Friday, February 29, 2008

Mama, I need to talk to you!

Remember when we were kids and confounded our parents by talking Pig Latin?? Ooday ooyay ememberray atthay?

Little did I know that one day I would be learning to understand Pig – not Pig Latin, but the language of piggies. Piggies have an amazing range of vocal sounds and a complexity of verbal and nonverbal means of communicating. They are the fourth most intelligent species on earth, outranked only by humans, other primates, and cetaceans (dolphins and whales).

One sound I love to hear is a soft, low “oof oof oof”. It is a sign of complete contentment – piggy feels safe and secure and at peace with the world. More often, around here, I hear “squeeeeeal, squeeeeeal, squeeeeal” which is the little piggies' way of saying “We’re STARVING!!!!”. It is often accompanied by a sound I can best describe as “aroooo, arooo” which I think means “Hurry up!”.

Soda is the queen of the nasty noises: “arf, arf, arf” means “I’m pissed off,” and a very loud, very deep, very rude sound that is reminiscent of what happens when some people eat too many beans. It clearly means “I’m really, really mad at you, now BACK OFF YOU *&%%%”. This is accompanied by a facing off and a hard shove on the leg with the snout.

When piggies are nervous or anxious, one hears the “click click click” of jaws or “grind grind grind” of teeth . They will also squeal when scared, but it is different from the squeal that says “I’m hungry” – it is more high pitched, more frantic, less drawn out. And when piggies are restless and bored, they sound like a little kid smacking her lips “Smuck, smuck smuck”.

They are very vocal virtually all their waking hours. It is music to my ears to hear the cacophony of sounds as they putter around the yard, digging here, munching there, enticing their siblings to play, or just saying hi to me. The classic “oink oink oink, erf, erf, erf, oof oof ” is a constant hum, rather like Winnie the Pooh doing his “tum diddly dum” as he walks through the woods.

When Soda was nursing the babes, she constantly made a low rhythmic, almost guttural grunting sound – erf, erf, erf, - rather like we may make when using all our strength to move a heavy object.

And the most wonderful piggy communication of all? Laughter!! Piggies have a wicked sense of humor, I’m convinced, which is accompanied by a soft “ha ha ha”. Sometimes they will make this noise in greeting a familiar friend, but mostly I have heard it when they are – I’m sure - playing a little joke on me.

The first time I heard a piggy laugh was while I was volunteering at a multi-species animal sanctuary. I had come to know Petunia, an extremely obese potbelly pig who lived in the barn, quite well. I often sat in her stall and sang to her or gave her belly rubs or even made up stories for her. She accompanied me around the barn, chattering to me all the while, as I mucked out the stalls of the horses, donkeys, sheep and llama.

One day just as I finished up the last stall, I turned to Tunie and asked her if she thought we were nearly done. She waddled over to a corner of the stall, left a large deposit of fresh piggy poop, and with a lift of her snoutie and a grin on her face, she looked right at me and chortled. "HA HA HA HA HA!" That pig had one great sense of humour!

I have heard Scotch and Soda laugh a few times, nearly always when they are trying to get away with something they know I don’t want them to do – dragging a blanket out into the mud, dumping their water dish just after I’ve filled it, pushing at the stall gate. “Ha ha ha ha ha……hey mom, I know you’re not really gonna get mad…I’m just playin a joke on you…ha ha ha ha.”

It isn’t just their verbal communication that amazes me but also the nonverbal communication of their emotions. Scotch arches his back downward, stretches out full length, raises his snoutie, and kneads the ground in pleasure every time he is let out into the big yard. Soda, I swear, tosses her head in the classic Ms Piggy move and with an exaggerated swivel of the hips, saunters past me with the message “I am QUEEN. Out of my way, peon!”.
The piglets kick up their heels in pure joy when happy and free, and lift their noses and smile when they are happy to see me.

But the most moving nonverbal communication of all is the tears.
Piggies cry real tears. On the night that I separated Scotch and Soda for what was likely the first time in their lives – the separation being necessitated by Soda’s imminent piggybirth – I sat in the stall with Scotch and watched big wet tears silently slide down his cheeks. I sang him his favourite song and slowly the tears stopped and he lay there not understanding why his bunkmate wasn’t at his side. He was lonely and very sad.

The next day I bought him a Soda-sized teddy bear and tucked it along side him, and he slept that way for several nights. One morning, I came in to find Teddy lying with his face in the water dish on the other side of the stall, nose and mouth immersed in water. To this day, I’m not sure if Scotch thought Teddy might be thirsty, or if he had been trying to drown him.

Fortunately it wasn’t long before I was able to integrate Soda and the babies back into the main stall. They are one happy, closely bonded family that sleeps in one big pile, each touching three or four or more others.

As I stand in the darkening barn, listening to their soft snores and oofs and squeaks and sighs, I can’t help but think that it is the sweetest sound on earth. Family togetherness, contentment, security, pleasure ..... all communicated through the gentle sounds and snuggling bodies of twelve little piggies.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

See how they grow

For the blog readers who have not had access to piggy pictures from the beginning of my fostering adventure, I thought I would document their progress. First, a photo of the conditions Scotch and Soda were living in when seized by the SPCA. Note that they don't even have room to turn around!

Below is the picture taken 30 minutes after they arrived at my place. Note that they are both terribly obese (no wonder we didn't know Soda was pregnant) - their faces show signs of "fat blindness" which occurs when the rolls of fat on the face are so great that the eyes are not visible. And while potbellies SHOULD have a potbelly, their whole underside shouldn't be dragging on the ground as it is here. Note too the dull sparse bristles - more signs of poor nutrition and poor health. Scotch (the male) is the one facing the camera; Soda (the pregnant female) is turned away.

Here's the newborns - just 8 hours old! Born July 28th, 2007 - about a month after Scotch and Soda's arrival:

I love this one - he looks like a little monkey!

Twenty-four hours later, they are walking about. Here's the first one to go solo:

And the same day, July 29th, they start to bond. Wanna be my friend?

At one week old:

Two weeks old: I loves pablum!

First day out of the barn: August 14th

One month old:

October 12th. Soda chats with Lizzy,the only female piglet (10 wks):

October 27th(three months) - this was the sight that greeted me in the morning. Piggies are very clever at pulling blankets over themselves, and this little guy found a piece of blanket just his size!!!

And another one at three months - their personalities are really showing now!

November 17th: Scotch, Soda and baby

January 23,2008 (almost 6 months)

And here they are today:

Scotch, Feb 28th - dark thick bristles, healthy weight, happy pig

Soda and Babies, Feb 28 (7 months)

Both the parents and the piglets have come a long way!!

Rescuing .......FISH?

I have a small creek running through my property. On one side of the path it is perhaps 18” wide and 10 inches deep; on the other side it widens into a marshy pond under the big willow tree before tumbling over a rocky ledge to go off to the neighbouring property. The yellow grasses of winter are so tightly woven on that side that the dogs can walk right across without getting their feet wet.

Or so I thought. When I arrived home from work today, I immediately headed out in the pasture with my dogs. As we passed the creek, I noticed something frantically splish-splashing around. Still in my suit and dress shoes, I stepped closer for a look, shoes sinking into the goo under the straw and grasses, and there I saw……a fish! It was a brown trout about 7-8 inches long, virtually stranded atop the thatch of weeds, its little mouth gaping and its gills opening and closing as it attempted to get its head back under water.

Now, I am an angler from way back. From the first time my dad took me fishing along the streams that flow through Manning Park, I fell in love with the rhythm of the cast, the anticipation of the tug on the line, the pure pleasure at being outdoors, near water, enjoying the fresh air – not to mention the tasty meal afterwards, trout browned in a little butter in a heavy cast iron frypan held over an open campfire.

It’s been a year or so since I went fishing. And during that year, my involvement in rescue has increased. It has obviously gotten to me. For what did I do when I saw the fish? Think of dinner? Run for my rod? NOOOOO..... I raced to the house for gumboots and bucket, with visions of lifting the poor little fishy out of his predicament and moving him further along the creek to an area with more water.

Gumboots on, I sloshed back into the marsh. Reality hit. First, this wasn’t as shallow as I thought – the mucky water was almost to the top of my boot. Second, the gumboot, which was new late last summer, had a hole in it and was quickly filling up with water. Third, I was still in my dress clothes and the pants leg of my blue suit was getting rather wet and muddy.

But the rescuer in me argued that fishy mustn’t suffer. And so I ignored the wet and the mud and the muck as I bent over to scoop him up and discovered……he was gone! Obviously he was not as stranded as I thought, and could manage just fine on his own, thank you.

As I checked the surrounding area just to make sure he wasn’t still landlocked, Belle decided I could use some help. And so my arthritic little girl with the funny splayed duck-feet charged right into the water, only to find herself stuck in the mud up to her belly and floundering around as helplessly as the fish had been.

In rescue mode once again, I scooped her up, mud and all, and held her against my formerly-white shirt, dripping more mud on my jacket and pants.

But all’s well that ends well. Both fishy and Belle are safe.

Now if I could only find a drycleaner who gives discounts to Rescues.

What a difference a few supplements make!

Belle, my 12 year old recently adopted sheltie, was quite crippled with arthritis when she first came into rescue. She was put on Deramaxx, which really helped her mobility but exacerbated her pancreatitis. I took her off the Deramaxx, fed her a super-premium quality food, made sure she got her daily exercise, and she seemed to do fine for a while.

Then she started having difficulty walking again. It got worse and worse within a very short time. So I emailed a friend who has shelties and knows lots about supplements and doggy health care, and I took Belle to my holistic vet. One week ago I started her on a high quality fish oil and glucosamine hydrochloride. Five days ago I added blue-green algae, acidophilus, full spectrum plant enzymes, and something called vetamino.

The change is astounding. She not only walks the pasture easily twice a day, but this morning she was racing up and down the hallway, chasing the cat at full tilt - not once, but three times!!

Allie is not amused. She prefers the less mobile version of Belle.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Play with me, somebody, play with me!

Charley has never been a “typical” high-energy border collie. The runt of the litter, she has always been a quiet, calm, steady girl with one exception – she gets very excited and noisy when motorcycles or heavy trucks go by. But the rest of the time? She's friendly enough, likes people, good around all species of animals, but definitely not one to engage in doggy games.

Even though Charley has virtually always had at least one other dog for company, she has seldom actually exhibited play behaviour with them – play-bowing, wrestling, chasing, tumbling. She is never aggressive to others, but simply ignores them and does her own thing - kinda like her human mom!

But every now and then, over the past year, she has suddenly had a notion that age ten is the perfect age to begin to play. First to be invited to play was Isaac, an old dog I fostered during the endstage of his life. One day as Isaac and I were slowly wending our way down the pasture trail, Charley began circling around play-bowing every few feet and barking. “Play with me, Isaac, play with me!”. Isaac had a vague memory of playtime and half-heartedly did a few play-bows and woofs before continuing the walk in his stumbling, lop-sided gait.

Then there was Caleb. Only during the last month of Caleb’s life did Charley routinely try to engage him in play as we returned from the pasture. “Play with me, Caleb, play with me!”. Caleb would give that funny little toothy grin of his and anxiously lean his big brindle body against my legs. “What’s she doin’ mom??? Why is she barking at me??”. Occasionally, very occasionally, Caleb would give chase for a moment or two.

Yesterday, it was Belle that Charley tried to entice into play. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the air crisp with the scent of early spring. We had walked to the rise at the back of the pasture, then rested a while – Charley on the ground at my feet, me on the bench, Belle curled up on my lap. As we headed back down, Charley put on her widest grin (she is a dog who really knows how to smile!) and began play-bowing to Belle. “C’mon Belle, it’s spring, play with me!!!”

Charley pranced around, play-bowed, rushed forward then back, yipped and yapped and did all she could to engage the arthritic old lady in a game of chase. Poor Belle didn’t know what to make of it – she stood her ground, head to one side, looking up at me and asking “What the HECK is the matter with Charley?????” Then she eased back her lips and through gritted teeth issued a nervous warning “Grrrr, back off Big Dog, grrrrr.”

Today, Charley tried to entice a piglet or two into a game of chase. The piglets were out in the side/front yard once again (it has become a daily ritual), running around having a ball. Charley went up to Fizz and play-bowed. “Play with me, Fizzy, play with me!” Fizz squealed and ran around but didn’t play-bow back which confused Charley – was the piggy playing or was piggy running away?

So she tried the same thing with Whisper. “C’mon Whisper, play with me!” Whisper touched her snoutie to Charley’s crouched-down collie nose and gave a funny little “erf, erf” before calmly turning around and rooting up some nice fresh grass. "Thank you, Big Dog, but I'm busy right now. It was nice of you to ask though."

Eventually Charley, with a toss of her head and her tail, raced off whippet-like, and tore around the lawn, happy to be free, to feel the sun on her fur and the fresh air in her lungs, even if no one wanted to play with her. No sulking for this girl – she invites others to join in but if they decline then she lets her unbounded joy in life express itself anyway – a truly free spirit who lets nothing and no one drag her down.

Ah, what a way to live one’s life. It has taken me more than fifty years to learn the lesson that Charley has learned in ten – never let others’ lack of enthusiasm for an activity stop you from doing whatever you’d really love to do.

Hmmmm...... but Charley IS seventy in people years, so maybe I’m not such a slow learner after all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How to feel really, really, really, really bad

1. Play with piggies, and have a blast doing it.

2. Feed piggies, and laugh at their antics as they fight for food.

3. Start to put piggies to bed, thinking warm fuzzy thoughts of them.

4. Get sidetracked before closing the barn door.

5. Remember the barn door an hour later when you look outside and see it is dark.

6. Go through pig yard, close barn door, and realize you have to step over 12 pigs who are fast asleep and so, so, so very cute buried in the straw and covered with their blankies which they have studiously pulled over themselves with their itty bitty mouths. Aaaaaawwwwww!

7. Accidently trip over one litle piggy that you thought was just a pile of straw, and send all ten piglets screaming in panic to the barn door – which is now closed so there is no escape. Ooohh nooooooo! Babies, don’t be scared! It’s just me, Foster Mama! Please, go back to bed…..Ohhhh, I’m so sorry I disturbed you!

8. Get the evil eye from Scotch and Soda, whose snouties, eyes and ears are peering up at you from a pile of straw, and who are clearly saying “Do you MIND??? We just got them all settled and tucked in!!!! Sheesh!!"

9. Slink out of barn and promise yourself that you will not get sidetracked putting the piggies to bed again. Feel really, really, really, really bad.

Hmmmm...On the other hand, Scotch and Soda, if you and your family slept in the OTHER stall like I wanted, I wouldn’t have to clamber over all of your babes to get through to the main part of the barn. But NOOOOOO, you had to drag every bit of straw from the other stall to this one, and pile it all up by the gate, and move right in to the space that was “supposed” to be an access route. “Sheesh” to you too!!!

There, now I don’t feel so bad.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Images from today

One happy pig

Fizz and Charley just hangin' out

piggy grazing

pigs through a tire

Charley and pigs grazing in yard

Whisper gets a bellyrub

Belle meets piggy - through a fence (she's not quite ready for face-to-face piggy interaction yet)!

Just look at that face!

Rootin', Tootin', Poopin' Piggies!

I cannot believe how much work 12 piggies can be some days! Now that the ground is soft, they are rootin’ up a storm, and with each rooting frenzy they uncover more non-biodegradable garbage that some previous tenant on the property had buried instead of taking to the dump or recycling as he should. So there I am, picking up bits of plastic and rope and coils of wire and the occasional old bottle or tin can, trying to keep one step ahead of the piggies. Every time I think “that’s the last of it” they root a little deeper or use their snouties to shove another stump out the way and uncover more.

And then there’s the tootin’ – the verbal squealing that sounds like those noisemakers we had at parties when we were kids, the kind that unfurl and whistle as you blow into them and then wind back up when you stop. It makes me laugh, these tootin’ piggies, but they can sure be noisy! Which, of course, gets the dogs going – not just my dogs but the neighbours’ dogs too…..and probably dogs three or four blocks away, given the racket the piggies make. The piggies seem to think that, as their personal slave, I should be out there feeding them rather than cleaning up their yard, and they let the world know it.

And lastly, there’s the poopin’ – do you KNOW how much poop 12 piggies make each and every day???????? I’m convinced someone is bringing in a couple of extra herds during the night and letting them …um….evacuate their “piggy pearls” in my pig yard. (Of course, I’m also convinced someone is bringing in a dozen dogs to my front yard at night, because I’m sure my dogs can’t be producing all the poop I clean up from them either! And the alpaca – who the heck is sneaking in a herd of alpacas to the pasture to produce all the heaps of ‘paca pellets??? )

So I’m out there scoopin' the poopin’ and generally cleaning up the piggy yard, with the ..ahem…”assistance” of all the piglets. Rickey is convinced, absolutely convinced, that the large white pail I scoop the poop into contains FOOOOOD….and consequently knocks it over, spilling the piggy pearls, every time I turn my back for another scoopful. The others seem to think this is hilarious and rush forward to check the bucket then race backwards when they see me giving them all the evil eye. Rickey isn’t fazed – he does it over and over and over again.

I finally get all the poops collected, rake up much of the debris and pick up all the garbage. I spread fresh shavings in the "poop corner" (not that the piglets are paying much attention to THAT at the moment!), I gather up my tools and my pails and my jacket that I hung on the fencepost and head back to the gate. And as I turn around to survey the nice clean pig yard, what do I see? Twelve little piggy bums producing more poops.... not one of them on the shavings. Aaargghhhhh!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

To everything there is a season...

To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die…..
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn , and a time to dance….

I have always loved that bit of wisdom, and never is it more meaningful than today as I mourn Caleb’s passing while smiling at the antics of my other animal companions as they adjust to life without Caleb and as spring shows its face once again.

My house feels empty without my Caleb – he had such a “presence”. Last night, when I went to feed the piglets and close up the barn for the night, I thought how strange it was not to have Caleb by my side. I would just call to him “time to feed the piggies” and there he would be, barreling out the door ahead of me, straight to the barn door.

But animals know that we must live in the present, that life continues and new challenges and new wonders emerge every day. As I walked into the barn at dusk, feeling alone and lonely, I sensed a shadow beside me…….and there she was, my Charley. She had followed me in and was standing in Caleb’s spot by the feed bins as I prepared the piggies' dinner, a none-too-shabby substitute companion for that first night of grief.

And when I got home from work today, when all three dogs would normally bound to the back door to say “Welcome home!”, there were once again three critters –- because Allie the cat had decided to join the dogs in the welcoming ritual.

I have lost dogs before, but none so young as Caleb – a dog in the spring of his life. And I had so hoped to share the long days of summer with him, once my classes end for the semester – to take him swimming again, to have picnics with him on the rise at the back of the pasture, to have him by my side as I putter around my little farm. But it is not to be – his time came early.

And yet, life doesn’t just plod along, it laughs and dances along. Martin the alpaca is sunning in the pasture. The piglets are rooting, snouts deep in the finally-soft dirt, looking for those fresh spring shoots starting to sprout; Charley and Belle run happily in the field, Belle’s arthritic hips benefiting from the warmer weather and softer ground. And I grabbed my camera to capture this moment in time when the catkins on the hazelnut trees have appeared almost overnight, and bees are beginning their hunt for nectar and the birds are starting to think about nesting.

Spring is here, new life emerges, and my critters take good care of me and make me laugh. To every thing there is a season. My season with Caleb was one of my best ever. Who knows what joys the next season may hold?

Martin sunning in the pasture

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Caleb's journey on earth is over

My beloved Caleb went to the Bridge today, at home in my arms, with the assistance of our vet Dr. Federici. He went peacefully and quickly.

Caleb, you were the best of the best. Despite your sad past experiences which led to life in a shelter for seven months, you never held it against anyone and you were the calmest, sweetest, most cuddly dog I have ever known. You liked to lean up against people, to climb into their laps and their cars, totally confident that no one would mind in the least.

You loved swimming in a lake, running in the pasture, long walks on the dike, hiking Sumas Mountain with Kelly, visits from your friends Ellen and Kinley and Toby, any kind of treat, any kind of food. You were the daycare's "model student" getting along with everyone, always respectful - well, except that one little altercation with Shep! What was that about, eh???

You slept beside me and eventually learned to lie lengthwise, head on my shoulder, rather than smack dab across the middle of the bed. You obsessed over the cat and tormented her, but at last you learned to get along with her just fine, even letting her kiss you and bat you on the nose without retaliation. You accepted any and all species of animals (hmmm... maybe not the squirrels), and even though you were a bit boisterous around the piglets you never tried to harm them in any way.

You were my strong, silent boy. In the eight months you were with me, I only heard your voice three times, and then just a single woof. You whined only twice - both times at the sound of a gunshot in the distance. I wonder what sad memories that sound recalled?

Caleb, you forever changed my life. I shall so miss your funny, toothy grin when I arrive home from work, and your long-legged bouncy-kangaroo behaviour when you thought I'd been gone too long. I shall miss your snuggles and snoring and counter-surfing and even the drool on my pillow. I shall miss your beautiful topaz eyes and the cute little worry lines on your forehead. And most of all, I shall miss you, my beautiful brindle boy. Your presence in my life was truly an amazing gift and you left this world far, far too soon.

Run free, Caleb. I love you so very, very much.

Your mom.

Caleb: Adopted May 24, 2007, at age five, from Cowichan Valley SPCA. Died February 20th, 2008 of lymphosarcoma. Forever missed by mom (Jean), Charley, Belle, Allie, and many, many friends of all species.


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Allie's not a sheep....

.....but Charley the border collie knew just what to do!!! This morning I accidently left the back door open just a touch - the dogs were outside and I dashed in to make a phone call, failing to close it firmly behind me.

When I returned to the mudroom, I realized the door was open a couple of inches, I thought "hmmmm - I hope the cat didn't get out!". Allie is an indoor cat, always has been, always will be. I don't believe in turning cats into road pizza, coyote snacks, or annoyances to neighbouring gardeners.

As I opened the door wider to return outside, there was Charley the border collie, less than a foot away, shoving Allie back inside the house with her long collie nose!

Good job, Charley!!! Good job!!


Perhaps it is because of Caleb’s illness, perhaps it is because Belle is clearly in pain from her arthritis today, perhaps it is my lack of sleep, but this morning I am going to break my goal of keeping this blog “nice” and go on a rant – about people who indiscriminately breed dogs in their backyard and sell them without having them spayed and neutered.

At my place of work, we have a “classifieds” section on our in-house email system. This morning, once again, someone is posting puppies for sale – this time lab/rottie crosses for $300.

This infuriates me. It sickens me. The vast majority of dogs in shelters, and many of those in rescues, are large breed dogs. Many, many of them are rottie crosses. If they are in a rescue or a no-kill shelter, they may sit there for months. If not, completely healthy but very large and often boisterous dogs are unnecessarily put to sleep. Meanwhile, people who want to make a quick buck toss more large-breed pups into the system, without homechecks, without spay and neuters, without follow-ups and without any contract that guarantees they will take the dog back if the new owner decides they don’t want it.

Can you imagine a society in which people indiscriminately birth and sell human babies? In which people routinely buy babies because they are cute, and then when they become larger and more boisterous and harder to control they abandon them?

Animals are sentient creatures. They think, they hurt, they get lonely, they learn, they grow, they fear, and many – such as cows and pigs – cry real tears.

Of those lab/rottie cross pups for sale, I can guarantee at least one will end up in a shelter. One will probably end up hit by a car because it has been allowed to wander free. At least a couple will have pups or will sire pups, several of which will end up in shelters, or killed, or having more pups. And the cycle continues. Will it never stop???

Most likely, readers of this blog are those who already know all this, so I’m preaching to the converted. But at 6:30 in the morning, with one rescue dog about to cross the bridge and another in need of my attention, and thousands of others out there just waiting for a home… ad for rotti/lab puppies was the last thing I wanted to see.

If you or anyone you know wants to make a lifetime commitment to an animal, go to, not to a backyard breeder. Please. For the love of doG.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The morning walk

My pasture ends in a rise of land backed by a grove of trees. Last year I placed a bench there, and the dogs and I frequently watch the sunrise from that spot and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the valley, listen to the wake-up calls of birds and occasionally sight coyotes or bear. It is one of my favourite places to centre myself and prepare for the day.

This morning, a beautiful, crisp spring day, Belle's arthritis and Caleb's ever-weakening condition could not deter them from joining Charley and me on our morning walk. At the top of the rise, Caleb and Belle were ready for a long rest, and so we sat for an hour, watching the world awaken and Charley explore her domain.

Charley surveying her world

Contemplating life

A rest on the hill

Belle in grass

Caleb and Belle

Caleb and Charley

Catching some rays

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A rather long day

What started off as a beautiful morning became a fun filled afternoon with piggies having another day out in the yard while I did some cleanup out there. But this evening brought sorrow - Caleb vomited blood, necessitating a trip to the emergency vet an hour away. He received fluids subQ, and an injection of a new antinausea drug, and three hours later when we returned home he brought up clear fluids again.

He is such a good boy - no complaining, no balking at all the prodding and probing, and still alert enough to enjoy the car ride and to take an interest in the cat when we got home. He just had another drink of water, and is expressing interest in a little bland pureed turkey and veggies.

I have tentatively booked a home euth for him this week, but will cancel if he begins to be able to retain his food and fluids. It is not clear if his immediate problem is due directly to the lymphosarcoma (that is, a swelling of the mediastinal lymph nodes) or is the result of ulcers or gastroenteritis caused by the prednisone used to fight the cancer. It has been a week now since the vomiting began, and four days since he was able to retain any food, three days since he stopped eating. But he will tell me when it is time for him to go. Fortunately it is midterm break and I have most of this week at home with him. We plan to enjoy it to the fullest for as long as we can.

He is one very special boy.

How can you not smile........

......when you look out the kitchen window to see an awkward, ungainly alpaca with big body, long neck, and short little legs rolling around in the pasture in unbounded exuberance, legs flailing in the air, back squirming on the coarse winter grass, soaking up the sun on this beautiful spring day! Now that is one content alpaca - Happy Springtime, Martin!

A beautiful morning!

A clear blue sky, a touch of frost, crisp fresh air, sunshine, birds singing everywhere, green shoots just beginning to show – it is a beautiful morning!

Last night, I was outside with Caleb at 2:30 AM and it was a beautiful night – stars shining, bright moon, promise of a fine day to come…..and the hauntingly beautiful hoot of an owl in the old tree in the pasture. I’m so glad Caleb woke me to ask to go out – thank you for a magic moment with you, my boy.

This morning Caleb declined any broth (which contained his meds and herbs) and didn’t even want to lick out my oatmeal bowl, but he helped himself to some water a couple of hours ago and so far it has stayed down.

And then he ran to the gate for a walk in the pasture with me and the other dogs. There is life and a spirit of fun in my sick boy yet: he immediately trotted over to the alpaca poop, looked at it, and ran straight back to me to check my pocket for a treat -- we have been working on his instant recall and “leave it” commands by using treats on our walks for the past month.

He ate a tiny crumb of a treat, but refused another one at the end of our walk and headed straight back indoors to lie down.

I think I have to trust his judgment of what he can handle and what he can’t, and to give him the freedom to live and to die in his own way, and as far as possible in his own time. That isn’t as heartless as it sounds – I will continue to try to get him to take his remedies but I will not force them on him; nor will I let him suffer pain, and he and I will create many memories together these next few days.

It is indeed a beautiful morning when dog and human live in harmony and enjoy whatever precious moments they may have together.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Piglets' Big Day Out

Today my friend Ellen and I were cleaning the barn and decided to let the pigs into the front/side yard of the house – the big yard (it’s about an acre or more). Scotch and Soda had been out there before – they love to explore around the place and especially to crunch up the nuts under the hazelnut trees.

Soda and the piglets were out in the pig yard when we opened the stall gates and the other barn door that leads to the lawn around the house. Scotch, in his stall and nearest to that door, took some coaxing but soon wandered out in pursuit of an apple. Soda noticed the main part of the barn was now accessible and hightailed it straight over to the bins containing the alpaca food – she has never forgotten the day she knocked it over and helped herself to a midday feast. In fact, she knows exactly which bins contain food and which aren’t worth bothering with!

While we were trying to chase her outside, Whisper, one of my braver piglets and the first to become really bonded to me, trotted off through the doors and out into the big wide world. He was soon followed by the others and eventually by Soda. And what a time they had!!!

Pigs, like people, get cabin fever, winter blahs, seasonal affective disorder. They need mental and physical stimulation, fresh air and natural light. They have been cooped up for too long, and their own pen is too barren and boring for them now that all the grass is gone and the shrubs are dormant. But out in the big yard…….talk about a bunch of excited kindergarteners on an outing to the big city!!! They were racing around, kicking up their heels, chasing each other, playing games, squealing and oofing and oinking and arfing, and having a blast.

Needless to say, cleaning up the barn lost its place on my list of priorities, and watching the pigs became more than a slight diversion. At first, every time a car went along the road the piglets nearest the fence would come racing and squealing back to the safety of the trees near the barn. Then they would venture out to the fenceline once again….until the next car went by. Squeeeeealllll…….back they ran. Before long, they were scattered all over the yard – some visiting the alpaca, some checking the driveway, some up by the gate, others under the trees and shrubs.

To prevent them from rooting up the lawn, I scattered large pieces of dog kibble around, amidst the leaves and gravel and grasses, and they had a treasure hunt, with all the excitement of children hunting for eggs on Easter morning.

Cars along the road stopped so their occupants could watch. Neighbours came out and shared the fun. The llama next door sent out his distress call at so many unfamiliar unidentifiable black animals. My dogs waited not-so-patiently in the house. And I snapped picture after picture and video after video.

Notice how Scotch's bristles are standing up like a mohawk on the top of his head and neck - a sign of happiness in piggies!

When playtime was over – for Ellen and me, as we needed to finish up the barn – I rattled a pan of pigfood and they all came racing back inside and into their stalls and pigyard en masse. I wish my dogs had such reliable recall!!

It was a great day for the piggies, the neighbours, the passers-by and us. Entertainment unlimited. A guaranteed smile on every face.

Janice the piggy lady ( came over a bit later in the afternoon to admire the little gaffers and to feed them all graham crackers. We then shared a pizza and watched the videos I’d taken earlier as well as an awesome video of Hearts on Noses made by a high school student for a class project – way to go Kelly, you did a GREAT job!

In other news, Caleb saw his holistic vet today. He continues to do poorly and she suspects a bleeding ulcer from the meds he takes for his cancer. Our visit was two and a half hours (during which time Ellen finished cleaning the whole barn – thank you Ellen!!!) , we made up a plan for various holistic remedies and supplements, he had acupuncture, I was taught to give intramuscular injections of some anti-nausea meds, and she phoned for a consult with another vet who specializes in canine cancer. Caleb just lay there, docile for the whole time, never even lifting his head at injections or acupuncture needles, refusing anything to drink. We are very worried about him, and tonight, despite several injects of anti-nausea meds, he still vomited the tablespoon of broth I was able to get him to eat.
But I feel more optimistic with the care and attention he received.

We have taken him off the prednisone, which may mean a shorter time with him, but my goal is to keep him comfortable not to extend a life of pain.

And now it is almost time for his next shot, and then I’m off to bed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Touching moments from today

• Allie the cat, sniffing Caleb as he sleeps, and then licking his neck tentatively with her little pink tongue.

• Belle, looking at me with confusion, eager for her walk in the pasture but holding back, not understanding why big brother Caleb isn't leading the pack as usual.

• Caleb, standing with his head down, tail down, ears down, looking at me with his amazing topaz eyes wondering why even the little bit of water he tried to drink comes right back up minutes later.

• The piggies, sensing my rush as I feed them breakfast, and lining up ever so nicely for their piggy feed instead of their usual mad rush to claim my attention.

• Charley, who never shares a bed or a couch with anyone, curled up beside Caleb on my bed when I come in from feeding the piggies.

• Caleb, hearing the sound of my car keys as I go to take Charley to the vet's for a dental cleaning, shaking himself out of his heavy deep sleep and nausea to make sure he doesn't get left behind, and beating both the other dogs to the car door.

• Martin the alpaca, standing forlornly in the pouring rain, head over the pasture gate, staring intensely at the back door, because in all the worry about Caleb I totally forgot to take him his hay and grain this morning (oops!)

• Charley, doing her “I’m sulking, I’m not talking to you” guilt trip on me when I pick her up from the vet this afternoon – where apparently she was very pissed to wake up from her dental cleaning and find she was not at home!

• Caleb, too weak and sick by the end of the day to even come to the door when I arrive home, raising his head to acknowledge Charley’s return and giving her a little sniff as she walks past (“Hmmmm…where ya bin? I know that smell – it’s the place where they stick things up your butt and poke you with needles and stuff. I was there yesterday. Welcome home buddy.”)

• Scotch, buried in straw this evening, patiently letting the babes clamber all over him as they find their place in the huddle.

There is nothing as peaceful, as calming, as able to bring balance to my life, as the time I spend with my animals. Sitting in the straw with the pigs in the barn as night falls, a solitary light bulb glowing on the old wood beams, the sound of rain drumming on the metal roof, a babe in my lap getting a tummy rub, the gentle “oofs” as the piggies settle in for the night – and I am strengthened once again for whatever challenges the night and the next day may bring.

May the Great Spirit bless all the animals in my care.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The love of a dog, the love for a dog

On this Valentine's Day, it seems appropriate to write about something close to my heart......the love of a dog, and the love for a dog.

I am often frustrated with people who are interested in obtaining a rescue dog but will not consider anything but a young pup. Meanwhile lovely senior dogs sit in the shelters for months on end or are euthanized unnecessarily. The excuse for not adopting a senior is always the same……"I couldn’t stand to lose it after just a few years or less”.

I am even more frustrated (in fact, outraged) by those who abandon their senior dog with any one of a multitude of excuses: they have bought a young pup and the older dog doesn’t like it, the dog has started to have incontinence issues, the kids have grown and left home and so the parents want to travel, etc.

To decide you don’t want the dog who has been part of your family for years is, to me, as immoral as abandoning your child. The only exception, from my point of view, is the very elderly or very ill adult who must enter a care facility where dogs are not allowed (and that’s a whole ‘nother rant!!).

Dogs are sentient beings, who feel emotions of fear, abandonment, joy, contentment....and, dare I say, love. They may not buy us flowers or bring us chocolates on Valentine's Day, but their loyalty, devotion, and happy wag of the tail says volumes more than flowers and chocolates ever could.

The first criteria for anyone adopting a puppy should be “am I willing to commit to this dog for the next 20 years?”. If the answer is "No", or "I'm not sure", or even just "Sure, I guess so" rather than "Absolutely!!", then consider adopting a senior whose life expectancy will not possibly extend beyond the years you are willing to commit. Or consider fostering, or volunteering at your local shelter, or helping out at an animal sanctuary.

Senior dogs are amazing – even if they have never received formal obedience training, they are settled, they have generally outgrown their annoying puppyhood tendencies to chew everything, chase everything, jump on everyone. They are a pleasure to have around – a great companion. If they should become incontinent, there are ways to manage that – from baby gates to doggy diapers to medications.

But I started this post not with the intent of praising senior dogs (though I love my two seniors to bits), but because of Caleb.

Caleb is five. I adopted him seven months ago. When I recently adopted Belle, who is 12, I did so knowing that I will be fortunate to have even three or four years with her, if that. Caleb, on the other hand, was only five. I expected many, many more years with Caleb. In all likelihood, however, he will be the first to go.

Two months ago he was diagnosed with cancer. Even had I opted for an aggressive chemotherapy protocol (weekly treatments a two hour drive away for 26 weeks, and possible toxic vomiting and diarrhea for several days after each treatment), his life expectancy would only be about one more year. Instead, I opted for holistic treatment (including prednisone, which is a form of chemo but in tablet form), as he had a rough enough life before coming to me and I could not fathom putting him through any more scary situations. On prednisone, life expectancy is about six-eight months.

Life expectancy is a vague term. It is an average. I know dogs who have lived with cancer for ten or twelve years beyond their diagnosis, even without chemo. I know dogs with cancer who died just weeks after the diagnoses.

The past four days, Caleb has become increasingly ill. His lymph nodes are swollen and this time are not responding to prednisone; he has been bringing up clear fluids frequently (even right after his meals; no food, just fluid), and he is tired. Yesterday the vet thought it was just a gastro-intestinal reaction to prednisone and gave him an anti-nausea shot and pills to coat the stomach – and yet despite that, I was up with him from 10:30 PM to 3:30 AM as he gagged and choked and coughed and brought up more and more clear fluid. Today, although he woke feeling much better and enjoyed a nice walk with his friend Kelly at daycare, he was too tired to play much with the other dogs. And this evening, his light dinner did not stay down, and he has lost interest in chasing the cat.

While I am still doing everything I can to treat him, to keep him comfortable, and to give him the quality of life every dog deserves, I know his time with me is likely very limited. When the time comes to let him go, I will grieve deeply. But I will not regret, for a single moment, having adopted him. I just expected to have him with me a lot, lot longer.

There are no guarantees in life. We can only take comfort knowing that we have provided the very best care for the lifetime of the dog we chose, whether we choose a puppy or a five year old brindle pitti that nobody wanted, or a twelve year old senior whose owners have died. It is not, after all, about what WE need, it is about what the animals need. They are dependent upon us to provide for them. They are dependent on our love.

And the rewards for loving that dog, and for honoring our commitment to the dog, are endless. The unconditional love of a dog, the wagging tail when you come home, the head on your lap as you watch tv……there is no end to the joy they bring and the memories they leave you with, no matter how short the time you have with them.

Now go hug your dog. You never know when their earth walk will be over.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Homecoming - piglet style!

I have always loved coming home to my dogs – the way Caleb looks out the window as soon as my car reaches the gate at the top of the driveway, the way Belle starts her hysterical barking as I pull to a stop near the house, the way all three of them tumble over each other to be first to reach me when I open the door.

Today was a homecoming of a different kind. I drove down the curving driveway, past the barn and the garage to the back door of the house as I always do. As I stepped out of the car, I could hear Belle’s barking and the sound of dogs scrabbling their paws on the door. But I could also hear something else that stopped me cold – the sound of a piglet screaming, screaming at the top of his lungs.

I dropped my briefcase on the wet drive, and without even unlocking the door for the dogs, I raced off in my good clothes and shoes to the barn, heart pounding, fearing the worst. I envisioned a dog or coyote having found its way into the pig yard and subsequently into the barn, attacking the piggies. I envisioned a piglet with trotter or snout helplessly caught in a splintered gate or a broken slat from a forceful attempt to trash the barn again. I thought of every calamity I could possibly think of as I ran the longest 125 feet of my life.

I threw open the connecting gate between garage and barn, raced down to the piggies' stall. No blood. No dogs or coyotes. No piggies trapped, injured from their own mischievous doings. Just Fizz, one little black piglet with thick dark bristles, screaming and screaming, trotters up on the rail along the lower part of the stall slats, snout sticking through the slats.


I can only say there is nothing quite like being welcomed home by a piglet who has learned the sound of your vehicle and knows that it means his favourite human in the whole world is about to walk through that door.

Thanks, Fizzy, I feel truly blessed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Caleb's battle with cancer - update

Caleb, who had been doing so well since his lymphsarcoma was diagnosed two months ago, is not feeling well tonight. The lymph nodes, which had shrunk to normal size with the prednisone treatment, are suddenly swollen again - at least, the ones at the back of his legs are. He is tired, he is uncomfortable, and although he still ate his dinner with gusto, he turned down the opportunity to come outside with me to feed the pigs, and for the first time he refused to drink his Essiac tea even with chicken broth added. His breathing is laboured, his chest sounds rattle-y.

Last week his prednisone was dropped to once every other day. I shall return it to once a day immediately. If he continues to do poorly tomorrow, I'll get him into my regular vet (though he had a checkup just ten days ago); he does have an appointment with the holistic vet for next Monday.

I hope this is just a little setback and not the beginning of the end. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A morning conversation with the pigs

"Hey, Foster Mama, I wanna talk to you!"

If piggies talked in human voices, instead of telepathically where we mortals just infer what they want from their body language, the conversation this morning would have been something like this:

Me: “Good morning, piggies! Time to get up!”

Little Piggies: “OOOOOOOOH….good morning foster mama……food food foood foood fooood fooooooooood!” [Piglets race to the feeding stall]

Scotch (Papa Pig): “So sooon????? But I still want to sleep. Oh well, I’ll have an apple, please.”

Soda (Mama Pig): “About time. It’s eight o’clock already. I don’t understand why you can’t be predictable. For gosh sakes, sometimes you wake us up at 6, sometimes at 7, sometimes at 8, and on more than one occasion it has been 9 o’clock or later! I am HUNGRY and I demand to be feed according to MY needs. From now on, have your butt in here at 7:00 AM sharp. And no later than 4:30 for dinner. For heaven’s sake – do I have to break into the main part of the barn and help myself again?”

Me: “There, there, Soda. Life is tough. Go round to the feed area – I’ve got lots of greens for you this morning and your feed will be there in a moment.”

Soda: “Humph!” [Soda ambles off to the feeding stall]

Scotch: “I’ll just stay here, thank you. And may I have an apple please? I really like an apple first thing in the morning.”

Me: “Here you are, Scotch. Such a good, good pig. Here’s your apple.”

Whisper (piglet): "OOOOOOHHH......Papa’s got an apple…..back to the other stall, everybody!!!! [Piglets race back to sleeping stall]

Scotch: “Oh bother! That’s fatherhood for ya – always having to share my treats. Oh well….. Foster mama, do you think you could spare another apple? These little gaffers have taken off with mine.”

Me: “Babies, come back here…loook!!! Greens!!! Pellets!!!”

Piglets: “Ooooooooooooh……pellets!!!!!!” [Piglets race back to feeding area]

While everyone is chowing down, I open the big barn door that leads from their stalls directly to their yard. I always spread some greens outside to get them into the fresh air and give them a little exercise and fun rooting around. Today they are having a special treat – along with their hay and greens are the remains of fruits and veggies from my ritual weekend cleanout of my fridge: a soft tomato or two, some chopped up salads goodies that never made it to my dinner plate, a yam that has seen better days, a couple of over ripe bananas, an apple that is no longer crisp. Recycling at its finest, from the piggies’ perspective.

One by one the piggies come outside. A couple of them race back and forth, inside and out, trying to decide which is the most lucrative: scarfing down the pellets that remain scattered on the feeding area floor, or being first to pick out all the yummiest treats like the tomatoes and bananas.

Scotch prefers to remain inside. Though the weather is warmer, it is damp and there is still snow and ice on the ground. As usual, he crawls back into his bed of straw and blankets until only the tips of his ears are visible.

Me: “Scotch! Come outside! There are goodies out here!”

Scotch: “No thank you. I’ve had enough for now. I think I will just catch a little more shut-eye.”

Soda: [returning to the sleeping stall]: “You’re not missing much, Scotch. The good stuff is gone and most of the greens are CABBAGE leaves. CABBAGE!!!! Doesn’t she know that will give me gas??? Those babies may like it but a refined mature piggy like me needs fresh crisp lettuce (and none of that cheap iceberg stuff – I want the nice curly leaves and romaine hearts), watercress, baby spinach leaves. What kind of garbage are you feeding us???? CABBAGE????????? Humph!!!”

Piglets: “Mama! Papa! There is lots and lots of gweens out here…and, and, and the white stuff is disappearing….and, and, and we can get down to the bottom of the hill and dig among the tree stumps now….and, and, and it’s not freezing on our trotters any more….and, and, and here’s the soccer ball Auntie Ewwen gave us and a couple of paper towel rolls for us to play with…..WHEEEEEEEEEE, it’s morning lets play, everybody!!!!!!”

Scotch: “That’s okay kids, you have fun out there. Mama and Papa are going back to bed. Call us if you need us. ….Oh, and fostermama? Turn the light out and close the door when you go.”

Soda: “And tell that little sheltie to stop that ridiculous high pitched’s getting on my nerves. And for heaven’s sake, make sure you have our dinner here ON TIME tonight!”

Me: “Bye guys. See ya in a bit. C’mon Belle, Caleb, Charley – let’s go for a run in the pasture”.

Dogs: “Rowowowooowowooowowowow!”

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A one-day vacation?

Today I took a whole day off from animal care, farm work and housework. My friend Ellen and I decided to make a trip to Point Roberts to pick up some SeaPet fish oil we had ordered for the dogs. We envisioned a nice little outing, a stroll on the beach, a gawk around the town, maybe a little shopping and a lunch out. Two good friends having a day out.

I left at 8:00 AM. I got home at 5:00 PM. We did drive around Point Bob and we did do lunch at Timmy’s and we did chat about everything and anything, but when I got home and unloaded my car, I realized that the day was still all about my life with the critters.

We spent an hour and a half standing in a line up in the freezing cold waiting to pick up the SeaPet oil at the mail drop in Point Bob (the things we do to save a few bucks courier charges!). We spent a half hour in Bosley’s in Tswassen where we shopped for treats and toys for the dogs. We picked up a dozen bags of pigfeed in New Westminster for Scotch, Soda and the babes. We also loaded two wooden pallets into the car so the straw, hay and alfalfa will be up off the barn floor and less likely to get damp.

We stopped at Lee Valley tools in Coquitlam so I could get bog boots and German garden clogs and ice grippers – for getting out to the barn in muddy, wet, or icy weather. While we were there, we signed up for a weekend woodworking course next month so I can become ever more efficient at the constant repairs and renovations required in the barn and the house to accommodate animals or to repair damage they have inadvertently caused.

We stopped at Sally Ann thrift store in Pitt Meadows so I could look for another barn jacket since mine has pretty much fallen apart and I am NOT wearing my good jackets where pigs put their muddy trotters and where I am constantly coated in a thick layer of dust and straw and hay and manure.

And when I finally returned home, I mucked out the stalls, fed and watered the pigs, fed the alpaca, took the dogs (who had been inside all day) for a quick run, fed the dogs and cat, and then realized that I had forgotten to pick up any cream for my much-needed cup of coffee!

I guess there’s no escaping it – my life has gone to the dogs…..and the pigs……and the cats……and the alpacas. Ah, but it’s worth it. It’s worth every minute of time and every cent of money I spend on them.

Now, if only I could teach them how to do the housework and farmwork while I am out for the day.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Who let the dogs IN? Allie speaks out!

I would like to know whose idea it was to bring dogs into this house. Or at least new dogs. I used to live such a peaceful life with my mom (the human one) and Charley, and even that old foster dog Isaac who stayed with us for several months until his spirit passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. I ate in the kitchen without being molested, I curled up on mom’s lap without getting nibbled by a big topaz-eyed brindle monster, I slept on mom’s bed, curled in the crook of her knees. Life was good.

And then my mom brought home Caleb, ol’ brindle-butt. Whose idea was that????? That dog has been the bane of my existence. For the first several months after he arrived, I lived up in the attic room – I ate up there, my litter box was moved up there, and I ventured out through the cat door at the bottom of the stairs only when the brindle monster was outside.

A couple of months ago I decided to reclaim my space and my routines. So I ventured downstairs, a little further into the main part of the house each time. Stoopid brindle-butt chased me! He CHASED me! Who does he think he is???? Of course, he never catches me because I’m just too fast, too agile, and too darn clever for him.

In fact, one day he chased me from the kitchen toward the living room. Never even noticed me pull a quick right into the bathroom. There he was, lying on the floor in front of my cat door, staring intensely at the space, waiting for me to emerge. And there I was, sitting haughtily on the laundry hamper in the bathroom, not four feet behind him, watching him and splitting my sides laughing! Eventually I pounced down, swatted him on the behind, and raced up the stairs. Silly old brindle-butt bully dog!

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with brindle (I’m brindle, myself – it’s a beautiful colour), and I don’t mean to be species-ist, but there is something wrong with galumphing lugs that have to chase me every time I try to take a stroll around the inside of the house, and have to nibble at me every time I try to catch a nap on mom’s lap, or in my kitty condo, or in that cosy space tucked between mom’s arms when she sits in front of her computer (which is how I learned to type and write on the blog. Stoopid dogs will never be able to do that!).

And then there are his friends who come to visit about once a week!! OMG, that juvenile whippet is going to give me whiplash with the way he flies around MY house. And someone enter him in the highjumping portion of the Olympics, cuz if he leaps any higher when he’s trying to reach me on top of my kitty condo, he’s going to hit his pointy little head on the ceiling. I swear that dog has springs in his paws and crack in his food!

And that rascally Toby…well, sheesh, who invited him to stick his fuzzy face through MY cat door to MY attic hideaway???? Buzz off, Toby – as the movie says, “cats rule, dogs drool!!!”

This is MY house. One of these days I’m going to post a notice that says “Cats only. No dogs allowed”.

But then it might be kinda lonely. Maybe I’ll rethink this…….I’ll use my feline powers to hypnotize brindle-butt and make him my slave……I rule. Brindle-butt drools. Heheheheheheh!

Allie the Cat.