Category Archives: editorial pets

Eclectic and/or Eccentric

I like to think of myself as the former, though am becoming the latter. We moved a lot when I was a kid. I learned to save a few things, cookbooks, silk scarves from Dad from Ferragamo, trinkets from his travels.

My great Aunt O was married to a man who made Canadian pea meal bacon (wet-cured pork loin) braised in beer. Auntie O gave me one of his cookbooks, Larousse Gastronomique, before she died. Twenty years later I cannot open it because it reeks of cigarette smoke.

My Aunt L received a desk from her estate, charred with cigarette smoke for 40 years. My aunts cleaned it up and it is Chippendale, authentic, and gorgeous. I prefer more modern or rustic furnishings. They have the right home for it.

Different am I, not just left-handed. Great Aunt O was a milliner who flew to Paris every year to choose hats for the chic and trendy in Montreal. Very high end. Sometimes a special client would come in for a $500 hat (this is the 60’s so compare that to a Prada bag) and wear it to an event then return it the next day without the tag. She accepted the hat and gave it to me at age five, as she knew it had been worn and could not be re-sold.

I was wearing a $500 red Dior cloche with pigtail at age five. I hated it. The kids always made fun of me anyway for living up in the hills in a great house and a view they could only imagine, and taking the half-bus (the retard bus, they called it) to school. I wore boots because it snowed up there earlier than it did in the village below.

No, I have never been The Grinch. I have always been the fairy who somehow makes the world better. Education, art, theater. I’ll have to talk about philosophy in another post. Age-old wisdom, soc and psych. I took the first training class co-sponsored by Red Cross and the Humane Society of the US.

Yes, dogs and cats are in my sights as well. We’ve an old dog who is sleeping a lot. I would like to get a stethoscope, as advised in my class kit many years ago. If fairy dust has any meaning, may she live a while longer. Live long and prosper. Dee




The Wonder Kitty II, is a bean bag kitten, and is on my lap being petted for luck. The best of luck was given from Snowflake The First to my fellow volunteers spaying and neutering thousands of feral cats.

It was the right choice to leave him with these valiant volunteers. Note to ear-tippers who take off the top of the right ear while the cat is anesthetized to allow caretakers to know who has been spayed/neutered. Believe me, you cannot ever catch these crafty felines twice. I tipped II’s ear with sharp scissors. He is made of bean bags and batting so he never felt a thing. He is very soft and soothing. I gave an infant neighbor his little brother, who loves it.

We do things to make life livable, sometimes bearable when there is sickness or losses in the family. I was a consultant who spent weekends volunteering for the projects I created. I made an Animals section of day-to-day projects and while all the other managers had two projects per month I had 14. After a few years a new director fired me, saying they didn’t need people like me anymore. Yes, she said that, at a public event in front of the Councilman’s guests.

I left Snowflake with my fellow volunteers, who were loyal to the cause and to each other. Snow II is on my lap, I got my chops there with volunteers, management and feral cats. Mange? Get Dee. Ringworm? Get Dee. Tapeworms? Get Dee. Get it? You don’t want to know what happens when a feral cat or kitten awakens from surgery. Get ’em in, watch their breathing and release when ready. I even made a “Dee’s Kitty Wake-Up List” to show that cats had come out of anesthesia and were just napping. They just changed the name from mine a year ago. I thanked them for allowing me to make a change to their routine but didn’t need credit for doing so. Take care of your family and pets. Don’t feed your dog chocolate. Dee

Making a Difference

I believe I have and still do so. I started with high school and TItle IX. I was discriminated against through high school, college and legislative work, gender and sexual discrimination. It was a burden. Now I am told after I’ve had a bank account for 20 years and added my husband of nearly 15 years on the account that I am “just the wife” and need his approval before they speak with me of my accounts.

I would like to say that I make global changes. Perhaps I do, locally and regionally. They may percolate.What are my wishes? Make people equal and give opportunities and health care to all. Do not discriminate in employment and housing.

As to pets, please adopt from a shelter. You’ll have plenty of time, if it’s a reputable shelter, to get to know him or her and decide whether it’s a fit.

My first cat was sent to me at five weeks after falling off a 7′ shelf. I named him Nathan, God’s Gift. The dog kept her name Chani but had been severely abused by her owner, a deputy sheriff, and left out in the yard to have stones thrown at her by neighborhood kids. My last cat was nine weeks, was returned from an old folks’ home because he was too energetic. I called him Mick Dundee as he was fearless and dogs used to run away from home to play with him. He ended up being Mickey. Mouse, only sometimes. He learned to fetch crumpled post-it notes and drop them at my toss over the sofa again. He did sleep in Chani’s bed with her for a year so appreciated my dog’s brain.

If I’ve made a difference here it is that I’ve dealt with over 4,000 rescues and ferals. With education I’ve helped make spay/neuter a reality in several areas of the country. In the midwest and south, a gun is usually the solution. My husband’s family had a dairy for years and cats caught vermin, yes, and drank a bit of milk. Now they have a ranch.

My dog was to be relegated to a goat pen out back when she was going through two hip removals for the worst dysplasia our vet had ever seen. I told my husband we would not visit. His father cleaned and placed a dog crate in my husband’s old bedroom. She sniffed it and jumped up on our bed. Now she stands on his Dad’s place on the sofa and awaits his return from feeding the cattle. She’s a house dog! Farmers don’t understand that distinction. She’s a herder and follows me everywhere, not just being let into the entryway on a three dog night.

I made a difference in legislation and volunteering. Now I’ve other avenues. Cheers! Dee

Tricking a Cat

Yes, I did it. I was sent a five-week old cat by my sister, across the country. Surprise! He had fallen seven feet from the loft where he was born and his mother would not feed him. I’d never had a cat before that time and did not know anything about raising a cat.

I learned and ten years later adopted another cat. They did not get along. Imagine run, run, hiss, hiss. Again and again. How about a cabinet being opened and slammed closed 100 times at 4:00 a.m. Yes, it was the cat food cabinet.

For the holidays I bought them a blanket. The young one slept under, the older one over. I stayed for five minutes until they were asleep. Then I went to my desk for work and they thought they were cuddling me and not each other.

That’s one way to trick cats and try to live a normal life. Unless there are dogs that run away from home to visit my cats. Yes, they did. They both loved dogs. My husband is so allergic to cats that I can’t have one. Our old dog loves cats, too.

There may be a video for kittens that they can watch on TV. I had a CRT back then and Mick would sit on top and watch and bat at the squirrels and birds. I’d run it twice and he’d go to sleep, so I could work. To you who adopt the unadoptables from local shelters, THANK YOU! Dee

Dee’s Dog

I have lived here for years and everyone has always called out for Zoe and called me just “Zoe’s Mom.”

Today my husband took her out and someone actually said to a friend, “that’s Dee’s dog.” I’ve raised her for nearly 14 years, she’s losing her hearing as well as her sight. We have enjoyed all this time with her. She is still happy, healthy and friendly to all. Well, she did try to chase the neighborhood turkey, “Tom,” a couple of weeks ago but was on leash and didn’t get anywhere near. Zoe was afraid of two baby goats when she was a pup, visiting the farm. She knew not to go for that old turkey that runs wild here and is pardoned by the neighborhood every Thanksgiving.

Pet reminder. Go through basic training with your pup and learn hand signals. Even with cataracts she can see, but if she doesn’t hear me I have to pet her head and do the hand signal to “come” and she will follow me to the collar and leash and out the door. When your dear old dog begins to lose faculties, down, sit, come, stay, even heel will be useful. Signals also help when your spouse is off a long, late flight and sound asleep so I don’t have to say a word. Take care of your dog(s) and significant other. Cheers! Dee


Always different, never the same. That is why we have varied actions and reactions. The last time we got together that may be the last ever was at Dad’s funeral over the holidays.

I am eldest and was the dreaded word “babysitter” as when I was 11 my parents would leave me in charge of three kids. I went away to college before they were grown and they resented me for it.

Little sister, I tried to put her up to the bed at bedtime but preferred for her to stay up by the windows and await our parents’ arrival. Then she’d run back to bed before their car arrived. We had time, it was a country road.

My brother was the trouble maker. He would do anything like climbing the tv tower at age three. Then he’d tell on himself saying “Mommy, I’m not being ‘haved” and she would hug him. Nothing he could ever do was wrong in Mom’s book. He ended up Dad’s best bud and executor of his will, as he should have been.

Baby sis was a standout from day one. Oh, I was not allowed to see her in the hospital but folks came home and they said they were naming her “Chipmunk” because of her cheeks. I said no way, you already saddled me with a name the teachers cannot spell or speak. They were joking. She has a nice name.

We had a little dog back then, a rescue that was huge in the winter then had a summer cut to keep her from burrs et al. She was a basement and outdoor dog and I wish I’d known Dr. Dog’s theory that a backyard dog is a dog without a home, back then.

That advice was not around when I was eight, I’d have known it from PBS. Our dog is sleeping on our bed with my husband right now. She is old and lets us know when she wants her only toy, Precious, or to go out again. She is great in elevators, with people, other dogs (except hateful ones where she steps away) and even cats.

I’ve had some wonderful shelter pets in my life and do consider them family, not siblings. Believing that one’s pet looks like you is one thing, I do believe you chose them to act like you, to show your persona to the outside world.

Everyone knows our old girl. Someone told me years ago that I was a terrible person and should never have been born. My girl is my presence in the world and anyone you meet in several neighborhoods around the country will tell you that we’re good people and dogs and that we go out of our way to care for others of the human, canine and feline societies. Ghostbusters aside, Bill Murray would have liked dogs and cats living together, as it always worked for me. Dogs used to run away from home to visit my cat. I’d get a call at 7:00 a.m. “Is he there?” Hold on, I’m at my desk. “Yep.”

“I’ll take him inside until you get here.” They used to go out through their garage to get the newspaper, dog ran. We had a system. He also had play dates outside with next-door neighbors, three different-sized Shisa dogs and the Shi-Tzu used to wrestle with him.

A Corgi also caught his eye. The dog used to put my cat’s head inside its’ mouth and he thought it was great! He ended up living with them for a couple of years as after I married my husband was deathly allergic to cats. I believe coyotes lured him off his back yard tree house and maybe he was ready to go as he was nearing ten years.

Family is what one does with blood and friends. If we are lucky we each make a family for ourselves. I’ve the Three Musketeers and many more around here, plus others, one of which you can put a prayer in for, a mentor for over 25 years who is in hospice care, another who is in an assisted care facility and calls me her daughter. Dee

Pollenation and Pee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiration and Aspirations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water and Dr. Dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do Dogs Dream?

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

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

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

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

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