enjoys and healthy and tasty snack – an apple!

Oh, but my boy will only eat people food.  When we were growing up, it seemed like my sister would only eat mac and cheese. Until she actually grew hungry. I know it hurts to see your baby not eat, but unless there’s a health issue to worry about, I was raised with the mentality that people (and dogs) will eat when they’re hungry, and that sugar coating things and feeding treats and calorie filled junk is not an okay substitute.

Being fat doesn’t hurt dogs like it does people. Socially, no. There is no fat shaming among dogs, but there are still multitudes of health problems that correlate with obesity (and malnutrition) in any animal. Diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, bad joints and backs, and decreased life expectancy (by up to 2.5 years) are all possible dangers for overweight pets.

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“I don’t like to eat green stuff!”

So how does an owner know what a healthy weight is?  Knowing your dog’s breed can help, but it is not the end all be all.

-Ask your veterinarian. I seriously hope they should have an idea, or you may want to find yourself a new doctor. If your pet is an exception, your vet should know.
-Judge yourself by look and feel. There are so many diagrams on the internet that show how a dog should look. The outline of the ribcage should be visible, but not the actual ribs.* The stomach should be tucked, the waist should be visible from above. As for the feel, you should be able to feel ribs, but not without a little bit of fat on top of them.
*Some breeds of dogs are built differently than others. If you have questions, please consult your veterinarian.

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Source: http://www.karikells.com/Petsitter/2013/the-weight-escape-importance-of-maintaining-ideal-weight-for-dogs-cats/

So how much is the right amount to feed them? You can’t necessarily trust the back of your bag of dog food. You need to keep in mind your dog’s metabolism, how much they exercise, if they are trying to maintain, lose, or gain weight, how often you give them treats, etc. If you look at these factors and think your dog is about average, try the middle of the range they recommend. If you find your pet putting on or losing too much weight, adjust the serving size. Just be aware that if you switch foods, the caloric density will be different and you should keep an extra close watch on your dog’s weight.

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Lana loves her healthy(ish) food!

I don’t believe in diet foods for dogs. I also don’t believe in fad diets for people. When I need to lose weight, I eat healthier and I eat less. Lana always eats the same thing, so I don’t need to worry about her eating healthier food. That leaves the amount of it. If I think she’s starting to get big, I cut back on the food just a little. Nothing severe. It’s not rocket science. I expect my dog to beg for food when I eat and cook and I don’t assume that means she’s starving. Because she’s in way better shape than I am and I know it. But, if you really want to try diet dog food, I won’t stop you. If you have a good experience with it, tell you friends, even tell me if you’d like! I just don’t feel it’s necessary for my girl. (But then again I spent forever picking out what I felt was the perfect food for her and I’m not about to undo all that work – purely a personal choice.)

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She says she doesn’t like green, but she does. It’s healthy and yummy. Veggies are a good way to spoil your dog without making them fat.

Love your dog, and spoil them ’til they’re fit!