Kitten’s First Christmas (Harlie & Indy)

Being born outside, Harlie and Indy certainly knew what trees were. We got a small potted tree that year. When the Christmas tree came in the house it took them no time to be in it – playing in the bottom branches, trying to climb it. It was going to be a fun few weeks! And to add to it, Mouse decided what they were doing looked like fun. I wasn’t sure if the tree was going to survive these three, let alone decorations.

The tree was decorated with lights and an angel, stockings were hung on the mantel and the house was decorated. It really was beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And then it wasn’t. House decorations started coming down and turning into toys. Lights had to be put back on the tree every morning and we caught Mouse trying to swing from the stockings. Pouncing on the tree skirt gave them rides across the hard floor. It took a long time to turn Mouse into a semi well behaved house cat. It took 2 wild kittens and Christmas to un-train her!

Christmas morning finally arrived. We put the lights back on the tree again, turned the lights on and got coffee and tea. Since Mouse was 2, she knew what was coming. I sat on the floor and called the cats over then I emptied their stocking on the floor. The kittens were overwhelmed. They didn’t know what to play with first. They spent the entire day playing with their new toys and were completely exhausted by evening.

New Home, New Adventures (Daisy)

Daisy was a little over a year. Greg had been retired for an entire week when we found out we had to move. The house we were living in was a rental. The landlords were getting divorced and we were given 30 days to find a new place to live, but they were willing to “work with us”. We found out working with us meant their attorney would start the eviction process, which would have prevented us from ever renting and possibly purchasing a home. After searching for 2 weeks and not being able to find anything for us and the critters, we were running out of time and had to make decisions. We ended up in a travel trailer, on my mom’s property. Mom was 89. She wasn’t able to handle the couple acre farmette any longer, so we’d be there to help her out and we’d have a home. We never considered what it would be like living in a travel trailer (That’s an adventure for another blog, Accidental RVers) or what sharing 250 sq. ft of space with 3 cats and a Dazemaniac would entail. With 2 days left to spare, we packed up the critters and moved into our new “home”.

Going from 1300 sq ft to 250 was a major adjustment for all 6 of us. Nobody could move without somebody else being in the way. Daisy didn’t have much space to let loose and run. When she did, a cat was usually chasing her because her running irritated one of the cats. Almost 3 acres and no fence. Daisy didn’t have a place outside to be free and run around. The 2-mile walk Greg took her on every day only burned off so much energy. It was time for some sort of yard for Daisy. We bought a portable pen. It wasn’t very big, but it gave her off leash time. It didn’t take long to add 2 more portable pens to it. Now she had a decent sized area to be off leash & play.

Daisy loves her Grandmom and it took her no time to figure out Mom’s routines. She knew if the back door squeaked, Mom was going outside & Daisy could see her. She’d hop on the back of the sofa and watch, wagging her tail the entire time. Mom loves Daisy just as much. If she was outside at the same time Daisy was, a “hello doll baby” from Mom would send the pup flying towards her. She pulled so hard whoever was on the other end of the leash had no choice but to go. Once we settled in, we started having Mom over for dinner once or twice a week. Mom would sit on the sofa and I turned the loon loose. She bolted to Mom, jumped on the sofa and bounced in her over exuberant puppy fashion. I felt bad for (89-year-old) Mom, but she loved it and laughed the entire time.

It took a while, but everybody eventually settled into a routine. Unfortunately for Greg, Daisy learned one of his routines too quickly. When he got dressed, she went for her walk and you couldn’t tell her anything different. She’d bug him, bounce and get into things until he took her. If he didn’t want to go for a walk, he couldn’t get dressed. When he did get dressed, Daisy was so excited she had to “help”. She stole his socks and grabbed his pant leg when he was trying to put them on. We lived on a fairly quiet country back road, so their walk was usually down past the golf course. It lasted about 45 minutes and was a couple of miles. Daisy made friends with the golfers and staff, as well as other people walking their dogs. Daisy and Greg knew more people than I did, and I grew up there! On nice evenings after dinner we’d sit outside, and Daisy got to be free in her pen. Life was good.

Farewell Little Buddy (Raisin)

On November 16, 2015 there was another trip to the vet. He’d been on meds for what they thought was a bladder infection and things took a turn for the worse. It turned out to be an inoperable tumor. It was time to say goodbye to our beloved Beagle. He visited with both of us. He knew what was going on and he was ready. He grew impatient as we said our goodbyes. Raisin had a wonderful life for the almost 6 years he was with us. The day we were always worried about had come. We went home without him.

The following days were difficult for all of us, but especially for me having to be home all day working without him.  The cats were unsettled, we were unsettled. I finally got a call from the vet. We could pick up Raisin any time. I didn’t want to go to the vet’s office and at the same time I wanted Raisin to be home, where he belonged. I ran over that day after work. The strangest thing happened when I got home. An eerie peacefulness fell over the house almost immediately. Unsettled changed to calm. A beautiful wooden box with a name plate, his paw print and a few very nice cards are in the curio cabinet with his collar. Harley sat on the step next to the cabinet every day for weeks. We swear she was visiting him. She still does, but not as often. I miss him every day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I know he’s still here. Once in a while I feel a nose touch my leg or his fur rubbing on my arm. When I look down, nobody is there. I smile knowing it’s Raisin paying a visit.

Over 4 years later, Raisin is still here. Although we have Daisy, I still feel his nose bump my legs once in a while to remind me he’s not far. The sickly little hound from WV turned out to be the best dog I ever had. He weaseled his way into my heart far deeper than I knew. As much as I love Daisy, I still miss my little Raisin more.

New Home – New Life (Harlie & Indy)

It took no time for those little buggers to feel very comfortable in their new home and take over the house. They’d terrorized everyone and managed to get into everything. A squirt bottle meant nothing except a momentary halt to whatever they were into to shake water off. A little smack in the rear just caused us to get smacked back. If we thought Mouse was an entertaining kitten, these two were going to be more fun. This was certainly going to be a case of you can take the kitten out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the kitten.

Before they both thought their names were kittens, they needed real names. Greg said the little tiger & white reminded him of a biker chick and called her Harlie. Spelled a little different, because after all, she was a little girl. Sticking with the motorcycle theme, the little grey & whites was named Indy. After all, don’t Harleys & Indians go together?

Harlie & Indy were eating wet and dry food very well on their own. It was time for them to find a new home. They were still very young, and I wasn’t going to separate them. I advertise in local pet stores and various other (safe) places. A few people came to look at them. The kittens wanted no part of it. They’d scratch, bite or take off when a stranger tried holding them. I eventually gave up. I really didn’t want 3 cats, but we have 3 cats.

New Friends (Raisin)

Raisin loved his new home. He made friends with a large, very friendly stray neighborhood cat named Grey. Every day at lunch Raisin and I would go sit outside and Grey would visit. He’d sit on my lap or cuddle with Raisin. Life was good. It didn’t take him long to figure out the upstairs hall was a great place to play. Every night at bedtime he made Greg throw toys down the hall. We couldn’t get our full-sized box spring upstairs. Much to Raisin’s delight, we had the mattress on the floor for a while. He had a new bed! Although his was a plush, self-warming bed our was much nicer. It was rough sleeping in a full-sized bed with 3 cats and a Beagle!

All 3 of us had enough of the “leash thing”. In the middle of winter, we bought posts and a few roles of wire to give Raisin is fence. He howled the entire time we were putting up is fence since he couldn’t be outside with us. When it was finished, we let him out. He walked the fence line and sat in the grass. He approved. With the new fence he has the freedom to wander, sit and play in the snow.

Spring rolled around and Raisin got to spend more time outside. He was with me with I was working on the gardens, cooking on the grill or just sitting at the picnic table. Grey decided he didn’t like the fence. It prevented him from visiting. It didn’t take long for him to learn to meow at the gate to be let in. Grey would come in and hop up on a chair like he lived there. He and Raisin would lay next to each other in the sun, they’d play or just visit.

He was much more active being off of the leash. We discovered the more active he was, the less problems he had with his chronic bronchitis. Between the new meds and more exercise, he was doing well.  We took him for walks around Oley on nice days or played in the yard. 

Out of the blue another round of pneumonia came on. It had been over a year since he had any problems. With his meds, making sure he had a coat on in the winter, not spending more time out than he had to when it was really cold and exercise, I thought we were past it. We caught it early enough that it could be treated with meds and no hospital stay.  The vet said it can happen at any time, regardless of what we did. After all, they could only take an educated guess as to what he really had. We could never keep him off meds long enough for the vet to be able to take a sample of what was really in his lungs. Same meds, same routine. Another 6 weeks give or take or begging him to eat, him not wanting to eat and me feeding him anything he would eat. An exam at the end of the meds and another test for pancreatitis because of what he had been eating. Whew, we made it again.

Our Buddy Returns (Furball)

Not long after I’d given up on every seeing Furball again, he came home. He was so thin you could see his spine; his fur was ratty, and he was weak. I picked him up and took him in the house. Jazzy was so happy to see him that she wouldn’t leave him alone. I opened a can of food and gave him a little at a time. He would have devoured several cans if I would have let him.

Much to his dismay, Furball was forced to stay inside to rest and recover. I knew he needed to go to the vet, but in his fragile condition I didn’t think he could handle it. He was fed canned food numerous times a day and had limited access to dry. Since he hadn’t eaten in so long, I didn’t want him to over eat. After several days of inside recovery, food and a few good brushings, he started to look better. It was time for the vet.

He was thoroughly examined and had bloodwork done. Other than being full of worms, he was in surprisingly good condition. The vet gave him wormer and sent me home with another dose for him and one for Jazzy as a precaution.

Furball continued to get stronger and act more like himself. He was demanding to go out (which he wasn’t) and being a problem child because he wasn’t getting his way. A few days after his vet trip, Furball was to be given his 2nddose of wormer. It didn’t take long for him to start vomiting and having diarrhea.  He was in pain. Dead worms were coming out of both ends. Dead tapeworms were being expelled in large numbers. I called the vet and Greg rushed him down. The tapeworms were so bad they were eating holes in his insides and there was nothing that could be done.

Our Furball was buried on the hill in one of his favorite sitting spots, overlooking the house.

New Home and New Friends (Furball)

It didn’t take Furball long to develop a new routine at our new home. As he got used to the area, he was spending more and more time outside. He’d lay around on the front porch or in the back yard. I put a dry food dispenser and water on the front porch, so he’d have it on the days he didn’t want to come in. It also didn’t take him long to bring his girlfriend home and show her where to find food. She was a tiny black and white feral cat we named Bandit. She’d take all of the food she could eat and hiss at the “providers” when we went outside.

Late in the spring I noticed Bandit and Furball on the porch with 2 additions. They brought their kittens home.  A grey tiger and a black and white. They were as wild as their mother and weren’t going to be tamed. The family was there every day. The kittens would play, and everybody would hang out in the shade where it was cool. Furball was a good dad. He played with the kittens and made sure they didn’t wander close to the road.

Furball suddenly stopped coming home. He didn’t always come in the house, but I saw him every day. The kittens were weaned and came to the porch for food on their own. I saw them a few times a day, but no Furball or Bandit. I was going outside several times a day with a food container to shake. I’d call his name, whistle and no Furball. I searched the woods behind the house and couldn’t find him. I did the same routine for several weeks and still no Furball. I was beside myself, but there was nothing more I could do. I assumed we’d never see him again.

Touch and Go (Raisin)

Raisin spent 3 days in the hospital. Dr Geoff didn’t think he was going to make it and stayed with him for 2 nights. He was amazed the dog pulled thru. He said Raisin was a fighter and has a strong will to live.

I took the little guy home knowing he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Several weeks of meds that affected his appetite combined with begging and pleading with him to eat. There were times he was so weak he could barely stand so I started feeding him anything he’d eat. Lunch meat, hot dogs, burgers. The vet gave me hell for what I was feeding him because it could have killed him. It wasn’t a choice. Either feed him what he’d eat, or he’d starve to death. It took Raisin about a month to make a full recovery. This was the start of Raisin’s medical issues. The cough he had was actually chronic bronchitis. Once he was fully recovered, he was put on meds to help control it.

Life was back to normal for Raisin. Sunning himself on the back deck while I was working and cuddling up with us after dinner. Saturday morning was doggie playground and time with friends. I think he liked vising the people more than playing with the other dogs. Raisin loved car rides so we took him everywhere we could. The once scared little dog was now disappointed if a person passed him and didn’t pet him!

By the end of that summer we couldn’t stand being in that house any longer. The neighbors were horrible. Kids running in front of the house screaming at each other at all hours of the day and night, constant traffic in the shared driveway, police next door several times a week. It was time to move. We found a place in the quiet town of Oley. It was a nice neighborhood and I didn’t have to worry about being outside by myself or having the doors locked during the day when I was home alone. Raisin had a bigger yard and the one neighbor said we could take him in the back field. He wasn’t thrilled about having to be on a leash, but until we got the money for a fence, on a leash he was.

Our Shooting Star Burns Out (Jasmine)

Jazzie was so miserable being kept inside all of the time I started letting her in the back yard when I was going to be out. The warm sun and grass made her happy. There were feral cats in the area, and I didn’t want her to tangle with them. She has no idea they could do her harm. Mocha, Jazzie and I spent lunch outside and we’d go out for a while after work. She was content spending time in the yard but longed to be playing in the woods and following Furball. 

We were only in our new house a few months when we had carpet scheduled to be installed upstairs. Furball was out. Jazzie and Mocha were confined downstairs. It was noisy and the carpet layers were in and out the back door. Jazzie disappeared. I couldn’t find her anywhere. Greg came up to me and told me Jazzie got out somehow. Apparently, she saw the field across the street and made a run for it, unaware of road hazards. She was hit by a car and killed instantly. I was devastated. How could she have gotten out? I wanted to see her, but Greg didn’t let me. He buried her on the hill where she could look over the field and us. Our brilliant shooting star burned out all too quickly.