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.

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!

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?


Drinking Out of the Trough is the Title of My First Book!

March 11, 2017

Yes, campers, I have finally taken the plunge and written a book. It’s undergoing editing by the wonderful Judy Fort Brenneman of Greenfire Creative, LLC.

After eight years, I have a new puppy, a delightful Goldendoodle named Ivy. She is six months old. Her breeder, Cathie Crosby of Placer Goldendoodles picked her out for me as a good match. Ivy is a delightful little soul.

I gave the pup Ivy for a name because my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Ivy covers the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. I got Ivy 6 days after the series, and today we celebrate four months together. She’s been through two puppy classes, and will take the Canine Good Citizen class to become a therapy dog when she turns one year old.

More later.

Happy birthday, Scootsritealong!

May 11, 2010

Happy birthday, Scooter! My little black and white gelding is fourteen today. Of course, being a horse, he’s been officially fourteen since New Year’s Day. That’s when all horses turn one year older. My precious boy was born, however, on May 11, 1996 in South Dakota.

Scoot, I’m so happy you are enjoying Arizona, and that your Auntie Margo is taking such good care of you while I transition my life. It’s a joy to come ride you and the Baby, even though it’s a tough drive to get to you. Had you stayed in Colorado at your old home, you would have been standing in cold mud and snow for the last seven months.

How well I remember that Sunday in March 1999 when your Dad and I decided to go to the CSU Equine Center to see a horse auction. We had no intention of getting another horse, especially at an auction, the worst place to buy one. Then Earl said, “Mare, look at that one.” I set my eyes on you and was stunned by your beauty. I was enthralled by that shiny black and white coat, your pleasant demeanor and willingness to be examined. I never thought I’d win you, but I did, and we had a new member of the family.

Getting you home was another thing. We couldn’t load you, and when you finally got in, you threw a fit. You had only been in stock trailers until then. We had to get your former human, a cowboy, to ride on the outside fender of the trailer, holding your broken lead while your head was facing out the back of the trailer.

We put you across the street in the little corral. You ran around with a look on your face of, “What’s happening to me! Where am I?” We treated your scrapes and bumps, fed you and left you to calm down, visiting often.

When time, you joined Marcie and Aria in the corral. You soon learned that Marcie was the Diva, and then you fell in love with her. You delighted us with your antics and your sweetness. While Earl and his dad built you a new stall, I saddled you up. Your brochure said you had been ‘rode on the ranch.’ I climbed on your back, asked you to go, and nothing! You stood like a rock.

Later, you went to our dear friend, the late Steve Bowers, who with his twin, Mike, had trained Franny and Marcie. Steve liked you from day one. He also told you you had it made for life.

From there on, you have been a wonderful friend, a partner and a confidant. I miss you every day, but know that you are being well cared for. I’ll visit as much as I can to groom you, hug you and ride. Horses live in the moment, so you don’t miss me when I go. Unfortunately, people don’t. I miss you so much, the daily routine we had in Colorado with you and Hannah and your Dad. We don’t have that any more. In time, perhaps we will again.

In the meantime, my beautiful friend, happy birthday, and health and happiness to you, Scootsritealong.

Ain’t nothin’ but a (publicity) hound dog

May 1, 2010

Today I went with a friend to see one animal shelter she works with, and to a park where a group was holding an event to raise awareness for creating a much-needed dog park.

I handed out my business cards. The shelter needs vets. I can’t believe the tick infestations that dogs have here. We Coloradans are pretty lucky not to have such a heavy load of fleas and ticks. I better study up on tick-borne illnesses.

I used to do some writing for the local paper. Op-eds, letters to the editor and other commentary. People would ask me when I was going to write something again. But Earl died, and I moved away. The last thing I had in the paper was the memorial to Tipper the Wonder Husky that is in this section of DrinkingOutOfTheTrough. Look at the June entries.

The local news was there, doing on-camera interviews. I had talked to the organizers of the park. I told them I had just moved to town, spent 12 years on the Fort Fun parks and recreation board, and we had discussed and planned several dog parks, and gave them a card. The reporter, fresh out of college and in her first gig in a small market, wanted an on-camera interview with me. I’d let you know if I get on the news, but I think it’s the same time as the Kentucky Derby.