Spring Tulips & a Bonus Cat!

imageimageMy floral resolution has continued even though I haven’t posted pictures in a while. I’ve enjoyed having spring flowers in season lately- how wonderful to enjoy tulips and daffodils inside!

Making his blog debut in the 2nd picture is Hansel. My husband and I found Hansel and his sister, Gretel, exactly a year ago at a park/boat launch we’d stopped by to check out water conditions. The water was high and the dock hadn’t been put back in yet, too early in the season.  As we were driving to the exit, my husband spotted two kittens sunning themselves near the outhouses. They were underweight and appeared to have been dumped there.

He slowed the car; I lowered my window and called softly to them. To my utter shock, they looked right at me and then started walking towards the car! I had rather assumed they would be feral and would immediately run away hissing. Since they didn’t, I tumbled out of the car while my husband groaned. The kittens came right to me, we cuddled, my husband said “No! What are you doing?”—and then a hawk flew low overhead and the kittens huddled closer to me, never taking their eyes off the hawk (for real! It was like something out of a fairytale. Couldn’t help but wonder if a larger litter had initially been dumped and they were the last survivors?) and BOOM, decision made: we had 2 new kittens! My husband is a sweet, kind, and patient man who quickly came to love our new kittens. Gretel sleeps right by his head every night.

I’m glad we all took a chance on each other. Hansel & Gretel are sweet, charming, silly, bold, playful, friendly and just plain delightful — plus they get along great with all of our dogs. WIN!!!

Perfect Company

005So this may be a bit of a surprise, but I love cats. So does my husband. Yes, we adore our ridiculous pack of dogs, but cats are equally great. The idea of needing to pick sides on the whole dog/cat thing seems pretty nonsensical. There is room for both! (I will admit, though, to finding dogs easier to photograph…or at least our dogs will sort of hold still for a second when I come at them with a camera. The cats? Not so much.)

When my husband and I first met, we each had two cats. One of mine was a black cat named Ellie. One of my husband’s was a black cat named Elenore. Great minds and all. 🙂

Rescued as a feral kitten, his Elenore didn’t do the whole hissing-scratching-biting thing so common with feral cats. Instead she was very shy, elusive, and reclusive. So reclusive, in fact, that my husband actually spent weeks after he got her thinking that she had somehow escaped from his apartment. After bringing her in, he didn’t lay eyes on her for the next 3 months! Luckily, he had another cat, so there was always food and a liter box available. Apparently, she hid behind the stove a lot, assessing things, and would come out only when there was no one to see her. Just when he had given up, she came and sat in the kitchen doorway, looking at him.

She became a constant companion to his other cat. She would also come sit with my husband, just usually not if anyone else was in his apartment. He had friends who never saw her even though they were at his place frequently. After a while, they sort of thought that his second cat might just be fiction. Imagine his surprise the first time I visited his apartment: he mentioned that he had a second cat, said I probably wouldn’t see her, and then when he returned to the living room after using the restroom, it was to find Elenore sitting calmly in my lap.

Things only got better after that auspicious beginning together. Although she never much cared for my cat Ellie, Elenore took to me– and I to her. She was a small, delicate, graceful little thing. She was like smoke, or maybe like the cat that inspired the whole fog-on-cat’s-feet metaphor. The Ur-quiet cat. She was also the perfect companion. She was undemanding. She didn’t need attention all of the time and wasn’t prone to much meowing. She never once did that whole weird cat thing where you’re only allowed to stroke them a certain unspecified number of times and the moment you exceed that unspecified amount, the cat claws or bites you, you know that thing? Never.

She would simply come find me and sit quietly on my lap when she needed some company. (Or maybe it was the other way around?) Sitting with her was always peaceful and soothing. Almost all of my blog posts were written with her purring softly in my lap. At night, she would come curl up  and doze on my sternum while I read a book before going to sleep. Once I would turn off the light, she would hop down and curl up on her favorite pillow by the window. Perfect.

The day after the lovely cabin weekend earlier this month, we had to put our sweet little friend down. She was 15 and her systems were failing. Part of being a responsible pet owner is knowing when it is time to say goodbye. Our vet was very kind. My husband held Elenore on his lap and I stroked her head while the vet administered the shots to euthanize her.

I’m glad we were able to give her a painless, peaceful end. Frankly, we should all be so lucky. A peaceful moment to die in, while surrounded by those who love us? That’s a luxury in this world. I know that. But still, it sucks. I miss her.

The Pack

autumnwalkkestrel 028It is a bit of sight when we take our dogs for a walk. When my husband and I walk them together, usually one of us has 3 of the dogs and the other takes 2. During our rambles on Sunday, we both took turns with all 5 so we could trade off using the camera. (Hard to have a steady hand when several excited dogs spot a deer leaping across the fields.)

autumnwalkkestrel 013It was perfect walking weather for our pups. Gus and Chico can hike for as long as we’ll take them in most weather (provided Chico is properly attired in the cold, that is!) but the pugs, with their squashed faces, don’t do hot or humid so well. However, a crisp autumn day? So good! They can go for miles if we pace ourselves properly.

autumnwalkkestrel 033They were so happy! These pictures feel a bit deceptive in one way, though: usually the leashes are an unholy tangled mess of mythic proportions. We’re talking Gordian knot or  maybe Cerberus harness inspired.

autumnwalkkestrel 007Good stuff.

Old Pugs

At my request, my husband snapped some shots of our pugs while we worked in the yard today. I love photographer Pete Thorne’s project “Old Faithful” (http://petapixel.com/2014/10/21/old-faithful-studio-portraits-really-old-dogs/) and figured we should celebrate our aging pups, too. I am pleased with the results:

pugs 031 pugs 041 pugs 103This is Abe (or as we often call him, “Abraham Stinkin”). Isn’t he very Winston Churchill looking? We’ve had this sweet old man for 8 years. We suspect he’s at least 12, maybe older, hard to say with a rescue like him. On bright days like today, he enjoys sunning himself like a little turtle. In fine weather, he will often turn his head and ignore me when I call him to come back in the house.

pugs 083pugs 105pugs 081Here is Zooey (or Zoe, my husband and I disagree on how to spell her name!). We’ve had her for 9 years and we think she’s about 12 years old. She had a large cancerous tumor removed in May,  and we are trying to make sure to enjoy every moment we’ve got with this dear lady.

pugs 045pugs 089Chico and Apple, also enjoying the lovely day. And of course, Gus:

pugs 104Gus is a lover. He absolutely cannot restrain himself, kisses must be given out generously:

pugs 058pugs 060This one cracks me up, something about Chico’s stare suggests quite a narrative, no?

pugs 065Maybe he’ll share the tale of the day Apple faced down her nemesis, the lawnmower:

pugs 113(Seriously, she hates the lawnmower. It wasn’t even on, and she just stood there, glaring at it, clearly plotting how to take it down for good!)

Sunny

Here at the tail-end of a summer that has quite often felt more like a spring (which has been pretty grand!) we’re being blasted by a late August heat wave. Whew! Out in the garden, I’m enjoying the sunflowers. Many are volunteers from suet we put out for the birds and I like seeing where they randomly decide to happen.

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A stand of volunteer sunflowers in the midst of a bed.

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This one popped up to be friends with our compass plant.

Yum! 018

Drying a seeded head that fell off due to its own weight so it can be set out for the birds.

Also adding some sunshine? My husband and I are off for a few days, and I thought it would be fun to borrow one of my mom’s dogs (because clearly 5 of our own isn’t enough—yes, I’m aware that sounds demented!) and it’s working out quite nicely. Having their happy and energetic golden retriever temporarily out of the way is allowing my dad to work on a project at their place, while here at our place, the little dogs are enjoying the chance to romp with their big friend.

014And our charming guest’s name? Sunny. 🙂

Ahhh!

After an extra long workweek that kind of kicked my rear, it was extra nice to relax with my husband on our deck last night. The weather was perfect and I snapped a few pictures of him and some of our dogs enjoying those mellow-golden near-dusk moments.  (And doesn’t our garden look lush???) Pretty much heaven on earth. 🙂SRCKickoff 211SRCKickoff 233SRCKickoff 244Go have a great Sunday!

Dog Park!!!

One of the things I find myself enjoying most when I visit proper urban areas are the dog parks. Columbus just doesn’t seem to have many. So when I travel, I am one of the weird ‘petophiles’ you see hanging around outside the fence at dog parks, watching other people’s puppies romp. I miss my pups when I’m on the road ! Plus, I just love dogs, all dogs. I love watching all of the various city pooches playing together. So imagine my joy when I learned that a new park  that just opened near me included a dog park. Thrilled doesn’t even cover it.

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Abe, Gus, and Chico running with a new friend in the big dog dog park.

Walnut Woods Metro Park is opening piece by piece. Tall Pines? That was the first area of the park to open. The Buckeye Area is the second stage of the park. A lovely 2 mile paved bicycle path winds through it, weaving through groves of crabapple and other trees (this was also part of the tree farm) and then down along Walnut Creek for a stretch. A third part is scheduled to open in October. But best of all, the Buckeye Area features a 4 acre dog park.

Actually, 2 dog parks.  There is an area for smaller dogs (maybe 1  acre) and then a separate area (maybe 3 acres) for larger dogs. Both times that we have taken our dogs, we were the only small dogs and a lone dog watched from the big dog area. After checking with that dog’s owner, we brought our dogs into the big dog area.  It’s sort of magical to me how immediately the dogs all decide to run around together, no issues with varying sizes. Just romping!

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Splash pond in big dog area.

The dog parks are quite well planned.  Both are pleasingly spacious, have good fences, and include thoughtful details for the people bringing the dogs, like benches and picnic shelters for shade. The big dog area also includes a little splash pond for the dogs. Mine mostly weren’t too interested about going in the water, except for Abe. The first time he ventured in was hilarious. He was following his new friend, a boxer/shepherd mix who ran straight into the water. About 2 feet from the shore, Abe stopped and sort of just stood there, processing and not sure exactly what to do next. Eventually, he backed up, only to splash back through the shallow part a few more times.

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Happy pups!

The dogs all seem to flat-out LOVE visiting the dog park. It is a pure joy to watch them tearing around and having fun. Chico in particular seems to really love the wide open spaces, running at top speed all around like a wild thing, looking for all the world like a miniature greyhound. The fact that the dogs are all well-behaved, sleepy lap nuggets when we get home? Gravy.