Category Archives: Dogs

A Letter to Troughton

R.I.P., Troughton.  November 1, 1999-August 22, 2012.

Dear Troughton,

As everyone can see from the banner on this blog, you were the Flying Doberman.  Leaping headlong from the rocks into the St. Lawrence River–and for what?  A stick.  But that’s okay, I get that.  Sticks are to dogs like Mardi Gras beads are to people.  Yes, there are other sticks, and there other beads, but not THIS stick and THESE beads.

I just want you to know you had a lot of friends and fans you didn’t even know about.  They have made me feel better.  Some of them did know you, some knew of you, some of them know of you from what I’ve written about you through the years.  Most of them, if not all of them, have gone through something similar to what you and I went through yesterday, but none of them ever lost a Troughton.  Yesterday, it was you and me.

I just want you to know how hard today has been, because everything is so different.  All morning, I had a sense that something was just off, and it would take me a minute to understand why.  Like remember?  Every morning you would lie down by my chair at the computer and I would have to step over or around you to go get my first cup of coffee.  Sometimes, I would say, Geez, Troughton, would you just move already?  (And you would, because “move” was a word in your vocabulary that you admitted to).   This morning I was stepping away from the computer carefully, and realized I didn’t have to do that anymore.  Also, watching TV last night, I got the whole couch.  How I wish that weren’t true.  I would gladly fight you for my part of the couch, if you would just come back.

But I know that will never happen.  By the time I managed to get you to the vet, you were already gone in spirit.  I let you go before your body started feeling any worse.  I think you might have been beyond that too.  Before you left, I amazed the vet with stories about you–about how you used to be a Champion Squirrel Chaser and how before that, you were the Flying Doberman.

So here’s what will happen now.  You will be cremated, not that it will make a difference to you, and your ashes will be shipped to Canada.  One day those ashes will be scattered with the ashes of the people who loved you first, my friend Art and his wife Sherry.  Their ashes, like yours will be, are scattered on the top of a tiny island in the St. Lawrence River called Troughton Island.  Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing.  Everyone keeps telling me how lucky you were to have me to love and care for you, but it’s really the other way around.  I was the lucky one, to have you for almost seven years.  But our time was always borrowed, and now it’s up.  So I am giving you back.  But, the vet is making me a pawprint.  That’s what I’ll remember you by, along with the memories in my head.

All morning long, the great Sam Cooke song “A Change Is Gonna Come” was in my head, not just because yes, this was a change I knew was coming, but because of the line “It’s been too hard livin’, but I’m afraid to die…” Yesterday, you were not afraid.  You were beyond that, into a new place where we can’t follow.

I love you, Troughton.

Your friend Phyllis

P.S.  The other dog misses you.  He wants you back too.  He has no one to harass other than the cat, and she’s no fun.  He is moping.

Another Visit With Yard Guy

To refresh my readers, and introduce him to my new readers, Yard Guy (aka Tom) is a recurring character in my world, and is the subject of my post “Redneck Environmentalism”.

Tom works for a body shop, but has a lawn mowing business on the side.  His mother lives around the corner from me, and here is how we first became acquainted:  On several visits to his mother to mow her lawn, he noticed I had a Camaro sitting in my driveway for about two months.  And he wanted it.  So over the fence in the back yard one day, his mother asked me what what I was asking for it.  I told her the engine was dead, and he really might want to rethink the whole idea.

At that point I would have been happy to have someone pay to tow it out of my driveway.  Well, not happy, exactly.  I loved that car.  Hard to explain how you can have such an attachment to a mechanical object.  Especially a dead one.  But the fact was that coming home every day to see it dead in the driveway was prolonging the misery.  Still, I was very honest with my neighbor.  And other than the engine, ha ha, there was nothing else wrong with it other than that it was 14 years old.  It had a new clutch, a new windshield, a new radiator, and relatively new tires.  It had a few cosmetic issues–like the edge of the driver’s side seat was frayed, the passenger side visor had snapped off, the cigarette lighter didn’t work, and the backup lights didn’t work.  All things you could live with–there was just that one small annoying problem with the engine.

But Tom came to see me anyway, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  He said he would take care of my lawn for the entire summer season (March through October), if I would give him the car.  That’s about an $800 value, which is the pretty much the maximum I could have gotten for the car IF it was running.  No brainer–I was definitely coming out on top in that deal.  Since that time, which began in March 2009, I’ve gotten to know Tom fairly well.  And Tom leads and has led an interesting life.  And because he has a quirky family, he somehow always ends up in the middle of some drama not of his own making.

So this morning, he arrived early to mow his mother’s lawn, while it was still cool and hadn’t started raining yet.  No sooner does he unload the mower than his mother says, I need you to take a ride with me across town to pick up “Mary” (his sister’s son’s wife).  “She’s having a panic attack in the parking lot of Target and her two kids are with her”.  Tom is just rolling his eyes, but he goes.

I learned that since the last time I saw him, his little dog Patches died.  I kind of guessed that, because the last time he was here, although we didn’t talk, I saw that Patches wasn’t with him, and had she been able, she would have been.  Patches was a white Chihuahua with apricot patches.  She was 19, and mostly blind and mostly deaf.  He would try to leave her in the truck, but that didn’t ever work.  She would become hysterical.

Tom had to be within Patches’ sight or hearing at all times.  So he would let her out of the truck and she would follow him around.  She was always smart enough to stay out of the way of the mower.  But as her sight and hearing worsened (and probably her cognitive abilites), she would wander off and get lost.  So it has always been a neighborhood effort to keep track of Patches when Tom is around.  No more.

Finally, I caught Tom this morning while he was still in my front yard to say that if he was going to do the back yard too (sometimes he has to split it up), to be careful, because there was a turtle out there.  I happened to look out my kitchen window this morning to see it creeping along on its mysterious mission.  Tom said, “Don’t worry.  It will be fine until I run over it with the mower”.  We both laughed heartily at that.  (Remember Redneck Environmentalism.)  Tom would never hurt a turtle on purpose–which is why I wanted him to know it was out there.

I suggested that when he left he could put it in his truck and take it to the lake nearby.  Oh no, he said.  I think we should leave it where it lives, and let it find its own way in life.  See why I like Tom?

Critter Update

The Doberman is apparently feeling quite sprightly, which is a good thing, since he is just about 2 1/2 months away from turning 13.  Thereby having already outlived the average Doberman lifespan of 10-12 years.

The thing is, he looks absolutely terrible.  He has a condition called…wait for it…dry eye.  This causes him to produce copious amounts of mucus in his right eye, so that it looks infected, but the vet says it isn’t.  It’s just irritated.  The eye drops they gave me (the doggie form of Restasis for humans) don’t work.  Take a moment here to imagine how much fun it is to put eye drops in the eye of a Doberman.

So lately I have taken to removing the gunk from his eye with a Q-tip.  This is very scary.  Because if he makes a sudden move, I could poke a hole in his eye.  That would not be good.  But he’s a very good and trusting boy, so he mostly stays still…for a short time.  I have a small window of opportunity there.  But I feel compelled to do it, because when I say copious, I do mean that.  It practically coats his eye, which has to be uncomfortable and verging on blinding.  Sometimes he will rub the right side of his face on the couch to try to dislodge it, but that doesn’t work.  It does tell me that he’s uncomfortable.  So I will keep doing it.

Nevertheless, it apparently doesn’t bother him that much.  He’s developed a relatively new short, sharp bark.  He uses this to warn the Basenji mix (aka Pippin the Beast) that he plans to drink from the community water bowl.  As far as Pippin is concerned, the water bowl is far too close to his food bowl.  For it to be far enough away, it would have to be across the street.

It would help if Pippin hadn’t developed the new habit of leaving a few morsels of food in his bowl.  I assume that gives him a reason to be protective at all times.  That must be more fun.

So, what to do?  Well, here’s my strategy.  I stay out of it.  I think that in spite of my alleged status in our tiny pack,  and in fact because of it, I can’t be in charge of everything.  You guys are dogs.  Work it out.  What I would like to do, most of the time, is kill Pippin.  Except of course, I could never do that.  When it’s just him and me, he is the most incredibly loyal and affectionate being who ever existed.  So I inadvertently have learned how to do what the experts say:  Always support the alpha, no matter what.  It may seem counterintuitive (because you’d like to kill them), but if you don’t kill them, supporting them and giving them confidence makes it safer for the other dog(s).

Meanwhile, I have a cat, Stormy, who is solid white and fat as a pig.  If it’s possible, she is even more affectionate than either of the two dogs.  As demonstrated by the fact that at night, she likes to sleep on my knee.  The one I recently sprained.  Which still hurts.  A whole world awaits her out there when it comes to places to sleep.  But, no.  Perhaps she has delusions of having healing powers.  I joke, but it’s gotten somewhat ridiculous.  And I cannot completely dismiss the idea.

But she looks terrible too.  There is a particular place on the back of her neck that she scratches when she has a flea or fleas.  Living here in the near-tropics, fleas and mosquitos are a way of life.  But three days ago I treated her for fleas and all the other evil beasties, and this morning, the place on her neck is worse.  I think she’s become immune to this medication, which happens.

And plus, I have my own health to think of.  Fleas don’t bother me, but mosquitos are an entirely different matter.  It probably doesn’t help that I just finished a book about malaria–even though there is no malaria in the U.S.  But there is West Nile Virus.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

If  someone could figure out how to make mosquitos extinct…sign me up.

Meanwhile, I am helping to pay the rent for Cutter, maker of what I would call personal insecticides.  I use one without DEET.  I hate DEET.

I can’t stand not going outside, but I’m well aware that it’s a crapshoot.  That one tiny place on your…elbow, ear, neck…where your insecticide didn’t reach…is the very place you could be bitten by an infected mosquito.  It only takes one.  But I can’t live like that.

So me and the two dogs and the cat are toughing it out.

Pippin the Beast

These days, Pippin is a lot less beastly than he used to be.  I don’t know if it’s that he’s just gotten older (he’s a little older than 11), or if it’s just finally dawned on him that it’s in his best interests to do what he’s told.  That took long enough.  Whatever qualities you may see in a Basenji (or in his case, a Basenji mix), learning quickly is not one of them.

I’ve posted about this before, but according to the great book The Intelligence of Dogs, Basenjis rank second only to Chows, if I recall correctly, as the “least trainable dog”.

Wikipedia has a great article about Basenjis.  Even if I didn’t know Pippin was a Basenji mix, I could have figured it out just from this article.  Basenjis “dislike wet weather”, “like to climb and can easily get over chain wire fences”, and groom themselves like cats.  They can stand on their hind legs, like Meerkats.  You couldn’t come up with a better description of Pippin if you painted a picture.  On the disliking wet weather part, Pippin will absolutely not go outside if the grass is wet, since he might get his precious little paws wet.  Meanwhile, as long as it isn’t thundering, the Doberman will barrel out, even if it’s pouring rain.

The occasion is that this morning, I needed to get something from my car.  Pippin was right there at the gate to the fence, and I said “Stay”.  And he did.  When I came back, he was still there, and I said “Get back”.  And he did.  It’s hard to explain what a miracle that was.  Two miracles in a row, even.

It used to be that Pippin was a darter.  Given any tiny window of escape, he was off and running.  (Not that he couldn’t have climbed the fence if he really wanted to).

My favorite story about Pippin is, many years ago, I took him and my then-Rottweiler with me to visit a friend in Jacksonville.  We stopped at a rest stop somewhere near Lake City.  A large and very beautiful one, as rest stops go.  I let them roam for a while (on a leash of course) and then went to buy a bottle of water from a machine.  I was holding the leashes in my left hand while I put my dollar in the machine, when suddenly the weight on my left hand seemed lighter.  I looked down, and I’m holding one Rottweiler, and an empty collar.  I never even felt him wriggle out of the collar.  They are quite stealthy.

Pippin was nowhere to be seen.  I was deathly afraid that he would run out in front of one of the semi trucks in the parking lot.  So I walked the Rottweiler around some more, and eventually Pippin showed up out of nowhere and started trotting along beside us.  But every move I made in his direction caused him to dart away again. I was stumped.  What to do?

I finally decided I would leave him, and continue to Jacksonville.  Then I would call the authorities to go and find him and capture him.  As soon as I opened the car door, Pippin again appeared like a flash of lightning from nowhere and jumped in the back seat.  Happily grinning and panting, like This was fun, can we do it again?  Somehow I managed to keep from killing him.

I don’t think he would do that these days. But I’m not taking any chances.

Pet and Human Training

It never ceases to amaze me how much dogs and cats learn that you wish they hadn’t, and that you didn’t intend.

Let’s take for example my cat Stormy.  Stormy always gets fed as soon as I wake up and can stand upright.  Because she is so loud and persistent and annoying.  The Squeaky Wheel method.  That’s where my training comes in. Stormy has that covered.

The two dogs have almost equal expectations of me.  Weekday mornimgs. after I take a shower, they stand by their food bowls and look at me expectantly.  But not BEFORE I take a shower.  They’ve learned it doesn’t work.  So they take a longer nap.  Must be nice.

But Saturdays are an entirely different matter.  Somehow they’ve learned to tell time (or at least, the days of the week).  Almost every Saturday morning, I do the New York Times crossword puzzle online with Fakesister, and it isn’t until I’m done that they start that expectantly waiting thing by the food bowl.  By that time, they’ve taken an even longer nap.  Fine with them.

So, how do they know?  I’ve observed that they have learned the word “Goodbye”.  So I’ve experimented with not using that word, and they still know.  So there is something about my body language or tone of voice when I’m getting ready to end a conversation that they pick up on.

It’s spooky.  I wish I understood it.  Then maybe they would sleep even longer and give me a break.

Owning dogs and/or cats is like having a baby for life.  A child who never grows up.  It can be a little strange when people go overboard with it.  Not to stereotype, but small dog owners do a lot of that.  They transfer all the feeling they might have for people to animals.  With dogs, I try to make them as independent as possible.

But there is no question that I probably do this too.  I never had children, so I am maybe more prone to ascribe human behaviors and emotions to the dogs.  But I don’t think I’m wrong in the case of the Mysterious Dog Language Skills.

I used to think that dogs were very simple, drooly beings, and that cats were the complex and mysterious beings. Now I think just the opposite.

Not that I like cats any less.  It’s just that I’m onto their game now.


An Ode to Post-It Notes…and Greenies

A few words about book-reading.  To an extent, the Kindle has spoiled me.  You can highlight passages to remember for later, and in fact, you can write notes to yourself–which I don’t do, so I’m not even sure how that works.  So now I will reveal my method for remembering passages from library books.  It’s considered very bad form to dog-ear pages, or underline, or highlight in a library book.   Although I have gotten library books where people have, in pencil, corrected mis-prints by adding an insertion mark and the missing word, or crossing out unnecessary letters.  Every time I see this, I think, this person must have been an English teacher!  I’m pretty particular about words and language myself, but I am not that obsessive.

So my secret is–Post-It Notes. How did we ever live before Post-It Notes?  I consider them one of the finest achievements of mankind.  Forget the airplane and cell phones and the Internet.  Post-Its rank right up there with Greenies Pill Pockets.  These are yummy little dog and cat snacks with a hole in the middle.  They are very soft, so you can insert a pill into the hole, close it up, and feed it to the dog or cat without losing your hand.  Since my dog Troughton has to have thyroid pills twice a day, and since he’s a Doberman, I just can’t overemphasize how Greenies have changed my life.  And anyone who has ever tried to give a pill to a cat will grasp this even more.

There are a bunch of jokes out there about how to give a cat a bath, or how to give it a pill.  Most of them start with, “First, put on a suit of armor”.

You can get some cat antibiotics which come in liquid form.  I once had to give a cat liquid Ampicillin,and he loved it.  It was cherry-flavored. But every time before we got to the point of him loving it, I would have to hold him down and force his mouth open.  That was the Not Fun part.

But back to Post-Its.  What I do is put a Post-It on that first blank page just behind the front cover (there’s a name for that page, but…)  Then I write down page numbers on it when something in the book I really want to remember really jumps out at me.

This is not a foolproof system. One thing that happens is that I read a lot at my picnic table in the back yard, weather permitting.  Something will really stand out–a quote or a description, usually–and I won’t have a pen.  The other thing that happens is that after finishing the book, I’ll go back to one of those pages and not be able to find what I thought was so fascinating there.

I have to laugh at myself and my failures of memory.  On the other hand, when I think back, my memory is far more detailed now than when I was younger. In those days, while I read just as much,  many more issues and priorities intruded. Primarily what I will politely refer to as, hormonal issues.

So the book I just finished, “The Lost City of Z”–about which I intend to post more–was a two Post-It Note book.  The book was very rich.

Baby Rottweilers–I Want One

This is the new puppy (“Sage”) of a friend of a friend on Facebook.  Like all puppies her age (my guess is that she is about 10 weeks old, because before that, they can’t sit) she is as cute as…a basket of baby possums.

And just like baby possums, baby Rottweilers grow up.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  Adult Rottweilers have many things to recommend them as well.  I’m not sure about adult possums.  Even as babies, they have tiny little sharp teeth and are quite vicious!

EVENTUALLY, adult Rottweilers become very loyal and obedient.  Note the emphasis on “eventually”.  They are very protective, almost too much so.

At slightly younger than this puppy is, they are big balls of fuzzy fur.  They look like miniature black bears with tan bow ties on their throats and tan feet. They are clumsy in a cute way.

It’s the years between cute and Eventually that are the biggest problem. But grown-up Rottweilers pose other problems.  Even knowing that, I want one.

That doesn’t mean I’ll act on it, but it doesn’t mean I won’t…eventually.  I’ve thought for some time about the issue.  When I had my Rottweiler Hansel, I drove all over the place with him as company.  I would stop at these little gas station/grocery stores in Redneck City, Florida or Georgia, and the first thing I would do is let Hansel out for a walk. Then I would put him back in the car, and leave the window open enough for him to get out if he chose.  And I knew Hansel would stay unless something alarmed him.  The car was his Territory.  Violate that boundary at your own risk.  I think it worked.  All the lurkers (and there are many in the places I’m referring to) would think twice.

These days, I am seeing through the end of life of an almost 13-year old Doberman.  It’s painful.  Even in his heyday, he was never very scary, although some people still think he is.  I get nostalgic for the days of having a vigorous and truly scary big dog.

As I get older, I worry about being weaker than I used to be, and I don’t feel as safe.  Alarms are, in my opinion, useless, and having a gun is not an option for me.  Or it is, but I reject it.  Big scary dogs have one disadvantage, in that an intruder can shoot them.  But with a dog like Hansel was, I’m pretty sure that even if you shot him, it might not be enough to keep him from eating your face off before he died.  Unless you got lucky and shot him in the heart with the first shot.

Okay, enough of that scary stuff.  Here’s another picture of Sage, doing what puppies do best.

Dog Obedience…Or Not

So I have this Doberman, who is pushing 13.  I got him when he was already 6, and he had never been trained a lick, as we say in the South.  No leash had ever crossed his path.  That made it very challenging to do things like, try to take him to the vet.

The good thing is that he’s pretty smart for a dog.  He understands well what you want him to do, he just doesn’t want to do it.  And therein lies the rub, as Hamlet would say. It isn’t the training them to understand you that’s hard, it’s the part about insisting that they do it when they don’t want to.

So when I first got Troughton the Doberman, it was easier for me to go with the flow.  I continued the tradition of No Expectations except to look pretty.

So yesterday, I actually asked him to do something for the first time in 6 years, which was, get off the couch.  What did he do?  He stood up and walked to the other end of the couch.  No, no, I said.  This is not what I had in mind.  I meant Off!  He laid down.  I said, this is war.  You will get off this couch.  He was like, Don’t make me do this.  If I have to jump, I could break a leg.  Then how will you feel?

I said, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  At the moment, you will, one way or another, get off this couch.  So he did.

You have to love dogs.

Politically Incorrect: Dog Tethering

I mentioned in a comment on another post that I am on an ad hoc committee to examine our County’s animal control ordinance where it concerns the tethering of dogs.  Six years ago I was involved in a similar discussion, but it was more of a guerilla action.  It was me and one other person (with the encouragement of a couple of County Commission aides who shepherded us through the process), appearing at  County Commission meetings.  Wow, were we ignorant.

But amazingly enough, it resulted in changes to the existing ordinance which were very good.  Apparently we tweaked the consciences of the then existing Commissioners just enough.  Okay, not really.  That would be the Disney version.  What really happened is, they said, can we just get beyond this and get these people out of the room?  Let’s move on to the important issues, like approving a certain development project where I happen to own real estate.

But today, I have become assimilated.  (I am Borg.)  So I’m on this official committee.  Where all four of my fellow committee members think I am the enemy.  (Apparently, I am insufficiently assimilated.)  The issue is that they want a total ban on tethering dogs.  When I say, that won’t work, they say I’m not aiming high enough.  They decided to compromise to the extent that tethering would be allowed only if the owner was present.  I said, that won’t work either.  Many people tether their dogs only when they are NOT present.  Every example I give of why it won’t work is met with…dismay, to be nice.

One of the members constantly asks to have “experts” speak, which makes my eyes roll up in my head.  We are the committee. Shouldn’t we be able to do this on our own?  Haven’t we already read enough and experienced enough to form an opinion?  If not, why are we here?  We are just making a recommendation, for God’s sake.  But the Chairman (the Director of Animal Control) complied, so we did.  And I’m wondering if she now regrets her request, because all the experts agreed with me.  The Regional Director of the HSUS was the most diplomatic.  She said, there are many reasons why people tether dogs and other animals, so you want to be very careful about this…not to punish everyone.  Most compelling was the Animal Control supervisor who represented the” boots on the ground” view.  He was more blunt.  Please don’t do this, he said.  You will just drive it underground where we can’t see it.  People will still do it, they will just chain them up deep in the woods, or confine them to garages where we can’t see whether they have food and water, or are injured.  In other words, this won’t work.

So in the face of apparently lukewarm response to the ban idea, the ringleader of our group (whom I hasten to add is a very neat and compassionate person) created a Facebook page called Tether-Free Tallahassee. The latest post is an article about a woman from the Tampa area who traveled to Jacksonville to lend support to their consideration of a tethering ban.

The reason is that her 17-month old son was mauled to death by the next-door neighbor’s tethered Rottweiler.   The woman was unloading groceries from the car when the son wandered over to pet the doggie.

It’s a known and well-researched fact that tethered dogs are more dangerous.  If you know anything at all about animals, you completely understand this.  You have removed one of their two options: flight.  The only option left is fight.  And they have to be ready at any second.  They get anxious and paranoid.  Every approach is a threat.

So my reaction was this:  how about the concept of keeping a very close eye on your 17-month old son while you are unloading the groceries?  Especially if you have a tethered Rottweiler next door, without a fence?

But if I had expressed this, which I didn’t, I feel sure I would have been even further ostracized, if that’s possible.   It’s hard being the Enemy.

What I wanted to do was tweak the ordinance to make it safer and more comfortable for the dogs.  I personally think that dogs should live in the house, and be let out into a fenced yard or walked on a leash when the owner is home.  But not everyone is like me.  Imagine that.

Stormy the Cat Gets Attacked

Not to worry… this happened 8 or 9 years ago.  Stormy jumped out of the bedroom window at the worst possible time–when all four dogs were outside in the back yard.  I didn’t even know anything was happening until I heard Stormy scream, and yes, cats can scream.  (So can rabbits.)

I ran outside and Stormy was lying on her back with all four feet in the air. I think cats do this so they have all four paws (and claws) available to fight.  Unfortunately, by the time they get in this position, it’s already too late. And they have exposed their most vulnerable parts.   Cats are much better off to be upright, where they can run, or swat with their front paws (dog noses are a good target), or leap onto the back of the aggressor and hang on.  And dig in.

By the time I got there, which was only seconds, her abdomen was a bloody mess.  There was blood everywhere.  It was like watching one of the “Halloween” movies. So I started screaming too and did what might be the least smart thing you could do, which is, I ran into the middle of the fray.  To the extent I was thinking (not much), I was trusting that the dogs would not hurt me.  But that was a pretty big risk.  Under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t hurt me.  But at this point they were crazed, and literally, bloodthirsty.  When they get to that point, they lose all semblance of civilization.

What happens next is very blurry to me.  I scooped Stormy up off the ground and rushed her to the vet, which thankfully is only about 3/4 of a mile away.  She was clearly in shock–but so was I.  I just know that the next thing I remember is standing at the counter at the vet’s office, holding Stormy who is wrapped in a towel.   (When did I stop to get a towel?)  I don’t remember driving there.  I remember standing at the counter saying, “My cat has been attacked by dogs.”  And this is why I love my vet hospital.  At that point everything is in fast forward.

The receptionists (of which there are between 3 and 8 at any one given time–it is a huge place) have these walkie-talkies which they normally use to communicate with the kennel staff, but in this case the receptionist says into her walkie-talkie “Cat attacked by dogs” and an army of people rush out into the waiting area and grab Stormy out of my arms and take her into surgery immediately.  The next thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting area, but not remembering how I got there.  And gradually I became aware that there were many other people in the waiting area, who may have been waiting for a long time, and I said, “I’m sorry”.

After about two hours, the vet came out and said, Here’s the good news. We found all the bite marks and puncture wounds and sewed them up, and she survived the surgery.  We’re going to send Stormy home with pain medication and antibiotics.  But here’s the bad news.  Most of the damage is to the fat roll on her belly, and fat doesn’t have veins, so the antibiotics can’t get there or do any good.  So she could develop gangrene.  In which case, we will do our best to remove that tissue, but bottom line–she could still die.

Then he said, your cat is too fat. WTF?  My cat has barely survived an attack and you want to talk about her WEIGHT?  This is the part I DON’T like about my vet.  They are such a large practice that they serve as the host for internships and/or residencies for new vets, particularly from the University of Alabama.  These people are very smart and skilled, but haven’t quite mastered the part about talking to humans.  Yes, my cat may be too fat, but is this really the time to bring it up?

Ahem, I said, showing great restraint, I am not overfeeding my cat.  I adopted her about two years ago, when she was already about two years old, and she was fat then.    There is nothing I can do about that fat roll other than a panniculectomy (which they will do for cats, believe it or not)  and that is not in my future plans.  Then I thought, what the hell am I talking about here?  Why are we even having this conversation?

So I took the cat home, and to make a long story short, she survived and never developed gangrene.  Three of the four dogs who attacked her are now dead (Living, and living well, is the best revenge?)  In the intervening years, I’ve contemplated killing her myself, for one thing because she is so loud.  When I’m trying to go to sleep, she curls up next to my chest and purrs so loudly that it’s like trying to sleep cuddled up with a helicopter.

(Disclaimer:  You know I’m kidding, right?  Sometimes I forget how literally people take things on the Internet.)