Welcome to my journey! This blog is about my adventures in dog training, pet therapy work, rescue work and life with my menagerie of animals. Enjoy!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The circle of life...

We have mice. Very persistent and sneaky mice; they resist the traps and tease us by eating the food we place on said traps without even tripping the dang things! They have been making my cats crazy. My last remaining old timers have been the mousers in the family for years, often working in concert to flush and grab the mouse. They have gotten a bit slow in their old age. They still know when one is about and will wait with unending patience for it to come out and offer itself like a sacrifice (which mice sometimes do!). However these mice have great hiding places in the kitchen; under the stove, behind the fridge and even in the pantry since the cats have not figured out how to open the door yet!

Well, today the mouse was outnumbered. There is a new cat in town and his name is Sherman! He's 4 months old and already a great mouser. He's still a bit green but he's catching on quick and absolutely loves the game! Today Boris alerted me to the presence of a mouse, now let it be noted that mice in my house freak me out completely, I opened the pantry door as Boris indicated and I saw it; a tiny, really cute little brown mouse. I opened the door and ran to get up on top of the couch (I know crazy wimp). There was a big commotion which resulted in the mouse getting under the fridge. Boris and Wilmah (the old timers) took up residency in front of the refrigerator daring it to peek its' head out. Some time passed in which I came off the back of the couch and went about my business. Caitie then came up to tell me that the mouse was under the paper shredder. The paper shredder is in the living room under our computer desk which at that moment was occupied by my husband, he had no clue that Boris, and now Sherman, had chased the mouse underneath it! However he was working so I had to move the shredder, dreading the inevitable scurrying mouse. But it was no longer there. It must have gone downstairs I said and again went back to my business. Then Caitie came running up to tell me Sherman was chasing the mouse downstairs; she ran back down and almost immediately came back up to tell me he had caught it! So I went down and sure enough my sweet, little kitten had a mouse firmly in his grip. I wasn't sure if it was dead or not so I didn't really want him to drop it but he did and thankfully the mouse did not move...at first. Sherman was batting at it and I could tell the mouse was coming around and may try to escape any moment. I made Caitie run and get me some paper towels (Steve was still on a conference call for work so no help there). I managed to cover the mouse with the towels which sent Sherman into a tizzy. But I was too freaked out to actually pick it up! So I let Sherman get it again and this time picked Sherman up and made him drop it into the towel so I could just wrap it up. I brought it outside and placed it on the grass and saw it was breathing and it moved a little, well I didn't want it to try to get back into the house so I picked it up and as luck would have it I saw the semi feral stray we feed sitting across the street, so I brought him an offering! He didn't want it though so I just left the half dead mouse on the cement and went back in. When I checked on it a little bit later I saw that it had moved and was on it's way across the street back towards our house. At that very moment a bird swooped down and picked it up and took it to the top of the lamppost. I laughed, hard. That mouse won't be back again...now if we could just get rid of the others, although I'd prefer it to be a bit easier next time!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Both ends of the spectrum kind of day...

This is not exactly how I envisioned my first post on this blog to go. I imagined it would be a nice, heartwarming story about my first Pet Therapy visit with Beanie, and indeed it is that too, but there are other things, heavier things, that happened today too that need to be written. First I'll start with heartwarming.

 Beanie and I had our first visit today at a nursing and rehab facility. The week had gone by so fast that i didn't really have time to dwell on its' arrival and get nervous until just moments before bringing Beanie into the building. My whispered request to Beanie as we walked in? "Please don't pee on anything!" That was my worst fear (still is honestly!). It was hard maneuvering a big dog like Beanie around in those small bedrooms and they seemed to make him a bit more nervous and uncomfortable. But he was good and let everyone pet him that wanted to. He got quite a few excited, happy gasps and many claims of "Oh my goodness that's a big dog!" He seemed to enjoy the area where the residents were seated in a large living area, where he had more room to move and could go from person to person. The last person we saw on our visit was a man in the end of life unit. As we walked in he kept saying, "Oh that's Jake, that's Jake" Then he told us the story of the Pyrenees he owned at one time named Jake, who was actually a girl. Then he said something that made my heart swell, he said, "If there was to be just one dog in the world, a Great Pyrenees should be that dog". It was a very powerful statement to me and I feel its' truth to my core. Our next visit is in a month and I hope he is still there to see Beanie once again.

As uplifting as that part of my day was my heart was just too weighed down with impending sadness for it to truly lift me as it should have. My cat Fred, whom I have had since a kitten, was dying right before my eyes and it was time for me to make some decisions. Fred has had chronic renal failure since he was 5 years old. He survived on medication for a while, switched to Omega oils and then finally switched to regular treatments with fluids. Beginning around Christmas time we noticed his demeanor changing as well as his eating habits and energy level. He was wasting away and often sleeping. Selfishly  wished him to hang on until after Christmas as I had just had to put down another beloved cat after Christmas last year and couldn't face having to do it again.

As I looked at him today I could no longer be selfish I knew he was miserable and in pain and couldn't bring myself to let him fade away like that. Yet at the same time I could not bring myself to stress him out by crating him and driving him to the vet in his state. Miraculously my husband found a Vet that did house calls and he came to the house to preform the euthanasia. My girls were here and got to say goodbye and they are off with their father right now bringing his body to our regular vet for cremation. I think they wanted to be part of the entire process. I think it is helping them process the whole ordeal within themselves, or at least that is what I'm telling myself. Decisions to involve children in experiences like this are so scary because you never know until it's too late if it was helpful or harmful. Time will tell I guess.

Then an odd thing happened after the Vet left and we were all alone with his body. I laid him on the floor wrapped in the blanket, wanting to let the other cats and Beanie investigate him if they chose to. His sister I think had already said goodbye before the doctor was ready for him, as she rubbed against him and kissed his ear, something she did not ever do. But as we sat with his body on the floor Cosmo came over to him and actually laid on him so their heads were close and he began grooming Fred. Cosmo has only known Fred for a short time and for most of that time Fred did not feel good, but it seemed to me that Fred made a big impression on Cosmo and he was letting Fred know. Beanie also investigated Fred thoroughly with his nose but was more concerned with my tears and sat in front of me so his nose was level with my eyes and sniffed my face and tears and voluntarily offered me my favorite spot on his head to kiss and hug. He sat there with me for quite sometime until I got up and then he went around and checked on everyone else as well.

My heart is broken and I wish time could stop for my broken heart but it goes on, as does life and while my heart will always miss Fred I am ever so grateful for him and all he brought into my life and really all he brought into the lives of anyone that met him. He was extraordinary and lived his life that way. We should all be more like Fred my cat.

Here is a picture of Beanie after his first Pet Therapy visit and then the last photo taken of Fred this afternoon: