Safe and Sound

We had a major scare and a miracle here this week.

I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, riding the hormonal roller coaster, and I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm. I’ve discovered that if I take a sleeping pill at 8 and then take a 2 hour bath, I can actually fall asleep and get through the night. That’s really what it takes. After two solid months of weeping on the shower floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve cracked it.

But because I am hard headed, I keep thinking that I won’t always need that much caretaking just to fall asleep through the hot flashes and night sweats. So I decide to skip the sleeping pill, watch an extra couple of shows, and then I’m staring at the ceiling and hating everything. And I have to just stop trying to overachieve in the hormone endurance race and just do what it takes to get through it.

During all those long nights of thrashing around and exasperated sighing and whimpering into the shower tile, my fat boy cat Gizzy has been my companion. He’s not as demonstrative as my dear departed Cheetara was, despite all my work he won’t let me snuggle him while I sleep, but he is steadfast. When I can’t lie still he perches at my feet, keeping watch. When I finally collapse he saunters up the bed, plopping himself down between me and Bear like a jealous child trying to ensure there are no future children taking his place. And when I wake up in the morning, his fluff is the first thing that greets me.

This big dumb lunk is a longhaired gorgeous persian mix. I am always trying to hold him down to comb the mats out of his fur, and yet he won’t be deterred: he thinks he’s an outdoor cat. He wants to play outside with Atti every day and typically I let him. He never ventures far, he just rolls around in the dirt and suns his belly, and when I call them to come inside they both come grudgingly. But Friday night, Gizmo didn’t come in.

There have been a couple of other times when he went on a bit of a walkabout, so I tried not to panic. We live in an area where there aren’t many places he could go and not a ton of traffic to worry about, the real threat would be from other animals and I just wasn’t going to think about that. So I tucked Atti and myself in bed and told myself we’d hear Gizzy whining for breakfast in the morning.

But he wasn’t there. We checked with the neighbors, we drove through the neighborhood, and he wasn’t there Sunday. I was calling shelters and monitoring websites and he wasn’t there Monday. By yesterday, Bear and I were trying to resign ourselves to the thought that he was gone.

Yesterday a dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to her dog after a long illness and deterioration. I could barely offer her sympathy because I was working so so hard at being in denial about Gizzy. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t face losing my sweet fat dummy in the middle of hormone hell, but there was nothing left to try.

Then last night I asked Bear to go out to the shed to grab some scrap wood for a craft project. After a minute I heard him scream my name in a way I’d never heard before. I thought I needed to call an ambulance. But instead of some bloody stump, Bear comes in holding a ragged and shellshocked ball of white fluff.

Somehow he had gotten himself locked in the shed. And he was trapped there for three or four days. In heat that was over 90 degrees, with no food or water.

We don’t know how he did it, we don’t even go over to that side of the yard very often so it’s not like we shut him in there when we weren’t paying attention, and Atti can’t get over there so it’s not like he did it. Maybe he found some little entrance he could get into but not back out of? Maybe the wind blew the door shut? But I don’t think the door was open in the first place? It’s a total mystery.

Also a mystery? How our sweet Gizzy managed to survive four days without food or water in a sweltering shed. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t needed that scrap wood. We never get over there, it’s nothing short of a miracle that it all worked out the way it did and Gizzy was returned to us, thinner, dehydrated, skittish, but whole.


Year of Pleasures: Study Help

Bear’s been asked to be the seminary teacher, which means that he gets up every morning at 5 to teach the teenagers about the scriptures. It’s a massive job and he’s lucky to be able to team teach, which helps defray some of the size of it all, but it’s still been a major change for us and a whole lot of work. He loves it, and I love having a quiet evening as we’re all reading together. And Gizmo loves it because he gets to park his big fuzzy butt on a pile of papers.


cat meme


It’s been a long week. I needed a laugh.


Project Put Together: Gizmo Edition

Shedding the winter coat
Gizmo, our big dumb boy cat, is part ragdoll and part persian. And this time of year that part persian is really showing as this giant puffball leaves clumps of long white fur on every surface he touches and you get your fingers stuck in the matts whenever you try and pet him.

This is the furinator, and it is the best tool ever for grooming long hair cats. It gets out so much hair in each session that I could make myself three new cats.

The Furinator
Gizzy wants to kill it.


Year of Pleasures: Family Naptime

Family Naptime

This year I’m really starting to notice the changes of getting older, and Daylight Savings Time is a big one. Holy Moley did it ever work me over. Luckily I wasn’t alone. Naptime and snuggle time in one is better than Oreo cookies.


Year of Pleasures: Winter Coat

Winter coat

One of the best parts about the cold weather blowing in is my little kitties growing exponentially fluffier. Gizmo loves to stretch out with his belly in the air and I can never resist rubbing it whenever I pass him.


Gentle Giant…someday


This is what has become of our little Boo. She likes to give hugs.


Atti and Boo

Remember where she started? She’s a 6 month old monster.



She’s ended up spending a lot more time outside than we ever planned on. Our backyard gives her plenty of room to run around and play, but, being cat people, we assumed our dog would be an indoor dog. But she made her choice, so who are we to deny her? She wants to frolic and play and be a puppy in a way that the indoors just can’t offer her. It makes supervising her far less of a chore.

Since Atti spends most of his time home lying on the ground, he was getting worked over by Boo’s aggressive play. She wasn’t getting that Atticus wasn’t a puppy, and treated him like a littermate, which means she wanted him to be the one to take her roughhousing. She’s getting better, no more scratches and nibbles, but she certainly isn’t gentle yet. We’re working on it. I tried for 45 minutes to take a picture of her face, but the only time she would even look at me is while I was holding a treat, which didn’t leave me two hands for the camera. She loves her boy, we just need to get her to control that love a little better.



I was told that English Mastiff’s were big lovable lunks and were lethargic and lazy. That can kick in any minute now and I’d be very happy. I asked my vet techs about it and they said that puppies are puppies and she’d grow out of her energy. As they were debating when exactly that would happen, they had this conversation:

Tech 1: Well, how old is Jackson? Isn’t he all like, ‘Dur duh dur.”

Tech 2: Jackson? I think he’s three, but didn’t he just start going ‘ Dur duh dur’?

1: No he’s been ‘Dur duh dur’ for a while now.

2: Well there’s Mabel. She’s only 15 months and she’s TOTALLY ‘Dur duh dur.”

Dur duh dur. Said as if that’s what the dog said as she walked, slow and stupid. I got home and told the story to Bear and ever since that’s been our shorthand for “big, slow, lethargic, meathead dog.”

“Boo! Leave Atti alone! When are you going to get ‘Dur duh dur’ already??”

“Oh Boo, you sweet girl, when you get ‘Dur duh dur’ will you snuggle me?”

You all just remind me of this when I start complaining about my lazy dog.


Year of Pleasures: Troublemaking Cat

Cat eating dog food
I got a couple of dog food samples in the mail, but since Boo is still eating puppy food, I put them back in the shipping envelope and left them at the top of the stairs for Bear to take to work and give away.

But before he could, this little butthead cat Gizmo somehow smelled food through two layers of shipping material, went into the envelope after it, dragged it out with his teeth, and ripped the package open to make himself a meal.

Troublemaking Cat
I figured, cats are carnivores too, it can’t hurt anything just once, so I just let the little jerk have his fun. He worked hard enough for it.


Poor Gizmo

Sad Gizmo
Isn’t that just the saddest face? Poor guy. But he brought it on himself.

None of our cats have been neutered because they are all purebred and we hoped to breed them. I feel the need to add a responsibility disclaimer here and say that they never ever go outside and we always planned to neuter them after a couple of litters, but those litters never happened, so we just waited and waited and waited. Apparently our infertility has spread to the cats. Two girls, two different males, 1 stillborn little kitty. Have you ever heard of a CAT not being able to get pregnant? It so figures.

Our little girl cat Jem is now too old to give birth to her first litter without fear of complications, so we were planning on taking her to get spayed, but then Gizmo started acting like such a little jerk he bounced himself to the front of the line. Marking everything, bullying Jem, trying to attack stray kitties through the glass door, he completely wore out the charm of his in tact masculinity. Something had to be done.

I took him to the vet and even though he’s only ever gone once for shots, he still seemed to recognize something bad was going to happen. We carry our cats around on leashes instead of in carriers (the breeds we go for are cooperative enough to go for that) and trying to get out of the car and into the office was nearly impossible as I had this big fluffy cat velcroed to my leg. I finally just had to let him cling to me like a toddler throwing a tantrum as I crossed the street. We made quite a sight as the other drivers in the parking lot laughed at the living Garfield cartoon in front of them.

Gizmo came through like a champ of course, charming all the vet nurses in the office with his little orange nose and abundance of whiskers. After a couple days with the cone he settled down and is now suddenly a scaredy cat hiding under couches. Poor thing. Without all those manly hormones coursing through him he’s suddenly not such a big tough guy.


Atti’s New Playmate

Atti and Boo
Meet the newest member of our family, little Boo.

This is a pretty radical departure for me, being so staunchly a cat person. Part of why I love cats is their independence and cleanliness, two traits that don’t really apply to dogs. But here I am anyway. It’s all Julie Klausner’s fault.

Julie is a hilarious comedian and I came across this tweet last week and didn’t take her at her word.

I read this to Bear in the car on our way to date night and cried so hard I couldn’t speak. As soon as I read this, I became a dog owner who hadn’t yet met her dog.

Atti and Boo

When we got home I started searching. I worked out google with searches for organizations that would help us get a service dog, but realized that we don’t quite need one just yet. Most charities wouldn’t give Atti one because he’s so young, and his needs aren’t severe enough to jump through hoops and come up with the cash for an expertly trained service dog. I kept thinking of the part of the article that talked about kids making friends because their dog was so cool, and I started to think that the right, regular old, well trained dog would be good enough for him. I devoured Craigslist, scoured Petfinder, called shelters, and came up empty.

Atti and Boo

If you want a small dog, there is no shortage. Poor chihuahuas and pitbulls were EVERYWHERE. But a small dog won’t work for us long term. We need a dog that will grow to be big enough that Atti can play with him from his wheelchair. Then there was the cats. They have done a remarkable job in our family, I’m not introducing anything that threatens them. Which meant that the GORGEOUS Malamute I found with the face like a teddy bear couldn’t be ours. The cats wouldn’t stand a chance.

Atti and Boo

After a few days of rationalizing the need into urgency, I resigned myself into recognizing that even though I wanted Atti to have the benefits of an expert dog YESTERDAY, at 4 years old he still has a ways to go before it would be most beneficial, and pet ownership is not something you jump into because you read a moving article. Adopting a dog just because he’s handy is begging for disaster. I sighed a deep sigh, tried to get over the feeling that I was somehow, in that backwards logic parents feel, failing my child, and let it go until a few years in the future.

Then on Saturday Bear went to Wal-Mart to pick up a couple things and found a kid out front with a basket of these puppies. They were full-bred Old English Mastiffs, and dirt cheap as far as puppies, but especially for Mastiffs, go. He sent me a picture of this sweet little girl and I was a goner.

Atti and Boo

You know what is a perfect breed for our family? An Old English Mastiff. Look how gorgeous, and enormous, she is going to grow up to be. Mastiff’s are huge dogs, but known to be gentle with children and other animals, quiet, peaceful, and companionable. They want nothing more than to lay at their master’s feet, as little Boo is doing to me as I type. They don’t need constant workouts, just a couple walks a day. They’re just sweet lugs who want to love and protect their family. And we stumbled across one in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Scout seemed like a name for a more adventurous dog. This little girl just wants to curl up on my chest and stick her snout under my chin. She’s far more of a Boo Radley than a Scout, but still, our little Atticus has the companion I dreamed of.