Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting my feet back under me

Looking forward
Before I go any further, I have to take a minute to thank Pup Love for her Facebook post last night about her struggles with writer's block. I felt better just knowing I'm not the only blogger out there who has been having issues getting my act together this month and that we can talk about it, and it's O.K. Thanks, Pup.

May turned out to be really challenging for me. I won't go into details here, as a lot of it has to do with personal, rather than pet, issues and I tend to live believing everyone has plenty of their own troubles to carry around without having to hear mine. I want readers to enjoy the moments they spend on my site and if I can't find my way to writing something interesting, inspiring or humorous I shy away from the keyboard until I can.

Though there will still be some rough patches in the coming days, I think I'm beginning to get my feet back under me. It's been wonderful to read so many of my favorite bloggers like Snoopy, Gus, Cleo, Riley, Nugget, Caren and Cody, Dakota and Hawk during my recent unproductive period. Know that your stories, photos, videos and Facebook comments frequently bring smiles to my face and remind me that cool, funny things happen all the time and that they'll happen tomorrow, too.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kern County animals need our help

I was as skeptical as anyone when Kim Mullins was appointed to the position of Director of Kern County Animal Control (KCAC) in November 2010. After all, since I've lived in the area we've had four different people in charge of the department, three in the last four years alone, without making much progress that could be considered beneficial for the homeless pets of Kern County.

As many of you know, I work with a volunteer group that, among other things, works to help Kern County shelters on a direct level; purchasing items the shelter needs that aren't included in the budget, raising funds for low-cost spay/neuter events, providing people to hold off-site adoption events and assisting with KCAC events.

Before Ms. Mullins came along, more than a little time was spent during our monthly meetings expressing frustration with KCAC --- lack of communication on their end about how our organization could make an impact, lack of support for our activities on their behalf and an apparent lack of enthusiasm for anything we (or any other rescue group) might wish to do to help get more pets out of the shelter and into forever homes. The whole thing hardly seemed worth the personal investment and effort we put into trying.

But Ms. Mullins was different. Coming from outside the traditional shelter system, she was open to hearing our ideas, supportive of our efforts and open to regular, real communication. Things began getting better, inch by inch. She was invested, and her investment gave me hope for a better future for the companion animals in KCAC. For the first time since I moved here, I felt we might actually be able to get a handle on some of the issues plaguing the homeless pets in our county.

She came to meetings and spoke plainly about what could change and how soon changes could take place. She was responsive to our requests and made herself available to the media for interviews and for our events, where she could meet and greet the public whom KCAC serves. Rescue groups and the public in general were (finally) beginning to say positive things about the changes happening at the shelter and believed that her progressive style might be the real deal.

And, like that, she was gone. Fired on the last day of her probationary period, the day after her supervisor lauded her efforts to the local newspaper. Though he isn't talking, the article in The Bakersfield Californian certainly leads one to believe that her dismissal is directly related to questions she raised about city animal control workers possibly improperly (and perhaps illegally) killing animals while out in the field.

A follow-up article demonstrates the affinity many in the rescue world feel for Ms. Mullins and the changes she was busy implementing on behalf of Kern County's companion animals. To say that people involved in trying to make positive change at the shelter are disappointed is a gross understatement. But we are not going to sit back an just let this happen without a fight, especially from a county that has already been sued once (and lost), in 2004 for violations of the Hayden Act.

To that end, a group called Justice 4 Paws has started a petition to have Ms. Mullins reinstated as shelter director of KCAC. You can find and sign the petition here. Please feel free to share it with anyone you believe might be interested in the outcome of this situation.

Also, please feel free to send emails to the Kern County Board of Supervisors:

District 1 - Jon McQuiston:
District 2 - Zack Scrivner:
District 3 - Mike Maggard:
District 4 - Ray Watson:
District 5 - Karen Goh:

You may also mail letters to: 1115 Truxtun Avenue, Fifth Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93301 

Thanks for your time. I'll keep you posted.

*Disclaimer - Though I sit as a board member of a nonprofit group who works with Kern County Animal Control the views expressed here are mine alone. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A tail of shame...

Good thing I'm cute!
One sure sign of the impending summer around here is that the wood doors on our house begin to shrink a bit. It’s great news for the front door, because now it opens fairly freely, rather than needing the extra yank to get it going in the morning, but the screen door in back is another story. Once that wee bit of shrinking takes place the latch that keeps it truly closed is just loose enough that the critters have at least a fifty-fifty shot of getting it open and dashing through it, which is exactly what Doodlebug did.

Since I’m deeply invested in my Bejeweled game (yes, I know, but at least it doesn’t end in the word “ville”) I assume he’s chasing a cat, or at least what he thinks is a cat before he realizes it isn’t anything cool after all, so I didn’t bother paying much attention to him. It’s not like he’s going anywhere, and once my game is over I can pretty easily round him up.

Only there was no need for that, as he is back at the door far sooner than I expected, with nary a bark crossing his lips during his excursion. When I open the door for him, he comes through it like the devil-cat is right on his tail, slinks to the computer room and promptly curls up in a ball on the floor, head down, tail tucked.

Great. Now I’m freaked, too, seeing as how this seems completely out of character for him. I hate being freaked out after 9 p.m. --- I’m tired and it’s dark, but it’s still early enough to make the 11 o’clock news if there’s really something scary out there, and I am not dressed for the 11 o’clock news.


I find nothing at all. And I really looked around, too. Put my shoes on and everything, because if I had stepped on a slug or an injured grasshopper or some other form of ick, there would be a new form of ick left behind by me for someone else to step in. Why risk it?

I come back in the house, more worried than anything else, because Doodle still has that look on his face like he’s about to be sold to the gypsies, which isn’t going to happen. Not this week, anyway, because he’s been good-dog-for-reals so far this week and we’re not about to trade out good-dog-for-reals after nearly six years of waiting for good-dog-for-reals to stop by.

My husband cracked the case, uttering the words that never cease to remind me that my next dog will be short-haired, if not hairless.

“I think you should check Darby’s butt.”

Sure enough, one peek under the tail explained it all. Never in my life have I met a dog more obsessed with having a spotless hiney than Darby. Should this dog have anything less than a perfect poop, he will see to it that anyone paying the smallest amount of attention knows about it. His head sinks low as he tucks his tail between his legs and engages in the skulk of shame, crawling back to us, whereupon he collapses on the patio looking for all the world like the

I’d find it far funnier if it didn’t mean I’d be spending the next several minutes, baby wipes in hand, muttering less than loving thoughts to him as I dig, clean or clip out the remnants of his toileting shame. Just like I did on this night.

Can’t believe I didn’t see it coming.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Poor Mew...

Musette thought she hit the big-time today. As I wandered out back with Darby following part two of what may be a five-part series on getting his coat cleaned out, there she was with a big ol' honking grasshopper between her jaws, looking about as pleased as a cat can look.

She waited for us to get settled in before she let him loose to continue her catch-and-release game with him. Being wounded, he didn't jump very far, which was all well and good with her since she's a bit on the senior side and wasn't interested in working all that hard to keep him close. She got off a good four or five pounces when *plonk* into the swimming pool he went.

She sat on the edge of the pool, clearly annoyed at the turn of events. Being the thoughtful mom I am, I called out my husband and asked him to fish out her toy and return it to her ('cause dog knows I'm not going near the thing --- I hate grasshoppers!). The spouse, long since past being surprised at how my mind works, obliged. He grabbed the pool brush and proceeded to fish out the offending bug, depositing him on the grass.

Naturally, this was followed by him coming over and picking up Mew to carry her to her "toy", and yes, even as I write it I know how ridiculous it sounds, but that's love for you.

One good hop and she was back on the case, pouncing and releasing, every fiber of her little being wrapped up in her moment of supreme huntress-ness. She was queen of the landscaped jungle.


Back into the pool went the grasshopper.

Musette wandered back to us, mewing ever so softly, hoping to convince us to once again help a girl out, but her luck ran out. The spouse fished the grasshopper out of the pool, but deposited it over the fence beyond her reach. We're betting some bird ate a hearty meal on her dime tonight.

As for Mew, here she sleeps in one of her favorite spots, dreaming of bugs to come...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beset by cats

via Shutterstock
I’ve previously mentioned the two not-our-cats who tend to roam the backyard area of our home: “Bob”, the big orangie who I’m nearly positive is currently owned, albeit as an outdoor-only cat, but seems on a quest to become one of our family members and “Brindle”, a pretty much feral, although I think with time, food and love might someday let someone get a hand on him. Both of these cats have been around for years. They have limited interaction with our brood, thanks to Darby making a regular patrol of the area. Though I don’t think it’s in Darby’s DNA to ever actually hurt a cat, he does like seeing them flash across the yard as he chases them.

Now our not-our-cats population has increased by two. A couple of weeks ago a cat-sized hole developed in the back fence that separates us from our non-pet-owning neighbors. What once took a couple of coordinated leaps to migrate from their yard to ours is currently an easy stroll and some new cast members seem to be taking full advantage of the situation, much to my chagrin.

There’s now a medium-haired obviously unhomed cat who appears people skittish, though I’m betting not food skittish, if given half a chance, and a solid black shorthaired cat who seems on the younger side. The black cat may be owned since, like Bob, he appears to be in good flesh and coat. Regardless, apparently Bob has been sharing the news that we are the soft-touch family and our yard, once you figure out the dog’s schedule, is a pretty sweet place to hang, because these two have become the newest semi-fixtures.


I’m desperately hoping that once we get the fence replaced next week our newest additions will go back to wherever they were hanging out before finding the stroll-hole. Otherwise I’ll have some hard options ahead of me. My old cats are none too keen on sharing their lives with any additional inhabitants and Darby’s house-dog-not-yard-dog status means he’ll never be in the yard long enough to truly run them off. Taking them to Animal Control means all-but-certain-death, but leaving them here means I’ll eventually end up supplying grub, complete with having to create some sort of feed station for them (and don’t let my husband see that last part, ‘kay?) because I can’t take seeing suffering thrown-away cats. Granted, Bob and the black cat aren’t thrown away, but if you have food, they’re happy to dine al fresco and there’s no way you can feed the one truly in need without Bob eating first --- trust me on that.   

Never have I asked so much from a few pieces of wood nailed together…

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday guest pics

This week I thought I'd take the opportunity to showcase my friend Tim's incredible photos of his beautiful dog, Hallie. His skill with a camera and love for his subject both shine through in the images he captures of her. Enjoy.

The end!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Treated by Gus!

Wow, here's one I should have posted by now. The always fabulous folks at According to Gus held a treat giveaway in April and, as luck would have it, Darby won! Since both Gus and Darby have a bit of a reputation for being picky eaters, we were curious to see which treats might be the ones that both dogs found agreeable to their discerning palates.

When the package arrived, the mail carrier thought it was seriously funny that Darby, already the recipient of mailbox treats left by her, was now getting mail addressed to him as well. At the rate his mailbox possession is taking hold, I expect a newly-revised version of the deed to the property, listing it in his name, to arrive before the end of the year.

Such a bountiful selection!
So many yummy items to choose from. Heck, the dog on the package of the salmon treats even looks like Darby...well, a clean version of him, anyway.

Alas, the only morsels that dared tempt his picky soul were the Bonies. Darby seems to have an inherent dislike of anything that is semi-moist, so the packaged goods were a big no-go in his book. The Bonies  provided him with something to carry around, even if he wasn't altogether in working hard enough to try and eat them.

Ignore how dirty I am. Mom's been sick and
I don't get properly groomed when she's under the weather.
 Regardless of Darby's lack of taste interest, the treats were a wonderful surprise, and let the mail carrier know that she's not the only one in the run for Darby's mailbox affections. The next time she left him a cookie, it was bigger than the ones he got before, so as far as Darby's concerned, it's all good.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lotto fantasy

Someone from my city recently won the $51 million dollar jackpot in the California lottery. If it had been me, I'd have been inclined to build something akin to Calico Cattery, an uber-swanky boarding facility for cats.

Modern Cat published a great post about this unique place and its accompanying gift shop. This place is so cool I'd be tempted to hang out there for my vacation!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In sickness and in health

As I’ve mentioned to my friends, I don’t get sick. I get injuries, usually from doing something that the logical side of my brain tells me I shouldn’t be doing, only to be drowned out by the stubborn, eight-year-old side of my personality whispering, “Go ahead, do it!! What’s the worst that can happen?” I also get ailments, most of which are the lingering results of having listened to said eight-year-old inner voice. But getting sick from the garden-variety viruses that creep upon the Earth? Not so much.

Until last week, anyway, when I was hit with the viral version of a freight train. One day I’m making plans for a romantic dinner to celebrate my (then) upcoming anniversary. The next, I’m making mental notes about which cat figurines go to which person in the event of my nearly certain demise. That’s how it works when a non-sickie like me finds myself besieged with illness --- I extrapolate it to its natural, if unrealistic, end.

Weebles embraced my incapacitated state as a personal holiday for hers truly. No longer was she alone in the bedroom, dozing peacefully, far from the rest of the four-footed co-inhabitants. She had herself a genuine slumber party going on around the clock with her favorite mom in the world. Weebs stayed in the bed every minute I was there. If I went to the bathroom, she was right there with me, making sure I was coming back to the bedroom for more downtime. To her, my being sick meant she got me all to herself and if she had to put up with a little coughing, sneezing and whining, she considered it well worth the price of admission.

Darby, having never been exposed to “sick mom” in his nearly six years on the planet, had no idea what to make of me or the situation at hand, so in his usual Doodlebug fashion, he winged it. He tried really, really hard to play the doting, sympathetic dog I’ve read so much about in other people’s accounts of dogs and family illnesses. He hopped on the bed and tried to convey something approaching sympathy for me…until it got too far past his breakfast time and I was abandoned for the joy and wonder of Stella & Chewy’s.

Once sated, the Doodle reappeared in the quarantine area, choosing to hang by the door, apparently “guarding” me from whatever hell-booger might find its way up the hall to my room. Turns out that got boring fast, so Darby switched to Plan B and put a little scratch behind his ear, just enough to make sure his tags jangled. Beyond keeping him identified and legal, the Doodle’s tags serve as his way of telling me when he needs out, should nature call outside of normal hours, and he knows that being overt with them is usually a sure-fire way to get me out of bed.

He was right. After fifteen minutes of “ching-ching-ching” tag audio-torture bursts, I got up. For a bit, anyway.

Several days later, I’ve finally recovered to the point where I can check back in with you all, share tales of things that crossed my mind while reclined in my sick bed and find out what’s been happening in your world. It’s good to be back with you.

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