Learning from our pets

By: Jeanne Reynolds

Walker & Ryder

I have two cats (hang on, you dog people – it gets better). Walker and Ryder are named in honor of two prestigious international golf tournaments (the Walker Cup and the Ryder Cup – yes, my husband and I are both golf nuts), not their preferred mode of movement.

In fact, Walker has always run at top speed everywhere he goes, including up and down stairs. That changed earlier this year when he developed diabetes. The disease weakened his hind legs so he walks a bit awkwardly most of time now. But lately I’ve noticed him picking up the pace, even tackling the stairs now and then. Yesterday he raced the length of the house twice for some invisible reason, clomping along the wood floors with the grace of a miniature furry elephant.

How different his approach to life is from Ryder’s. Like Walker, we got her as a teeny, weeks-old kitten from the shelter and she’s lived a life of love and luxury for years. Yet she still shies from my hand when I reach to pet her, hides from strangers or really anything out of the ordinary and hates any change to her routine. She’s sweet and affectionate when it’s her idea, but otherwise she’s pretty much, well, a cat. Whereas Walker, I believe, is really a reincarnated dog who follows me around and enjoys meeting new people.

Walker & RyderBecause of this, we’ve started taking Walker with us when we visit our weekends-for-now-retirement-for-later home near Beaufort (on Cat Island – go figure) and leaving Ryder at home. It’s steps from the marsh with huge windows and a large screened porch, interesting new smells and lots of birds and other wildlife to observe. It seems like cat heaven – and Walker is loving it, while Ryder, sadly, is missing it. (We did try, but she spent the entire visit flattened under a low piece of furniture and bit us when we tried to load her up to return home.)

I don’t know why they’re so different, but it makes me wonder: Am I more like Walker, going for the gusto despite his limitations, or more like Ryder, afraid of change and more comfortable in a known, if cramped, space? Some of both, I suspect.

How many times do I forgo an adventure in favor of the familiar? Order the same dish, wear the same four outfits over and over, run the same route around my neighborhood, get the same haircut every time? Of course, there’s value in knowing I’ll enjoy my entrée, my clothes will be comfortable, I won’t get lost and I won’t look (too) bizarre.

But what might I be missing in life by settling for the routine? It’s something to think about.

And also: Am I secretly a dog person?

I think I’ll ask Walker.

Monte & Misha

By: Shannon Boatwright

Ah the love of pups. The things we do for the animals we love. It’s an interesting, exhausting, yet beautiful thing. They can make for such an enormous undertaking of responsibility, yet they can bring such joy. Those odd, hairy, stinky animals that pee, poop, poot, slobber, barf, bark and cost lots of money….yet, so many of us adore these creatures and can’t live without them. 😉

Countess Misha & Count Monte

Countess Misha & Count Monte

Our precious Monte, a cocker spaniel like no other, an incredibly special dog that seems to sense when his loved ones are down, stressed and/or need love, a dog with qualities that I’ve never seen in any other dog…is such a unique little beast. He’s named for the Count of Monte Cristo. Which means naturally, he needed a Countess. 😉

New Pals

New Pals

We promised the kids we’d get Monte a friend. The kids were worried about him being home alone, and we agreed, though the thought of taking on another animal was daunting. A dreaded event on many levels, to be honest. But, I didn’t want to be a parent that makes empty promises, so I knew it had to happen and if it was going to happen, it had to be over the summer, because there’s no way this teacher could survive getting and training a new pet during the school year.

So it happened, the hubby and I were running errands in Harbison and we decided to stop by Pawmetto Lifeline and check out their pups and program. You know, just “check it out.”

The 1st time we met our lil Misha

The 1st time we met our lil Misha

Did we adopt a puppy that day? Of course. Yea, go ahead, insert the chuckle. We took the tour and saw this one puppy in the window. The darlin’ little thing was sound asleep and wouldn’t wake up for nothin’. I felt compelled… I needed to see this particular puppy’s eyes. So we had to get someone to come let us actually meet that ‘puppy in the window.’

Happy

Happy

And, yes, that l’il German Shepherd mixed breed dog looked into our eyes and grabbed ahold of our hearts. After a little playdate in one of the Pawmetto Lifeline meet and greet rooms, we were done for.

When you attempt a Selfie with a wild pup!

When you attempt a Selfie with a wild pup!

(I must interject here that the people who work at Pawmetto Lifeline are exceptional. They truly have a passion and love for animals and it shows. We were very impressed with how thorough they are and how well they take care of the animals. Truly impressive program they have there.)

The interesting thing about our experience is that we were specifically looking for a special friend for our Monte and come to find out, the Pawmetto folks were specifically looking for a family who had an older pet, because when this baby girl was rescued on the side of the road, it wasn’t until she was with a foster family’s older pet that she felt safe, came alive and began to thrive. And most ironically, our l’il pup was featured on the news that very morning. They thought for sure we’d seen her on TV and come to adopt her. Yet we hadn’t seen a thing, not even the features of her on Facebook. We simply stopped by chance and were led to this pup! And I’d like to think for a reason. It was fate.

Misha Puppy Love

Misha Puppy Love

Then came the challenge of naming this little girl. The Hubby and I knew we had to have a cool and special name for this incredible pet. A name that could somehow match Monte’s unique name. We could tell this puppy had a spark in her eyes, something really special about her, and spunky for sure. After going through a slew of ideas, my man suggests “Misha”… it hit me… brilliant, that’s it! One of my favorite dancers EVER is Mikhail Baryshnikov. My college dorm room door was covered in pictures of him. His nickname is Misha. He used to have a perfume of the same name that will always be one of my favorites. That was it. It was decided. Our precious rescue would be named Misha…Countess Misha. A beautiful Countess for our Count.

A precious pup present...

A precious pup present…

When I was a little girl, my first puppy ever, was given to me with a bow around her neck on Christmas morning. It was a kid’s dream come true. I’ll never forget it. So it gave me great joy to be able to present my own children with our new pup (that they just knew we’d never get!) in a wrapped box with a bow around her neck. Of course they were overjoyed, shocked and thrilled that we’d followed through with our promise and had finally gotten Monte a friend. (Maybe even as much as I was!) Fortunately, they fell in love with Misha instantly. We all did. And although Monte’s world has been completely rocked, I see the joy in his precious cocker spaniel eyes when he plays with her. She’s a wild, mischievous rascal! Let’s just say, her true colors have certainly come out now that she’s in a comfortable, loving home! We’re just praying that her smart German Shepherd genes shine and she’ll train easily. One forgets how hard it is to have a puppy in their home until they’re in the midst of it!

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

One more special addition to my story here before I close…

We knew our Miss Misha was special and certainly a force…I seem to have a knack for choosing pets with lots of personality! But one day, my son and I were sitting on the floor playing with our crazy l’il countess and my husband, says, “Look! A heart!” Sure enough, on her little belly, a perfectly shaped heart. How in the world we’d not noticed it before, I don’t know, because she loves to lay at my side and have me rub her belly. But, it was a most lovely discovery! It’s quite brilliant actually – this puppy, our little Countess, has a heart on her tummy!

Misha's Heart! Do you see it?

Misha’s Heart! Do you see it?

Meant to be indeed. She is in a home full of love and happiness, she has a best friend now, a Count to be clear 😉 and though she is a handful (what Countess isn’t?!) we adore her and she is a fabulous addition to our family. A huge shout out and enormous Thank You to Pawmetto Lifeline. They really do fabulous things there. I am proud to be a supporter of them and so thankful that we found our Countess Misha in their care.

Here’s to Monte and Misha, may they have a long life together, full of joy and fabulous fun in a loving, happy home, surrounded by those that absolutely adore them.

Growing Up With Pets

By: Brady Evans

I never thought our cat would be as obsessed with our baby as he is. I mean – we’ve got three dogs. Aren’t dogs the loyal, loving ones? Aren’t cats the aloof, distant ones?

growing up with pets

The dogs are cautious around the baby. They take note of him and move on to a place of quiet or safety. The cat down right invades the baby’s space. While I’m nursing Benjamin, the cat sits in my lap. While I’m changing diapers, you can find the cat on the edge of the changing table. While I’m playing with the baby on the living room floor, the cat overlooks us.

Lots of people rehome their pets when babies come home from the hospital. It could be a permanent rehoming or the type where indoor-kitty became outdoor-kitty and indoor-doggy became outdoor-doggy. We’ve done none of that.

Raising children with pets is already doing great things for our son. He already smiles at the animals and experiences the joys of having pets. He reaches out to feel their warmth and has learned to “pet nicely” by touching with a single finger.

growing up with pets

He already is learning the responsibility of pet ownership. I think. Maybe. He witnesses me care for the horses daily and I narrate our activities in the barn. BabyCenter.com just sent me an email saying our 10 month old understands more than we think 😉  But in truth, there will come a day, sooner than I think, that Benjamin realizes that sometimes you have to take care of others’ needs before your own.

Our cat is 6 years old. I am sure Benjamin will be 10 years old or more when we say goodbye to our fluffy friend. It is horrible to think about but that’ll be another lesson we can thank our pets for instilling onto our baby.

Pets provide a lifetime of lessons in their short lives – lessons of happiness, responsibility, and tenderness.

One Cat Away

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

In keeping with the animal theme that we have seen of late, I figured I might as well fess up…

I have become the crazy cat lady.

Ok, maybe I haven’t completely become the crazy cat lady, but I’m pretty close and I seem to be getting closer with time. I have no shame. I love four-legged animals.  Puppies are cute, but a kitten will suck me in. Every. Single. Time.

Truthfully, any cat will suck me in. I would take in every single stray cat if I could afford to do it. If love could feed them, I would have far more than I have now. Our number of cats, for several years now, has been three and I was adamant. No more cats.

Well, until I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page . . .

Adopted cats“This is Teenager Tom, formerly known as Tom Kitten. (My husband) recently caught all the neighborhood strays and got every one of them fixed with the helpful low cost at Pawmetto Lifeline. Tom is a lovely but skittish boy, has had all his shots, but the female cats don’t like him and smack him if he tries to eat or get any attention. He is used to small dogs. Will you help me find Tom a home? I don’t want him to go to just anyone. I am thinking of asking for a $20 donation to Pawmetto Lifeline for him but if I know the person I would be just fine with giving him to you.”

You need to understand something here – my first cat, when I was very young, was a white male tomcat named Snowball. He was a scruffy, scraggly-looking critter, but I loved him and carried him around everywhere. I’ve had more cats that I can count. I can wrangle a stray kitten like a boss and barely wince when they bite me or leave a menacing scratch on my arm. When I was pregnant with Pierce, I owned a male tabby cat named Beau who was the most loving cat (He was also the biggest cat I have ever owned, weighing in at 26 pounds).

Unfortunately, after getting sick numerous times over a few months, he was diagnosed with severe kidney failure, from which he was unable to recover.  I swore that one of my next cats would be a male.  Life happens and I didn’t fulfill that promise to myself for over eight years.

Childhood pet

So, I was sucked in by a handsome face and the fact that I wouldn’t have to fight off tiny claws and sharp kitten teeth in the middle of the night. So, we went and undertook the task of trapping this cat because he wasn’t too keen on being picked up and taken to a new home. But trap him we did, and we took him home.

Cat

He is christened Thomas Rhett Kirby – keeping his original first name, but changing his middle name to be called name to “Rhett” to fit in with the Dixie and Scarlett that we already own.

At first, he spent all of his time hiding in my bedroom closet, all of us too afraid to let him out into the general craziness of my house. Afraid of what the other cats would do. Afraid he would run out the door. Afraid that utter chaos would ensue. He was skittish at first and would only allow us to pet him for short periods. The littlest noise sent him running for the depths of darkness beneath my dresses.

But, over that first week or two, things began to change and he began to venture into other parts of the house. First my bedroom, then the boys’ rooms, then to the den and kitchen, and then, finally, into the mudroom where the other cats are fed.

Rhett after his arrival at his new home

Rhett after his arrival at his new home

Nowadays, Rhett splits his time between eating, sprawling on the floor begging for someone to pet him, weaving himself between our arms and legs whether we are standing or sitting or lying in the bed, and playing chase, tag, and hide and seek with the new dog, Knight (another story entirely).

Proof positive that a little bit of love by a crazy cat lady really can go a long way.

Conversations with Monte…

By: Shannon Shull

Monte

So if you read my Intro to Monte entry, then you’ve been introduced to this fabulous cocker pup that has blessed my life. Hopefully you were able to view the pictures and the one video included in that intro entry to our Monte man. I thought I’d give ya a little bit more of a taste of this unique dog that is our precious Monte.

Mina & Monte

Monte is one of those pets that wants to be right where you are. If you are close to the floor, then he naturally has to be in your lap. He’ll climb right up – or pounce right on top of you, I should say – and then look at you, like “What?! What’s the problem?” He’s a true love bug that just wants to be close.

We still have daily conversations. He’s grown to expect them now. It’s as if he’s waiting for us to have our howl session… to catch up on each other’s day and let each other know we love each other. He’s truly precious. Certainly makes for some fun moments!

Boy &his dog

Here’s another video sample of just one of the MANY conversations we’ve had with our special Monte man. He and my boy Sawyer have quite the chat.

Big smiles to all you fabulous Every Woman Blog readers. Please do share any precious pet stories you may have! We love to hear them!

 

 

For the Love of Fuzzies

By: Lydia Scott

A year after adopting our first two cats (a story for another day), we decided it was time for my son to care for a fuzzy of his own. I was kind of hoping we might find two kitties, and that one of them would like me. I was feeling kind of left out of the fuzzy cuddle world by this point, since my husband and daughter both had kitties who loved them. We found a couple of gorgeous blue-eyed babies that a family was trying to re-home after her female cat reproduced unexpectedly. I’m pretty sure mama was a seal point Tonkinese mix, or something close to that. We saw dad, too. He was a HUGE gray tabby. I immediately went to the biggest, plushest, calmest, mitted blue lynx point kitty and started snuggling up to him. He was so calm and laid back. “Floppy,” is a good word to describe this kitten. He was just what I was hoping for! A relaxed, huge, lap kitty.

Is That a Squirrel?

Tonka - false advertising!

Tonka – false advertising!

While we were looking at all the other cats the family had milling around, there was another kitten climbing pretty much everything she could touch, scrambling around the house madly. She was really small, with charcoal gray paws that remind you of a koala, and lynx point coloring, and was INSANE. My husband, of course, thought she was the best thing since peanut butter and after chasing her down, he picked her up and tried cuddling her. The family she lived with had named her Squirrel and said she was the runt of the litter. And like a squirrel, she basically climbed up and down my husband. My husband loved her wild, spunky attitude and fell in love with her. Little did I know, he had decided that this crazy kitty was perfect for…ME. Yep, she was going home with us, too, he announced as I eyed him incredulously. Ummmmm…okayyyy. Fine. This “Squirrel” and my big, floppy, kitten. Hopefully my son would like Squirrel, hahaha! We carried them out to the car and put them in the kitty carrier in the back seat. I sat in the back with them to try to help them feel less lost and alone.

Tonka trying to pounce without being noticed

Tonka trying to pounce without being noticed

I shouldn’t have worried. Enormo-kitty cried, but wasn’t horribly upset. Crazy Squirrel on the other hand, fiercely battled every inch of that carrier. Did you know cats can bark? Loudly? Yeah…she was barking her head off and at one point, I’m pretty sure I saw a scene from the Exorcist replay in that carrier. Our little squirrel kitten was TICKED OFF. There was nothing I could do to console her or calm her. By the time our 45 minute ride was over, both kittens were exhausted. We took the carrier out of the car and snuck in the house to surprise my son. He was so excited! Of course, the idea was to hope that one of the kittens would take to him, and become his buddy. I was hoping it would be squirrel kitten. She was just way too crazy for me, I thought. But, as it turns out, enormo-kitty and my son became buds. Enormo was officially named Frankie and is now about 20 lbs of floppy handsomeness. And Squirrel…

Unbreakable

Tonka the squirrel perched atop a curtain rod. Brother Frankie staying close to the ground.

Tonka the squirrel perched atop a curtain rod. Brother Frankie staying close to the ground.

Squirrel was dubbed Tonka, like the truck that runs over things. And like the Tonkinese breed she seemed to take after so much. Tonka was an “I love everybody!” kitten. She also loved everything, and therefore spent as much time as possible pushing, pulling, chewing, climbing, and destroying all the things she loved. Like lamps. And curtains. And boxes. And dishes. And fridge magnets. And spots on the wall. And earrings…while you’re wearing them. She also knows what coffee tastes like, because she stuck her paw all the way in my cup one morning. She knows what the inside of the fridge feels like, because as I went to close it one day, she darted in and I shut the door on her. She screamed the Tonka-Banshee scream and I thought I’d killed her, but she was fine. I sobbed and shook and held her, apologizing profusely. Not long after, I went to carry her out of our bedroom, and started to shut the door behind me and yep…Tonka-Banshee scream. I had not seen her tail near the crack of the door and it started to close on it. Again, me sobbing and shaking, terrified I’d broken her sweet little kitten tail. I had not broken my kitty, thank goodness. She forgave me immediately, both times. And thus…I was hers. Before I even realized it.

Tonka baby napping

Tonka baby napping

Tonka is very easily startled and extremely vocal about it. She sleeps hard, although a good bit less than the average cat, and when you nudge her to wake her, she will “cuss” you out for it, while petting you lovingly. We believe she is hard of hearing, but not totally deaf. She is the first to greet me when I come home and will yell at me if I don’t head to the bedroom fast enough for her. She loves nothing more than to curl up in my lap for her naps, except maybe batting at the dripping faucet in the bathroom, after she’s looked for the tweezers to drop down the sink so she can see where they go (wonder why the sink gets clogged?).

She Cray-Cray

Tonka thinks there's a magical world behind that cabinet

Tonka thinks there’s a magical world behind that cabinet

Tonka is the reason we have no decorative knick knacks or breakables. She is the reason we have nothing pretty perched atop the cabinetry in our kitchen. She is the reason you hear us say “you better put that away,” at least 50 times a day. And no, a drawer is not good enough. Despite knowing she’s not allowed on counters, when we aren’t looking, she will hop up there and use her paw to slide a drawer open. Usually it’s the utensil drawer, so she can get a spoon out to throw on the floor next to her “kitty toys” she has to play with. If you only knew how many times we’d been awakened during the witching hours by a crash. Always a result of my Tonka, misbehaving while the other cats eye her sleepily. You can practically hear them saying “dude, she’s crazy…isn’t there a little white coat you can put on her so we can sleep?” But she’s SO cute. And she’s SO loving. And she’s SO social, and engaging, and smart. How can you not love Tonka? Even when she shoves your coffee to the floor, and then walks over it to come cuddle you?

Indeed. How can you not love these fuzzy wonderments of ours? Thank goodness for them all!

Monte….An Introduction

By: Shannon Shull

I had every intention of writing this blog entry on a different subject – one that I’ll have to save for another time, because I have been distracted and inspired by a unique creature that lives in my home. His name is Monte – the Count of Monte Cristo to be exact. Pronounced MON-TEE. I have a record of having dogs with an enormous amount of character. This latest precious pet of mine is living up to that record.

L'il Shannon &; her 1st cocker, Cookie

L’il Shannon & her 1st cocker, Cookie

When I was little, my very first official pet that was all mine, came to me Christmas morning in a wrapped box with a bow around her neck. My parents presented me, with total excitement and grandeur, with my last, but most special gift of Christmas morning. Out popped the little head of one of the most beautiful cocker spaniels ever. It was love at first sight. I was about 7 years old and I named her Cookie. I’ve had a love of cocker spaniels ever since.

Puppy Monte Saying Pick Me!

Puppy Monte Saying Pick Me!

So when it was time to get a new rascal to warm my heart and liven up my home after some big changes in my life, I thought it was time to revisit that love of a cocker. I contacted a family whose cocker had pups. They were looking for good homes for them and I lucked out…majorly. As I spoke to the lady on the phone, I asked if she could share a picture of the puppies. As we talked on the phone she took the picture – I remember this because she was talking to the puppies as we were chatting on the phone. Saying things like “Smile pretty! One of you is gonna get a new mama!” She emailed me the picture. Of course they were all precious. I mean they were puppies – what puppy isn’t super cute!? There was no way I could choose just by looking at the picture. I had to meet these little ones in person. When we met, I loved on those puppies and played with them all, but there was one that took to me. One that I knew I didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t until months later, after we’d taken home our l’il Monte, that I looked back at that picture and realized the irony of the shot – it was as if he was waving at me, raising his little paw, saying “Pick me! Pick me!”

The day my babies met Monte for the 1st time...

The day my babies met Monte for the 1st time…

Monte

Monte

Monte

Monte

Monte is almost two years old now and has consistently proven to be busting at the seams with character. From destroying supposedly indestructible things – (like the Kong dog toys… yea, believe it or not, our Monte cocker spaniel, demolished the Kong) – to consistently displaying an array of quirky mannerisms to having so much love and devotion that he gives new meaning to the quote, “A dog wags his tail with his heart.” We are all in love with our Count of Monte Cristo.

2014 Shannon & her current cocker, Monte

2014 Shannon & her current cocker, Monte

Monte Man, Our Count

Monte Man, Our Count

For me especially, the quote, “I may not be perfect but my dog loves me,” hits home something fierce. This dog has helped me survive some really tough times. His undying love and sweetness has helped keep me from going off the deep end. There’s so much I could say about this precious pet.

But, I was inspired to write this blog post (instead of the original one) because of my Monte’s latest heartwarming quirk that would make anyone’s heart smile. Within the last month, Monte has started communicating with us on a different level – we sing together, we chat, we converse…yes, we howl. And it’s great fun! Take a look at this video and enjoy! 

Monte lovin' Mama

Monte lovin’ Mama

Stay tuned for more marvelous Monte moments… And if you have a special pet at home that truly is one of a kind, give that angel a hug and take a moment to let him or her make your heart smile. I know I will always be thankful for all the angel pets I’ve been blessed with so far in my lifetime.

“Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend, never owned the right dog.” 🙂