Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Annie has made me very happy this last day of the year. Today for the first time since her surgery she spent two hours without the Elizabethan Collar; two hours without attempting to rub her eye. All previous attempts to doff the collar lasted a grand total of ten minutes or however long it takes to consume a meal.

Not very promising and that's why the length of time today was unprecedented. I removed the collar for breakfast then left it off while Annie sat with me before settling down for her late morning nap. My desire was to keep that collar off longer but not wanting to tempt fate I put it on again as I started my preparations for tonight.

You bet I'm grateful she's made significant progress. Tonight I'll remove it again for however long Annie stays with us. My goal is to have her E Collar-free when we keep our next Ophthalmologist appointment. A very Happy New Year to all, drink responsibly, drive safely and keep your furry family members out of harm's way.

First time without her protective collar.

Sleeping like a little angel.

Monday, December 30, 2013


This is one year I'm ready to put behind me. 2013 is going out in a flurry of paperwork. I've been sorting through Annie and Orphée's medical paperwork, putting everything in order, totaling expenses and getting rid of estimates, duplicate bills and care instructions. Next month I will post about medical expenses and other care costs for furry family members.

Bills and other expenses for all our family members are pretty much on my mind and I'm compiling our expenditures for the year with an eye towards getting a better handle on our spending in 2014. It's not all doom and gloom, we are getting ready to celebrate! A new year, what better time to look ahead with a renewed sense of hope and trust in a 2014 filled with less stress, better health, good times and good fortune for our family and friends.

There's nothing like waiting to the last minute to plan two holiday meals but when you're two humans, a canine and a feline you can pretty much do it on the cuff. Most likely I'll make a small buffet for Artie and me. We have our Asti already chilling for our New Year's toast. I'll make a large salad and a plate full of sausage, different cheeses and crackers. We might get a sushi platter or I'll steam salmon with rice and vegetables.  Our biggest decision will be dessert - do we get pie, cake or just have fruit. Of course, there will be chocolates and a choice of coffee, tea or hot cocoa.

And now to firm up the menu, I want to enjoy myself as we ring out the old year and ring in the new!

In the planning stages!
image from Webweaver

Saturday, December 28, 2013


As that old song title asks I know we will do nothing more than have a quiet family meal with some good conversation while enjoying each others' company. For me work is never done. Before the Eve I need to get a few things in to make our quiet end-of-the-year happen.

Meanwhile the furry members of this family are taking advantage of resting up from our Christmas celebration. Annie in particular is catching up on her beauty sleep. Here are a few photos:

Always such a good girl (when she sleeps).

I think I'll stay abed a while longer.

Catching some zzzs in a lounging position.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Last week the news carried a story about a blind man named Cecil Williams who became faint while waiting for a Manhattan subway train. He fell to the tracks and his guide dog, a black lab named Orlando, jumped to the rescue. While Orlando tried to assist his owner, people on the platform signaled the motorman who stopped the train but could not prevent the first car and a half from going over the duo.

In a true Christmas season miracle both survived their harrowing ordeal. Mr. Williams was hospitalized with a cut on the head; Orlando was untouched. After 8 years as companions-in-life Orlando who is 11 years old was slated to retire this month. The two would have to part because Mr. Williams could not afford to keep Orlando as a non-working pet.

Can one miracle beget another? Definitely! A good Samaritan started a fundraising page and more than enough money was donated to allow Orlando to remain with Cecil Williams.

A wonderful Christmas story.

2 buddies sharing quality time. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Christmas 2013 is past and the entire family is resting up in preparation for our New Year's celebration. Here's the newest family member taking advantage of the recliner:

Reclining peacefully where else but in the recliner.

What, move? You're not getting this spot.

A nice closeup.
Now for a catnap.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


We awoke to a cold but clear Christmas Eve and a flurry of activity as I hurried to keep our appointment with Annie's Ophthalmologist. First I fed Orphée then Annie, dispensed pills and eye drops then left for VERG. While in transit, I realized everyone ate but me!

Arriving early (a rarity) Cassie took us immediately without even a slight wait. We discussed pills, eye drops, how Annie was coming along before the doctor arrived to conduct his examination. Dr. Harrington was pleased to hear Annie is no longer blinking, squinting or trying to rub her eye on everything and anything. Her eye pressure is normal, no evidence of inflammation, surgery is healing nicely and the two shots from last week cleared up more than 90% of the webbing in her eye.

I was pleased with a reduction of medications and relieved that we can push out the next follow-up visit to three weeks from today. This round of anti-inflammatory pills will finish in four days at which time I will begin to monitor Annie for any signs of discomfort. The eye drops were reduced as well. Blink was eliminated unless I felt she needed it and the Ofloxacin was eliminated completely. Prednisolone will continue at three times a day and Tropicamide is reduced to twice a day.

Because of Annie's tendency to rub her eye, she must continue to wear her Elizabethan Collar for the next seven to ten days. We can remove it for meals but we must be with her whenever it is off. Annie enjoyed her car rides and I treated her to a short walk when we returned home.

All in all it was a wonderful Christmas Eve - I am thankful for life's little blessings. Christmas Day is more of the same. What a difference from the doom and gloom of last year's holidays with Annie's cancer diagnosis and the uncertainty of her condition. I'm hopeful we will have a healthy 2014.

Merry Christmas to all!
Clipart courtesy of Webweaver

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Living in Brooklyn can be pretty tough at times but Brooklynites have a history of helping each other out. Such is the case in Red Hook where every year the Amendola sisters display a nativity scene in an empty lot they own.

The crèche is occupied in off-months by a colony of feral cats the sisters care for year round. So is it any wonder the cats will not vacate the crèche during the Christmas season. A light for illumination and a bale of straw inside the crèche offer a perfect opportunity for warmth and comfort from the winter elements - all this and dinner delivered on a regular schedule by two landlords who won't evict for unpaid rent. And plenty of entertainment for neighbors who delight in this feline takeover of Christmas.

Christmas Eve in Red Hook will once again find the Baby Jesus relinquishing his manger to a colony of cats.

The New York Post put a similar photo of the crèche on their front page entitling the tableau 'A Stray in a Manger.' In Brooklyn everyone is looking for a good piece of prime real estate to call home. This group of cats has found theirs.

Photo credit: DNAinfo/Rafael Lopez, Jr.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Artie wanted a couple of photos of Orphée and I wanted at least one with some Christmas spirit for his first real Christmas with us. He spent last Christmas living in our front hall as he went through the process of deworming, getting acclimated to living inside and feeling comfortable with us.

As they say, you've come a long way Baby. Artie's friend Kasha sent me a Christmas bracelet of shiny beads and bells  which I decided needed to be photographed.  Thanks Kasha the bracelet is beautiful!

The bracelet from Kasha.

Orphée good-naturedly puts up with my silliness.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Christmas is days away.  With all the preparations for this season we need to be mindful of the safety of our furry family members.  Last year's post says it all.

Enjoy your family, friends and pets.  Make this Christmas a safe one for all and a happy one.

Merry Christmas
Clipart courtesy of Webweaver's Free Clipart:

Saturday, December 21, 2013


It's been a pretty intense few days since our follow-up Doctor visit. Annie is doing great! The squinting and blinking have stopped completely. Her eye looks clear. She's holding still for her eye drops and I'm getting more proficient in administering them so more medicine is going into the eye.

Mary Poppins sang 'a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down' but in this case it's more like a dollop of cream cheese with an occasional switch to cheddar. Annie continues to take her anti-inflammatory pills squished inside a small cream cheese ball. We've settled into a routine so all of this is going quite smoothly to my great relief.

I'm confident our Christmas Eve visit will bring even better news and our little family will settle in for a truly Merry Christmas.

Doing what I do best - hog Mom's bed!

A perfect little angel - when she sleeps.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Today was our follow-up visit after the Nor'easter emergency. Annie was so excited to see Cassie, the vet tech and the doctor. We reviewed what happened to prompt us to head to emergency then the doctor gave her a thorough examination.

Annie's condition was assessed as follows:
Her overall condition is good and her eye is healing nicely however she is experiencing more irritation than expected at this time.  Some inflammatory debris can be seen around her lens implant. 

Treatment plan:
Two injections were administered. One under her conjunctiva to ease her inflammation and one directly into the eye to dissolve the inflammatory debris with a Tuesday Christmas Eve follow-up to determine her progress provided she shows improvement during the intervening week.

After the excitement of two car rides, a walk, visiting her friends at VERG, seeing new sights and smelling new smells Annie is blissfully asleep on my bed. I'm tired but before I can collapse dinner must be served the furry family members, Annie's pill must be administered and her eye drops put in.

No rest for the weary...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


My 6 AM alarm rang I glanced out the window and surprise! The beginnings of a new snow blanketed outside. As the sole custodian shepherding Annie on her trip to the eye doctor I decided to reschedule the appointment.

Annie loves snow.  Snow triggers excitement, playfulness and a general exuberant nuttiness I cannot handle on my own.  Tomorrow we will make our trek to determine if Annie's eye is fine.

Monday, December 16, 2013


When I let Annie out this morning to take care of business I found the broken fragment of plastic from her Elizabethan Collar in a pile of snow on the back porch.

The chunk fit perfectly into the space in the collar. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Whatever she did that bothered her eye we now know she did outside. 

Tomorrow we will know if her eye is OK provided the snow that's predicted doesn't force us to cancel her appointment.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Today I only have a few minutes to scribble an update. Annie did something last night which caused her to break a chunk out of her Elizabethan Collar the size of a silver dollar. We don't know if it happened on the back porch or in the house. Neither of us saw it and we never found the missing piece of plastic but it happened in the excitement of Artie arriving home.

Apparently she either hit or rubbed her eye - the one with the artificial lens. She started squinting, holding the eye shut; there was tearing and redness. In the midst of a Nor'easter, we called for a radio car and headed for emergency. 

With great good fortune, we traveled there and back without incident. No damage to Annie's eye but she's back on her anti-inflammatory for discomfort and I have another appointment this Tuesday to follow-up with her eye doctor.

Today she is the perfect little angel, allowing me to put in eye drops without a fight, taking her meds without a fuss and behaving as she should. Do you think she knows she's 'in the doghouse' for whatever she did last night? I think she does.

It's now time for her second round of eye drops; I'm off to play Florence Nightingale.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


There were a couple of days' rain and snow, outside was slushy, messy and with a dip in temperature, terribly cold. The cats didn't come around until the weather cleared. One by one each showed up in turn checking for food and water.

Artie came home to find Porch Guy checking out the empty food dishes and frozen water bowls. There was that moment of mutual recognition then Porch Guy did something he never did before - he ran up to Artie in a way that communicated he was thankful his pal was here to serve up dinner. He even allowed Artie to touch him.

Dinner was served in due course with a bowl of warmed water to wash the meal down. Will Porch Guy be the next member of our indoor family? Artie and I are talking about bringing him in soon.

Great meal Artie, thanks!

Hangin' out with my best buds.

Who could resist this face?!

Catching some rays on the front doorstep.

Monday, December 9, 2013


With all the chronic pet illness we've been handling the past few years, the veterinary bills are very high. Annie has had 3 major surgeries and repeated urinary tract infections. Buddy had renal failure for 2 years 9 months making him one of the few that had such a long run with this disease. Orphée is very healthy but he is FIV+ which puts him at risk with any common ailment necessitating a quick response from us to keep him healthy.

When we were dealing with renal failure, I created a spreadsheet to track doctor visits and all associated costs breaking them into categories of medicine, office visits, procedures, food. What an eye-opener! I recommend the following guidelines to help you get a grip on costs.

If you're out of work or a senior, find a low-cost clinic or a local veterinarian that will work with you. Ask if a pet prescription can be filled at your Pharmacy then do your homework and check prices. In the case of Buddy's IV fluids and other supplies, the price was less at the local drug store than the doctor's office plus I saved travel time and transportation expenses. It was convenient as well - the staff called when the IV supplies where ready to pick up. I walked 2 blocks instead of taking a bus or train because the distance to the veterinarian's office is a tad too far to walk.

For the third time over the years, I'm checking into pet insurance and did finally find a company to accept both my cat and dog. Other companies denied policies because of age and/or chronic conditions; some would only issue insurance to cover accidents which did not meet our needs.

Since veterinary medicine is making great strides costs are going up and the pet medicine practiced today isn't the pet medicine practiced 10 years ago when Annie was a puppy and Buddy a young cat. Getting pet medical insurance should be looked into as soon as you adopt a pet. It will save you money every step of the way.

Finally, read, read and read!!! Learn as much as you can, make yourself an informed consumer on your pets' behalf and their medical advocate. Not only will you improve their quality of life but you will save yourself a 'chunk of change' along the way.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


On the mend since Monday's surgery, Annie has been sleeping most of the time. We had a bit of rain and mist during Friday and early Saturday leaving the front and back porches soggy. 

Sometime Friday, Annie came awake wandering quite reluctantly to the back door, my signal to let her out. Her whole demeanor suggested she'd rather be sleeping but Nature called and she had to answer. Once she was on the porch Annie was totally transformed. Alert and reinvigorated, she wagged her tail, wiggled her butt, danced around, ran back and forth all the while letting out a woof or a bark to let everyone know she was still around.

It was funny to she her come alive changing from a sleepyhead to an energizer bunny. And I was thankful to see her so alert. 

Queen of her domain.

Getting a good view of her yard for the first time with two good eyes.
Surveying everything.

Ahh Mom, do I have to come in?

Saturday, December 7, 2013


It's been another busy weekend full of routine chores, caring for Annie and Orphée. Amid the schedule of meals, treats, pills and eye drops I'm also trying to straighten up the house, do dishes, laundry, cook and tend to the never-ending needs of a family of four (two humans and two pets). Let me tell you it's not easy.

Annie is recovering nicely. Her eye is clear, no more tearing, blinking or squinting which gives me hope we will have a good report from the doctor come Tuesday. In place of a long post I thought I'd take a break from my chores, add a few pictures for everyone to enjoy then get back to work!

The finally asleep Annie.

And the ever curious Orphée.

Friday, December 6, 2013


My friend Fran always sends me interesting pet related articles and this one certainly fits the bill. A same sex couple is divorcing. What's so unusual about that? Absolutely nothing except the only 'bone of contention' is over the family dachshund. 

This case also shows how far we've come as a society because the judge owns a rescued Pit Bull and will treat the dog as a family member instead of property as legal cases have in the past.

All in all the article makes for thought provoking reading. Thanks Fran for passing it along!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


There was nothing unusual to report to the surgeon today when he made the usual customary follow up call to check on his furry patient. Annie is doing better. She's experiencing very little blinking, squinting and tearing. No redness of the eye or anything unusual that I can see. 

She did manage to maneuver the Elizabethan Collar in such a way as to rub her eye once on my pant-leg and once on Artie's. She keeps trying to rub her eye with her paw or on the furniture but can't. And she's being persistent in keeping her eye closed on the eye drops although I must admit she is taking her pills without a battle - cream cheese is her new favored food.

The doctor's assistant suggested brick cream cheese as a good way to administer pills and the cream cheese provided a definite advantage over peanut butter. You can make firm little balls with the pill tucked inside that you can't make with peanut butter. The doctor suggested using bits of cream cheese to make the eye drop routine easier and so far it's working. I'm hoping the cream cheese will cut the amount of time we spend administering eye drops down considerably.

Last night Annie did not want to sleep on the couch and Orphée did not want to sleep on my bed. Finally Artie and I gave up and gave in allowing Orphée back into the living room and Annie back on my bed with the four-legged foot stool from my wing chair serving as a stepladder. A good decision as everyone slept peacefully through the night.

We're settling into a routine of sorts and I hope we stay the course until next Tuesday's checkup.

Sleeping like an angel after giving Mom a devil of a time.


Have you ever wondered what goes on in a cat's head? I have. Orphée's reactions to Annie's absence and her surgery were a bit of a surprise.

I'm sure he was thrilled to have the run of the house when I left with Annie. When he realized I came home without her, he appeared to be a bit subdued and a bit lost which is surprising since he never seeks Annie out for companionship, play or warmth as Buddy did.

When Annie returned home and I finished all my fussing, Orphée realized she was set up to use the couch. After awhile, he decided it was time to stare her down. Usually Annie will give in then move to the recliner but Artie prevented that from happening. Orphée realized his ruse didn't work so he decided to make himself comfortable at the other end of the couch. Later on as Annie lay in a deep sleep, Orphée slowly went up to her to smell her face.

The final surprise came that evening. Orphée beds down for the night every night on the couch. When it became apparent Annie was spending the night in his coveted spot, he ran off to take advantage of hogging my bed where he happily stayed the last two nights - something he never did before.

Cozy together on the couch.

Happy as a pig in mud hogging my bed.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Wednesday, the second day after eye surgery and Annie is resting comfortably on the living room couch. I'm spending my time administering medicines, eye drops and monitoring her overall condition. My concerns: she doesn't want to eat or drink and she's not interested in going on the back porch. Mostly she sleeps. Thankfully she doesn't appear to be in any pain.

She did have two meals yesterday and she had water a few times so I'm concerned but not worried about today's lack of interest in everything. Her eye is tearing but that's normal. The intermittent blinking has all but gone away; it keeps decreasing which is what the doctor and his assistant told us to expect.

All in all, I believe we are having an uneventful recovery.

Sleeping peacefully. The gunk on her eyes is the result of tearing & eye drops.

In both photos you can see Annie's eyelids were shaved.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Annie's home and resting comfortably.  She was surprisingly active when I picked her up around noontime. Just a bit subdued but not by much, she was happy to see me and interested in climbing on chairs, seeing other animals and in sniffing everything in sight.

The task of making sure she has a good recovery is a daunting one. I spent the afternoon getting her settled, making sure she doesn't jump on or off the furniture. We're also avoiding running around and rough play. After she rested awhile I gave her a meal. To get her fed I had to hand feed her a few pieces of turkey then spoon feed her until she found a good angle to eat without the Elizabethan Collar getting in the way.

Then I had to sort out the medicines. Annie's taking two kinds of pills and using four kinds of eye drops. The pills are easy enough to dispense, twice a day with food. The eye drops however are another matter. Two of the eye drops need to be administered four times daily; the third eye drop twice daily and the final eye drop can be administered two or three times daily or up to six times daily if needed. 

I sat down to write up a schedule which I will tweak if necessary to make it more convenient. Next Tuesday she has a follow-up visit to check her progress. In the meantime I'm thrilled to have her home.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Annie's eye surgery was today around noon. She had a mid-morning arrival time for some last minute pretesting which went very well clearing her for surgery.

I was worried but hopeful the surgery would be successful. After leaving my sweetheart with the wonderful staff at VERG I did some necessary shopping then returned home. A mid-afternoon phone call from the surgeon brought good news - the surgery was successful. Annie's cataract was removed and a new lens successfully implanted. The rest of the day and evening will be spent in checking her eye pressure, administering drops, pain medications and antibiotics. Discharge will be sometime after 9 AM Tuesday if recovery is uneventful and on track. As soon as I received the doctor's call I fell into a deep sleep. Only then did I realize just how stressed I had been.

The home seems strange without Annie. Even Orphée seems a bit out of sorts without her here. Artie and I miss her terribly. I can't wait to throw my arms around her, hug her and cuddle her. Tomorrow can't come fast enough.