Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Getting to Know You...

As you can imagine things have been pretty busy since Kia came to live with us. First it was to return to the shelter Monday to officially adopt her. Then it was to return to the shelter Tuesday with her (my fault I forgot to ask) so she could get her rabies vaccination, microchip and city license.  

If you have ever traveled with a cat in a carrier in a car you know that most of them aren't exactly thrilled with the experience. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the shelter (and that's if there isn't a train) so she serenaded me for 30 minutes. Once at the shelter she was in and out in about 5 minutes! Back in the Jeep and she was a little more subdued (poor baby) but I think she realized - hey, I wasn't being taken back to the shelter; that was just a little blip on my radar! I'm going home again with this crazy woman. Woo-hoo! Think I'll sing some more!

Every time we visit Kia in her luxury suite she is more comfortable and tries to follow us out the door. This morning we decided it was time to begin moving things forward. So with the puppy gate securely in place Kizzie and Koko's breakfast bowls on one side of the gate, Kia's breakfast bowl on the other side of the gate ~ we opened the door.

What happened was exactly what we expected. Kia hissed, Koko and Kizzie (once they got over their shock) barked. It only took about 30-45 seconds before the door was shut. It's ok ~ no need to stress them out. It was just the first step.

Koko and Kizzie's aftermath reactions. They couldn't quit believe what they had just witnessed. Monkeys.

My wise husband ~ who our friend dubbed The Cat Whisperer ~ suggested for the dinner meeting we just do one-on-one. Fabulous idea. So he took Koko outside for a walk while I supervised Kizzie and Kia one-on-one. 

Brilliant! Kia hissed. Once. She then stepped back about 2 feet but stayed where she could see Kizzie. Kizzie didn't bark once. She whined and paced a little and was definitely curious but well-behaved. After about 5 minutes Kia went under the bed. Door closed so they could enjoy their dinners.

When Kizzie joined the family we had our long time family cat (21 years old) already in residence. Kizzie was absolutely fine with her and A-choo pretty much just ignored Kizzie. They coexisted for 6 months until A-choo passed away in the middle of the night one night in March. So we expect that Kizzie will be the first to warm up to Kia.

A-choo ~ always in our hearts.

Then there's Koko... We don't have a lot of information on his previous life but we doubt that he had other "siblings" - canine or feline. He's an excitable boy so we expect it will take longer for he and Kia to bond; but he might surprise us. We have observed that when Kizzie and Koko are separated they are much better behaved. When they are to together they are double trouble ~ they like to egg each other on and wind each other up. Monkeys.

So, one day at a time. As anxious as we are to have Kia out of her luxury suite and truly a part of the family (I imagine her sitting on my lap in the evening as we watch the most recent Netflix, Hulu or Amazon series we're into) I know it is for her well-being as well as the dogs that we take this slowly. Trying to rush things could cause all of them undo stress and fear.  We'll get there.

Till then we will continue to spend a lot of time with Kia in her suite ~ with her favorite catnip-filled rat. Go figure.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Foster Fail

If you read my previous post you know that I have been trying my hand as a foster parent fostering a shelter cat. 

And as most people who know me ~ starting with the folks I know at the shelter, then my family, then my friends, then my husband predicted ~ I am indeed a Foster Fail. Let me explain...

In retrospect I think the seed was planted when I overheard someone reject her because she was 12 years old. That bothered me. I was pretty much a goner when she sat on my lap and would not leave. Then - stick a fork in me 'cause I'm done - when I felt myself tearing up. Gah.

So I filled out the paperwork, met the Animal Protection Officers at my home so they could do more paperwork and do a home inspection and my husband and I were off to the shelter to pick up our foster girl.

I have experienced this with my dogs and heard it from almost everyone who fosters/adopts a shelter pet ~ the transformation once they are out of the shelter and realize they are going to be in a real home with people who love them ~ well, the transformation is remarkable.

They relax.

They get familiar with their surroundings.

Listening to her puppy dog brother sniff on the other side of the door.

They start to play.

Nothing says happiness like a rat filled with catnip!

And they get to know their people.

I haven't worked in 3 days.  How can I with bundle of love laying on me??

And eventually they realize... I'm staying!!!

Yes. We were Foster Fails in less than 24 hours. Truth told I was the minute I decided to foster her. It took just a bit longer for my husband to admit it but the day after we brought her home, he said, "Do you think we should keep her?"  I said, "Well if everything works out with the dogs, I would like to. I just love her."  Him, "Oh let's adopt her. If we have problems with the dogs we'll just call Yukari." (our dog/now cat trainer and fabulous friend).  

Today I signed the adoption papers, paid a nominal fee and bingo bango ~ Kia is now officially part of The K Team.  (I'll be updating their Facebook page to reflect that soon!) 

Speaking of the K Team my friends have remarked they haven't heard much about them (Koko and Kizzie) since Kia came on the scene. The three of them have yet to have any visual contact ~ we're working up to that. Right now they are sniffing thru doors and sniffing blankets to become accustomed to each other. Now their food bowls are placed on blankets (Kia's food bowl on a blanket that smells of the pups and the pups' food bowls on a blanket that smells of Kia) on either side of the guest room door where she is staying. So far, so good! Soon we will be doing the feeding routine in the same spots but with a puppy gate between them. Won't that be interesting??!  *wink*

So it's official ~ Kia is ours. Why Kia?  (Pronounced Keye-a) Well first Puddy Tat doesn't suit her.  She's beautiful and deserves a beautiful name. Second ~ we kind of have this K theme going with Koko and Kizzie (Kismet). Third ~ I Googled the meaning of Kia to find that the definition is loosely based on Chinese origins meaning "Arise or come up out of." Perfect! She's out of the shelter forever!

As for Koko and Kizzie ~ see for yourself. I think they're doing ok.


Mohawk rockin'

So...... stay tuned as we introduce The K Team to their new sistah!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

And Yet Another New Experience...

My volunteer-ship (is that a word?) at the Aurora Animal Shelter has been kind of backwards - by my choice and I'm grateful they were willing to let me do it this way. Typically the first step is to attend a Volunteer Orientation meeting, have a tour and sign up for an individual training session to experience a typical day at the shelter. I had to miss the June meeting because I was out of state. I was given special permission to have Yukari train me because I was ready to get started.

So the other night I attended an official Orientation meeting and met the Director, the Manager, the Shelter Vet, the Volunteer Coordinator and an Animal Protection Officer. They all provided helpful information followed by a Q and A session and a tour. The room was packed and I was excited to see so many wanting to help the animals there. I came away energized, excited and motivated!

So Friday morning I donned my shelter shoes (I have special shoes I only wear in the shelter so I don't bring anything home to my pups) and my shelter uniform of cargo capris (plenty of pockets) and a tee. I walked into the shelter with new energy and confidence. It was fun to see some of the friendly faces I met at the Orientation meeting all ready to get to work. Yukari and I chose three cats to visit with.

This grey tabby girl with enormous green eyes was a hoot!  I think she was about a year old. She is full of curiosity and playfulness. She cracked me up. She's adventurous, loving and sweet. What a purr machine! We think she would be great for a family and most likely would get along well with other family pets. Ask for #A173704.

And a sweetheart

And then there was this gorgeous 1 year old Siamese mix little boy. He was a little shy at first but warmed up to us quickly. He enjoyed playing with the feather toys and being pet and snuggled. He was very affectionate and curious ~ just a sweet, sweet boy.

And lastly we visited with this 12 year old beauty. She was quite shy at first so we let her take her time to feel comfortable. As we talked she started exploring the room. Before long she was wandering over to us and crawling up on our laps. When she curled up on my lap and purred endlessly I was really touched. She seemed to be in no hurry to leave! She is a real cuddle-bug and loves snuggling! Although she is 12 years old she is full of energy and quite vibrant! Cats can live a long time ~ my cat A-choo lived to be 21.5! So this sweet one could have many, many loving years ahead of her. Ask for #A173616.

Here she is posing for her close-up with Yukari

*Full disclosure* When this little one who went by the name Puddy Tat... would not leave my lap I started getting choked up. I thought about how every time ~ every single time ~ I visit the shelter there is always one cat that stands out and I think hmmm... should I adopt?

This is the first time a cat has found me. I really felt she was asking me to please give her a chance. I know that the kittens and 1,2, and 3 year olds have a much, much better chance of adoption than an older cat and because of that I have a passion for senior cats (and dogs). She was the oldest cat I had seen in the shelter and I worried about her chances of finding a home. In fact I overheard someone admiring her but rejecting her as an adoptive pet because of her age. That was an arrow thru my heart.

But I didn't know if we really were ready to adopt ~ and my dogs are my first priority. They are my family and I have to respect their well being and their feelings. Yukari suggested maybe fostering her. I have never fostered and didn't know what it involved. But in talking with her and learning about her vast fostering experience I called my husband to see if he would be willing to let us give it a try. 

He loves animals as much as I do so I thought he might say yes. He sighed and said, "You can't bring them all home ok? But bring this one home."

So as I type Puddy Tat ~ now renamed Kia (K-eye-a) is sleeping comfortably in the guest room just off my studio. I'm a foster Mama and he's a foster Papa and we are ever so slowly going to introduce her to Kizzie and Koko. I'm over the moon in love with her. She is a little ball of furr and purr. 

Stay tuned to follow the adventures of foster parenthood and a little bundle of love named Kia. Y

Monday, July 13, 2015

They Have Made Me a Better Person

I ran across an endearing article today on the Huff Post. "10 Things We Can Learn From Our Dogs That Will Make Us Happier and Healthier Human Beings"

Have a read.  It's worth 5 minutes of your time.

I laughed when I read the part about "I'll watch whatever you want to watch. It doesn't matter that I don't like Real Housewives of anywhere - I'm lying next to you and I'm happy."

Hand to God - Koko watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with me!

I found so much I could relate to in the article. I have had many beloved cats and dogs in the past but there is just something about these two. 

I think they came into my life at a time when I was searching for some meaning - and they gave me that. I had the time to truly devote myself to them. I have said it before and will continue to say it - these two have taught me so much. They have challenged me in ways I've never been challenged. They are goofy beyond belief and have made me laugh - deep belly laughs that leave me exhausted with joy. 

They have shown such sweet and unconditional love and affection. 

I only hope I can care for them as well as they deserve for the rest of their remarkable little lives.

It is because of them I learned about the abundance of senior dogs (and cats) in shelters who just want someone to love them and give them a safe home. And they are often overlooked in favor of puppies and kittens ~ despite how much they have to offer. (It has since become a passion of mine - finding homes for older dogs and cats.) 

It is because of them - and the loving care they both received in a shelter - that I myself became a shelter volunteer. 

It is because of them that I do all I can to promote dogs and cats, puppies and kittens on social media - hoping to find them the homes they deserve.

It is because of them that I am a better person. YY

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hear That? That's Me. Helicopter Mom.

Since Kizzie came into my life my husband has called me Helicopter Mom. 

I tend to worry about every little thing. Like she'll slip out of her collar (this has happened). Or she will slip out of her harness (this has happened).  

Or she will fall in the water.

(This has happened.)

Helicopter Mom was taken to a whole new level when highly energetic, always active, always on the go Koko came into my life. I turned into the Queen of Helicopter Moms - the ruler of Helicopter Mom-dom.

I worry that he will fall in the water. Oh wait. He just jumps in.

I worry that he will run away. He does love to run, that boy. 
(He's on leash here.)

But he has run off leash twice. And those incidences scarred me for life. 
I am scared to death that he will escape - it's the adventuresome terrier in him.

I have a hard time trusting anyone else with them because I'm super vigilant. My husband has just kind of turned the leashes over to me and thank goodness ~ after 6 trips in a year ~ I completely and utterly trust our beloved dog sitter. You have no idea what a huge step that is for me.

So when I expressed to Yukari the other day (who knows all about my Helicopter Mom problem) that I worry about the shelter animals when they're adopted out ~~ are they going to safe homes? Are they going to get the care and the love they deserve? She smiled and replied, "Not only are you a Helicopter Mom to Koko and Kizzie but you are a Helicopter Mom to shelter animals, too!"

I'm hopeless.

I have found some really fun ways to help shelter animals. A number of businesses will donate to shelters ~ usually food/meals or sometimes monetary donations.  Here are a few I've found and enjoy:

These awesome rings came from The Animal Rescue Site  
Every purchase funds food and care for rescued animals. Y
This ring is here

This one is really fun because the paw portion of the ring spins!  
It's not only bling, but entertainment as well!

Unfortunately I don't remember where I got this bracelet but 
I know that the site also supports shelters.
It says, "The Road of Life is Sweeter When Traveled With a Dog" 

I got this fun tee from I Heart Dogs
(But, of course I care about cats, too!)

I have bought sweatshirts for me and things for my dogs from

Chateau Le Paws supports No Kill Shelters across the country ~ 
enjoy wine for a good cause!

My little business cmh design LLC donates a portion of every sale 
to The Aurora Animal Shelter,
Best Friends Sanctuary, The Dumb Friends League and
St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital 
(but that's another story for another day.)

And because I like to support local artists and I love his work
I commissioned Sean Brown to make these custom pieces that 
can either be worn as pins or with adapters as necklaces.

This is Kizzie

This is Koko

Of course I love cats, too ~ an eyeglass case I bought in 
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.  It reminded me so much of
my beloved A-choo I had to buy it.

I won't even start on all my Hello Kitty things...

So yeah, I'm the Queen of Helicopter Moms. The rest of you can relax. I've got this.