Saturday, April 30, 2011

Got Goldfish?

I think of this next story as being similar to traveling on a plane with an ill-behaved toddler.  At the end of the plane ride you are all about the contraception.  Well after reading this entry, you might re-think any plans you had to add a few new animals to your menagerie.  After all, you muse, guppies really might be the way to go.

I’m guessing that the standard goldfish owner rarely finds her or himself doing something unexpected in terms of pet care.  I feel like I have heard stories of fish getting stuck in the little castles that sit on the bottom of their tanks, or fish that insist on jumping out of their bowls to their deaths, but in general, you feed the fish, you clean the tank, you set the little plastic mermaid upright, and all is well.  Maybe your fish will come down with a bad case of Ick, but Joe Goldfish tends to live or die and if the former, all is well, and if the latter, woe is you and woe is Joe.

I found myself ruminating on the ease of goldfish and the leisure of guppies, while lying on my stomach at 5:30 a.m. a few weeks ago, about to spelunk under my own bed.  The under-the-bed bins – the small apartment dweller’s best friends – had been removed, I had stuck my head in as a test run to make sure I even fit, I had armed myself with paper towels, and I was all ready to make the crawl.  Wishing that I had a miner’s hat with a lamp would not make one appear, so ready, set, go, spelunk!  I army-crawled under my bed looking for the cat vomit I had heard being deposited there minutes earlier.

Found it, oh joy!  Used the paper towels, reverse army-crawled out from under the bed, spelunked back to the cat vomit stalagmites with a sponge and some cleanser, cleaned some more and it was then that I could be heard muttering to the pethair dustbunnies that colonize the area under the bed that these two cats and one dog might indeed be my Last Pets.

“Wimp!” you say.  You have to take the good with the bad, the purring with the late night sick.  Okay, fine, I don’t do well when my sleep is interrupted.  But in my defense, the need to spelunk was the second Unsavory Incident of the night, the first being when I found myself at 3:00 a.m. standing at my front door and pleading with a poor, sick, Dorothy to just use the wee-wee pads already, and no, we could not go outside.  Yes, I was un-housetraining my puppy, who was obediently refusing to make a mess on the mat.

I felt horrible about it, but I live in the city, and although my area seems perfectly safe in the day and evening, at 3:00 in the morning it is deserted, and if someone were to de-lurk from the shadows, all I could hope for is that Dorothy would kiss them to death.

But it has now been several weeks since my night of rude awakenings, and I'm happy to announce that my spelunking gear has gone unused.  No need for a miner’s cap.  No goldfish in my bowl.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


When Dorothy arrived in her new home, she had to explore all her surroundings.  One of the first things she did was to try out the many cat beds scattered about.

FIrst she tried the cat bed in the shape of a flower, with an escape door that only Posy can fit through:

Too lumpy.  So then she tried the cat cabana in the bedroom:

Too chewy!  Then she thought maybe the small cat carrier would do the trick:

No room for her chin!  Perhaps the same carrier, but on the top bunk?

Too plastic!  When Plum was otherwise occupied, she decided to try his wicker apartment:

Comfy!  But what will she do when Plum wants the space back?  Stay tuned!

Next up:  chairs and porridge.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Posy has informed me that if I refer to her as "Little Cat" one more time in this blog, then I will lose a digit.

Perhaps two digits.

At any rate, it won't be pretty.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Big Pimpin': Or How To Be Abused By Your Cat

First, you start by bringing home a hyper 10-week old puppy, a speedy 12-pounder who does not understand the two tenets by which the cat lives his life:  “dignity” and “body-buffer zone”.  This puppy is not at all like your old dog, who would pretend that the cats were not there.  Cat is astonished to find himself considered a plaything.

The cat’s favorite lounging spots immediately become part of the puppy’s super-highway.  As the cat growls and punches the puppy in the face repeatedly, you imagine the cat’s surprise when the puppy becomes 5 times the cat’s own considerable size.

The cat does seem interested in the puppy and her antics, though, and you once even find the cat batting around the puppy’s squeaky duck, although he looks very embarrassed when he notices you noticing him squeaking it.  Realize you will pay for seeing this.

Begin to think that all is now well between cat and puppy, for the most part.  Slip into a false sense of complacency.  Go to sleep happy.  This is where the chaos begins.

Part One:  Big Pimpin’

You have been sleeping about an hour, puppy curled in a comma by your side, little cat on the pillow, when you are awakened by the blaring noise of:

We doin' big pimpin, we spendin' cheese (Check 'em out now )
Big pimpin'
On B.L.A.P.'s
We doin' big pimpin' up in NYC….

Or at least the cat equivalent of such.  You realize that cat has decided to voice his complaints about the new state of affairs in your household by wilding at 1:00 a.m.

Write it down in your little book of hurts, you tell the cat, but with a sinking feeling you know it is going to be a long night.

The Big Pimpin’s continue as the Cat figuratively marches around the bedroom with a boom box on his shoulder, playing loud music with the volume up as high as it can go.  He jumps heavily on the bed and makes a lot of noise.  He is listing all yours and the puppy’s crimes in outline form.  It is a series of whirrs and chirps and plaintive syllables. 

If R2D2 had a cat, you think, this is how he would meow.

On the one hand you feel badly that the cat is upset, but on the other hand... SHUT UP.

Part Two:  The Cannonball

When you don’t give the cat the response he feels he deserves, whatever that may be, he decides to up the ante by incorporating The Deep Windowsill into his theatrics.  This windowsill is about two feet deep and a good three feet above your bed.

When cat prepares to jump from the bed to the sill by wiggling his butt, groan loudly.  Roll over several times quickly, trying not to wake the puppy, who would then need to go out to do her business; you are hoping to find the best way to lie so that you won’t get hurt when 14 pounds of cat hurtles from the windowsill towards your soft parts.  Know that your attempts are futile.

Cat first tries to tear down the curtains and the shade.  When this does not work, he reverts to his original plan, the cannonball.  If you had your glasses on and could see in the dark, what you would see for an instant is the horrible sight of a cat in the shape of a bowling ball, one front paw wrapped around his uptucked hind legs, the other paw plugging his nose to make sure no water gets in.

The Cat Cannonball lands a lead balloon on your stomach.  You sink lower, while the puppy and little cat are flung about six inches off of the mattress.  The cat prepares to do it all over again, Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

You finally get annoyed enough to stand up on the bed and remove the cat from the sill.  Just as you are about to fling him aside angrily, cat guilt-trips you by erupting into loud purrs when you pick him up.  You put him down gently. 

Cat 2, You 0.

Part Three:  The Crunching

The cat feels appeased and is ready for a kind of détente.  Best not to accept your surrender on a half-empty stomach though, so cat heads towards food station to fortify himself. 

The cat begins his snack of dry kibble. Although he is in the kitchen by this point, his chewing is so loud it sounds like the kibble is in your own mouth and being broken into bits by your own teeth.  You lie in bed and wonder how he does this.  Is it a trick of ventriloquism or megaphone?  Either way CRUNCH…you know CRUNCH…that the puppy CRUNCH is about to hear the CRUNCH noise.  How could she not? 

The puppy raises her head.  She contemplates what the cat is doing and what she, the puppy, is not doing:  eating kibble.  Hmmmm.  You can see the injustice of this beginning to register on the puppy’s face.  It is at this point that the cat decides to let some kibble spill from his mouth and rocket loudly across the floor.  The puppy looks at you; she looks towards the door.  The puppy lies back down with a sigh.  Good girl, Puppy!

You feel very affectionate towards the once-again sleeping puppy.  You pat little cat, who has remained unperturbed on the pillow.  And then you move your legs into an unnatural and cramped position, making way for cat to curl up in his favorite spot.  Cat purrs.

Cat, In Happier Times:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Walking Miss Dorothy

Last night I had a trainer come to help me with Dorothy—although it soon became clear that the trainer was really there to help Dorothy with me.  It turns out that I am the one who needs the training.  Woof.

Since bringing Dorothy from Maine to Philadelphia, she hasn’t been much of a walker.  At first it seemed clear that it was all the sounds and chaos of a city—trucks hurtling by, taxis doing their kamikaze zigzag, dog after dog after dog, and crowds of people (although 98 of 100 are ardent and vocal Dorothy admirers).  After a few days, she began to walk on occasion, or at the very least she would happily walk HOME from the park, little head held high, ears bobbing.

But then she regressed and wouldn’t walk.  And then she improved and would!  But then she wouldn’t.  And then she really wouldn’t.  And then:  no way.

Of course, I got lots of advice from helpful passers-by.  Many people told me their dog did the same thing until one day poof!  Said dog got up and walked.  Some people lectured me for having the wrong collar on Dorothy:  I needed a harness, I needed a martingale collar, I needed a prong collar, I should never get a prong collar no matter what, I needed this, I needed that, had I ever heard of a macramé collar spun by silkworms in Tibet and available on such and such a website.  Etc.

People told me to gently tug her, but when I did that she generally ended in a belly-up pose in the middle of the sidewalk.  Some said to go in the direction she wanted, but the minute I did that, the direction she wanted changed.

So I often ended up lugging the growing beastie in my arms to the park, upon which I would put her down, and she’d find a nice stick in the grass and lie down in the sun to chew it.  I was reminded of Ferdinand the bull, sitting and smelling the flowers.

And actually, her penchant for chewing a stick in a sunbeam I totally get.  Her not wanting to walk on the other hand stymies me.  Don’t most dogs love to go outside unless it is raining?  Not Dorothy (yet!).  I’ll come home from work and she’ll be in her crate sitting up all happy to see me, and then I get the leash and she lies back down.  I open the crate, hook her leash to her collar, and she is still in a tiny circlet of bulldogge, all warm and cuddly but not really inclined to budge an inch.

Here she is in the a.m. too, first thing.

I’ve gotten up, gotten dressed, and come back with the leash and put it on Dorothy, who is not too keen to get up, despite however many times I singsong “Rise and shine!”

Therefore, I decided to call a trainer to help me out before any temporary non-walking habits became more permanent, and before wee Dorothy became hefty Dorothy.  It was either that or invest in a red flyer wagon.  And did I really want to be That Person, pulling her healthy dog on wheels?  No, I did not.

So the trainer, Perry, came yesterday at 5:30, and it was fascinating to watch Perry work with Dorothy, who by all accounts is some kind of a genius (I’m sure the trainer tells that to all the dogge owners…).  Perry was using a clicker, and within 5 minutes, Dorothy was doing many commands (some I wasn’t aware that she knew!) at the sound of the click (and of course with many a treat stuffed into her mouth).  After ten minutes, Dorothy was practically doing a little tap dance with hat and cane.

(Perry said Dorothy is an “over achiever”; when she was working on her “place” command (upon which Dorothy is supposed to go to her bed), Dorothy not only would go to the bed, but then would do a natty little down-stay as the cherry on the sundae.  Brown-noser!)

We then went outside and tried to duplicate Dorothy’s walking problems, which of course were non-existent in front of the trainer.  So I practiced walking with Dorothy’s leash wrapped around my left wrist, the clicker in my left hand, and my right hand continually reaching into my right pocket for treats and dropping them down Dorothy’s gullet, which was opening baby-bird style around knee-height as Dorothy pranced along all A+-student-y.

“Not only does she walk, but she does a perfect heel!” exclaimed Perry.  Grrrr, I thought.

But all in all it was a very good session.  I now know what I need to work on while Dorothy is reclining with a choice stick in the park.  Perhaps she can call her bestie, Trainer Perry, on her mobile, while I’m chanting to myself, leash on left wrist, clicker in left hand, treats in right hand, step, hop, kick, pivot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dorothy Is Chewish

My previous dog, Tulip, was not a chewer.

From the day I brought her home as a 10 week-old puppy, she happily chewed her stuffed toys, and her nylabones, but would not chew anything else (that wasn't a foodstuff.  More on that later!)  Tulip would occasionally chew my sneaker, but only if my foot was in it, for the fun of hearing me squeal.

Enter my two cats.  Posy doesn't chew, per se, but she will "taste" things she shouldn't.  Like yarn.  And then perhaps swallow said things, resulting in a very expensive vet procedure, ahem.  For some reason, she'll also eat stuffing from a toy animal, so I am vigilant about keeping things out of her reach.

Plum is not a chewer either, except when he is high on drugs.  Let me explain.  He came home after his neutering surgery five years ago a little woozy on painkillers.  I gave him more the next day, as instructed, and left for work.  When I arrived home, quite a scene greeted me.

First, I found this:

Yes, that is a mauled hardcover book (ironically titled "On Desire:  Why We Want What We Want").  He had chewed it to bits, and scattered the bits throughout the apartment.  He had also flicked out the water from two water bowls and a glass of mine, drop by drop, so that each was surrounded by a mandala-like design of separate drops.  And he had tried to climb the curtains.  All this while high on hallucinogens.  I'm sure that if I had been home to witness the carnage, I would have heard him singing that song from Hair:  "LBJ took the IRT/ Down to 4th Street USA/ When he got there/ What did he see?/ The youth of America on LSD!  LBJ IRT USA LSD/ LSD LBJ FBI CIA..." in his little cat soprano.

Needless to say, I discontinued those particular painkillers and things have been fine ever since.

Enter Dorothy [from stage left, with boot]:

Dorothy will chew on anything and everything.  She likes her toys and nylas and bully-sticks, but she likes the forbidden even more:  shoes, boots, wicker seats, cat beds, corners of armchairs, etc.  There is nothing she won't try to gnaw.  She loves to chew!  She'll say it once and say it loud:  she has teeth and she's proud!

And as a 15 week-old puppy, chewing is what she should be doing.  What I should be doing on the other hand, is teaching her the "Drop It" and "Leave It" commands.  Note to self:  do so, stat.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dorothy's Kibble Cleanse

5-day “juice” cleanses are all the rage these days, so Dorothy—always on the cutting edge—decided to try her own kibble cleanse.

But let me rewind.  Dorothy spent last week recovering from a bout of giardia, intestinal issues which beset many a pet and human.  Whereas she seems to have recovered completely, and tested negative at the vet, she still has a propensity for, shall we say, giving a lot of gifts.  The kind of gifts that I pick up with a baggie and throw in the trashcan while gasping for breath.  You get the picture.

The girl goes four times a day, which hovers on the line between puppy normal and worrisome.  So Jess, the breeder, suggested I give Dorothy nothing but kibble for the next few days to reboot her little system.

So the above, Taste of the Wild, Sierra, is Dorothy’s food du jour and for several jours after that. Her menu now goes a little like this:

For breakfast:  poached kibble on toasted kibble with a few slices of kibble
Lunch:  2 slices of kibble with kibble and a side dish of kibble.
Dinner, dessert, snack:  kibble, kibble, kibble!

You get the picture.  Gone is the peanut butter in the kong, the buddy biscuits, the hotdog slices for training, the scrap pieces of meat.

For the next few days:  kibble, straight up.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wicked Good Bulldogges

Dorothy is a Wicked Good Bulldogge.  That is not just me being enthusiastic and using a New England expression, but she comes from Jessica and Pete Seiders' Wicked Good Bulldogges breeding program in Bristol, Maine.

Here's a picture of her parents, Grimm and Nancy (picture taken by Jess Seiders):

With genes like that, we know she is going to be a true beauty!

Olde English Bulldogges are not English Bulldogs, but rather, English Bulldogs made healthy.  They are a recreation of the Victorian bulldog, and as such, are more agile and athletic than an English Bulldog; less smushed in the face, more length in the nose and legs.  At first, the spelling of the breed bothered me, but I've since gotten used to it.  After all, what is an extra "e" "g" "g" and "e" between friends?

Jess Seiders is very knowledgeable about bulldogges and her dogges are wonderful beasts.  My experience getting a puppy from her was nothing but positive.  First, she let me meet her dogs last summer, to make sure that the breed was right for me.  She then answered my many emails of questions, and when the time came, helped to pick out the right puppy for me, since I wasn't able to make an extra trip to Maine.  She sent me weekly pictures of Dorothy, and also gave me weekly email updates.  (I didn't truly appreciate how amazing this was, until I brought Dorothy home and realized how hard it is to write an email with one puppy darting about, let alone eight puppies, two cats, four adult dogs, three children, a rabbit, and fancy chickens!)

Since bringing Dorothy home with me, I have (I hate to admit) been sending Jess even more email missives asking her all sorts of puppy questions.  I even sent her an email last week all about stools and the proper consistency thereof (Dorothy had giardia!  I had questions!  I needed answers!  I'm a spaz!) and believe it or not, she did NOT answer with a one word "unsubscribe."  She answered all of my questions and gave me much-needed reassurance.

Here is a link to Jess's website:

If you want your own Dorothy, dear readers, go visit Wicked Good Bulldogges.  I cannot recommend it enough!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dorothy & Little House On The Prairie

If Dorothy had a favorite Little House on the Prairie chapter (and why should she not?), it would be a chapter entitled "Ma[w] and the Mandibles."  In it, no doubt, Ma would be putting the pink ribbon on Mary by mistake, and the blue ribbon on Laura by mistake, when all of a sudden!  OMG!  What's that coming round the corner?!  A gaping maw filled with razor-sharp pearly whites!  Rows and rows of needle-y destruction!  Vicious mandibles!  Help!  Help!

Ahem.  And then Pa would whip out his fiddle and soothe the savage beast with a few scrapes of his bow on catgut.  And next thing we know, the gaping maw would be sporting a calico bonnet and perhaps a pair of braids.

And all would be well.  The End.

Where's Dorothy?

She's gone roll-about!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Me Too

My cats are apartment cats, and have to take their light where they can get it--which is usually under a lightbulb.  In the summer, we get some sunlight reflected off the window of a highrise located catty-corner, but in general, sunlight is not this apartment's strength.

Here is our reflected, secondhand sun, complete with Posy soaking up her D's and Z's:

Usually, however, Posy, winter, spring, summer, and fall, will "sun" herself underneath the lamp on my table.  Like so:

Sometimes Plum will join her.  I don't think he really likes the locale so much, but he figures if she is there, he should try to take over the spot every now and then, if only to let her know who is boss.  Plum. Plum is boss.

So that is the state of affairs re my lamp and the cats.  Now let's shine the spotlight on Ms. Dorothy.  I was getting ready to go to work the other day, when I heard a strange noise coming from the living room.  It was a kind of leap and heft and scrabble.  Have you guessed?

It was Dorothy's turn to relax under the lamp on the table!

Except that it wasn't really.  For Dorothy, while only 16 pounds now, will eventually be about 55 pounds.  And a 55 pound dog on the table offends even my sensibilities.

Sorry, Dorothy!

Introducing Dorothy!

Meet Dorothy Hyacinth, an Olde English Bulldogge who is currently 14 weeks olde!  Dorothy was born in Maine, and came to live with me in Philadelphia when she was a 10-weeker.  Dorothy is spending her time getting used to the city.  She loves to give kisses to passers-by, but is still Not Too Pleased with the concept of the walk.  At this point, she is more inclined to choose the Drag N Carry.  We are working on this.  Welcome, Dorothy!