Blog post #37 – September 3, 2017 Hard-Working Pets

Blog post #37 – September 3, 2017

Hard-Working Pets

Good morning, Cuddlers!

As we celebrate Labor Day, and for some, look forward to the cool days of autumn, it got me thinking about some of the tough jobs our pets have in caring for their humans. I thought I would try to do a top 10 list for this week’s cuddle.

Here we go with the Top 10 reasons our pets sometimes have tough jobs:

  1. Many dogs are in charge of taking their humans for walks. It’s not always easy to get the human attached to the leash for a good 15 – 20 minute walk.
  2. Cats and dogs are busy protecting us from bugs, spiders, squirrels, wildlife, and the occasional invisible critter.
  3. Cats and dogs have to clean themselves with their tongues.
  4. Sometimes, it’s hard work getting their humans to give treats. “Okay, I’ll give you my paw and sit just one more time…but, that’s it…it’s treat time.”
  5. Dogs and cats (like my Abby) are usually in charge of waking up their humans in the morning five minutes before their alarm goes off. It’s hard to get a human out of bed.
  6. Making their human put down any electronic devices so the fur baby can give and get attention is not an easy task.
  7. Many dogs have to bury their bones in the yard, which takes a lot of time, especially when their human keeps telling them “no.”
  8. Cats and dogs must look cute while sleeping…whether it’s on the couch, cuddled up with their human, in a unique spot, or on the bed, our fur babies must melt the hearts of their humans. (…and try to influence the human to take nap or go to bed, too.)
  9. Dogs and cats have the job of entertaining their human on a daily basis. Making their human smile or laugh is always on the agenda.
  10. Loving unconditionally!

Maybe #10 isn’t such a tough job for our pets, but when our busy lifestyles take over, our fur babies may not be able to give us as much attention. Hopefully, this weekend we will have a few extra minutes to play, cuddle, or nap with our furry friends.

Enjoy the cuddle!

 

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Blog post #36 – August 27, 2017 Hunde, Katzen und Kühe (or… Dogs, Cats and Cows)!

Blog post #36 – August 27, 2017

Hunde, Katzen und Kühe (or… Dogs, Cats and Cows)!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

I was recently in Switzerland and reminded again at how much the Swiss love and take good care of their animals.

Two years ago I was in Switzerland for the first time. I was struck at how the dogs are allowed everywhere. It seemed that every time we were on the train, there were at least five dogs in tow with their humans. The dogs were always super sweet and appeared to be used to the crowds of people at the various train stations.

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An adorable dog at the top of Mt. Pilatus near the city of Lucerne.
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A cute dog near the top of Reichenbach Falls (Meiringen, Switzerland). He got to ride the funicular and got in a decent hike to the top.

By the way, did you know that the original blood line of the St. Bernard dog is housed in the St. Bernard Foundation in Martigny, Switzerland? On my last trip I was lucky enough to see the beautiful dogs, including a few puppies, and they were so adorable. These St. Bernards are treated as royalty and live in a wonderful facility.

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St. Bernards at the Musee et Chiens du Saint-Bernard.
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A St. Bernard at the Musee et Chiens du Saint-Bernard.

Every time I saw a cat all I could think about was, “Wow…these cats look very healthy.” I can’t confirm this, but I imagine they get quite a bit of the wonderful milk or cream from the Alpine cows. In the adorable city of Thun, there is a great store that is all about cats (and officially “owned” by a cat). The human owner told me that the cats in Thun are well cared for and that the Swiss people really care about animals. I told her about a cat that greeted me on the steps to the ancient castle. He meowed in German and managed to lead me to the top of the stairs all the while stopping to gently remind me to pet his belly. When I left the castle I saw that same adorable Swiss kitty – he accepted a few more pets from me, but he was busy attacking the lizard a few feet in front of him.

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My new Swiss cat friend on the way to the ancient castle in Thun.
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Can you hear the meows in German as this Swiss cat led me to the top of the stairs?

And, how can I not include a post about the animals of Switzerland without mentioning the cows. They all have their cow bells on, which creates this beautiful tune of continuous bells ringing in the Alpine air. They are free to graze wherever their strong legs take them, and they seem to be so relaxed and happy. How can I tell? Well, have you ever tasted real Alpine Swiss cheese?! Several towns and villages have festivals for when the farmers lead their cows up and down the Alps. I would love to see one of those festivals as they honor their beloved cows.

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An Alpine Swiss Cow enjoying the grass near Magislap. Those “huts” in the background are where they make/keep the Alpine Cheese.
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A selfie with an Alpine Swiss Cow.

From the people with chickens, goats, and other animals in their yard to the cats, cows, and dogs that seem to have all the freedom they want, it was so wonderful to see these happy animals.

Enjoy the cuddle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog post #34 – July 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, America!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

This time of year is full of BBQs, family and friend gatherings, and plenty of summer activities. It’s also that time of year that many dogs, cats, and other animals despise. The stories of animals being freaked out by the fireworks are endless. So, while we’re about to celebrate our nation’s birthday, our fur babies are looking forward to July 5th.

Growing up it seemed like the dogs in my life were more afraid of the fireworks than the cats. One of my grandparent’s dogs could hear thunder and fireworks from far away distances, even out of human hearing range. She would shiver and hide her head the best she could. I also remember feeling so bad for our dogs in Chicago, because it seemed like people were setting off fireworks right in front of our house. While we were enjoying the 4th of July, our dogs were dreading the entire day. Poor doggies. It sure is hard to reassure a scared dog or cat that they’ll be okay.

Last year I noticed my cats showing signs of not liking the sounds of the fireworks. In my neighborhood we don’t get as many people setting off illegal fireworks, so it’s not a big problem. There are the occasional fireworks set off nearby, which sends the cats running…or at least that look of “What the heck is going on?!”

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Abby found her hiding spot from the noise of the fireworks…in the All-American Coca-Cola box.
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Striker is trying to hold the American flag. Happy birthday, America!

I often wonder about the animals at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, or other zoos near fireworks displays around the country. Are other animals as sensitive to the sounds of the fireworks? Well, I sure hope all animals are safe this year.

Have an enjoyable 4th of July celebration in the midst of cuddling with your fur babies. And, have a piece of watermelon for me (my favorite 4th of July treat).

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #32 – June 18, 2017 Being Still

Good morning, Cuddlers!

I first wanted to wish all of the fathers, uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, and fur-fathers a Happy Father’s Day! I hope today is a day where fathers are honored and have moments of relaxation.

This past week the idea of “being still” kept coming to mind. Reggie made me think of this early in the week. Sometimes Abby and Reggie will go on the stairs for a quick run up and down a flight. Occasionally, I’ll take Reggie on a “walk” up about five or six flights to give him more exercise and some quality time with me. He gets a small bite of a treat when he runs up each flight, so he’s come to love hanging out on the stairs.

Throughout the week I noticed all the cats in their moments of chillin’ and being quite comfortable with being still for a long period of time. I saw an adorable dog the other day stalking a squirrel. I watched this dog look like a statue for several minutes. He was all set on staring down that squirrel for as long as it took. (I wish I had a picture.)

Then, once again, I was reflecting on my time at the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake (check out last week’s blog). There are many reasons that I love Bear River, but one of the reasons that I think many of the participants love our time is our chance to be still. Being in nature, among fellow writers, and away from our busy lives allows us a few days to be still with our thoughts and our writing.

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Looking out onto Walloon Lake from the Education Center at Camp Michigania. (Bear River Writers’ Conference 2017)

It was a somewhat crazy week for me as the end-of-year “stress” piled up; graduation, finals, finishing grades, cleaning and packing up the classroom, and the like. I finally realized that I needed to find moments in my day to be still. Whether it’s sitting down to reminisce about Bear River, or watching Reggie sit on the stairs for five minutes, it was so helpful to me to do something as simple as being still for a few moments. I hope we are all able to find a moment or two to “be still” and appreciate the world around us, as well as, the world within us. Now, if I could only figure out what Reggie is thinking when he’s sitting still!

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Reggie hanging out on the stairs of my building.
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Otis sitting in my spot on the couch.
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Striker loves sitting on the window.
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Abby takes over the window when Striker jumps down.

Blog post #29 – May 21, 2017 Taking Care

 

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Earlier this week I was called upon to take care of my aunt’s 14-year old Persian cat. My aunt had to go in the hospital, and needed me to take her cat for a while. I told my four kitties that we would have a visitor for, and they needed to be nice. Otis, Reggie, Striker and Abby seem to understand English except when I’m telling them something they don’t want to hear. It seemed like they weren’t happy about having another cat in our home (or, maybe they didn’t like the sight of the cat carrier in my hand).

Triscuit is 14-years old, and is moving a bit slow these days. She is such a sweet cat, loves pets, and is definitely able to hold her own. She took to the bedroom right away and the second day I opened the door to introduce the cats. The normal hissing happened, but my cats never tried to go after Triscuit or showed any aggression. Instead, my cats seemed a little afraid of Triscuit. I wondered if they sensed that she was older. The whole time Triscuit was hanging out with us my cats watched her every move. Otis seemed worried about her, Striker was confused about the puff on the end of her tail, and Reggie and Abby ran away from Triscuit most of the time. Meanwhile, Triscuit seemed very comfortable and found her own little spots to nap.

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Triscuit kind of took over the pink sleeping bag.
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Triscuit liked the soft arm of the couch.
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Reggie kept a close eye on Triscuit while she stayed with us.

Memories of being young (maybe 9 or 10) and going to a nursing home, or being around an elderly relative, came back when I saw my cats a bit wary of Triscuit. I remember not knowing what to say and being careful with my hugs (I didn’t want to hurt them). I remember feeling like I needed to be gentle, and I also remember worrying about them falling or getting hurt, for example. Little kids around toddler age, though, seem to be a bit more innocent and unaware of the differences between a 3-year old and a 93-year old.

My job was to make Triscuit feel welcome and to take good care of her, the way the doctors were taking good care of my aunt. Triscuit wasn’t at home which I’m sure had to be a bit scary. Plus, opening the door with 4 new cat faces staring at her had to have been strange. I loved how she would look at one of the cats for a good minute, then look up at me as if to say, “I love Otis…and I love you…okay, pet me now.” That’s the magic word, isn’t it? Love. As long as that universal language is spoken between cats or humans, it seems like that’s a good place to start to take care of one another.

By the way, after I got back from returning Triscuit back to her mom, Otis was meowing and looking for Triscuit.

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Triscuit was happy to be home.
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Otis zonked out after meowing at me that he couldn’t find Triscuit.

Blog post #25 – April 23, 2017 Miracles Can Happen!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

First of all, I hope everyone who celebrates Easter, had a wonderful Easter last week. My intention was to post this blog post last week, but I was slowly (very slowly) recovering from getting all four of my wisdom teeth extracted earlier that week. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

I’m super excited to share some wonderful news with everyone. April 7th I took Striker to the vet for a follow-up with his kidney level test and other blood work. He had been doing better the previous few weeks and I was hoping that the test would show what I knew in my heart. It was obvious to me that Striker gained a little weight and had a little more pep in his step. I prayed that the kidneys showed improvement, even though the vet warned me that it is extremely rare to have a cat improve from kidney failure.

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Striker – right around the time when he was under 7 pounds and very weak.

On Monday, April 10th, I got the call from the vet with the absolute best news. Striker’s kidney level went from a dangerous level of 8 (back when I asked for prayers and happy thoughts), to a 2.4 (normal/mild)! The vet has never seen that in all of her years practicing veterinary medicine. All of Striker’s other levels are normal, and he gained a little over a pound in the matter of 6 weeks! The vet asked what I thought “did the trick.” I told her that the fluids helped, and the appetite enhancer pills may have helped a little (maybe, because Striker only managed to get about 3-4 of them down without spitting them up). But, what helped Striker the most were all of the prayers and happy thoughts sent his way, and feeding him shrimp (Thank you, Aunt Karen, for the suggestion!).

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Striker – right after hearing the great news about his health from the vet.
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Striker – taking a “happy nap” after the great news from the vet.
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Striker cuddling with me the day after his clean bill of health, and after eating some shrimp.

There was a solid week where I would hold Striker, pray for his improved health, and cry tons of tears because he sure looked like other cats I’ve had in the final days of their life. Striker is quite the fighter and definitely has a strong will to live. In fact, he just had his 5th birthday a few days ago. Now, he is not only his “old self,” but he’s playing like he used to play a few years ago. His expressions are priceless, his adorable meows melt my heart, and his goal to sit on my lap and purr have new meaning to my day.

Otis, Reggie, and Abby are also happy again, too. Abby and Striker often have a 20-minute game of tag in the morning (which was fun to watch as I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery). And, Reggie and Otis seem to be more relaxed knowing that Striker is healthy.

My wish for my “cuddlers” is that you all have an experience of some type of miracle in your life. And, I can’t thank you all enough for sending well wishes our way for Striker’s health. If Striker could, he would sit on everyone’s lap, purr, and ask for more shrimp.

Enjoy the cuddle!