And That is What Happens When You Rob an Animal Lover at Gun Point in Front of a Dog: and Why Vallejo California Needs to Go Away

It is guaranteed that, if you are in a dangerous position with both an animal lover and an animal, you’re SOL if you’re expecting your life to come before the animal’s. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s true.

Many, many, many moons ago, when I was in my early twenties, I was asked by a young vet assistant with whom I worked to attend her 21st birthday party. I was hesitant because it was in the city of Benicia, which is near the city of Vallejo, California. Vallejo, for those of you not familiar, is a disgusting cess-pool of a city that would really serve us all if it would just detach from the continent and float away. Think I’m being harsh? Let me explain to you my four most poignant experiences with Vallejo:

  1. My car caught on fire on the freeway passing through Vallejo. It. Caught. On. Fucking. Fire. So I pulled to the left because I was in the fast lane and feared for my life if I tried to pull all the way across the highway during rush hour traffic because, again, my car was on fucking fire. I called emergency and the police officer who pulled over and rolled down his window, motioning ME to walk to HIS car, was smoking a cigarette. He ashed out the window before proceeding to yell at me for pulling over on the lefthand side. I explained that my car was on fucking fire, but he didn’t seem to care.
  2. I was in the Vallejo Denny’s, having dinner, and two masked, armed men ran in and shot the place up, pistol whipped a few employees and left with all of our purses and wallets, and the cash register drawer. The owner came in and proceeded to charge us all for our dinners.
  3. A pimp at a Vallejo gas station once offered to buy me from my ex. And I don’t know if I am more annoyed at the fact that he offered to buy me like I was a “thing” for sale, or the fact that he didn’t even bother to negotiate the proposed transaction with me. I have brains, I can make my own self-sale decisions. Plus, I think my marketing capabilities are probably far superior to some small-time Vallejo pimp.
  4. For the die-hard animal lovers, the most egregious of all: the non-profit “no kill” animal shelter in Vallejo, with whom my county run animal control shelter had a contract (and this is common with many “no kill” shelters), once brought my shelter 72 cats to kill. You see, they were “no kill,” which meant that THEY never killed animals. They, like many “no kill” shelters, just brought the animals to the municipal shelter to be killed. So they brought us 72, in one day. And all of us at the municipal animal shelter died a little inside that day.

So there are just a few examples as to why Vallejo, the rat-infested shit hole, needs to just float away.

And Benicia, the location of the party I attended, is Shit Hole adjacent.

I was hesitant to go to this party, but the young lass was turning 21 and really wanted me to go, so I agreed to drop by for a bit.

As I sat out on the balcony of the apartment where the party was taking place, I looked in to the living room and saw that some of the men at the party were sitting on the couch and had started playing a video game. I noticed that the one guy in the middle was especially huge. I wondered if he was younger than he looked because he was so big. As I was drifting off in a day dream about what kindergarten must be like for huge kids, I saw a man in all black appear out of nowhere and hit the big guy in the back of the head with the handle of a gun. That made me wonder if bigger guys can take a pistol whip better than a smaller guy. Then I thought, “Wait, what the fuck, did he just get pistol whipped?!?”

Then I saw a second man in black appear, also with a gun.

At this point, because I had literally just been in an armed robbery at the friggin’ Vallejo Denny’s not 3 months earlier, I knew immediately what was going on. And, since I was on the patio, I had the foresight to grab my purse and toss it over the side of the balcony into the bushes below. The friend I was with gave me a confused look because she had not yet noticed the gunmen. She got even more confused when I slid down onto my knees with my hands in the air. I sighed and waved her down, “Trust me,” I said, like some kind of robbery pro.

Not a minute later, the two gunmen came out to the patio and ordered us all to empty our bags and wallets and get face down on the ground (my friend and I, of course, looked like exemplary robbery victims because we were already there). I played along and reached into the pockets of my jeans and felt some change, which I pulled out and threw on the ground to try and make a show of playing along.

As they went back in to do whatever was next on their agenda, I noticed “Cookie,” the little white dog belonging to the homeowners, wandering around, completely oblivious to what was going on. She wandered around the living room, sniffing all the party-goers who were face down on the ground, delighted that we were all finally down on her level. Then I saw her wander over to one of the gunmen and sniff his pant leg.

This is not "Cookie." This is a likeness of Cookie

This is not “Cookie.” This is a likeness of Cookie.

“Fuck,” I thought to myself, “What if they shoot her to scare us all?”

So I did what any sane person would do in that situation, I started lightly tapping the ground with my hand and whispering, “Cookieee….Cookiiieeee……come here girl, come here.”

Everyone else on the ground of the patio with me turned their heads with looks of confusion that slowly faded into looks of, “Are you fucking kidding me? You’re calling the dog?”

But let’s face the facts: I had just met 99% of these people not an hour ago. Who was I going to be more upset about getting shot? Them or the dog?

The dog, OBVIOUSLY.

I didn’t want ANY one of them to be shot, but they weren’t blindly wandering around the scene of the crime like a tiny moving target.

Cookie finally came over to me, and I looped my index finger into her collar to keep her by me. I managed to reach some of the potato chips that had been on the patio table, knocked over in the ensuing chaos, and began giving her little bits of chips to coax her to stay close.

Luckily the two armed men got whatever they came for and left Cookie, and everyone else, mostly unharmed (with the exception of the poor guy who got pistol whipped). Turns out that the owner of the house, and Cookie, was a pot dealer and the guys had come to rip him off. I made a mental note to never again accept a party invite from an enthusiastic kennel attendant if it meant going anywhere ghetto-adjacent.

But non-animal people, you’re on notice: if you ever find yourself in a life-threatening position with an animal lover and an animal present, you’re SOL.

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How I Snuck a Dog Off of Death Row: With Apologies to Iowa

You know when I’ve spent the morning researching statutes of limitations on controlled narcotics, it’s going to be a good story.

I’ve told this story on another one of my blogs, but it is one of my favorite stories in my life of rescuing animals, so it is worth repeating. It’s a bit lengthy, but it is full of murder, mystery, intrigue, sex and rock n roll.

Ok, it’s really about a dog who was court ordered to die and how we faked his death to save his life. So strap in kids, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride and mommy’s drunk!**

**I strongly advocate against driving drunk. I especially advocate against driving drunk with your kids in the car. If you find yourself doing this, you should probably check yourself into rehab. But find someone else to drive you, you drunk.

MOST people are used to thinking that animal shelters are the ones putting animals down and not saving them (which is largely not true), but I am about to blow your freaking mind with this story because it is about a dog who was ordered to be put down by a judge, and how the animal shelter saved the dog.

Names are HEAVILY changed because I am not 100% confident in my ability to read statute of limitation laws. I think we shall change dates and locations, too. Just to be safe.

This happened at a shelter in Iowa at which I worked in the late 80s. I was some kind of animal shelter worker phenom, and completely bypassed grade school and went right into animal sheltering (also, I’m pretty sure you can’t prosecute something I did when I was just a child). My mom was a little hesitant about letting her small child quit school and go work at an animal shelter, “But your barely 10, should you really be working around wild animals?” And I was like, “Duh, Mom, it is an animal shelter not a wildlife center, learn the difference, Simpleton.” And with that I slapped on my slap bracelet, dabbed some Debbie Gibson Electric Youth perfume behind my ears, and headed off to be the youngest career woman the animal sheltering world ever saw.

Don't leave the boardroom without it

Don’t leave the boardroom without it

We had this dog at the shelter, I will call him “Dog”. Dog was a bulldog who, along with four other dogs, belonged to some particularly reckless people who saw no problem with letting all five dogs run loose to wreak havoc on the neighborhood. In particular, they killed several of the neighbors’ chickens. The day came where they had killed one too many chickens, and they were all rounded up and brought to animal control. A hearing date was set for the dogs and their owners.

While we waited for that hearing date to arrive, the staff became attached to Dog. He stood out from the other four because he was well mannered and calm, unlike the other dogs who were hyper and unruly.

And let me emphasize this: they were hyper and unruly through no fault of their own. That is what happens when you are a dog living with reckless, irresponsible assholes.

We once took Dog out to meet some chickens that lived on the shelter property to see if he had the inclination to go all psycho, chicken-eater on their asses. He had no interest in those damn chickens. Even when they ran right by him. This dog was not a chicken murderer, for sure.

Unfortunately, the judge presiding over the case (I don’t remember his name, I’ve always referred to him as Judge Poopypants. I was 10, give me a break.) did not see how awesome Dog was, and he ordered that all 5 dogs be put down. All of them. And that is why I called him Judge Poopypants.

Not long after Judge Poopypants invented himself as “The Grim Reaper of Dogs”, and after we performed “The Great Chicken Experiment”, some officers from the Iowa bomb squad showed up to look at our dogs. They often liked to test shelter dogs to see if they might make good bomb detection dogs, and we always gave them the dogs they liked. We were a high volume shelter, so any way we could get the dogs leaving alive, was a huge plus to us.

As luck would have it, one of the officers, Officer Ponytail (name changed), fell in love with Dog. As well she should because he was a fucking awesome dog. She wanted to test him and I had to tell her the sad news: Dog had just received a death sentence for some shit that went down with the neighbors’ chickens, and he was wanted in 3 other states for check forgery and chihuahua trafficking (this was not true, but I felt it gave him more street cred). He could not be a proud member of the Iowa State Bomb Detection Squad. Which is a shame because, believe it or not, a lot of people are trying to bomb Iowa. You just neve hear about it in the news because Iowa tries to keep that shit under wraps. Iowa isn’t known for much so they really don’t want the thing that sticks to be about how people are always trying to blow them up.

Think about it, how often do you hear about anything involving Iowa in the news? That is because of their superior PR efforts.

Actually, if Iowa should be known for anything, it should be their superior PR efforts. Because Iowa is never in the news.

the wiseass wife

Iowa, Come for the People, Stay for the PR

So Officer Ponytail asked if she could take Dog out and work with him anyways, just to get him out of his cage. I said “sure,” which I technically wasn’t supposed to do since Dog was now a ward of the state, but whatever. Fuck you state laws of Iowa. You have some shitty laws on your books. Of course no one even knows about them because of your great PR.

When Officer Ponytail came back from working with Dog, she told me that he tested better than most shelter dogs. Of course he did, because he’s a fucking perfect dog.

So off went Officer Ponytail with a few other dogs and I was left stewing about what a big meany-head jerk bag Judge Poopypants was (Those were my exact thoughts. Again, I was only 1o and my pristine mind had not yet been polluted with the swear words that now free-flow out of my mouth).

I later was lamenting to one of my employees, Derek, about how unfair it was that Dog had to be destroyed because I knew he wasn’t a chicken murderer and he could be off, protecting Iowans everywhere from the constant onslaught of bombs. Derek listened to me throw my 10-year-old temper tantrum and then said, “Well, you know, there is always the “Witness Protection Program”.

That’s a thing. Well, not an official thing. It is a secret underground thing. Derek said that, one time, another similar thing happened where a police department wanted a German Shepherd dog that had been ordered by a judge to be put down, and they just faked his death and then handed him over to the police department. So I was like, “HELL YES, WE ARE GOING TO FAKE DOG’S DEATH!!!”

Unfortunately, it did not take long for the animal control officer on the case (I will call him Officer Smugbastard) to hear rumors about our plans to fake Dog’s death. Officer Smugbastard did not work for our shelter, he was contracted from an outside agency and Dog’s case was in the area that his agency worked. Officer Smugbastard had the same personality as Buzz Lightyear, I’m not even kidding. But he wasn’t nearly as noble, so picture an egotistical, mean-spirited, crooked Buzz Lightyear.

the wiseass wife

As I was cursing this jerk-face, dorkheaded Officer Smugbastard, I tried to think of how we were going to get ourselves out of this little pickle and still get Dog off to the Iowa bomb squad. While I was mixing up a bottle of the solution that is used to put animals to sleep (euthanasia solution) and getting the tranquilizers prepared for the day’s euthanasias, it hit me. The euthanasia solution that we use in shelter-work comes in powder form with a small blue tablet in it. This tablet is simply a dye that is used to turn the euthanasia solution blue so that it is clearly marked as a dangerous substance. The powder is reconstituted with water, the tablet is dissolved, and then we have our blue euthanasia solution. What if I gave Dog a high dose of the tranquilizer, snipped off a bit of the dye tablet, mixed it with a little bit of the same kind of saline solution that is used for IV fluids, and injected Dog with this fake “euthanasia solution” in front of the officer?

And THEN I could set up a system of ropes and pulleys, with an anvil on the end, and when Officer Smugbastard walks in to the room to watch Dog die, the anvil will drop on his head! (I was watching a lot of Saturday morning cartoons back then)

I spoke with Derek and we decided to move forward with the fake euthanasia solution idea, and decided against the anvil idea. That was largely Derek’s idea. We called Officer Ponytail and told her the plan and she was fully on board.

I called Officer Smugbastard and told him to be at the shelter at 6pm to witness Dog’s euthanasia. His supervisor, Officer Cruella de Witch, had ordered him to take a picture of Dog after he was put down, to prove that he was dead.

A few minutes before 6pm, we led Dog into the euthanasia room and gave him the tranquilizer. After we knocked him out, we brought Officer Smugbastard in and told him that Dog was just so mean and aggressive that we had to sedate him in order to get anywhere near him. Officer Smugbastard nodded like he knew what we were talking about. Obviously this smug bastard….I mean Officer Smugbastard….had never spent a SECOND with Dog and didn’t get a chance to experience his pure awesome-ness.

We began injecting the fake euthanasia solution and Officer Smugbastard snapped a picture. Once it was over we quickly moved Officer Smugbastard out of the euthanasia room so he didn’t see that Dog was actually still breathing. As soon as he was gone I called Officer Ponytail on her cell phone. Wait, shit, it was the 80s. I must have given her a walkie talkie ahead of time and then just beeped her on that. Yeah. That’s what happened.

Officer Ponytail and one of her colleagues pulled up in their truck and backed it up to the euthansia room door. We wrapped a still-groggy Dog in a blanket and stuck  him in the back of the covered truck bed. With a kiss and a hug goodbye, Dog was off into the night, to learn how to protect Iowans everywhere.

As for me, I kept a copy of Dog’s shelter records and still let out a devious laugh every time I look at the bottom of that paperwork, where the big, red, stamped letters say “EUTHANIZED.”

Serious note: Dog’s companions did lose their lives due to crappy owners and lack of training. Please remember that a commitment to a dog is a lifelong commitment and that means teaching your dogs how to behave. Training is vital, even if you just take them through basic obedience. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow and your dog ends up at the shelter, will he or she pass their temperment evaluation?

Taking Dogs Seriously: How to Apply Popular Parenting Techniques to Your Dog

My dog Violet the Screaming Dog has a game she likes to play on our walks. It’s called, “Oh God, What’s in My Hand!?”

It works like this:

We go for a walk, and I eventually look down to find that she is chewing on something. I shove my hand in her mouth to pull it out, and immediately think, “Oh God, what’s in my hand??”

I usually give her a firm “No!” when I see that she is about to eat some random item off of the ground, but it is clearly not dissuading her. I remembered back to my mom once telling me about this parenting style called “Taking Children Seriously,” (TCS) which believes that you shouldn’t make children do anything against their will, and asserts that most interactions with kids and parents are based on coercion.

Apparently there are online TCS parenting forums and they are full of parents who don’t believe in saying “no” to their kids. They post questions about how to “inspire” their kids to not do things, like play with knives or color on the walls (those are 100% true examples), without saying “the n-word.” (yes, to them, “No” is as bad as the real n-word)

So I thought maybe that is my problem, I am bullying Violet by saying “no,” and I have made her terrified of me. So much so that she is stress-eating random crap off of the ground. I need to just inspire her to make the right decisions.

So on our walk today I looked down and, as per usual, Violet was chewing on something. I pulled it out of her mouth and it was a freaking animal bone of some sort!!! I disgustedly threw it on the sidewalk and knelt down to Violet’s eye-level.

“Violet, honey, I’d like to encourage you to not eat random stuff that you find on the sidewalk. I would like for you to strive to be a lady, and to keep the values consistent with which we are teaching you. When you eat stuff off of the sidewalk, it reflects poorly on the family.”

Then I told her that I love her and gave her a hug because I’ve watched a lot of Super Nanny and that is what she says to do after a scolding, so I figured that it could not hurt.

Unidentifiable animal bone.

Unidentifiable animal bone.

After we got back to the house and were walking up the driveway, I noticed that she was chewing on something AGAIN! I stuck my hand in her mouth, yet again, and pulled out the same damn animal bone! We must have passed it on our way back and she sucked it right back up. I concluded that, while I was encouraging the first time, I was not inspirational enough.

I again got down on her level:

“Violet, honey, when you force mommy to stick her hand in your mouth and touch dead animal bones, you are exposing her to things like salmonella, e. coli, or worse, AIDS. I would love for you to be inspired to not give mommy AIDS”

Note: I know that I cannot get AIDS from a dead animal bone, but Violet doesn’t know that and I just didn’t feel that she was grasping the severity of the situation. I don’t think that lying to your dog technically counts as bullying so long as the lie is said in a loving and supportive manner.

We got back to the house and, like Super Nanny says to do, I put Violet in the Naughty Chair. But we don’t have a designated Naughty Chair, per se, so I just stuck her on the couch and reaffirmed that she was naughty.

Violet in timeout on the Naughty Couch

Violet in timeout on the Naughty Couch

I wasn’t sure how else to get the message across so I did some searching online and came across this Dr. Sears person who seems to be some sort of parenting expert. Dr. Sears gave an anecdote of his own kid misbehaving in the house, and when he noticed the poster on her bedroom wall that featured a kitten hanging from a branch with the saying, “Lord protect me from myself,” it reminded him that his kid just needed a change of environment.

I figured that bringing Violet inside from the walk was a change in environment, but I couldn’t be so sure since she doesn’t tend to eat things she is not supposed to once in the house anyway. I tested her by placing a bunch of shoes in a circle around her to see if she felt the urge to eat them, but she just stared at me kind of terrified like I was performing some kind of ritual. I finally just gave up, grabbed the cat and held him in the air screaming, “LORD PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF!!!” and flipped on the TV to watch Ellen.

And to her credit, Violet hasn’t eaten anything bad all day. She also hasn’t left the shoe circle.

When Your Dog Has a Substance Abuse Problem

Addiction is hard, especially when it is your dog. For starters, there is the language barrier, which makes intervention really difficult.

The following events are a 100% TRUE account of my former foster dog, Ace*

* Name changed to protect the innocent

When tragedy strikes

When tragedy strikes

Ace was surrendered by his owners. They said they were moving and couldn’t take him with them but, in hindsight, they were probably sick of trying to help him clean up his act.

Ace was not neutered and if I have any rule in my house it is that testicles are not allowed under my roof. A rule that Calm-ass Husband vehemently protested, but I think he hardly misses them.

Unfortunately Ace would not leave his empticles (the empty sac left behind after a neutering – that is not a an actual medical term) alone after his neutering. Even with an e-collar (what most of you know as “the cone of shame”) he managed to disturb his empticles to the point where we had to do more surgery to repair them. I don’t want to get too graphic for any men who are reading this – but let’s jus say they were a horrifying sight. At that point we decided to just keep him consistently sedated until his empticles had time to heal.

And that is where things went down hill.

We used a sedative called Acepromazine – better know to junky dogs by its street name, “The Zine.”

I kept Ace consistently gorked out of his mind because the minute he started to snap out of it, he immediately went for his empticles. As more time passed, he needed a higher dose of the Zine to be effective. And me, being an enabler, gave it to him.

One night I had to leave the house for a bit and so made sure Ace was comfortable. I fed him, flipped on the TV for him,  adjusted his cone, and gave him his dose of Zine. I figured between the food coma and the drugs, he’d be out for awhile.

Big mistake.

I came back an hour later and slowly opened the front door. Immediately I saw dog food strewn all over the floor. On top of that, there were beer cans littering the floor. Some still full, and some with puncture marks in them, leaking on the floor. Ace had dragged them in from the kitchen, and tore into the food bag. On the TV, I’m not even lying, was the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. And sprawled out on the couch, snoring loudly, was Ace. Passed out.

It was his rock bottom.

Needless to say there was a lot of anger and frustration. Mostly at the wasted beer all over my living room floor.

And for the record, there are no methadone clinics for dogs, and the human clinics don’t treat dogs. I called to check. They just hung up on me. Compassion is lost in today’s society.

Luckily we got Ace cleaned up, his empticles healed, and he was adopted by a family who loved him and accepted him – checkered past and all.

But let this be a lesson to you: don’t ignore the warning signs. Your dog’s cry for help could be happening right under your nose.

wiseass wife

Taking Time Out of Day Drinking to Give Back: Helping a Dog in Need

When you live a glamorous life of unemployment, you sometimes have to take a break from luxuries like 3-day pajama parties, Ally McBeal marathons on Netflix, and day drinking, in order to give back.

“But how do you find time for giving back when you are busy being fabulously unemployed and day drunk?”

This is an excellent question, and generally I find that once I put down the bottle and get dressed, I can conquer anything.

Remember that: getting dressed and not drinking will make you invincible.

The need for help arose from a fellow animal rescuer friend of mine who needed someone to pull a dog from an animal shelter. This dog was not considered generally adoption-worthy, partly because he was a bit too fearful for the general public, but mostly because he has a raging case of mange and is missing most of his body hair.

Le Mange: Mangey and needs to eat

Le Mange: Mangey and needs to eat

CAH and I started calling him “Le Mange,” because it made his mange sound fancier, and it is doubly appropriate because “mange” means “eat” in French, and Lemange could stand to gain some weight.

We then changed it from “Le Mange,” to “Lemange,” because we didn’t want it to sound too French. Nobody likes a pretentious dog.

So I drove over to the shelter and grabbed little Lemange and then drove him around while I waited to meet the person transferring him to his final destination. He stared at me with large, confused, ominous eyes, which is understandable considering in the last week he’d been found, taken to the shelter, waited for his dickbag owners** to show up (they obviously never did), and was now in some stranger’s car while she babbled on incessantly to him.

wiseass wife

“See that guy over there, Lemange? He’s super shady – look at the way he keeps looking around all shifty-like.”

Lemange squinted and, even though I know it was probably just a nervous squint, it totally looked like he was trying to get a closer look at the shady guy, so I went on imparting my wisdom on him:

“Also, he’s wearing saggy pants – never trust a guy in saggy pants who is looking around as much as that guy. He is shady as shit.”

Lemange licked his nose, which I assumed was dog for, “Yeah, he’s totally shady as shit.” So I scolded him for his potty mouth – he’s only 2 years old. No 2 year old should be saying the s-word.

I finally handed him off to the guy taking him and decided not to offer up the name “Lemange” as a possible name for him, since I just met the guy and didn’t want to have to explain my twisted sense of humor.

And by the time I got home, SUCCESS! A picture of Lemange with his new pug buddy:

the wiseass wife

I think this is a valuable lesson to all – unemployment saves lives.

Happy dogs!

Happy dogs!

** In all fairness, Lemange’s former owners may be lovely people and maybe something terrible happened to them and that is why he has ended up in the condition he’s in. But my money is on them just being dickbags.

On Love and Loss: My Kitty Passed Away

I have to apologize for so much time passing since my last posting, but a lot has happened in our household. One of my beloved kitties fell sick and died.

Many people would call it silly to so mourn a cat. For some reason cats have found themselves at the bottom of the pet totem pole. Even CAH is a self-proclaimed cat non-lover, and to his credit, he has accepted his feline “step-kids” much better than one would expect from someone who claims to detest cats. He probably knew that not doing so would be relationship suicide.

In my decade+ in animal welfare, many cats have come and gone. I have fostered more cats and kittens than I can count. I have always had my core group of resident cats and the matriarch was my little darling; Sabrina.

Sabrina made her entrance into this world on April 3rd, 1997. I “rescued” her mom, Jasmine, from a questionable pet store, not knowing she was already pregnant. Jasmine ended up having 4 kittens under my bed: Simba, Flower, Faline and Sabrina. Simba and Flower were re-homed when they were weaned and my boyfriend (at the time) and I kept Faline and Sabrina. We mainly kept Faline because she was a bit sketchy and happiest with her mom, Jasmine, and her sister, Sabrina. We knew that re-homing her in a strange place would stress her out, so she stayed. When me and the boyfriend split, he took Faline and I took Sabrina and Jasmine.

From the very beginning, my little Sabrina was the light of my life, apple of my eye. She was one of those cats who acted like a dog: super laid back, liked water, loved other cats and dogs. She was truly an outgoing kitty. Even those who didn’t like cats loved Sabrina.

Perhaps the reason that Sabrina means so much to me is that she (and her mom, Jasmine) was my constant through my crazy 20’s. She’s been there through umpteen moves, umpteen breakups, tears, struggles and joy. Like most people in animal welfare, I made a pittance. Animal welfare is a labor of love. I’ve lived in so many different rentals over the years, and through it all, I promised my kitties, especially my longest resident Sabrina, that someday I would own a house and tailor it just for them. I had dreams of a beautiful outdoor kitty aviary, kitty-friendly shelves in the house – a whole set up. Someday, I’d pay Sabrina back for all she was forced to go through with me.

Someday never came. And I think that is what pains me the most.

About 3 weeks ago I noticed that Sabrina, now 15, was looking thin and her muscle tone appeared to be wasting. We ran blood work and her liver values were high. The vet was optimistic that it could just be an acute issue and we started a two-week run of a few different medications and some fluids. Last week was the end of the two weeks and the night she received the last of her medication, she stopped eating. I had noticed her eating was slowing down and had taken to hand feeding her. I took her back to the vet and we decided to start steroids and see how she did. By the next morning she had declined significantly. Before long she was clearly starting to go into respiratory distress, so we rushed her to the vet and had her put to sleep.

Oddly enough, we had been expecting our dog Smidge to pass away. She is about 16+ years old and has been in heart failure for 2 years. We felt sucker punched by Sabrina’s passing. Mostly I feel that this is the end of an era; me and my girl. And I never got to keep my promise to her because my husband and I are still renting, and I am heartbroken over that.

Being in this profession I know that everyone grieves differently. I’ve quietly taken myself through the stages of loss: denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is an odd perspective to be intimately familiar with the grieving process and pet loss, having seen it so many clients over the years. I could look at my thoughts and behaviors and say in the back of my mind, “You’re bargaining, Jess.” It did help, because it allowed me to cut straight to sadness and acceptance. But regardless of this perspective, I cannot escape the fact that this pains me to the core of my being. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for the last 3 weeks and I can’t remember how to breathe again.

I’ve always thought that part of the pain of loss is that human beings are such creatures of habit and so when we lose a pet (or any person of significance), the biggest adjustment is changing our routine. Even after Sabrina died I found myself automatically thinking that night, “Oh I have to give Sabrina her medication” before remembering that she is gone. It is much like a break-up. So that is how I handle the loss of a pet – I establish new routines. That can look like rearranging the furniture, getting a haircut, trying a new workout. I imagine that there is a little tunnel in my brain that is expecting to go one route, but entertaining that route will make me relive the hurt. I like to create new tunnels.

But this does not mean that I forget. And I will never forget my sweet little kitty, Sabrina. She was a wonderful kitty and she has a large piece of my heart.

Goodbye, my little love. Thank you for choosing me. I love you.

Sabrina

4/3/1997-5/18/2012

Ooops – Sorry for the Fake-Out Post! But Sine I Have Your Attention…..

I’m sorry for the fake-out post entitled, “A Note From the Designated Cat Dad – or – DCD”.  That was actually intended for a new site on which we are working, Kitty Icky Poo. But since so much of the new site will involve user input and content, I guess now is as good a time as any to call for it!

As said on the site itself,

The idea behind Kitty Icky Poo is to share real stories and pictures of your litterbox set-up. Not just the products that you use, but your own personal set-ups. Did you come up with a great way to prevent scattered litter? Do you have a method of storing your scoop supplies that works well? Any tips/tricks to making litterbox management easier? We want to hear about it! Any pictures you have can be added to our gallery (on which we are working). We would also love product reviews. Please submit all stories, tips and tricks, and pictures to: kittyickypoo@gmail.com

So if you are a kitty-lover, or know one, we’d love to hear from you!