Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Home is Where the Heart is…and More

Written by on January 14, 2015 1 Comment

In November, my sister, Aby, said she was coming “home” to spend some time with my mother.  Aby lives in Illinois, and during her visit “home”, she got to talking about what “home” really is, to her and to her children.  We were at P.F. Changs.  It was a bit noisy.  I had a beer.  And I remember thinking that I hadn’t thought about “home” all that much, and I wonder what got her thinking about “home?”

Afterwards, though, I thought about it for a bit. In fact, for quite a bit.  Over time, I came to the conclusion that for me, Aby and our brother, “home” growing up was where Mom and Dad and our siblings were.  Going “home” after school was to be with our family.  Then, when our mom and dad got divorced in the early 1980s, our “home” was sold.  My mom moved into a condo, my dad into a house in another town and I, in college, suddenly didn’t feel I had a home any more.  I felt homeless.

Now, looking back at the time of my parents’ divorce, if “home is where the heart is” then I could have adopted the attitude that I had two homes, instead of just one.  My mom’s condo could have been considered “home” and my dad’s house in another town could have been my second “home.”  But those places didn’t quite seem like home to me.

But why?  What else made a house a “home?”

Then I thought about the home I bought in 1996 with my husband, Mark.  If ‘home is where the heart is,’ well, let’s just say that Mark has a big heart, loves me as much as my parents (he says more!) and he’s now the person I go home to every day.  He is the primary “heart” in my home.

Mark with Snickers and Winston.

Mark with Snickers and Winston.

But just looking at that photo it’s obvious there’s a lot more to this place called home.  Home is also where two dogs engage in bone wars…

Winston, right, about to lose his bone to his brother,  Snickers.

Winston, right, about to lose his bone to his brother, Snickers.

…where a young cat plays with the dogs…

Snickers playing with Preto.

Snickers playing with Preto.

…where an old cat grumps mostly wants to be left alone…

Purrkins.

Purrkins.

… where animals are tended to until–and including–their dying day…

With Dusty the day he died.

With Dusty the day he died.

…where wildlife can get corn and sunflower seeds year-round, whether they come in alone…

8-point buck that visits our yard.

8-point buck that visits our yard.

…or with a few of their pals.

Our record - 21 squirrels on the deck at one time.

Our record – 21 squirrels on the deck at one time.

Home is also where I can wear sweatshirts, jeans and a baseball hat and they don’t have to match because unless I go outside or answer the doorbell, nobody else will see. Home is also where my outfits get even worse when I stain or paint.

My staining outfit.

My staining outfit.

Home is where I can ponder cleaning now and again and actually do it even less often.

Home is also an imperfect place whose imperfections I can ignore or fret about–the crack in the kitchen ceiling, the brass light fixtures in the hallway that don’t go with the rest of the house, the crack on the bathroom floor.  At the end of the day in my home, it’s the hearts that matter.  The rest can–and does–wait.

Preto on Mark's lap, which makes Mark as happy as Preto.

Preto on Mark’s lap, which makes Mark as happy as Preto.

Home is also the structure whose walls hold the photos of days gone by, capturing brief moments that happened inside and outside these walls.  On winter days in particular, I look at those photos and know how blessed I am.

Photos on the wall.

Photos on the wall.

Home is also where what I say or do stays in my home.  It’s like being in Los Vegas without all the crowds.  And unlike Los Vegas at night, it’s safe in my home–my thoughts are safe, my actions, my words, secrets, and expressing whichever part of me I want to…even if I’m not sure what part that is.

Home - amy with hat on

 

Home is also where I roll over in the middle of the night and find someone who loves me at my side, that same someone I can call cute names without anyone else hearing.

Home is where my step kids come to visit with stories of their travels, their careers, their hopes and dreams.  Home is also where we laugh and sometimes cry, and raise a toast to one another in celebration.

Family at Christmas.

Family at Christmas.

Home is also where home-made cards are cherished like no other presents, no matter what home they were made in.

My birthday card from two of my step kids.

My birthday card from two of my step kids.

And while only two of the four step kids lived here for any length of time, I hope they know that my home is their home when they need it to be–it’s where they can always come no matter what.

That, of course, got me to wondering how they define home.  And so it goes.

The Last of my Book Promos – at the Book Club of Grosse Ile

Written by on September 27, 2014 No Comments

Sometimes it’s not only who you know, it’s who other people know.  In my case, I know my boss and she knows her mom and her mom is a member of the Book Club of Grosse Ile.  And it was because of that set of connections that I was invited to present a one-hour summary of my book to the members of the book club.  Immediately, I was glad I dressed in a pant suit.

Door mat at the country club.

Door mat at the country club.

Inside, we were guided to the meeting room by a man who told us to tell someone else where an extension cord was for our media needs.  The room was set up like this.  My first thought:  “I better not spill anything!”

Room at the Country Club.

Room at the Country Club.

Within a few minutes, I was introduced to Katie Hartwell, one of the book club members and the person who’d been my primary contact over the last couple of months. Then a waitress walked in to offer me some iced tea or lemonade and I told her I’d brought a bottle of water and was all set.  Another person came in with two long, entangled extension cords.  While Mark and I set up, ladies started signing in and putting on name tags.

By 1:00 the room held about 35 women, all of whom had given up an hour of their time away from a perfectly blue sky, zero-wind, 75-degree day to listen to me blab on about…  I was about to be introduced when one lady pulled me aside and asked me what it was I was going to tell them.  “I’m going to talk about my book, which is about raising a whole bunch of pets my husband kept bringing home.” “Oh,” she said.  “I had a dog once, but I can’t have a dog where I am.”  “Well, I said, have you ever considered getting a hamster?”  She thought that was quite funny, and as she told her friend and they both laughed, I wondered if perhaps introducing these ladies to the messy world of my messy animals wasn’t my best idea.

At 1:00, Katie introduced me and I started off by thanking them for allowing me to talk in spite of the fact that my boss’ mom, Pat, wasn’t able to be in attendance due to her rehabilitation from a fall.  Then I began my presentation, by t started talking, by giving them two reasons why–per the topic of my talk–Why There Will Always Be Something Underfoot in My House.  Reason 1 was that I married a guy with 4 kids and kids like pets, so I figured I’d have a pet or two.  I also introduced my first book, From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds.  And I showed them the nifty book cover that I designed like my wedding cake such that the bride’s fishing pole was connected to a larger fish than the groom’s fishing pole.  I think they liked that.

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The second reason I provided for the fact that there will always be something furry underfoot in my house is the fact that Mark had a PhD. in biology and loved critters.  And from there, I introduced each pet wed raised over about 18 years, going chapter by chapter, showing photos of my book and reading two sections.

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An hour later, I reached my last slides, showing that because of Mark, and as evidenced by Winston, Snickers and Preto, creatures are still coming into my house.

As I began packing up my media and re-tangling the two giant, orange extension cords, I looked up to see a woman asking if I’d brought copies of my book.  Over the next 15 minutes, I sold 5 copies, with, which a $100 honorarium was the best way in the world to wrap up my book promotion.  Best of all were the comments:

“You’re a regular comedian,” one said.

“That was a great way to start our season,” one said.

“I enjoyed it very much.  And I think you’re a saint,” said another.

“I think that it helps that he’s handsome,” said another woman, who caught on to the fact that most of the critters that came into the house were Mark’s fault.

Another woman said, “I was so glad you didn’t show any photos of any snakes or other scary thing.”

Another said she was on her way to see my boss’ mother, recovering from an accident, and that, “I will report favorably.”

As I was chatting, one kindly woman got me a plate of fruit and nifty chocolates that might have been petit fours. I sat down to chat with a few of the women, conscious the entire time of the whiteness of the table and the slipperiness of the melon pieces I attempted to cut with a knife.  I cut and nibbled carefully as one of the women told of her dogs and cats, another about how her son had ferrets once upon a time, another about other pets.  It seemed they all had had at as least one pet or another, and they were all happy to share.

It was about 2:20 when I thanked them, took the last of my unsold books, and found Mark outside waiting for me on a bench.  Nearby was a member of the book club sitting on one of those walkers with a seat, waiting for a ride.   She was telling Mark how funny I was, and I thanked her for taking time of out of such a beautiful day to come hear me talk.  As Mark and I walked back to the car, she said something about how it was nice to have met the handsome hero of my books. “Too funny,” I whispered to Mark.  “One of the other ladies said I was the hero.”

Mark and I drove the two-hour drive home and after tending to critters, Mark poured two glasses of champagne.

Preto joining in the celebration.

Preto joining in the celebration.

We raised a glass to my boss, Dina, and her mom, Pat, for inviting me to speak at the Country Club on Friday.  And we raised a glass to Katie Hartwell for getting to the event early to help us set up, and for writing a nifty little blurb in The News-Herald on Sunday.  We raised a glass to all the ladies of the Book Club of Grosse Ile, with an extra sip for the ones that thought I was funny.  Finally, we raised a glass to the end of the book promotion.  What’s next, we’ll have to wait and see.

The Last of the Book Promos

Written by on September 15, 2014 No Comments

At some point a writer has to start writing again which means book marketing must come to an end.  My book Something Furry Underfoot came out as an e-book in May 2013 and a paperback in September 2013 and I’ve done marketing on and off since then.  My second to last marketing event was a short, fun interview on Pamela S. Thibodeux’s awesome site.  The interview was her Saturday Spotlight on September 13.

On September 26 I will end my marketing of Something Furry Underfoot at the Book Club of Grosse Isle.  The Club meets at the Grosse Isle Golf and Country Club.  I was invited to speak by my boss’s mother who is a member.  The bummer is that my boss’s mother fell while visiting my boss last weekend and is undergoing rehab.  And that means that I won’t get to meet the very person that is responsible for setting up my last promotional opportunity for Something Furry Underfoot.  That hardly seems fair.  More on that in my next posting.

The topic of my one-hour talk at the Golf and Country Club is:  Why There Will Always be Something Furry Underfoot in My House.  Surely, you know the answer to that after reading the posting about the Thousand Dollar Kitten.  The black kitten named Preto is now fully recovered from his botfly bite (and the tapeworms that followed afterwards) and an absolute joy to play with.

Preto in the box.

Preto in the box.

So this is my heads up to myself, perhaps, that marketing will be done for my book soon and I will have to choose to either start another book or venture off into a new hobby, like underwater basket weaving.  I’ve not done underwater basket weaving yet and I hear there’s a venue for that somewhere tropically warm.  In the meantime, watch for more photos and occasional blog postings about nature, pets and life.  And watch for fun stuff on my FB sites, too.

The Thousand Dollar Kitten

Written by on July 27, 2014 No Comments

First, thank you all for being part of International Author’s Day on July 18 and entering to win the free copy of Something Furry Underfoot.  Congratulations go out to Bonnie H. for being the winner of the free, autographed paperback version.  Everyone else that entered can still nab an e-version of my book for 99 cents through the end of July.

And now for the fun story about the latest critter Mark brought home.  Last Thursday, while putting his canoe in the water at a boat launch, Mark saw this tiny black kitten.  Mark had a friend with him and they left the kitten to wander the shore of the lake.  Hours later, the men returned to the boat launch and Mark called for the kitten in vain.  Part way down the road to his friend’s cottage, the men realized that a canoe strap was missing, so they returned to the boat launch and Mark called for the kitten again in vain.  An hour later, after having lunch at his friend’s house, Mark returned to the boat launch area, called for the kitten one more time and out came the kitten from the thick underbrush.

Mark named the kitten Preto which is Portugese for black and also the name of our Amazon fishing guide.  The kitten was mild mannered, gentle and sweet.  The puppies loved him.  I couldn’t get over how black he is.

Preto on Mark's lap.  Mark is wearing a black t-shirt with lightning on it.

Preto on Mark’s lap. Mark is wearing a black t-shirt with lightning on it.

Mark loved the fact that Preto would sit on his lap.  Snickers and Winston loved the fact that the kitty would play.  It took Purrkins 2 days to warm up to Preto.

Preto in box with Snickers, Winston and Purrkins watching.

Preto in box with Snickers, Winston and Purrkins watching.

I brought my mom over to see Preto on Sunday.  She thought he was pretty nifty, too.

Preto with my mom, yesterday.

Preto with my mom, yesterday.

On Sunday, Preto woke up but didn’t want to eat.  He refused milk.  He refused water.  And when I picked him up, he felt really warm.  We drove him to the MSU Small Animal Clinic where the vet suggested blood tests to eliminate the potential for a fatal virus.  And because what Preto had might be fatal, he was taken to an isolated area in the Clinic.  The vet called later to say the blood tests showed nothing and perhaps we should do an x-ray (for like $150) and an ultrasound (around $330).  We countered, suggesting an antibiotic and call us in the morning.

We left Preto overnight.  The next morning, Mark returned Monday and paid the $700 bill at the MSU Vet Clinic (AAAHHHHHH!).  Yes, for emergency services, an IV, antibiotic, fluids, isolation, blood tests.  Gulp. Mark took Preto to the Haslett Animal Hospital where we knew we’d pay less than an arm and a leg per day.  There, Preto was given a new IV, different antibiotic, but his temperature remained the same.  Monday turned into Tuesday with the same results. Tuesday night, I asked Mark how much more he was going to put into this kitten.  Mark said, “I don’t know.  But when I drove him home, I told him I’d take care of him.”

But of course.

This morning, Dr. Melissa Wyatt shaved various sections on Preto looking for a reason for his illness.  Dr. Wyatt shaved Preto here and there, looking closer, looking for reasons for his illness.  And then she saw it, a small hole in his neck where he’d been bitten by a botfly.  The life cycle of a botfly in a kitten or cat is the stuff of a horror movie, so I’ll spare you those lovely details.  I will share that it’s only the sensitive kittens/cats that develop a fever.  It’s just our luck that Mark brought home a sensitive kitten.

Preto sporting two shaved legs where the IVs were and a shaved neck.

Preto sporting two shaved legs where the IVs were and a shaved neck…where the botfly was.

Thankfully, Dr. Wyatt removed the botfly today and–get this–saved it in a bottle for her vet students to see (which is something Mark would do!).  In fact, Dr. Wyatt is my hero, not only for solving this mystery, but because she removed a sewing needle from Purrkins’ mouth once, removed all of Little Dipper’s teeth over the course of three surgeries, and kept her doors open just for me when I brought Dusty in after he’d been attacked by a bulldog.

At home this afternoon, Preto took to the comfort of Mark’s lap.

Snickers saying hi to Preto. Note Preto's shaved tummy.

Snickers saying hi to Preto. Note Preto’s shaved tummy.

Soon, Preto began eating the dogs’ food (in spite of his own food being nearby).

Preto eating the dog's food with the dogs.

Preto eating the dog’s food with the dogs.

After he ate, Preto curled up in the sun for a nap.

Preto sleeping in the sun.

Preto sleeping in the sun.

Winston came by to make sure he was okay.

Winston checking out the sleepy Preto.

Winston checking out the sleepy Preto.

Snickers goes out of his way to be with Preto.

Apreto with snickers on chair

My book Something Furry Underfoot is all about taking care of and spoiling a whole bunch of different animals Mark kept bringing home.  Preto, who has already wormed–or shall I say botflied–his way into our hearts, is just the latest example of why there will always be something furry underfoot in my house.  It just happens.  And it’s always a good thing.

P.S.  Don’t forget–you only have until the end of July to enter the Petspage.com giveaway for lots of great pet-related prizes, including a free copy of my book.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy International Author’s Day! And Enter to Win Great Pet Prizes!

Written by on July 14, 2014 6 Comments

A kindly woman by the name of Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, who admits to being a book addict from India (and also a site host for my first  book blog tour a few years ago), decided that there should be an International Author’s Day to celebrate authors.  On her web site, she says that she was shocked to learn there wasn’t a day to celebrate authors and that she wanted “to show her appreciation for the hours of hard work that  authors put into their  books.”  She asked authors to join her in the celebration on July 18.  And she suggested we post something on or around July 14.  So here `tis!

As part of celebrating International Author’s Day…. the badge for which is here…

International Authors Day

…I am giving away a free, autographed copy of the paperback version of Something Furry Underfoot, my humorous touching memoir about a whole bunch of pets.  All you have to do to enter to win a free copy of Something Furry Underfoot–which, by the way, is averaging 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com– is comment on this blog posting.  That’s all there is to it. One winner will be selected on July 18.

SOMETHINGFURRYUNDERFOOT final

But wait, there’s more!

Since my book is about pets, its also part of the Petspage.com summer giveaway.  And in honor of Petpage.com’s month-long giveaway, you can enter to win one of several signed paperback of Something Furry Underfoot!  Just go to Petspage.com and enter to win!  There are a LOT of other pet-related products being given away, too, so be sure to check it out.  You have between now and July 31 to enter the Petspage.com giveaway.  Several winners of my book will be sent copies in mid-August.

So happy International Author’s Day to all authors out there!  And be sure to celebrate by entering one or both of these great contests.

P.S. Debdatta is sponsoring this blog hop to help get the word out about International Author’s Day.  She blogs at (http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/)

And Along Came a Bunny

Written by on June 29, 2014 No Comments

While cleaning out my mom’s condominium recently, my stepson, Arthur, stopped by to see if there were any items that would be of use to him in his new apartment.  Now, I was thinking he’d go for things like cooking utensils, and sure enough, he grabbed a colander. But what really intrigued me was when he disappeared under the basement stairs and came out with a roll of leftover linoleum.  “What,” I asked, “is that for?”  He said, “For the bunny I’m going to adopt.”

Well, Mark and I happen to like rabbits, so we invited ourselves on the journey from the Lansing area towards Ann Arbor and into the middle of absolutely nowhere to the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary.  We were intrigued to see the Sanctuary because Arthur had worked there on weekends for a year or so a year up until a few months ago, and my friend Brenda had volunteered there in the past.  So I was excited when we saw this sign.

Sign to where Arthur's rabbit resided.

Sign to where Arthur’s rabbit resided.

Before we got too far walking around, we were met by one of the workers at the Sanctuary whom Arthur had worked with.

Arthur with a former coworker.

Arthur with a former coworker.

Nearby, on the side of one of the barns was this sign.

The second sign.

The second sign.

Inside the barn were a bunch of metal partitions that make up the cages for the rabbits.  In one far corner was a rabbit Arthur had seen online named Ferbie.

Arthur saying hi to Ferbie.

Arthur saying hi to Ferbie.

Ferbie had no idea that Arthur had come to see her to take her home.  In response, she ran off into her poop box.

Ferbie in her poop box.

Ferbie in her poop box.

Arthur squatted down and after a minute or two, Ferbie came up for some scratches between her ears.

Ferbie and Arthur.

Ferbie and Arthur.

And that’s all Arthur and Ferbie seemed to need.  Arthur stood up, went to the office, purchased his bunny and returned with a small animal carrying cage we happened to have had in our garage.

Arthur carrying Ferbie out.

Arthur carrying Ferbie out.

On the way to the car, we stopped to check out another barn that contained smaller bunnies and bunnies that hadn’t been neutered yet.  See, one of the benefits of getting a bunny from the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary is that the rabbit comes neutered, and that’s important to keep a boy rabbit from spraying and to keep a girl rabbit from developing ovarian cancer, and to keep both parties from reproducing, like, well, rabbits.  One of the smaller buns was this cutie.

Baby Harlequin rabbit.

Baby Harlequin rabbit.

After we said farewell to the rabbits and rabbit workers, Arthur carried Ferbie out to our car and sat with her all the way home.

A proud bunny owner with his bunny.

A proud bunny owner with his bunny.

As we drove, Arthur announced that he’d changed Ferbie’s name to Hodor, which is a Game of Thrones character.  Of course, I can’t get used to unusual names very well, so called her Fer-dor and Herbie and everything else.  Later, at home, Mark took the bunny out of the back of our car and held him while Arthur went into our house to get some timothy grass I’d purchased for our outdoor rabbits, and while I picked some fresh dandelions we happened to have in our yard.

Mark holding Hodor's cage.

Mark holding Hodor’s cage and the dandelion greens. I think he looks pretty proud, don’t you?

Then Arthur took Fodor out to his car.

Arthur and Fodor about to head home.

Arthur and Fodor about to head home.

And then Hodor was gone.  Thanks to Facebook, though, we know that Hodor is doing well in his new home.

Fodor in his new home.

Fodor in his new home.  Photo by Arthur Oemke.

We are proud of Arthur for rescuing a rabbit.  And we are proud that when he posted his photo of Hodor on Facebook, he wrote:  “No home is complete without a furry friend!”  Mark and I completely  agree.  In fact, we think no backyard is complete without a furry friend, either.

Bunny relaxing in our backyard.

Bunny relaxing in our backyard.

Congratulations to Arthur and Fodor..I mean Hodor.  May you have many great years together.

 

 

 

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Get a Ferret

Written by on May 02, 2014 1 Comment

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In Chapter 3 of my humorous, touching memoir, Something Furry Underfoot, I tell how our first ferret was soon joined by a second, then a third, until we had four crazy, inquisitive ferrets in our house.  As with the other pets that came into my house, I knew nothing about ferrets.  Here are a few things I learned.

  • Ferrets are still illegal in some states, and some local municipalities require permits, so check your local laws and regs before you consider getting a ferret.

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  • At pet stores near me, I can buy a ferret for somewhere around $150. A good cage, water bottle, food dishes, hammocks, toys, and litter can cost anywhere from $200-$300. Vet visits for basic shots and other preventatives, and continuing to provide good food, treats and bedding can cost several hundred dollars a year.  I found ferrets to be more expensive that our cat, Purrkins, and much more expensive than our hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and mice.
  • A good cage is one that will keep a ferret safe during the approximately 18 hours a day they are usually in cages. A good cage will have very little spacing between shelves OR, if there is a lot of spacing, you’ll need to make the potential fall less than 4 inches with hammocks and old sweatshirts. As I wrote in Chapter 3 of Something Furry Underfoot, our sweet little ferret named Chunky cost $1,200 in vet bills because Chunky fell in his cage and the vets back in the late 1990s weren’t able to immediately diagnosis his broken back.  With a lot of help on our part, Chunky recovered, but we hope his story helps people realize the importance of reducing the distance a ferret can fall in a cage.
Big Wuzzy and Rocky snuggled up in their hammock.

Big Wuzzy and Rocky snuggled up in their hammock.

  • Ferrets mostly take to litter boxes, however, they’re not always perfect and they sometimes make messes on the floor. If you can’t deal with an occasional mess, a ferret may not be right for you.
  • Ferrets will explore every inch of every room you give them access to.  They can open and disappear in bathroom cupboards, they might dig up house plants, they can disappear in the overhangs of kitchen cupboards. It is important to ferret-proof your house, putting safety latches on all cupboards they can’t get access to and sealing any cupboard overhangs.
Big Wuzzy in a kitchen cupboard.

Big Wuzzy in a kitchen cupboard.

  • Ferrets need to be kept in safe places or supervised at all times if allowed to explore somewhere new. Our ferret, Rocky, got into the underside of our La-Z Boy chair, and since he could get crushed if someone sat down, we had to watch and wait until he came out, then seal up the underside of the chair with duct tape.  Ferrets were the most time-intensive pets we owned.  And we’ve owned a lot of pets!
  • Ferrets can interact with other pets, but keep an eye on any pet bigger than your ferret.  We had one dog that was great with the ferrets, another dog that tolerated them, and one cat that we had to watch at all times because he sometimes got rough with the ferrets.
Dusty, the Angel Pup, with Chip.

Dusty, the Angel Pup, with Chip.

  • In my book Something Furry Underfoot, Tip #12 is:  Ferrets are curious little thieves that will claim everything as their own. Keep erasers, lipsticks, lip balms, balloons and other similar items out of ferret reach. These non-edible items can cause blockages, which require an emergency trip to the vet.
  • Ferrets don’t make much noise, so it is easy to step on them. Owners need to get used to walking with an eye to the floor.  That’s true even if you have a bunch of ferrets.
Our ferrets loved fresh water, so we put small bowls of fresh water in the tub for them.

Our ferrets loved fresh water, so we put small bowls of fresh water in the tub for them.

  • A ferret can live 6-10 years.  During the first few years ferrets are vivacious, explore everything, and can get into trouble.  But for the last six to 12 months of their life, most of my ferrets needed help getting around.  Chip liked to be pulled around in a shoebox.

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The American Ferret Association web site contains great advice about what to feed—and what NOT to feed—your ferret. The site also contains important information about caring for your ferret, including the fact that because ferrets have high metabolism, it is necessary to get them to a vet as soon as there is a change in your ferret’s energy or behavior.

Because ferrets are quick, curious, fragile, and can get in and out of things quickly, they aren’t right for everyone.  But if one IS right for you, you’ll be taking in a very energetic, curious pet that will want to play with you and with other ferret pals.  If you have a real happy ferret, you’ll get to see a “weasel war dance” which is when they sort of bounce on their little feet and twist around.

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Read more about life with ferrets in Chapter 3 of Something Furry Underfoot, available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.  Or go to Amylpeterson.com and click on My Books.  Also, check out my children’s rhyming photo e-book Goodnight, Big Wuzzy about one of our ferret pals.

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Spoiling a Cat After the Arrival of Two Puppies

Written by on February 27, 2014 1 Comment

Two bits of good news! First, I’ve created a new networking opportunity with Critter Joe’s, a nifty site devoted to pets.  Critter Joe’s posted information about my book  Something Furry Underfoot on his site under Helpful Information!  So check it out and all the other great things Critter Joe’s has to offer.

Secondly,  I’ve hooked up with www.ebooksoda.com to promote my book on their site, and in so doing, have lowered the e-book version of Something Fury Underfoot to $1.99!

Now for the week’s post.  Purrkins appeared under our porch ten years ago, and he grew up with two dogs–Little Dipper and Dusty.  Last August, after both of our beloved pups had gone off to heaven, we got two new puppies with boundless energy.  Here’s what Purrkins looked like when he first saw the puppies.

Purrkins checking out the new guys.

Purrkins checking out the new guys.

As soon as the new pups came into the house, Purrkins headed for the closest hide-out he could find.  Lucky for Purrkins, it took the dogs several days to discover this hiding spot.

Purrkins hiding in his box.

Purrkins hiding in his box.

Another favorite hiding spot is the linen closet, but don’t tell Mark.

Purrkins in the closet.

Purrkins in the closet.

Purrkins also found respite in a cat platform he’d ignored for years.

The epitome of interactions between Purrkins and the two puppies.

The epitome of interactions between Purrkins and the two puppies.

Purrkins also got his own feeding station, one raised up high enough that the pups could not bother him while he ate.  

Even with all these get-away places, over the course of several months, Purrkins began to lose weight.  And when I finally stopped and thought about it, Winston and Snickers had gotten all the attention since last August.  So I began trying to spoil Purrkins.  I started by buying him different kinds of canned cat food to make him feel special.

Purrkins experimenting with new, better food.

Purrkins experimenting with new, better food.

Some canned food was better than other.  In fact, some he wouldn’t eat at all.

Various cans of food purchased for Purrkins' dining pleasure.

Various cans of food purchased for Purrkins’ dining pleasure.

We also spent more time together getting fresh water from the bathroom faucet, another of his favorites.

Purrkins at the sink getting fresh water.

And I made time at night to play with Purrkins again, after the dogs were tucked away in the back bedroom area.

Play time with a dog leash dragged under a throw rug.

Play time with a dog leash dragged under a throw rug.

What’s really nifty is that Purrkins started putting weight back on again.  And over time, he not only was spotted in the vicinity of the puppies…

Purrkins in box; dogs on their bed nearby.

Purrkins in box; dogs on their bed nearby.

…he actually let Winston curl up with him for a nap!

Winston snuggled up with Purrkins.

Winston snuggled up with Purrkins.

So I think all life is better for Purrkins, at least when the puppies are calm, if not sleeping.  But just to be sure, I got him a new play tunnel the other day.

Purrkins with his new play tunnel.

Purrkins with his new play tunnel.

See, I knew that it’d take a while for Purrkins to get used to our energetic puppies, but I felt bad that I was a bit slow to realize the real impact on him.  He’s nearly back to his usual weight again.  And every night, when the puppies disappear to the back bedroom area for bed, Purrkins knows it’s our time to play.

What Pups!

Written by on February 09, 2014 No Comments

Once upon a time, we had a dog named Dusty, the Angel Pup, who, with his pal, Little Dipper, filled our hearts and our days with happiness.  In August, 2012, Little Dipper passed away and in August 2013, Dusty went off to heaven to join her.  The next day my beloved, retired husband, Mark, spent a full day in the house without a pup.  And that was all he could take.  He was on the Internet looking for a pup the same mix as Dusty and Little Dipper–Lhasa Apso mixed with Bichon Frise.  Soon Mark found this black and white pup.

The face that won Mark over.

The face that won Mark over.

We drove from Michigan to Pennsylvania to look at the pups, and when he froze–absolutely terrified–we asked if he had a sibling.  Out came his brother who made everything okay.  We brought both pups home, get the black and white pup on August 24 and had a contest to name the pups , the winners of which received a free, autographed copy of my humorous, touching memoir, Something Furry Underfoot.  The winning names were Winston and Snickers.

Amy with Winston.

Amy with Winston.

Amy with Snickers.

Amy with Snickers.

The pups have been with us about five months and I can honestly say getting both of them was the best thing we’ve ever done.  From their perspective, having a sibling nearby probably made it easier to leave their mom and other siblings and travel cross-country with two strange people.  Getting used to the noises of the average suburban home–like the dishwasher, the squeak of the front door, and cars driving by the house–was probably easier with a brother around, as was going to the vet and the groomer.

From my perspective, coming home from work and being greeted by two happy pups is awesome.   Snickers likes to get picked up and gives me an old-fashioned greeting.

Snickers' greeting.

Snickers’ greeting.

Winston prefers to give what we call a “nose nib,” which is a super gentle nibble on the nose.

Winston giving me a nose nib.

Winston giving me a nose nib.

The puppies also remind me to have fun, which has been really import an during this very long winter.

Snickers and Winston running on the snow.

Snickers and Winston running on the snow.  (Winston has a leaf).

And for Mark, the pups are the best companions a retired guy could have.

Mark with the pups.

Mark with the pups.

So thanks for coming home with us pups and making our lives full up again.

For more tips and factoids about dogs and other pets, check out Something Furry Underfoot, my humorous, touching memoir about raising frogs, iguanas, hedgehogs, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, a stray cat, mynah birds and tropical fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of an Indestructible Dog Toy

Written by on February 02, 2014 2 Comments

It turns out our nine-month-old puppies, Winston and Snickers are big-time chewers.  And after the pups chewed a door frame, we decided we should try to find an indestructible dog toy before our house started falling down.

Winston by the chewed door frame.

Winston by the chewed door frame.

Here are some potentially indestructible dog toys.

A selection of dog toys.

A selection of dog toys.

So, let’s start with the  one at the top left, the chicken with the rope on it.  In action, that toy looks like this.

Winston and Snickers with chicken tug toy

This particular toy was a leftover from the “Dusty and Little Dipper Days,” being the days we had our two previous lhasa-bichon mixes (which, by the way, did not chew at all in comparison to Winston and Snickers).   This toy is probably 10 years old.  Its new projected life span is about two days, because after the dogs retrieve the toy, they play tug-o-war.  The good thing about this toy is that while the rope part of the chicken is a few stitches from coming off, the body of the chicken is actually doing quite well.

Next, we explore the multi-celled, super squeaky uh, dinosaur-looking thingy?  Mark had great hopes for this toy, but within hours of its arrival, Winston chewed the head off.  I pondered sewing the head back on, but instead, I repaired  the opening in the body and threw the head away.  The body lasted another day or so before the plastic insides start coming out and I back to was sewing again.

Love is sewing a dog toy.

Love is sewing a dog toy.

Next, we consider what Mark was hoping would be a super long-lasting dog toy.  It’s called the Tubba Wubba, made by KONG.

kong toy

This toy lasted exactly 20 minutes before the dogs tugged off four of the strands from one end.

Of the other toys, I can only say that none were able to withstand the maws of my puppies for long.  An old sock lasted just as long as a twisted piece of rope we paid $8 for at the store.  It turns out the toy that has lasted the longest is the one that has the most prongs on it. It’s a jack-shaped plush.

Winston and Snickers with the best toy.

Winston and Snickers with the best toy, a jack-shaped toy.

Now, for those of you thinking, “They’re plush toys, they’re not going to be indestructible,” I say, “How wise you are!”  See, we had some old toys of Dusty’s to offer our new pups, and after we gave our new pups those, we felt bad about giving them only old ones, so had to try that dinosaur-like thingy, and then Mark saw the KONG pull toy, and so it went.  The fact is, we now take stuffed toys away from the puppies when they are done playing and simply want something to chew–we then give them a dog bone.

Winston and Snickers have also proven that not even dog bones are indestructible.  We bought a Healthy Edibles bone made by Nylabone, busted it in half and found nary a trace of it  when we returned home from dinner an hour later.  And while rawhides do last a while in comparison, we limit the time pups chew on rawhides to reduce the potential for small pieces to cause blockages in their wee tummies.

Snickers with rawhide2

The bones that last the longest in our house are Nylabone DuraChews and the Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Toy. Even they are not indestructible, and we have to watch to make sure the pups don’t eat any large pieces.

Winston and Snickers with bones.

Winston and Snickers with bones. Winston has a Nylabone DuraChew Double Bone Bacon Flavored Dog Toy, and Snickers has the Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Toy.

Now, there is one toy missing in our discussion, and that’s the KONG classic dog toy.  We’ve had it for months and stuff it with treats when we leave the house for an hour or so.  There’s not even a knick out of it, making it truly indestructible.  But I struggle with calling this a “toy” because I watched the pups a few times and it seems when the treat is gone, the pups stop playing with the KONG classic dog toy.  So it’s really–at least in our house–more of a temporary treat holder, than a toy.

Indeed, it’s hard to keep one’s house from being chewed by puppies.  But we’re feeling pup to the task.  I mean up to the task, of course.

Snickers with the KONG basic toy, while Winston waits for his turn.

Snickers (right) with the KONG toy while Winston waits his turn.

For more stories about pets, check out my book, Something Furry Underfoot.  A p-awesome review of my book was posted Feb. 1 on GoneBookserk.    Also, the Pen and Muse posted an interview of me on Feb. 2.  AND, Megan Cyrulreski posted another fun interview of me Feb. 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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