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.

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Year of Pleasures: cats

Jem
It’s been a while since these kitties made an appearance here on the blog, so I thought I’d better fix that.

Gizmo
Now that the heat of summer is gone, they make little sniffing attempts to explore the backyard whenever I’m outside. Gizmo’s the most brazen, totally living up to the gender stereotype of being a boy as he rolls around in the dirt and eats grass while prissy little Jem doesn’t want to get her paws dirty.

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Rejected by a Cat

Sam
A few weeks ago our boy cat Gizmo got out. Our cats are totally spoiled indoor cats, so we panicked at the thought of him out on his own without any street smarts. He’d probably take up with the first cat who looked his way and spiral downward to start trading his body for kitty snacks.

When nighttime came and Gizmo still hadn’t found his way home, Bear went out to walk the neighborhood and try to find him. As he walked he met this little kitty, who followed him down several streets. At one intersection Bear paused to decide which way to go, and the cat bumped up against his legs until he turned right. On that block he found Gizmo, looked down, and the cat was gone.

In Mormon folklore we have this story about “the Three Nephites.” The Book of Mormon tells the story of three disciples of Christ who asked to live until He came again, and amongst ourselves we tell stories, sometimes serious, usually joking, about run-ins with mysterious helpful strangers being The Three Nephites. So when Bear found Gizmo he called me and told me about this disappearing cat, my reaction was a jokey, “Oh my gosh! It was a third Nephite Cat!” Of course, then he popped back up, but the joke remained so we named him Sam, which is a name that appears in the Book of Mormon.

I checked Craigslist, called the pound, looked for fliers, but nobody seemed to be missing this cat. Then we found another cat that looked just like him show up in our backyard. It seemed that someone had tossed out a litter. He was ours.

Normally we’ve been very picky about the breed of cats we adopt. We have had the greatest cats and we have high demands from them. I kept trying to explain to Sam that in our family, cats snuggle. But he kept wanting to just rub up without being held. Still, he was such a sweet guy and so playful, I was charmed completely.

Sammy the Cat
But, every time we opened a door, Sammy would dart out and we couldn’t get him to come inside for hours and hours. One night we went on a family walk and found him playing with another family. They said he was theirs, but we could have him if we wanted him, and he was obviously not being taken care of very well. Sammy followed us on the rest of our walk home and we decided we’d keep him and get him properly looked after.

Sammy had other ideas. He had the call of the wild in him, and nothing I could do would keep him inside. And once outside, he’d be gone all day. Sammy was a desperado, refusing to be domesticated.

Ever since Cheetara died, I’ve been needing a cat to love. Jem only loves Jared, Gizmo loves Atticus, that’s part of what’s great about that breed. I was so hoping Sammy would be the cat that loved me, but he loves the great outdoors more. Sigh.

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2011 Year of Pleasures #1

Winter Coats
This time of year is so fun because the kitties turn extra fuzzy as they grow their winter coats. Jem, our little gray cat, grows little points off the side of her cheeks we call her wings.

Fuzzball
Cheetara would grow a mane that made her look like a wee little lion.

And don’t get me started on the belly fuzz happening over here. It’s like the best thing ever got twice as good.

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Goodbye my furry friend

Cheetara
We came home from our Christmas vacation to find my beloved Cheetara had died. She was a purebred and I feared she had kidney problems for a long time, but the vet said she was OK. I never felt great about that, but we weren’t in the position to deal with kitty dialysis, so I tried to hope for the best. She just ran out of best.

Baby Cheetara
We got Cheetara and her sister Jem when we were in New Hampshire. I was sick and lonely and she became my best companion.

Baby clothes
Absorbing my baby love during those long years of infertility,

Spoon
Nursing me through those long years of illness

Jungle kitty
Keeping me company in the garden

Belly fuzz
And always being generous with her fuzzy, cuddly self.

kisses
She was the most affectionate cat I’ve ever seen

Sleeping under the tree
And gave me more than I could ever return to her.

Cheetara
I will miss her terribly.

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Kitty Photobomb

Downloading movies off the video camera I came across this oldie but goodie.

Sometimes the kitties want a little attention too.

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This might be taking the whole “baby” thing too far.

Kitty in a diaper

Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous? Poor Cheetara. If you’re grossed out by facts of nature, you may want to stop reading here.

Over the last couple of heat cycles, Cheetara has started having, well, a period. It’s very common for in tact animals to emit drops of blood during estrus, but neither of our girls ever did until just now. We’re taking it as a sign that her breeding years are behind her and it’s time to get her fixed, but with the move and neverending heat cycles, we haven’t had a chance to do it yet.

Which means that I have a teenager having her period wandering unprotected through my house. And that is just not OK in my book. I know it’s just biology and this is how the miracle of life happens and all that, but seriously, ew.

Luckily she and Atti wear the same size.

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Best friends

best friends
Giving kisses

Lunch date
Gabbing over lunch

TV time
Chilling in front of the TV

two of a kind
Best friends.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #12

Cat sculpture

I totally poached this little sculpture from my inlaw’s house.

Well, I couldn’t bring myself to outright swipe it, so I really just wandered around their house for a day saying, “Wow, I sure do like this sculpture! It was just sitting in a drawer in the guest room. It sure would look nice at my house….” Stopping just short of saying, “Hint. Hint.” Finally my mother in law just told me to take it. Most likely so I would shut up already.

It’s a metal casting with a really cool patina on it, and while I’m already so perilously close to crazy cat lady territory I really shouldn’t be bringing cat-themed knick-knacks into the equation, it was just too cool to resist.

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Partners in Crime

When we lost our sweet Lobo last year, it was a major loss for our family. We hadn’t had him that long but he was such a good boy with Atticus we loved him twice as hard.

Atti and Gizmo's first play date

Back in July we bought our newest little Gizmo. We picked a brand new kitten because we knew that we would be asking a lot from this little cat, and we thought that if we started young, we may be able to train him. As much as a cat can ever really be trained.

Making messes
When I look through the photos from 2009, it’s amazing how often some little part of Gizmo pops up in all the pictures I take of Atti. Particularly when a mess is involved. They seem to egg each other on somehow.

Gizzy at Atti's feet
Gizmo never ventures far from his boy. He eats his table scraps, chases the balls Atti throws, sniffs at the robot Elmo while he wiggles, and supervises any therapists that come to the house. He’s very protective.

Gizzy in Atti's chair
Atti’s often covered in cat scratches, but never anything painful. Just little warning jabs when he gets especially rowdy. This sweet cat puts up with an awful lot. When Atti starts to pull his fur too hard, Giz will reach out and put a paw on his forehead and push, just like a bigger kid on the playground saying, “Try and get me. I dare you try and get me” While Atti flails away getting nowhere.

Playmates
People often ask me how I get so much done in a day, and the truth is that Gizmo handles most of Atti’s therapy. Atticus chases him from one end of the house to the other, and when he catches him, Gizmo just gets up and moves a few more feet away.

Naptime
It’s almost like Atti has a really fuzzy older brother.

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