Thursday, February 27, 2014


We had an extremely busy day with the culmination of Annie's doctor visits yielding all good news. Everyone is exhausted from the travelling, waiting, walking, exams and tests so we're resting now but I will definitely document our day in greater detail in the next post. In the meantime, I'm going to get into the recliner with my adorable Annie and cuddle now that our very hectic day is behind us.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I've been so busy working around the house that I hadn't realized a week has gone by since my last post! Thankfully, Annie is doing fine; we've settled into an uneventful routine administering eye drops. She is definitely much happier with her improved vision and is establishing her own daily routine. The Glucosamine pills had a two-fold effect on her by eliminating the UTI bouts and putting more spring in her step. Every evening she brings her favorite toy to me or Artie for a game of fetch and chase. After fetching her toy Annie likes to entice you to take it from her. It's an excuse to run around the apartment and it's something she loves to do more than anything else.

Orphée's personality is emerging more and more. He is adorable. More tolerant of Annie and less afraid of me, he had developed a schedule of times when my lap is his favored place to lie. He also plays with his toys or runs around the house at the same time every day reminding me Buddy had to have been very old since he never played very much in all the years we had him.

The weather warmed up a bit and all the snow melted. Porch Guy showed up the last 3 days to eat and socialize. He looks fit and I'm relieved he made it through our 8 snowstorms OK. Artie gave him some special meals and extra water as we start the process of increasing his comfort level with us. We are working towards taking him in.

My most pressing task is to prepare a multiple 'laundry list' of supplies needed and questions for Thursday when Annie has a triple-header of doctor visits with her primary care doctor, the Ophthalmologist and the Oncologist. Thursday will be a busy day but one thing's for sure - Annie will love all the attention.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We've had another snow storm for a grand total of 8 so far this winter. Most everyone I know is complaining of cabin fever. Our pets suffer from it to.

Orphée positions himself at the front or back door, pushing his nose against the seam and sniffs. With this ritual I figure he's catching a bit of outside air. The problem is he won't budge until I shoo him away. He also actively begs for food whenever I'm in the vicinity of the kitchen. At seventeen pounds I'm sure he's well-fed and the quest for food is actually a quest for something to do.

Annie is depressed. She spends her days moping and sleeping. With all the snow and ice we can't get out for our walk as we usually do.  Running around on the back porch isn't much of an outlet for an active dog. She's even off her food a bit.

The question is what to do to alleviate boredom, depression and cabin fever in cats and dogs? I have some suggestions that work at least some of the time with Orphée and Annie. I make sure the drapes and blinds on my front windows are opened enough to allow Orphée to sit on a chair or a convenient piece of furniture giving him a clear view of the front porch and fence, the neighbor's porch and a partial view of the rest of the block. I hear him talking to the ferals as they show up for their food and water. I get to watch him as he observes the birds sitting on the fence. He sits, reclines and even crouches as if he's ready to pounce. Open windows never fail to entertain him for several hours every day.

Another way to engage him is by playing with a very long shoelace. I'll pull it across his body or twirl it around and watch him twist and turn. He's very adept at catching it. This provides him with a good workout. Orphée does not like to be groomed preferring to handle that chore himself but he does seek out any available lap enjoying a neck massage and a good scratch around the ears, under the chin and down the spine to the base of his tail. No cuddling for him.

Annie loves to play. A good game of tug or fetch helps relieve the boredom. She will pick up a toy and try to get you to chase her. I do this at a slow pace around the doorways of my apartment. Annie will backtrack to tease me with the coveted toy in her mouth. That game can go on forever; it usually ends when I've had enough. Annie is very affectionate and always looks to cuddle. Doggie massage is something she enjoys. I'll flip her on her back and slowly run my hands over her neck, chest, front and back paws then down her tail finishing off by massaging her paw pads. She practically goes into a trance. After supper Annie likes nothing better than to sit next to me or Artie on the couch and lean against you nudging you until you put an arm around her to rub her chest.

This is the routine we use to alleviate boredom and depression until springtime when we can get out and enjoy the good weather. As soon as the weather improves we will try to get Orphée acclimated to the outside in a collapsible net cage we had for Buddy. Hopefully he will take to it like his predecessor did. Until then, we're all stuck inside trying to make the best of it.

Orphée looking for his buddies.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


This Saturday is a 'kick back' day for me - a chance to kick back and catch up on some of my reading along with other agenda items I consider more pleasure than chore. I started with this week's newspapers immediately coming across an article on Marius the 2 year old giraffe slaughtered by the Copenhagen Zoo then fed to the lions. As if this wasn't bad enough Marius' killing was spectacle for a group of adults and children; supposedly an educational opportunity. 

In my opinion Marius' slaughter was little more than an opportunity to desensitize humans to our callousness towards animals. The zoo cited various reasons for this action - inbreeding, unrest among the male giraffes but the sole fact of the matter is a British Zoo offering to take this giraffe was refused. Artie and I believe Marius was an opportunity for convenient food for the zoo's lions a much easier solution than selling/transporting Marius to another zoo or setting him free in the wild.

The Boston Globe published a compelling commentary:

The human race is making progress in the area of animal rights; we've come a long way over the past several centuries but still have a long way to go. Let's keep moving in the right direction.

Marius the giraffe
Marius the giraffe. Photograph: Keld Navntoft/AFP/Getty Images

Friday, February 14, 2014


Love comes in many different forms and some of the most enduring involve fur. I'm not talking about a coat or stole but the type of fur paired with wagging tails, wet noses and licking tongues.

What better Valentine Day post could I write but a recommendation of a book I received from my friend Fran as a Christmas gift? The Dog with the Old Soul: True Stories of the Love, Hope and Joy Animals Bring to Our Lives by Jennifer Basye Sander is a collection of animal stories written by those who experienced them. This book goes beyond the usual tales of dogs and cats to include horses, birds, grey whales and moose.

There are tales of love and rescue, tales of bravery, uplifting tales and some heartbreaking ones. I laughed and cried all through this collection. It is unique and went beyond the usual warm and fuzzy feel good animal stories we all cherish so much.

Do I recommend this book? You bet I do. I could think of no better Valentine's Day read or gift for that matter. However you celebrate Valentine's Day - with your husband, wife, significant other, children, family friends don't forget to cuddle, pet and hug your furry family members. And consider this book as a gift for your pet loving Valentine along with the usual chocolates and flowers.

Book & photo from Harlequin

Thursday, February 13, 2014


All of the tri-state area as well as a good portion of the United States is experiencing extreme winter weather. We are in the midst of another nor'easter and I worry about my feral colony members.

The majority of them are skittish. They come and go at all hours making it impossible for me to keep track of them. Depending on the level of human activity and car traffic on our street, most of them show up well after dark or in the early hours of morning for their meals. A few like Porch Guy, who aren't that afraid of all the activity, show up when I'm serving up their meals.

We need more cement work done on our front porch but the temperature drop along with the mix of snow, sleet, rain, and ice put a stop to that project until springtime. My potted plants were moved from the back porch and rearranged out front along with last year's cat shelter. The old shelter was cleaned out and stuffed with fresh straw. Artie raised the new shelter off the ground by placing two boards underneath making it safe from rain runoff and ensuring a nice dry environment for the cats. We positioned it near the first shelter. The food and water bowls were assigned to new spots under my front awning affording the cats some protection from the elements as they eat. All this was accomplished just in time for our unrelenting winter weather.

The nor'easter blew in after midnight dumping a good half foot or more of snow before turning to rain thus creating a mid-afternoon slushy mess. Artie went out mid-morning to tend to the cats before the rain arrived. He found one of the light grey ferals sitting on the porch waiting for food. Not too trusting, the cat disappeared as soon as he saw Artie. Snow was cleared away, food dishes refilled and fresh water placed out. By late-morning, the majority of the food was gone and there was visible evidence of the feline traffic in the form of footprints to the bowls and shelters.

I'm glad my ferals know our front porch is a safe haven for them, a reliable source of sustenance and a good place to call home.

Paw prints to the shelter and the food bowls.

Closer view


Maybe the second shelter's occupant was still asleep.

Close up of tracks from the street to the front door.

Tracks from the front door to the steps & going to the shelter.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


New York City is in the process of passing legislation which will pave the way for the creation of a database to track those who abuse animals.  All I can say is it's about time. Thankfully our city council overrode former Mayor Bloomberg's veto of this proposal.

To my mind it doesn't make a bit of sense to fine or give community service to animal abusers without taking away their ability to acquire another pet. How many of these perpetrators are repeat offenders? I don't have any hard figures but my guess would be many of them. There are a variety of reasons people abuse animals. They want to make the animal tough, the victim cannot adequately defend itself (same scenario with children) or because they can.

Five years on the list for first time offenders will save many animals from unspeakable abuse. I've read of many murderers who abused and murdered animals before they graduated to preying on humans. Domestic violence also goes hand in hand with animal abuse with the abuser holding their victims in check by threatening the family pet. The registry is a step in the right direction. Those involved in abuse of any kind should not be custodians of animals. Having a pet is not only a privilege it is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Lest we forget some quotes about the treatment of animals:

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." Abraham Lincoln

"Deliberate cruelty to our defenseless and beautiful little cousins is surely one of the meanest and most detestable vices of which a human being can be guilty." William Ralph Inge

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Annie is doing great. Down to one type of eye drop a day, I've noticed the remaining redness clearing up. Her eye tears occasionally; her vision improved dramatically. Our next office visit is two weeks away and I'm confident the ophthalmic news will be good.

I just reread the pamphlet about canine cataract surgery and felt I should pass some of the information along. Cataracts are a leading cause of vision impairment leading to total blindness for affected dogs. Cataract surgery often restores vision by removing the cloudy lens replacing it with an artificial one.

When the lens clouds or becomes opaque vision decreases and in advanced cases causes blindness. I was surprised to learn the majority of cataracts in dogs are the result of a genetic defect involving the lens as well as a progression of old age. Annie's cataract started forming around age three.

Most cataracts are treated by removing the natural lens replacing it with an artificial lens. The success rate of uncomplicated cataract surgery is generally around 90% although as with any surgery the outcome varies depending on the overall health of eye and the patient. Exams and tests will help the Ophthalmologist determine the pros and cons associated with your dog's surgery.

Post surgery care involves keeping the patient calm and quiet, administering eye drops, antibiotics. For the first six months checkups will be scheduled at regular intervals to assess your dog's progress and identify any emergencies.

In Annie's case a noticeable improvement in her vision was apparent almost immediately. If you notice any difference in your pet's vision or any changes in the eye itself have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian. One thing Annie no longer does is cry when she sees a black plastic bag in the street. Before her surgery she thought it was one of our ferals now she can tell the difference.

Friday, February 7, 2014


The frequent snow storms bombarding the New York Metropolitan area of late prompted Victor to send me a couple of photos of Louie taken a few winters back when they still lived around the corner from us.

Louie waiting for Victor to open the gate.
I have the block all to myself!

Thursday, February 6, 2014


As Annie ages I've spent some time thinking about all the dogs I was lucky enough to have as part of my family before Annie came into my life. I've also spent time reflecting on the eleven years she's lived and found myself wondering exactly how much longer she'll be with us.

After her two cancer surgeries and her eye surgery, I also ruminate on what will be in store for her medically as she ages. That led me to remember what it was like in years past and how much veterinary medicine has changed over the decades that I've been a pet parent.

Originally, we were pet owners bringing our dogs and cats to the local veterinarian for vaccinations and illnesses. During the 1960s The Animal Medical Center was built at 62 Street and York Avenue in Manhattan becoming the 'go to' place for after hours medical emergencies. Artie and I spent two long evenings there when our Buster was bitten fending off a dog attack on Artie and when our puppy Roger decided to swallow a sock rather than relinquish it to us. Both emergencies had happy endings.

In those days a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence as most people could not afford treatment if any were available. We lost our Buster to lymphoma at just under six years of age. His diagnosis came at a late stage of the illness. We did what we could for him and he had a comfortable three months before his quality of life deteriorated to the point where we had no choice but to euthanize him.

By the end of the twentieth century holistic practices were a regular part of veterinary medicine. Brooklyn had more than one 24 hour veterinary emergency hospital; we no longer were forced to make long agonizing emergency trips to Manhattan. There is a 24/7 animal EMT.

Veterinary emergency routinely handles 24 hour emergency and critical care as well as specialists in Neurology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Oncology, Cardiology, Internal Medicine and all types of surgery. Yes veterinary medicine has come a very long way. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Valentine's Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than by opening your heart and your home to a pet in need.

My friend Terri and her colleagues at City Critters are promoting adoptable cat pairs for Valentine's Day. Bonded pairs are available this weekend and next as a two for one Valentine's promotion.  If you have room for two in your heart and your home, contact City Critters. Maybe you only have room for one then check out the City Critters website or Facebook page, you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


We woke up to another snow storm yesterday morning with reports of two more storms on the way sometime Tuesday and again Saturday.

Annie became a bit depressed because we had to forgo our usual half hour walk but then she loved sniffing around in the snow on the back porch - go figure. Having started as rain the snow was heavy with an underlying layer of slush and boy was there plenty of it!

I needed to clear part of the back porch or else we wouldn't be able to get the door open and Annie wouldn't be able to go out. Before I started my work I took a few pictures of the yard and one of Annie - here they are...

Annie savoring the snow.

A shot of our white mulberry bush.

A wide shot of the backyard off-limits to Annie until Spring.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Annie dearly loves other animals - dogs, cats it doesn't matter Annie wants to be friends with them all. Her best buddy was our friends' and neighbors' Boston Terrier Louie. Many times Artie or I would walk Annie at the same time Victor took Louie for his walk and we would all walk together. We referred to Louie as 'Annie's boyfriend' but in truth the two of them would fall into step and walk along like an old married couple.

Annie took to crying if we passed the house without seeing John working in the front yard or Victor taking care of the cats or Louie. Almost two years ago our friends moved and Annie still looks for John, Victor and Louie.

Last week I received an email from Victor to tell us Louie suddenly became very ill and after a short but intense illness had to be put to sleep. We were all very upset by the news. Louie was a cutie, always so sweet to Artie and me.

He was a wild man when he wanted to be, tormenting his feline housemates, exasperating Victor with his fussiness at mealtimes and totally misbehaving by jumping on the furniture and racing around the house during a Saturday evening gathering we attended.

Louie was nine and a half years old. We will miss him and remember him fondly. Of course, the day we received the news Annie stopped in front of Louie's old house and whined.


Holding still for the camera.

Ready for a walk with Annie.

In closeup.

Caught planning mischief.