5 September, 2011

Taking the show on the road…

Saturday and Sunday the Best Mother Ever held down things here at the Manor while Daniel and I headed north to drop Constantine and Coriander in their new homes. Siddy went along in his capacity as Official Service Dog In Progress, although I also took a cane because we would be staying overnight right downtown in Philadelphia.

Sid is, after all, a country dog. He doesn’t often see large crowds of people, huge amounts of traffic crawling by right next to him, all the natural occurrences of downtown big-city living are pretty foreign to him. He’s accustomed to being told to ignore squirrels and cats; pigeons were an all-new fascination. He has been to the mall in Fredericksburg, but that didn’t prepare him for the downtown canyons where it got dark early because the buildings blocked out the sun, resulting in the weird light you get from the glow of a thousand beckoning store displays, changing traffic lights, the headlights of cars, the spinning and blinking lights of emergency vehicles. Being a country dog offers him an exciting wealth of smells and sounds, but they are nothing like the sensory overdrive that comes from a crowded city.

So I was a little worried that I might be primarily using the cane while we were there, but figured that the visit alone, even if he didn’t work through it, would provide some excellent experience. As it turned out, though, Siddy was a superstar. He loves high-stimulation, high-activity surroundings, and in fact they let him do his job even better than he normally does because during the endless times when his job consists of “stand still and hold Mom up” or “lie down next to Mom’s chair and don’t bother anyone” all the activity gives him something to look at. He never shied, although he did require a couple stops so he could stare hard at something and try to figure it out (buses gave him pause, and then he decided they were nothing to do with him and ignored them).

The hilarity of the situation is that what I really need to work on, apparently, are his leash skills when he is off-duty. We made multiple trips to a little park so he could relieve himself (his pottying-on-leash skills remain viable, hallelujah, although I think we need to practice them more and I definitely need to get that behavior on cue) and each time he wandered into the person holding his leash, or decided he wanted to walk next to the OTHER person, or decided he really needed to go into shoe stores for reasons that he did not divulge.

In harness, Siddy continued working well above where I’d expect him to for his age and experience level; out of harness he was exactly what you’d expect from a dog just over one year old who doesn’t have city experience: distractible, slightly obnoxious, and inclined to chase pigeons.

He was even excellent on restaurant outings, which was encouraging after our disaster of a trip to Joe’s Crab Shack here in town — we had an excellent dinner Saturday night (Coriander’s new person gives good food recommendations) and a pretty good lunch on Sunday before we picked up some chickens and then headed for home.

Constantine and Coriander, incidentally, are doing well and have settled right in, but we knew they would, didn’t we gentle readers. Constantine was up and exploring and hanging out with his older (at least half-) brother Juniper within a couple hours of being in his new home. Coriander didn’t wait that long, while her new person was giving us restaurant recommendations she wandered out of the room he’d set up for her, touched noses with her two new big brothers, and then explained to her person that he needed to get with the program of petting and tummy tickling because a kitten can’t tickle her own tummy, you know.

All in all, a vastly successful trip from all angles.

28 July, 2011

Victory is ours! Now I just need more homes for kittens…

Celebrate, gentle readers! For this morning my beloved husband got the 4th and final of Briar Rose’s kittens into the house, a tiny tabby girl with shades of gold in her coat. And here I am to bring you kitten pictures, because our wild success means that I have two more kittens yearning for homes of their own! Please spread this link far and wide. I’ll get the boilerplate out of the way and then we will proceed to pictures of tiny, cute kittens who want you to love them.

Edit Constantine has a home to go to, but his sister Coriander still needs a place of her own! Surely you or someone you know needs a tiny, exotically beautiful tabby kitten? Judging from her aunties who live with us, she will grow up to be a pretty big girl who likes to sit on people and be petted.

1) They always has a place here. If the new owners cannot keep them for any reason, I will not ask questions, I will not judge, I will not grouse on my blog. I will just come get the cats and bring them back to the Manor.

2) I will drive up to four hours from Fredericksburg, VA to put them in new homes. This covers most of the state of Virginia, a good chunk of Maryland, a good chunk of West Virginia, and even goes as far as Gettysburg, PA (I take the back roads to avoid I-95). Edit: My friend Liz has graciously offered transport 1-2 hours to points north and east of Gettysburg, PA, in comments!

3) They must be indoor kitties. They have lived the outdoor life and now deserve to be safe in a climate-controlled environment with soft beds and lots of toys.

4) No declawing. It’s mean. Just no.

5) Yes, they are adorable. But you know what? Surprise kittens make crap gifts, y’all. Therefore I will need to be in contact with the actual person with whom they will be living. I do not care how well you know your friend/roomie/spouse/partner/parent/sibling/dentist. Kittens are not a good present.

6) As of right now I have no idea how they do with other critters, because they’re still in quarantine. Look for more info after their check-up and FIV/FeLV testing!

EDIT: Constantine has a home! Huzzah!
Constantine, who has only been inside a few days but is already learning to disapprove:
Constantine, a small black and white kitten who is mostly black, with just two small stripes of white on his face, defining the black 'beard' under his chin, sits in classic Egyptian Statue Cat pose and disapproves at the camera.

Coriander, who is still quite scared of this new experience:
Coriander, a small grey and gold tabby kitten with big greenish eyes rimmed with dark eyeliner, lays curled in the green and purple kitten bed and stares at the camera, wide-eyed and fearful.

Since Coriander just came in this morning, we’ll have to give her a few days to relax and get to know us before I can tell you much about her other than “She is drop-dead gorgeous and skinny as heck.” Constantine is coming out of his shell after a couple days in the house and starting to demand his share of love and adoration from the thumb-monkeys under the guidance of his brother Crispin. I suspect that Constantine, too, will be a tiny spikey terrorist loudly demanding love and climbing your leg if you don’t cuddle him fast enough, given enough time!