Category Archives: editorial pets

Pollenation and Pee

We’re growing a tomato plant indoors. It has grown a couple of feet in the past three weeks and it is spindly and loosely tied to two stakes. It flowered for the first time yesterday and my husband learned how to self-pollenate using a brush or ear swab.

Fifteen years ago we had a plant outdoors and it was inundated with bugs and tomato worms. I think we got 2-3 tomatoes all season and not so tasty. We’ll see.

We cared for a challenging young pup last weekend and my husband, old dog Zoe and I have been catching up on sleep! I’ve worked with shelter dogs and feral cats for many years but this is an interesting dog who taught me things I’ve never seen before.

We were out with Zoe last evening and ran into said pup and her dad. When I walked up, she graced me with a “happy pee” on the bottom of my pants and top of my shoes. Graced, I felt. She is teething, bad, but she didn’t try to bite or have relations with one of my legs as I walked. I could tell she wanted to but daddy was there. She was calm and friendly in my arms when she asked me to pick her up. With time, attention and training she will be a great dog for this young, smart couple.

The pants and shoes are already washed and I’ve several pairs of the pants and even more Crocs. I think I’ve graduated from sitter she couldn’t let out of her sight because her parents were gone for the weekend, to member of the family. That’s good, because they’re our neighbors! She shook Zoe up a bit and Zoe had to put her kindly in line several times, saying “I’m an old lady, leave me alone to nap!” That’s what difference over 13 years, and slightly over three months, makes.

That said, I don’t know if I’ve another pup in me to raise, certainly not while Zoe is alive. Before, I had a rescue who was in a no-kill shelter for a year, after a year being raised by an abusive deputy sheriff and having rocks thrown at her over the fence by neighborhood kids. We got over that, starting the day I adopted her. Every kid in the tot lot called out her name at the park and their mothers would let them pet her. When she died all the dog owners and parents bought the city a tree, in the park, in her memory.

My husband arrived on the scene several months later, after 9/11. When we married and moved we decided to get a pup and start from scratch. No more older abused animals for now. Zoe is the best dog in the world, a mascot around here and the neighborhood. She’s like “Cheers,” everyone knows her name. Oh, when our Aussie mix is too smart for her britches, he always says “we should have gotten the dumb one.”

That would be a breed I love, Swiss cart-pullers, the affable and quiet Bernese Mountain Dog. Our lives would have been very different with that choice. Zoe had a hold on her but we filled out all the paperwork with the male Bernese as #2. Early the next morning we got a phone call from the shelter saying the hold was lifted, they didn’t want our Zoe (we chose the name) so we picked her up right away and spent the rest having her hips taken out as a pup. Hey, they don’t call me the dog lady for nada! Such a sweet girl, healthy but getting old.

Please spay/neuter your pets at the appropriate age (ask your vet) and adopt from local shelters. Over the past 30 years I’ve had four amazing pets, two dogs, two cats. I’m not going to “show” them except for a walk in the neighborhood. The dogs, wash & wear like me, the cats cleaned themselves mostly, or I did in case of emergency. No hair spray needed. I do have Dee’s Torture Chamber of Horrors, a plastic bag with combs and brushes and avocado oil spray to keep down winter heat sparks. Be kind, Dee

Inspiration and Aspirations

Never mind perspiration. I awakened thinking I was late on a Sunday to take her out. Turns out the sun was bright and it was 5:30 in the morning and I awakened her.

If I were to opine, I’d say that when her eyes first opened as a pup she realized she was living in squalor. She knew she was a mutt, and wanted to get out of there pronto. Luckily the folks that allowed her to have worms, coccidia et al dumped her litter at the local shelter. Neither I nor my husband ever grew up in those conditions but we understand them and are grateful for shelters who take care of needy animals.

We were married a year and “settled in” as much as a software guy can be coming off the dot-bomb era so decided to get a dog. We met Zoe and were smitten. She was taken. We saw other dogs but liked “Camilla.” They called the next morning, said the hold was released and that she was ours. She was so excited coming home in that cardboard box she jumped right out!

I threw the box in the back seat and she relished sitting on my lap and driving in the car (windows closed, of course, AC on). Oh this was the second shelter to nudge nudge. wink wink change the name. We were down to a list of five. After 20 years of volunteering with shelters and also helping spay/neuter over 2,500 feral cats we settled on a name. Zoe, Greek for “life.” It has suited her all these years as she is the happiest dog I’ve ever met.

Her aspirations were realized. A good family and new/no hips. Yes, by the time she was four months old, at under 20 lbs. she had the worst hips her surgeon had ever seen. I did two weeks of research and we got her in to Val the Vet at six and nine-months of age for two FNHO’s, femoral head and neck ostectomies, they took out her hips. Back then they didn’t have titanium hips for smaller dogs so she had to grow her own hips and that she did. We walked her, my husband had her sneak into the pool for water therapy and she just took it on, life as usual.

Zoe is a trouper. All these years later she is kind of a mascot in our community and all the kids call out “Look, it’s Zoe!!!” My name is irrelevant. She is so kind and gentle to people, little ones, other dogs, even cats. She does have a forever home and has since she turned six weeks old. She is an inspiration to me for the light she gives others, and an aspiration as to what one can do with no hips.

I’ve had two dogs. The first was abused by a Deputy Sheriff, terrified of men in uniform, men with a cap, men in general and all children. I cured her of that in a month. Well, until my Navy neighbor came out in his dress whites. I just said “Chani, it’s Chris!” and she ran up to him and luckily didn’t get any yellow fur on his uniform. He usually wore a tee-shirt and camo shorts to work. She had never seen uniform or lid.

Zoe was to be raised from the day she turned six weeks old, a little puff ball, to now, with love and training and knowing she would be with us for the rest of her life. We’re family. We have inspiration, aspirations and have shared some perspiration to get there.

I like to think our little family has harmony. My brother just says Zoe is needy. Well, she has her own sign language (stare language) and sometimes he and usually I, know what she wants or needs. Out? Need “Precious” that is her only toy?

There was a terrible story yesterday about a tremendously malnourished, frightened and probably abused dog. She looks like my Chani before rehabilitation. Now with a foster family, I hope she gets the food and care she needs to find her own forever home. I know we saved Zoe, as in Texas rather than have two hip surgeries many would have put a bullet in her head. She chose well. Zoe has taught us too, and made a lot of friends. I will be with her, holding her, until the last moment of her life. Right now she’s happy and healthy.

Zoe was offered a mowed goat pen first time in Texas 13 years ago, so I asked my husband to go without us. Then his dad scrubbed an old dog crate and put it in my husband’s old room. Zoe walked in and out in a few seconds and wanted the bed. Now she stands on the sofa on “grandpa’s spot” and watches him come home from feeding the cattle. As she ages I do not wish to fly her anymore. If I’m driving, she has her own setup in back with 4″ orthopedic bed…and she still loves the car. When we fly in “grandma” is always upset that Zoe is missing, even bought her a matching stocking to ours last year because “she’s family.” We do up to five days of cooking and need someone to pick up crumbs. That would be Zoe. Here’s to the dogs in our lives! Dee

Water and Dr. Dog

Two days ago we received a notice on the elevator that our water was being shut off by the city. Then an email saying “Please plan your day accordingly.”

I’ve been through a Cat 5 hurricane, blogging it. 149 of 150 lofts were damaged. Ours was not. My husband and dog slept through the night, clueless while I watched trees sway side to side in 80 mph winds and the Bayou rise 25 feet.

Saying to a young mother that she will be without water and to “plan accordingly” is city-speak for we don’t care about you and are not going to give you a hurricane plan sheet about a water shutoff to families with young children and retirees. They don’t give any plans for conserving water to use during the days in question. I don’t trust the city to do the work, get it done in time and it may be days without water and people will die.

We have a hurricane kit and have already delivered an empty six-gallon water vessel for our neighbors to fill and to do what I will do in a few hours. Fill tubs, pitchers, and one sink with soapy water. Six gallon hard plastic tub is filled and sitting in the shower to be used for washing hands and dishes. Water flowers and plants. Use pitchers to get tub water to place in tank to flush toilet when needed.

It’s two hours before I have to get up to finish preparations. I don’t want any more “they’re doing this, not us” going on. The management company doesn’t care that we pay a premium to live here. We live with basketball stars, baseball stars, TV news personalities and hockey elites and I enjoy sports and see players on a regular basis. It’s “hey, how’s it going? Can I pet your dog?” Not me. Him.

Yes, everyone asks this of our old dog Zoe. Look! It’s Zoe! I don’t ask who they are. If they’re tall and skinny I ask how it is to be a linebacker. It’s a joke.

We’ll all be without water today and I’ve tried to get the City and our residents covered in terms of conserving water for daily use for the outage. No one will respond. There are no instructions. Today I help folks with water, tomorrow it’s baby food and blind dogs.

I talked to a dog maven yesterday about the blind neighbor dog. He gave me pointers and asked for a report. He charges for consultations but did not charge me. I’ve been interviewed on his radio show before and he remembered me from over 20 years ago. He asked me questions and one had two bad answers. I chose the best then offered a third option, to give the dog a chance. I passed. He is a brilliant man and has helped me not only with my dogs, but through that training volunteers to care for spay/neuter feral cats, dealing with kids, families and work. Don’t tell him, it’ll go to his Mensa head! Cheers! Dee

 

Do Dogs Dream?

Cesar Millan asked this question last week and his site would not allow me to respond. Yes, they do dream. Our 13 year-old Zoe just had one and I hated to leave her to come in here and write this. She’s a herder and will be by my side in under three minutes.

The tail wags, ears twitch, eyes open and close. Then the entire body twitches and the paws run like crazy. Sometimes she awakens for a walk and breakfast, and sometimes the REM phase just puts her back asleep. I like to guess whether it’s a squirrel, bunny or mouse. When she was young and faster she did kill two mice with precision and my husband took each out of her mouth immediately and fed them to the baby birds over the fence in the protected wildlife area. 1,200 acres, five feet away. Moose crashed a wedding and elk jumped the fence and crossed the highway. I used to make our bedroom balcony available for credentialed photographers. What a view.

The baby colts (young Greater Sandhill Cranes) would make sounds at night. I’d awaken and tell my husband that mom was going to the 7-11 to get them something to eat. There was no 7-11, and we didn’t see any this year. Years ago there was a fox that hung out there for hours every day, waiting for the 6′ parents to leave their colts. They never did, “married” for life and raised colts every year. The fox always left, disappointed. Hey, you just chose the wrong prey!

Yes, dogs do dream. She’s never had a thing for any bird, as there is a turkey who lives in our neighborhood and he is pardoned by all of us every Thanksgiving! She just ignores him as she walks by on leash.

She has been with me for 20 minutes and can jump down, just not up. Time for “last chance” and bed. You know who’s the boss now. It certainly is not me. Cheers! Dee

The Best Things

in life are not free. Especially when it comes to taking care of a dog while you’re away from home and can’t take her with you. Heads and tails above the others and affordable was Dog Boys Dog Ranch. She had cattle, horses, and as a pup with excised hips she was placed with older, sedate dogs.

Don’t listen to that. Those dogs did not chase our Zoe around the pasture. They whispered in her ears. She learned so many bad habits it was actually funny. “Tell them you can’t get up to the kitchen counter then eat their steak.” We’re smarter than her but she has messed with our minds for 13 years now. Yes, she did that. She also stole a croissant and needed to bring it to her special place to eat it so it looked like a mustache and she took it right by our guests at brunch and we couldn’t stop laughing. There was no way she would be reprimanded!

We thank Dog Boys for not only taking care of her, but shaping her character through allowing her to interact with other dogs and people. Everyone knew her, she was sometimes in the office. Now she is an erstwhile friend to many in the neighborhood and a mascot around town. Thank you. Dee & Z

When I think of the people we allowed to take care of her over her many years, as a pup she went to Dog Boys and they still remember her 12 years later. Sorry to give this away. I’m writing a piece because I think many dog boarding facilities are sub-standard and our Zoe has been in several. Others charge a fortune for sub-standard care at home. Dee

My Zoe

The belle of the ball. Oh, she was so sick when we took her home. Just six weeks old, coccidia and hookworms but we took care of that immediately until her hips went out and we had them removed at six and nine months then (thanks Dr. Val) she was great. A mascot around the neighborhood she enjoys her status as grandma to the pups and mascot out and about.

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I talk about her and my many years of  volunteering to ask readers to ask the family if you want a pet, what type of pet, make sure you know that your kids are ready for that responsibility whether it’s a guinea pig or a dog. It is a serious responsibility. I know parents don’t like this extra task, however if your child takes it seriously, they’ll be better children, students, and spouses and parents one day.

If the hamster dies, show it, bury it with them. Don’t tell them the cat went to heaven. If they’re old enough take them to see Fluffy be euthanized with your hands on her head and tummy while they say goodbye for the last time.

The kids don’t have to stay the entire time for the pink shot. You do. You owe it to your pet for his/her service to you, because you think they only wanted to be fed and walked and took up your time. My dog is getting old and as I lifted her up to the bed, all she cares about is taking care of me and making sure I’m safe. Us, but he is the fun guy and I am the disciplinarian and food wench, she only cares about me! Food! Dee

Attention

My husband drags himself in the door every weekend, from nine at night to one in the morning depending on airline mishaps and goes to bed.

He bought me flowers for fifteen years. We’ve been together for over that time, and married 14 years so I don’t want him to spend time buying me flowers over the weekend.

When he slogs in from plane and car he doesn’t see any of the arrangements I’ve made for him. Late Saturday morning he may notice something.

He is a physicist. I have bought him several vintage chemistry vessels that he recognizes before ever seeing the flowers. Oh, is that an Erlenmeyer flask? I got a couple more today. Even a pipette.

He didn’t go on with physics because the lab time was too lonely and he had no-one to come home to. He has me and Zoe now. I love for him to recognize things he was used to, and to always look forward to vessels that point toward our future. He’s a scientist. Why not use antique (1950’s – 1970’s) glassware to get him to enjoy a Gerbera daisy while he eats his over medium egg with bacon and toast with local peach jam?

I love his brain and his heart. Zoe, the dog, loves his playfulness more than my role as disciplinarian, vet-taker and food wench. They are my family. If I have to buy antique chemistry flasks for him to appreciate his life and flowers, I’ll do it. I think it’s cool, even my florist finds it interesting but they’ll sell me fewer vases! I now use mason jars and they’ve taught me basics of arranging, which means they see me more but make a bit less money because I’m learning to do it myself.

Same with cooking. My mother never wanted me in her kitchen, but I learned through her, my aunts and school I spent my life savings to attend. And thank you, Gourmet Magazine. Right after Mom read it, I did as well. Now I get attention for being a good cook, and mother of the most famous dog in the neighborhood. We do regularly water the favorite tree of Zoe’s deceased friends Jake and Wurli. Cheers! Dee