Category Archives: Animals

Outdoor time for Precious

Precious standing on my car.
Don’t we need to go get some catnip or something?

Precious loves going outdoors.  Because I live in the suburbs, she’s only allowed to go outdoors when I’m home and able to be right there with her, or at least puttering around the house nearby.  What this means is that once the warmer weather gets here each Spring, we often spend a half hour or so with the front door open after I get home from work.  Often, I’ll sit on the porch playing with my iPhone — often waiting for whatever delivery person is bringing me the food I ordered — as she wanders around the bushes and sidewalk in front of our townhouse and the neighbors’ places.  Every now and then I might look up and call to her to see where she is.

Often, she’ll explore for five minutes or so, then come running to find me, just to make sure I haven’t disappeared.  I like it because it reassures me that she hasn’t wandered too far, where I’d have to worry about unfriendly people, careless drivers, or other animals.

Often, I’ll let her out for a few minutes while I’m getting ready for work as well.  Convincing her to go play at these times isn’t always easy however.  She’ll often keep coming back in the house and staring at me as if to say, “Well?  Aren’t you coming out too?”

Of course, she’s really in her element on those occasions when she’s staying with my parents while I travel.  They live in an extremely rural area, so they don’t have to worry about cars or unfriendly people (even the friendly people are rarely less than several thousand feet from their home.  Because of this, she feels more free — and we all feel more comfortable letting her — roam a bit farther and for a bit longer.  There are times when she will explore for over an hour only to come to a door so she can come in, get some affection, and grab a bite to eat.  After that, she may wander off to get a nap or ask to go right back outdoors.

I also admit that given her poor health when I first adopted her, I enjoy watching her explore and play.  It’s fun to watch her sniff at every flower, tree, and shrub she comes across.  It’s fun to watch her check out the birds or even chase them (she hasn’t quite figured out how the whole hunting thing actually works).  I look at her and think, gee, I love that she’s still such an active cat at the ripe age of nine and a half years old.

Missing my Precious

Precious gazing up at daddy lovingly.
“I love my daddy!”

[Content Note:  Brief mentions of depression.]

In a few hours, I’ll be heading down to my parents’ house to spend the night and collect my little darling, Precious.  I sent her to stay with her grandparents almost two weeks ago while I was traveling to Canada.  I’ll be happy to bring her back home with me, as my place seems too quiet without her.  I’ve already started mistaking a lump of wadded up sheets for her laying next to me or thinking I heard her meowing at different intervals.

I think that having her around also tends to make me feel better about myself and not fall into depression so easily.  I remember the first time I moved out of my parents’ home — in the late 1990’s.  At that time, I had my cat, Strype.  However, I left him at my parents’ house as the apartment I moved into did not allow for pets.  Also, Strype was such an old cat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to make him leave my parents home or his litter-mate, who had been a part of his whole life.  As a result, that apartment was dull and quiet and left me feeling quite lonely.  (Granted the massive things I was dealing with at that point in my life didn’t help, either.)

When I moved to Rochester, though, I knew I needed to bring Precious with me.  Part of that was due to the fact that although I’ve always had a good relationship with my other cats, Precious and I seem to share a sort of bond I’ve never experienced before.  I’ve never had a cat before that is as clingy as she can be.  (She’ll spend the next few days giving me the stink-eye every time I head for the door, as if to say, “You already disappeared for several days, Bub!  Where do you think you’re going now???”)  So when I moved up here, I made a point of making sure I found a place where I could have a cat.  That and having washer and drier hookups were my two major non-negotiable items.



I absolutely love the caption for this LOLCat picture!  I totally agree with it, too.

It reminds me of my days of volunteering at Lollypop Farm.  I and another volunteer would often go around the room together reading the paperwork for each cat and comment together on the reasons the cat was surrendered for the shelter.  I remember the one time we found a paper with the reason, “New boyfriend is allergic to cats.”  The other volunteer and I looked at each other and said almost in unison, “So get rid of the new boyfriend!”

That’s still my attitude.  While I’m sympathetic to people with allergies, I’m also sympathetic to cats and animals in general.  I’ve had cats all my life and I can’t imagine ever not having a cat in my life.  And I’d have a hard time making things work — or even wanting to make them work — with a guy who had a problem with cats — even a medical problem like being allergic.  My honest answer would be, “Look, the cats were here first.  And quite frankly, I know for a fact they’ll stick around.  I doubt I can be quite as sure about you.  So guess where my loyalties are going to stay?”

If that means I end up being a crazy cat lady, I think I can live with that.  It’s more appealing than the alternative at this point.

In Memory of a Stubborn Old Coot

Snow-covered TombstoneThis morning, my father called to let me know that his plans had changed suddenly, so he would not be coming to Rochester today. He also let me know that the reason that his plans had changed because our old pony, Saddle, died in the middle of the night. So Dad has to see to that today.

While I’m sad to hear that Saddle has passed beyond the veil, I am not surprised by the news. We all knew that it was merely a matter of time. Saddle would have turned thirty seven in the next month or so, which means that he lived roughly a decade beyond the normal life expectancy for his breed. Indeed, I remember back in the summer of 1997 when Dad was building Saddle’s new pasture at the new house. Dad commented on more than one occasion that he was putting a lot of effort into building fence for a horse that probably wouldn’t make it through the coming winter. But the following Spring, the old codger (Saddle, not Dad) was running and kicking as if he were still a young colt. (Come to think of it, Dad’s still pretty spry, too.)

Dad went through that same process for the two or three summers after that, each time he went out to mend fence. After the last time, he simply decided that Saddle was going to stick around and said nothing more. We all knew that our little pony wouldn’t be with us forever, but we decided to quit expecting the inevitable. And as if out of kindness, the inevitable stayed away for several more years.

I vaguely remember when we purchased Saddle (actually, we purchased him back, as he was originally born on my parents’ property back when they used to keep multiple horses, but they eventually sold them all when they started a family) when I was about five years old. I learned to ride horse (both bareback and with a saddle) on him. Saddle was a stubborn old coot, and I learned quickly how to handle a horse who didn’t want to do the things I wanted him to do. I also learned how to duck the low hanging branches that Saddle would sometimes walk under as I rode him. (I could have made him go around, but that would’ve spoiled the fun.) I also remember when Saddle bucked my sister and I off when I was between the ages of five and seven. Both of us had wanted to ride him that day, so my father decided to have us ride double as he led Saddle. The old pony decided that was too much to ask for and bucked. I don’t think my sister ever rode him after that. I didn’t give up, though.

Rest in peace, old horse. You will be missed. But I’m sure I’ll see you again someday.

(Special thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing a public domain source for the image in this post.)

This one’s for Tracie


Long-time blog friend Tracie made the hard decision to put down her beloved Bean (pictured to the left). This gorgeous furbaby had been struggling with advanced cancer for a while, and the time had come to grant her peace from her suffering. At this time, I’d like to offer Tracie my deepest condolences along with a few words.

I’m going to try my best (though I’m not sure how good my best will ultimately be) to avoid platitudes, such as how Bean is in a better place (which I definitely believe) or how even death is the part of a master plan we don’t understand (which I might believe up to a point). Instead, I want to say something else to you, Tracie.

It sucks. I know you’re hurting and missing your darling little Bean. If I was in your position, I’d feel the same way. I’d probably bawl my eyes out more than once today and over the next several days. So girl, you go right ahead and do that. You both need and deserve to do it. And the gods know, Bean deserves that kind of love.

And ultimately, that’s what we’re talking about. The reason this sucks so bad is that you loved her and she loved you. You shared a bond and countless precious moments. She was a precious part of your life that you cherished for many years and you will continue to cherish. The loss of that bond — the loss of the chance to experience new precious moments with your darling Bean — is worthy of much sorrow. Such love must be mourned. So give yourself the freedom to do so. It’s just another way of cherishing the love the two of you shared.

I hope that you find a way to express your sorrow, cherish your memories, and find the sweetness in it all.

My thoughts are with you, my friend.

Reading a great bear book

The other day, I picked up a rather interesting book at Borders. The book is Among the Bears and is written by Benjamin Kilham and Ed Gray — though I get the impression that Gray’s contribution was more editorial while the bulk of the content is Kilham’s. It’s a fascinating story about Kilham’s experiences rehabilitating wildlife cubs near his New Hampshire home.

The book starts with the story of LG and LB (short for “Little Girl” and “Little Boy” respectively), two cubs whose mother abandoned them before they even left the natal den. LG and LB were the first bear cubs that Kilham is asked to care for. Kilham relates his experiences how he worked through the process with very little information to go on — and the looming knowledge that no one had yet managed to rehabilitate black bear cubs to the point of being able to successfully returning them to the wild. In the process, he makes some fascinating discoveries about black bear behavior and the development of cubs.

Currently, I’m only on chapter 5 and into Kilham’s first summer with LG and LB. So in the great scheme of things, I haven’t read but a small part of the story. I still have the rest of his experiences with LG and LB as well as the subsequent cubs he’s raised to read about. But if the rest of the book is like the chapters I’ve read so far — and I suspect there may be even bigger discoveries ahead — it will be a most interesting book.

As an aside, I’d like to point out the idiot who gave this book a bad review on Amazon. This is clearly a case of someone brainlessly adopting a cause without understanding the issues. Which is a shame, because it’s quite clear that they were so focused on their anti-hunting rhetoric that they missed an excellent opportunity to learn about the animals they claim to love.