Why is the cat in the dog’s crate?

zeusindogcratecroppedforblogWhen my husband asked why Zeus, the cat, was lying in the dog’s crate I laughed out loud. Was that a serious question? I thought by now we all knew that there were no rules known to a cat when it came to claiming it’s domain.

When Zeus joined our family almost two years ago, we were very naive about feline ways. We were accustomed to dogs, who were somewhat more easily trained, or at least confined  by doors and gates when necessary. The kitty, on the other hand, is the master of stealth and teleportation. And we swear he knows how to pick locks.

Back to the dog’s crate. In reality, this particular crate has not felt a dog’s presence in over a year and a half. It was last used by our beloved Billy, a place of security and healing.  Until the cat came home, that is.

When our current dachshund, Oz,  is kenneled, he actually uses the crate that came with Zeus when we adopted him. There must be some humour in that.

The large dog sized crate that the kitty has chosen for his daily recline, now sits in our living room for Zeus’ benefit. Many times we have thought about folding it up and putting it into storage. Then, as if understanding that we want to remove his private cat cave, Zeus appears, and settles in. Strange how cats seem to read our minds.

Zeus’ main form of exercise is moving from resting place to resting place. From beds, to laundry piles, to sofas, to tables, to chairs, to hidden spots we have not yet discovered; this is how he spends each day. Reading the newspaper, trying to do paperwork or wrapping gifts offer new challenges  to the human family members when the cat offers to help.

One of Zeus’ current faves is lying on a pair of canvas slip-on sneakers I once used for quick trips outdoors. Now, if I get the chance to actually wear them, I must first remove the mounds of fur left behind.

And, we can’t forget my son’s blue denim messenger bag. This was one of the first possessions claimed by Zeus. One day my son asked me for advice on removing the kitty from this place of comfort. I said he should shoo him away, or if all else fails, bribe him with food. Next thing I see is my son leaving the house with a backpack instead of the preferred blue denim bag. He decided it was easier to change satchels than to disturb the cat.

I guess we could come up with some plausible reasons for Zeus choosing to lounge in the dog’s crate. But I just feel some things don’t need an explanation. They are just meant to be.


A dachshund lover’s delight

dogdaysfrontcovercroppedforblogDog Days by David Hockney is a book that all dachshund lovers should have in their book collection.

It has just a brief written introduction by the artist, followed by page after page of paintings and sketches of the author’s own dogs, Stanley and Boodgie.

He captured the dogs over time, shown in various positions of leisure. The dachshund, often mocked due to its long body & short legs, can maneuver itself into shapes one might think impossible of such a body type.

I don’t actually remember where or when I came to own this book. After our first dachshund, Auggie, joined our family in 1995, we found ourselves picking up dachshund collectibles at every opportunity. Life was busy, and we moved twice. Hidden treasures remained in boxes for years. Not that long ago I uncovered this one, and I saw it through very different eyes.

Many years have passed, Auggie came and went, as did Billy. We now have Oz. All three are very long, red standard dachshunds. The artist’s dogs are stubbier and chubbier, but I see glimpses of all our cherished trio in the pages of the book.

There is the one ear extends on their bed while in a restful state pose. And then the no modesty, show it all to the world, lying on the back position. My favourite, and one Billy was well known for, is the dachshund doughnut, an all curled up, nose to toes pose (see below).

The artist recounts the challenges of capturing the images of these excitable pups, something all dachshund folks can appreciate. Trying to take a non-blurry photograph can be an exhausting experience. Trying to get the models to cooperate for a painting or sketch is quite an achievement.

I have often wished that I had the talent to draw our pets, but I was not blessed with such a gift. Dog Days  has captured those treasured images and  allows me to relive the joys and memories.


Hidden treasures and loads of junk

Treasures to one, trash to another. Or maybe a little of both.

Treasures to one, trash to another. Or maybe a little of both.

I am hooked on those shows that sell abandoned belongings to the highest bidder.

At times it really bothers me that the shows only exist based on the losses and misfortune of others. But I continue to watch, fascinated by what people leave behind, wondering about the story that created the situation.

A couple of years back, a co-worker suggested I tune in as he thought I would enjoy the shows. I was skeptical, but looked in the television guide for the listing times as soon as I could. From the moment the lock was cut off the first unit and the contents displayed, I knew they had me.

There are now many shows to choose from, offering lockers, units, bins and even unclaimed baggage to the highest bidder. The cast of characters participating in the auctions is quirky and dramatic. Interactions can go from playful to heated in a blink of the eye. They buy to fill discount stores, antique shops and to sell on-line and to collectors. Some of them refurbish old, broken down pieces and turn them into sought-after pieces of art.

It is not the bidders that I find interesting, however. It is the boxes, cases, drawers and bags full of abandoned items that keep me on the edge of my seat for the 30 minute show time. In fact, the characters get in the way at times. I would sit and watch someone sift through the unit’s contents, all the while wondering about the original owner and the circumstances that brought the goods to the facility. And always on my mind is the reason the goods were not claimed. Why didn’t the owners come back for them?

I often hear that the best ‘”finds” have been planted to enhance viewership. I don’t know about that, but I do find it believable that a fairly ordinary locker could contain one or two really valuable or peculiar items. We all have an interesting collectibles hidden away somewhere. Something we have held on to from generations past, or picked up at a yard sale, not knowing its true history or value.

The people who have abandoned their units, filled with their life’s belongings, cared enough to pack them up and pay to store them. Did the cost of this exceed their resources? It seems likely that what the characters often deem as trash was once really treasure to the original owners.

There is one thing that piques my curiosity each time I watch the shows. The auctioneer announces it is the bidder with the highest amount of cash money in his pocket that will own the bin. In real life that would mean everyone there is carrying huge amounts of money in their pockets and bags. Aren’t they at all concerned about walking around with all that cash?

The Kitty Conundrum

Zeus, what are you thinking? We want to know.

Zeus, what are you thinking? We want to know.

Are we wrong to try and figure out the ways of our cat Zeus?

I start each day by feeding the pack. First the guinea pigs get their greens, next the kitty gets his wet food and finally Oz, ever so patient, gets his feast. All the while the kettle boils, and the tea is brewed. My husband pours me a cup, I take a sip. Ahhhh, the day begins.

Zeus watches from the table or floor, letting out a meow or two in anticipation, and walks with me to his feeding area in the nearby hallway.

Today my husband offered to take the cat’s dish to the kitty’s spot. I knew in advance Zeus would not follow him or eat his meal, but, always hopeful,  I let my husband give it a try. Zeus did not budge. Instead, he continued to watch me. This kitty will only eat when I serve him his food.

We are long-time dog people, dachshund folks to be exact. Never, ever, would one of our pups be that picky. They have the food half gone before it reaches the floor, regardless of which human serves the feast.

There are nights when I ask the men (that would be husband and/or son) to fill Zeus’ bowl with kibble as he eats his main meal in the overnight hours. Undoubtedly, I will be awakened by loud yowls and paws tapping my face.  I open my eyes to find Zeus staring at me. I walk with our kitty to his dish. The food is  still there. I mix it around with my finger and stumble back to bed. Zeus remains at his feeding area, happily crunching away.

Would this cat actually starve if I went away for a few days? I ask other more experienced cat people if this is common. They laugh and reply, “Well, he’s just being a cat”. Somehow that hasn’t really answered my question.



Family greetings

Can you tell we love pets?

Can you tell we love pets?

Although some might consider it old fashioned, our family celebrates occasions and life events with the exchange of greeting cards. Whether it be Valentine’s Day, a birthday, graduation, Easter , Christmas or just a thinking of you message, we hand pick and write an appropriate sentiment for each recipient. We especially feel that gratitude should be expressed with a heartfelt line or two in a thoughtfully selected  card.

We notice that each year we receive fewer cards from others than the year before. We do get emails and e cards, for which we are most appreciative. But when it comes to our family unit, the old fashioned, paper card is a much loved tradition.

I expect the ever rising cost of the cards themselves and the high rates for postage make people reconsider the practice. Also, the time spent shopping for greeting cards could be a factor. We have an ongoing joke in our family that once I enter the stationery shop I won’t be seen again for hours. Although I protest, I know it is true.

We do, of course, go out of our way to find certain types of cards. Anything with a dachshund will be purchased and kept until the right occasion comes along. Now that we have our kitty Zeus, we have a new appreciation for cat cards.

Humorous messages are also a family favourite, although we surprise each other with sentimental ones from time to time. And the cards are always read and shared prior to opening gifts. That is a never broken family rule.

We also tend to hang on to our cards. You will see them on display in our home long after each occasion passes. They are stored in drawers and boxes for future use. We look back over cards from time to time, re-reading the messages and remembering the year they were given.

Each family keeps traditions from previous generations and creates new ones with their own loved ones. For us, the exchange of greeting cards is one we plan to enjoy for years to come.




I am a pet mom and proud of it!

Oz on the beach, looking for scraps ... of anything.

Oz on the beach, looking for scraps … of anything.

Yesterday our dachshund, Oz, decided the box of crackers on the back shelf of the cupboard was just too hard to resist. I had only stepped out of the kitchen for a minute when I heard the commotion. I found the determined pooch wildly shaking a sleeve of biscuits, broken crackers flying everywhere.

My first response was to call his name, tell him to stop. I shouted the name of every pet known to our family, the cat’s name more than once. Finally, “Oz, no. Drop it”. How likely was that? Oz was gobbling down the forbidden feast, his tail wagging faster than I have seen it wag before.

My son came running to help, expecting to see Zeus the cat involved in the chaos. Poor Zeus was probably wondering what he was being blamed for now. We managed to get the dog away from the scene of the crime, and cleaned up the mess. We had no way of knowing how much he had eaten, but thankfully only a very small piece of the waxed paper sleeve had been consumed.

What was my response? Of course, I felt guilty and blamed myself rather than the scavenger hound. After all, I should never have left food on that shelf in the pantry.

Oz was fine, for the most part, sniffing around the kitchen for the remainder of the day, hoping my clean up had missed a crumb or two. However, overnight his tummy became upset, as was evident by the foul odour coming from both ends while he slept. Concerned that he might become more ill, in true worried pet mom mode, I slept with one ear and eye open. While I tiredly go through the chores of the day, Oz sleeps. Sigh.

It is easy to see that I take my role as pet mom very seriously. I have regular conversations with our pets. I sign their names to the birthday and Christmas cards we give to friends and family.

I hand feed supplements to our guinea pigs to ensure they get adequate nutrition. I changed Zeus’ litter pan in the middle of the night as he doesn’t like it to remain soiled. I let any and all of them have the best seat in the house, on the sofa, even if I have to sit on the floor. I clean teeth, ears and rears without complaint. I have lengthy discussions with our vet to ensure the best health and nutrition plan is in place (even though said scavenger hound would happily eat garbage).

I take and post more photos of each pet on social media than all human family members combined. People often know the names of our pets, but refer to my husband and son as just that, husband and son.

The list is endless. Pet people will understand, no further explanation required.


The joys of “Capyboppy”

capyboppyfrontI have a confession to make. Despite my advanced age, I still love to read and collect children’s books. There is nothing like reading and re-reading these wonderful volumes, always guaranteed to bring a smile to my face and alleviate some of the stresses of daily life.

Today I want to share one of my all time favourites with you, Capyboppy which was written and illustrated by Bill Peet in 1966. I did not actually discover this book in my childhood, rather it was one of the many stories by the same author our family enjoyed reading with our son, who is now in his 20s.

This story is actually based in real life. The Peet family’s oldest boy, Bill Jr., was fascinated by the wild creatures around him, and often brought them home to live with the family and study their behaviour. The book tells about the capybara, a very large rodent native to South America and related to the guinea pig, that for a few months shared the lives and home of the Peet family.

There are wonderful illustrations of the day to day antics of this lively creature, affectionately called Capyboppy by the mother. I can actually picture myself in each page, feel myself surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells. I find myself wanting to interact with the characters, to feel the happiness, joy and even the sadness and worry as the events unfold. The fact that Bill Peet is able to draw his audience into this tale and bring each page to life, speaks volumes of his achievements as a writer and artist.

The story is about a wild creature trying to adjust to domesticated family life, and the challenges and problems this brings for the people and the animal.  There are good intentions, lessons to be learned, and thankfully a positive outcome.

For many years, the only time I could read this story was through copies borrowed from the library. My wonderful son searched on line and surprised me with my own copy several years ago. I am happy to say it is now a much treasured part of my book collection.



My fear of spiders

A beautiful web with its owner in a shot I took last year.

A beautiful web with its owner in a shot I took last year.

My childhood years were spent scoping out rooms prior to entering, especially the bathroom, where my enemies often lurked.

I knew instantly when I went into the room, I could feel the eyes watching me. And then I would scream. We should be thankful our neighbours never called the police, fearing the worst was happening to us.

Spiders were my worst nightmare. I was terrified of them. I was always calling for my mother or brother to save me from them. Exactly what the creepy-crawlies would do to me  never crossed my mind. All I could feel was the sense of panic.

Although my family took care of the little creatures, I never felt that they understood how traumatic it was for me. The topic was often brought up in jest by friends and family, a good chuckle shared by everyone but me.

My husband learned the hard way, one day coming rushing to the bathroom after hearing my yells of terror. He found a teeny tiny jumpy spider on the wall.

I often worried what I would do if I saw a spider and no one was there to rescue me. One apartment we lived in had an outside front entrance way that was home to many webs, spiders included. I walked all the way around the building to the back door to avoid crossing their path, always fearful I would find the creatures blocking the only other way in.

I lived this way until I reached my thirties. Then something changed and I don’t even know why. We welcomed our first dachshund into the family. I had always loved animals but I felt a new sense of respect and interest in the creatures around me.  I can’t explain it, but my fear of spiders left me.

A co-worker at a vet clinic brought her pet tarantula to work one day. I was fascinated and asked her many questions, from a safe distance. She asked me if I would like to hold the spider. Without much hesitation I said that I would. It was a beautiful and delicate creature. I found myself worrying that I would somehow hurt the spider, rather than the spider hurt me.

I wish we had taken photos. My family and friends were in shock to hear I had done this.

Yesterday there was a rather large spider in the shower stall. I found myself a little anxious about allowing it to stay in there with me, so I took a toilet paper roll, let it crawl on it, and placed it near the waste basket until I showered and could deal with it.

When I was done, I noticed the spider sitting on the full roll of toilet paper. I mentioned this to my husband as a word of warning and he seemed unimpressed. Why did I leave it there? I replied I wasn’t sure what else to do with it. He still seemed unimpressed.

It is strange how such an overwhelming fear changed so suddenly after so many years. Now if only my mouse in the house phobia would do the same.

A blog a day it is!

UltimateBlogChallenge2croppedforblogThis is day seven of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I have managed to post a blog a day since it started. It has not been easy at times, and the thought of skipping a day or two has crossed my mind more than once. I know I am not alone in feeling this as I have seen similar sentiments posted on Facebook entries and comments.

There is a reason that people don’t post on their blog sites on a daily basis. Plain and simple, it is hard work and a time consuming endeavour.

In order to enjoy the true spirit of this challenge, I am also reading other people’s work and writing comments on their pages. In addition there is the linking of my work to social media sites in order to reach a larger audience. All of this should be interesting and enjoyable. But, it might not be if you are in a rush and trying to fit it in between other tasks. A challenge is good, being overwhelmed is not.

Possibly the greatest obstacle for me is trying to navigate other bloggers’ sites and reply to their written work. Several times I have made multiple attempts to leave comments only to have technical issues on their blog pages prevent my message from reaching the destination.

Taking all of this into account, participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge has been one of the best decisions I have made. I feel proud that I have produced a blog a day for seven consecutive days. I feel motivated and inspired to continue to write about what matters to me. Interacting with my supporters and following others has been a bonus. I hope to maintain contact with a number of other participants once the month ends.

I am learning how to manage the expectations I have set for myself. I want to read at least two blogs written by others each day, one of which will be about a topic that I wouldn’t necessarily choose otherwise. I want to think outside my world and appreciate what inspires others to share their thoughts and their work. The diversity of the topics posted each day makes choosing only two difficult.

It is likely that I will take a break from blogging for awhile once the challenge finishes, but hopefully the momentum will continue so I can produce regular entries. But, I am not thinking that far ahead at the moment as I have my blog for tomorrow to write!

Remembering the Sunday drive

Sundays at the farm are worth looking forward to.

Sundays at the farm are worth looking forward to.

When I was a little girl, my family had the tradition of going for a Sunday drive. My mother looked forward to these trips as she herself did not learn to drive a car and rarely ventured far from home. My two older brothers showed little interest in these excursions. But, I couldn’t wait until Sunday morning came along.

In the early years we would pick up my grandfather, my dad’s dad, always at roughly the same time, 10 a.m. My grandfather was waiting in his driveway, rain  or shine. I expect he looked forward to these adventures as much as my mother and I did.

We lived in the suburbs of a large city, and it really didn’t take us long to leave the houses and shops behind and be surrounded by farms and fresh country air. My dad never told us ahead of time where we would end up, he just followed the two lane roads, as we never took the highways.

There were often surprise stops at vegetable stands, ice cream stores or my favourite, a fish & chips shop. I can still remember eating fries covered with salt and malt vinegar from their grease stained cardboard containers.

When I was about 11 we lost my grandfather. My dad’s work schedule became more demanding and then his health began to fail. The Sunday drives became fewer and far between. I was immersed in my teen years and often chose not to go with my parents. They often ended up going to malls instead of down country roads.

My husband and I were without a vehicle for the first couple of years of our marriage. We had moved out of town so that he could be sports editor of a small town newspaper.

When we bought our first car we spent many hours driving to destinations unknown, listening to music and talking about life. It brought back fond memories of the Sunday drives of my childhood.

The years passed, we moved back to the city and our long commute times in heavy traffic made going out for car rides less appealing. We drove ourselves to appointments and our son to school and extracurricular activities.  We had to drive much farther to find country roads and fresh air as the city grew around us.

A few years ago, my husband and I rediscovered a new version of the Sunday drive, this time with a destination attached. On the outskirts of the city is Whittamore’s, a working farm which offers home grown produce, goodies, farm animals and a lot of local history. The trip gives us a break from our busy routine.

We aren’t able to make it there every week, and we miss it when we can’t go. We feel a sense of sadness when it closes for the season and anticipation as we look forward to its opening each spring. I guess I have learned that however life changes, I still want that Sunday drive to be a part of it.