Freedom

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Bean the Wookie

Awakened at 4 a.m. needing to tend to personal things.  The grandchildren are visiting with their two-month-old Wookie, who needed to be let out a short time after that.  Wookie is growing up and decided to go for a run.  I had to laugh at my granddaughter chasing after Wookie and bringing him back to hook him to the leash.   It confounds me why everyone thinks their dog will just stay by their side because of love!

Love has nothing to do with it.  A dog has got to be a dog.  If a dog can get its way, it becomes the top dog, the alpha dog, numero uno!    Some people know how to train a dog to stay with them, but I don’t.  My best reasoning says to keep a dog tied to you until it is at least two years old, and has learned to come to you when called, no matter where he is or what she is doing.  A tether helps with this also, as a small tug helps the dog to respond appropriately, but don’t forget the loving.  Treats also help, and include playing with their favorite thing as well as food treats.

Hubby either doesn’t understand this, after many years with many different dogs, or he just doesn’t care.  Many people believe it does no harm to let a dog just run free a little bit.  They explore, never really go far, and come back happy.  In fact, running seems to be essential for some dogs.  If you have ever tried to contain a beagle, or other hunter, you will understand.  These dogs live by their nose, and if they pick up a scent, they have just got to go.

Unfortunately for our dogs and for Hubby, continual conflict with neighbors over our unleashed dogs has caused me considerable stress, which I pass right to Hubby.   As I’ve told my neighbor who called me while I was out of town to tell me where my dog was, “I have more luck training the dog, than I do my husband.  Obviously, I’m not very good at either.

I am seriously distressed by the things people create to keep dogs from even their mailbox poles.  Nasty, cutting things with the intention of hurting an animal.  Poison in a tempting wrapping to punish both pet and owner.  People, really.  For a few dollars, you can buy a spray keeping animals away with an unpleasant, but harmless odor.  Reapply as needed.

And there are other hazards, like people who want to walk off with your adorable pet.  There are cars to dodge and wells and sewer grates to avoid.  There are dangers in the world.

Is a tiny, constricted life the kind of life any creature wants?  Let’s continue to explore and experience the world we live in.   Let’s live free and bravely, with our pets.

 

By Any Other Name

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Shadow, photo by April E. Sutton with Samsung Tablet

My beautiful girl.

Pretty girl.

(thump bump, crash, bang)  Grace!

Vampira.

Killer!

My sweet baby.

Mommy ‘s girl.

Miss Thing!

Ungrateful cat!

My shadow.

I am pleased to be the chosen one.

 

 

 

Borrowed Time

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Here is our little old lady, resting after a long night.  It has been a rough week with several sleepless nights.  Penny is a miniature pincer, a little overweight, deaf, 13 years old, and in the sunset of her life.

Min pins are known to be high-strung animals.  If you have never owned a min pin, you may not know what I mean my high-strung.  Penny has lived up to the high strung reputation of her breed.  Intensely curious and clever there is hardly a place safe from a min pin.

Penny could levitate from the floor to the back of the sofa without a perceptible exertion.  In her younger years, she was found on kitchen counters or even the table.  The sight of a treat or a leash is completely overwhelming, as she runs in circles, her tail waging her entire body, jumping and crying with delight.

Finally Penny realizes there will be no treat (or walk) until she sits.  Responding to the request, she bounces up and down to run in a little circle until expending enough energy that she can, with great effort of will, hold herself to one spot on the floor, showing she can behave in a ladylike manner, as long as we insist.

Her days of jumping onto the back of the sofa, and being found in the middle of a table or up on the counter are long gone.  Penny can’t even get up on the bed or the sofa for her favorite activity, cuddling under a blanket, which earned her the moniker of “blanket ho.”  The moniker was given to her by my son-in-law, with ho being short for hound.

On her best nights, Penny will go out once or twice.  On a bad night, Penny pants, paces, cries, barks, and scratches incessantly at the door.  She doesn’t seem to want or need anything in particular, except for Mom or Dad to do something to make her feel better.  Just as we have done with fussy babies, we hold her, rock her, and pat her to try to calm her down.

Sometimes, we even pull her into the bed with us as we did when she was a tiny pup.

4 o’clock in the Morning

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Thing One and Thing Two

I would rather be sleeping, but Shadow and Blue have made an all out assault on my favorite chair sitting in the corner of my bedroom.  The sound of  claws grabbing, and the possibility of ripping the fabric woke me.  I  have seen this behavior many times.

It is not that the cats really want to destroy the fabric.  The damage done is incidental to the game of chase and wrestle.  Both cats come tearing through the house, into the bedroom.  The cat in the lead dives behind the chair and pulls itself around the convenient piece of furniture, rather than run across the floor.  In the living room this same action takes place around the sofa or fabric covered footstool.

I have replaced the dust covers on a few pieces of furniture.  The fabric cover under the furniture that finishes the bottom.  The usually hidden fabric has been destroyed in a few places from cats dragging themselves upside-down from it across the floor.

A once beautiful wicker chest, has been sacrificed to the enjoyment, and need to scratch of the cats.  Some clever people have solved this conundrum with protective furniture covering scratching posts as seen on Pinterest.  I  am not so clever.  The forty-five year old basket I received as a shower gift before my wedding is also damaged.  The cheep laundry basket in the closet also has a texture the cats seem to love.   I also have several scratching pads around the house.  I thought this was the cost of humanely having cats.

Letting the cats outside would help the cats find more natural scratching posts, but also expose them to the dangers of the natural world (which I think they can handle), as well as the danger of cars (which the cats can’t handle).  We also have neighbors with very strong objections to cats. I could have had them declawed, and protected my furniture.

Declawing a cat leaves it defenseless if it goes outside.  (A place they work very hard at escaping to.)  Plus, some cats take to biting to defend themselves when declawed.  Also, the idea of surgery on my little kittens feet just made me sad.  So there I was fighting yet another hopeless cause in the early morning, armed with a spray bottle defending the furniture in the dark.

Now it is time to get up and start my day.  The cats are curled up someplace, sleeping. Good morning everyone.

Making Christmas

 

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Shadow loves Christmas

Here we are again, making Christmas.  It may not be about roast beast, bobbles, and packages tied with bows, but it is something special, and Shadow loves it all, from wrapping to unwrapping.  Shadow is totally unimpressed with the panoply gifts stacked up around the tree, except as it affords her places to hide.

Today was about buying presents for others, something Shadow knows nothing about.  The cats do bring home the occasional mouse or other gift to keep us all well feed.  Shadow doesn’t know the stress of going to a store for the perfect gift, only to find out it is sold out, everywhere, until mid January.  Shadow doesn’t know anything about finding the perfect gift for someone you love.  Shadow gifts me with a chance to pet her, and knowing we are both content is all we need.

So I can’t give you details, but let me just say that I have the perfect games, toys and art supplies an Oma can find.  I am so excited just thinking about the look of delight on the faces of my grandchildren as they tear into their packages.  That is what gift giving is all about, the excited smiling faces of the children.  Their smiles are all the gift I need from them.

It is a good thing I didn’t find those sold out items I had been looking for.  Instead, each child will be given the perfect gift of love.  Not pricey items, just the perfect gift for each one.  You know what I’m talking about.  The educational gifts, underwear and socks.  (That is what I always tell them they are getting.)  I can’t wait to play with my grandchildren and their gifts at our holiday party.

Now, Shadow and I have some work to do. Some lucky grandchild could end up with a playful cat for Christmas!  Paper and ribbons are Shadow’s favorite things.

Home Again

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Our rescue animals Blue and Shadow.  

After a few days with my daughter and her family, we are back home.  The e-mails were stacked up, and unable to bear the stress, I just deleted the bunch.  Was there anything of an urgent nature?  I certainly hope not.  In my experience, I just don’t get really important things through e-mail.

Facebook is another matter.

The wedding plans for my niece are moving forward, and apparently puppies and rescue animals play a major role.  This is not something I understand.  I thought weddings were supposed to be about the bride and groom, and their future.

Citizens are admonishing each other for their reactions in the wake of our presidential election.  Horror is expressed about some political fear or another.  Puppies and kittens don’t seem to ease the uncertainty,confusion, disappointment, and fear.

I love my rescue kitties, plus our Boston, Brutus, who entered our house when his original owner, our son, went over-seas for two years.  I’m doing my part.  There have been other rescued cats and dogs in my life.  They are as cute, fun, lovable as any pure-breed papered dog or cat, and you can get them at a bargain price.  Free is a bargain price.

Caring for an animal does cost money, for food, shots, and necessary medical care.  Having more animals than you have money, time or energy to care for doesn’t create a good environment for man nor beast.  In fact, hording animals, is a severe mental health issue leading to animal abuse, rather than rescue.

I needed the down time of just being with family.  We saw our oldest granddaughter in a musical, let the kids walk the dogs, and even sleep with them if they want.  The youngest little Curlytop is ready for a dog.  Curlytop was the first to volunteer for walking duty, and did not cringe at cleanup.  Curlytop played tirelessly with the dogs, and helped with feeding, and bedtime treats.

The kitties ran out the door as we were bringing our suitcases into the hose.  Ungrateful strays!  I caught up with the news, got a cup of tea with milk and honey, and sat down to blog.

The prompts I missed?  Fish.  Lofty.  Flames.  Or.  (I’m cheating. I know, but I am not the first one to pull this trick out.)

Mysterious Disappearances

Things move in my house.  The matches were gone for days.  Pens disappear. I am constantly looking for my rings.  My meat defrosting in the sink disappears.  Muffins bagged on the counter disappear.  Glasses disappear, or at least get tipped over.  Paper isn’t safe.  Tubes, bottles, bottle caps, and hair accessories of all kinds disappear.

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Couldn’t be me Mom, I’m sleeping!

It is as if these things fall into an alternate dimension.  Maybe they fall through a hole in the space-time continuum.  It is a dilemma.  I quiz every living being in the household.  Blue, our gray cat, claims he was outside.  Penny, our little old lady, says she’s been tied up, and what’s with that?  Penny claims it has been days since she’s made any kind of mess at all.  Brutus, the Boston Terror, says he was closed into his crate for the night.  That leaves only one possibility.

“Couldn’t be me Mom, I’m sleeping,” says Shadow.

Even if I’d been watching, I wouldn’t see Shadow do anything wrong.  For one, she is my adorable, affectionate kitty who I claim as a service animal, because she is the one who just makes me so happy when I am sad, keeps me company when I am lonely, and makes me smile even if I get angry.

Of course, even watching her, Shadow is sometimes very difficult to see.  Shadow blends into the shadows, and looks like a hole in the fabric of space-time herself.  Photographic evidence is inconclusive.   Shadow’s dark color absorbs all surrounding light, and her features can be difficult to make out.

For now, I guess I’ll give Shadow the benefit of the doubt.  There is one person I haven’t questioned, and that is Hubby.  Why Hubby would want to put things under the stove and refrigerator, behind the sofa, under the end tables, and give the animals our steaks and muffins from the counter, and knock over all the glasses or onto the floor is a little beyond my comprehension.

What could Hubby be doing with my hair accessories?  It is a mystery.

Patches, Stay Put

My friend, Carol Mazurek of Huntington, West Virgina doesn’t have much of an internet presence.  If you Google her name you she may be part of a list of Carol Mazureks throughout the country.  Now Carol does have a web page thanks to her publisher Mid-Atlantic Highlands, an imprint of Publisher’s Place.  Her web site is part of the promotion of her new book Patches, Stay Put.  If you know to look for the book, you will find Carol on the web. 

I met Carol when hosted an Artist’s Way group in her home.  Carol is  a master gardener, photographer, painter, and multi media artist, and now she has used her talents as an artist to illustrate the story of her pet cockatiel, Patches.  The book begins with Carol and her son in her garden (perhaps taking a hike) making plans for the season, when they find Patches.

“It seems someone took the time to teach him an array of tricks. Patches proved to be smart, silly, sassy, sociable, and always made his presence known. He also had a moody side that would keep you at a distance. I omitted that side of him in the book. Aside from those bouts he was sweet and brought much fun and joy to us,” said Carol.

Patches was her only pet, until she went back to work and purchased another cockatiel to, Bernie, to keep Patches company.  It turned out Bernie, was really Bernadette.  Patches was aloof with her.  Patches found a friend in Carol’s father who came to live with her in 2008 or 2009.   A small timid stray dog also joined the family around this time.  But only Patches inspired her to write and illustrate a book.

“Doing both writing and illustrating is not common but I felt no one else knew Patches like I did. It was uncharted territory, challenging and rewarding at the same time,”  said Carol.

What is Carol’s artistic background?  ” I remember oil painting in the 70’s and other art projects. Not until the early 80’s did I pursue a degree in art from State University of New York at Buffalo. I loved painting but received a Fine Arts Degree in Photography in hopes to be more employable. Today, watercolor is a medium I enjoy but my first love is photo collage which I incorporate watercolor and other mix media.”

“Back in 2001 I won first place ($400) in a juried photography exhibit sponsored by physicians in a hospital I had been employed. Interestingly it was my very first photo collage. I had taken photos of a Victorian garden and was published in “Victorian Magazine”. Through the years honorable mention and monetary prizes have been received for my watercolor art including purchased works.”

“With the writing of “Patches” I have been honored to be juried into “Tamarack”, West Virginian’s prestigious art center,” said Carol.

All ages will enjoy the adventures of Patches.  I hope you will share this book with the children in your lives.

Stubborn Conviction

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Brutus is a dog with allergies.  It is a bad idea to let Brutus on the grass, or to feed him treats of any kind, or to let him run free off leach.  This seems  harsh to most dog lovers.  Never let your dog run.  Never give your dog a treat.  Never even let your dog touch the grass.  It sounds like one of those animal abuse posters with the pitiful looking pup who has had to live in a cage its entire life.

This is hard on us, and hard on poor pitiful Brutus.  Brutus loves the grass.  Brutus likes to take care of his business on the grass.  He rolls in, and stretches out on, and even eats the grass.  Brutus hates the new rules.

To be honest, I’m not at all sure we can keep the new rules.  They are darn inconvenient.

The new rules mean teaching an 8-year-old dog new ways of doing things.  These new ways of doing things are new for us also.  We have to actually walk our dog on a leash in the street and keep him off the grass.  We would have to do this every single time he needs to relieve himself.  This is the hardest for us.  We like to boot the dogs out the back door, fresh from our sheets, and let them in after they have taken care of business.  We actually do this several times a day, on their demand, but that is where grass is.  Until the last time at night, when we tuck them into their little beds.

The new rules mean changing the habit of a treat before bed, not just for Brutus, but for Penny, because you cannot interfere with the pack dynamic by showing favorites.  I tried to fool them by giving them each a little snack of their dog food, but they were not fooled.  Penny barked her protest, and Brutus silently begged.  It also means no more licking off the dinner plates.  The dogs are not happy.

The leash, by now is obvious, plus the fact that neither dog, once loose, wants to run and play where they may, and refuse to come when called.  They always come back, but we have some neighbors who do not love our dogs nearly as much as we do, and of course, the neighbors all have grass.

So why am I putting myself, Hubby, and dogs through all this.  I am putting us all through this, because of a continuously itchy dog, several hundred dollars in vet bills, and allergy testing that shows Brutus is allergic to just about everything, and the vet says we are entering the worst part of the allergy season.

I can hear your question.  Why don’t we give him allergy treatment?  Well, we are, but allergy treatments take months to work.  Repeated skin infections are not being controlled by medicated soap, antihistamines, and anti-itch sprays, and we are entering the worst part of the allergy season.

But even knowing all of this, as soon as I turn my back, Hubby lets the dog go up onto grass.  Hubby thinks it is beyond cruel to not give the dogs any treats at all.   So I have to be stubborn.

Normally stubborn has a negative connotation.  Stubborn is synonymous with obstinate, pig-headed, obdurate, contrary, perverse, recalcitrant, inflexible, uncompromising, and unbending.

But I have the conviction of my knowledge that, for now, this is the right thing to do.  I would never be able to stick with this plan if I wasn’t convinced it was necessary.  I know I’m right, so if you want to call me stubborn, I can live with that.

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