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A new year comes bounding in…


…like a hellhound out of some frozen Hell. That is what a friend jokingly said about the above picture, and that description seems to fit the weather of the past month rather well. It’s a shiny new year, but that’s because of the glare bouncing off all the snow and ice. We’ve had four snows – three of them significant, the last one still with us. Each time the snow was followed by days of bitter cold. Yesterday morning, it was four degrees outside when we got up. It’s very unusual for NC to get weather like this, and with this being the second year of it, I think we’re beginning to suffer from snow fatigue.

The dogs, on the other hand,  (Cricket being the exception here) are loving the snow. They frolic in it until they are exhausted. Paddy eats it, snorts it, digs in it gleefully. Gwen bounds through it and ends up coated in snow, looking like some sort of miniature yeti. At least someone is enjoying it, right?


If you click on either of the above pictures it will take you to a gallery of their “Fun in the snow” from January 10.

Last year wasn’t the greatest one, but I am thankful for everything we have. These are hard times, a lot of people are struggling hard, facing incredible losses, and we’re fortunate to have stable jobs and a roof (of our own, yet!) over our heads.  We lost Lindsy this past year, and it’s still weird and sad to have her gone. She was part of our lives for what felt like forever. We had Paddy and Gwen (who I still haven’t properly introduced here, that’s coming) join the family, and the little kitten we adopted in December of 2009 blossomed into the most wonderful big hunk of orange cuddliness. We adore our Calvin.

Cricket – amazingly – is still with us and thanks to some advice from our vet, her stomach trouble is better than it has been in years. Olive reached her fourteenth birthday! Simon is nine – nine! Holy crap, how did that happen? Winter, the ‘baby’ before Calvin came, will be six this coming June. Time just seems to go faster and faster.

This year ahead is going to be a tough one, I think; we have family members facing serious health challenges and it feels like there is some uncertainty and change possibly in the wind with other parts of our lives. But I also feel that these are all things that everyone could emerge on the other side of better than before. We just need to buckle in for the wild ride, and remember to be grateful for all the good things in our lives.

So long, old friend


R.I.P. Lindsy aka Lenny

We said farewell to Lindsy this morning, she went peacefully at the vet’s after consuming nearly a half bag of ginger snaps, which must have been a dream come true for her even in her state. Our vet affirmed that we were doing the right thing, seeing how feeble she was, which both made me feel good and bad; the change of scenery had I guess given her a bit of a boost and she was actually more steady on her feet than she’d been in a long time… I thought “wow, if he thinks this is bad…”

Anyway, she had a good 15 1/2 years – maybe not perfect but the best we could give her, and we tried to make her last bit of time happy. In addition to the ginger snaps she also had an entire can of dog food and as much peanut butter as she wanted before the trip. It was very sad, but a relief also to know she’s free from suffering.

The picture above was taken almost two years ago… gosh, we thought she looked old then. Sometime soon, I’ll write a better tribute for her and put it up as a permanent page on the web site. For now, I just wanted to say goodbye. My deepest gratitude to Laurie and Chris for sharing their thoughts in response to my prior post about Lindsy, and to everyone who posted condolences here and on Facebook. It means a lot to us.

Olive, at almost 14 years old, is now the last of the original pre-Tucson gang left.

Letting go

I think I’ve mentioned a few times lately here that Lindsy has really been declining, and I think we’ve gotten to the point where her quality of life just isn’t that good. We’re having such a hard time making the decision… well, not making it — we’re pretty much in agreement that it’s ‘time’ — but acting on it. I think I, at least, am still holding out this hope that she’ll just pass peacefully in the night. I tell myself that I don’t want to cut her life short before she’s ready, but I recognize deep down that there’s some element of cowardice involved, of not wanting to deal with the situation.

In the meantime, she grows more and more fragile, less aware, less all the things that made her Lindsy. She teeters around on legs that barely hold her up and sometimes can’t get up at all. She forgets when she’s already eaten. She follows us around like she wants attention, then ducks and runs away if actually approached. She has a myriad of weird nasty growths that ooze and tend to get infected — one even abscessed and the area where it had been isn’t really healing.

She usually gets very excited about her meals, but sometimes doesn’t finish the food, which isn’t like her at all. She’s very paranoid about someone stepping on her or trying to touch her. Her breath is atrocious and her teeth are nasty now that she no longer chews bones.

She leaks urine, sometimes loses control of her bladder entirely. The rug in the living room makes the house smell and totally grosses us out but we can’t do anything about it as long as Lindsy is still wandering around leaking… we can’t even tear up the part that’s over hardwoods because she would slip and fall and hurt herself on bare wood, and already does in the bedrooms.

It would be a lot easier around here with her gone, and yet that makes it harder instead of easier to take that final step — I don’t want it to feel like we’re just putting her down for selfish reasons, getting rid of an inconvenience. But am I being selfish in not wanting to be selfish? Does that make sense? Am I putting my guilt over what’s actually best for her?

We went through this with Lilly, and more recently, Wednesday, but it’s been a few years… unless you count the periodic drama we have when Cricket goes through one of her bad spells, then bounces back. We even made ‘The Appointment’ once, only to cancel it again. (If Cricket does ever pass away, she’ll probably have to decompose for a few days before we’re convinced she’s really not just ‘off her food’ again).

Our friends Chris and Paul just went through this with their Tika, who was about Lindsy’s age or a bit older… we’d joked morbidly in the past that it was a race to see who’d go first. Chris wrote a very moving post about Tika’s last days and how she finally came to the decision and it helped me realize that we have to face this. It’s not fair to her, and it’s not fair to us because it’s painful to watch her toddle around, panting and confused, stumbling and falling if she encounters something as small as a dog toy in her path. We have to just brace ourselves and do the right thing.

But it sure does suck. 🙁

Wonder where we could order a Poodle suit for a 63 lb. Pit Bull?


Poor Paddy, I had to pick up a stainless steel cat bowl we’d ordered (for our thrift-store cat feeder, details will follow) and a prescription for Lindsy and I brought him with me to our vet’s and a local pet shop. Not a single person acknowledged his existence no matter how much he looked at them hopefully. He even tried to sit politely (major self control for him) but it’s like he doesn’t exist, or worse, they literally run the other way. He finally got his wish when the tech who brought the second prescription said hi to him and gave him a pat. Paddy was over the moon.

Cricket, who wants nothing to do with strangers and makes herself as small as possible (not hard when you’re only 5  pounds to begin with) always attracts a crowd of people wanting to pet her. Personally, I’m with Cricket — social interaction is not my strong point. But we’re trying to make sure Paddy grows up well socialized and it’s hard when he’s carrying the ‘Pit Bull’ stigma, that’s one of the reasons we didn’t really want another one (another reason is the rampant health issues that plague purebred dogs, a few of which he suffers from) and had hoped he was the mix he appeared to be when we adopted him.

If my job schedule would actually let up on the 12-14 hour days, I’d like to enroll him in a class. He loves people so much he gets really excited, so we need to get him around more social situations so we can work on his training. He’s really good at home with the commands he knows but needs to have more exposure to distractions. We had a bit of a setback with what I call ‘parkarrhea’ (excitement-induced diarrhea) that’s kept us from taking him many places lately but he seems to be getting better with that. Maybe next week he can go visit his friends at Wag! – there’s an Orbee soccer ball there we know he’d love.

Paddy would like me to add that he is happy to report Joy’s training is going better. He finally managed to weasel his way onto her lap, after months of working on her…


Sunny Saturday

Well, it’s raining again today but yesterday was pretty nice… if a bit chilly. We had a vet appointment in the morning to get Paddy’s DHLPP booster and then bundled up a bit to sit out in the sun with the critters. Calvin is now allowed out with supervision (at least until we get the tree scrunchies installed on the cherry tree) and Winter didn’t get photographed much because she was off stalking birds. Olive didn’t make it into the photo gallery at all, because I figured we already have a bazillion pictures of her sitting watching for moles… but then again,we did take yet another picture of Simon upside down. Honest, the cat is not paraplegic, he does walk sometimes. Paddy is on a leash only because we are being very slow and careful about introducing him to being outside with the cats (blame that, again, on Arthur) but he is doing really good. Lindsy is having a harder and harder time getting around and it shows in these pictures, sadly.

Anyway, here are a few highlights and the full album can be found in the gallery. There’s even a few rare pics of the critterweb humans.
Simon appreciating the chilly day from the comfort of a lap.

The mini roses all survived the winter and are getting leaves already.

Cricket also subscribes to the ‘sunbathing is better on a lap’ ideal.

Last year’s parsley, still going strong.

Unbeknown to her, the huntress (Winter is on far right of pic) is also the hunted.

A photo op goes awry.

Lindsy, Chris, Simon, and Paddy

When I was taking this, I wondered if Joy was having a creepy sensation of being spied on?

Calvin had a great time outside.

There are  21 more pictures in the full album.