Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Harley's Challenge

Harley is the second of the two cats my daughter, Jennifer, adopted from the FCCR&SNC (Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay Neuter Clinic) to help out in the barn, be barn cats. Her real name is Harlequin which means clown. Well, she doesn't act like a clown although, being a Tortie with her face looking like it had been painted one color on one side and another color on the other side, she looks like a clown.
At this moment she is in rehabilitation. After coming originally to our barn, hanging around while Diego (barn cat #1)was there, one day she dashed out the door. It was weeks before we saw her again, although the neighbors told us  she had taken up residence in their barn. Problem was, the neighbors left on a trip, thought they saw her in their barn before they left. But they didn't. Turns out she was closed up in the garage. After 3 days of not seeing her, I became suspicious.
 I went over, tried the door to their garage and it opened. At first I didn’t hear anything. So I called her name. Pretty soon I heard a weak meow. The garage was so cluttered I couldn’t even walk in much past the door. As soon as I rattled the food dish I heard her meow come closer. So I left food and water. The next morning and for the next day after that I left food for her and it had gotten slicked up by the time I arrived. I knew she could not stay in the neighbor’s garage.
I had to see if Jennifer would be willing to take her in her house too, to join Diego who had become unexpected house cat number one. (read about Diego) She agreed and we  decided  she needed a large cage for protection and one that would hold her litter box, feed dishes, a scratching and climbing post and a blanket. But the biggest hurdle was Jennifer’s husband. He  didn’t want any cats in the house. Such is the way of strange happenings. So Harley has an inside home for a while. Till March First. We’ll see.
Harley has been rehabilitating from being an outdoor/feral/barn cat. I think it could work. She still hisses when something startles her but she purrs a lot, too. Temporarily she stays in the Great Dane sized enclosure. Soon she will not remember that she was an outdoor cat. The kids love her and love taking care of her. I think the next thing I will do is see if I can pick her up out of her cage and carry her around the basement. I might even put a harness on her too. Now,  I go to bed every cold night and thank the great Cat Protector above that she is safe and warm  inside…for now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Diego's Plan

I’m certain Diego had a plan.And he had almost everything worked out. The one that didn’t go as planned was the length of time he spent at the FCCR.(Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay Neuter Clinic) It was a heck of a lot better than wandering around scavaging for food, trying to understand why he was abandoned, but still, after a few weeks like this you would be crotchety too.
Getting hurt in a territory dispute at his new adopted family’s barn wasn’t planned either. But it did put him in the position to get what he wanted; an indoor home with plenty of room and freedom to choose where he was going to sleep and who he would adopt as his most trusted person. His week to ten days having to live inside and wear the Elizabethan collar set it up for him. After that it was clear, he didn’t want to be a barn cat, he wanted to be a house cat. We now think he had been a house cat all along.
He wiggled his way into the routine. First he slept in his crate, then on the bed in the basement and then on a pile of hunting clothes. One day he actually sneaked outside when no one was looking but came right back in. Hummm, he was no dummy. Then one night when it was stormy he came upstairs and slept in mom and dad’s bed. After that he discovered a hiding place in a closet. He slipped through the dog door once in a while but he always came back. He even came when he was called.
But the best thing he did was hook up with one of the 6 yr. olds. Tyler began to carry him to his room. Diego began to sleep there. Sometimes Tyler had a difficult time getting to sleep. His mom or dad would often need to lie down with him. But now that was Diego’s job. Diego had found his man. It was his plan.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Diego's Decision

Diego and Harley, the cats my daughter adopted from the Fort Collins Cat Rescue to be barn cats, got out of the barn the first night they were there even though the barn doors were closed. The next morning my husband told me he had heard cats growling outside the house that night. When we checked the barn we found they were both gone. I couldn’t believe it. Even that time we had been in the barn the first afternoon, Harley stayed in the enclosure in the stall stall and Diego explored a little of the rest of the barn but seemed unwilling to get close to the outside. I thought they would be so happy to be out of cages they would settle into their new larger digs happy even though still wary.

The next day I called and called, searched the barn but no cats. I was not looking forward to letting the cat rescue know they had already disappeared.

About 9:30 the next night I heard what I thought was soft meowing. I did! It came from the huge tree in our back yard. I grabbed a flashlight and ran out in my P.J.’s and slippers and there was Harley. Just out of reach in the crook of a30 ft. tree. Harley would have none of it I could almost touch her. Because of her muted Tortie coat she was hard to see but certainly scurrying higher the closer I got. About that time Jennifer and her husband Miles came running out of their house We ended up having to leave her there and hope she would come for food in the morning.

Up early the next morning I headed out to feed the horses, hopefully calling the two cats. I caught a movement out the corner of my eye. And there sitting in the crook of the tree sat Diego. Now, I thought, considering his reputation he would most likely run away when I got close to him. But he not only let me pick him up, he was purring. He stayed in my arms all the way into the barn. I opened the can of cat food and as I was giving him some I heard another small meow. I looked up and there was Harley. She had come through the next stall that was filled with hay, climbed up the hay bales, and the wall, balanced on the rafters and was looking down at me. The minute she smelled the food she was down on the ground joining Diego, gobbling up the food. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I wish I could say all was well after that. But things just got more complicated. It seems, the sounds of cats fighting the night before was the sounds of cats fighting. Diego had a large wound on the back of his neck. It looked like a bite or it could have been a cut from some wire or metal around the barn. I didn’t notice it right away but after a few days it looked like it was bleeding. During this time, Diego didn’t go outside the barn even when the doors were open. Harley did disappear but appeared again. It was a noisy place. The neighbors chickens regularly flew over the fence and ended up in our barn looking for handouts. This brought the grandkids in. It certainly was not conducive to quietly getting used to a place.

Even though I treated Diego’s wound it was not getting better. So Jennifer asked me if I would take him to her vet. I was still treating Diego a bit gingerly but he was a gentleman as I loaded him up in the carrier and drove him to the vet. Each new thing he tried, he seemed familiar with, going to the vet, being examined, getting a shot and worse of all having his wound cleaned out. It seems that my treatment of it had helped because it had already started healing and sure enough it was an abscess. But the biggest shocker was that this outdoor cat (I was wondering about this) was going to have to wear a lampshade and he was going to have to be kept in the house for a week to ten days so his wound would heal. Now, from the beginning Jennifer had wanted barn cats. Not house cats. Her husband was not in favor of having cats in the house. But spunky as my daughter is and ready for pretty much anything she said OK let’s fix him a place, Miles will be OK. So in a corner of their basement we set up a wire crate with blankets, open to the rest of the basement, food and a litter box and a little room divider that would keep the dog and kids out at least for a while.

He made his decision, he walked in and immediately made himself at home and began to snoop. He stretched, followed the kids around. Everything seemed to be calm and settled. He would stay there for 10 days. It was a long time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Diego's Chance

Each Wednesday morning when I volunteer for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue I go in and greet the kitties before I get down to the chores. I check the list of those that have been adopted first and I am happy for the ones that have been adopted but also sad. I miss them all when they go.

But then there is also sadness because once in a while we have a cat that for unclear reasons has been in the shelter longer than the 3 to 4 week stay for most of them. Occasionally we have ones that have been in the shelter for months. Sometimes it just takes some time for a cat to get over being scared and to get comfortable with people but that long of a stay is unusual. And at times we have a personality problem.

Diego was such a cat, a sturdy male with golden eyes, solid black, just plain solid. But he had a temper. You had to be careful cleaning his cage. I had a few scratches on the back of my hand to attest to it. It was true, Diego hated being in a cage and he took it out on everyone.

So the day my daughter, Jennifer informed me we needed some cats in our barn to keep the mice at bay and asked me if the FCCR had any cats that could be barn cats I was very hesitant. First of all I knew the FCCR only adopted to homes and second of all barn cats in our area had been lost to coyotes and foxes. But this would be her deal. I already had 4 cats in my house including one former barn cat I brought in when the temperature dropped below zero. But that is another story.

I had heard that, as an exception, since Diego had been in the shelter for  months without anyone wanting to adopt him, that he would be a candidate for being a barn cat. He certainly seemed to have an anti-social attitude.

The day we went to the shelter to check we discovered a very busy place. Lots of adoptions were going on. Jennifer had decided that she wanted to adopt two cats and as it turned out another cat was a candidate for barn cat status. Harlequin, a small tortie (tortoise shell is a black and brown color) cat that had been picked up along with her babies, had just weaned the kittens and they had been adopted. She was still looking for a home. and was very shy.She was on the wild side too. Jennifer’s 3 kids (4 and 6 yr olds) came along. The two cats peeked out of their cages with forlorn looks on their faces. When the kids saw Diego and Harlequin they fell in love with them

So after the required paper work we took them home to the barn. My daughter and I live on the same property and our two families share the barn and horse barn chores. We had an empty stall where I  set up an enclosure I  inherited from another cat shelter. I felt we could keep them there till they got used to being in a new place. But my daughter had other ideas.

She thought it would be better for them to get used to their surroundings right away. And she was right. At least at first. Once out of their carriers they both nosed around, found food and water and a litter box. Harlequin (Harley) found a soft place to lie down and Diego marched to the center of the stall, stretched out and looked at us as if to say. “I’ll take it”

Next: Diego’s Choice

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Age of Aquarius

I was born horse crazy. I think most of you know this. In 1969 I was thrown from a horse named ‘Watch Me’ during a fake fox hunt (more like capture the flag) outside Boulder, Colorado. I was thrown off while we were jumping a stream. There were muddy banks and his feet slipped.I landed on my head and because I went into convulsions I was taken to the hospital. I ended up with a concussion and a whiplash injury. Lucky I was wearing a hard hat or I would not be writing this. Ever since then I have blamed this accident for any number of crazy things I have done in my life. But that is another story, I  wanted to tell you one that really did change my life and the way I looked at things.

So we lived in Boulder during the “Age of Aquarius,” the 60’s and 70’s. Later that year I bought a Thoroughbred mare. I had decided if I was going to ride, I wanted to ride my own horse. She had been an unsuccessful race horse and I was convinced she could become a good all-around. all purpose horse. She was a pretty bay. (brown with black mane and tail) Several things got in the way.

Along with the momma came the baby. I was blissfully unaware of what that meant. Watching them sprint around the new green pasture heads up, mane and tails whipping in the wind grabbed me.I named the three week old filly Sing Song from a song in the Broadway musical “Hair” which had come to Boulder that spring. I named the mare Fancy

One day, after a spirited gallop, Fancy and Sing Song, the filly, was still trying to manage her unsteady legs. She was not able to stop quickly enough to keep her from slamming into a barbed wire fence. She cut her chest open in a jagged three-corner tear from her neck to above her front legs. It happened before we even had made arrangements to move them to the property where we were planning to board them.

My desire to ride and train one horse took a back seat to caring for this dreadful wound in the other. It could not be stitched except on the corners because it had to heal from the inside out. As I worked on the wound I gentled her. Soon, she lost her fear of me and became a pretty good patient. It was amazing but by mid-summer the wound had closed, small infections were cleaned out right away and she was on anti-biotics. As much as I could do for her, she had the main job herself. And she did it. By the end of august her coat had grown over the area, By the time she started to grow her winter coat, you could not even see a scar.

This is truly what healing looks like and even in Boulder in the 60's it didn't have anything to do with Pot. Sing Song was treated, given assurance, calmed, and she definitely had youth on her side. What I learned though, was that I have to pay attention, to watch for things that bring hope and be willing to be partners with them. I know there is within minds, bodies, and spirits a natural healing force that is always seeking to move toward health and wholeness. I want it to be my partner. Sing Song showed me that.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A True Animal Lover

I collect too many things. As a result I have had to devise extensive systems to keep stuff organized. Most of the stuff I keep has to do with animals; cats, dogs, horses, endangered, farm etc. All animals I guess. But, I keep lots of quotes and stories about them.

So I came across a piece the other day by  Dr. Michel Klein who wrote a book, “Animals, My Teachers; An Autobiography of a Veterinary Surgeon”. The book was part of The Companion Book Club and published by Harvill Press, London in 1975. I think this came from this book. I do know it came from him.
I thought those who read my blog, knowing it is about animals, will appreciate it.

“It is animals as much as human beings, from the tiniest Yorkshire terrier to living colossi such as Siberian tigers or Indian Elephants, that have made me what I am. It is by observing, tending and consorting with them that I have come to terms with my own humanity. Not only have they disclosed that I too am an animal, but the recognition of certain animal virtues in myself and my fellow men has made me more tolerant of our human failings.

“It is to satisfy a passion which gradually overcame me and has never ceased to grow: to restore the animals place in a world dominated by man, a place we encroach on by steadily destroying and looting its habitat. Man without animals condemns himself to inhumanity. My task is to protect them, draw them closer to us, promote our knowledge and love of them.

“The true animal lover must not only like animals but be ready to take on the full responsibility for them”

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Four of our six grandkids lined up next to the fence. Bailey was saddled and ready to go, especially since each of the kids had a treat extended to him on small hands flattened so he could slurp the treats into his mouth. Avery was first, the 5 yr old girl twin is the most interested in horses, and animals of all sorts. Her feet actually extended to the stirrups of the small children’s western saddle cinched around the old white horse’s belly. The last time she rode the horse had been a while ago and she had not quite reached the stirrups. She held on to the halter rope that was tied onto the halter like reins and off she went, being led by my daughter, Jennifer. Once around the huge arena, then it was Ambers turn.

Amber was the youngest at weeks before her fourth birthday and the one who had to tangle with two, 5 yr old twin brothers. Since Jennifer was her mom and she had access to Bailey and had been on him a little more, she was more comfortable and able to turn and stop him by herself. Tyler, Jennifer’s boy twin was next and then came Kyran, the oldest of my son’s 3. They both took a turn turning and stopping Bailey too. By the time the horse finished with giving them all rides he was limping on his arthritic front legs. He was in pain even with the ‘bute’ (like aspirin) he had been given and the featherweight riders. But he was willing and seemed to enjoy the attention and the treats.

Bailey was a gift. But then all horses are gifts. Even the ones you want to tear your hair out about, like Sassy, the Arabian mare I adopted from the Colorado Horse Rescue a few years ago. But that is another story. When he first arrived at Fossil Ridge Farm it was confusing for a while because we had another Bailey. The other Bailey was a dog. So we referred to him as Bailey the Horse which sounded kind of like a football player.

In his prime Bailey was not a football player, but he was an athlete. He is an AQHA registered Quarter Horse and a big gangly guy. He performed rodeo duties for ten years in team roping competition. But he is retired now, doesn’t do that anymore. He is occasionally a pleasure riding horse (when he feels like it) and what is called ‘bombproof,’ a horse for the kids. He is steady and slow and doesn’t go any faster than he has to. He is perfect for my grandkids which consist of: two sets of twins, all 5 years old, a 3 yr old and a 7 year old.

Bailey showed up in 2009 and now he is 21 years old. He was born in Iowa and his birth name is Sonoitabee, which sounds like a native American name. He is still a ladies man and when there are mares around he won’t stop flirting with them. But, Oh well. It keeps him young. He has it good around here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Of all the dogs we ‘fostered over the years, Bailey was my favorite. He wore gangly long legs that he seemed to take forever to grow into but when he did, what a beauty. He was a Hungarian Pointer with a taffy colored coat, a short tail (clipped) and the most expressive golden eyes you have ever seen. Bailey lived with us while his mom (our daughter) lived with us for a while and off and on when she was off seeking her fortune.

Soon enough though, he was by her side every minute he could. Hiking, biking, running with her, chasing frisbees or just stretched out in a sun spot on the rug, he embodied high energy but at the same time a sweetness that could take your breath away. Even though he failed his hunting test, he was a hunting dog through and through.

He was very smart and even when he had cats and other dogs to contend with he was the top dog. Having had multiple dogs, cats and horses by the time Bailey grew into his elderly years it was a major sadness when we knew his time was short, it didn’t make it easier. When he finally did come in from chasing rabbits and following every enticing scent he could, to lie down his last time we stayed with him...

After 14 years of high energy, this Frisbee loving Vizsla went over the rainbow bridge. Up until even a week earlier he was pushing his stiff old muscles to a-r-r-r-r and to jump in a raggedy kind of way. But two or three days ago there was a sudden drop in energy level, he couldn’t make it to the yard when he needed to.

Then yesterday he came by our house. We had the back door open and he just wandered in and laid down on the carpet to rest. We didn’t even know he was there until we almost stumbled over him. He looked up at me and then stood up unsteadily and headed for the door to go back home. I took him home. I walked with him the few hundred yards to his house. He moved very slowly, at a bit of an angle, lifted a leg off the ground and peed, kind of sideways. I told him it was OK. He didn’t need to be embarrassed. When we got to his house he took the easier steps up to the porch then found his way to his bed.

Some stories are sad stories. There is just no way to get around it. I was so sad to see him uncomfortable and in pain. He finally shifted his weight and was able to lie down. Later that night I got a call from my daughter. “Bailey’s not doing very well”, she said. I asked her what she was going to do and she said she guessed she would be calling her vet to come out. She had made arrangements a year ago to have the vet make a house call if and when it was necessary.

Bailey had suffered through several cancer operations and bravely lived with an angiosarcoma condition for a year, bleeding from skin lesions fairly often even while he chased rabbits and played. He hadn’t been quite as much of a bully with his younger sister Vizsla, Annie over the last few years. Annie is now ten, so is showing some age herself, along with the same cancer condition that Bailey has had. Only, being younger, she has stayed energetic. I feel sorry for her. She will miss him greatly.

So today, I spent the morning sitting with Bailey and his ‘people’. Jennifer and Miles both were home. T,he vet made arrangements to come out to the house, after changing her schedule at her office. I had planned to stay to be there but the vet ended up being late and I had to leave to go to a writing retreat.

While I was there we all told stories about our favorite memories of Bailey and his 14 wonderful years. It didn’t matter how much he grew or how long his legs were he would always climb into our laps. He was the best Frisbee catcher in the family, he even taught our dog Magic (Cocker Spaniel/Lab) how to play catch, he became a babysitter to my young niece’s daughter when they visited one Christmas, crawling on his belly and pushing his nose up to the edge of the baby blanket while she laid on the floor.

Bailey, I didn’t get to say this for you before I left but these are the words I give to you now.

In Memoriam:

…I shall see beauty

But none to match your living grace.

I shall hear music

But none as sweet as your doggie sounds

Tail wags and soft eyes

With which you loved me.

I shall fill my days,

But I shall not, cannot forget,

Sleep soft, dear friend…

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jake Checks Out the Library

I know you haven’t heard about Jake for a while but let me tell you, he has been busy! In April there was a national library week and Jake was invited to participate. He appeared at three libraries in one week. I went along to observe when he went to the downtown library.

He enchanted everyone he met. He knows how to meet the kids and to be an ambassador for his breed (Korat) and for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue. It’s all a part of him being a celebrity. He has settled down quite a bit from when he first started going out on visits. He just seems to take it all in stride. But I don’t think his fame has gone to his head.

The librarian had set out several cat books on a table for the children to look at while others were arriving. He knew exactly where he wanted to be and pretty soon, there he was sitting in the middle of the books. (see picture) He didn’t even knock over one.

He sat confidently when he was introduced then promptly walked aver to the librarians basket full of goodies and climbed right in, ready to listen. Everyone laughed. He just smiled. He was in his element.

After the stories were read, the librarian led the children in singing. Jake loved it too and laid down on the floor in front of where the children were sitting. Occasionally he would get up and walk right up to one of the kids to be petted.

The best was when the group sang and danced the ‘Hokey Pokey’. The children stood up, singing , clapping, and twirling around and did Jake run away? Not a chance. He just quietly sat and watched them, glad, I am sure, they were having a good time. He sure was

Be on the look out for Jake. He has been going to schools and bookstores as well as nursing homes and libraries. Remember he’s a STAR. >^..^<

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Love All the Animals

     What you see here is the beginning of an article I am working on. This quote sets the tone and is a metaphor for the material. I have been an advocate for animals all of my life. If you have read some of the posts I have written, you will understand why this quote caught my attention. At some point I will be including more excerpts from my article.


“Called Forth from the Same Darkness”

Rev. Pamela Wolf

Love all God’s Creatures, the whole of it and every grain of sand.
Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light! Love the animals, love
the plants love everything. And if you love everything you will
perceive the divine mystery in things. And once you have perceived it,
you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly more and more every day.
And you will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding
universal love.
     Father Zossima in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dante's Poem

Orange and white spirit cat
you appear as a ghost might,
spread out on the floor
sunbathing in a spot of sun.
golden coat with soft white patterns that
criss cross your face and the rest of you
shimmers in the warm light

Sometimes at night
I watched you silently hide
behind moonlit blades of grass
crouched low, head tilted upwards
watching stars, perhaps,
waiting to catch one...

You didn’t wiggle a whisker
for a long while
and I wondered if you were dreaming.
You must have had
wild cat lions and tigers on your mind
compelling you now to
chase ankles or slippers or
hide behind doors or suddenly pounce
or run wild up and down stairs

or trees
for that matter…
you dashed after squirrels,
each time
the noisy acrobat swung away,
you hung on to the end of the branch
watched it go, shaking your head.

I still look for you
in that field across the street
and I glance upward uneasily
to the top branches
of the cottonwood
where the limbs wrap
around an untidy nest.

It is abandoned;
the hawk family
that buzzed us all summer,
that first year,
is gone too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Annie Banan-ie

Annie was the second Vizsla to come into our lives. If you are not familiar with this breed, you ought to be. They are loving, athletic, smart, energetic, 40-50 lb lap dogs who wiggle their way into your life and heart and never let go, and they are beautiful. They look kind of like a taffy colored cross between a Weimeraner and a Greyhound. Annie is no exception.

She is the second Vizsla because the first one in the family was Bailey. Annie and Bailey belong to our daughter Jennifer and her husband Miles. Now Bailey was the ‘older brother’. He always made sure his younger sister knew he was in charge, even as he aged to the point that not just his face but almost his whole body had turned gray. I suspect there was a lot more competition than we realized because when Bailey left us for the rainbow bridge, Annie stayed by his side, said good-by and then went to hide under the kitchen table to ponder the situation for a while. She worked it out in her own doggie way. Then I think she began to love being the ‘only dog’ for a change.

She loves her position in her family (squarely under the dinner table with her head in your lap waiting for a handout) and adores her daily runs on the urban acreage located on the edge of town. So she has mice and rabbits to chase in nearby fields to her heart’s content. As important as these are though, birds are more important. After all she is a bird dog. To be a little more accurate, a Vizsla is a hunting dog developed in Germany as a pointer as apposed to a retriever. Something got lost with Annie though, she is an excellent chaser with pointing coming is as an afterthought.

The two matching dogs were the only ‘kids’ in the family for several years and had a big adjustment when our grandchildren, first the twins, Cory and Tyler and then Amber, the younger sister, came along. Annie had some issues to work out, was jealous and growled warnings but never bit. She tolerated being drug around the house going for ‘walks’ and giving up her spot on the sofa. We know Annie well because she lived with us off and on. She always knew her place when she was here, even though she was delighted when she could bother the cats and clean their cat boxes once in a while.

But more than anything I think she has been a pal, entertaining everyone with her silly antics. She delights with her mischievous golden eyes and lopsided grin and is best known for her ecstatic plunges in the hot tub. She shows up at our door (we live next door to our daughter) at dinner time or when she needs a drink of water after a run. That’s OK Annie, we’ll ‘leave the door open for ya’.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Horses Wish

March 2011 Agatha
It is not the kind of thing I want to write about but I think I owe it to a grieving horse owner and her horse to at least remember the few months we boarded Aggie at Fossil Ridge Farm. Agatha (her full name)was born in Germany. Her breeding was regal. She was a Hanoverian, a breed that carried hot Arabian blood as well as the blood of the cold climate horses like the Clydesdales.

In her time she had been a talented dressage horse, she may have also been a jumper, but I am not sure about that. More than that, she was a personable horse who nickered to you and was always friendly. A beautiful dark bay, she stood over 16 hands tall and had a lovely face and alert eyes. When she came to our barn she was 23 yrs old and had already had a bout with colic that almost took her life. We were feeding her supplements as well as a special oil to help prevent it from happening again.

But on the morning of December 24th 2010 we found her, waiting for someone to come so she could let go. She was leaning against the side of the barn, head down, covered with sweat and saliva where she had been biting at her sides. No telling how long she had suffered. We automatically got a halter on her and tried to walk her a few steps to see if it would relieve her. She collapsed in that spot and died within minutes. She probably suffered what is often fatal to a horse, a twisted gut or severe colic.

Now, more than two months later I grieve for her in the only way I can when I lose an animal who had such presence; with sadness but appreciation for the beauty she brought into my life. I came across this poem written by another horse owner who had lost her horse. This is for Aggie and for Kayla I wanted to share it with everyone.

Could you bed me down with kindness
on the soft sweet words of love?
Could you ride me in your finest
with hands light as a dove?

Could you teach me with old wisdom
by the laws of just and fair?
Could you be my friend forever
with a trust so true and rare?

Could you meet me on the morrow
with grasses green and sweet?
Could you free me without sorrow
on the plains of loam and wheat?

Could you say farewell with honor
on the day my life is through?
And remember me forever
as I shall remember you?
Barbara Dun-Reeves
(From Mary D. Midkiff on the loss of her horse, Theodora.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Sun Spot

Mookie and Lily. An unlikely pair, not by looking at them because they are both white and black Tuxedo cats. Lily is my oldest cat and Mookie the youngest. Lily lost her litter mate Callie several years ago. She and Callie were close buddies. But Callie got out one day soon after we came to the farm and did not come back. Lily grieved for a long time, hid under my bed for most of a year. She really was not pleased when I moved Taffy and Cookie in from the barn when they were kittens. She intimidated them so much that now when Taffy and Cookie are bigger she still does.

After we got the 3 new barn kitties Lily would growl and glare out the window at them and also at any neighbor cat that wandered by. When Lily saw them she would stage a huge hissy fit. But one day our barn kitty, Moonbeam (Mookie), sneaked up to the house and sat under a window and meowed. I observed an unusual sight. Lily just stared out the window at her. No growling, no hissing. When Moonbeam disappeared around the corner of the house Lily jumped down from the window and tried to follow her to the next window to get another view of her.

I’d never know if she thought it was Callie but her behavior made me think it was possible. Then it ended up that I had to bring Moonbeam into the house because she was the last barn cat. I hoped Lily would remember the initial experience. It was not to happen. But eventually I noticed that Lily was not hissing or growling at Moonbeam while she still did occasionally toward Taffy and Cookie.

Then one day I was reading in the room where the sun came in onto the bed in a welcome warm spot on a cold day. Lily had not allowed another cat to be in that sun spot with her unless I intervened. Mookie came up and gingerly stretched out in a corner of the sun. Lily watched her lie down but there was no hissing or growling. Mookie was alert but didn’t move a muscle. Lily relaxed and in a minute, so did Mookie. As Lily relaxed she stretched out her back legs till one touchd Mookie on her leg. I held my breath. Lily was quiet. As they laid there together I realized it was the first time Lily had quietly touched another cat since we lost Callie. I was thankful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mookie Moves In

      The days after Polka Dot disappeared were dark and cold for me. But I wasn’t the only one. Moonbeam was by herself in the barn. More than once I would go out just to make sure the heating pad was working in her ‘warming house’. It was more important now that there was no other cat for her to snuggle up with. The temperature had dropped to 10 degrees and would probably be below 0 before this cold snap was through with us. When it was this cold I didn’t see her very often. She stuck close to the barn.
      But she was alone. All the time now. I know it has ben said that that cats are by nature solitary, but I don't believe it.  Little Moonbeam with only one eye was vulnerable with her gregarious sister no longer helping her.
     So after mulling it over in my mind I casually mentioned to John that if it got down to 0 degrees I would have to see if I could bring her in the house. ( I knew it would not be just for a visit) I knew I could probably pick her up and carry her in a carrier. I had been able to pick her up in the barn to doctor her once  but if it didn’t work it would be hard get her to come in again. She had actually come into the house a few times on her own, poked her head around and then run right back out.
     So I planned this elaborate plan where I would bring her into the house in a carrier and let her out while I kept the other cats in another room She very graciously went into the carrier where I had placed some treats. I closed the door and picked her up. I didn’t hear a sound. I got her to the house and let her out and she sat hunched over for a minute and then started slinking across the kitchen, belly to the floor.
     That first time she was comfortable for only a minute and then loud protesting meows came out of her small body. When I opened the sliding door she darted out and headed for the barn. She found her own way. Over the next few days as the temperature dropped more I brought her in several times. Only now she would follow me to the house from the barn. No need for a carrier. After a while she stopped protesting and was able to explore the rest of the house quietly.
     The day came when it was time for her to come into the house. I set up a wire kennel in the walk-in closet so she would have a relatively small area to observe her suroundingd. I kept a towel over the cage too, for the same reason.
     The first night I kept her in the kennel all night. She quit meowing after a while. In the morning I let the other cats into the room. It was mostly a non-event for Cookie and Lily. They walked by with hardly a notice. But Taffy, the laid back, more social kitty walked up to the kennel and gave it a good sniffing over. No hisses or growls. And then the next thing I saw was Taffy lying down beside the cage. She was Moonbeam’s first friend. I added a nick-name to her, it was Mookie, and since it sounded so much like her old name she responded to it instantly. She had taken the first step well, we would see how the rest would go. And even I was starting to feel better.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Reconnecting

I have had to let up on writing my blogs for the past month or so. I’m sorry about that. I was hurting more deeply than I realized because I just couldn’t bring myself to write much of anything. But after my personable, sweet feral/hoarded/barn kitty, disappeared I found way too many other things to do. (anger) Polka Dot had become even friendlier with me than my house cats, and I couldn’t believe I had let this happen.
Each day for a couple of weeks I called for her but I didn’t have much hope. What made it even harder was the weather turned cold, very cold. I just couldn’t accept her being out in it. The only way I could think of her was if I convinced myself she had found a buddy and was in another barn or even a house where she might have been fed and had a warm place. (denial) I knew that since she was feral and we had recently sighted a red fox, it was a long shot.
The only thing that made me feel better during that time was my house cats. I held Taffy-ta, my big furry orange tabby for a long time. She put up with my hugging a little longer than usual before she struggled to get down. And about this time, my shy, beautiful tortie, Cookie, was beginning to climb up on my lap as if she knew it was the right time to do that. Even moody, unpredictable black and white Lily, my Tuxedo kitty spent more time on my lap than usual, looking steadily into my eyes as if saying, “It’s going to be OK Mom, I’m here” (acceptance) I’d never thought about the power of touch in this way but it’s thanks to my kitties I made it through those first few weeks.

Since Polka Dot disappeared lots of things have happened. I have some more cat stories coming up as well as a horse and dog story. Don’t miss “Mookie Moves In”, next. My goal is to write a post every other week. Welcome back.