Dances with Kittens

May 31, 2017

Have you ever looked closely at a veterinarian’s hands and arms? If you have, you would see tiny lines of scars on them, a memory of the cats that have scratched them. I myself have plenty.

I have two scars that I actually cherish. When Cowboy Joe was coming out of anesthesia, he was a little goofy, and raked the back of my wrist with his back claws. There are two long, thin scars, memories of a strung-out kitten. It’s a memory from a cat I dearly love, so I am happy to look at them. At the time it happened, 2004, I was not amused. Since my cat was loopy, I understood.

The other scar I treasure was put in place by Pruney, the cat of my life. While living at home with my mom after college, I decided that Pruney, an inside/outside cat, should wear a collar. Many cats wear collars just fine. Pruney-not so much. She managed to get the collar stuck in her open mouth, and when I got her off the window screen where she hung onto dear life, she raked the same wrist with her two canine teeth. After over 40 years, I can still see the reminder that not all cats can wear collars. The last cat I tried a collar on was Kitty Alexander, our 20-pound tuxedo, who promptly got hung up on a door hinge. I had to unhook him. Now, I know how collars should fit on animals. No mistakes there. It’s part of what I teach my clients. These were just two freak accidents, and since Pruney was my last outdoor cat, there really is no need for collars on my cats. And a heads up to our humane society, I don’t license them, either, when they get their rabies vaccinations. Bad Mary.

In practice, my favorite part of well kitten visits is to educate people about how to care for their cats properly. The most important part of this lesson is, “How Not to be Killed by Your Kitten.” You see, people like to have Kitty chase their fingers across the room, or wave their hand back and forth on the carpet. It’s so much fun to see him get so riled up he can’t think, and runs around the room like he’s possessed. Bad idea. Kitty gets the idea that, 1. It’s OK to bite the finger when he catches it, which is instinctual, and 2. It’s OK that human body parts make great chew toys. They are not. NEVER use hands to play with your cat or kitten. Instead, have a toy or string that they cat catch and play with. For strings and similar items, be sure to put them away when you are finished playing, as the strings could be swallowed by an unsupervised cat and wind up stuck in his intestines and will have to be surgically removed.

The same play rules are true with human feet, except Kitty will add hiding for pouncing on and biting the feet. If you like being attacked by an unseen ball of fur, by all means, go for the foot fetish. It can, however, be very painful in the sensitive area of the top of the foot. Picture Tiger lying in wait until you come home from work, looking at the mail when, WHAM! You are attacked from below-a direct hit to the ankle.

Also be that cats like to climb things, like the drapes. Bad Kitty. This behavior is reinforced by thinking it’s cute for Kitty to climb up your pants with his razor sharp claws.

So what to do if your cat is the Kamikaze who actually gets to you even after you stop playing with hands and feet? First, don’t physically discipline an animal, ever. The cat is only acting on its instinct of preditory behavior. Second, you have only three seconds to react until the devious act is out of Kitty’s mind. Fill an empty soda can with small rocks, and have it ready to shake at Kitty when he is bad. Making a hissing noise is cat talk for “Look out, I’m going to get YOU”! You can also turn and walk away, play time is over, period. Be strong, even if he wants to start playing with you again. Nope-game over.

What’s more fun than playing with a kitten? Nothing! But be aware of safe ways to play with your little furball so no one, you or Kitty develop bad behaviors and gets hurt.


Hey Lady! It’s a DOG Park

May 16, 2017

I am wary about dog parks. They are great business for veterinarians. This mean that dogs can get hurt at a dog park. Yet I serve on the Parks and Recreation board (16 years total so far,) and when we build a new community or large park, we include a dog park. That’s what the people ask for in a park.

I cringe whenever I see a dog off leash. I live next to a dedicated prairie, the Cathy Fromme Prairie, dog laws strictly enforced. But still, every time I walk Ivy on the paved trail, some yahoo has his or her dog off leash.

One dude on a bike was running his mutt off leash while he pedaled in comfort. I asked him to please leash his dog. His reply, “Oh get over it.” Oh well, there are only so many park rangers, and they are usually elsewhere.

On the prairie, there are an uncountable number of rattlesnakes in the grass. Want to see one in the heat of the day? Surprise one. It doesn’t want to eat you, you are too big. So is your dog. However, the coil and strike maneuver is the snake’s defense mechanism. I’m teaching Ivy the word, “sidewalk,” so she knows not to yaw off the trail. If you want to go and look at a snake, go in the early morning, when they are basking in the warmth of the pavement after a cool night. When it warms up, the snakes retreat to the cooler underbrush.

The dumbest thing I’ve seen on the prairie was a grown woman with a black Lab, and a tennis ball launcher. She actually was going to have her dog chase balls through snake-infested grass. Oy.

In my old neighborhood made up largely of college students, I asked dog walkers to please put Fido on a leash. Their retort: “This dog is on voice command.” Sorry, dudes and dudettes, there is no such thing. Sure, your dog may come with you and be good for regular  or boring things, but if it sees something exciting like a racing bunny rabbit, pause for mental image of a racing bunny, voice command is no more.

So today I took Ivy to the dog park. It’s on the east side of town. I live on the west side. I go to this park because it is not frequented by students and their largely untrained dogs, who prefer the west side dog park at the very end of Horsetooth Road. We people know each other, and our dogs know each other as well. A lady came in with her doodle-it’s fun to see an adult version of my Ivy-and promptly yelled at a man with what she called an aggressive dog. He wasn’t aggressive. He met dogs with a bark, and maybe a chest bump. Then he settles in to play. She took her dog to the end of the park. She stayed there. Her “dood” came back to the other dogs to play.

Just as there is no voice command, at the dog park, there is not much obedience. The dogs are there to run and play. If we leave them alone, they work it out. Once, I was there with just a few people. Two women came in with a truly aggressive dog, the women oblivious to the sign prohibiting them. The dog went after our little cadre of mutts. We nicely said that her dog was aggressive and should be removed. Totally different behavior than the man’s dog who settled down. This dog didn’t, and attacked again. The ladies got the message and left.

Ivy loves the dog park, and she is a popular figure to see. It’s kind of like the TV show, “Cheers” where everyone shouts, “NORM” when he enters the bar. She knows how to play appropriately and socialize, which will serve her well.

Go to the dog park, don’t go to the dog park. It’s entirely up to you. But before you go, read up a little on canine behavior, OK?


Doodles Make You Smile Every Day

April 27, 2017

Ivy the Goldendoodle puppy is looking at seven months more like a dog than a puppy. I am starting to leave her loose in the house for longer times. This evening, I attended our monthly Parks and Recreation board meeting. When I got home, Ivy didn’t look guilty at all. She must have been sleeping by her door to her pen, but she was sitting at attention, straight as a four star general.

The filth from this morning’s jaunt to the dog park was mostly gone. Just my luck to get a white and tan parti color girl with sable ears and green eyes. Her eyelashes are 3″ long.

Since her Canine Good Citizen class doesn’t start until June, we go to Canine Learning Center for drop-in obedience. She’s the youngest dog there, definitely not a show dog, but for the recall exercise, I leave her in a sit stay (sometimes she will stay,) walk away and call, “Ivy, come”! She leaps into the air, runs like lightning, and leaps into a sit at my feet. The other ladies laugh hysterically because Ivy is so stinkin’ cute. This week, she knows how to “finish”, i.e., go back into the heel position. I taught her that last week for the price of one Cheerio. She will do anything for a Cheerio.

As her drop-in teacher, Julie Yamane, likes to say, “Mary, Doodles make you smile every day.”


Hail to the Doodle!

April 5, 2017

The motto for Colorado weather is if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. I was in the TV loft yesterday vegging, when the room started getting dark. I looked out the window, and there were gentle snowflakes falling. I looked again, and it was pouring rain. Remembering that Ivy was out (don’t worry, she has a covered porch also), I went to get her. Hailstones on the ground.

Now imagine a curly Doodle with hailstones just the right size to fit into the middle of her curls, and you have a new breed-the Hailstone Golden Doodle!


The Barrier Has Been Breached!

March 30, 2017

Ivy the Golden doodle puppy has managed only to go into the basement once-she has a barrier. That’s where the cat food and kitty litter boxes are. I gave her a new Bully Stick, which she chewed, and left the loft. Too quiet. I went looking for her, and there she was, on the other side of the baby gate which has the door to the basement keeping the door wide enough for the cats to get in.

Ivy ate all the cat food-that’s dinner for tonight, and diarrhea for tomorrow, but left the kitty logs alone. Ick.

My book only has one chapter to finish editing. Ivy isn’t in the book. She’s only 6 months old, and I think now a teenager. With a walk this morning, and the dog park this afternoon, she should crash shortly for the night.


What a Day in Colorado. Wait ’til Tomorrow!

March 24, 2017

So, it was 75 degrees today in Fort Fun. I took Ivy to the dog park, where she got filthy. Glad I paid all that $$$ for a bath and puppy cut.

Ran a couple errands before we went home. Then, PT for the broken humerus. It’s doing pretty well.

I asked Ivy’s breeder if I could drop off the pen I used for 5 months after PT. If I didn’t hear from her, I’d take my roadster, which is easier to drive than the Outback (yes, everyone in CO drives one), which had the pen in it. I literally was walking out the door with the Benz keys in my hand when Cathie texted me that 3pm would be good to drop off the pen.

Of course, she had the cutest litter of pups. I got to see her favorite retired mama dog, Lilly, and Ivy’s mom is there. She is in heat, and ready to be bred with the one remaining straw of Ivy’s father. So, all the new litter will be Ivy’s biological siblings! How cool.

At Cathie’s, the clouds came in, and on went my sweatshirt (Cubs World Series Champs hoodie). This evening, it was pouring rain. Even Ivy didn’t want to sleep under the covered patio. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be a blizzard. But who knows?

 


Copacetic

March 19, 2017

Well, things are settling down from arm fracture. I just can’t hold heavy objects or have it pulled, like if I am not thinking, and have Ivy’s leash in my hand.

Ivy got her first puppy cut Friday, and Frank his usual grooming.

One morning, after the dog park, I stopped at Pier One to get Cowboy Joe a papasan footstool. He uses it as a way up onto the bed. The first night Ivy used her big dog sleeping crate, Joe wasn’t on the bed. But all is well, now. I don’t really know how a veterinary ophthalmologist could evaluate depth perception, but CJ has had it all his life.

Fort Fun was in the 80s yesterday, and is going to be warm but windy today. Ivy went to the front door indicating she wanted to have a walk. I told her to come back and carry her leash to the door. How cute is a puppy carrying her leash to the door because she wants a walk?