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A tale of two dogs.

It seems like this spring has been particularly nerve-wracking for my friends and their dogs. First came Tucker, a goofy and beloved Dobe, diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. He wouldn’t eat. We pulled for him, we yearned for Tucker to eat. I came home each day and checked his owner’s blog, just to see if today was the day Tucker gave in and chowed down on something, anything, no matter how unhealthy. Any calories at all. And always it was the same: nothing. Maybe a bite or two, but not nearly enough to keep going. Still, a group of us were worrying and fretting and wishing so hard for Tucker and his owner that things would turn around, we kept hoping, kept wishing, as if our hope and wishes alone could pull him through.

Which of course they couldn’t. Tucker didn’t make it through. I cried when I read it, hurting for his owner but not for Tucker, not anymore. He’d gone where good dogs go, it’s just that people are never, ever ready for the gaping hole dogs and cats rip in our hearts when they go on without us.

I never met Tucker, but I cried when he was gone.

Then came Spike, a dog I had met. A small red irritated looking spot on his gum turned out to be a tumor that had invaded his nose. I panicked with his owner, my friend Liz. Thousands of miles away in body, in spirit I was pacing the floors in her flat, waiting to hear the results of one test after another, waiting to hear whether the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, was it operable? What could be done? Would he get to stay, or would he too go on?

In the end, he got to come home from the hospital, minus his nose. The day he got operated on I wanted so badly to e-mail Liz and ask for news, but I knew I couldn’t while I was at work because if the news was bad, I didn’t want to find it out there. I was giddy with relief when I got home and asked her for news and oh, glorious day, the surgery worked, he would be home on Monday. And on Monday I cried with relief and to see his poor, foreshortened face.

Spike isn’t my dog, but I cried when he came home.

And I think the reason that we get so attached to these animals that don’t belong to us is that we know that if these dogs, these well-beloved, well-cared-for, adored and coddled dogs, if they can get so sick so suddenly, if they can die, then our dogs can too. We root for them to pull through because if they can, then maybe when the day comes for our dogs, our dogs will pull through, too. Our friends’ dogs become talismans, touchstones, we pour our hope for health and longevity into them because to see a dog suffer, get sick, and finally let go is to know that some day we may find ourselves in this position and no one wants to do that.

So we hope and yearn for Tucker to eat, and we cry when he takes his leave, imagining that one day we, too, will be down on the floor with our dogs, begging them to take just one bite, to swallow just one little bit of food, to hang on, to stay with us. To be young and strong and charging around the yard again, to not make us deal with a missing bowl at dinner time, a missing head under our hands, a missing weight on our feet at bedtime, a hairy shadow that isn’t there. If beloved Tucker could leave his person, then our dogs can leave us, too, and will someday.

We cheer when Spike comes home, and cry with relief, because in our hearts we know that someday we’ll be waiting for the lab results, waiting to hear if anything can be done, anything at all, just so that we can bring our dogs home with us, whole in spirit if not in body, just so that we can keep them for a few years longer. We root for his recovery with all our hearts, and cheer each breakthrough, however tiny, however marginal, we cling to the fact that he came home to his person and the missing bowl, the empty collar, have been pushed back and away, no longer an imminent now but once again put off into the misty future.

Rest easy, Tucker. You are a good dog, wherever you have gone.

Good luck, Spike, and all my wishes for a speedy recovery.

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Another happy ending

I didn’t make it to Appomattox today, sadly. I have however gotten some stuff done around the house, including playing with my shiny new toy letterpress setup, but that’s not the real news.

The real news is that SpareKitty has made it to her new home safely. The last update from her new person’s Twitter: “Home! She’s actually *thrilled* with her new, huge, room–ALL for her. She’s run around it and marked everything as HERS, Fuck Off!”

I was sad to let her go but definitely happy she’s gone to a good person and a good home, and she will be safe and warm and have her kittens somewhere I won’t have to worry about keeping newly mobile kittylings away from very large, very inquisitive dogs. It’s a good feeling all around, and I can’t wait to hear about her babies.

So far that makes the score Andrea 3, Forces Of Chaos Contributing To Keep Sweet Cats Who Find Andrea Homeless: 0.

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Update on the latest spare kitty

Yay, she is free of FIV, FeLV, worms of all varieties, and fleas! Yay, she has a home! Boo, she is definitely pregnant, about 2/3rds of the way along. Yay, her new home is willing to take her anyway!

I will admit to large amounts of relief that someone else is willing to take on the spay/abort or deal with kittens issue. I found myself totally unable to even ask my vet about spaying her while pregnant, startlingly enough. I know it’s the smart thing to do, I know there’s a million anonymous cats out there and we don’t need to be adding more, but when it came time to ask, I just couldn’t open my mouth and say the words.

On the other hand, because my vets are totally fabulous, Dr. Andi had already written “we can get her in and spay her before her distemper booster if you want” in her case notes. The price of a good vet is more than rubies, seriously, and I’ve been lucky to stumble onto a practice with two of them: Tidewater Trail Animal Hospital, owned by the Doctors Lindamood, Greg and Andi. If you’re in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and need a vet, hie thyself straight to their door and tell them I sent you. There’s a link right over there in the sidebar to their site, in case you lose this post. Ahem.

At any rate. I just couldn’t ask about aborting the kittens. I know all the reasons they should be aborted, but it was just like when the vet tech asked me that morning what I wanted to do with the kitty if she turned out to be FIV or FeLV positive, and I blurted out “Keep her alive, of course, I’ll find a way to deal with it.” And if she’d turned out to be positive, I would have, even though that would have meant pimping her heavily to find her an only-cat home, a task which can be quite difficult.

But I couldn’t tell them to put her down categorically, just like I couldn’t ask about aborting the kitten(s). These are little lives I’m snatching from the chaos, each individual kitty placed in an indoor home one who isn’t going to live the short, brutal life of the feral cat. It’s like the turtles I move off the road[1], on a slightly larger and hairier scale.


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They always know where to come…

What’s this?
It's a very small, very stripey, very spotty tabby cat crouching in my front yard and looking at me expectantly, that's what it is.

Guess where she is now?
She's in my bathroom, that's where she is.  Photo is of her head, turned three-quarters profile to the camera.  There are books in the background.

At any rate, I have a feeler out on her already. She is NOT HAPPY about dogs. Like, I brought a carrier on the porch and stuck her in it rather than risk my life trying to bring her in bare-handed. If the feeler doesn’t turn out, then I will do a proper kitty-pimpin post on her, but it is not yet time to call out the Emergency Kitten Network.

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A pile of puppies!

My friend C (Zille’s breeder!) came over yesterday, bringing with her a PILE OF PUPPIES. I am not kidding, check it:
A pile of 8 week old German Shedder puppies rests on a laminate floor.  Their right ears are green from recent tattooing.  There are four sables and two bicolors (black and tan), and this is seriously dangerous levels of cute, people.

That is the only puppy picture I am posting, as I do not wish to steal her puppy picture thunder. It is possible that she got pics with Tink in the same frame as puppies, but Tink was not about to hang out with puppies and play the auntie. She was relatively calm about puppies in the yard, although she did work herself up to frothing at the mouth, but she found puppies in the house unspeakably disturbing and was confined to the bedroom after she cornered one under my desk to bark at it. Beowulf was much the same, although rather than stare at puppies and froth at the mouth he nobly pretended that puppies did not exist, with random expressions of horror when they came galumphing toward him.

He did, however, flirt with Nike (who is 12ish and adorable), who came with, and Nike flirted back and was all “yeah, I still got it, the boydogs half my age want me!”

Anyway, puppy ears are green because part of the reason they came to visit (aside from the random socialization of visiting a strange place and new adult dogs who look radically different from the other adult dogs they have met) was to get their ears tattooed. So now the little boogers have things like “BORN TO FETCH” in their right ears for ID purposes[1]. And at this age they were over it within 3 seconds of getting it done. In fact, they all learned quite quickly that the puppy scream when the stamp was done meant that cookies would be forthcoming, so the mercenary little buggers were just WAITING for their siblings to cry out in pain. They’re so adorable.

The Feline Horde was mostly absent. Braxton took one look at puppies and disappeared himself. Aida made one foray towards the living room, saw them, and disappeared. Roo on the other hand hovered around the edges whining about being hungry and giving puppies really, really dirty looks. The black and tan girl with eyebrows was brave and confident and followed him around and even barked at him…as long as he wasn’t looking at her. The minute he gave her the Evil Eye, she would back off to a safe distance or the comfort of the puppy pile. It was six different kinds of hilarious.