tenant must pay for bed bug treatment…???

Adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius

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You read correctly. In the continuing struggle to rid her apartment of bed bugs my daughter was advised that of the $600 charged by All America Pest Control, she had to pay $400, the apartment management would pay $200. That was the proverbial “last straw” as far as we were concerned.

A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

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Trying to carry on with her life as best she could, my daughter attended the final performances of her ballet company, cheering on her fellow dancers from the wings. In addition to that she partook of their annual choreographic project, WIP (Works in Progress), in which she choreographed a solo upon one of the trainees. My daughter also helped with administrative details like marketing the show, coordinating photo sessions with the dancers involved, distributing advertising fliers, and making contact with the animal shelter for whom donations were being requested as entrance fee for the show. All this while battling bedbugs and sleeping with one eye open, or not going home to sleep at all. Oh yes, she still had use of only one hand. Luckily, she’s left-handed so she could still drive, and write, and eat, and bathe and dress herself, however awkwardly. Within days of honoring her final commitments, my daughter came home for some much needed R and R.

Having seen to it that All America Pest Control treated her furnishings first, albeit minimally, my daughter approved our emailing the apartment complex‘s assistant manager detailing our disdain for how the bedbug situation had been handled. To be told by her that there was no plan in place to combat the critters once discovered, that our daughter’s case was the first, was unbelievable. The problem with bedbugs had been covered by local and national broadcasts beginning a year ago. That management didn’t take preliminary steps to deal with them since infestations were being reported to occur weekly, if not daily, in hotels and other public places seemed irresponsible. A worst case, best case scenario should’ve been worked out with Orkin, rather than subjecting my daughter to being the test case, the guinea pig. But matters went from bad to worse when my daughter was told that bed bugs weren’t covered by Orkin’s treatment plan, that they were lumped in with “general insects” for which there was no coverage. And so my daughter was being charged for treatment decided upon by management, which was less than satisfactory when compared with what Orkin’s rep said her company would’ve done. And never mind that my daughtered’d already spent almost $300 in following Orkin’s instructions.

As fate would have it, our family had already decided to move my daughter into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. Of course we were prepared to honor her lease at the old one which didn’t expire until the end of July. But with the bedbug incident occurring the beginning of May, and my daughter not occupying the premises because of the bugs, we requested the lease be terminated the end of June. We felt the situation had been mishandled from the start: no formal treatment plan in place, allowing the Orkin rep to speak for the apartment complex, and then not following through with what she’d outlined to my daughter as the course of action, effectively telling her she shouldn’t have spent the several hundred dollars she did in compliance. We also asked that management pay for treatment because of their failure to point out that erradicating bedbugs would be my daughter’s responsibility, at the time she signed the lease.

What recourse did we have if the apartment’s management didn’t honor our requests? Social media, of course. While I explained in our email that we were just seeking recompense for the wrong done my daughter and no more, I went on to say that if she was not recused from her lease a month early and if she had to pay for treatment, we would have no choice but to broadcast the injustice to the world via the internet, and consumer advocates on TV. Thankfully the outcome was predictable, but only because the regional manager realized their mistake in not having a management rep present when the Orkin woman met with my daughter. It became a case of “she said – she said.” As it turns out, Orkin’s rep denied her entire conversation with my daughter, giving a signed affidavit that she lied about everything. Can you imagine?!? Why she would put herself through hell moving everything into storage, first having to find and rent a unit at the last minute, buy and load up huge plastic bins into her car with a broken hand in a cast, and sleep on her couch, and then on an air mattress is beyond comprehension, except for the fact that she was obviously complying with the advice of an expert in erradicating bedbugs, the Orkin rep! Did I want to nail that woman’s hide to the wall? You betcha! It’s a good thing I live 3,000 miles away.

In her email response the regional manager of the apartment complex apologized profusely for the distress my daughter experienced, but faulted her with not speaking up about it earlier. My email reply explained that my daughter handled the situation in a very grown up, rational manner. It wasn’t until the treatment went from happening 3 days after her conversation with Orkin’s rep, to 2 weeks later, that my daughter became anxious. Who wouldn’t in an apartment completely torn apart, with furnishings in and out of storage, having to board her cat at the vet’s in anticipation of the bedbug treatment (costing another $200 because of the delay), sleeping on the couch and then an air mattress and on friends’ couches, all with a broken hand?!?

Having put all our family’s frustrations into writing was very therapeutic. And it got us what we asked for as a result. The regional manager bore the complete burden of fault since management didn’t accompany Orkin’s rep in her visit with my daughter. In compensation, she bore no responsibility for payment for the bedbug treatment; her account was credited with $750; and she was allowed to exit her lease whenever she chose. In response to the regional manager’s generosity, I refrained from publicly denigrating their facility and its management.

My daughter was able to secure her new apartment on May 3rd, a month earlier than originally intended. And she was allowed out of her lease on the old apartment, without penalty, and compensated for her out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the treatment of the bedbugs. Lessons learned? Before signing on the dotted line, ask if bedbug treatment is included in lease. Make sure someone from management is present when advised how to proceed by a pest control rep. Ask questions, register complaints, and seek retribution if warranted. But always remember…you get more with honey, than you do with vinegar. But if you don’t succeed, get out your cannons…and blast away!!!

One foot shown en pointe.

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the end? no way…the fun (ha!)only begins as the “saga of the bedbugs” continues…so stay tuned for the next episode…hugmamma.  😉 

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four-legged diabetes…yikes!!!

Bad news from the vet yesterday. Juneau, one of our maine-coone-mixed breeds is overweight. At 15 pounds, he’s ripe for developing diabetes it seems. Not that I was surprised since it’s obvious he’s bigger and bulkier than our other cats, Sitka, his litter-mate, and Sunkist. Gosh, even our dog Mocha’s slimmer. So as they say, “today’s a new day.”

Growing up in a home where my mom struggled to feed our family, pets were obviously “low man on the totem pole.” They got leftovers, and probably not a whole lot of them either. And while they had a roof over their heads like we did, they were free to roam the neighborhood, except for the dogs. They were tethered to the outdoor stair railing.

We usually kept only one cat and/or one dog at a time. They were usually strays, or rescues from the animal shelter. When one cat we’d had the longest gave birth to a litter, we kept two of her kittens, especially after their mom, Toby, died. My friend and I found her one day lying in a neighbor’s backyard. She looked malnourished. Of course I felt badly, but my mom couldn’t concern herself with making sure the pets had enough to eat. She could barely keep food on the table for us the entire month. We knew her paycheck had run its course when there were only a few cans of tuna and sardines in the cupboard, along with what remained of the 25-pound bag of rice.

Trey food

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When I married and began adopting cats, I made certain they had lots to eat. I think I fed them a reasonable amount. I didn’t just let them have a go at the cupboards. But until now I’d never heard of anyone feeding each cat separately, in different rooms. That boggles my mind! Not that it doesn’t make sense, considering I now have to do that for Juneau. I only wish I’d have known earlier.

When the vet had done their physicals before, he would ask about the cats eating and potty habits. I couldn’t give him definitive answers, because they ate and went about their “business” without my overseeing them. He never insisted I change this routine, so I didn’t. I think he felt it would be overwhelming with 3 cats. In fact at one time there were 4 cats. One died of cancer a few years ago.

In speaking of my dilemma with the receptionist yesterday, Sandy informed me that she feeds her 3 cats in separate rooms. That way she can keep an eye on one in particular who is a slower eater. She knows the cat’s had enough when it curls up for a nap in the closet. At that point her food bowl is put away until the next feeding. The door to that room is kept closed until meal-time is over. The rooms in which the other cats are fed are not closed because they eat their food in one sitting.

Sandy proceeded to describe her feeding ritual in great detail, down to how many pieces of a certain kibble are given at what meal, and for what snack. As she spoke, waves of fear and nausea overwhelmed me. I felt Juneau was doomed to dying of diabetes if I didn’t get this feeding thing down pat. But after speaking with my husband, we are taking steps toward managing our pets’ weights.

Sitka, who needs to gain weight, and Sunkist who is elderly and needs to maintain her current weight are being fed together as usual. We’re bringing Juneau upstairs in the morning and apportioning him his own special weight loss food, gradually so as not to upset his digestive system. We’re still mixing it in with the “old” food to wean him from it. Juneau will need a little time getting comfortable with the new arrangement. I’m not sure what the final routine will encompass, but we’re taking it one day at a time, now that we know what needs to be done.

The inconvenience is much more attractive than the alternative. Just as I don’t want to encounter the devastating effects of diabetes in my human loved ones, I don’t want our pets succumbing to the disease as well. It would be physically painful for Juneau, emotionally draining for me, not to mention the expense of insulin shots, medication, and constant trips to the vet.

Pets, like children, don’t choose their lot in life. They have no say in when and where they’re born, nor the names they’re given, nor the manner in which their lives unfold. They’re pretty malleable in the beginning. Given a home, nourishment and lots of love and affection, pets and children will flourish. So Juneau is in good hands.

especially now that we’re more attuned to his specific needs…hugmamma.

pets, can’t live with them…

What do you do with pets who want you to morph into their playmates, 24/7? Read a funny post where the writer felt her cat was a terrorist, stalking her all the time. Meanwhile I kept thinking of Sitka, and Juneau his brother, part-Maine Coones, who want at me all the time.

Whether seated, standing, or walking around, Sitka wants up. He’s like my daughter who when she was 2 or 3 used to come to me with outstretched arms, saying “uppy, uppy, uppy.” Sitka doesn’t say anything, he just stares at me with soulful eyes. But I can tell he wants “uppy, uppy, uppy.” Sometimes I think I should get one of those things new moms use to carry around their newborns. Then I might at least have 2 hands free to do something, other than hold Sitka. It’s impossible to multi-task with him in my arms.

At least when I sit to eat a meal, Sitka’s learned that’s my sacred time. But as soon as the plate is put away, he’s back at my side, demanding to be “uppied.” I have to look him straight in the eye, and say “Not now,” and mean it. He’ll try to outstare me, until I give up and walk away, feeling guilty. That cat can do that to me. 

Even when I sit-a-spell with Sitka in my lap, he’s always inching his way up into my face, trying to wrap himself around my head. Barely able to breathe, I have to remove his grip from around my throat, gently, or roughly, pushing him back down onto my lap. Only if I continue petting him, does he remain in place. If not, the struggle to regain higher ground starts up again. I’ve never had a cat like Sitka before, and I’ve had a lot of cats as pets in my lifetime. Ask my husband.

Juneau, Sitka’s litter mate, is another force with which to be reckoned. That cat could be a footstool, he’s so big and solid. In fact, he often wiggles his way under my feet as I’m blogging. As I rub them back and forth over his body, Juneau seems content to let me. Unlike Sitka who wants me to wear him like a crown or a bike helmet, Juneau prefers I use him to warm my feet. When I do pick him up, it’s like lifting a large bag of groceries. I have to remember to bend at the waist, or I’ll injure myself. With a grunt I hoist Juneau up onto my chest where he pulls back, squinting at me as if to say “Don’t hurt me.” I hold him tight, stroking his back assuring him that it’s okay to be on Sitka territory. Once Juneau settles in, he starts with the body-slamming.

Just as Sitka has his own unique mannerisms, so too does Juneau. He’s the only cat I’ve ever owned who literally throws himself against me, my legs if I’m standing, my chest if I’m sitting. He body slams, as my daughter has often remarked. It’s as if he wants inside my body, as if he can’t get close enough, and just wants to find a way in and stay there. Creepy, right? 

Juneau will even go so far as to nip me to get my attention. While I’m blogging, he’ll stretch up towards me, mewing pitifully. If I don’t stroke him immediately, he nips my elbow. It’s like a bee sting, which gets my attention quick! I reprimand him, after which I coo and pet him. Like his brother, Juneau can easily send me on a guilt trip. He’ll even nip me when I’m holding and stroking him. It’s either to reassure himself that I’m his, or that I’m not giving him my undivided attention. He doesn’t even want my eyes wandering toward the TV. Nope! My hands AND eyes have to be on him. Of course, I’ve had to scold him about his manners, otherwise I’d have nicks all over my body.

While Sitka and Juneau were rescued from an animal shelter, Sunkist is my purebred grand-dame. At $100, she was actually cheaper to purchase from a private owner than my 2 boys who cost $125 apiece to adopt. A 16-year-old Persian, Sunkist sits like a sphinx before me, as if willing me to get down and pay homage. (Here comes Juneau, mewing alongside me. Gotta give him a few strokes.) While Sunkist does allow me to pick her up once-in-awhile, to hold and pet her, and coo sweet nothings in her little ears, she much prefers I crouch on all fours and massage her endlessly. And I mean…endlessly.

Unlike the others, Sunkist has the patience of a sphinx. She will sit for what feels like hours to me, awaiting her turn for my undivided attention. Whether it’s right at my feet, or at a small distance, her head dropping from time to time as if in a doze, Sunkist never wavers in her efforts to get one-on-one time. When I do get down beside her, inevitably one or 2 of the others will try to steal me away. I have to nudge them out-of-the-way, saying it’s their sister’s turn to have at me. Either they get the message, or Sunkist walks off in a huff. It’s her way, or no way.

Where does my dog Mocha, a mixed terrier-beagle, fit into all this? She just takes over the whole show if that’s what she decides. But most of the time, she’s more than happy, or not, I can’t tell sometimes, to let me pay attention to the felines in the family. Being the biggest, and most companionable of all our pets, it’s hard not to give Mocha more than her fair share of my time. Besides walks during the day, we romp around the house in the evenings. Me chasing her around the coffee table, or the other way around. She looks at me in confusion when we play this game as if to ask “Are you Alpha, or are you my pack mate?” Why the confusion? Because I often get down on all fours when we’re carousing. She never bites me, but sometimes she has this gleam in her eyes as if she wants to grab me by the scruff of my neck, as she does her toy, and shake me violently from side to side. Or as with Juneau who allows Mocha to nibble at his neck, seemingly in an effort to clean him.

One thing I can’t bring myself to allow, is letting Mocha lap my face with her tongue. I know others allow this all the time, her vet, Dr. Rice for one. Having seen where Mocha’s tongue has been, i.e. licking her poop hole, I just cannot stomach her licking my face afterwards. Sorry, just can’t. Funny, I’ve no problem when Gretchen, Sylvia’s dachsund gives my face a few quick licks with her tongue. The difference, however, is that Gretchen surprises me before I can turn away, Mocha looks me directly in the eye as if asking “Are we doing this, or not?” I mean when I’ve got the option, I’m always going to say “Duh… I don’t think so.” She settles for my mashing instead. I’m all over her, like Sitka and Juneau are all over me. Mocha just lies there and takes it. I can only imagine what she’s thinking. I hope it’s not “God, she drives me nuts with her mashing!” But as long as she says nothing, I guess I’ll keep mashing and smooshing her.

gotta love those animals…i do!…hugmamma.  

our “menagerie,” our “family”

Wanted to introduce you to family members who love us unconditionally.

Mocha’s our terrier-beagle, southern belle. Her beady eyes peer out from under long lashes. She’s irresistible; we smother her with hugs and kisses.  

Sunkist, a Persian, is the grande dame, at 15 or 16 years of age. She has little patience for tomfoolery, which pretty much means she avoids all other critters, including her siblings. Only her human family gets her undivided attention, and adulation.

They make us smile, even laugh! They want our attention all the time, but they’ll take whatever they can get, whenever they can get it.

Sitka and Juneau are brothers, Maine-coone-mix, adopted from the animal shelter. They love, love, love to be loved, loved, loved…all the time. Our daughter recently recommended we buy a baby carrier for Sitka, who wants to permanently attach himself to our bodies.

They’re not fussy. In fact, they’re downright accommodating. Juneau doesn’t mind being a footstool, when we lovingly rub his tummy with our feet. Guess he doesn’t mind the smell either. Or does he? 

Misha, our daughter’s “son,” a pure-bred, Maine-coone, loves being at grammie’s and grampie’s. It didn’t take him long to assert his dominance over the others, Juneau especially, Sunkist not so much.

Misha can be goofy at times, as in these photos.

 But our daughter loves goofy guys. So they make a perfect pair.

God bless them all, our “family” of pets and yours, and bestow them with good health for a long, long time. Amen.

can’t do without our little buddies…hugmamma.