21 March, 2011

Multi-pet management

So these days we’re up to four dogs and five cats. This can make it a little bit tricky to make sure everyone’s needs are getting met, and leads to some creative management processes.

Cats have been the biggest area of concern. Rooney Lee has to be kept from eating kibble as it makes him projectile vomit, Braxton Bragg (aka Braximus Maximus Caesar) and the tabby girls (Noodlehead and Emmaline) must be kept from getting fat, and Aida the Small Angry Siamese must be kept from getting too thin. This is all quite an adventure as you might imagine.

The original method was to lock Roo in my room with his food and leave food for the other cats down while I was at work. The advent of Daniel meant that the cat kibble was getting picked up earlier because there is only so much desolate howling from Roo that Daniel can take. But under these methods, Aida kept just barely enough weight on to stay alive, while Braximus Maximus Caesar put on a small squishy gut.

The current method involves locking Roo in the crate we purchased for Juniper, which is still set up in the living room, with his ground raw food. Aida gets her very own bowl of kibble and another bowl with wet food in it and is locked into my room. Brax and the tabby girls get their own bowls of kibble in Daniel’s room, which can be picked up when Roo wakes from his post-breakfast nap and begins to whine to get out of the crate. Aida has been gaining weight at a steady, healthy pace since we started giving her “spa days” by herself, and is licking both bowls clean on a regular basis. Huzzah!

Meanwhile Roo’s food has been an adventure in itself, we recently upped him to 50 grams per meal (100 grams per day) because 45 grams per meal of rabbit made him whine obnoxiously from hunger for hours on end. We’ve also rotated, in the natural course of things, to duck for his food, and on the duck his coat has grown super-soft and extra-wavy. His ears and toes are also cleaner. So we’re thinking that the best thing to do is to eliminate the rabbit, which leaves Roo on a diet of chicken, turkey, pheasant, duck, and goose.

In dog news, it’s a struggle to get Sid to eat for some reason. He’s just not enthused about his food, and it worries me since he’s a growing boy. We’ve tried switching brands, garnishing the food with everything from water to an egg, feeding him in a crate, out of a crate, in a different crate, feeding him by hand. We’ve tried four different brands of food to date. Nothing reliably gets the boy to eat, and it drives me absolutely nuts.

9 March, 2011

Rainy Day

Sunday morning was cool and rainy and the dogs (particularly Sid) were bored, so I thought I would get out the tunnel that came with the cheesy home agility kit I’d bought and teach him to go through it. It actually went very well, and I wish I had pics to show you proof of the one time Sid went through the tunnel, but I don’t. Because shortly after Sid’s one trip through, Braxton Bragg realized there was cheese in the tunnel and camped out in it, defending it from all canine comers with swats of his formidable paws.

Braxton, a stocky black cat, stands in a blue vinyl tunnel, looking off to one side and licking his lips.  It is quite clear that no dogs are going to be allowed into the magical cheese-producing tunnel while Braxton has anything to say about it.

Sid tried to enter the end of the tunnel near me, and got swatted for his pains. Tink thought to go to the other end, which Brax wasn’t defending, only to have him stomp to that end of the tunnel and take a swing at her. So it was with great sadness that I turned to asking dogs to down for cheese. In the next photo, you see Tink the Mercenary checking to make sure that I really do have cheese in my hand now that she’s bothered to down. In the background, Zille patiently demonstrates her excellent down-stay, waiting for her turn for more cheese.

Tink is not about to down without a payout.

Tink’s eye socket is looking pretty good these days, as you can see. The swelling is totally gone and the lids are entirely healed together, leaving just a slightly oddly shaped depression where the eye used to be. There’s enough “overhang” from the bone at the edges of her eyesocket that I could probably get a custom-molded piece of something soft and foamy to stay in there, and I am contemplating various devices incorporating LEDs or lasers or something, because the only thing that could possibly be cooler than Tink is “Tink with a laser eye.”

16 September, 2010

Cats: always contrary.

So there was no post yesterday for what you, gentle reader, will probably call the laziest reason ever: I couldn’t get Roo to write it for me. He’s in his room from 0500-0900ish these days since Daniel is home to shuffle cats around, and during that time he likes to tromp all over my keyboard since my computer is now in his Echo Chamber.

Unless, of course, I open up a blank document and leave it there for him to work his authorial magic. I mean, we’re talking a cat who somehow managed to create a whole new folder holding the twitter user icons of everyone who was on my twitter front page at that point, it’s not like he doesn’t know how to use a computer! He’s opened windows on Daniel’s laptop that Daniel, who is way more computer savvy than I am, doesn’t know how to get to. But apparently expecting him to write one little blog post is just too much to ask.

In other news, Zillekins is gradually growing to respect the fact that when Daniel asks her to do something, like come inside, she needs to go ahead and do it. On the other hand, she’s also taken up waking us with frustration barking around 0400, which is annoying as all get out. Tink has resigned herself to sleeping in a dog bed in the bedroom instead of on the people bed, bless her heart, but we’re still negotiating with Rooney Lee over the level of night-time obnoxiousness he’s allowed to present before I get tired of it, get up, and toss him out of the room and close the door. For the record, stabbing me in the thigh with his claws? Not allowed.

Meanwhile the wedding is in three weeks and some change and we’re flailing around doing last minute stuff, like finishing the ceremony and this weekend we’ll go rent Daniel a suit. My poor beloved has either acquired some good ol’ American germs or is deathly allergic to the entire state of Virginia, could go either way really. Beowulf continues to deeply adore him, Tink finds him an acceptable substitute for me when I’m at work, and Braxton Bragg has condescended to snuggle him a few times now in a moving display of not wanting him dead. Brax is many things but not a trusting soul, bless his heart.

29 May, 2010

Video killed the radio star.

For your enjoyment: two videos, one of Breakfast At The Manor, starring Rooney Lee; and one of me attempting to leave the house with Beowulf en route to his vet appointment, starring the vocal stylings of Zille.

Breakfast At The Manor:

Transcript:
Video opens with a shot of a smallish orange and white Cornish Rex cat, the inimitable Rooney Lee, standing in the kitchen floor staring at the camera.
Roo: FEED ME. FEED ME NOW.
Tink, wandering briefly into frame: Is something interesting happening?
Me (off-camera as always): Let’s go get your bowl!
Roo: NO.
Camera turns as I turn to go down the hall to Roo’s room and get his bowl. We get a glimpse of the confused head of Braxton Bragg. Roo continues to issue demands.
Me: C’mon.
Roo: JUST FEED ME.
Me, turning the camera back so we can see Roo as he decides to follow me: C’mon, we gotta get your bowl!
Roo: Oh, fine. Let’s get my bowl.
Zille: I know where his bowl is! It’s right here!
Roo: My bowl’s right here! GET MY BOWL. PICK IT UP! Now go this way!
(Bowl is picked up and I turn to exit Roo’s room, showing girldogs in hallway)
Girldogs: Can we have food, too?
(I walk to kitchen, where Roo is waiting on the counter)
Roo: FEED ME NOW.
(I set the bowl on the counter, Roo checks it out)
Roo: THIS BOWL IS EMPTY GODDAMIT.
Me: It’s your bowl!
Roo: I know! BUT IT IS EMPTY. I love it anyway.
Me: Yeah.
Roo: Mine.
Me: It’s yours.
(Roo paces back and forth on the narrow strip of counter in front of the sink as I get his food from the fridge)
Roo: HURRY UP WITH THAT I AM STARVING. STARVING! MAKE WITH THE FOOD FOR THE LOVE OF CAT!
Me: Gross food. Setting camera down a sec.
Roo: Will this make you go faster with the food?
(The camera is placed on the counter so we get an excellent view of the side of the refrigerator and Roo’s bowl. Also, Roo’s feet as he continues to monitor the feeding process. Off-camera, some rustling of plastic as I open the ziploc bag holding Roo’s food.)
Roo: Hurry! Oh, I love my food. HURRY WITH THE FOOD.
(The camera is picked up again so that it gets a clear view of Roo’s breakfast being dumped into his bowl, and Roo beginning to chow down. Everyone loves a happy ending!)

Zille Has Hysterics:

The video opens with a shot of the stove and a corner of my counters. It is quite dark, because it is 0545 and I have turned the lights out preparatory to leaving the house with Beowulf for his vet appointment.
Me: The Why Don’t I
Zille: I WANNA GO TOOOO
Me: Get to Go
Zille: I WANNA GOOOO
Me: Hysterics
Zille: I WANNA GO WIIIIIITH
Me: By Zille
(The camera turns to glance at dog crates, then proceeds toward the side door)
Zille: NO ONE LOVES ME I WANT TO GO WIIIIITH YOOOOOUUU. I AM UNLOVED AND ABUSED. THIS CAUSES ME GREAT PAIN, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO, AND IF ANY DOG DESERVES TO HAVE ADVENTURES IT IS ME, FOR I AM A GOOD DOG.
(Camera turns back to see Tink standing behind me)
Roo, heard in the distant background: LET ME OUT OF MY ROOM I NEED MORE FOOD.
Tink: Don’t leave me alone with these noisy bastards.
Me: She’s very noisy, huh, Tink?
Tink: If she doesn’t shut up, I’ll smother her.
Zille: GET ME OUT OF THIS CRATE AND TAKE ME TOO OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS A HORROR.

I should note for the record that Zille shows no signs of actual separation anxiety. She only throws these loud and dramatic fits if another dog is going somewhere and she is not. Oh and also she occasionally does it when I get home from work, but only before I have opened the door to the house. She does not, however, panic and try to escape her crate, show signs of anxiety when crated, or otherwise show distress. She just REALLY wants to be the dog who goes along, if any dog is going to go anywhere at all.

30 April, 2010

Cat Maintenance, or If I Die In My Sleep, You’ll Know Why

It is a sad fact of pet ownership that sometimes you must do things to them in the name of their health that they find unpleasant. This includes, in my household, nail trims, baths, and ear cleaning. Unfortunately I’m the only one here to do them, so the Usual Suspects have learned that when I head toward them with a certain determined gleam in my eye, it’s time to scatter. You haven’t seen hilarious until you’ve seen two Dobermans and a German Shepherd trying to disappear into the futon.

The dogs are pretty easy. They give me sad reproachful looks while I carry on with routine maintenance, and when I’m done they claim they’ll hate me forever but two minutes later have forgotten all about it. The cats, though.

The cats.

Aida needs her nails trimmed periodically. I did it last night. This is a huge production because Aida also hates me. I’m not sure why, she’s lived with me since she was 12 weeks old and it’s not like I beat her. When guests come over she hovers around them, telling them lengthy stories of neglect and abuse. But if I want to get near her to, say, trim her nails because the time has come when she is sticking to the upholstery in the house every time she tries to move, I have to sneak up on her while she’s asleep and towel her. Then, under a stream of loud Siamese abuse and threats, I must carefully fish each individual glossy brown paw out of the towel ball, taking care to keep the other three scythe-tipped paws and also her teeth safely sequestered, and clip the nails.

You know what they say, right? If you’re going to grab a tiger by the tail, don’t let go. I’m here to tell you, gentle reader, that if you must wrap a Siamese cat in a towel and carefully trim all 18 of her pointy as hell claws, you had better find a way to be five miles away before she gets out of that towel. What’s even worse than the whole set the towel down veeery carefully at arm’s length and then back rapidly away in the hopes that I will be long gone before she escapes thing is the part where she stalks me afterward. For a preference, she hovers at the edge of any light, the better to have her eyes reflect the fires of hell. She’s doing it now, and the nail trimming was more than 24 hours ago. She will not be swayed by processed cheese slices, which she normally devours, or cooked hamburger, or even cooked hamburger with a processed cheese slice melted on it. Nope. Nothing less than my fresh blood will do.

Meanwhile, because I have a death wish, I have cleaned Roo’s ears. You might not expect that the fine hairs that grow in cat ears serve any useful purpose, unless you own a Cornish Rex cat like Roo who doesn’t have them. Then you realize that those hairs are actually blocking a LOT of dirt which you must now gently and painstakingly clean from the cat’s ears. Roo does not like this. While normally his ears are large enough to pick up Radio Free Europe and you can look straight down the canals and see his tiny little walnut-sized cat brain, when he sees the ear cleaner and the cottonballs come out, he somehow manages to origami his ears into something the approximate size of a spitwad. Then I must wrangle him into my lap, pin him down, carefully unfold each ear, which is a two-handed job right there, and then somehow manage to swab it out with a moistened cottonball before he can refold it and suck it back into his head. In the meantime, he protests by falling over and playing dead and occasionally viciously gumming me. He’d get toweled for this if he had any teeth, but since he doesn’t and I don’t come out of it bloody but rather covered in cat spit, he is unrestrained and I get the full effect of his hateful gaze. It’s something like this.

Which is nothing to the hateful gaze I get from him when it’s bath time, because occasionally he needs a scrub down, being (like some C-Rexen) prone to being a little oily and yeasty on occasion. Bathtime gets me first stared at angrily, then cursed inventively and loudly, and finally he comes for my face.[1] Still, ear-cleaning is not far behind baths on the List Of Things That Cause Roo to Plot Murder.

That’s two out of three cats plotting my death. I made a move toward Braxton earlier with the nail clippers and the towel and he laughed at me in a menacing fashion, so I’m leaving it for now. If I’m still on his good side, I just might survive the weekend.

[1] I JEST. HE WASN’T REALLY ABOUT TO TRY TO SUCK MY EYEBALL OUT, HE JUST WANTED TO ESCAPE THE BATH TUB SO HE COULD PLOT MY DEATH IN PEACE.

13 March, 2010

Mornings at the Manor

Feeding time is an exciting time as one might imagine. The Usual Suspects look forward to breakfast in particular with great relish. Monday through Friday, breakfast happens around 0500, before I get in the shower. Weekends, it happens whenever I can no longer stand to listen to Rooney Lee as he sits on the arm of my chair and whines:


Transcript of video and more post below the cut!
(more…)

7 March, 2010

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.

[1] OK, I KID, THERE’S ACTUALLY SOME COMPLICATED CODE THERE. BUT MY VERSION IS WAY COOLER.

6 March, 2010

This is how my mornings go…

The scene: Manor house, 0245 on 3 March. All is calm, all is dark. I am asleep in the bedroom with Tink and the Feline Horde, who are also asleep.

Me: Zzzzzz.
Braxton: Zzzzzz.
Roo: *snrk* Zzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzz (he was laying on his head funny)
Aida: I am too evil to snore. In fact, I am too evil to sleep.
Tink: ZZZZZZZzzZZZZzZZZzZZZ (she even sleeps dramatically)
Beowulf: DEFCON ONE DEFCON ONE ALIENS ARE AT THE DOOR ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT DEFCON ONE NOW SET GENERAL QUARTERS ALL HANDS MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS TRAVEL FORWARD AND UP TO STARBOARD DOWN AND AFT TO PORT GENERAL QUARTERS!!!!!!
Zille: MY GOD BEOWULF SAYS THIS IS REALLY SERIOUS AND THERE’S ALIENS OUT THERE HOLY SHIT EVERYBODY GET UP I DON’T KNOW WHERE MY GENERAL QUARTERS STATION IS ALIENS DID I MENTION ALIENS?
Tink: SOLIDARITE! UP, UP! ARISE MY MINIONS SOMETHING HORRIBLE IS HAPPENING OH GOD THE OTHER DOGS ARE BARKING AND I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT WE’RE BARKING AT!
Braxton: OMG NOISE AIE! *launches off my stomach*
Me: Zzz–OW HEY WTF NOISE?
Aida: I’m going to kill you all if you don’t shut up. I can kill you with my brain.
Roo: *snrk* Zzzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzzzz
Chorus of Dogs (with full orchestration): WILL YOU JOIN IN OUR CRUSADE WHO WILL BE STRONG AND STAND WITH US? BEYOND THE MANOR’S WALLS THERE IS A TRUCK AND WE’RE NON-PLUSSED!
Me: *staggers to living room window*
Me: Guys. That is a TOW TRUCK. No, I don’t know what it’s doing there but odds are quite good that you do not need to be barking at it like fools.
Chorus of Dogs (where did they find an orchestra at this hour?): DO YOU HEAR THE DOGGIES BARK? SOUNDING A VERY LOUD ALARM! WE ARE BRAVE AND LOYAL DOGGIES WHO SHALL SAVE YOU FROM ALL HARM!
Me: No, seriously, you don’t need to save me from the tow truck. It’s not even pointed at our *house*.
Tow Truck: *drives away*
Chorus of Dogs: SECURE FROM GENERAL QUARTERS. SEND THE ORCHESTRA HOME.
Chorus of Dogs: *collapses in various places as if unplugged and is asleep in mere moments*
Me: *staggers back to bed*
Roo: *snrk* zzzzz *snrk* zzzzzz *snrk* zzzzz–hey wha?
Me: How did you sleep through everything except me coming back to bed?
Roo: Shhh. Sneepin. *snrk* zzzzzz *snrk* zzzzzz