Thursday, October 31, 2013


To label myself a procrastinator would be gross understatement.  True to form, I procrastinated on giving away two copies of A Dog Named Boo by Lisa Edwards supplied by Harlequin when they asked me to participate in the Virtual Book Tour way back when.  

Actually, Harlequin sent three copies of the book - one for me to read and keep plus two others to give away. Somewhere along the way, I realized it would be nice to promote a blog give-away but as usual I procrastinated so here we are ONE YEAR LATER and I'm finally getting around to my first stab at a contest.

Let's start with a disclaimer: My review of the book was (and is) my own thoughts on this book, not influenced by the fact that Harlequin approached me to participate in the tour or by the copies of the book I received.

So here we go - I have a small handful of loyal followers so my first book will go to my very first follower, Mar-gay as a "thank you" for the loyal support over the past almost two years.  The second book goes to the reader who sends me the most compelling comment on why they would like to read this book.

I will announce the winner November 6th.  The contest is open to all who wish to comment. Good luck! Now it's time to celebrate - Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Today I'm passing along some additional information in the form of a comment from Kelley Caton  an animal control officer, on the Pet Blogs United post "Does Your Dog Enjoy Halloween?"

As an animal control officer I'd like to add: ensure that your pets wear collars and legible tags at all times, even under all costumes. Sometimes pets slip out unnoticed. Also, is your microchip info up-to-date? Have you moved or changed your phone number since Fluffy was chipped? It's still early. Check/replace tags and call your chip company to update contact info now before you forget. If your pet ends up in my kennel I'd like to be able to return him as soon as possible.

A salient point totally missed in all my Halloween posts. Make sure your pets information is up-to-date and get your pets chipped if you haven't done so already. Thanks Kelley.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Bunnicula! A rescue by the Monroe family whose pets Harold the dog and Chester the cat suspect is a vampire. I'm recommending this tale of a vampire bunny as Halloween reading for children 8-12 years of age. There is a version for younger children as well. So hunt down a copy of the original Bunnicula by James Howe then track down the remaining books in the series. Sink your teeth in you're in for a treat. You and your children have a great read with this latest addition to my Children's Corner.

Adults will enjoy A Dog Named Boo by Lisa J. Edwards which I reviewed last year as part of Boo's virtual book tour. This is the story of a special dog and the woman who gave him a shot at reaching his potential in return gaining new faith in herself through Boo, a truly heartwarming book for anyone who ever loved a dog.

Enjoy Bunnicula and Boo. Have a Happy Autumn and a Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Halloween, my favorite holiday, is almost here. This is the holiday that trumps Thanksgiving and Christmas on my personal holiday meter. It's been my favorite since I was a kid probably because of the dress-up, party and treats component of the celebrations.

Decorating our windows was my job which I considered a joy to be taken to the next level by putting the decorations in place, running outside to judge the aesthetics, running in to tweak the placements, running out again - you get the general idea. My entire family will attest to my Halloween obsession.

Celebrating at our house starts October 1st when I dust off my DVD and VHS collection of all manner of horror related films, TV shows and documentaries viewing one or two items every evening for the entire month. Disney cartoons and films such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or The Haunted Mansion, TV series like Thriller or One Step Beyond or any of the classic Universal horror movies are enjoyed once again. We also watch British films from Hammer and Ealing Studios as well as a smattering of silent films.

On All Hallows Eve I'll cook comfort food and put out an array of treats for snacking as we settle in with Annie and Orphée for a marathon night of horror-appropriate viewing to be interrupted by little ghoulies, ghosties or adorable beasties (two and four-legged) who arrive at our door looking for treats or their evening meal.

Follow my suggestions in last year's Halloween post and this Halloween will be a happy and safe one for all your family members - human, furry (and lycanthrope):

halloween clipart

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Today is the Day designated as Pit Bull Awareness Day and October is the designated month. I can't say enough about Pitties. Everyone needs to look past the bad press to the wonderful amazing animals Pit Bulls are.

Educate yourself:

circa 1934:  Pete the Pup known all over the world through his film work in Hollywood comedies, especially the 'Our Gang' series. At the height of his career Pete was insured for ?20,000.  (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Pete the Pup, Hollywood's most famous Pit Bull and canine star of the 'Our Gang' series. At the height of his
career Pete was insured for $20,000. (Photo circa 1934 by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Jerky treats are in the news again related to more pet deaths and illness. What can I say? I've been against giving animals jerky treats from any source since the reports of salmonella many years back. No one knows what the cause is this time but questionable ingredients, salmonella and also possible choking issues if your furry family member tries to swallow too big a piece of jerky are reason enough for me to avoid jerky treats altogether.

The FDA issued a fact sheet concerning this issue:

And this article/video from the Las Vegas Guardian Express covers everything you need to know:

What's the bottom line? Treats are just that - treats not an essential part of your pets' diet.  Give them something healthy instead. Over the years I've given my dogs dollops of peanut butter, pieces of banana, apple, raw carrot and celery. And I hate to admit this but on occasion, Annie gets a few small pieces of pizza crust because she loves it so much. Orphée gets the occasional tiny piece of white bread which he goes crazy over. Since he spent years on the streets eating who knows what a bit of bread now and then is fine. And even though the bread isn't the greatest at least I have a good idea what's in it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Saturday was taken up by a trip to Manhattan. I spent the day at The Whole Bead Show browsing the various booths, making some purchases and entering one of my designs into their bead contest. I did not win but that was OK it was a good experience and great fun to compete.

The evening was a flurry of tasks neglected that morning. Annie and Orphée demanded attention in the form of pets, cuddles, food and exercise. Once everyone's demands were met, it was time to remove Annie's sutures. Hard to believe its ten days since the surgery but thankful nonetheless to take the stitches out.

Artie settled her on the couch while I examined the surgery sight. Using a bright light and tweezers, I gently moved the sutures about until I could see how many needed to be cut and where to snip. To my relief and surprise the stitches were purple instead of the usual clear or black. The purple was a nice contrast against Annie's black/brown fur making it easier for me to see what had to be done.

Using my sutures removal kit, I carefully lifted the loose end of the surgical knot so the stitches themselves could be seen clearly then I snipped each stitch just above the skin line. Annie sat patiently while we worked. She became very excited when I scratched the surgery sight. It must have been a great feeling for her to have that itchy area scratched. Her happiness was expressed by flopping down on the floor and going into what I call her 'wiggly dance' of squirming around on the floor peddling her back legs in imitation of riding a bike!

We ordered pizza for supper then collapsed for the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning breakfast was cold pizza and a mug of steaming hot coffee. I continued straightening up before feeding Orphée then Annie.  After her walk, Annie and I extended our time outside by tending the front porch: sweeping leaves, watering the plants, changing the feral's drinking water and putting out food. The rest of the day was spent running errands all the while planning possible jewelry creations utilizing the beads I found at the bead show and hoping I won't have to take any more stitches out anytime soon.

My sutures kit cleaned and ready to go

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Saturday's here and the weekend is shaping up to be a hectic one. I need to stop at Hope Vet to pick up more Glucosamine and a 3-month round of Frontline for Annie. The flea problem while not at epidemic proportions is ongoing most likely because of my feral colony. We've not experienced a day in day out flea issue as we have since I've started taking care of the outside cats. Against my long-standing policy of doing whatever I can naturally I'm breaking down and turning to chemicals.

We find 2, 3 or 4 fleas on either Annie or Orphée every day. Since we groom them regularly and vacuum constantly without end, I can only conclude the fleas are hitching a ride on me, Artie and Annie when we're on the front or back porch or in the yard because those areas are feral high-traffic areas.

Anyway, I digress. After my detour, it's off to the Chelsea section of Manhattan and The Whole Bead Show where I intend to enter into competition a coordinated set of earrings, necklace and bracelet I designed and crafted as well as shop the show for interesting materials and inspiration. Then I will meet a friend for lunch. Finally, Artie will join me after work for the trip home. All this activity makes for a very long day.

I have to credit Artie with the videos in this weekend's posts. He found them while surfing the internet sharing them with me when he finished laughing until he was practically in tears. Enjoy them. They will remind you just how crazy cats can be!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


One week has gone by since Annie's doctor visits and unexpected surgery. Dr. Cohen's assisting doctor called a few days after surgery to check on Annie and inform us the surgery was successful. We were told the tumor was benign (thankfully) and we should talk with Dr. Cohen concerning the time-frame for the next visit.

Confined to the house, back porch and front porch an unhappy Annie's daily walks were suspended until the sutures heal. An excitable walker, Annie pulls. She wears a harness but the surgical site on her left shoulder fell directly under the straps. Any rubbing of the area would open the stitches so no walks.

Today Artie called Dr. Cohen to ask about resuming our walks. Not a problem according to the doctor. Because Annie is doing so well we can move to the 4-6 month checkup schedule. The wound has 2 layers of dissolvable stitches; we could remove the visible ones today or leave them in until the 10-day mark. Dr. Cohen told us we could remove the stitches because she knew I had experience removing sutures. No one should remove sutures unless they've been taught how to do it! Artie agreed we should leave the stitches in until the tenth day.

A short while later the phone rang. It was the doctor at Hope Vet calling with the results of the urine analysis from last week. The urine was free of bacteria; the infection cured and although it wasn't mentioned by the doctor, I now had a good solid routine for collecting sterile urine specimens from Annie. We heaved a collective sigh of relief. Hopefully this will be a small island of time away from medical issues - all of us need a break from emergencies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We're all so excited! Annie was featured yesterday as DogTipper's Dog of the Day. You can click on their badge located to the right of this post to read her listing.

For any of you not familiar with DogTipper, it is an online magazine focused on saving money and saving dogs. DogTipper also includes tips, giveaways, adoptable dog of the day, news and other items of interest. I read it everyday.

Celebrity is tiring.

Ask me if I'm impressed...

Monday, October 14, 2013


Today the U.S. is observing Columbus Day. New York's Columbus Day Parade kicked off at 11 AM winding its way from 47th Street to 72nd Street along Fifth Avenue. Bands, floats and celebrities all turn out to celebrate Italian American pride.

Over the years there's been controversy over whether or not Columbus should be honored for discovering America. Obviously indigenous cultures were here first, so were the Vikings. I'm not getting into that; this is a blog about animals after all so you can guess where I'm going with this. Were there any four-legged voyagers on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria?

There were - cats! Now, I've searched the internet trying to corroborate this but I can't other than finding one answer to this question on claiming Columbus had 25 cats to eat mice. Interesting to think of cats working to keep Columbus' ships free of vermin. That's my furry take on Columbus Day.

As I sit here with my daily cup of coffee, listening to WCBS FM play oldies by Italian American singers and searching the internet for information on Columbus, I will end this post with a poem printed on the bottom of my Christopher Columbus mug:

1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. 
Sails aloft, hard alee, guided by astronomy.
Our goal: Peking-straight & true,
me thinks there's been a switcheroo!
How could this discov'ry be?
Thanks a lot, Ptolemy!

There are tons of different versions of this poem. I've given up trying to find this one so I can credit the source. If you're home, enjoy the day off and the beautiful weather.

Yeah, interesting. You won't catch me working for mice!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


All the drama of collecting urine from Annie prompted me to think about what to do if Orphée has the same issues.

Dr. Olson also wrote about urine collection from felines. After reading her article, I've decided to ask the doctors about collection kits for cats. Read the article Dr. Olson wrote to learn more:

Saturday, October 12, 2013


This post is an outgrowth of Annie's recurring urinary tract infections. One of the major problems encountered in the successful treatment of UTIs is the need to obtain a clean urine specimen. How do you do this with a dog that can't hold its urine? The doctor or veterinary technician will extract urine from the bladder with a needle.

On 2 occasions, I heard Annie yell when this was done. To say I was upset is an understatement and for a couple of reasons. I collected urine in a plastic container only to be told it wasn't sterile. The fact that I cleaned and dried the containers thoroughly didn't matter. The wait for a doctor to see Annie coupled with her urgency to urinate meant most of what was in her bladder landed on the waiting and examining room floors. The needle procedure did not yield any urine to analyze. Annie was given a broad-spectrum antibiotic, the infection reoccurred shortly after the course of treatment ended. We had additional medical visits, expenses, wasted time and most importantly, Annie had to take more antibiotics than necessary to cure her.

What to do? I read up on this issue deciding to do what people do for this condition - I purchased sterile urine cups from Amazon. Then I came across a great post by Dr. Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital in Fairfax, VA.

I devoured Dr. Olson's article, followed it to the letter, collected and brought Annie's sample to her doctor visit. The technician was not thrilled with the sample and still wanted to do the needle procedure, I was adamant. No needle procedure this time or any other time. The doctor was OK with the sample after we discussed how it was collected and the origin of the container. 

The reasoning behind drawing urine by needle is to get a clean sample - no contamination from fur, dirt, etc. Supposedly the dog (or cat) should have no discomfort but I distinctly heard Annie yell. She was in surgery at the back of the office while I was in the waiting area out front. Now we wait for the results of the sample and whether or not I managed to get a clean workable sample along with a procedure I can continue to use in the future.

One more thought - I can't even begin to figure out how to get a urine sample from Orphée. Let's hope I never have to.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Wednesday was an exciting day for Annie and an extremely stressful one for me and Artie. With 2 follow-up visits scheduled for her cancer and urinary tract infection, I was trying desperately to remain calm and confident. So was Artie. Annie was excited to discover a car ride and unexpected adventure happening right after starting her day!

First stop was Verg Emergency to see the Oncologist. Dr. Cohen questioned us about Annie's personality, eating, anything that would indicate a change in her condition. We discussed her existing lumps, if they were any bigger (they were), how they felt (all palpate easily, none feel anchored in place) and we discussed 2 new lumps Artie recently found. Annie and all her lumps were examined, the new lumps were aspirated and a series of x-rays taken.

While we awaited the x-ray results, Dr. Cohen came to tell us the small pea-sized lump contained abnormal cells. Did we want to biopsy it, wait for results then, based on the findings, operate if needed or remove the lump now and send it out for biopsy. We opted for complete removal of the lump. Biopsy findings would determine if the time between follow-up visits would be 4-6 months instead of every 3 months.

Both Artie and I were stunned. How could this be happening to Annie again? Annie was happy beyond belief with all the different smells and the doctors' attention. The x-rays showed no recurrence of the cancer. Annie was scheduled for 1 PM surgery and we were instructed to bring her back after her UTI follow-up. 

Off we went to Hope Vet to drop off Annie's urine sample for analysis and to ask a few questions. We had a beautiful, crisp autumn day filled with bright sunshine, perfect Halloween weather for a nice leisurely walk we all enjoyed especially Annie who utilized her Beagle skills to track every doggie scent she came across and cry at every doggie face she spied. The doctor at Hope assured me I wasn't losing my mind. The Glucosamine was prescribed for the urinary tract infection and Annie's new-found sprightliness was a pleasantly surprising extra bonus. There would be a wait for the results of the urine analysis as well.

Back to Verg to drop Annie off. Artie and I did a bit of shopping then went to a local diner for lunch. Almost 2 hours later we picked up Annie, who was slightly groggy, and with a promise from the doctor of biopsy results by the weekend, we took our tired girl home.

I'm apprehensive about the outcome. The last thing I want is for Annie to go through more surgery. However, I'm confident Artie's early discovery of that pea-sized lump will spare us all another major ordeal. In the meantime, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed and pray and hope.

Not exactly Frankenweenie but upsetting nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


My darling Annie is a senior citizen, something I need to remind myself of almost constantly. Aging in dogs is a topic very much in need of discussion - we just don't think about it and subsequently aren't tuned into subtle changes in our pets' behavior.

Try to think of what humans go through and apply that to our pets. Eyesight and hearing fail, joints become stiff and achy, there is an increase in dental issues then add to the mix the fact that our pets can't tell us what they feel. 

Annie is taking Glucosamine and I don't understand why it was prescribed for her urinary infection. That's a question for the doctor during her follow-up visit this week but to my original thought concerning the Glucosamine. After a few days on this medicine, the spring was back in Annie's step, she was more active and animated. It was then I realized she had slowed down considerably, had become disinterested in her favorite pastimes (barking at the mailman, running around the house at top speed without any coaxing from me, asking to play or go for a walk), reluctant to jump on and off my bed or the couch and even had a few bouts of limping.

I consider myself more tuned in to my pets than most pet parents. Our veterinarian was amazed at how quickly we noticed changes in Buddy. His renal failure was diagnosed in its earliest stages because we observed almost imperceptible differences in his behavior. Make no mistake about it; cats especially are very adept at hiding illness. It is an ingrained defense mechanism needed for survival in the wild.

Why did I miss all this? Actually, I didn't but without so much as a thought about it I just accepted the changes as part of aging or as depression brought on by the integration of Orphée into our household. That was my mistake - I did not question whether or not the symptoms were part of some illness or if they were from aging and could any steps be taken to minimize or eliminate them.

Lesson learned. Pay attention to the slightest change in behavior or temperament. Remember as your pet ages you must adjust your mindset to the needs of a four-legged senior. Your pet will be all the better for it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I've added a page of Good Reads for kids entitled Children's Corner. You will find titles appropriate to all ages from babies through teens. I will note the age range for each title after a brief description of the story.

Please visit Children's Corner from time to time for recommendations for younger readers.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


For more than a month now Annie has been under treatment for a persistent urinary tract infection. An after-hours trip to emergency because of blood in her urine heralded the start of this round of treatment. Because a clean urine sample couldn't be obtained, a broad spectrum antibiotic was prescribed for fourteen days of treatment. It did not do the job.

Within a week's time blood appeared in Annie's urine again. This happened in the early morning hours so we were able to visit Annie's doctor instead of heading off to emergency. A sample of urine was obtained, checked and the type of bacteria identified; a different antibiotic was prescribed for the next twenty days along with an anti-inflammatory and a pain medication if needed. Cranberry Extract and Glucosamine were prescribed as well.

A follow-up phone call from the doctor confirmed the new antibiotic was fighting the infection. Because of the re-occurrences of infection the doctor felt Annie should stay on a course of Cranberry Extract and Glucosamine permanently.

Today she will take her last dose of antibiotic in a teaspoonful of peanut butter. Next week it's off to the doctors for two follow-up visits for the UTI and her cancer checkup. There will be additional posts concerning both medical issues along with my thoughts concerning minimizing costs.

Thanks Mom, I'm feeling much better now.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


October is Pit Bull Awareness Month - I LOVE PITTIES!

They generally get a bad rap but the Pits I know are sweet and oh so lovable. Many years ago I was terrified of this breed mainly because of what I saw in the press and on the news. Then my Police Officer cousin rescued a Pit Bull. 

He would never tell me the circumstances by which he and his dog became a 'family'. I'm sure the details were terrible and most likely had to do with dog fighting. With a coat reminiscent of a light brown/deep chocolate marble cake and a goofy personality Troubles won my heart and I have never looked at Pit Bulls the same way.

Two famous Pit Bulls come to mind, Pete the Pup and Sgt. Stubby. Petey was a genuine Hollywood star of both silent films and talkies as well as an integral part of Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies.

This is a great video of Petey with his owner/trainer on YouTube: 

Stubby was a World War I hero who was given the rank of sergeant and mustered out of the service along with his unit.

Sgt. Stubby (photo from Wikipedia)
It's October, time to celebrate and raise awareness of Pit Bulls as the extraordinary dogs they are.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


It's been an uneventful day filled with mundane chores and mindless activities until a little while ago when I went into my bedroom. Annie was lying on the rug; Orphée was nowhere in sight and right in the middle of my bed was a smelly hairball. Ugh! Disgusting! Gross!

At first I thought it was a pile of poop which horrified me but after a brief closer look I determined (thankfully) this was not the case. What causes them? How to deal with them?

Hairballs are the byproduct of grooming. The more your cat grooms, the more he will regurgitate hairballs. There are a few ways to help him out:
  • Provide grass for him to chew on this helps the cat upchuck or pass the hair easily.
  • Give him some olive or sunflower oil with his meals to accomplish the same as the grass.
  • Brush your cat every day.
Without a doubt the best way to minimize hairballs is to brush your cat on a regular basis. The more hair you remove the less hair your cat will ingest when he cleans himself. Remember, even if you are diligent about doing all three of my bullet points, you can still expect to come across a hairball from time to time. The major difference will be the time-frame and less is better than more in my opinion.