I wanted to take a moment this week to give a “shout out” to all of those wonderful people who have been on the front lines of helping to save the animals from the Houston area after the Hurricane Harvey. And, now, I’m assuming we’ll see more stories of animals being rescued from Florida. So many animal shelters have stepped up to take care of animals in need.
It’s been on my mind ever since the images started coming in from Harvey – a lot of people in rescue boats with cages full of their cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs, etc. Of course, I have been worried about people getting to safety, but it was especially touching to see people with their pets. I keep thinking about how happy I am that there are people with the resources and ability to help save so many of the animals. It’s quite touching to see people come together to help others in this great time of need.
I know a lot of people have friends and family that are now in Hurricane Irma’s path. Sending prayers and love to all of those in the Houston area who are working on recovering after the devastation, and to those in Florida who are bracing for Irma’s landfall.
I’ve talked to my cats about what’s happening in other parts of the country and asked them to send happy kitty thoughts to all animals in harm’s way. I’m also sending prayers out to the humans who are in harm’s way.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
So, I know April Fool’s was yesterday, but I can’t stop thinking about practical jokes from our human friends and fur babies.
On Friday I gave my students a spelling test of fake words. I saw it posted on Facebook; a teacher gave this test to his middle school students. My students kept saying they thought the words were fake, but I convinced them otherwise. When I revealed the answer to #11 to be April Fool’s, the students broke out into laughter and gave me props for a good April Fool’s joke. It was a nice way to end the week as we approach a week of upcoming standardized tests.
This made me think of the “jokes” our furry friends play on their humans. I’ve played with many dogs in my time and have had it happen to me when they’re about to give me their toy to throw, and they decide to hold onto it or run away with their toy instead. I remember watching this dog and his human on an early-morning run…the human was trying to leave the beach, but the dog was having none of it. The adorable dog would go next to his human and act like he would accept getting hooked up to the leash, and at the last second, would run off wanting his human to play another game of chase. It was so funny! If dogs could laugh, that cute dog was definitely in hysterics!
If you were part of a April Fool’s joke, hopefully it was as innocent as being asked to spell Rol-Aska-Tox or Tangeteen. Or, maybe your fur baby decided to play a joke on you. Either way, I hope you made it through the day with a lot of laughs, and are taking this morning to relax…and cuddle.
All week I’ve been hearing myself scold my high school students, “Don’t give me that look!” With our state’s high-stakes testing coming up in about 3 weeks, the pressure is on for test review, which isn’t the most interesting. I’ll admit that it hit me this week and I’m feeling the pressure for them to do well. I’ve tried to make the review process creative, but there’s only so much creativity when you’re talking test-prep. By the end of the week I just had to laugh inside when my students would roll their eyes at me. I feel ya’! These tests make my eyes roll, too.
Tuesday evening Otis was kind of messing with Striker. I came around the corner to see what the fuss was about and I saw Otis half-meowing and half-hissing at Strike. (I guess Striker was in his space.) When I said something to Otis, I swear he gave me a “look” with his gorgeous eyes. A few days later Abby kept giving me a look, but I never figured out what she was saying. The only thing I could think of was that she wondered why I wasn’t giving her a ton of attention.
Do you have a certain look you give people or in certain situation? I’ve been told that I have a certain look on my face when I get annoyed. I wish I could see what it looks like, because I really don’t realize I’m doing it. I do know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I’m not always aware of my various looks.
I’m excited about the week ahead. I’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute with a fellow writing friend. Last year this conference inspired me to start this blog and offered some great ideas for my writing, in general. I imagine that my look all next weekend will be of joy. Here’s to a week of giving and getting good looks!
Around 9:30pm I start the bedtime routine. And, around 9:30pm every night Abby gets into “chase me” mode. It took me a few days to figure this out, but she will come to the door of the bedroom and twist her body a certain way as if to say, “Come on…chase me!” So, I chase her, she hides, and I always pretend I don’t see her. Then, I go back into the bedroom and she does this all over again. We do this for about ten minutes, which is a great way for Abby to work out her pre-bedtime energy.
My parents’ cat is busy every night with trying to get them to bed. Lola has a routine of first getting my dad to bed, and then a few hours later, she meows at my mom to go to bed. She walks them upstairs and can finally have a restful sleep on her spot when they’re both asleep.
What is your routine? Do you have a cat or dog that knows when it’s time for bed? On Facebook, a friend of mine often posts pictures of her two dogs sprawled out on the bed with no room for her. It’s funny that our pets are insistent about bedtime (sometimes), but then might be in the habit of taking over our bed. I often think that my cats don’t realize that I can’t curl up into a tiny ball like they can.
When you fall asleep tonight, I hope it’s restful and might include a cuddle from a cute cat or dog.