it’s raining cats and dogs…

The rain has come home to roost in the Seattle area. There was never a question as to its returning…it was just a matter of when. Thank goodness hubby and I are pretty near done spiffying up the front yard after a year of neglect. Now I’ve just got to get the slug bait down before those little buggers feast to their hearts’ content. Once they get going, there’s no stopping ’em. Meanwhile the bunny rabbits, cute as they are, continue hippity-hopping about as though they own the yard. Truth be told, they pretty much do.  

So while it drizzles outdoors, here’s a little something to warm your heart and  lift your spirits. 

…gotta love our furry little pets.

………hugmamma.

Advertisements

touch and go…

Another pet will probably be leaving us soon.

IMG_4985Sitka…who thinks he’s a lap dog…not a “leave me to my own devices” feline. If he could attach himself to my body…or anyone’s for that matter…he would. His life is intricately intertwined with his humans. He doesn’t want to be anywhere except with us. If he could curl up around our necks and live there, only uncurling himself to eat and do “his business,” he would.

Sitka’s nearly 14…a long life in cat years. Not long enough for him, I’m sure. He’ll always be young at heart, living the carefree life of the youngster he most assuredly thinks he is. Always reaching up the length of my body to be carried…to be snuggled…to be loved like a child. 

Sitka, who could never get enough love it seems. Makes me wonder what his life before 8 weeks had been like. I adopted him, and his sibling Juneau, from the local animal shelter around that time. It was the day after 9/11. They were my own personal homage to lives lost on that horrific day. Diagnosed as having “worms,” I had to keep them apart from my two other cats so they wouldn’t contract the disease.

IMG_2145For a month Sitka and Juneau lived in our downstairs bathroom, much to their dislike. Every day I had to scrub down the floors, counter tops, toilet, shower stall and sink with disinfectant so that the cats would not reinfect themselves with those nasty little buggers. Every day I had to spend quality time with them closed off from the rest of the family, assuring my little boys that they were loved. Every day they tried to rip the door off its hinges…literally…in an effort to escape solitary confinement. Once my husband even had to take the door off its hinges. The boys had pulled out a drawer of the cabinet so that we couldn’t even open the door. Funny now. Sheer pandemonium then.

When we moved to Washington in 1998, we brought along 2 cats…sisters, Fudgie and Sunkist. After 9/11, Sitka and Juneau joined the family. A few years later our dear Mocha ruled the roost as the only dog. They all figured out how to make the most of their living arrangements.

Being the least inclined to follow anyone’s lead, Sunkist was the grand dame. Fudgie seemed to shrink from contact, preferring to hover nearby instead. Sitka, the friendliest of the bunch, wanted to be pals all around. Juneau preferred to body-slam his affection, especially with Mocha who tolerated, sometimes even tussling with his unlikely opponent. Once we had to reprimand Mocha for dragging Juneau a few inches by the scruff of his neck, as well as scold Juneau for making a nuisance of himself with Mocha.IMG_5213

IMG_4990When grandkitty Misha came home with his mom, our daughter, to vacation or, on occasion, to spend several months…or a year, the house would be in an uproar. Misha usually flounced his weight around, gaining the upper paw by sheer magnetism and charisma. He is one cat who doesn’t cotton to occupying the lower rung on any ladder, animal or human. As with the others, he soon learned that grammy…me…was the predominant alpha. Once he learned that golden rule…Misha settled in just fine with the others. Oh, he still drove me up the walls…splashing water all over the place in an effort to clean himself off while drinking water. We went through several innovative concoctions, not to mention types of water bowls, to save the wood floors from being drenched and eventually warping. Now that he’s happily settled in with his mom again, she has that headache with which to contend. And I can return to carrying on about what a cute, little grandkitty he is…from 3,000 miles away. Although I do love him as much as my own boys.

Sitka’s blood platelet count has been descending rapidly…for some unknown reason, it seems. The vet, a compassionate man who has doctored to Sitka’s needs since he was 8 weeks old, suspects cancer. In an effort to stabilize and even elevate his blood count, the doctor is trying every and all medication he can think of to turn things around for our little fella. In the end, however, it is about quality of life. I never want any of our pets to suffer for our sake. Once we become aware that they are struggling to hang on…it’s time to let go…and remember them during the best of times.

By the end of the week our little man might be gone…joining siblings Sunkist, Fudgie, Mocha and even earlier family members, Sushi our Shitsu and Bandit our Persian,(and many others before that for there was never a time I was without pets.)

I still have all their ashes…in little, floral tins provided by the crematoriums. One day I will spread them out in the garden so that they will be remembered year round as I wander about…among the flowers…the fallen leaves…the light dusting of snow.

…remembering those who love us…unconditionally.

………hugmamma.

(Move your cursor over each photo to read captions.)

Enjoy more pet shares at
https://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/michelles-weekly-pet-challenge/

A Butterfly Companion

…beautifully written…of cherished pets…and loved ones…and our insecurities…real or imagined…
………hugmamma.

rachelmankowitz

Butterfly flits around like a ladybug. I always think she should be wearing ballet slippers and a tutu, the way she twirls and flies. She is gossamer. Her wings are so ethereal that they are almost invisible. Almost.

My Butterfly My Butterfly

She doesn’t seem to be like any other dog I’ve known. I’m used to moody dogs, dogs with personality problems, dogs who use guilt to push me around, dogs who could be diagnosed using the DSM V. But Butterfly is a different. She poops and barks and begs for treats, yes, but she’s also untouchable in a way, so sweet as to be unreal.

"Gimme some sugar!" “Gimme some sugar!”

In a way her butterfly-ness is upsetting, because she is always a bit out of reach. Cricket will jump on me and curl up on my chest, or my hip, while I’m sleeping. She scratches me and shrieks in my ear. She is…

View original post 576 more words

tugging at our hearts…

Making the case for a new dog after the loss of our beloved Mocha is a real brain twister.

So far I’ve been able to resist.

Not that we wouldn’t love the companionship of another faithful, loving pet. However caring for more than one furry, family member gets a tad more difficult with age. And I’ve still got two, little felines following me about for food and attention.

Meanwhile, I’ll get my fix for another pooch by watching these irresistible critters online…

 

nurturing thursdays: loving is…living

You might wonder why my limited writings of late have been as entries on blogger Becca Given’sNurturing Thursdays.

Two reasons.

Thursdays suit me well. Having run errands and done chores earlier in the week, I reward myself with a short stint at my laptop doing what I do for sheer pleasure…writing.

More importantly, however, is Becca’s invitation to share words that help us feel good about ourselves. God bless her for giving contributors a platform which encourages us to have compassion for ourselves and others.

While other writers contribute more regularly, I’m grateful that my entries are accepted when I am able to snatch a few moments here and there. Perhaps if I limited myself to a few inspirational words, I’d do better. And yet, I can only think to share a little slice of my own life. If it inspires then I am blest. Mostly though, it’s just me trying to figure out…life.

The passing of my beloved Mocha recently coincided with my husband’s casual announcement that he was retiring sooner than expected. Instead of 2016, his last workday will be January…2015!

After the dust settled in my brain, gone musty as an empty-nester these last 12 years, I listened as hubby revealed the whys, hows, and wherefores of what had transpired. Suffice it to say, he’s come out on top. Although retired, he’ll continue as a consultant for another year.

All I’ve ever wanted of my marriage since day one…was my husband.

IMG_4079I’ve waited 44 years to spend more than a few hours a week with my best friend in the whole, wide world. I’ve only had a taste of what his coworkers have always shared with me when we’ve met at office functions.

Among the many compliments were my husband’s fairness…his calm in the midst of turmoil…his patience…his generosity in sharing the limelight…his integrity…his humility…his willingness to mentor others…his loyalty and dedication…his work ethic…his tireless efforts in always seeking the truth…and his willingness to go the extra mile on behalf of others.

Yes. My husband’s a saint. I called him that once when we were first married. His retort was that it was an unkind remark. Only my husband would take offense at being held up on a pedestal.

My husband loved our little Mocha as much as I did. He wasn’t as demonstrative toward her as I was, not given to hugging and smooshing ad nauseum like me. Nonetheless, Mocha always knew she could depend upon him for a walk anytime of the day or night. With me, there could be resistance depending upon the weather and what hour of the night it was. My arthritis doesn’t do well in the wet and cold, and I’m deathly afraid of encountering a bear or cougar in the dark.

IMG_2145When Mocha left us I couldn’t help but feel she did so knowing my husband and I would have more time for one another…one less family member who needed our care and attention. Especially with all she required the last months of her life. Feline siblings, Sitka and Juneau, are now happy to get more cuddle time with me. Although I think they miss their little pal as well.IMG_4810

In reflecting upon Mocha’s life and my husband’s retirement, I couldn’t help but think that those we love the most live on through us who remain. We are their legacy. We continue to tell their story long after their physical presence is gone. We attest to their having been here.

Sad then, those who die unloved.

Who will speak of them? Who will testify to what they did…their dreams…their passions…their accomplishments…their failures? Who will say “We played softball together on the weekends.” Or “She loved doing things with her children.”

Perhaps when we care for others we, in some small way, acknowledge their reality. They live because we think about them…even if only for a moment. All those with whom we engage as we go about our daily lives…the waiter…the supermarket cashier…the dry cleaning clerk…the pet groomer…the landscape worker…our furry family members.

We matter to others. Probably more than we know.

Mocha’s still with me as I go about my day. Reminding me that as long as we’re here, she’ll be with hubby and me…

…enjoying our retirement years.

………hugmamma. 

(Enjoy other inspirational writers at  https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/nurturing-thurs-next-time/                                                                                                                                            

 

Imported Photos 00137

nurturing thursdays: …the end.

Misc July 2010 00057

…eyes that spoke volumes…

Watching our dear, furry companion of 13 years disintegrate before my very eyes these last several weeks has made me sensitive to those who are unable to make sense of their suffering. Whether my mom who suffered from Alzheimer’s the last decade of her life, or the young woman in Oregon who decided how and when to die rather than be ruled by incurable cancer, or Robin Williams who chose to get ahead of the demons that evidently haunted him.

“Pulling the plug” was very difficult for me. I wanted someone else…my husband, the vet, or Mocha herself…to decide. I could not wrap my brain around the idea of ending a life, even a pet’s. Yes, I’d done it before with 2 cats but in this situation, experience doesn’t soften the blow.

Fibromyalgia and arthritis are with me daily. I do whatever I can to ensure that I have more good days than bad. Of course I’m human, so I fail, probably as often as I succeed. Diet and exercise being my personal demons.

The upside is that I’m at the controls, at least for as long as I still have my wits about me. As my time draws near I’m pretty sure I won’t be calling all the shots. That’s just how it is.

What is it like when the sun gradually sets on one’s horizon? Only the one going through it knows for sure. She alone is living through every nuance of every moment. No one can step inside another’s body and experience the physical, mental, and spiritual deterioration. Not even the closest of loved ones.

Each of us is consumed with our own lives. Taking on someone else’s life, especially one fraught with emotional turmoil or mental and physical decline, is nearly impossible. Short term responsibility might be doable; going the long haul can decimate the caregiver’s life in the process.

Issues with her sciatic nerve compromised Mocha’s mobility. Her front paws did not always work. Sometimes they carried her through a brisk trot; oftentimes, she would spill forward onto her knees. Being part-terrier, part-beagle served her well for she would stubbornly pick herself up, and carry on as though nothing was amiss.

Neither pouring rain nor plummeting temperatures could deter our little pal from being about her doggy business. Mocha loved encountering the outdoors…its sights and smells. With her I bore witness to Mother Nature’s immense beauty time and again. Left to my own devices, I would choose hibernation.

Helping to stave off the inevitable, Mocha was downing meds for an underlying heart murmur as well as her debilitating sciatica. As her primary caregiver I monitored her intake of pills, deciding whether or not they were doing the job for which they were prescribed.

Were the pain meds working or were they making her condition worse? Were they causing grogginess, adding to Mocha’s inability to walk without flailing?  Were they causing digestive issues? Did they make her nauseous and not want to eat?

I could only rely upon what I saw and the symptoms Mocha exhibited, as to whether or not she was making progress, plateauing, or regressing. Perhaps if she spoke my language, we could have discussed what was really going on with her body.

And yet being able to speak doesn’t always resolve matters. There are those who aren’t up to the task…aging parents, overwhelmed or dysfunctional individuals, the mentally ill, the impoverished, and folks battling incurable diseases.

Walking that last mile is a solitary hike. Climbing the next precipice, big and small, is helped or hindered by one’s own capabilities…physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. No two individuals are alike in that regard. Similar maybe, but never exact.

Perhaps the only props we have as we near the end are our instincts to survive and our fear of the unknown. Coming to terms with both is an individual endeavor. No one else can determine how we manage that.

In Mocha’s case, I think she just kept on going with every ounce of passion for life she had left. Only her failing body forced my decision to halt her suffering.

Surrounded by the loving veterinary staff who had catered to Mocha’s medical needs since she was a pup, I maintained eye contact with her as she succumbed to the first injection of anesthetic that lessened the impact of the second injection that ended her life.

Finally, my little friend relaxed and lengthened into peaceful composure. The pain which had racked her body since early spring had abated. Peace. And in peace relief. Maybe even a sliver of happiness.

I’m not making the case for human euthanasia or even legalized suicide. I believe in God and the sanctity of life, all life.

Compassion is just as important to me however. I can’t sit in judgment of another’s life. Only he knows the potholes he’s facing as he…

…rounds the final bend.

...sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma...

…sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

we manage…mocha and me

These last few months have been touch and go for my pal Mocha. Old age has been complicated by the debilitating effects of sciatica. Hobbling around, her right paw can bend backwards and send her tumbling forward onto bended knees. Not one to be dissuaded from what she is about, Mocha picks herself up, dusts herself off, and goes about her business.

Observing Mocha makes me sympathetic to the plight of older folks. It’s no fun when body parts don’t work anymore. Life seems consumed with just the basics…eating, peeing and pooping.

“Wwwhhhaaa happened? Where’d all the fun go?” That’s what Mocha’s eyes seem to say as she watches me move about the room. On medication for a heart murmur, sciatica, and now a urinary tract infection, what’s a dog to do? Not much, except lie around.

These last few days I’ve been outdoors prepping the garden for the hibernating months ahead. While back-breaking for me and my arthritic lumbar, Mocha’s been lazing about on the freshly mowed grass, drinking in the sunshine. I’m certain we’ve both felt like switching places.

Being half-beagle, Mocha would love to make like a mole and dig tunnels in the dirt. Me? I’d be content with stretching out on the warm, green lawn, staring up at the billowy, white clouds floating serenely across the baby blue sky.

And yet we make the best of it, Mocha and me. On good days, she’s a little sprightlier. We both are. On days when it takes a little more effort to get going, we take our time.

We don’t wallow in “what ifs,” we just tweak our plans a little. If I’m not up to weeding and pruning, then I’ll do some laundry and vacuum. As for Mocha, if she can’t wander about in search of a new place to lie, then she’ll stay put in her comfy bed all day.

Older age. It’s about doing what we can do, and not fretting about what we can’t do. Of course, doing what we can to keep our bodies humming along is imperative…stretching, exercising, and minimizing our intake of unhealthy carbs.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgo potato chips, candy, and soda. Although I have managed to limit them to…once-in-awhile.

Because of global warming we’re suppose to get a break from the cold, dank, dark weather that normally smothers the Pacific Northwest like an unwanted blanket. According to local forecasters, the lows should hover around the 50s. So far the prediction seems to be panning out. The sun is still with us.

Hallelujah!!!

…mocha and I don’t feel so old…when our bones are warm! Xmas 2010 2 00000

………hugmamma.

 

goldilocks…who’s that sleeping in my bed?

Fellow blogger Following My Joy posted the youtube video at the bottom of this post to her site  at
http://followingmyjoy.com/2014/09/01/its-raining-cats-and-dogs/

Her post reminded me of my own pets Mocha and Sitka. I guess it’s true that when it comes to canines and felines…kitties have the upper hand…or so they like to think. Is it fearlessness, egoism, or…just plain ignorance?

 

Meanwhile, as my kitties demonstrate…blood is thicker than water. Brothers Sitka and Juneau have no problem sharing tight quarters. On the other hand, when Sunkist was still with us, she made no bones about her displeasure at sharing HER space with Sitka. 

IMG_5306
February 2011 00019

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge

Couldn’t resist sharing these feline photos…
………hugmamma.

LIVING WITH MY ANCESTORS

Whew! One set of photos for two separate photo challenges! I present MIDGE in one of her favorite sleeping postures — on the edge.  I offer these for Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge Week #40 and Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Edges!

Mmmm, the arm of this sofa is so comfy…

2013-10-08 Midge4_Fotor

As is the top of this chair…

2014-06-13 Midge_Fotor

Puhleeze, allow me my dignity if you won’t allow me my solitude…

2013-10-08 Midge5_Fotor

Now, you’ve gone too far.  That is just sooo not right!

2014-06-13 Midge2_Fotor

To participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things With Edges and/or to see additional entries, please click on the logo:

cees-fun-foto

To participate in Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge Week #40 and/or to view additional entries, please click on the logo:

petchallenge logo

View original post

…if dogs could talk…

…mine would say “Couldn’t you tell I was in pain? You dummy you!”

Nashville 09-2010 00116About the time Mocha was diagnosed as having a leaky heart valve which causes fluid to accumulate, she seemed to go downhill rather quickly. She’d get out of her bed and plop down on the floor. A little later she’d get up and amble a short distance and…plop! She continued this pattern for days.

The vet had advised that Mocha rest as the spirit moved her. The way she behaved, it seemed her spirit wanted permanent bed rest. And every so often the thought of “putting her down” crawled through my mind. I hated to see her suffer so.

Mocha’s appetite never waned. And when she was outdoors, she seemed her old self.

As the days passed, her body seemed to shrink and lean to one side. She walked around looking lopsided. Her tail wagged less.

When Mocha started looking up at me with a very cynical stare…moreso than usual…I thought she’d had a stroke. She wouldn’t lift her chin, just her eyes. It was as though she was casting an evil eye on me. Spooky. After a couple of weeks, her neck seemed to disappear as she hunched her back.Imported Photos 00004

Dr. Mom’s diagnosis? Old age and arthritis, along with heart disease.

“Poor, poor Mocha” I thought. As I stroked the length of her body, I’d murmur softly . “I know how you feel. I have arthritis. It’s no fun getting old. You’ll be alright. It’s okay. I love you.” The whole while she was probably thinking “You’re making it worse. Don’t touch me.”

I finally decided to get a second opinion, the vet’s, wondering if the end was in sight for my beloved, old pooch.

The assistant asked preliminary questions, all the while observing Mocha who paced, sometimes in circles, head cocked to one side. When the young woman asked if my dog was in pain, my eyes widened. Pain? That never even crossed my mind, especially since she never yelped when I held her, stroked her, walked her.

I hung onto the possibility that pain was indeed the culprit, as the assistant went to fetch the vet. “Mocha’s not dying! She’s just in pain.” Words that kept playing over and over in my brain.  I shivered at the thought that I had contemplated ending her life. OMG.

Lo and behold. The vet diagnosed Mocha as suffering extreme discomfort because of pain in her neck region. Evidently unlike people, dogs can’t turn their bodies to look from side to side. They’re kind of stuck if their necks are immobile. Worse, the sciatic nerve can also be affected, causing added pain.

Oye vay!!! It was like a wall of bricks fell on top of me. Pain, not heart disease was the reason for Mocha’s strange behavior.

If you’re like me, you bypass common sense and go straight to…worse case scenario!

A steroid shot and pain meds, and Mocha’s her old self again. Just old…not decrepit and on death’s doorstep. Thankfully, she has no memory of my idiocy…

…now that she’s back to taking long walks…and getting her treats for going poopy…

………hugmamma.February 2011 00040

weekly writing challenge: my funny valentine

IMG_4789Mocha delights our family so much. We all agree she’s “our funny valentine.”  We’re certain she doesn’t intend to make us laugh with her comedic antics, but she does.  We never know what to expect from her, although she has her own idiosyncrasies which we find adorable.

For starters, Mocha’s ears have teeny minds of their own. One stands straight up; the other folds in half. It perks up only if Mocha needs both ears to hear something unusual. Otherwise it prefers lying down on the job.

The beagle in Mocha gives her that gleam in her eyes. When she thinks she’s done something wrong, she’ll look up with the whites of her eyes showing slightly under her brown pupils. It’s a sad, worrisome look as if to say “How can you scold me, when I’m so sad-looking?” Or sometimes that same look can seem defiant. It’s as if Mocha is thinking “I’m not so sure about you. Sometimes I think you lie.” Or “I don’t trust you. What are you up to now?”IMG_0762

Our Mocha is camera shy, especially if a flash goes off. She’s gotten use to having her picture taken with a cell phone. However any time I whip out my point and shoot, Mocha runs for cover.

 

Mocha grumbling is like music to our ears. She grumbles when we hug one another without including her. So we have to make sure to give her lots of hugs and attention too. She grumbles when we’re too slow getting our act together to take her outdoors. She grumbles when one of her feline siblings gets in her way. It doesn’t happen with regularity, but when Mocha grumbles we have a good belly laugh.IMG_2005

Barking is Mocha’s neighborhood trademark. She’s gotten better about it as she’s gotten older. However she still lets two-legged and four-legged critters know that they’re taking their lives into their hands and paws when they trespass upon her land. And she makes sure she marks every blade of grass when she’s out surveying her acreage.

 

Ever since she was a puppy, Mocha has kept us on our toes as regards what she will and will not, eat. We’ve tried every kibble and canned food known to man. I jest, of course. But it’s been a trick getting her to where she’s at 12 years later.

Mocha’s taste resembles that of a human, so we feed her dog food that we could eat were a catastrophic event to occur. I’d still probably have to hold my nose, and perhaps even close my eyes.

The temperature of the food has to be just right. So when we nuke leftover food, we have to check on it every half-minute or so. Adding kibble is also a guessing game. Sometimes we mix it into the wet food; sometimes it sits on top. Most times Mocha doesn’t care which it is. Other times, she’ll shove all the kibble to the edge and leave it there. Once-in-awhile, she’ll attempt to bury her food by using her nose to nudge the place mat over the plate. We’ve taken that to mean she’s not hungry at the moment, but it’s off-limits to the cats. And though she may walk away, Mocha’s back grumbling as soon as any of them happen to wander by her dinner.

Recently we learned that our beloved Mocha’s heart has a leaky valve. As a result, there’s fluid buildup. To counteract this, she gets a diuretic twice a day. And upon the recommendation of a cardiologist, she gets a “horse pill” twice a day. It’s not actually for horses, but I swear only a horse could get that sucker down its throat! Mocha needs half a pill two times a day, 12 hours apart. Getting her to take one dose can take up to 12 hours!

Most animals won’t be duped into taking their meds no matter how creative we get. Forget Mary Poppins’ supercalifragilistic mumbo-jumbo. Hiding Mocha’s pill in cheese no longer works, even when she gets an extra chunk. Now I’m crushing the horsey heart pill with my beautiful Portmeiron pestle in its matching mortar bowl. Its probably getting more use than it’s ever seen. An upside in this otherwise laughable predicament.

Where before things were a little touch-and-go with our beloved Mocha, now she seems a fraction of her former self. And that’s enough for our family. We’re not about to give up on our Mocha any time soon. After all…

…mocha’s  still our funny valentine…and we love her…to the moon and back!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_2080