Our boy Fletcher

Howdy! Most people like videos of cats doing odd and funny things. Take a look at my regular FB page to see some.

Earl and I had a wonderful cat, long haired orange boy we named Fletcher. The techs who managed the shelter animals in for spays and neuters knew I had lost my beloved Pruney. They were saving this huge six-month kitten from the Cheyenne Humane Society for us. He stuck out his slab paw, and in doing that, captured my heart.

When I brought him home, it turned out that we could do anything with or to Fletcher, and he’d just put up with it. You couldn’t hear him purr, but he never stopped purring. You had to put a finger on his throat to know that. Nothing bothered him, nothing scared him. He was a huge ball of love and laughter.

The funniest thing we ever saw Fletch do was a day when we were sitting on the bed chatting. Do you remember those hair ties that had a plastic ball on each end? You put your hair in a ponytail and put one ball over the other. They were great, and have been in existence for as long as I’ve been alive.

We had an empty large Kleenex box. Fletch went over to check it out on the floor. I dangled a hair tie over the opening, dropped it in the box, and went back to the bed. We watched. Earl and I roared with laughter as Fletcher stuck his whole head into the opening, and came up to a sitting posture with the Kleenex box on his head. OK, no problem.

Except when he went walking in the room. He got as far as a wall and bumped into it. He turned go go in another direction. He did this about three times until he got his head out of the Kleenex box.

I put the hair tie in again. We absolutely could not believe that he would do that again, but by golly, he did. And we two idiot people could do nothing but howl with laughter, tears running down our faces.

After Fletchie got his head out the second time, he was done. He never did that again. Ever. We were so happy to have seen a huge orange cat with a large Kleenex box stuck on his head walking into walls. Fletcher was fine, of course. We would never let anything bad happen to him; but this cat was one taco short of a combination plate, and we adored him for the thirteen years he was with us.

Oh, and yes, he made a fine kitty burrito when we wrapped him in a blanket and he just stayed put.

I did it, Mom

Dear Mom (Carol, as I called you when we worked together),

Today I found out that my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir won  three awards just from one competition. Judy, my coach and editor, took a stack of books to send in to many competitions. She said winners are often announced close to a year later.

Yet here we are, three months after the book launch, and I got word this morning of the three awards from Beverly Hills Book Awards. Here they are: Winner: Animals and Pets; Winner-Regional Non-Fiction-West; and Finalist: Memoir. Finalist is just as good as Winner.

You were the greatest writer I ever knew. I think we can thank Northwestern School of Speech (now called School of Communications) for that, where you got your undergraduate degree. For me, my Master of Arts from the Graduate School (now called School of Education and Social Policy, SESP) helped me.

I remember your starting a writer’s column for a little Highland Park paper, the name of which escapes me-it wasn’t the Highland Park News. One time, entries were slow, so you wrote the most exciting short story I’ve ever read. I wish I could find it. The ending was no less unexpected than a Stephen King work.

I miss you so much. This March 12 will be 40 years since you took your leave. In 1979, there were set visiting hours at the hospital, otherwise I would have stayed with you longer than that evening. Instead, the phone rang early the next morning with tragic news. It was unfair to lose my best friend when I was 26. When I have a birthday now, I count how many more years it is since your 56 years of life.

I know we communicate. Doing well on my first book I owe all to you. Thanks, Mom.

Love you, “Cara”

“Mara”

Franklin, mine son.

Oy Frank. Mine son. You have been through the ringer; but you still come up purring.

On April 27, I took you to the clinic for euthanasia. You are fifteen years old. You have a Grade III heart murmur, a BUN off the charts indicating your kidneys are on the way out, and you have to breathe extra hard. I initially took you in to Earl’s old clinic because you used to be eighteen pounds, and now you looked like normal weight. You looked horrible.

Yet, when I took you out of the carrier, you looked like the healthiest cat on the planet. Dr. Gaffney looked at me like I was nuts! I could hear her thinking: “Why are you here to put this happy cat to sleep?” So was I! He came out of the carrier  to purr at and bump all the staff, eating snacks, leaving me scratching my head in puzzlement.  She did hear the Grade III murmur where the other vet had called it a Grade II.

We decided then to take a chest film. With a Grade III mitral murmur and dyspnea (difficult breathing), surely we would find something. That film was of the healthiest looking heart and lungs I ever saw. Dr. Gaffney laughed when I told you, “Well, Frank, I guess you aren’t going to die today.” We went home and you ate some kitty fud.

Fast forward to July. We-you three elderly cats and the puppy with their mother were watching TV in the loft upstairs. I had put an empty bowl of ice cream on the flat top of the loft banister to remember to take it downstairs. You do have a bad habit of checking out my feeding dishes, er, bowls. My eye just glanced over to the flat top just in time to see your paws on the top and nothing else. The paws went off, and in a microsecond, I heard a body hit the stairs. I screamed and ran down to find a dead cat. But there you were, alive and crouched on the floor and still. I touched you, and you cried. OMG!

I called the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and told the woman on the phone I was coming in pronto, and would stay with my cat.

After all the struggles over the years I’ve had with you, Franklin, about getting into a carrier, you walked right in.

I broke all speed records to get you to the hospital.

CSU now has a Patient Liaison. She is wonderful with crazy people, when the resident introduced herself to me as did the new senior student. They only took you away from me to do an exam. You were fine, but I wanted to see a film of your chest and spine. Totally normal.

I took all the paperwork home with  you, now in the pouring rain. Thanks for the hundreds of dollars I spent. All the stuff on the balcony is off, but I can’t keep you off. Has this happened before? How would I know?

Still good ‘ol Charlie Brown, er, Franklin. Charlie Brown was my very first cat. Now, you sleep next to my head, purring and  cuddling all the time. You are an old cat, so is your brother, and so is Matthew, who is seventeen.

I remember when I told Dr. Kainer, my anatomy professor, that I decided to go into feline practice. His comment? “That’s good. It’s hard to kill a cat.”

Renewing my DEA License and other tales of the weird

I just got a notice that my Drug Enforcement Agency License would expire next month. Yes, I have retired from private practice, but I still have animals, especially Hannah, who lives with my sister’s two horses.

When I graduated from vet school in 1987, a three year DEA license was a mere $60. Then, this DOJ agency said, “Hey, wait a minute, these people HAVE to have this license to do their jobs. What the hell are we charging only sixty bucks for them?” Duh.

I now pay over $700 for a three year license, far more than I spend on medicines. OK, I’m a captive. At least it was easy to renew, and I didn’t throw my MacBook against the wall. You have four pages of questions to fill out. I get it about the name, address, and state and license information. But there was a whole page on if I’ve ever had my license, DEA or state(s) pulled, committed a crime involving controlled substances, or taken away one of Ivy’s dog toys against her will.

No doctor of any kind can have a license for a Schedule I substance like heroin. I remember long ago, as he was born 100 years ago next month, that my physician father and the pharmacist across the street from his office found a large, old bottle way in the back of the locked closet. The bottle contained medical grade heroin. Remember, people used to use heroin and cocaine legally up until I think the 1920’s. Think Sherlock Holmes stories and the book, the Seven Percent Solution. It was legal to use and prescribe these now Schedule I drugs. Dad and the pharmacist disposed of the contents of the bottle. I have a collection of Dad’s antique medicine bottles, and they are really strange. The one thing of his I wanted was the beautiful jar that said, “Leeches.” It was prominently displayed in his office. The man had a strange sense of humor, OK? The leech jar disappeared somehow when my step-siblings, my husband and I were going through Dad’s and my stepmother’s things after she died. Gone.

Within the DEA application was a checkbox for forms to order Schedule I or II narcotic drugs. Why oh why do they want us to have forms to order Schedule I drugs when we can’t have schedule I medicines? Perhaps it is because medical marijuana is available, but I don’t see (haven’t checked, that is) that pot store owners have medical licenses, DEA licenses, and forms to order Schedule I narcotics.

The last thing the form asked was if I had taken an optional course on the dangers of prescribing narcotics. I checked no, because I don’t remember getting a notice for this, and I don’t prescribe narcotics. I do have a Schedule 2N on my license, along with Schedules 2,3,4 and 5, but I used the 2N only once, when I first opened my cat clinic, never used the medicine, and sent it to the DEA for disposal when it expired.

My two year license to practice veterinary medicine is expiring Oct. 31, as it always does in the even years. More bucks. I’m staying active in the profession. I don’t want to say I’m a retired veterinarian. I am retired from private practice. I can still be an extra pair of hands for a colleague, spay cats for rescues, or neuter tomcats on kitchen tables for law school classmates as I did in Texas (boy did that go around the law building at the speed of light!) And yes, I was fully licensed in Texas with one more license, the DPS, Department of Public Safety.

So, for three more years, I am a financial captive. But it makes me proud to be fully licensed in a field I worked so hard to belong.

 

Overkill at the spa

Well, Ivy finally got into the spa yesterday. April could’t do her last week, because she was scheduled for a “fluff and buff” and Ivy was clearly a 34 # mat. I picked her up four hours later, and boy did that dog look skinny! April had to take the clippers down to the skin. As per usual, she left the ears and tail intact.

Myra Kanter

The storm raging the East coast and a FB comment from a law professor prompted me to this memory.

When I was at Highland Park High School, at the end of the semesters we had a final exam schedule. You only came to school when you had a final. There was a special bus schedule. If you left the building, you could not come back in.

At the end of my first semester, the final exam schedule was fixed for January (this is before Fort Collins, and hurrying to finish the semester with the college students to get out early.) It also happened to be the time of the Great Blizzard of 1967.

Myra Kanter, a school friend who was a genius, finished her final, and went out to the bus area. With the snow and wind swirling around her and seeing no busses, Myra realized she missed the bus. She tried to get back inside, because the next bus was in an hour. School officials would not let her in.

First, imagine a Chicago blizzard. Then imagine a skinny genius with the sweet temperament actually standing in the raging snow looking through the door at the guard watching her suffer. There were no cell phones to call her mom, and even if she wanted to use a phone, she wasn’t going to be let in.

I have never forgotten that. It’s one of those memories I have stuffed in my brain. My friend, Linda, always says to me, “How do you remember things like that”? I don’t know, but I do.

Stay out of the northeast for a few days, Myra.

Really creepy

My childhood friend, Marcy, disappeared off the radar. No one knew where she was after she took her mother from Florida, went to New Orleans, and ended up on the North Shore of Chicago where we grew up. She touched base with friends from her Highland Park days. Her mother stroked out and died .

It turns out that Marcy died last August in the Denver area. I didn’t even know she was in the state. My friend, Michael L., said the Arapahoe County coroner said the death was of natural causes. She was 65.

Fast forward to yesterday. There was an email on Marcy’s address. Anonymous, but the person, who of course said she was not Marcy, said she was handling the estate. She had read our letters over the last two years, and seemed gleeful that I stopped all communication with Marcy, and took her off my FB account.

I wrote back and asked, “Who is this?” We went back and forth with the writer getting more vitriolic about Marcy with each letter. I said I would not communicate without knowing who this was.

Then I got a FB note from Michael W., another childhood classmate. He said the writer was her sister, and was spewing hate to all Marcy’s friends. The sister and brother are over ten years older than Marcy was, but Marcy was stuck taking care of her elderly parents who were in their 90’s. Her mom died at 98.

I don’t know who put the fun in this dysfunctional family, but leave me out of it. I’m sorry Marcy had a hard life after being the most popular girl in school, but I remember us being good friends at Braeside School. I’d play at her house after school. She lived right across the street from Braeside Elementary.

We are taught to forgive those who do bad things to others. I’ll never know the truth about what happened, but that happens. There is only one person in the world I do not and never will forgive. Marcy’s sister, I forgive you, but leave me the hell alone.

Which is it? I need some help with this one.

In my book, Drinking From the Trough,  in the Epilogue I mention Ivy. But how do you write her breed? She is a Goldendoodle.

But what is the correct way to write the breed (doodles are not really breeds recognized by the AKC, they are expensive mutts and well worth it).

Goldendoodle

Golden Doodle

Golden doodle

goldendoodle

golden doodle

What, already? I’ve seen breeders write the name several different ways in the same paragraph.

Remember that obnoxious comic who would say, “My name is Raymond W. Johnson.You can call me Ray, you can call me J, you can call me RJ, you can call me Ray Jay.” Remember that guy? Well that’s what I think of. I remembered how much that guy would annoy me while I was watching TV.

Who’s on first. Who’s on second. No, what’s on second. Get the idea?

Any help would be appreciated.

Goldendoodles-the Abbott and Costello of the dog world.

My dog is in love with a couch!

I sit here writing, and watch Ivy lying full out on my uncle’s old couch made new by expensive reupholstering two years ago.

Gone are the days of the fluffy doodle jumping up to watch TV sitting on my lap or next to me in the recliner.

My huskies were never allowed on furniture because they shed a lot. But my Goldendoodle does not, and they are not like huskies, who can be alone  for a long time. Doodles won’t spend hours out in the dog pen. They do their business to come back to their humans.

But my Ivy abandoning me for a couch?

I initially trained her to get on beds gently for her therapy dog training (put off by the fractured hip). Now, she just jumps on the couch like she owns it. I guess she does. I do have her sit and call for her to jump on the bed.

I was getting used to TV with a dog comforter. Cowboy Joe does that as he did before we got Ivy.

Happy Holidays!

Urine in the office

I went into my office yesterday to get something my writing coach, Judy, needed. I shooed the brothers, Cowboy Joe and Frank, out of the office. I type in my chair, so I don’t have to crutch back and forth.

This morning, I got up to let the dog out, and I heard frantic meowing upstairs. Matthew had gotten stuck in the office. I close the door because I don’t want the cats in there. Bad idea.

Of course, Matthew, 16, can’t go all night without urinating. He has chronic renal failure, and gallons of stinky cat urine is a part of it.

You can imagine the smell. You can understand I couldn’t go in because I was in stocking feet. Somewhere in there is a pile of kitty turds, I’m sure. Since I can’t vacuum or anything, I took a can of Resolve carpet cleaner, stood at the doorway, and sprayed the entire carpet. Poor Kayla, she has no idea of what she is in for next Monday, my biweekly cleaning day.