cats

Izzy’s New “Job” and New Friend

He wants to be a rug. No kidding. He flattens himself out, all four legs in different directions, head flat against the floor, and he looks up at me. “See, Ma? I’m a rug!” No matter what I say, which treats I wave in the air, where I move, all that he does is move his eyebrows. He’s a rug. See, Ma? The eyebrows go up and down, the eyes move left to right, but nothing else does.

I wonder what he’s thinking.

As I watch him, I think about an old skit George Carlin used to do (and my ex husband mimicked whenever he had the chance) about dogs and cats and how they communicate through their eyebrows (or lack thereof).   Carlin’s Routine

We always had both dogs and cats, and without a doubt, Carlin was right on the money. Cats are aloof. They are disdainful. They have no eyebrows. But dogs . . . they can be guilty (Izzy knows as soon as I walk in the door and see my slippers on the floor that he’d better scoot to the other room because I don’t like chewed up slippers), and they can be persuasive. (Who hasn’t seen the “woe is me, I’m starving” look when a dog sees you move toward where the treats are kept? The skittering little move they make as they try to contain their excitement when they know they might just get that Milk Bone or Pupperoni.)

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I try to ignore him as he watches me with those round brown eyes of his, his eyebrows alternately jiggling up and down, then popping from side to side. He wants me to understand something and is doing his best to talk to me via dog telepathy, but I’m being human-stupid. Then I give up talking to him, gather my dinner dishes and head for the sink. Suddenly, my dog-rug isn’t a rug anymore. He runs in front of me, shivering with excitement as he waits for me to deposit the dishes in the sink, then feints a dash for the door.

Oh, that’s what it is! It’s the “I really want to go out but I have to be patient for her to finish” dog-rug routine.

So there we go. Walk time.

This morning’s walk was a bit more exciting than the usual. Izzy met a new friend, a chocolate-colored Pug who has just moved in down the street. They’re the same size, the same energy level, and both wanted to play, but the Pug’s mom was in her housecoat, and their leashes became tangled — not something I wanted to deal with at 6:30 AM. More on the new friend as the story unfolds.

Hope your day is shared with a telepathic animal 🙂

Izzy’s Happy I Came Home From the Writers Conference

This weekend, I joined the “writingest writers in the U.S.” in Wilmington, North Carolina for the North Carolina Writers Network Conference.  We are dubbed the “writingest state” because so many well-known writers have brought their Carolinian stories to the rest of the world.  I always enjoy conferences because I get to talk business with people at various stages of their careers and writing different types of work than I do.  Writing is such a solitary profession that when one has the chance to press the flesh with others who understand exactly how frustrating it is to determine what genre your book will fall into or who will empathize when your favorite editor has decided to retire from the business or who might have wise advice when you’re unsure what kind of writer’s platform you want to build. Conferences are invaluable to the working writer, though I don’t attend as often as I used to.  But who can turn down a conference on the beach?

I drove down with my friend Ron, a really astute and elegant poetry and flash fiction writer, so the conference started long before we arrived at the hotel.  At many points during the weekend, he and I talked about our dogs, and because I’ve begun to shop around my book about Izzy, I talked to other writers about their dogs, as well.  It dawned on me that almost 99% of the people I talked to had either a dog or a cat (or several) and that pet was an important component of their lives.

On Facebook, I’m friends with lots of writers around the world and we always share our animal stories.  Amy Tan lost her little Yorkie last year and her FB group of friends all joined with her in mourning the little guy.  Now she has Bobo, who has moved into her heart and shares her travels like Bombo did.  Susan Wiggs, well-known romance writer, has both a little guy and a big guy (a Chihuahua named Lennie, and a Doberman named Barkis).  A beautiful big white cat “owns” novelist Anne Rice.  And Connie Lee Fowler just lost her precious boy, Scout, who was almost 21 years old, and she’s giving extra love to her sun worshiper, Murmur Lee.

For some great shots of writers and their dogs, check out this collection:  http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/205235  And below, Izzy and I share time at the beach.Image

Hoarders. Are they protecting animals or hurting them?

Over the weekend, a story came out in the local news about a woman who’s a former animal rescuer and how she’s been charged with animal cruelty.  Come to find out, 60 of the 93 animals in her home had to be euthanized because they were ill.  

My first thought was that she probably thought she was rescuing the animals (most were cats; 3 were dogs), but when push came to shove, she simply didn’t have the money or resources to feed all of them.  A good Samaritan whose good deeds came to a horrendous end.

I can empathize with what this woman has gone through and why she felt the need to take in so many animals.  I volunteered for a rescue service for more than a year, answering emails for them, and there were many times that I would have taken an animal that someone was trying to turn over to us.  The irony is that we couldn’t take any animals since we were a small, volunteer-run organization with no “home office.”  Instead, we rescued from the shelters, but only when one of our foster homes had space for another animal.  As a result, the animals we fostered had a solid foundation, usually learned some basic commands, and were in much better condition when their forever homes finally found them.

I do remember one particular email that I received on a cold January afternoon.  A woman had bought a Havanese pup from a breeder.  Nine weeks old, black/white/brown, and full of mischief, the pup would have made anyone who saw it say, “awww.”  In her email, the woman’s anguish came through clearly.  She had paid $900 for the pup, plus all of the food, toys, and accouterments necessary to make a home for the little guy.  But less than two weeks after bringing him home, she lost her job and was being forced to move in with her daughter — into a home which didn’t allow pets.  The woman simply wanted someone to take and love her pup.  No money was necessary.  Just give him a good home.

My heart broke for both the pup and the woman, and I wanted desperately to take him in.  At the time, I didn’t have Izzy, but I had dreams of having a pup like the Havanese, and here was my chance.  Unfortunately, I already had a cat and lived in an apartment complex where one pet was the rule.  My cat, Jojo, was 18 years old, blind and deaf, and I knew she didn’t have much longer to live, but bringing a pup into the house (secretly–which I was ready to do) would not have been fair to her. 

I often wonder what happened to that woman and to the pup, just as I’m going to wonder what’s going to happen to this woman who is probably brokenhearted that her plan for rescue has resulted in her arrest.

If you want to read the full story, cut and paste this link in your browser:  http://www.examiner.com/article/former-animal-rescue-head-charged-after-90-cats-found-her-nc-home

Full Moon and Dogs’ Behavior

Izzy’s been particularly frisky and misbehaving lately (see my post about eating my shoes!).  Last night, I took him for a walk and when we got back into the house, he brought me every ball he owns.  Demanded I play with him and if one got stuck under the couch, he did the puppy-bow-bark until I got it out.  When he was a puppy, his balls lasted an average of twenty minutes.  Now that he’s a little older, he seems to “treasure” them more.  He has one “ball” (and I use that term loosely because it really doesn’t roll anymore) that’s red and blue striped and a plastic shell.  He’s played with it so much that it’s got a hole in the side and usually flops on the floor rather than rolling, but Izzy loves it because he can grab onto it and throw it in the air, essentially playing fetch with himself when I’m not around.

After about an hour of fetch, I wanted to get some work done, so I sat down with my laptop on the couch.  He promptly came over and sat beside me, pawing at my hand or at the keyboard to get my attention.  Nothing would satisfy him unless I gave him a belly rub.  Sometimes you just have to give in when dogs demand that you give them some love.

While we were sitting there, my doorbell rang.  My next door neighbor wanted to borrow some Ibuprofen, so I made up a little bottle for her and brought it to the door.  Izzy loves Deb and went directly to her.  She bent down to give him a pat, and out the door he shot — right past her and into the yard.

He’s a little guy and tends to dash without looking (even though he knows “wait” when we’re crossing the street).  My heart pumped when he headed for the street, but then he turned around and tore back through the yard, nose to the ground.  I’m sure he smelled the groundhog/raccoon/possum/skunk (we have all of the above), but the way he was running in circles like a crazy man made me wonder if there was something else going on.  Finally, we got him corralled (he will not ‘come’ — no matter what), and I got him in the house.

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That night when we went for a walk, he was still acting a little crazy, and when I looked at the sky with the gorgeous full moon and brilliant stars, I wondered for the thousandth time in my life whether the moon affects us as much as the old stories make us believe.  So, I did a little research.  Here’s some interesting facts:

  • There’s a 23% increase for cats and a 28% increase for dogs in visits to the vet’s office or an animal hospital during a full moon because they’re “acting out” more.  There’s a higher rate of seizures and traumas.
  • Doodlebugs dig larger holes during a full moon.
  • Instead of taking advantage of the better light during a full moon, lions kill during the daytime hours.
  • The word “lunatic” came from “lunar” because people noticed the change in both people and animals during a full moon.
  • Dogs might bark at a full moon because it’s brighter outside — and they are “marking” their territory.
  • Owl monkeys in Argentina are more active during a full moon.
  • And coral species mate a LOT more actively during a full moon . . . a true sexual phenomenon.

So, I guess Izzy’s behavior last night wasn’t as weird as I thought!