Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Very Belated Introduction to Chuzoo

First, please don’t blame me for the name.  “Chuzoo” is something my parents came up with.  They like cutesy/weird names.  I was very nearly the victim of one of my mom’s cutesy name ideas.  Fortunately for me, my dad changed his mind about going along with it.

They were told that Chuzoo was half Chihuahua, and half Shih Tzu, so they decided that “Chuzoo” (pronounced like “chew zoo”, with no space, say it really fast) was a cute play on those breeds.

He wrapped himself up like this.
Fortunately, in spite of having a ridiculous name, Chuzoo is a very sweet and happy little guy.  He absolutely adored Emma, and he loves Duke, which works out well since he came to live with us in August.

My parents were getting ready to move into an apartment, and decided that Chuzoo would be happier living with us, since we have a fenced in back yard, and he would have Duke to play with.  He had stayed with us before, whenever my parents went out of town, and always seemed perfectly happy at our house.

Chuzoo quite happily moved in with us at the end of August.  He seems to love living here, and Duke is thrilled to have a dog buddy again.  The more the merrier, right?

Friday, October 28, 2016

“Service To Others Is The Rent You Pay For Your Room Here On Earth”

Do you ever find that there’s something or someone you want to write about, but you just can’t find the right words?  Or the right tone?  Then, when you’re not looking for it all, you find something that’s perfect?

That’s what happened to me when it came to writing about Nick’s grandmother, a.k.a. GrandMommy.  She died on January 11th of this year.  I know, it took me a while to write about her.  She was an intensely private person in some ways, and her illness I think is best described as cruel.

I was perusing quotes on the internet (just something I do sometimes) when I found this one from Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  I think it’s perfect for GrandMommy, and anyone who knew her can say her rent was paid in full.

Nick was incredibly close to GrandMommy.  She helped raise him and shape the person he became.  Please don’t think I’m dismissing Nick’s mom by saying that.  She would agree with me.  She was pretty young when Nick was born, so he spent a lot of time with his grandparents.  I totally lucked out in the Mother-In-Law department.  It just happens that one of the things we agree on is that Nick gets a lot of good from his grandmother.  I don’t know whether that’s Nature, Nurture, or a combination.

I hesitate to use the word “activist” to describe her because I think she was quieter and less obtrusive than that.  “Involved” might be a better word.  She always knew what was going on in the community, and was constantly working to improve things.  She was never the type of person to sit back and say “someone should do something about that”.  When she saw a need, she did she what she could to fill it.

GrandMommy was involved in various causes, but never as the loud, in your face, attention grabbing person.  She often worked behind the scenes.  Quietly.  She was very respectful of everyone’s right to an opinion, even if it happened to be different from her own.

She also had an independent streak.  She lectured me numerous times on the importance of maintaining my own identity outside of being Nick’s wife, of having my own money (separate bank account), and not being too dependent on another person.

Because Nick was so close to GrandMommy, and because we lived in the same town, I was fortunate enough to develop a close relationship with her too.  She’s the one who taught me how to have a vegetable garden, and more importantly, showed me that I actually love growing things.  I will always think of her when I plant things.

GrandMommy was the type of person who never wanted a lot of fanfare for herself.  Being the center of attention was not her thing.  In accordance with that, there was no traditional service.  Instead, we opted for Jane’s Day of Service.  Nick’s mom chose the date, Fat Tuesday (because GrandMommy loved Mardi Gras), and everyone did the service project of their choice.

I think it was the perfect tribute for her, and I hope it’s something that becomes an annual tradition. Not dictating a specific project honored her beliefs of everyone doing something, and it allowed people to participate in ways that were meaningful to them.  Nick and I chose to take food and drinks to the hospice house GrandMommy had been in, and to the hospice house my Granny had been in. Other people did things like take food and toys to children’s homes, donate money to various charities, give blood, and volunteer their time with various organizations.  It was all about service to others.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Some Fall Flowers & A Big Thank You

First, I wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments on my post about Milo dying.  It still hurts.  Like hell, if I’m being totally honest, but y’all were so nice about it.  I really appreciate it.

Now, moving on to happier things.  We’ve been enjoying mostly warm temperatures lately.  It has been unseasonably warm for October for us; with a few exceptions, most days have been in the mid 70s, and it has only dropped down to the 40s at night.  I love the warmer weather, so no complaints here!

I decided to plant some Fall flowers this year.  It’s not something I normally do, but I thought a little splash of color outside might be nice.  And the warmer temperatures made it pleasant to be outside planting things.

I went with a few different colored mums, pansies, and snapdragons.  I’m hoping the warmer temperatures stick around so the flowers last a while.

What about you?  Is it still warm where you are?  Do you have any Fall planting going on?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Think You Should Know

If you’ve read my blog much before, you know that I generally try to follow a sad post with a happier one. It seems more balanced that way, and honestly, it usually makes me feel a little better.

That was my plan after my post about grandfather dying. I was going to write a post about how we had become a foster home for a boxer rescue. First, I was too busy with everything that being a foster home involves, then we were in a car accident. We’re fine, and now the car is too. Finally.

We fostered one dog briefly, who turned out to be less than friendly toward cats. Then we fostered another dog. She seemed great with cats, and she got along well with Duke. We were planning to adopt her, but we didn’t want to stop fostering. There are so many animals out there who need a safe place to go. We decided we’d keep fostering, with the knowledge that we absolutely couldn’t adopt another dog.

A few people said we must be crazy for doing that, but I have a habit of not listening. Because I’m just that stupid sometimes. 

So we fostered a mom and two puppies. We were told we wouldn’t have the puppies long. They were pure bread boxers, and those tend to be adopted fast. The mom we knew might take longer, but we were okay with that. We’re not really puppy people, and were more excited about the mom than the puppies. Puppies are cute, but they’re a lot of work.

We picked up the mom and the two puppies on a Friday evening. We stayed home pretty much all weekend taking care of puppies and getting everyone settled in. Everyone got along; there were no issues between the dogs, and the mom seemed good with the cats. Everything seemed to be going well. A smarter person might have taken a step back and realized that things rarely work out so well so fast. But not me.

Nick was off that Monday, and spent the day at home with the pets. He noticed that one of the puppies wasn’t eating. She also had diarrhea that seemed to get worse throughout the day. Nick offered her food, and kept trying to get her to eat. By the time I got home from work, we realized that she needed to go to the vet. We got in touch with the rescue, and they sent us to the emergency vet.

We took both puppies to the vet. We left the other pets, including the mom, at home. I didn’t crate or separate anyone. I took it for granted that things had been good, and would stay good.

We were at the vet for a long time. They were busy. There were lots of emergencies coming in. They were also afraid of Parvo in the sick puppy, so they kept us basically quarantined. Fortunately, it wasn’t Parvo, just a raging case of worms. They put both puppies on two different de-wormers, checked the sick puppy’s blood sugar, gave her fluids, and determined that as long as we could get her to eat when we got home, everything should be fine.

We arrived home feeling pretty good about everything. It seemed like both puppies were going to be fine. We were probably in for a long night, but that wasn’t the end of the world.

When we walked in the door, we found Milo laying next to the back door. He was bloody, and stiff. Any rational person would have realized he was dead, but I’m just really stupid sometimes, and couldn’t/wouldn’t admit it. We picked him up and rushed back to the vet.

The vet confirmed what Nick knew and I didn’t want to acknowledge. Milo was dead. He asked us if Milo was an outdoor cat; thinking that he might have been hit by a car. He wasn’t. He was strictly indoor. We asked about the possibility that it was the dogs. The vet was very kind, but confirmed that it was very likely the dogs. He said there was the possibility that it was some kind of freak accident, or medical issue, but the dogs were a very real possibility. He suggested a necropsy to determine what happened. We decided to do it.

We really needed to know what had happened, especially since we have the four other cats. Nick grabbed the possibility of a freak accident or medical issue like a lifeline. I wanted him to be right, but I knew he wasn’t. Sometimes you just know when you’ve done something unforgivably stupid.

The next day we took Milo to the state lab. They called later that evening, and said that the full report wouldn’t be ready for a while, but that Milo had been killed by dogs.

We had been keeping the two new dogs (the mom and the one we had been planning to adopt) separated from the cats. We had found scratches all over one of them and fur the color of Milo’s in the other one’s mouth. The results from the lab were just confirmation of what we already knew.

We made the decision not to go through with adopting the one dog, and not to continue fostering. I had been in touch with the rescue since right after it happened, and told them if the lab confirmed our suspicions, they would need to make other arrangements for the dogs. I don’t think they were very happy about it, but I really don’t care. Neither one of us wanted much to do with either of those dogs, and we had the other cats to think about. Both dogs and the puppies went to other foster homes.

Our other cats are pretty much back to normal. It took them a while. Milo was the dominant cat, and they just seemed lost without him to lead the way and boss them around. Our vet recommended a few things; new toys, treats, Feliway diffusers, etc. that seemed to help them cope.

We’re taking a break from fostering. I honestly don’t know if we’ll ever bring a new dog into our home again. We have our two dogs, and for now that’s enough. We also have the four cats. I feel like I need to somehow make it up to them, but I don’t know how to do that. Most people seem to think we’ll go back to fostering after some time for grieving and healing, but I don’t know. I don’t trust my judgment anymore. And how do you forgive yourself for getting your cat killed? I don’t know what the right penance is for that. Any ideas?

I’m sorry for two sad posts in a row, but I thought you should know. Our families obviously know. As do our vets’ offices. Fortunately, we can keep going to our usual vets. I wasn’t sure if they’d let us after what I did, but they seem to believe it was just a tragic accident, and said we’ll always be allowed to go there. I’ve tried to tell everyone who has a choice in being around me, so they can decide whether they want to or not. So now I’m telling all of you, in case you want to unfollow me, or don’t want me commenting on your blogs anymore. Just let me know, and I will respect that choice.