May 13, 2009

The Pets I Have and Have Had in the Past

My friends like to frequently ask how many pets I have now because it seems like there’s always a new pet around, and they like to tease me for being such a sucker which is fine. Currently, I have 2 dogs (Momo and Bacon) and 3 cats (Snaps, Snack Attack, and Tiny), but I’ve had many other animals in my life who’ve all touched me in one way or another. My patience and energy have been tested, and I’ve been frustrated and saddened by all my pets, whether they were temporary or permanent. However, they’ve all had a positive impact on my life, and I’ve loved them all dearly. Some are still with me, some are finally at peace, and some are in new wonderful homes. They’ve all been wonderful, and some continue to be although it’d be nice if a certain cat would stop getting into the garbage can.


I got Snaps in 2001, and he’s a funny cat but doesn’t cope well with change. He’s most definitely a home-body. He likes to forcefully hint when he wants pets and attention by jumping on the desk and lying on your mouse. Generally, he sleeps as most cats do. However, on occasion, some invisible entity will put a fire under his butt, and he’ll run around the house like a manic kitten. It’s hard for me to believe he’s actually 8 years old and technically a “senior” cat. I have a suspicion he’ll outlive us all. When I was at the shelter looking for a kitten, the man running the place took all the kittens out and put them on a table for me to choose from. All the kittens were amazingly willing to stay on the table except Snaps – Snaps was looking for a way down. That’s what drew me to him. He’s been with me in Tennessee, New York, and Texas, and he’s seen me through my undergraduate and graduate degrees. He’s lived in 5 different houses, and he’s been a real trooper although not entirely pleased with all the happenings.


Snaps, Snoozing on the Couch


In 2004, I noticed a cat who frequented the apartment complex I was living in at the time. She was terrified of people and looked absolutely awful. I started putting out food maybe 10’ from me and just sat there while she ate. Over a few weeks of gradually getting her used to the idea that I wasn’t there to hurt her, she began to trust me and allow me to pet her. I found out her name was Puddles because she preferred to drink out of puddles than fresh bowls of water put out for her. I went away for Christmas, and when I came back, I was horrified by the way she looked and decided enough was enough. I took her inside and forced the gradual process to a sudden end – she was going to be my cat. She went out once after that and came back to never go outside again. I took her to the vet for vaccinations and later found out she was FIV+. I’d never heard about FIV, had no idea it existed, and had allowed my cats to run around in the house with her. I had to test all the cats and was frantic. The other cats came back negative thankfully, and Puddles was isolated from them which was fine with her because she really liked to be left alone. I tried to find a shelter that would take her because I was scared of my other cats getting infected. No shelter would take her since she was old (9-12 y/o) and had FIV. So she spent her remaining days with my boyfriend and I. She got silky and strong and sassy. She loved to be scrubbed really hard and would complain if you only petted her gently. One day I found her hiding in the closet and slow to respond. The vet and I suspect she had a stroke, and a few days later I had her put to sleep. I still miss her.


Shortly after taking Puddles in, I was sitting outside talking with a neighbor when an all black cat came around the corner. He would walk a couple feet and then lay down, couple feet, lay down, couple feet, lay down. He did it all the way up to me. I picked him up and noticed he was almost skeletal. I said goodbye to my neighbor and rushed him inside and gave him food, water, and a litter box. The vet office was closed, and I was scared he wasn’t going to make it through the night. In the morning, I got an appt at the vet’s and rushed him in. He was absolutely LIVID and tried to fight the vet which was a great sign to me. He got his tests and vaccinations and came back home. God, did he stink. He was a fart machine for nearly a week solid as his digestive system got used to being fed again. My boyfriend almost named him Fartpocalypse because it was so bad. Instead we named him Snack Attack, and he’s now firmly my boyfriend’s lap kitty and very demanding of his attention.


Snack Attack, A Month after Finding Us, scary, right? Actually no, he's just yawning, but he looks fierce, right?


When I lost Puddles, I was very upset, and my boyfriend wanted a Maine Coon cat. I was at the Williamson County Humane Society dropping off a donation and decided to look at the cattery. That’s where I found Harlem. He was a beautiful orange and white long-haired BIG cat with gorgeous white bibbing and looked like a Maine Coon mix. I was told he was surrendered by an older lady going into a nursing home and was about 5 years old. I adopted him. When we got home, I bathed him and found out what a wreck he was. He had TONS of mats, an eye infection, a wheeze, etc. I carefully cut out his mats and took him to the vet the next day. He was a sick cat and was more around the age of 12-13 than 5. He also had a kidney infection, giardia, and coccidiosis. A plague was unleashed in the house, but all animals were cured of the giardia and coccidiosis. I worked to get him healthy for 2 months solid until finally the recurring kidney infection had become too much for his poor old body to handle. After incurring about $2K in vet bills and when he was very ill with low prospects for survival, I put him to sleep. I am positive that he could have been the most gorgeous old man cat, and his personality was quiet and stoic.


Harlem


After losing Puddles and then Harlem, I was tired. A few months later, I decided that I wanted a dog, and that’s when I found Bacon. Bacon is the personality. I got her when she was about 8 weeks old, and she was so little! She's only 12 lbs as a full grown adult, and she's so sassy. She is probably the happiest dog I've ever met, and everything is OHMYGOSHILOVEYOUPLAYWITHME!!! You can tell she's never had an unhappy day in her life – she even loves going to the vet office. When I got her, I read websites and books about doggie nutrition and dog training and continue to do so. She’s more independent than Momo, my other dog, and I’m glad she can cope on her own – I think she’s more emotionally resilient. I plan on her being with me for a very long time which means regular vet checks, good food, and lots of toys and play. As the only two females in the house, Bacon and I have to stick together.


Bacon as a Puppy


After finding Bacon, I found Tiny as a kitten, and he and Bacon grew up together. Tiny is the dog-cat and a bit unusual for cat. He’s fearless, curious, and goofy. He scratches at the sliding glass door when we’re outside, and he’s just all around a funny cat. He’s not much for cuddling, but he loves to play and run around. He tries to play with the dogs, but 2 against 1 doesn’t work in his favor. Snack Attack makes up for it by stalking the dogs and pouncing on them. About a year ago, Tiny got FAT somehow, and for months, we’ve been working on getting him to a healthy weight. He’s finally at the healthy weight, but you’d think he was starving to death by the way he acts. Don’t believe it.


Tiny, Lounging on the Armrest of the Couch


A few weeks after having Bacon, I quickly realized that she badly needed a playmate that spoke her language. I started looking for another dog to keep her company. I saw a listing on CraigsList for an American Hairless Terrier who was good with kids and other pets including cats. I thought, “Wow, what an unusual dog, and he’d be perfect for Miss Bacon and the house in general.” I met up with the owner and took Momo home. Shortly after taking him home, I realized that Momo most likely came from an abusive home. For as sad as it is, I did not actually like him for the first few months, but I cared about him and did not want to return him to his old home. Thank goodness I stuck in there because he has become a wonderfully affectionate dog and very healthy. When I first got him, he didn't do many of the normal dog things that dogs tend to do. He never licked, jumped on furniture even when asked to, jumped on people even when really excited, couldn't walk on a leash, was generally terrified in a car, etc. The only time he acted like a dog was with other animals or with small children. He was especially afraid of my boyfriend. He was also sick, and the vet and I struggled to diagnose his skin condition. I switched his food, put him on allergy medication, bathed him more regularly, etc. Finally, we tested him for mange, and he came up positive. Go figure a hairless dog can have mange. I carefully gave him medication every day for 3-4 months, and during that time, he became more confident and more dog-like. Now he's my little pride and joy because it was a lot of work to get him healthy and happy.


Momo and Bacon Playing


I also fostered a little Jack Russell named Chelsea who was rescued by a coworker from being shot by her original owner. Chelsea was/is such a sweet little girl but had some issues with insecurity and abandonment. She was the easiest dog to work with though, and she gradually became more confident and resilient. I certainly would have kept her if I’d thought I could handle it at the time, but I was very glad that my coworker found a great home for her. She was a little girl’s Christmas present that year, and I couldn’t imagine a better first dog than Chelsea. I’m sure she’s spoiled rotten, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to shoot her.


Chelsea in Her Favorite Spot


A few months later, I rescued 2 kittens from a woman giving away free kittens outside a PetCo in Tennessee where I was doing research for my master’s. I was absolutely horrified at someone giving away free kittens to any stranger who’d take them, and to make it worse, they were filthy, lethargic, and covered in fleas with terrible ear mites. My car stunk for a week, that’s how filthy they were. I got them home, washed them, sprayed them down with Frontline, and took them to the vet the next day. Their ear mites were treated, and my sister, who’s a bigger sucker than me, took them in to rehome which turned into them permanently staying with her. They were named Nacho and Latte.


Most recently, on another stay in Tennessee, a cat was hanging around my mom’s property, and one night the cat found me. I fed her and said goodnight. She stuck around, and a week later, I scooped her up and took her inside. My mom and I thought she was pregnant, but it turned out her lumpy belly was full of cysts rather than kittens. The cysts were most likely from a dog bite, and my mom paid for them to be removed and to have her spayed. My mom kept her for a few weeks until she was able to find her a spot at a no-kill shelter.


My experiences are mixed. I’ve adopted, rescued, found, been found, and fostered. I’m glad and proud of what I’ve been able to do with the animals in my life, and I am convinced that having had to struggle with so many of them, I am a better person for it. I am also blessed for the rewards and love that I get in return, and that’s what keeps me going. I don’t always know what will come of making rash decisions such as picking up 2 kittens outside a PetCo, but I’ve come to understand that there’s a solution to every problem even if that solution is as difficult as euthanizing a very sick cat with little hope of a healthy, happy future. I am also blessed to have a very understanding boyfriend who knows there are just some things that I have to do. I think he’s a better person as well. I am not perfect, and I am not a saint. I just take responsibility very seriously and cannot ignore an animal or person in need when I am capable of helping. Plus animals make me happy.


Me

7 comments:

  1. What a great post, I am a sucker for animals in need too and it's a great thing that some of us have hearts not only to people but also to animals.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I LOVED this post and all the pictures! And who knew a hairless dog could get mange?! Hope all is going well with you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have so many lovely and cute pets. I have enjoyed looking them from the photos you posted here. Have an enjoyable day with them!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing this post! They are such wonderful companions. There is nothing better than coming home after a bad day and having pets greet you with such warmth and excitement. It is hard often hard to resist the temptation for more pets!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Too cute! I think I will be getting a new kitty soon to give some company to our snotty black female. Your blog inspired me to make this happen.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your Kitties are adorable! I love snapping shots and sharing mine on my blog as well. Stop by sometime to visit me in the garden on BLogger!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
    謝謝你的文章分享,請你有空到我

    參觀,Thanks

    ReplyDelete

Every time you leave a comment, an angel gets his wings!