Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Empty spaces

The arm of the couch was always her spot.

I reached for her again. First time in months.

Sometimes I will still see a little movement out of the corner of my eye, and my brain tricks me into thinking there's a cat-shaped something there. But usually I catch myself and it passes before it jerks me by the heart. But the arm of the couch... that was her spot. I didn't catch myself this time until I had already reached back to pet her.

Anubis still looks for her sometimes, too. But at least now we can say her name in the house without him getting upset. He is eating normally again for the most part - from his regular bowls too. Though he is showing signs of age that we never saw before he went through the stress of losing Simba.

I still have trouble looking at the photos sometimes, though. And I haven't been able to sit through any of the videos.

Some critters just claw their way into our hearts a little deeper than others. We don't always know how or why, only that we're lost without them.

Nobody sits in that spot now. It was hers and hers alone. Anubis will not sit there, though he has taken to sleeping in her old bed. The arm of the couch remains claimed and empty.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cat Burglar

More fun with fiction - this time one written for a friend.

Her humans had been gone for an unusually long time. Fall had thought it strange when there were bags and soft boxes she wasn't allowed to lie in being filled with clothes. But the humans had left the house just like normal, at the usual time of day, with the usual good-bye and assurance that they would return.

But they hadn't returned. It was getting dark out... they were normally home by now. It was almost dinner time, and they weren't home to feed her. Well, she thought with a flick of her tail, if they weren't going to feed her on time, she was just going to go have a nice nap on that pillow she wasn't supposed to get fur all over. Just as she was turning to wander off to the bedroom, she heard the sound of someone at the door. Aha! They were home. She began to meow with impatience, scolding them for being late, but when the door opened, she froze.

That was NOT her human.

The stranger reached out to pet the cat, and she immediately fled beneath a chair. It was not her human, but they were in her house. There were only two possible reasons for this. Either her humans had abandoned her (ridiculous!) or this was a burglar.

Fall had heard of cat-burglars before, and rather thought it was rude to go and burgle someone else's cat - whatever burgling was. But she had never expected to see one in her house. As the burglar moved toward the kitchen, Fall followed, crouched low and padding quietly. She peered around the corner in time to see the burglar rummaging in the cabinets - the cabinets with her food in it! The nerve! She watched as the burglar picked up her bowl. This was too much. Bad enough that this stranger was intruding on her house, but now they were touching her FOOD. She had to take action.

Trying to look braver than she really was, Fall puffed out her fur and leaped toward the stranger, yowling madly. The human caught her by the scruff before her claws had a chance to stick in, pulling her gently away.

"No. Bad kitty!"

Oho! So this was what cat-burglars did, was it? They go into other people's houses and tell their cats what to do, did they? This was an outrage! This was hideous! This was-

Fall forgot quite suddenly what it was exactly as the food bowl was placed back on the floor, totally full. She stared, confused, as the burglar refilled the water bowl too, then left the kitchen and headed toward the litter box. Weren't cat-burglars supposed to be a bad thing? So why was the burglar feeding her and cleaning her litter box? That didn't seem so bad...

The stranger washed her hands, dried them, and went to the door. "I'll be back in the morning."

And then she was gone.

Perplexed, Fall went to sniff her food bowl. It smelled alright... just like normal. She took a few bites. Tasted normal too. Finally she settled herself down to eat. Whatever this was, she supposed she would allow it. For now.

The cat-burglar kept coming back over the next several days, until at last Fall's own humans returned. She yowled and scolded and tried to tell them all about the burglar, but they simply petted her and snuggled her and simply would not listen to reason.

She supposed she would have to chalk it up to the fact that humans were simply very strange animals.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Moving forward

I'm blue, da boo dee da boo da...

Anubis is finally starting to make real improvement. He lost weight for a while after we lost Simba, wasn't eating his regular food (though for the first few days he had been eating like a horse). We bought a different food to see if we could coax him to eat, and now he's eating like crazy (he won't eat it from his normal bowl, but that's okay, we have other bowls). He is, quite thankfully, looking like a cat again and less like skin and bones.

He has stopped wandering the house crying and looking for her all the time. He has taken to occasionally sitting in what were formerly her spots, so he seems to be acknowledging that she isn't coming back now. He still stops to sniff now and then, but I don't expect him to forget her completely.

Biggest deal of all... he was actually purring the other night, for a reason other than begging for treats. That's a big change.

We're still giving him a few drops of the Bach Rescue Remedy with his wet food in the evenings, as it seems to have helped a great deal in helping him pull out of his depression and move forward. We want to make sure he's really over the mountain before we take that away.

But overall we seem to be moving past the kitty blues and getting to the healing stage. We were honestly terrified he was going to let himself go for a while there. But if a bit of a change was all he needed, we can do that. I don't know why he decided to shun his other food. Maybe it's a reminder that it's the food, and the bowl, he used to share with her. I know us bipedal-types get those sorts of hangups sometimes too. But at least we've got him eating like normal again.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good Dog

Been doing a bit of fiction writing lately, so I thought I'd share.

Night had fallen and the family was asleep. Rex had curled up on the living room rug, wide awake but staying quiet—his boy did not like to be disturbed at night. None of his humans did, but he especially fussed over his boy. Grown-up humans could take care of themselves. Little boys needed good dogs to help them.

Rex heard his boy's bedroom door open, and he stood up. His boy was probably just up for a glass of water, but he was still very little and it was dark in the house. A good dog would go help him. He padded to the boy's side, able to see much better than a human at night. His boy was filling a cup when he heard it.

There was a noise at the door that made his spine tingle. It was a sort of cracking noise, like somebody was trying to pry the door open instead of using the knob. Nobody had ever taught him, but something in his doggie-senses told him that only bad people tried to break doors in the middle of the night. He growled and his fur stood up all over his back.

The door broke open and a man came in with his face all covered up, even though it wasn't winter. Rex didn't like that. The man moved into the kitchen, and he liked that even less. His boy opened his mouth to yell for the grown-ups and the man grabbed him, putting a hand over his mouth. Rex's heart pounded. He had to do something. Good dogs did not bite, but this man was hurting his boy, and good men did not hurt little boys. Perhaps it was okay for a good dog to bite bad men?

He heard his boy whimper, and that settled it. Rex bit into the man's leg, and the man yelled and let go of his boy. The man tried to kick at Rex, and he bit harder, shaking like he did with his toys until he heard the rip of fabric and tasted blood. The taste scared him, but he didn't want to let go for fear that the man would go and hurt his boy again. He heard the grown-ups now, heard them dialing the phone. The man flung him off and tried to run. Rex chased him. Bad men could hurt his family. Bad men had to be stopped.

By the time the men in uniform arrived, Rex had the man by the arm. His family came running and he let go at last—men in uniform took bad men away. He had seen it happen on the television that his humans liked to watch. Tail wagging, he approached the men in uniform, expecting them to praise him for saving his family. Instead, one of the men pushed a long pole toward him, and Rex felt something close around his neck. He didn't understand. Men in uniform only took away bad dogs. The people on the television said so. But he had not bitten his boy. He had bitten the bad man. He was a good dog.

He saw one of his humans move forward, heard the words "good dog". She was trying to explain. But the man in uniform shook his head and said something Rex could not understand. He felt himself being pulled away and started to panic.

He strained against the thing around his neck, barking frantically as his boy began to cry. "No! You can't take me! I'm a good dog! He was going to hurt my boy! I had to protect him. I'm a good dog!" He barked all the way outside as the men put him in the back of a van.

But humans could not understand dog-talk. Rex laid his head down and whimpered as the van began to drive away with him in it, taking him away from his family.

"But I'm a good dog…" 

The dog-thoughts are heavily influenced by Amy Shojai (she is awesome, go check her out). She has a section of her thriller novel that is from the point of view of the dog.

As far as I know, the laws that protect homeowners from prosecution for defending their own homes do not usually apply to dogs who bite intruders. Which is a shame, since I have known at least a few dogs who would never hurt a fly unless they really thought their family was being threatened.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's the little things

When you lose a family member, furry or otherwise, you always expect that there are going to be big things you miss. A cuddle buddy on cold nights, that way they used to fuss over you when you were sick or upset. In fact one of the first things I realized when Simba passed was that she always made a fuss over me when I was upset about something... and now the reason I was upset was because she's not around to fuss over me anymore.

But it's the little things that really get you. Those little habits you never really noticed that catch you by surprise and bring the tears back all over again. It's going to say hello to her when I first get home. Automatically glancing at the bed when she's not in the living room. Walking by her favorite chair and looking over to watch her sleep, and finding it empty. The sleepy look she used to give me when I opened the blinds in the morning... the grumpy one she gave me when I closed them at night. Things you never realized you had come to expect until they're gone.

Just today I opened the treat drawer, looked at Anubis, and said "I need to go get more treats for you guys." Never mind that just before that, I was wondering what to do with the Greenies now since he won't eat those (Simba loved them). Old habits die hard... and here I sit crying again because of it.

Only when they're gone do we come to realize that the little things are what makes someone who they are. And then those are the things that tear at your heartstrings most.

Friday, August 09, 2013

RIP Simba

I apologize in advance that this post isn't going to be my most coherent. We just lost one of our furbabies.

Simba was almost 15 years old... she hurt herself about a week ago jumping off the couch. She was starting to do better... then... not. I had just picked up some stool softeners from the vet with the instructions that if there was no bowel movement by Monday they would need to see her again...

She wouldn't take the pill. I called to enlist my father's help since he's better at it, and I was worried I was going to hurt her if I tried again. We got the pill down... she swallowed it... but apparently it upset her too much. She started convulsing...

I was afraid something was up when she started getting lethargic a couple of days ago. More so when she stopped purring for me, stopped headbutting me when I put my hand near her. Our other cat, Anubis has been fussing all day... but so often when we see it coming, we throw ourselves into denial. I didn't want to believe I was losing her.

I did at least take her to the bed to cuddle a little bit before all this happened. So she got a little bit of time with me today before...

I'm just having a hard time believing it. It just happened so suddenly... she just stopped breathing... we tried to start it again, got her lungs to fill when dad tried to give her CPR... but it was no use.

She has been with me ever since I moved into this house. She was my snuggle buddy every night. She fussed over me every time I was sick.

And now she's gone.

I can only hope now that Anubis is going to be okay. I don't think I could stand it if we lost both of them right now...

We buried her out by the swing in my parents' yard, since when she lived outside that was her favorite spot, in a box full of some toys and a few of her favorite things. Including the cat grass I bought for her just yesterday to try and cheer her up about being confined for her injury.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day in the life of a behavior nerd

Just a quick amusing thought I had this evening, inspired by something that happened this morning.

In your typical household, finding cat pee on the carpet generally causes an upset reaction, sometimes confusion if this is not a common occurrence... frequently anger.

This house contains two behavior nerds. So the morning conversation went about like this:

Other half: "Hon, were you just in here washing your hands and spill water or something?"

Me: (heading to bathroom) "No, why?"

OH: (pointing) "That's why."

Me: (bends down and sniffs) "Yep, it's pee. I haven't seen Simba leave the living room all morning. Doesn't smell like hers."

OH: "So it was probably Anubis."

Me: "He's never done that before..."

OH: "Nope."


Me: "Are the litter boxes clean?"

OH: (goes to check) "Nope." (grabs the scoop)

The cat still had to wait for his treats since we weren't sure just how recently he'd peed in there, and we don't want to go reinforcing that behavior by accident, but he has since used his now-clean litter box and all is well in the house again.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Brief lesson on fear avoidance GIF #3 if it doesn’t load properly.

This came to me on Twitter in a link entitled "10 awesomely adorable dog GIFS" - the rest of the images are, in fact, cute, so go ahead and click the link and look at the rest of them if you want to check them out, but I had to comment on this particular one.

If you recognize the body language here, this is NOT cute at all. This dog is showing very fearful behavior here. Now, if you’ve ever seen an object (ball or whatever else) come too close to your dog’s head, you will recognize the ear position and the squinty eyes - dog trying to duck and protect its face from being hit. Add that to the fact that this dog is turning its head away from the person whose shadow you can briefly see in this GIF, the mouth stretched back in a grimace, and the licking of the lips, and this is a VERY nervous dog right here. If it looks super-friendly, it’s because this dog is trying to make an appeasing gesture to avoid a confrontation.