Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Cats Are Slackers

Oh yes, they are. Supposedly nocturnal, I was up all night last night and couldn't help but notice that all they did was lie about and sleep. At one point one of the boys, Stuff, was lying next to me all stretched out poking me with his little feet while I was quietly reading on a narrow little corner of my queen sized bed.
And don't get the wrong impression - they are not that active during the day either.
They appear to be mastering the fine art of slacking. :-)
Kidding aside, it's quite normal for a cat to sleep 18 hours a day.
If reincarnation exists, please let me come back as a cat!
Whether they slack off or not, my two boys Shades and Stuff are both wonderful.
I marvel at this on a regular basis. They were outside cats that "found" me and moved in.
They blended in nicely with my three older cats who have since passed on, all living to the age of 19.
Shades was someone's pet who didn't want him anymore. He calmly moved in and proceeded to get very fat.
Stuff was feral and it took me over a year to "tame" him. I give some of the credit to my neighbor kids, who love my cats and are loved by my cats. Shades talks to them -long stories full of meow this and meow that while he rarely give me a pip or a squeak.
Stuff watched them from the next room when he first met them (4 loud, boisterous children who squeal a lot), and decided within 5 minutes to join them and he has loved them ever since. So much for being feral.
Neither one of them seems to want to go outside. I leave the door open while I load and unload things into the house and they don't make a move for it.
Maybe because everything they need is inside already.
They have all kinds of toys, including the best cat cigars money can buy. They have a very fancy climber, nice window seats and heated pillows to rest on.
They have a new puppy to play and cuddle with and to boss around - which they sure do!
One of the most important things that they have is a clean litter box (well two actually). Never, never, underestimate the importance of a clean litter box to a cat.
I don't. I share with them the belief that the way to prevent odors and all kinds of problems is to keep the litter box clean.
Well... that and I have ADHD and dial up internet connection. I can't do less than 2 things at once, so I download, scoop the litter box, put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, open mail, read now downloaded info, download some more and start the process all over again.
If I ever get fast internet access the cats are in trouble but for right now I have all the time in the world and two very happy cats to spend it with!

(For litter box help see the "Tips" page at )

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fear Sets In

Last Friday I had a perfectly normal 18 week old puppy. Great temperament, playful and rowdy but capable of calming quickly. Interested in everything and everyone but not too forward. Liked pretty much everyone he met, people, dogs, cats - though I did see him pounce on a few spiders.

Saturday my pup woke up and was afraid of everything. People he knew and people he didn't, places he's been before and new places.
Things that were not where they belonged, such as a new bale of hay in the yard gave him a start.
I even scared him coming out of the shower wearing only a towel. (That could scare any sentient being though so maybe that one doesn't count!)

I fretted like I always do about anything out of my control that changes suddenly.
I got out all my books and read about the fear stages that dogs go through. I got on line and researched more. I called my friends who are also dog trainers and talked to everyone I could who has a dog young enough that they might remember this stage.

I fretted some more and then I realized that I had to do two things.
#1. I had to check my ego at the door. My once perfectly behaved dog who made me look like a dog trainer with magical skills was now making me look ...well, not so good. And while I care about what people think and I am hypersensitive to people's reactions around me, I care a whole lot more about my dog.
#2. I had to stop fretting and ask myself what would I tell a client in this same situation. The answer was right there, instantly.

I went out and purchased some Bach Flower Essences, Aspen and Mimulus, for fear of the known and the unknown. I put them in his water, his food, and on his body throughout the day.

I asked people to please ignore my little guy, and when they did he began to show interest in them. I gave everyone really good treats to feed him when he did come around.

I resisted the urge to coddle or baby him "Oh, it's ok pookey, it's just a bale of hay". I ignored his fearful behavior and we got on with our lives. Which is no easy task. He is such a little fellow and I want to pick him up and cuddle and kiss him, but that would work about as well as it would with a 12 year old human boy!

It's my job to get my little guy ready to live in the world with me (and sometimes without me) and good, gentle, benevolent leadership is the best example I can give him.

Don't think for a moment though that I let those opportunities when he is confidently and contentedly lying on the couch pass me by. I am right there at his side, petting and kissing and cuddling!

This fear will pass.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I meet a lot of dogs in my work. I like them all. I have yet to meet a dog I don't like. Some though, I love at first sight and a very few tug at my heart in such a way that I wish they were MY dog.
One of those very special dogs is moving to a different state this month (I don't think he would move away from me by choice, but he is slightly attached to his owners so goes where they go.)
I first met him a couple of years ago when he was an unruly, untrained wildebeast.
I knew there was hope for him but I wasn't sure his owners were up to the task or willing to do the work it took. (I am a good judge of dogs - a poor judge of people!)
They proved to be willing to go WAY above and beyond for this dog. They came to classes until their dog did "downs" from 30 feet away from them and would drop into a sit instantly when asked.
They also brought him to agility classes where he excelled!
At about that point I spent quite a bit of time with this boy I had come to love and realized that he suffered from a compulsive disorder.
I set up a treatment protocol and once again knew my boy would be helped but was uncertain if the owners would follow through.
Duh! When will I learn?
They did it all. Every nit picky little step that needs to be taken slowly and surely to fix this - they took that step and then the next and then the next.
I went to say good bye last night and what I said goodbye to was a very normal dog (and his dream owners).
I held this boy in my arms and he inhaled me and I inhaled him, trying to make it last, hoping that we will see each other again.