Cats

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Abby by the garden. She’s a lab/border collie mix with eyes that radiate love.

“Don’t forget to call the vet to make an appointment for Abby and Buster.”

DH reminds me of the card we  just got in the mail announcing it’s time for our dogs to get their yearly checkups and shots.

“OK.” I wonder how long I’ll have to get Abby’s weight down before I have to face the vet.

Abby officially became a senior dog this month. Because of her advancing age, last year I was told to restrict her diet to take off  her extra weight. I did mean to take Abby on more walks, not to give her treats or to give her leftovers. But, nobody appreciates my cooking more than Abby.

 By default she’s my dog. Prevented by Buster from getting near DH or getting exercise from chasing a ball, (Buster gets to balls first and they are HIS)  Abby stays by me, where she can have bones and toys, without them being stolen. Rawhide twists, pigs ears, old socks with a knot in them, the sound of Abby’s gnawing is constant. She is a chewer. I hear her chewing as I type on my laptop, read, watch tv or drift off to sleep.

I’ve been taking Abby to the garden with me. It is our special time.  All I have to do is put on my old tennis shoes and Abby’s eyes widen, her ears go up.

She is asking.

“You can go,” I say.

Abby’s eyes shine, she smiles, her tail wags and she prances as we go out the door. Once outside she hurries to sniff the groundhog hole by the compost pile. She digs a little. Then she settles down in the shade and watches while I weed. Without her partner in crime, she doesn’t run away.

 But, even more than the garden, Abby likes being with me in the kitchen. Pie dough’s her favorite of favorites. It turns her into a greedy begger–one that barks if pie crusts are rolled out and no trimmings come her way.

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Poor Abby has to go to the vet and be WEIGHED.

However, Abby’s chubbiness pales in comparison to Bigg’s bigness. I don’t know how long it has been since Biggs has had a checkup or vaccinations. So she needs to go to the vet, too.

And she will be weighed.

In all fairness, the cat was not small when my daughter gave her to us. DH and I said, when we first saw her, that Biggs lived up to her name. But, despite my daughter’s instructions to feed Biggs limited amounts of dry cat food only twice a day, Biggs quickly discovered Simba and Kitty only eat Fancy Feast. 

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Biggs is mad because there’s hard cat  food in her bowl.

She was a quick convert.

She not only swats Kitty and Simba away from the Fancy Feast until she polishes off as much as both of them used to eat combined, she meows and rubs against DH when he puts whipped cream on my coffee with cinammon…until DH gives Biggs her own little pile of whipped cream. 

Biggs hasn’t slimmed down under our care.

Pie dough, whipped cream, the cans of Fancy Feast, why are the things which give loved ones the most pleasure so often what you have to deny them?

 I am cringing at having to face those scales. And the vet.

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Whipped cream with cinammon on sweetened coffee.

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Handsome Buster loves DH and going after cats, deer, racoons and rabbits.

“Buster doesn’t chase,” says DH, “he’s part Australian Shepherd. He herds.”

DH talks about the time he saw Buster “herd” 23 deer. According to DH, Buster  flat-out ran after them yipping his deer yip and drove them into our woods.

“I wish I had a camera,” DH says. “Buster was so proud.”

Unfortunately, Buster could someday pay a price for his happiest moments.

Neither Buster, or our other dog, Abby always come when called. Deer, rabbits and squirrels are too enticing. Interesting trails are also irresistable.

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Temptation…notice the deer tracks on the trail in our woods.

Sometimes it’s a long time before the dogs come back.  We worry. There are nearby roads and neighbors protecting livestock.  In the fall there is hunting season and hunters.

Oh, and the smell. Our dogs roll in deer poop. They eat horse poop. Smelly marsh muck clings to feet, legs and bellies. Which makes their indiscretion all the better. The dogs practically smile as they pant.

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Buster and Abby run through the willows.

Buster is not only a hunter, he is also a natural herder. Part lab, with a little border collie and a lot of Australian shepherd, Buster often does the snaking neck and goes into a herding crouch. His  “stare down” is intimidating. As jealous as the most suspicious wife Buster guards DH. His “look” effectively keeps rivals out of the same room.

“Buster…noooooo,” I say, gathering up a cowering Abby or cat wanting to be with us.  Buster retreats still sneaking in his glares.

“Mom, why does Buster act so nervous around you?” my daughter asked on her last visit.

“Because, I’m training him. He’s learning to walk on a leash,” I told her. Which didn’t adequately describe the experience of a gagging, gasping and squealing Buster trying to escape.

“Awwwwww, poor Buster, you’re choking him,” said DH.

“Don’t say awwwwww in front of him. We need to act like this is no big deal. Maybe if he can’t see you…”

Miraculously, that worked.

 Soon after DH went into the house Buster  was walking at my side in a way that if it wouldn’t make Cesar proud, was at least respectable. 

Our other dog, Abby, took to the leash as if  she had gone through obedience school as a pup. Even when visiting the vet, she prances and her tail wags. 

Sadly, more often than not, snap on a leash and Buster’s head goes down, along with his ears and tail. His eyes are mournful and sad. He looks at DH pleadingly.

“What have I done to deserve this abuse?”

I have had to compromise on leashes.

The dogs are tethered by our voices during the day on walks. After dusk, when the deer and rabbits are out, DH says we will use leashes. He also agreed to leashes during hunting season.

Admittedly, my insistance that we  use leashes in the veterinary office makes them more horrendous for Buster. He hates the vet. Before leash training, Buster once got away from DH and crawled under our jeep in the veterinary parking lot.

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DH, Abby, Buster, our woods and our trails.

Today, on our walk, temptation again won out over training. We hadn’t gone far before the dogs smelled something and took off.

Fortunately, Abby wasn’t gone long. And DH had an idea.

Instead of calling and calling for Buster, and then going into the woods trying to find him,  DH turned the other way and headed toward the house.

As he walked, he praised Abby, “Good girl, Abby. Good dog, Abby.” he said loudly, ” What a good Abby…I like Abby best.”

Guess who came running?

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“Beautiful Buster”

Other posts including Buster are:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/the-cat-ladder/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/the-cat-box/

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Simba helping DH play the piano. 

One of DH’s most treasured possessions is his mother’s piano. Although he only took a few lessons, he spent many an hour, growing up in his parent’s home, playing whatever tunes were popular on the radio. Simba, our big orange tomcat, also has an ear for music and hurries to join DH at the sound of a piano key.

Not that he is especially wanted.

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“Jolynna, I’ve got a small problem on my hands,” says DH, “can you come and get him?”

“He won’t stay with me,” I respond.

And it’s true. Although Simba was my cat before we were married, Simba is DH’s cat now. Simba meows and scratches the bathroom door should DH be so rude as to close it. Simba follows DH inside. He follows DH out. When DH takes an afternoon nap, usually all three cats join him.

I tease DH about his animal magnetism. And all of the (ummm…) cats he gets.

But, actually, DH’s love for animals is the reason we met.

When I first moved to the midwest, I checked out the Yahoo personals. Just to look. Although I had moved into a rural area, there were 900 men in my age range on Yahoo. But, it was the “must love animals” in DH’s ad that caught my eye. (That and he is nice looking.) I joined Yahoo personals immediately, composed my own profile and sent DH a response.

“I am looking for a man that is macho enough to know how to fix the things that break in my  house, and sensitive enough to hold my hand during scary movies.” I listed among my requirements. But, there was more…

It took DH three long days to check his e-mail and answer.

“Yes,” he said,” yes I have a barn. And yes, I will get you a horse.”

We were married within three months.

jolynna.jpg My Yahoo personals’ profile pic. It is still taped to the back of our bathroom mirror. That’s where DH put it when he got the first e-mail.

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DH’s cat ladder.

DH’s cat ladder is on the Swedish blog, http://katt-trappa.blogspot.com/.

Katt-trappa is Swedish for cat ladder. The site is a picture gallery and a tribute to all of the fantastic cat ladders of the world. It features 331 cat ladders. That is practically one for every day of the year.  Some are unbelievable!

Here are a couple of the cat ladders. There are many more at http://katt-trappa.blogspot.com/. There’s even a video of a ladder-climbing cat.

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This cat ladder from Zurich, Switzerland is probably one of the tallest cat ladders in the world.

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A cat from Germany climbs his ladder.

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Work in progress …

DH has been working on a solution to our “cat box” problem. He’s been at it most of the day.

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It’s almost finished.

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Biggs braves the heat to lend support from the sidelines.

The “cat box” is gone.

Biggs goes to the door and asks to be let out. And sits in front of the door and waits for someone to come along to let her in.

But, if Biggs used the dog door, she could go in and out without our help. DH thinks that’s what Biggs should be doing. Only using the dog door means going into our fenced-in backyard. Which is dog territory.

Our other cats DO use the dog door. Then they race up the fence posts to escape from Buster chasing at their heels. Most of the time. Sometimes, when Simba, the orange tom, isn’t in the mood to be chased Simba just lies down. Buster  gives him a disappointed sniff. And that’s the end of it.

DH is right. Buster IS just playing. And, DH HAS been trying to train Buster.

Only DH’s “Buster…no”, in my opinion, is said in too nice of a voice. I think our pack needs meaner  more assertive leadership. Because Buster only stops sometimes. Other times, he pretends not to hear.

To make up for DH’s over-niceness, my no is extra stern and usually followed by a psstt hiss, dog whisperer style. I point my finger, like Cesar, for emphasis. Only, as I am in cat protection mode, I end up doing assertive without the calm part. Which  sends Buster slinking up against DH’s legs like he’s been whipped.

The looks Buster gives me are reproachful and accusing.

Biggs stays as far from the situation and dog door as she can.

Today DH worked on resolving things and built a “cat ladder” for the cats. Now they won’t have to climb the fence and can instead zip up the ladder before Buster has a chance to get outside. Using a ladder won’t be new. Our cats are up and down the ladder to the hayloft all the time.

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Kitty inspects the “cat ladder”.

UPDATE: The cats were suspicious of the “cat ladder” at first. Only kitty would sit on it long enough to have his picture taken. BUT, today, only one day afterwards, every cat has successfully gone up and over, come in, been fed and gone back out to the barn. Without being chased.

DH’s “cat ladder” is a success.

dsc00196.jpg Biggs contendedly gives herself a bath after using the dog door  to go outside.

Bigg’s story and everything you ever wanted to know about the “cat box war” between my husband and I is here: http://www.turkeycreeklane.com/?p=48

summer.jpg I pinch myself every single day because I never believed it would happen to me.  My marriage of more than 20 years ended. I was thrust into dating. I was overweight, jobless, and pushing the dreaded 50. 

What to do? Well…drastic times call for drastic measures. I restarted my career at the lowest of basement levels. I starved. I had liposuction. I had lasik eye surgery and got rid of the glasses. It took awhile, but it worked. After 8 years of going steady with men who couldn’t get to the “I do”,  I met the love of my life and remarried.

I will be sure to post ALL the gory details of those eight years in future posts.

Nowdays, as an officially married retired lady for over three years, I’ve taken to a life of doing nothing like a duck to water. I spend my summers participating in the Nothern Indiana flower wars. I am experimenting and trying to find a way to successfully garden without doing any weeding.  I have piles of books to read. And a new art box filled with paints, pastels and pencils and watercolors. I really AM going to draw or paint something. Soon.

Our little farm includes two horses, two dogs and two cats. I adore them. But, they prefer my husband, DH, in a most insulting way.

 Buster, the black lab/border collie mix, mournfully howls as  DH leaves. He seems convinced DH is never to return as he paces and nervously cocks his head. He’s hoping he’ll hear DH’s Jeep motor noises. I try to get his attention, but Buster’s busy, he can’t spare me a glance. If I were to go outside or upstairs, Buster would be on the kitchen table in a heartbeat. That way he’d be high enough to look out the windows and see the drive. The cats are outside.  Nobody is in the house to make being inside worthwhile. Only our good natured, sweet Abby dog dutifully lies at my feet. But, she’s listening.

Until the wheels of  DH’s jeep hit our driveway. Then the dogs writhe with joy. They wag their tails so hard anything left where it shouldn’t be is knocked over. Skipper the white horse, whinnies across the barnyard. The cats poke their heads out from the sunflower plants beneath the birdfeeder and run for the backdoor.

I smile, too. DH is home. It’s all good.  

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