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Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This year is closing with a lot of drama - the cat is on the mend but we now know we face an incurable chronic condition with his FIV+ diagnosis.

Annie's battle is not over yet. Her surgery failed to produce clean margins; she will need a second surgery. So Annie, Artie and I go into 2013 with her health crisis unresolved.

I will not be posting New Year's Day - the first day of the new year will be for spending with my sweet Annie, the new cat (we need to come up with an appropriate name for him) and my brother.

In closing, I will say if you're reading my post and you have furry family members of your own, review my Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas posts for tips on keeping them safe this New Year's Eve (and Day).  Since everyone will be celebrating the end of the old year and the start of the new, watch out for balloons, confetti, noise makers and alcohol in addition to everything else mentioned in my other holiday posts.

Wishing all my readers a Happy, Healthy New Year filled with peace and all manner of goodness. We'll meet back here for 2013.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

THE NEW CAT

We still haven't settled on a name for the cat, however, we do know this:

  • The cat is a male approximately 3-5 years of age.
  • He has fleas.
  • He has worms.
  • He needs to be neutered.
  • He is FIV+.

We're treating him for the fleas and worms; neutering will be done later. Until the parasite problems are solved, he's living separately from the rest of us.

On the plus side, he's content to be inside, comfortable with me and Artie, scared of Annie and always looking for a meal.

Monday, December 24, 2012

MAKE CHRISTMAS MERRY & SAFE FOR YOUR PETS

Christmas is a wonderful time worth looking forward to. With winter in full swing and a new year fast approaching, it truly is a time for celebration.  It is also a time to make sure our home is decorated with the safety of our pets in mind.

Christmas decorations can prove tempting to our furry family members. Noses, paws and tails can knock glass and ceramic ornaments off Christmas Trees and displays.  It is a good idea to put unbreakable ornaments or no ornaments at all on the lower branches of your tree. Make sure displays containing breakables are on mantles, walls or places higher than your canine's eye level. In the case of felines, breakables should be in a place where kitty can't jump to. Breakables not only cause cuts but fragments can be ingested causing internal perforations and requiring surgical removal. String, thin ribbon, tinsel, metal hooks and wire can cause emergency intestinal issues for both dogs and cats. Do not use them on the lower part of the tree. I would suggest wide ribbon instead. If you like tinsel, a great trick is to get white or colored paper, run it through a paper cutter (the non-cross cut type) and use it as 'tinsel'. I use green and red paper and I put very little of it around the bottom branches of the tree.

And while we're on the subject of Christmas Trees, make sure your tree, whether it's artificial or real is anchored to the walls to keep anyone, especially your pet, from knocking it over. Many a story I've heard of a cat who loved to climb, nestle in the branches or fling himself at the family tree. Live trees need water and nutrients - keep the water source covered. It is another potential avenue of poisoning for your dog or cat. If you use a tree skirt, you might want to spray it with a citrus-scented perfume to deter your cat or use Grannick's Bitter Apple but test an inconspicuous portion of cloth to make sure what you're using doesn't stain. Recycle your dog's old Elizabethan collar as a tree-stand cover. It's sure to keep all the four-legged traffic from drinking from the 'new' water bowl. 

Puppies and kittens love to chew and gnaw on just about everything. How many pairs of slippers have succumbed to little mouths? I've lost books, clothes, shoes even a bag of potting soil to inquisitive puppies. The extra electric cords for lights and automated decorations will be too tempting to resist. Besides electric shock to your pet there is the potential of fire. To keep your pet and possessions safe, purchase Grannick's Bitter Apple to spray on the cords. Make sure you spray the cords thoroughly; the smell will keep them from tasting the sprayed item. I've used Grannick's Bitter Apple with the majority of my puppies and I find it works very well. With its sour-apple smell and bitter taste, to me it's the animal equivalent of that stuff you paint on your kids' nails to keep them from biting them.

Of course, everyone looks forward to all the food, desserts and treats associated with the holidays. Frequently we try different cuisines, new recipes or special holiday favorites and that's fine for us but not for our pets. Family and guests should be reminded not to feed the four-legged family members human food. Have some special pet treats available for guests to give to your pet but make sure their intake is monitored. Don't overfeed or feed foods not usually included in their regular diet to your pets. Don't let anyone give them alcohol of any kind, soda, coffee or tea and no chocolate! Grapes, raisins, advocados and onions are poisonous to pets. A quick review of the following list compiled by the Humane Society will help you protect your pet from accidental poisoning:
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/foods_poisonous_to_pets.html

If you will have a large gathering and your pet is not used to such activity or even a small gathering with people not familiar to your pet it might be best to confine your furry family member to a quiet part of the house. This will reduce the possibility of your pet inadvertently getting out of the house as well. It will also prevent unpredictable behavior such as growling, snapping, biting or scratching.

Costumes such as reindeer antlers, angel outfits or ribbons on pets make adorable Christmas cards but if your pet doesn't like dress up, please don't force them.

Finally, plants and flowers are commonly given as gifts at Christmastime. Make sure you read up on any plants you intend to purchase or plants you have received to prevent accidental poisoning of your dog or cat.

A little bit of planning goes a long way. Whatever you do Christmas Eve, be it last minute preparations or celebrating, enjoy the Eve and Christmas Day and make sure your furry family members enjoy it to! Following these simple suggestions will go a long way to making the holiday season a happy one for everyone.

German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. website lists various poison control numbers to call in the event of an emergency:

http://www.gsrne.org/Health/poison_control.htm

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

AN UNEXPECTED TURN OF EVENTS

After a series of discussions concerning Annie's cytology report, Artie and I decided to have the large lump removed as quickly as possible. We did as we always do, sitting down as a family and discussing the pros, cons and what questions/concerns need to be addressed.

Our biggest concern with Annie, apart from a possible cancer diagnosis, was her age and how she would tolerate anesthesia. In addition, other issues needed to be addressed. There were 3 small lumps of a size similar to the large one before its unexpected growth; could they be removed at the same time? Annie had what looked like a mole under her chin - could that be removed during surgery? A tab on her back leg grew into an elongated 1 inch stretch of flesh, could that be removed? Finally, was there time to clean and evaluate her teeth? With the New Year Annie turns 10. Now is the time to get a clearer understanding of her dental health as she enters 'old age'. The final question: could Annie be kept under anesthesia long enough to take care of everything? It was decided to give the cat's visit to Annie bringing her in for a preliminary to surgery and a discussion of what would be done.

So off we went to keep our doctor appointment. Needle aspirations were done on the 3 lumps; all 3 are lipomas (fatty tumors) no need to remove them. Dr. Young examined the mole which turned out to be a cyst. She checked the tab and Annie's teeth. The cyst would be removed and biopsied, the tab removed to prevent Annie from catching it on anything (no need to biopsy) and Annie's teeth would receive a light cleaning since they are in good shape.

 Annie is 42 lbs. not easy for us to handle alone. Surgery had to be scheduled for a day both Artie and I could get her home afterwards. Dr. Young checked the procedure/surgery schedule and decided Annie's surgery could be preformed that afternoon. We agreed. So Annie was prepped and we went off to do errands in the 3-hour time-frame needed to get everything done.

We arrived at Hope Vet's about 15 minutes before the 3-hour mark to the news that Annie was out of surgery. The operation went well; all we needed was to wait for Annie to wake up completely from the anesthesia.  No sooner were we told this when I heard a long high howl. I knew Annie was still somewhat under the anesthesia. I've heard her howl like that in her sleep. We were told to give her an additional 30 minutes so we went for a walk.

Getting her home became a bit complicated. She was awake but still out of it and very wobbly on her legs. Her bandages kept slipping but a special sticky ace-type bandage solved that problem. We went over post-surgery care instructions and the Veterinary Technician carried her to the car. Once at home, Artie and I lifted her by her harness and a towel sling under her hind legs out of the car, up the steps and into the house. She was moving her legs and 'walking' but not really doing anything just going through the motions since her legs were like rubber-bands.

The rest of the evening was spent monitoring her condition, her intake of food, water and administering medications. So far, so good; I will continue Annie's story in another post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

THE CAT WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD

The cat that looks like Buddy came in from the cold yesterday.  So far, he seems fine; just a bit subdued. Artie scooped him up and brought him inside. He tentatively explored our hallway where we set him up with food, water, a bed, some blankets and a litter box.

We're keeping Annie away from him until we get him to Dr. Young for a checkup tomorrow. Both of us are hopeful this will be a win-win for the cat, Annie and us! No longer The Norwegian Forest Cat, we will have to come up with an appropriate name for our newest family member.

Monday, December 17, 2012

ANNIE'S REPORT

The cytology report for Annie is in and there is a slight possibility the tumor might be a slow-growing cancer. The recommendation: remove the lump and have it tested.

What can I say? My worst fears are confirmed yet it's not as bad as it could be. The operative word here is possibility. Before Buddy had his tail amputated the cytology report confirmed his lump was cancerous. Buddy survived 4 or 5 years to succumb to renal failure.

We will definitely go forward with surgery as quickly as possible. Annie turns 10 years of age in January. With good diet, exercise and care our sweet little girl will have many more years of good living ahead of her and we will do our best to guarantee her the longest, best quality of life possible.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA?

We all know Beagles, like the girls in the Cyndi Lauper song, just want to have fun. This cutie's family came up with a novel and inexpensive gift idea - used water bottles.

I wouldn't recommend this because of the potential choking factor from the bottle tops and the possibility of ingesting a fragment of broken plastic if your dog starts chewing on one but it did make for a cute video...

Friday, December 14, 2012

ANNIE'S TRIP TO THE VET

I haven't posted about this issue since I'm finding it hard to deal with. Annie has a lump on her left side near the last rib. Recently, the lump has gotten very large after being small for a long time.

The doctor and the both of us have been keeping an eye on it but now it needed to be checked again. After rescheduling our appointment 3 times due to circumstances beyond everyone's control, we finally kept our visit yesterday morning.

Annie was given a thorough exam. Dr. Young was happy to see Annie maintaining her weight. Annie's teeth are fine; no need for deep cleaning. Her temperature was fine; her ears clean. Her eyes were checked and nothing needs to be done for her cataract at this time. The lump, however, needed to be checked. Annie was given Benadryl as a mild sedative and we were instructed to wait about 20 to 30 minutes for it to kick in.

Honestly, Artie and I thought the Benadryl would never work; Annie is such a ball of never-ending energy, a regular whirling dervish but to our complete and utter surprise she started to appear a bit subdued at the 20-minute mark. One of the Vet Techs took her and a needle aspiration was performed.

We are waiting for the results.  My brother is convinced the lump is benign; I'm fearful it will be cancerous and we will be faced with losing Annie less than a year after losing Buddy. This is the hard part of loving and taking a pet into your heart and home.

I'm trying desperately not to think about the results. Instead I'm trying to keep positive but it's hard. All I can hope for is a Christmastime gift of a clean bill of health for my Annie.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

FERAL COLONY UPDATE

It's been awhile since I've written about my outdoor cats. I'm thankful for the unseasonably warm weather we're having; I know my cats are doing OK with what I hope will prove to be a milder than anticipated winter.

Slowly I've been adjusting the time I put food out to get everyone fed while there is still sunlight. The little black cat, the kitten and the one who looks like Buddy have been showing up as early as 4:20 PM. One development that I'm very pleased with is the kitten has taken up permanent residence in the winter shelter. How do I know this? Occasionally I lift the shelter ever so slightly to see if it feels heavy. Lately, it does; when I did that today, I also felt movement inside. I stepped back in time to see a little face peering out the front door. It was the kitten. I decided to put some food out and the kitten came out for a meal.

Along with everyone showing up for meals on a regular basis, I have had as many as 3 possums showing up during the late evening when the neighborhood is quiet with no activity. That happens after 9 PM mostly since this section of Brooklyn has more than its share of hustle and bustle.

The earlier feeding and picking up the unfinished food has corrected the problem. I don't have an issue with possums - the City brought them in to cope with the vermin problem not to consume the cat food I'm putting out for my cats. My charges will have to learn that dinner will be served at a new hour and removed by a certain time. If they want to eat they have to show up within that time-frame.

If there's anything I've learned, cats are smart and they will adapt quickly to the new routine. A few of them have to overcome their fear of noise and activity. Brother shows up later as does the other black cat. Silver Grey and Charcoal Grey show up when they show up - sometimes earlier in the day, sometimes later.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 DAYS OF HANUKKAH AND PETS

December, the final month of the year and a major holiday month with Hanukkah, the 8-day festival of lights, starting tonight.  With so many days of celebrating and the end of the modern year fast approaching, it is also a time to make sure our home is decorated with the safety of our pets in mind.

Hanukkah decorations can prove tempting to our furry family members. Noses, paws and tails can knock glass and ceramic decorations over breaking them.  It is a good idea to make sure displays containing breakables are on walls or places higher than your canine's eye level. In the case of felines, breakables should be in a place where kitty can't jump to. Breakables not only cause cuts but fragments can be ingested causing internal perforations and requiring surgical removal. String, thin ribbon, metal hooks and wire can cause emergency intestinal issues for both dogs and cats.

A menorah with real candles or oil is a beautiful sight and fascinating to pets. Make sure furry family members are supervised when in the same room; better yet confine them away from the room containing the menorah or any candelabra.

Remember, puppies and kittens love to chew and gnaw on just about everything. The electric cords for decorative lights and menorahs will be too tempting to resist. Besides electric shock to your pet there is the potential of fire. To keep your pet and possessions safe, purchase Grannick's Bitter Apple to spray on the cords. Make sure you spray the cords thoroughly; the smell will keep them from tasting the sprayed item. I've used Grannick's Bitter Apple with the majority of my puppies and I find it works very well. With its sour-apple smell and bitter taste, to me it's the animal equivalent of that stuff you paint on your kids' nails to to prevent biting.

Of course, everyone looks forward to all the food, desserts and treats associated with Hanukkah. Whether you are trying new recipes or making traditional holiday favorites, family and guests should be reminded not to feed the four-legged family members human food. Have some special pet treats available for guests to give to your pet but make sure their intake is monitored. Don't overfeed or feed foods not usually included in their regular diet to your pets. Don't let anyone give them alcohol of any kind, soda, coffee or tea and no chocolate! Grapes, raisins, avocados and onions are poisonous to pets. A quick review of this list compiled by the Humane Society will help you protect your pet from accidental poisoning:
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/foods_poisonous_to_pets.html

If you will have a large gathering and your pet is not used to such activity or even a small gathering with people not familiar to your pet it might be best to confine your furry family member to a quiet part of the house. This will reduce the possibility of your pet inadvertently getting out of the house as well. It will also prevent unpredictable behavior such as growling, snapping, biting or scratching.

Dressing your pet in a Hanukkah-appropriate Tee-shirt or a prayer shawl and yarmulke might make for a nice holiday photo but don't force a reluctant pet to get dressed up if they don't like to. 

Following these simple suggestions will go a long way to making the 8 days of Hanukkah a happy one for everyone.

German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. website lists various poison control numbers to call in the event of an emergency:
http://www.gsrne.org/Health/poison_control.htm





Monday, December 3, 2012

MICROCHIPS & MAN BITES DOG

Every day I take a break to read and answer emails. Once I'm done with my electronic mail, I always make it a point to catch up with what's happening by reading MSN News. Today's news had 2 interesting articles.

A man received a call informing him that his beloved dog, who went missing 7 years ago had been found, identified by the microchip implanted under his skin. This is truly amazing and a happy ending but way to long in terms of years to its resolution.


Every since I can remember, a standard joke in the news industry has been "Dog Bites Man, that's not news but Man Bites Dog, that's news!" Man Bites Dog has always typified the hunt for an unusual story or a  typical story with an unusual twist.

Well, apparently it's happened - a man bit a police dog Down Under and (I love this part of the story) the canine officer retaliated by biting the perpetrator in self defense.  


I wonder what else will turn up in the news?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

1ST CHRISTMAS SEASON WITHOUT MY BUDDY

This is our first Christmas without Buddy and holiday time brings more and more memories of him to mind.  Today is his 9-month anniversary.

Cooking for the holidays reminds me of having to literally climb over both Buddy and Annie anytime turkey was on the menu. I've written about this before, turkey was his favorite; it is Annie's favorite as well. Any other food item, be it fish, fowl or pork, would always elicit a sniff or two at the oven door except for turkey. Turkey always demanded a vigil - sitting by the oven door, sniffing expectantly and patiently waiting for the bird to emerge. Nothing else rated such attention.

Gifts also bring back memories. Annie loves to stick her head in bags to sniff out her presents.  Buddy always remained aloof and indifferent to his gifts unless they were packages of Pounce (the soft variety) which were his favorite indulgence throughout his time with us.

I'm also forever grateful to Buddy for not being the least bit impressed by our Christmas trees, decorations or packages. Never once did he climb, inspect, scratch, bite or knock over any Christmas-related paraphernalia beyond a cursory sniff to determine if the item warranted his interest. Obviously nothing of a holiday nature did.

The holidays and the colder weather bring back memories of Buddy cuddling with Annie, sleeping on the nearest convenient lap or chest (mine or Artie's) under our throws or just by himself, commandeering the recliner, huddled in a bunch of blankets.

Without a doubt the holidays will be bittersweet this year. At least there are happy memories to cherish and possibly a new cat with which to share our home.