Saturday, February 26, 2011

A bounty of affection goodness

Apparently my cup does indeed runneth over with good tidings this week. First I discover that my little corner of the blogosphere is nominated for a "Best of Kern" award for best local blog, then the lovely Banjo and Millie bestow upon me the Stylish Blogger Award! I'm once again touched that someone would think so kindly towards my efforts out here on the Interwebs. Thank you so much for the lovely gesture.

Meeting so many wonderful and talented bloggers is the icing on my keyboard cake. So many of you make me think, make me laugh and inspire me in more ways that I can properly articulate. I may not comment on every post, but know that I appreciate what you all bring to the blog party.

The spirit of the award is to thank the blogger who bestowed it upon you, share seven things about yourself and/or your pets, share the award with fifteen other blog sites and let them know. Eventually we'll blanket the entire pet blogosphere with blog fan love!

Let's start with the seven things:
 y   1. My favorite color is purple, which is kind of funny since it's probably the only color not in existence on my site.

2. I'm a sucker for kitschy cat-themed items. I could be the crazy-cat-item collector if I could afford it, and I love getting gifts that have cats on them.

3. We will go our entire lives not having any idea what slew of breeding madness created Darby. He simply defies description, and we've decided to be O.K. with it. If anyone asks his breed, my standard response is SPCA.

4. The Doodlebug becomes instant calm dog if you put a leash on him. Something about giving over all control of his being to the end of a leash settles him down in a way no amount of treats, reassurances or commands can accomplish if he's freaked about something. All we have to do is pop it on him --- holding the other end is optional.

5. The song Mr. Bojangles will forever be linked in my mind to our departed sheltie, Bosco.

6. Speaking of songs, it's well-known in the family that I will take a song (usually some old standard) and change the words so it's about my pets. Then I will sing it to them. Repeatedly. Weebs knows her song so well that she will start purring (and drooling) within the first ten words or so.

7. One of my fantasies is to someday build an old cats home on the property so that old cats who are homeless can have a place to live out their days in peace. On a related note, this fantasy is a huge reason my spouse never buys a lottery ticket, as he's afraid we'd win and this is where the money would go.

Now on to the best part - the fifteen blogs I'd like to award with this lovely offering. If some of these are new to you, check them out, as they are truly great works. In some cases they may have been awarded this honor by someone else, but I find their efforts worthy of additional mention. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Happy Saturday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spay Day 2011

In honor of Spay Day 2011, here are some catchy ways to remind people of the importance of spaying and neutering their pets!


Friday, February 18, 2011

The midnight howl of the Doodlebug

The first time it happened, it freaked me out so much that I nearly fell out of bed trying to get down to Darby’s level without actually squashing him. This was back in the day when he was compelled to sleep in the one area next to my side of the bed that practically guaranteed my inability to extract myself from the mattress with an ounce of grace. Fortunately the only witnesses were the rest of the animals who, though they might snicker about it amongst themselves, enjoy the steady schedule of the treat train far too much to risk losing it over the momentary fame they’d receive posting my indelicate bed extractions on YouTube.

I had been awakened from an almost dead sleep, my heart pounding before my brain could begin to process the  

It was a long, slow, mournful howl --- the sort of sound you imagine in your head when you’re reading the part of story where the lost, hungry, cold dog is all but ready to give up, just before the hero arrives. The howl of the forlorn and the heartbroken, and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Just about the time I got to the floor and dropped down to Darby's level, something clicked in my brain as I realized I was the only one panicking. He was in the exact same spot, limbs in the exact same position they had been from the moment my mind registered the sound.

Frak. Did I just imagine the whole thing?

I reached over to ruffle his floppy little head, only to receive a snort-sigh combo in response. (For the uninitiated, the snort-sigh is the affection your dog bestows upon you when they are annoyed at your foolishness but as they still want breakfast on time, they put up with you. Grudgingly.)

Now certain that I had imagined it, I headed back to bed, feeling like an idiot. Even the cats hadn’t bothered to get up, but there I was, Spazmom, jumping at auditory shadows.

Only I wasn’t. The Doodle’s “puppy-mares”, as we’ve now come to call them, have continued to happen in a completely unpredictable fashion ever since, including a couple of times in broad daylight when he’s been sacked-out in the living room while we watched a movie or a sporting event on T.V. There’s no wind-up or wrap-up --- just the one pitiful howl that comes from nowhere and has no encore.

I’ve heard of sleeping dogs snoring, kicking, twitching, chewing and paddling, but never in my world of pet behavior anecdotes have I heard of a dog who howls in their sleep. So help me out, dog peeps: Is this something you’ve heard of or experienced, or is this just another thing that makes the Doodlebug “special”?

P.S. --- I'm on the Hop this weekend. Click the badge and check out some of the other Hoppers:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Doodle gets a room

Apparently the accommodations in our completely overcrowded bed have become entirely too much for Darby, as he has moved out.

At first he would at least make a show of coming to bed with us, choosing to stay on the floor rather than participate in the nightly scrum between he and Bad Kitty Bo as the cat came onto the bed and claim the spot Darby had been keeping warm just moments before. As Darby has a completely healthy respect for the cat’s right hook, he invariably ended up ceding the high ground anyway. When the Doodle chose to flop on the floor, we looked at it as coming to terms with the inevitable --- and an opportunity to once again be able to crawl into bed without practicing our ninja stealth moves to avoid all of the furry objects already taking up space.

Shortly after the floor-flop phase entered our lives, we began to notice that sometimes when we got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom there was no Darby to step over. Not that I minded not having to switch on the cell phone flashlight to know where to avoid stepping, but I couldn’t help but wonder where he was. Did he decide to camp out by the front door in pursuit of the booger who showed up every morning at around 4 a.m. to throw something at our porch? Was he trying to see exactly when it was during the night that the neighborhood strays and ferals were holding their pool parties in our backyard?

None of the above. Darby had simply relocated himself to the guest bed, where he could sleep in queen-size splendor, never having to move, skootch or bump into another breathing creature. We found it cute.

Now, he’s taken the final step towards sleepy-time independence. Darby no longer pretends that he is part of our evening bedtime ritual. When I announce that it’s time for bed, the Doodlebug happily trots on down the hall…into the guest room, where he pops up onto the bed and curls himself in a ball, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, lest we decide that we are no longer amused by his defection.

For the record, we find it hilarious. At least until the next time we have guests.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Being responsible every month*

February has been designated National Responsible Pet Owner’s Month, complete with a Facebook page dedicated to promoting the idea. Here are a few tips you can pass along to help others understand what responsible pet ownership is all about:

Fix ‘em
Nope, I will never, ever stop putting this item at the top of the list. It’s that important. Perhaps you missed the story in The Bakersfield Californian about the nearly 19,000 companion animals killed in our shelters last year, but the only way we’re going to get those numbers down is to reduce the number of pets being born. Need help finding reduced cost programs, including one where pitties can be altered for as little as $15? Head over to the website of Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation and click on “Spay Neuter Options”. There you will find downloadable documents for reduced cost resources in English and Spanish. Feel free to print them out and share, share, share.

Tag ‘em
A pet that has identification is a pet who has a great shot of making it home should they become lost. Put an ID tag on them, get them licensed, have them micro-chipped (and register the chip after it’s been implanted) or do all three. Check out some of the offerings from companies like Home Again or Blanket ID (thanks, Gus!) that offer tags complete with alert systems should your pet go missing. Make your pet easy to get back to you should you become separated. And no more of this, “I don’t have to worry because they never get out” stuff. Gates get left open every day. Fence boards break. Emergencies happen. I’ve heard several people say that they will always stop for a loose dog who has a collar and tags, because they know the dog must be someone’s pet. 

Train ‘em
Enroll in a class, watch videos from trainers you respect, read a few books --- find a positive method that you can relate to and use it to train your pet. Training is far more than just bending an animal to do what you want it to. Training provides a common language for communicating with your pet, creates opportunities for bonding and promotes a secure, loving relationship. When a pet understands their role and expectations within a family system through consistent, positive leadership they can blossom into the loyal, devoted pet you dreamed of when you signed the adoption papers. Make sure you give them that chance. Need help finding a trainer or learning about training methods? Head to the American Association of Pet Dog Trainers website for more information.

Clean ‘em
A clean pup is a happy pup and frequently makes for a happy owner, too. Bathing is an excellent time for you to carefully check your dog for scratches, bumps, lumps or hitchhikers while providing another opportunity to get in some bonding time. Unless your pet goes in for regular (as in “monthly”) grooming, a regular bath is in order. Not sure how to properly bathe your dog? Know how to do it but hate the mess? Give Self Serve Pet Spa a try. The tubs are terrific, the owners are wonderful and when you’re done scrubbing your pup, you can leave the mess behind.

Love ‘em
But you already knew this one, didn’t you?

*column for the Bakersfield Voice

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Miss me?

My poor little blog has been terribly neglected of late. Partly because all of a sudden it seemed like I had four things happening at the same time, partly because I couldn’t think of anything amusing enough to share, and partly because every once in a while the furballs demand I spend less time writing about them and more time grooming/playing with/feeding/walking/treating them. One thing I’ll say about this herd --- they need never speak English, as they are quite clear about the nature of their demands as it is.

Anyhow, as some of you know, Bad Kitty Bo turned the big 14 on Saturday. It’s hard for me to actually wrap my mind around that fact, especially as he’s as bratty and imperial as ever. He and Muse have a new favorite hobby: trying to catch the rat that has taken to running across the top of the chain-link fence that separates us from our neighbor’s yard. There is ivy filling in the spaces between the links, and it appears that Ratticus (as we’ve come to call him) has figured out that as long as he’s skimming the top-line he’s safe from capture. It’s more fun than it should be watching the two cats snap to attention and go into full-on stalking mode when he peeks his fuzzy little face out.

Meanwhile, Darby continues to be his ridiculous self. There just isn’t any other way to say it. He is the goofiest dog I have ever, ever, ever owned. One day he is so charming and well-behaved that he barely resembles the dog (I think) I know…the next day he’s back to defending his Doodlebug crown with every goofy ounce of energy he’s got. Then, just about the time I’m ready to duct tape his little feet to the floor to stop him from pestering the cats / starting fence war number 37 with the dogs in the corner / getting under my feet for the seventh time in 10 minutes, I get this:

And there is peace once more in the valley…

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