Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winner of Scratch n Shapes Giveaway

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the PPCT's Valentine's Day Scratch n Shapes Giveaway is Judi!

Each comment by an individual (other than me) was assigned a number in the order in which they appear. The resulting number range was placed in the Random Number Generator at , with the result being #1.

Judi will have 48 hours to contact me via email so we can arrange shipment. 

Congratulations! Feel free to send me photo of your cat enjoying it.

Extreme mouse agility!

This is either the most patient trainer ever or the smartest mouse since Mickey.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scratch ‘n Shapes Valentine's Giveaway!

You may remember my review from a few months ago about Imperial Cat's line of awesome cat scratchers. I'm pleased to say that nothing has changed regarding my high opinion of this product line. The three clawed ones continue to gravitate to their newest addition on the scratcher front and it is still holding up incredibly well, especially after Bad Kitty Bo's repeated onslaughts.

The folks at Imperial Cat have introduced a new line just in time for Valentine's Day and you can be the next lucky winner!

This can be yours!

Made in the USA, just like the scratcher.

Adorable Valentine's theme!

Design details.

The Valentine's Scratch N Shapes measures approximately 21" x 8.75" x 3.75"

Entering to win is easy: Just leave a comment below describing your cat in three words or less.

The contest is open to all U.S. residents age 18 and older until 8 p.m. PST, Sunday, January 30, 2011. The winner will be chosen at random from comment entries and will be announced on this site and on Facebook. The winner will have 48 hours after email notification to respond with address information or we will need to choose another winner. 

Good luck!

Disclosure: Imperial Cat provided PPCT a Scratch N Shapes for review and provided the Valentine's Scratch N Shapes for our contest. PPCT was not compensated for the review or the contest.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Falling in love for the third time

Remember those first days after you brought your pet home? How every waking moment with them was spent marveling at the promise of the pet they would grow into?

With each cat's arrival, I watched them for hours trying to get a little insight into the cat they would become. Would they be adventurous or reserved? Cuddly or independent? Silly or sophisticated? How quickly would they learn the (admittedly few) rules of the house? Would they love me as much as I planned to love them?

It doesn't take me long to fall in love with a cat. There's something about cats that speaks to my innermost self, and when a kitten comes along I quickly fall in love with the promise of the cat they might one day become. It wasn't any different with this bunch.

The second time I fell in love was somewhere around the time when Bad Kitty Bo and Musette were around five, with Weebs bringing up the rear, being two years younger than her feline roommates. Somewhere down the line all traces of kitten-hood got washed away, leaving behind grown-up cats, each of them charming in their own right. There were no more questions about who they would be, for they were all deeply engaged in being them.

Bad Kitty Bo was a relentless hunter of voles and rabbits, returning home to refuel, sleep or show off his prized kills, with a personality so open and engaging that everyone in the neighborhood knew who he was.

Musette never failed to remind me of a genteel Southern lady. Were she in human form, I could easily imagine her soft of voice, gentle in nature and always wanting to make everyone around her feel happy and comfortable.

Weebles remained a goofball, bonding much more closely to the dog than any of her feline companions. Though her refusal to comprehend the word "no" could be maddening at times, her irrepressible spirit more than made up for her lack of manners.

The years have slipped by, much in the same manner that our winter fog creeps in and out of the yard on January mornings. Bad Kitty Bo will be fourteen in a few days. Muse is most likely already there. We acquired her when she had already reached full size, though still quite young. Weebs will be twelve come mid-summer.

This is the winter when there is absolutely no doubt left...our feline family has passed through the doors of Senior Town.

Muzzles are graying, faces becoming more angular. The idea of hanging outdoors is more appealing than the act itself, causing them to quickly ask to come back inside to warmth and softer, yielding surfaces. Scratching their chests leads to the realization that the breast to bone ratio is engaged in a subtle, but pronounced change.

We spend more time carrying them, lifting them to the spaces they seek, and we do so willingly. Hands caress them with a lighter touch, voices are softer, matching the gazes they level our direction. Two of them now snore when they sleep...and we find it adorable.

Now is the time of my third love for them. A love of everything they've ever meant to me, deepened by the knowledge that the road before us is far shorter than the one we've tread thus far. The head rubs, neck skritches and cuddles are given with great deliberation. I love you is whispered into the soft spot of their fur, just below the jawline, as they curl up to doze. They are warm, safe, and loved.

Happy Saturday.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Etsy-cuteness

It's a mellow Sunday around here, so I thought I'd diddle away some time on Etsy and share a small sample of the boatloads of pet-related cuteness available.

Look at this bit of wonderful, created by PaperMatthew (and yes, it's all paper):

Know anyone who has dogs and likes troll beads? NanjoDogz has several adorable styles available, like this cute collie bead:

How about this adorable necklace from Gabiscuits:

Or this bit of kitty goodness, just in time for Valentine's Day from Myko Bocek:

Have a sweet tooth? Then check out Pernilla's Something Swedish puppy pops:

On noes! Send Sunshine made a felted Darby!

My Pooper Scooper will take care of that special Valentine's dog treat for you:

Enjoy your Sunday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Saturday Pet Blogger Hop

I decided to participate in the Blog for Change, which also happens to take place on Saturday, so please head on down and check out the post below about Friends Foundation.

Blog the Change – Friends Foundation

Kern County, where my furballs and I live, has no shortage of animal issues worthy enough to inspire a blog post. From unacceptably high kill rates at the county shelter (over 18,000 in 2009, the latest year for which we have records), to having a reputation for being a hoarder’s and backyard breeder’s paradise, this is a county desperately in need of more people devoted to helping solve our pet overpopulation issues.

Turns out after shaking my fist a few times, wondering when someone was going to start doing something to help ease the pet overpopulation situation around here, I needed to stop looking anywhere beyond my own mirror. If critter-crazy me wasn’t going to step up, I had no right at all to criticize anyone else. Hate when that happens.

I started small, by writing a column about pets and pet issues in a local community newspaper. From there, I used the column to raise enough money to sponsor a low-cost cat neuter clinic where, in one day, we neutered over 150 cats.

I then decided to take it up a notch, so in January, 2010, I joined the board of Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation.

Friends exists to raise funds to cover the cost of items and services that are outside of the County budget. When the shelter needed a new water heater so they can give the pups a bath and get them cleaned up so they are better adoption prospects, Friends raised the money for the purchase and installation of the water heater. Friends volunteers hold off-site adoption events so more dogs find their forever homes; we raised funds to install an off-leash area at the shelter in Lake Isabella so the shelter dogs have a place to exercise and stretch their legs; we provide funds to reduce the cost of adopting pets from the shelter; and last September we held our first low-cost spay-neuter clinic in Lamont, where over four dozen companion animals were altered. In December, when a terrible case of animal cruelty was discovered, Friends raised the funds to cover the cost of the care and rehabilitation of Lacey with enough donations to spare that we were able to establish an Emergency Medical Fund so we may provide additional assistance in the future for other cases of abuse or neglect.

Friends is an all-volunteer group. Our board consists of eight people, all of whom have full-time jobs, families and pets of our own, but who are committed to doing what we can to reduce the number of homeless pets being killed in our shelter system through increased adoptions, low-cost spay/neuter programs and education.

What we need most (besides large piles of money to start a low-cost spay/neuter clinic), are more willing hands to help us with our mission. You don’t need special skills or an advanced degree to help (though we won’t turn you away if you do), just a desire to work towards positive change for companion animals. Volunteers can do everything from taking photos at our events, to helping sweet-talk businesses into donating prizes for our fundraisers, to helping staff booths at fundraising events. We have so many things we’d love to accomplish in the coming year, but need more hands to make it happen.

Pet lovers in Kern County, please consider giving a little of your time to Friends. The projects we work on may not seem glamorous or all that high-profile, but we make a real, actual difference in the lives of companion animals in our community. Head over to the Friends website and download our volunteer guidelines and application.

Help be the change you wish to see in the world.  

Check out some of the other folks hoping to change the world:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Post-Challenge Challenge

Yes, I’m behind by a day. Sorry about that, but between working and an evening commitment that went on far longer than it should have, I didn’t have enough time left to get back on the blog train and enthrall you with my Blog Challenge insights. Fear not, for even a day later I have something to say about it and am willing to share (lucky you).

When I logged on Monday morning and found myself in slot #27, I thought for sure that I was one of the last blogs on the list. Don’t ask me why --- even I don’t make any sense to me sometimes, especially when I’m trying to get something done before sunrise. I figured if it took me until 7 p.m. Sunday night to even decide to be a part of the Challenge, all of the other serious-type bloggers were already on board. Little-Miss-West-Coast-Late-Arriver would be left to help hold up the caboose, which is probably the best place for me since, if you know me, you know my caboose is more than up to the task. But I digress.

A quick check-in when I got to work showed that there were other peeps slowly adding their sites to the mix. I read a few posts from sites I was familiar with and settled in for the day. Seeing how introspective some of my fellow pet bloggers were when answering the questions posed by the Challenge I created a challenge of my own: I will read every single post on the subject of the Pet Blogger Challenge from every site that participated and leave a comment, even if it is just a simple “hello”. If bloggers took the time to answer the same eight questions I answered, the least I can do is be polite enough to read them.

For the record, that was a pretty easy promise to make to myself at 8 a.m., when there were maybe 42 blogs on the roster. I peeked in a lunch time and saw the number of participants had risen to 67. Still doable. Probably not all in one day, but still a perfectly reasonable number of places to drop by, do a little reading and leave a note of appreciation. I mean, that’s the whole point of indulging in exercises like the Challenge, isn’t it? The opportunity to meet new people and get exposure to new blogs you may have never seen before, right?

Well, it looks like I’ll be getting plenty of exposure in the near future. Last time I peeked at the link list there were over 90 blogs listed for the Challenge. I’m almost afraid to look again, for fear that there’s a trigger on it that drops in three more links every time I peek, but it doesn’t matter. I’m still going forth with my mission.

If I’m not posting something on here for the next or day or two, you know where to find me. I’ll be at your place. It may take me the rest of the week to wend my way through the balance of the sites (I did say part of the deal is to read the answers on every site that participated), but I’ll get there.

Keep a light on for me ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Pet Blogger Challenge

The folks at Go Pet Friendly are hosting a Pet Blogger Challenge and asking other pet bloggers to share our thoughts about our blogs and blogging in general. Go Pet Friendly supplied the questions I’m answering.

I began my blog in January 2008. Prior to starting the blog I'd spent a few years writing a semi-regular pet column for a community paper. A few folks were kind enough to tell me they enjoyed what I wrote and I thought a blog would be a great place to practice my writing skills and to meet people who share my love of critters.

Three years later I believe, for the most part, that I want the same things from my blog as I did when I began. I still love meeting people who share my passion for pets, I still enjoy writing a great deal and I still enjoy it when people tell me that something I wrote made them think or laugh or cry. My writing for the community paper was drastically cut back when the format of the product changed, so the blog gives me a corner of the world to indulge my creative side.

I’ve thought of blogging on a regular schedule and have even gone so far as to create a subject template so that different days of the week would be dedicated to specific topics. I believed if I created a more “formal” presence I might be able to generate more followers but, alas, I am hopeless when it comes to putting any sort of real structure in my blog. I work full time, have a family and do some volunteer work. The more I thought of maintaining a blog schedule, the more it felt like one more chore, rather than the positive experience I want it to be. I do worry that my blogging style costs me followers and, at times, momentum, but I believe if I were to hold myself to a schedule the quality of what I put on the site will suffer because I’d feel compelled to put posts out there just to say I did, rather than writing when I’m feeling it.

Currently I generate no income from my blog. I would love it if at some point in the future I am able to generate income through sponsorships or advertising, but thus far I haven’t tried very hard to learn about growing that side of my blog. That’s an area I hope to improve on over the next couple of years, but it will always be secondary to the writing and sharing aspects.

My favorite thing about blogging is the ability to share information about groups, events, websites, news stories and personal interests with other people who might find them interesting or insightful. Plus, I have to admit, there are times I write something and after coming back and reading it I can say to myself, “Hey, that was pretty good stuff.” It doesn’t happen every day, or even every week, but when it does I’m glad I got it out there.

I find the most challenging aspects of blogging to be the inevitable writer’s block that creeps in from time to time, finding a peaceful place to get writing done when I want to write, and the space in my head that exists between what I want my blog to be and where it currently stands. Sometimes I’ll view the blogs of other pet bloggers and just go, “Wow. There’s no way my blog will ever be that creative/interesting/interactive/cool. I should hang it up.” Then some lovely person will say something nice about my site or a post and I try and get my perspective back and keep on typing.

My plan for 2011 is to continue what I started at the end of 2010, namely to be more proactive at networking my blog where I can find a larger audience, connecting with more people who blog about pets to learn more and grow my own blogging experience and to continue to try and narrow the gap between my mental vision of my blog and where I see it today. If we do this again next year, this post will be a great progress marker.

Thanks to Go Pet Friendly for hosting this event. Check out some of the other participants by clicking the links below.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

“He will love you like you’ve never been loved before”

Who wouldn’t stop, just for a minute or two, and read on when seeing a come-on like that in their Facebook news feed, especially when it’s placed next to a beautiful photo of a seemingly medium-sized dog sitting on the grass on a sunny day? A phrase like that is practically a dare to people scrolling through the maze of posts that erupted in their profile since the last time they checked.

You only think you have a great pet/friend/spouse. You haven’t experienced anything like this little dude. 

Adoption pleas like that (and as much as I’d love to give credit where credit is due, I did not bookmark the post, so I cannot tell you the shelter/rescue group responsible for such creativity) warm my soul. They make me want to read more about the pet and what makes them so special in the eyes of the people currently caring for him or her. Wouldn’t you want to know more?

Shoot, I’d go out of my way to look for more posts like that. Posts that showcase everything wonderful a new four-legged friend can add to your life. Heck, I’d even be willing to forward those types of come-ons to other folks I know, unlike the posts that still make up the majority of what I still see online: URGENT!!! WILL DIE TOMORROW! DESPERATELY NEED HELP!! PLEASE SAVE!!  Those are posts that I’m almost certain to never finish reading, let alone pass on.

Know why?

Because the odds are pretty good that if you are reading this, you are someone who has a soft spot for animals, particularly companion animals, because if you’re not, the only other option is that you lost a bet to me and reading this is in lieu of me ever getting my money from you. Mostly, I’m guessing it’s the former.

Same goes for my Facebook friends. Like you, the people I’m friends with on Facebook are people I made an active choice to include in my circle. As such, it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’m not carrying a host of backyard breeding, puppy-torturing, kitten-hating folks on my roster --- and I’m guessing you aren’t, either.

So, while I have absolutely no objection at all to people who forward pet information in an effort to find a forever home for any pet they can, I’m well-past over the not-so-subtle implication that it’s all my fault if the six dogs you just posted, one after another, aren’t all rescued and in a foster home by the end of the day. Especially in a forum like Facebook where the people who are joining your organization’s page or adding you to their “friend” list have clearly already had a whole pitcher of Kool-Aid and are asking for another glass. We get it. We want to help, or are already actively helping in whatever way we are able. So how about dialing the combo-meal-sized dose of guilt back a bit?

Tell me what is wonderful and special about the pet in the photo. Tell me about a physical mark of beauty, an endearing habit or a funny quirk. Use a line from a movie or a song that will encourage me to read more, share more, do more, because it feels good to do so.

It’s what friends do for each other.

Pet Blog Hop Day!

If it's Saturday, it must be time for another Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! Check out some of the wonderful offerings from Pet Bloggers everywhere.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shame, shame, shame

The lovely blog host of Rescued Insanity has put me to shame. While I sit here bemoaning the fact that it's all of 38 degrees outside in the morning, she puts up a perfectly guilt-inducing piece about how she rises pre-dawn to take her beloved dog Shiva out for a walk before heading to work. Shiva has a reflective jacket that she wears for protection that outshines your average road crew. Oh --- and there's snow on the ground.

While I wouldn't go so far as to call it a resolution, one of my desires for the new year is to get out more with the Doodlebug for morning walkies before heading to work, like we used to do a year ago. Of course, I have conveniently managed to use the cold and dark as an excuse to keep my ample behind in the house --- you know, where the coffee is. Surely my new-found desire to walk can hold until there's a little light in the sky, right?

Maybe not. Seeing someone else (literally) go the extra mile makes me think that I'd best get it into gear, lest I be discovered for the wastrel I've become.

Next week looks pretty good...if the weather holds and all.

P.S. Still getting to the video. May have to wait for the weekend to get going for real. I've got a phone that makes Quick Time video that I want to play with on a PC and, as near as I can tell, no compatible editing software. Should be fun :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to real life...

Well, my first day back to work didn’t end up being nearly as traumatic as my 3 a.m. thoughts made it out to be. One of the advantages of a new year is that everyone coming into the office seems to be a bit more hopeful, thoughtful and generally better of spirit.

Unlike many other working pet owners, I have the good fortune to have my husband at home, so although I’m booking out the door at you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-a.m., their needy, whiny little selves still have someone to cater to their whims.

Speaking of whims, I managed to get a little video footage of one of my own engaged in her newest annoyance…er, discovery. If I can get it edited and possibly lightened up a wee bit I’ll pop it on here for giggles, which will mostly be induced by my incredibly poor video skills, but I’ve got to practice on someone, right?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The end days of vacationing

The coffee maker just beeped out its last afternoon brew cycle for the next several days, this being the day left of my vacation. As much as I'd like to wrap my hands around a warm cup the moment I get home from work during the dark days of winter, experience has taught me that there are enough thoughts floating around inside my head at the end of any given work day that adding a caffeine buzzed soundtrack to them isn't the smartest of ideas. When one is on vacation and has no obligation to maintain a decent bedtime schedule such concerns aren't necessary, so I can indulge my passion for the roasted bean to my heart's delight.

It's cold and blowy today, with intermittent sprinkles adding to the crispness of the air. Granted, compared to other parts of the country where winter is a frightfully cold and snowy season, the 48-degree temperature here might qualify as almost balmy, but in Bakersfield, where we're about three irrigation canals away from being a desert and see summer temps in the hundreds, it's cold enough to make us pile on the Snuggies, light a fire and stay ensconced within the warm walls of the house. I've got a pot of white bean chicken chili on the stove, just for good measure.

The cats have all but given up any hope of enjoying some outside time. Being seniors, they are far more concerned with comfort than adventure and have chosen to cuddle into the warmest receptive spaces they can find.

Darby is less than thrilled with the conditions, since cold, blowy days don't provide much incentive to lure us outdoors. On the upside, having me in the kitchen almost guarantees that he's getting a cut of whatever meat might be magically appearing from the oven. In this case, the smoked chicken helps assuage his disappointment at not getting another shot at the bluffs.

It's a quiet, reflective end to my time off. Though the pace will change again when the (yikes!) alarm goes off in the morning, I also feel a new resolve to more deeply embrace that which brings me joy --- namely, my family (including the hairier ones), my writing and the wonderful folks who encourage me to keep it up.

We have much to discuss this year. 

*As usual, forgive the quality of the pics. While I feel I've got a pretty good handle on the writing side of blogging, I fear I may need to take a photography class to avoid continued embarrassment on the visual side. That, or find a talented person I can con into coming over and snapping shots every month or so (which I believe could be akin to trying to locate the local unicorn king).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fire at cat sanctuary

I wasn't planning on adding another post today, but this just came to my attention and I want to share the word in case you are able to help.

The Last Hope Cat Kingdom, located just outside of Atwater (in the Central Valley of California) suffered a devastating fire on December 31. Nearly half of the cats housed at this nonprofit perished and the sanctuary with a ton of work to do to get back on their feet.

I'm linking to news story that was published regarding the fire. They are asking for donations of blankets, food and foster or adoptive homes for cats who survived the fire. Monetary donations may be sent to:

Last Hope Cat Kingdom
6660 Bailey Road
Atwater, CA 95301

Donations may also be made directly through their Paypal account at Last Hope Cat Kingdom.

I know we all just got through the holiday season, but I'm certain they'd appreciate anything we can do for them.

Thank you for reading. Please share if you can.

New Year's Day

It's a wonderfully quiet day here. The clouds are rolling in, but the promise of rain has thus far managed to hold itself off, which gave us time to take the Doodlebug up to the bluffs for a morning walk. It was truly a perfect time to be there --- few other folks had yet to venture out, the temperature was a walking-perfect 50 degrees and we were ready to shed the confines of the house for a bit. The dog, having had the chance to exercise his body and his overactive mind, is now as calm as a June afternoon.

New Year's Day is frequently a day of reflection, and I suppose I'm no different from anyone else in that respect. I spent time last night trying to convey to the people in my life how much I adore and appreciate them, and now it's your turn.

Whether you came by only once, pop in when you have an extra moment or take time out of your life to read what I commit to cyberspace, I want you to know that I appreciate every look-see, every time you've shared my posts or brought someone else around and every kind word that's been tossed my direction.

Going into 2011 means I'll be trying some new things on the site, so I hope to see both familiar faces and some new ones. The world of pet lovers is both wide and deep, and with each new person I meet and every new blog I see I learn something new, either about a pet-related issue or about myself and my passion.

Here's wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year, filled with love and laughter.

Blog Hop Time!

Because Blog Hops never sleep...not even on New Year's Day!


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