Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Babies

Mother Nature may have gotten the weather wrong, but she sure knows all about babies!

My rock wall just came alive with the baby ground squirrels. Two came out yesterday. Today there were three…then four…five…and finally six!

These pictures were taken from inside my home and through the screening of the cat enclosure. It’s hard to see that the babies are really small - about the same size as the chipmunks who also run on the rocks.

The babies love to play, batting and tackling each other like football players. It’s very entertaining. I feel like I’m watching the squirrel channel – all squirrel, all the time!

The two parent squirrels have been busy bringing mouthfuls of leaves into the many tunnels they’ve dug in the wall. One baby took a cue from its parent – I saw it dragging a 2 ft. stick into the tunnel!

I can always count on a lot of Oregon rain when spring arrives, but there are many other special little moments that make springtime oh so magical!

Lighthearted Press

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dogs vs. cats - who's more afraid of stormy weather?

Almost all the dogs I’ve shared my life with showed some degree of stress when it was stormy outside.

The discomfort ranged from mild concern to overwhelming terror – especially when thunder and lightning were involved!

As for my 4 cats – they could care less!

The weather has been miserable here in Oregon, so I’ve blocked the door to their cat enclosure until things dry out a bit. Dickens just sits at the door and cries to go outside, even if it’s raining buckets or hail is pelting the ground. If the enclosure door was open, he’d be outside taking it all in.

Is this normal for cats?



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do our critters keep us young?

Whenever I’m asked if I have children, I usually say “My kids have always been furry!”

Animal lovers get that. Non-animal lovers look like they want to recommend a good hair-removal product.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that even though I’m getting older, and the old bones don’t quite work the way they used to, I don’t feel the passage of time the way I suspect people with children do. I don’t see the years racing by as I watch little girls and boys growing up, leaving home, and having children of their own.
No one calls me Mom…or Grandma.

My furry “kids” will never go to school. They will never leave the nest, and go off and create lives of their own. Their lives are…and always will be…entwined with mine.
I wonder if my cats talk among themselves about the fact that “mom seems to be slowing down, and isn’t getting the food into the bowls as quickly as she used to.
They like to hang around when I do my floor exercises. I thought it was affection – maybe they just want to be sure I get up again!

I am absolutely certain my 4 cats keep me young…AND they double as hot packs! I’ve got one for the neck, one for the low back and one for each knee.
Now, if I could only figure out how to strap them into place!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dickens - slimming down a fat cat!

He was the biggest cat in the litter…yes, the same litter my dog brought in 12 years ago. I named him Dickens, because his behavior seemed to always leave me shaking my head, saying “You little dickens, you!”

The weight started piling on, until one day I realized my boy was no longer big-boned – he was fat! He weighed in at 23 lbs. on my shipping scale.
Twenty-three pounds!

About 3 years ago Dickens and I agreed it was time to do something about his weight. Obese cats are susceptible to many serious health problems. We’d been lucky so far – Dickens had never been sick a day in his life. I wanted to keep it that way.

The first thing that had to go was the free-feeding station. It may have been high-quality food, but it was also high-quantity. I cut his dry food down to very small portions, and went almost entirely to wet food.

That was the answer! All those carbs in the dry food had led to Dickens ballooning up to a very unhealthy weight. When we went to mostly wet food, the pounds began to come off.

Three years later, Dickens weighs in at 14 pounds! He’s not just thinner, his activity level has tripled! He runs and jumps and plays like a kitten…and I’m sure all that activity helps to keep the weight in line, too.

I want to spend as many years with Dickens as I possibly can. I’m sure you feel the same way about your critters. If you’ve got a “large” animal, I hope you’ll talk with your vet about the best way to bring that weight down. You just might be adding many more happy years to their life!

Lighthearted Press

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Do you make back ups of your pet photos?

Eric Kwang is a friend – and also an animal lover. If you’re reading this YOU are probably an animal lover, too.

That means that in addition to surrounding yourself with critters, you most likely have an abundance of something else in your life – lots and lots of photos of those furballs!

Eric works in the technology field, but even tech-savvy people have computer glitches. He recently sent me some good advice after having lost photos of Ella, a very special cat, to one of those computer black holes:

One thing I think all pet lovers need to remember and perhaps make into a regular mantra, regardless of what kind of computer they use, is: Back up, Back up and more Back Up.

I’ve been down that road – bet you have, too. So, repeat after me:

Back up…back up…back up.



Monday, May 03, 2010

Princesses, self-doubt and a dog named Hero

It’s not often I get to spend time with royalty, but that’s exactly what I got to do over the weekend.

Meet the 2010 Portland Rose Festival princesses, surrounding my friend Lea McWhorter, of Sophisticated Beads, who created beautiful jewelry for the lucky young ladies.

It’s very rare for me to be around younger people - all my children have been furry!

As I chatted with the princesses I was amazed at how articulate and focused they were. They wanted to work in public relations and medicine, music and business. They were crystal clear about where the next leg of their journey would take them.

After speaking with these fabulous young women I suddenly found myself choking back a few unexpected tears. I was swimming in a sea of rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. I tried to imagine myself at their age – was it really over 35 years ago? Was there ever a “once upon a time” when I could so easily reach out and touch my hopes and dreams, as these young ladies could?

Then I remembered Hero, the canine star of my book The Shelter Dog. Hero was EXACTLY like these young women – hopeful and happy, sure of his mission and blessed with a loving heart. I wrote Hero…and for the first time I realized that Hero was ME!

I remembered my book Old Dog & the Christmas Wish, and thought about the weary, four-legged boy who longed for a Christmas miracle even though his situation was desperate.

I wrote that dog…and he was me, too!

Yes, my cheeks get some of their rosiness from a jar, and the sparkle in my eyes is probably allergy-related, but I am certain that a child-like innocence still resides somewhere inside me. And every so often…if I’m really, really lucky…it spills out onto the pages of my books.

Here’s to our inner children!


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy 12th Birthday to my four cats

They came to me in the last week of May, 12 years ago.
The veterinarian said they were about 3 – 4 weeks old, so May 1st became their official birthday.
It began when my dog, Jake, found a little striped kitten in the backyard.
Her infected eyes were glued shut, so she couldn't see the big dog drooling over her. He could have made her an afternoon snack. In fact, his past history had indicated that was exactly what he normally would have done.

But something happened when he looked at Pippen. They immediately formed a bond that would last a lifetime. Jake brought Pip into our house, along with her brother, Dickens, and sisters Molly and Star.

To say they changed the life of this dog lover is an understatement. I was more than charmed by them – I was enchanted!
And now 12 years have gone by, and these little furballs are considered senior citizens. They still seem like kittens to me!
They are healthy – perhaps because they have always been inside cats. We did build them a huge outdoor enclosure, and maybe having the ability to go SAFELY outside, and spend time in nature, has helped to keep them young.

I know each of their little feline hearts and souls. I know that if it weren't for gravity they would all simply float away! I’ve watched them evolve over the years, yet their true natures have not changed from when they were little.

One of my favorite illustrations in my book For Every Cat An Angel shows a woman holding a sleeping cat on her lap. They are sharing the same dream – she is flying through the stars on the back of her furry friend, who has transformed into a leopard! And they agree to keep their true natures a secret between them.
As I wrote in the forward of my book:

I am in awe of these cat creatures. They have cast a spell over me that I don’t expect will ever be broken.
So true.

Happy birthday my sweet kitties!