Thursday, May 31, 2012


It's nice to see a good deed well done especially under the sea. A scuba diver met up with a denizen of the deep who was in distress and the result was a win win for both.  The little fellow's dilemma was resolved and the diver had the satisfaction of helping him out as well as some great video to remind him of the encounter. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Our Memorial Day was filled with sunshine even though the entire weekend we experienced intermittent heavy rain and thunderstorms. (I sound like a meteorologist!)

It was great to rest, read, write, cook, sew, craft jewelry and basically do whatever I wanted to when I wanted to. That sounds like a lot of work but to me that's kicking back and relaxing. Annie kept to her lazy weekend schedule as well. She divided her time by sleeping on my bed, the recliner and my brother's bed.  The remainder of her time was spent sunning herself when the weather permitted, running around looking for cats, pestering me for food and asking me to play or go for a walk. What I wouldn't give to have her energy and stamina.

The best part of this weekend was the quality time we spent together. Annie is so relaxed now it is totally amazing. I didn't realize how much Buddy's illness stressed her out; I knew she was stressed, we all were but when you're in the middle of dealing with whatever you tend to lose sight of the consequences.

Because of all the wet weather, possum watch was suspended for the holiday weekend. If Pat did come around, I'm sure it wasn't for very long.  The rain also prevented us from accomplishing our number one task - cleaning up the back yard. We spent about a half hour pulling weeds but the place still looks like a jungle with no significant change in appearance despite our best efforts. Maybe next weekend will have more favorable weather.  If so, Artie and I will tackle it then.

Five more minutes then I'll turn over. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I really should have posted this 'on the day' but I published the Growing Up With Pets post and already had a number of hits when I thought of this article so I wrote it Memorial Day but posted it today.

It seems more and more we lose sight of what Memorial Day is all about - I did this year, that's why this post is a day late. Everyone gets wrapped up in the beginning of summer, the first big holiday weekend, picnics, barbecues, events, the beach, amusements and whatever other wonderful fun activities are planned.

We need to remember those who gave their lives so we could keep the freedoms we so readily enjoy as Americans. Beyond the human equation, I would like to remind everyone of the "dogs of war". More than a phrase from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, dogs have been part of military campaigns going back to before 600 BC.  As a nation, we are no different, employing dogs for various military operations from sniffing out bombs to delivering messages, as MPs, guard dogs and ambulance dogs for the Red Cross.

The Boomer generation will be familiar with  Rin Tin Tin , a canine celebrity with his own television show during the 50s.  The original  Rin Tin Tin  was rescued as a pup from a French battlefield during WWI. After the war, he accompanied his owner to Hollywood, became a movie star and garnered a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  

And then there was Stubby... Stubby was America's first decorated canine war hero. A Pit Bull who saved his comrades from attack, captured an enemy spy and was wounded in battle, Stubby achieved the rank of Sergeant, survived WWI to return home and muster out with his unit. 

The Civil War saw many mascots on both sides of the Mason/Dixon and not just dogs but cats, a bald eagle and a pig. Sallie, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, regularly went into battle with the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry. Captured twice by the Confederates, she escaped only to die at the Battle of Hatchers Run and was buried with her comrades.

America has utilized canines and their amazing abilities during every War and military action since the Civil War. Dogs that served during WWII were brought home and honorably discharged much like their human comrades in arms. From what I've read, the dogs that served in Vietnam were not as lucky. Abandoned by their country after the war was over. Returning veterans weren't treated much better upon their return.

Currently, we have dogs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Rin Tin Tin and Stubby were two survivors of war; Sallie was a casualty.  On Guam there is a small cemetery which contains the remains of 24 dogs that gave their lives in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Slowly we are starting to acknowledge our canine heroes with memorials.

Memorial Day, a day to remember those who lost their lives to keep us free. Veteran's Day, a day to remember those who fought to keep us free and lived to return to the homeland they defended so honorably. Two-legged or four-legged we need to remember and honor them all.

To read about Rin Tin Tin, Stubby and Sallie follow the links below:

Monday, May 28, 2012


Do I believe growing up with pets is beneficial for kids?  I certainly do. Dogs and cats are a great way to teach life-lessons of responsibility and compassion to the younger generation, teaching those lessons at an early age. Many children want to feel "grown up" and beg for the chance to have a pet promising to feed and care for them.

When getting a pet you should expand your horizons beyond cats and dogs. Above all, make sure the pet is age-appropriate. For younger children it might be a good choice to go with fish or hamsters which are easy to care for.  Your child can assist with feeding. Remember, turtles and other reptiles carry salmonella so they are not appropriate for younger children.

If a child is younger than age 10,  they will need assistance caring for a dog or cat.  An older child will be able to take on the necessary responsibilities with your supervision.  No matter what type of pet you choose, children should be taught to 'wash up' after handling the pet, its food or belongings.

I view having a family pet as a means to teach lessons concerning the cycle of life from procreation and birth to sickness, death and bereavement, a pet may very well be the first way a child experiences such life passages.

A family pet can bring the family members closer together through shared experiences and happy memories.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Well, summer is almost upon us and a lot of people will be hitting the road, the sea or the air with or without Fido or kitty. This is a huge topic with lots of ground to cover (no joking here) and plenty of thought must go into your decision to travel with your pet or leave your companion behind.

If you have fish, rodents or reptiles you will need to get a family member, trusted friend or a reputable service to come in and care for them until you return.  Always make sure you leave written instructions, plenty of food, name, address and phone number of your regular veterinarian, 24-hour veterinary emergency service and your contact information with the sitter. Do the same for your dog or cat if you decide to keep them at home during your trip. Other options for dogs and cats staying behind are boarding at a kennel, with a pet sitter or a pet hotel.  If your pet has a chronic medical condition, another option is to board at your veterinarian if they offer that service or arrange with your vet for someone to come in to administer medications/treatments.

If you intend to travel with your dog or cat  there are more pet-friendly hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts in the USA than ever before. Now we ask those age-old questions "What do I pack?" and "How do I handle leaving my pet alone in the room?" That's easy if you prepare a check list and stick to it.

  • Food, supplements, medicines
  • Make sure you have access to bottled water to avoid stomach upsets
  • Toys
  • Leashes
  • Accessories (favorite blanket, pet bed)
  • Dog tag with your cell phone number (added to the collar)
  • Recent medical records
  • Address and phone numbers of a veterinarian, groomer, daycare and pet store closest to your vacation spot to use in case of an emergency
  • Give your cell phone number to the front desk in case of an emergency when you're out but your pet is occupying the room
  • Leave the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door at all times to prevent hotel employees from accidently letting your pet escape.

Research airlines thoroughly. I'm not comfortable with putting pets in the cargo hold which is something you have to do if your pet does not fit in a carrier under a seat. Pick your airline based on your research and the needs of you and your pet.  Try to keep travel time to a minimum; use direct flights. There are pet airlines on the internet. I've never used any of them but if this is something that appeals to you verses a traditional airline, by all means do your homework and check them out.

A little bit of extra legwork will guarantee you, your pet and the entire family will have a wonderful summer vacation.

To identify pet-friendly accommodations, check the following websites:

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Spring is the time for us to get our pets ready for Summer.

Dogs and cats need to be groomed more often (brushed and bathed).

Be diligent in your fight against fleas and ticks. Whether you use commercial products or decide to go holistic, check with your veterinarian for an acceptable course of action and stick to it.

Spring and Fall are a good time to take your pets for their semi-annual doctor visit. Pets age faster than we do so a visit every 6 months will help you uncover health issues before they get out of hand. Older pets need their teeth, eyes, hearing, joints, blood and emotional well-being monitored as they age.

Dogs need heartworm pills to keep them heart-healthy and this is especially critical after a mild winter. We give Annie her pills year round. No treatment is available for cats so in Buddy's case we made sure he stayed inside most of the time.

Dogs and cats both like to be outdoors during spring and summer. Make sure you monitor their time outside and provide plenty of fresh water. If putting your cat out in a cage make sure it is in shade as well as sun. Dogs should have access to a yard with shade and sun. Buddy would spend a half hour outside in mild weather, no more than 10 to 15 minutes in warm weather, zero time outside in hot weather. Annie would spend up to an hour outside in mild weather, no more than 10 to 15 minutes in warm weather, zero time outside in hot weather. I would check on both of them every 10 to 15 minutes.

Finally, be thorough when taking your pet on vacation. I will be writing about what to consider in another post.

Enjoy the warm weather and make sure your pets enjoy it too! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

ECOLLEGE FINDER TOP PET BLOGS AWARDS has chosen the winners of the Top Pet Blogs Awards.

8 Paws and 2 Tails made the cut! The voting was conducted in-house at eCollegeFinder and we wish to thank all those who voted for 8 Paws and 2 Tails.  It's great to be included in top honors with so many other great pet blogs.

Congratulations to all the winners. Keep on writing about what you all love best - your pets!

Mom won - that's great!  She's on her computer and I've got her chair...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It's time to talk about Pit Bulls or 'Pitties' as I refer to them. MSN had a heartbreaking picture of a pit bull holding a vigil by the body of his dead companion. The story touches many themes, loyalty the first and foremost to come to mind and unconditional love.

What of the other dynamics at work here?  Why were these two beautiful dogs roaming loose?  Owner responsibility - another theme. Owners need to be held accountable for not caring for their pets and should be fined if their pet is continually found loose and unattended with increasing penalties and removal of the pet from the owner after a designated number of incidents. I've know of at least one instance where a dog found repeatedly wandering the streets loose only to be eventually reclaimed by the owners was found a new home before the owners decided they wanted the dog back yet again.

Second theme - driver responsibility. I'm not saying the dog was deliberately hit by a motorist (although it is a distinct possibility) but if the dogs were on the street for hours after the incident, the motorist responsible did not stop!  Did that motorist place a call to the police? The ASPCA? A rescue group?

Let's think about another theme that comes to mind reading this article - the dog and his dead companion were on the street after the companion's death for 14+ hours! Why did it take so long for authorities to respond to this situation? What of the members of the public who saw this and did nothing? And I do mean nothing - it is a good gesture to leave food for the surviving animal but that is not enough. City agencies should have been bombarded with phone calls to help both dogs.  Shelter/rescue groups should have been alerted. This might have been done but the pressure should have been kept on city officials and the local ASPCA to get the situation resolved.  Henry Bergh, founder of the ASPCA, would be appalled by this story. I am.

Was another theme driving this story the fact that the dogs involved were Pit Bulls? Quite possibly. I adore pitties but at the same time I am cautious around any dogs I do not know well. This is not because of the breed it is because of irresponsible owners who do not train their animals and because of those who abuse them turning them into fighters and aggressive protectors. Two of my family members have Pit Bulls. Both are the sweetest dogs imaginable. Not only do I pet, hug, play with and give them treats, I've caught myself looking at them and suddenly saying to myself  "This is a Pit Bull." In my personal experience, I've found both dogs to be more even tempered, sweet and better with children than most other breeds I have experience with.

The final theme?  Good Samaritans - kudos to the business that put out food, to those who did call the authorities and everyone that got this out on Facebook and the internet. There are those of us who do what is right and what they can.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The open nomination time for the eCollegeFinder Top Pet Blog Awards is closed.

Now all the nominees are waiting to find out which blogs will be finalists.  I don't know how long the vetting process will take but I'm excited to find out if 8 Paws and 2 Tails made the cut.

As soon as I know I will let you know.

Meanwhile, take a look at eCollegeFinder's previous Top Blog Awards.  There are several different categories and I'm sure you will find some very interesting blogs among their previous nominees and winners:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Today another article was posted to Vitals on concerning reports of pet illnesses and deaths from jerky treats.

I understand not everyone has the time or inclination to bake for their families let alone their pets but if you do not prepare food or treats for your animals it is imperative that you perform "due diligence" when purchasing store bought food items for your dog or cat.

I'm crazy enough (in a good way) to invest the time necessary to cook and bake for Annie, as I did for Buddy when he was still with us, so I consider myself at the extreme end of this equation. No longer do I need to worry about ingredients in Annie's food - I purchase and prepare from scratch so I've got a really good handle on what she's eating notwithstanding the whole organic/non-organic vegetables and fruit, antibiotic-free meat and farm raised vs. wild caught fish arguments. 

You need to read labels! I cannot stress this point enough. If you are not comfortable with what's listed, have that discussion with your veterinarian and make an informed decision on whether or not you should continue  feeding or treating your pet to the item in question.

Generally, and this is my firm opinion, it is best to avoid any treats from China.  There have been enough scares involving rawhide treats from China to make me want to avoid any pet treats from there.  As to the origin of ingredients in treats or commercial food prepared in the States, it's hard to know.  Again, any doubts, concerns or questions should be addressed with your veterinarian.

If home cooking for your pet is not an option, talk with your veterinarian concerning appropriate commercial foods or better yet do some research yourself. Why take chances with your pet's health? Do what you can to keep your furry family member healthy, happy and with you as long as possible. 

Please read the Vitals article on the newest pet treat scare:

To find out more about what goes into commercial pet food, check out Ann Martin's book, Food Pets Die for: Shocking Facts about Pet Food.

Two commercial pet foods I've fed Annie are Halo Purely for Pets and Scooter Food.

Halo Purely for Pets puts out Spot's Stew which comes in canine and feline versions. Believe it or not, Buddy started on the feline version but ultimately ate the canine version on a regular basis.  He just liked snitching Annie's food.  Halo's was started by Andi Brown and is co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres.  Visit their website:

Scooter Food is an artisanal dog food company operating out of Brooklyn offering 5 different types of home-cooked foods.  They are in the process of setting up a new website so keep checking back for more information:

Monday, May 21, 2012


If my post title sets anyone to wondering if I'm a Who fan, let me set the record straight by confirming I am. Odds and sods is a British term for a mixed bag of things. Odds and ends is the American version of that term.

This post is a catch-all of odds and ends or odds and sods:

Annie's lick granuloma is 99.9% gone. We haven't scheduled her follow-up doctor appointment yet or her dental surgery. When we do, we will revisit the need of performing the skin punch biopsy since the granuloma is almost completely healed.

The weather was rainy so we spent the beginning of last week inside.  Needless to say, Annie was completely bored.  The latter half of the week was warm and sunny and so was Annie's disposition along with her incessant going in and out.

I cannot find any additional information on Herman, Maurice Sendak's German Shepherd. Emails were sent to the Monks at New Skete but, to date, no reply has been received.

No sign of our possum, Pat Possumwaithe for about two weeks. Very little stray activity through our yard this past week.  No sighting of the Norwegian Forest Cat until Artie spotted him in one of the backyards.

When I posted about adopting a dog I forgot to mention Muffin's Pet Connection. Operating in New York and Brooklyn, they rent traps, offer discount spay/neuter coupons for cats (and dogs) as well  as TNR feral cat only spay/neuter coupons:

And Annie still whines instead of barking to come in - I keep trying to change that and have achieved a 90/10 percent ratio of bark to whine. Progress!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Previously I wrote about shelter dogs vs. puppy mills. Now I want to address the feline side of this equation.

As pet parent to only one feline and one that adopted me not the other way around, I'm definitely not an expert on this subject but I suspect most of what applies to adopting a dog applies to adopting a cat.  If you do not intend to breed and show your cat, you should consider adopting from a shelter if you are interested in a mixed breed or breed rescue if you prefer a purebred feline.

For a purebred, I think the Cat Fancier's Association website is a good place to explore. Besides a breeder referral service, the website suggests adopting a mature purebred retired from the show ring or breeding program as an alternative to getting a kitten.  This is a particularly good idea to consider if you want to cut to the chase instead of putting up with kitten antics in the wee hours of the morning, experiencing kitten-hood in general or feline juvenile delinquency before settling into a normal routine with a mature cat.

In addition to any of the well-known animal groups such as the ASPCA and North Shore Animal League, the following links have cats available for adoption and are worth exploring:

Sean Casey Animal Rescue:

City Critters operates in Manhattan by coordinating adoptions through pet stores and veterinary offices:

Infinite Hope is located in Brooklyn and handles primarily feline adoptions:

Check Muffin's Pet Connection.  Operating in New York and Brooklyn, they rent traps, offer discount spay/neuter coupons for cats (and dogs) as well  as TNR feral cat only spay/neuter coupons:

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Lilly the pit bull continues her recovery. A true hero and a testament to the human/canine connection, Lilly went home after two surgeries. She will need therapy to completely adjust to the loss of her leg.

Follow this link to view some video and read the update on Lilly's recovery:

Friday, May 18, 2012


Recently, I received an email congratulating me on the nomination of 8 Paws and 2 Tails for the eCollegeFinder Top Pet Blogs Award. What an honor to be recognized in this way.

My personal mission as a pet parent and blog writer is to share my love of pets with others. Life is by no means easy and having the unconditional love of a pet is balm for the soul, emotion for the heart and a workout for the mind and body. To run your hand over a dog or cat puts you in tune with nature and yourself, to hug a furry friend brings you love and will make your heart sing, to play with a dog or cat engages your mind and exercises your body. Having a pet makes life worth living.

Another part of my mission and one I consider very important is to write about the experiences of caring for a pet. Time and time again, people tell me when they received a diagnosis of chronic disease for their dog or cat, turning to the internet gave them information about the illness but did not really document personal experiences.  Writing about Buddy's renal failure is my way of addressing that issue along with writing about Annie's urinary tract infections and her gastritis.  Documenting my opinions concerning home feeding, commercial foods, treats and cleanliness are other ways of providing readers with personal experiences they can relate to.  I want my readers to know they are not alone in their experiences with and choices for their companion animals. 

The third part of this equation is to share information about items in the news, rescue services and anecdotes about the wildlife parading through our Brooklyn backyard.

Most importantly, I want everyone to realize empathy for animals is an essential ingredient of a person who cares.  Mahatma Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Whether your pet has fur, feathers, fins or scales, treat them with respect and give them love - you will receive it back every day in every way. So, if you are an animal lover, pet parent or someone interested in learning about animals, read my blog. If you like what you read, follow me.  Together we can explore a paws and tails look at life. 

Congratulations, Mom!  Where's my breakfast?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Why do dog lovers buy pricey dogs from pet stores and breeders, especially online breeders? In my opinion, I would rather adopt from a shelter or a rescue group.  It makes good sense all the way around.  Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a canine companion that might have questionable health you can save a wonderful dog that life hasn't given a break from euthanasia.

Puppy mills promote endless suffering for the dogs used for breeding by forcing them to live in close, cramped, unclean cages, feeding them inferior food and breeding them constantly.  No attention is paid to genetic defects, producing pets with inferior health who are sold with high price tags and high profits for those involved.

I'm not saying you shouldn't get a purebred if you want one but why not consider a breed rescue group as an alternative?  Most families are looking for a new family member not the next winner of the Westminster Dog Show. Fourteen pages of paperwork, phone calls to three references and $75.00 later we adopted Annie.  Did I care she wasn't a pedigree? No way - it doesn't matter to me, I love her.

How do you go about doing this? Visit the dogs at the ASPCA, The Humane Society, Bide-a-Wee, and North Shore Animal League.  Check with veterinarians in your area; they sometimes have pets for adoption. That's how we found Annie.  The American Kennel Club lists breed rescue groups for all breeds from Affenpinschers to Yorkshire Terriers.  In Brooklyn, you can contact BARC or Sean Casey Animal Rescue. 

This weekend it was reported that newspaper Magnate William Randolph Hearst's great granddaughter and heiress to his publishing empire, Amanda Hearst has joined forces with upper West-side Assemblywoman, Linda Rosenthal to introduce legislation to expand the definition of puppy mills and improve living conditions for dogs kept on breeding facilities in upstate New York. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, we can all do our part by thinking long and hard about what we want in a companion animal then make the choice to explore the alternatives suggested above before purchasing a puppy from a pet store or breeder, online or otherwise.  Adopt a rescue or shelter dog; make yourself and some unfortunate dog happy.

If you are interested in adopting, please explore the links below (the first link listed is Sean Casey Animal Rescue):

If you want to adopt a specific breed check the American Kennel Club listings for breed rescue:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


May 3rd I posted about Annie finishing her prescription. She is so much better now she's like a different dog. I added chicken back into her diet along with Quinoa and lentils. I've also added back her healthy powder, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.  Now Annie is prompting me to give her meals, a big difference from my having to coax her to eat.  It's kind of amusing to discover I'm now too slow preparing her meals.

The lick granuloma on her paw is practically gone, her skin feels smooth and the area is soft not hard like before. Most importantly she hasn't had a recurrence of blood and mucous in her stool. She isn't depressed anymore.  I find her happy, alert, relaxed with boundless energy and a renewed interest in playing. Artie and I are very relieved to see all this improvement.

It's time to make her follow-up appointment and to schedule her dental surgery and have her tab removed. I'll have to discuss this with Artie to determine when to take her to Hope Veterinary Clinic.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


The strawberries were still in the dish Saturday morning so Pat did not amble through our backyard anytime Friday night.  We were very disappointed because Annie kept pestering us for access to the back porch - a sure sign we thought that Pat was about.  After going out with her a half dozen times we gave up.

By Sunday morning the strawberries were shriveled and ready for the compost bin, which was where we tossed them.  Sunday evening was more of the same with no sighting of Pat by any of us.

I'm getting a bit discouraged.  Now I wonder if I'll ever get any video of this possum to post on You Tube.  Well, maybe when I least expect it Pat Possumwaithe will reappear and I'll get the footage I want. 

Monday, May 14, 2012


Julio the Dachshund, companion of Cat Greenleaf, and canine star of Talk Stoop has died at the age of seventeen.

Brooklyn has a long tradition of people 'hangin out on the stoop' talking, listening to music, enjoying the breeze or just getting out of a hot apartment. That tradition makes Talk Stoop the quintessential Brooklyn talk show which takes place appropriately on Cat Greenleaf's stoop in Cobble Hill. Since the beginning, Julio was a delightful fixture, hanging out and acting cool while Cat interviewed the likes of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Andy Garcia, Suze Orman and Henry Winkler.

Adorable and pleasant, I found myself watching not only because I enjoyed the interviews but because I enjoyed seeing Julio. Last year, there was the addition of Gracie the Bulldog to the stoop but as much as I like Gracie, I always found myself looking for Julio.

Julio was adopted by Greenleaf while still a puppy, moving with her to different states and for different jobs until they settled in New York. He was with Cat through all the major changes of her personal life, from singlehood to marriage and parenthood.  He was a cute little guy and I'm going to miss his presence on Talk Stoop as I'm sure all fans of the show will. And Cat, our hearts go out to you and Gracie because of your loss.

Julio the Dachshund

Watch cute little Julio with Cat and her guest Stanley Tucci in this Talk Stoop clip on You Tube:

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Springtime in Brooklyn and we're having an unusually beautiful spring. It's also Mother's Day, in years past a day of celebration but more recently a day of remembrance as our Mom is no longer with us.

I spent Saturday morning and part of this beautiful Mother's Day morning on our back porch with Annie, enjoying the blue sky, soft breeze and warm sun. My yard is turning into a wilderness and I need to formulate a plan of action for getting it back into shape. There will be quite a few days of removing dead mulberry tree branches, sweeping up leaves and tree debris, pulling weeds, turning earth and winding the new growth from my wild climbing roses on the metal U-shaped garden arbor it now covers by a third. Occasionally, city sounds intrude breaking the morning peacefulness, a reminder that we are in the city after all.

On this Mother's Day my thoughts naturally turn to my Mother, gone now for a number of years. She was a woman who ran track in her youth and rode horses. She was Mom not only to us but to a litany of dogs along with 5 tanks of fish, the usual collection of red sliders (before they were a problem), salamanders and newts, frogs and toads, a couple of parakeets and a box turtle.

In her later years, our back porch and garden were a refuge for her. She loved to 'sit out' enjoying the weather and watching the array of wildlife that called the microcosm of our yard home. Mom particularly enjoyed the family of three squirrels as they went from their nest in our neighbor's tree across our back fence, stopping to drink from a plastic cup or snatch an unshelled peanut or some such offering from a plastic bowl Artie wired to our fence. They would sit in the Mulberry tree munching on berries and later in the season our neighbor's fig tree having a feast.

Another neighbor's cat whom we called Fatso, would come and sit on her lap for awhile before heading home from his daily ramblings. Years later, Buddy would adopt us and spend many an evening sleeping peacefully on her lap. She laughed at the antics of our dog Roger trying desperately to catch a bee - he never did, lucky for him or Annie, quietly creeping up on a solitary honeybee to smell him and watch quizzically as he flew away. Of course, Mom loved to see the progress of our vegetable garden and whatever flowers we planted that year.

I know what she enjoyed most - the birds. For Brooklyn we do get a nice selection of birds; Mom loved watching them and listening to them sing. For a very long time, a pair of Mourning Doves were regular visitors to our garden along with the usual English Sparrows and Starlings. An occasional Hummingbird would flit from flower to flower or a Woodpecker would stop to peck the wooden clothesline pole. Very rarely, Mom would catch sight of a Finch or two. She also enjoyed the beauty of pairs of Robin Red Breasts, squawking Blue Jays and magnificent Cardinals up close as they searched the yard for something to eat or materials for nest building. Crows, Seagulls and the lone hawk or falcon would fly overhead but never visit our yard and Mom would look up, shielding her eyes with one hand, appreciating the beauty of their flight.

Later today, we will spend some time on the porch, enjoying the day, remembering Mom and thanking her for passing her love of animals and nature along to us.
Happy Mother's Day! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Another week had come and gone with plenty to do in the way of work, errands and socializing.  After a very busy Thursday, we decided fruit smoothies were a good way to go for dinner after having no breakfast and gigantic veggie burger and chicken panini platters for lunch.

I prepared the smoothies and as usual Artie put out a few overripe strawberries.  The security light came on but whenever we checked the yard was empty - probably just a cat passing through.  The strawberries were still there when we called it a day.

Friday morning was an early one since I had a few business meetings but amid the rush to get ready, I did remember to check for visible signs of our visitor.  I was disappointed to see the strawberries still in their dish.  I'm positive the Pat Possumwaithe did not come through last night.  We just have to see what happens the remainder of the weekend.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I'm partial to Pit Bulls being a Little Rascals fan practically forever and to me Pete the Pup is the ultimate Pit Bull, a true symbol of his breed just as Charles Schultz's Snoopy is a symbol of Beagles.

Today, ABC News posted an unbelievably incredible story of rescue.  This story of love, unselfishness, devotion, valor and bravery has all the elements of what is best in the human canine connection.  This is a tale of unconditional love.

Follow the link and read about how a canine paid back the kindness of adoption a hundredfold:

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Yesterday was just another Tuesday - nothing special.  Annie and I spent a quiet day together, me, working on the computer; she, keeping my recliner warm when she wasn't pestering me to play with her or let her outside.

A few of the cats came through the yard but not the Norwegian Forest Cat.  We haven't seen the possum since last Thursday.  

For supper I prepared a simple dessert of cut up strawberries and raspberries.  There were a few really overripe strawberries I cut up and put aside for Pat.  Artie put the strawberries out around 8PM; in the same bowl as the undisturbed carrots.  Previously, Artie found slugs in the carrots.  Since possums eat slugs, we decided to add the strawberries to the carrots so Pat would have the strawberries and hopefully a selection of slugs to add to his diet.  We checked around 10:30 when Annie went out for the last time and the strawberries were still there. 

Wednesday morning dawned grey and drizzly.  The carrots were disturbed but uneaten; the strawberries were gone.  Since the carrots were moved around, I took it to mean Pat got some slugs along with the fruit.  I did not put any more fruit out Wednesday evening although we did check the yard on and off but no sign of Pat.  

During one of Annie's trips outside she started to bark.  We went to look and saw the Norwegian Forest Cat hop the fence.  So now we know he's still around as well.

I think we will have to put some food out early and take turns watching for Pat.  I'm determined to get some video footage to post.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Tuesday morning I awoke to the news that the world of children's literature had lost the iconic illustrator, writer and recipient of the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, Maurice Sendak. He brought us wild things and a girl named Rosie.  He designed sets for the award-winning Pacific Northwest Ballet Company's production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite as well as the Houston Grand Opera Company's productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute and Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.

Sendak, a Brooklynite by birth, had a great love of dogs particularly German Shepherds.  I came across this fact when I purchased a copy of The Art of Raising a Puppy by The Monks of New Skete.  At the time, we had adopted a German Shepherd Doberman Pinscher mix who was a bit of a handful and this book helped us 'train ourselves' in order to train him.  Imagine my delight to discover Maurice Sendak in this dog book.  The text talks about Runge, Sendak's canine companion at the time, their relationship and about the Monk's ongoing relationship with the writer/illustrator. 

It was George Carlin who said "Life is a series of dogs."  Deep down inside, Maurice Sendak must have felt the same way, too.  He suffered a heart attack during 1967, learned his mother had cancer and lost "the love of his life" his dog, Jenny.  Runge was born during the summer of 1984.  His current canine companion, Herman,  was named after Herman Melville.

Maurice Sendak - artist, illustrator, writer, set designer and dog lover, an incredibly talented man.  May your work in all mediums continue to speak to children and the child in all of us long after your passing.

Maurice Sendak with Max and Monster.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Meow, the 2 year old cat who weighed in at 39 lbs. has died from his obesity.  Very sad indeed.  I'm sure his owner thought she was taking good care of him by keeping him well-fed but extremely early mortality was the end result.

All pet owners should monitor their pet's food intake.  This is an ongoing thing, not something to do once in a while.  This is another good reason for home cooking.  It is my firm belief home cooking and monitoring of food intake makes all the difference in your pet's health.

Buddy was a problem in that area because he was hooked on what I call junk food - commercial brands on the low end of the spectrum.  We were never able to get him off them completely however we did make sure to offer good, nutritious alternatives and did manage to incorporate healthy food into his diet.

Annie was not a good eater and had recurring intestinal and urinary issues until I took her off commercial food. While the home cooked diet hasn't completely eliminated her problems, neither issue could be considered recurring in that it's been more than a year without a urinary tract infection and only one bout of gastritis in a little less than a year whereas before one or the other would recur every few months.  Also, she looks forward to her meals now instead of us having to coax her to eat.

And the bottom line in all this?  Neither of my animals ever had a weight problem!  Dogs and cats don't know when to stop eating and it's not 'mean' to withhold extra food or unhealthy treats.

View the link below to see pictures and to read about what happened to Meow.

Monday, May 7, 2012


It's Monday and the week is shaping up to be a busy one.  Pat was a no-show again Sunday night, making Thursday evening the last sighting.  The Norwegian Forest Cat did not show up either over the weekend.

We were hopeful Pat would meander through Sunday evening and we put out some extra carrot sticks.   I checked bright and early Monday morning but the carrot sticks were untouched.  No Pat or maybe Pat doesn't like carrots - who knows.  I know possums like avocados but with the current price that's one offering I'm not adding to the menu.  We always have plenty of fresh fruit in our house so Pat will have to be content with whatever is available.  There are some overripe strawberries in the fridge.  Since strawberries seem to be a favorite, Artie or I will put them out either tonight or tomorrow night and see what happens.

Artie is of the opinion that Pat is living in one of the neighboring backyards - a distinct possibility.  I'm of the opinion we are on the possum path for culinary possibilities with Pat living elsewhere and coming through our yard on some sort of possum schedule I haven't figured out yet.

Annie just came stalking into the kitchen wanting to go out.  She does that when she hears something.  I let her out but the yard is empty and the carrot sticks are posed forlornly in their plastic plate.  We will keep checking this week for Pat's appearance - the watch is still on!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Friday night turned out to be an unusually warm and pleasant evening.  It was also 'Ladies Night Out'.  My friend, Margaret, who is also my blogging buddy, and I decided to get together.  We met for crepes and to discuss our blogging experiences before heading off to the Morgan Library to view an exhibit entitled "In the Company of Animals: Art, Literature and Music at the Morgan".

This was an excursion I was excitedly looking forward to - the concept was fresh and appealing.  People have always been fascinated by animals from our domesticated pets to wild exotics and this exhibit highlights how artists through the ages have incorporated them into all art forms.

From a 1800s children's board game illustrated with different animals to hard copy books of "The Jungle Book", "Mother Goose" and "Aesop's Fables" the exhibit showed how animals were used to entertain as well as impart moral lessons and teach nature to children starting at a very young age.

Music and dance were represented by such offerings as bound copies of a children's ballet entitled "The Toy Box" and Prokofiev's children's symphony "Peter and the Wolf" a piece of music I found endlessly fascinating from a very young age.

Paintings and drawings in all mediums from oil to pencil were amply represented.  I found it hard to move on from Delacroix's "Royal Tiger", an absolutely beautiful  water color rendition of a Bengal Tiger reclining, returning several times to study it again.  In addition to the tiger, Delacroix is represented by his "Study of a Cat" - showing his fascination with the entire feline kingdom in this portrait of a house cat.  Here you will find the masters of the art world represented by Degas' "Racehorse", Debussy's "Elephant", Toulouse Lautrec's pen sketch of a hunter and his dog, Rembrandt's "Elephant", Reuben's "Lion", Pollock's "Ram" and David Hockney's delightful drawing of his two dachshunds, Boodgie and Stanley curled up together.

Medieval art (secular and religious) is represented by several books illustrated with animals and paintings of Adam and Eve and various saints depicted with animals.  The naturalist and ornithologist, John James Audubon is represented by his exacting and intriguing rendition of a family of rabbits.

Among the literary items on display, a first edition copy of George Orwell's "Animal Farm", "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell - the autobiography of a horse and a novel I found to be quite moving as a young girl.  Steinbeck's manuscript of "Travels with Charley: In Search of America".  A favorite of my teenage years, "Travels with Charley" is Steinbeck's travelogue of his final cross-country trip taken with his Standard French Poodle, Charley as his only travelling companion.

Poetry is represented by "Elegy for a Drowned Cat".  Two of my favorite authors are show-cased in this category as well, e.e. cummings, with a whimsical poem type-set in the shape of a grasshopper, entitled "Grasshopper" and a hand-written letter from Edgar Allen Poe to his editor requesting changes to his poem "The Raven".

Other items included a typed draft copy with handwritten corrections of Margaret Atwood's short story, "My Life as a Bat" and the typed draft and cover mock-up of E.B. White's "The Trumpet of the Swan".  Of course, the exhibit would not be complete without a panel of Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" showing Snoopy typing his famous novel by the light of fireflies.

There were many more items to round out this thoroughly enjoyable exhibit which showed the effect animals of all kinds have had on humans over the centuries.  As companions, the lure of the exotic, representatives of nature, elements of fantasy, muses or reflections of ourselves, animals and their lives are forever intertwined with us.

I did wonder about the exclusion of photography from this exhibit.  It would have been nice to see at least one shot of William Wegman's weimaraners represented.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The weather turned from unseasonably pleasant Friday evening to dreary, damp and wet throughout the day Saturday.  The meteorologists predicted a large moon for Saturday night but I didn't think there was a significant difference  in the moonlight in our yard as I checked repeatedly for Pat.

We did not sight our possum at all Friday or Saturday evenings.  I'm hoping for better weather Sunday night.  Maybe then we will get the video we're after with a little bit of patience and some strawberries.

Here's some You Tube footage of a baby possum calling for Mom:

Friday, May 4, 2012


As Inspector Clouseau would say, "The case has been solve-ed."

Thursday evening was a long one.  Around 12:30AM I was still working at the computer; Annie had been pestering me to go on the back porch since midnight.  Occasionally she can be so annoying, playing "In again out again Finnegan" at the most inconvenient times.

Having already taken care of her "last call before bedtime" needs, I immediately knew why she was pestering me - or so I thought.  Just before the nudging, pushing and pestering started, the sound of two cats squaring off could be heard coming from somewhere in the back yards.  Annie just had to get out to see what was happening.  Even with the noise long gone, Annie wasn't about to give up.

I finally broke down and let her out.  She raced from one end of the porch to the other, excitedly sniffing as she went.  Poking her head through the bars, Annie surveyed our yard for any hidden cats.  She kept craning her neck in an attempt to get a better view of the area under the porch, figuring someone must be hiding there.  I went back to my emails.

After five minutes or so, I heard her crying and whining.  Before that went full-blown into incessant barking, I went to the back door to get her in and noticed she had assumed that stock-still position beagles are so fond of using just before they pounce.  I stepped onto the porch and the barking began.  A quick visual scan of the surrounding yards in the direction of Annie's interest produced an unexpected result.  

There, scaling my next-door neighbor's chain link fence was Pat!  I called Artie and we managed to corral an excited Annie and get her inside before all the commotion completely freaked Pat out.  Once the noise stopped, Pat positioned himself atop the fence and with back turned to us became very still.  I guess this is a ploy to blend in with the nighttime surroundings.

We both came in to get some strawberries put aside in the event of such an opportunity. Artie took them out and placed them in Pat's dish.  Within 2 seconds one of the strays hopped the fence to inspect the offering then moved on when the food wasn't enticing enough.  We knew Pat wouldn't move for awhile so we came in and locked up for the night.

The strawberries were gone this morning; the dish turned upside down.  Now that we know Pat is OK and still coming around, we are both determined to get video footage.  The watch is on!

BTW, Annie had to have scented Pat.  We will have to pay better attention to her behavior for subtle differences which might indicate to us if Pat's around or if it's just the usual group of strays.  Now to find out what happened to the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Annie has one more pill to take to finish her prescription.  She is definitely better so I'm now slowly starting to expand her food choices, adding chicken back into her diet tomorrow.  Thankfully, no more bleeding has happened.  The lick granuloma on her paw is almost completely healed.  Her depression has lifted and she is happy, relaxed with a noticeably higher energy level.

We will keep her under close observation for another week before going back to the doctor for a follow-up and to settle on a date for her dental surgery.  Such is life as a pet parent.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


My intention is to do a post about service dogs at some point but for now, I'm posting this ABC News clip from You Tube.  I read their news article about Tanner and Blair then viewed this incredible video.  Such a sweet, heartwarming story of two dogs who became best friends forever.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Buddy is gone about four weeks now and there is a sadness I cannot shake, it is with me constantly.  I find my thoughts wandering back to my little man at odd moments during the course of the day.

It didn't occur to me at the time but the effort Artie and I put forth caring for buddy was actually hospice and palliative care.  Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross would most likely be gratified to know the hospice movement she started so many years ago has extended to the pet world as well.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. was a Swiss-born psychiatrist who pioneered near-death studies.  She was the author of the book On Death and Dying in which she outlined the Five Stages of Grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Dr. Kübler-Ross presented the five stages as the process those coping with terminal illness passed through before their death.  Not everyone experiences all five stages nor does everyone go through them in a set order.  In the decades since the initial publication of her book, the five stages model has been applied to survivors of a loved one's death - be that loved one human or pet.

Recently, I've been thinking over the almost three years' from Buddy's diagnosis to his death and I realize I have passed through most of the five stages.  This is how I perceive my journey through this process:

Denial - This stage happened immediately and lasted until a week before Buddy died overlapping with anger and what I call my response to bargaining.  Neither of us could make ourselves believe Buddy was so ill.  Never mind the fact we were administering fluids, shots, pills, capsules and a special diet.  All we kept saying to each other was "but he doesn't look or act sick".  Definitely denial.  I would say, for me, at the start of 2012 I began to force myself to face the fact of losing him at any time but it was hard not to revert to my denial.

Anger - I experienced plenty of this stage, however, it was directed at circumstances.  If something unrelated to Buddy's illness when wrong, my response was an overwhelming feeling of anger.  Suppressing the anger or getting angry with myself was one way of dealing with it; yelling at no one and complaining incessantly was another.  This stage passed once I convinced myself anger per se was not conducive to an easy passage for Buddy; both he and Annie would be affected by the negativity.

Bargaining - I don't do bargaining.  For me, this phase was a digging in of my heels, a rolling up of my sleeves and I was ready to do battle.  Nothing was taking Buddy from me if I could help it not even Death. I wasn't asking for one more month or day or hour.  Instead, I was going to cheat Death by actively working to keep him going.  This meant monitoring him, being attuned to the littlest change in his personality or habits and reacting accordingly.  I tracked all his needs on a daily chart.  I set goals - now I worked to  get him to my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Artie's birthday and on it went. This was my anger channeled positively.

Depression - There came a point when I started to perceive subtle changes in Buddy's condition, a losing-of-ground so to speak and then came the depression with the knowledge that no matter how much I did battle, I was going to lose the war.

Acceptance - A tenuous acceptance laced with depression came with each medical issue Buddy rebounded from but not to where he had been before.  He was slowly losing ground and I was forced to accept the fact of losing him.

I'm still a bit down and sad that Buddy's gone and I acknowledge it will take time before those feelings leave me.  Now all I hope for is to get to a place where I will remember him and all the good time we spent together.  Knowing I did all I could for him is a big help and I look forward to a time when I'm not thinking of what his illness did to him.


My family lives in Brooklyn so there isn't much grass around unless you go to a park or dog run.  My yard currently consists of dirt (yes, good old-fashioned dirt not soil), weeds, a wild climbing rose that suddenly appeared one spring and has been growing ever since, cement and my compost bin.  No lush lawn here.  I use compost to keep the wild roses, my flowers and the occasional vegetable or herb growing.

Everyone should be aware, no matter where they live about the dangers lawns pose to pets.  Chemicals utilized to produce verdant lawns may very well be the cause of certain cancers in dogs.

Rodale Press wrote about it and after you follow the link and read the article, follow it up by reading "The 8 Biggest Pet Threats In Your Home", the scariest two (in my opinion) being Xylitol and some flea and tick products.

And for the record, I'm a big fan of Rodale Press.  They have many wonderful books covering a wide range of topics.  My favorite books are in their house and home and gardening categories.  Follow the link and if you like the article(s) consider signing up for their newsletter.  You will find a wealth of good-to-know information.