Monday, January 30, 2017

Cat food review: Bravo Feline Cafe

Fergus the Siamese cat with cans of food

Cats like Fergus with sensitivities to chicken often struggle to find cat food and cat treats that won't cause distress. Almost every single product made for cats these days has chicken ingredients buried in the fine print. (Seriously: The next time you go shopping for cat food or cat treats, read through the ingredients of foods that claim to be filled with "fish" or "turkey" and count how many have chicken in them. You'll be surprised.)

So I am always interested in new products that I can feed this little guy that actually do not have chicken in them in any way, shape or form. So when the Bravo Pet Food asked me to write a cat food review in exchange for a few samples of food, I was intrigued. I agreed to let Fergus sample two types of food: Beef Fricassee and Turkey Fricassee. The food was sent to me in return for an honest review. This post does contain an affiliate link.

Cans of Bravo cat food

Bravo is mainly known as a raw pet food producer. They have a long history of making raw diets for both dogs and cats, and from what I understand, those products are very well received and widely available. This is a new product line for the company.

These products are canned, and the canning process naturally heats and cooks the meats inside. People who want to feed raw won't want to feed these product lines. They are cooked.

But, these products come with the same quality assurances as the Bravo raw products. They are grain- and gluten-free, and made in the United States. They have no artificial flavors or colors. The very first ingredient is meat.

Fergus the cat eating canned food

These foods have a soft, creamy, pate-like consistency, so they're easy for cats to eat. They're not overly scented, which I thought might impact the appetite of little Fergus here. But I was wrong. As soon as that bowl hit the floor, he dug right in and ate his entire serving. Scent or no scent, he thought it was pretty tasty.

Fergus isn't overly picky, so I ran this food past our in-house gourmand cat Maggie, just to make sure it passed muster. Maggie is still terrified of me because I am still using a walker after my fall and subsequent broken leg of a few weeks ago, so she won't let me get close enough to snap photographs of her. But, she cleaned up her plate very quickly. And when she was done, she asked for seconds. She rarely does that.

This line of food is somewhat new, from what I understand, so it might not be available in all areas just yet. You can use this online tool to see what stores near you carry Bravo foods, but you might need to call those stores to ask if they're carrying the canned cat products. They may not have them in stock just yet.

I did find Bravo Beef Fricassee (Case of 24) on Amazon. (NOTE: This is an affiliate link. Each purchase brings me a little revenue, at no added cost to you.) That might be a good way to go if your home store doesn't carry the food and you'd like to try it.

Thanks for reading along! Do you think your cats would enjoy a food like this? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know. Love to hear what you think.

Disclaimers: This food was sent to me in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review, nor was I told what to say. This post contains an affiliate link which generates a small amount of revenue for me at no added cost to you.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

My cats love my broken leg

Popoki the cat on my cast

It's been close to three weeks since I slipped on the ice while walking my pug, twisting and turning as I fell until I hit the dirt with a leg snapped in multiple directions. I'll be honest: During those few sickening moments when I heard my leg breaking, my cats were the farthest thing from my mind. But as it turns out, my cats have benefited from this break more than I ever thought possible.

The technical term for my leg break is "distal spiral tibial fracture, compounded by distal fibula disintegration." Or something like that. In essence, it means that my shin bone broke in about five different places in a spiral pattern, while the small bone behind that shin broke into such tiny fragments that it couldn't be put back together again.

These are the sorts of breaks that are "life changing" according to my surgeon. Some people simply never recover from these breaks, and they end up with blighted gaits encumbered by canes for the rest of their lives. Other people aren't paired with the proper surgeons, and they lose their legs altogether after a fracture like mine. That almost happened to me, and I'll be forever grateful to the trauma team that stepped in and took over my case while I was in the hospital.

So I have a lot to be thankful for.

But the recovery is a real bitch.

I have been completely confined to my home or the hospital for the past three weeks. No social engagements, no movies, no dinners out. No trips to the store. No running off to pick up something at the craft supply store. No visiting my humane society for volunteering. No yoga. No running. No biking. No protesting with like-minded women in my community (which really hurts).

And most crucially: No walking the dogs.

Liam the pug looking sad

The last time Liam took a walk with me, it ended with me leaving the scene in an ambulance, and him getting carried away for an escorted trip home by the fire department. I can't remember the last time I walked Sinead.

My husband has been walking them, but it's different. He is a brisk walker, and he walks them because the dogs need to walk and he likes to take care of their needs. I walk with them because I like to go walking and I like to take note of the changing seasons. I tend to walk a little slower, and we stop to eat cookies and work on training and enjoy one another. They're not getting that now. Neither am I. And sometimes, the loss is almost too much for me to bear.

So there's a lot to mourn. But meanwhile, many of these little felines of mine are having an absolute field day. Why? Because I don't move around all that much.

Fergus the Siamese kitten

I am normally a very fidgety-type person who is up and down multiple times each hour. I sit down with a book and then need to get up to make tea or check my email or see if the bird feeder is full or floss that little bit of popcorn out of my teeth. My cats just get settled in my lap and I'm back up again.

Now, I am forced to stay put and to ask someone to bring me the things I suddenly think I need. That means I am often in the same spot for hours at a time. And the cats are parked right there with me. They may leave to get a sip of water or something, and when they come back, they seem shocked that I am still in place. They roll and purr and knead with delight when I don't move.

I keep telling them that I will get better. And oh, how disappointed they are to hear that.

Popoki the cat looks very upset

But I don't quite know when that recovery will take hold. This horrible cast comes off tomorrow, as does the external hardware that is keeping my bits of bone in place. I will progress to a boot that will (wonder of all wonders) come off when I want to do something like take a shower, but I will not be able to put any weight on this leg for another month. So no walks until March.

I think my cats will be happy with another month of seated mom. I just hope I can keep my spirits up long enough to see myself through this long winter.

I'm sharing this post as part of the Sunday Selfies series as hosted by my friends at The Cat On My Head. It's a bit nontraditional for a selfies piece, but I think it fits in nicely, don't you?

Please leave me a note, so I'll know you were here. And do join in the blog hop. Selfies come in all shapes and sizes (clearly), and we'd love to see your critters. Share!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How brave are your cats? A critical question when you're ill

Fergus the cat resting on my cast

For years, I've told myself that shy cats make the best pets. Cats that are a little nervous and a little withdrawn when you first meet them tend to become cats that are loyal and easygoing companions when they've lived in your house for years. Since they're shy, they're fairly self-reliant. Confident cats, on the other hand, often need a lot of coddling as adults. They need interaction and play and games and distractions. And all of that must come from humans.

So when I choose cats, I typically look for the shy ones and I make them mine. But this week, my assumption has been turned on its head. And this week, for Thankful Thursday, I find myself suddenly very thankful for the bold and bright babies.

About 2 weeks ago, I fell and broke my leg rather badly. I've spent quite a bit of time in the hospital, and when I'm home, almost everything about me is different. My clothes smell different, as I'm using topical medications rather than floral lotions. I look different, as I have a huge cast on my leg instead of my normal slender ankle. And I move differently, as I have to use a knee scooter or a walker to get around.

Sleepy Fergus sitting on my lap

Changes like this are terribly hard for shy cats to understand or deal with. And some of my cats are not handling this at all well. My Maggie, for example, hasn't let me touch her since I broke my leg. She won't even stay in a room with me. And if I walk toward her, she will run. I catch her sniffing my tools from time to time, but she swats them and runs from them at the end of these visits.

Fergus, on the other hand, is completely at ease with all of my difficulties. He sleeps with one arm casually thrown over my casted leg, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. He falls asleep on my lap within minutes of my return from an appointment or a hospital stay, as though nothing about me has changed.

He's even taken to sitting atop my little knee scooter. You can see his mind working, as he tries to figure out if he can make it push forward.

Fergus the cat on my knee scooter

When I adopted Fergus, I had no idea he would be such a confident little kitty. He was very mellow when compared to his littermates, and I thought he would develop into a shy little adult. But this week, I'm thankful for his confidence. Just as my cats have to adjust to all of the changes in my life, I also have to adjust. And it isn't always easy. Having someone in the house who loves me and accepts me, no matter how I change, means a lot to me right now.

I'm sharing this piece as part of Thankful Thursday, as hosted by Brian's Home. You should check it out! It's a great way to make new friends and read up on what people are thankful for this week. I call it an antidote to negativity.

But before you go, be sure to leave me a note and let me know you were here. I always love to read comments. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One clever way to get your cat to wake up for a photo shoot

Popoki the cat sitting up with eyes closed

Popoki is a deeply lazy cat. She prefers to spend most of her days, and all of her nights, in a semi-conscious state. She can spring awake at any moment, but she has her eyes closed and her body is still.

I try to get her moving by pimping my writing studio, where she lives. She now has a catio to lounge in during the summer months, and she just got a set of cat stairs that allow her to move up to a big loft at the top of the studio. These things help, as they inspire Popoki to wake up and move.

But sometimes, she needs a little more.

For example, I try to take one photo of Popoki every day to post on Instagram (are you following her  yet?). There are only so many closed-eyed photos I can post without seeming really boring. But getting her to wake up can be a touch difficult....

Unless I find the right toy. Here's what it looks like when that happens.

Popoki the cat waking up from her nap

I use dog toys with a squeaker inside to attract her attention. I just picked up the toy when I took this shot. She knows what it is, and she knows it makes some kind of noise, so she's a little bit interested.

Popoki the cat is wide awake now

I hit the squeaker one time, and she's wide awake now. But her ears are still moving off to the side, so she's not as engaged with me as I might like. She's still considering whether I'll be fun to play with, or whether a little nap might be a better idea.

Popoki the cat looking up

Moving the toy from the top of her head to the top of my camera really seems to engage her will to play. She will follow that toy no matter where I move it, once we play this game a few times. At the end of a photo session like this, I bring the toy right in front of the camera lens and drop it right before the shutter clicks. I can get her looking right at the camera with an open expression with that approach.

But it does come with risks.

Popoki the cat in an extreme closeup

Sometimes, Popoki gets so engaged with this game that she charges the camera to get the toy. And that leads to some uncomfortably close closeups! Oh, well. At least she enjoys the photo sessions, right?

Looking for more tips and tricks to help you be a better blogger? Check out these links entered as part of Wordless Wednesday, as hosted by BlogPaws. You'll meet other bloggers, get their good ideas and make a few friends along the way. It's fun! Hope to see you there.

But don't forget to leave a comment before you go! Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Shelter cat stories: Meet Bagheera

Bagheera the black cat lying on papers

Last month was an amazing month for cats at Willamette Humane Society in Salem. Due to the generosity of a donor in the community, senior cats and cats with disabilities had waived adoption fees, so they could head home with no cost to the adopters. Specials like this tend to clear the shelter, and it makes everyone who touches that shelter feel just a little happier. I was thrilled to see King Dude and Static go home on this plan.

But there are always cats that slide through the cracks and don't find the families they need. That's what happened to this guy.

His name is Bagheera, and he came into the shelter system in October. When he arrived, he was simply untouchable. He growled, hissed and swatted whenever anyone tried to look at him. The team thought he must have been a feral cat for all of his life, since he seemed so upset at the thought of being touched by humans. But they gave him time to settle, just to see what would happen.

In time, Bagheera did let some volunteers and staffers interact with him, and when the team performed an intake exam, they found that he had terrible teeth and an open wound on his face. He also had a suspicious lump on his back end.

In surgery, that face abscess and those rotten teeth were corrected. The pain may have made Bagheera upset about being touched. But that lump in the back was caused by pellets from a BB gun. That means this cat was shot by someone at some point. It's no wonder he didn't like people!

Bagheera in the arms of someone he trusts

Suspicious cats have trouble with life in a shelter, because they have very little control. They can't run away from situations that worry them, and they can't get closer to things they like. Bagheera was a bit of a bite risk, even after his surgeries, as he remained worried about new people.

So he moved into the office of the volunteer manager, and it's here that he's really blossomed. Apparently, he spends most of his day sitting on the laps of these two ladies, hugging them with his arms, rubbing them with his face and purring with all his might. They tell me it's sometimes overwhelming, how much love he has to give. He wants to soak it all in, all the time.

My first shelter rescue Troy was like this in the shelter. He mellowed out at home quite a bit. He still wanted to spend time with me and love me, but he wasn't overwhelming with his demands. It's as though he knew I would always be there to love him, so he didn't need to binge on love when he saw me. I would expect the same will happen with Bagheera.

But he needs someone who can handle a cat that hisses and spits during a first meet and greet. And he needs a family that understands that this traumatized cat may always be a little aloof with strangers and a little overwhelmed with new people, places and things. He may always be a cat that needs a place to hide and time alone when he is scared. If his family provides those things, he should do just fine.

Bagheera is about 7yo, and his adoption fee is $50. Read more about him on the WHS website, and please share his story. We need to get this boy into a forever home. He deserves it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pet therapy: My dogs and cats help heal broken bones

Sinead the Boston terrier sits close by

It's been a rough week for the dogs and cats of the menagerie. As I mentioned in last week's Sunday Selfie post, I broke my leg while on an icy walk with little Liam and I spent several days in the hospital trying to get the pain and swelling under control. This week, I came home for a few days to recuperate yet more and get the swelling down yet more.

The only real way to get a leg to stop swelling to gargantuan proportions is to raise it above the level of your heart. That meant I had to spend long days in bed with my foot on a five-layer tower of pillows. The pain medication made me sleepy, so I spent most of that time snoozing. Sinead the Boston terrier never left my side during my entire bed rest stay. She curled up near my right hip and slept, but she slept very lightly. Whenever I moved or made any kind of noise, she'd bolt upright and run up to my face to see if I needed help.

When I wasn't asleep, I tried to work on calming and soothing tasks that would help to keep my mind occupied (so I wouldn't think so much about the pain). My Secret Paws partner, Broken Teepee, gave me The Cat Coloring Book by Charlotte Fraser. It's filled with very complicated coloring designs that are a whole lot of fun to work through. I colored so many of them, and every time, I felt so much better. And they're so pretty!

Completed page from a cat coloring book

On Tuesday, I went in and had surgery. My orthopedic surgeon specializes in traumatic injuries like mine, so I felt as though I was in good hands. I had a spinal anesthetic and a general anesthetic, and all in all, the procedure took a little more than 2 hours. But he did so much during that time.

My fibula was in several tiny little pieces, and much of it couldn't be tacked back together. So the surgeon pulled the fragments and replaced that bone with a plate. That plate bends and then extends up over my tibia. There are multiple screws holding this thing in place.

Broken leg repair

I felt miserable in the hospital and even worse when I came home. Cramping and aching and bleeding and itching. At times, all I could do was just cry. Many of my little ones were up to the task of helping me, and I had a little crowd of rotating characters who would leap onto and off of the bed when I needed them. And that crowd would follow me when I used my knee walker to get to the bathroom.

But some of my critters are just frightened of all of the noise and commotion and new things. Maggie is taking this all especially hard. I haven't seen her at all since this episode began. She runs from me.

But, this is very much a temporary situation. Already, my pain level has dipped precipitously, which allows me to move better and think clearly. On Monday, I'll head back to work in my little writing studio. And in about 5 weeks, I'll start with physical therapy.

Thanks to all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for your kind words and well wishes this week. I needed you, and you were there.

And thanks to The Cat On My Head for hosting this hop. It allowed me to make so many friends in the blogosphere, and I couldn't be happier about that.

And on that note, here's Fergus posing for his selfie. He encourages you to leave a comment and tell him how handsome he is.

Fergus the Siamese cat in his chair

If you haven't joined the hop before, what are you waiting for? It's so much fun to meet new fur families and make new friends. Give it a try!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Serious injuries transform pets into nurses

Popoki the cat on my lap

Most of the time, the dogs and cats of the menagerie have a pretty easy life. They have warm beds, cozy sweaters, clever catios, awesome cat stairs, healthy food and a whole lot more. Their only real "job" is to pose for blog photos from time to time. And as Popoki is demonstrating nicely, these little pets are pros at the one task they're asked to complete.

But this week, our world got turned upside down. And that's meant these little pets had to move from being beloved pets into being experienced nurses. And you know what? They're all up to the challenge. I thought I'd share a few snaps of the way they help as part of the Sunday Selfies series, as hosted by The Cat on My Head.

For those of you who may have missed the original post (it's here, if you're curious), I slipped on ice last Saturday while walking Liam, and during that fall, I broke both my tibia and fibula. I spent three trying days in the hospital, and when I came home again, I was told that I couldn't put any weight on that sore foot. So I've been alternating between sitting in a recliner and lying on the bed.

The first night, everyone wanted on that lap.

Liam and Sinead and Fergus asking for lap time

The bones in my left leg are just splinted, not repaired, so they're very unstable. Even small pushes and pulls hurt my leg terribly. So I tried to give everyone a little lap time, but I also had to remind them to share. And sadly, I had to tell heavy, squirmy Liam that he can't be on my lap at all. He likes to launch his body from lap to floor, and I just know he'd be tempted to jump off that casted leg.

At first, he seemed heartbroken. But he set a new task for himself. Now, when I get up with my walker to head to the bathroom or the kitchen, he follows right behind me. And when I get settled in either space, he sits right by my feet to escort me back to my starting place. He does this even in the middle of the night. To him, that's his job.

Fergus the kitten sitting on my lap

Fergus can be very rambunctious as well, and he's been getting into a few troubles during my time at home. He's knocked over get-well flowers, pulled blankets from my legs and tried to play with the walker wheels. But he also spends a lot of time sitting on my knee while purring. I've been told that cat purrs are transmitted at a frequency that promotes healing. Maybe that's what he's doing. I can say that it feels wonderful.

Popoki the cat resting with her mother

Popoki's home base--my writing studio--is inaccessible to me at the moment. There are three stairs and a bit of slick walking I'd need to do to get inside. I'm not quite ready for that yet. So hubby has been spending time with her, reading to her and petting her and otherwise soothing her. And she comes inside to visit me several times per day. This is a huge leap for fearful Popoki, as she's never been comfortable spending time inside the house where the other cats are. But I can see her taking a deep breath and facing her fears before she settles down to share her purrs with me. That's something I need to do for myself, and she's a great role model.

Sinead the boston terrier on my lap

But the main nursemaid has been Sinead. She has decided that she needs to sit and sleep with me at all times, and since I am not resting comfortably these days, she is resigning herself to a life of very little sleep. Just look at how tired she is in this photo. She doesn't even have the energy to try and get my food.

Sometimes, we try to give her a break and put her down to sleep in her own bed. This doesn't seem to satisfy her. Within minutes, I can hear her scratching. And if I look down, I see this little face.

Sinead the Boston terrier wants to get up

Sinead cuddles up tight to me when I've been crying, and she crawls deep into my armpits when I have trouble catching my breath, as though she wants to pick me up and carry me away. I don't know how I'd get through all this without her.

At the moment, my break is in a very heavy, inflexible cast that is designed to keep the bones in place. On Tuesday, I'll go in for surgical repair. In the end, they tell me I'll have 2 plates and many, many screws holding things in place. They are hoping I will be able to walk again, after very extreme physical therapy. They tell me it's unlikely that I will ever run again.

It's hard to process these statements. And it's hard to know what kind of changes my animals will have to endure if the worst comes to pass. But for now, I am so grateful for their help and understanding during this tough time.

It's likely that I won't be able to visit as many blogs as I'd like to over the next week. And I'm not sure what my blogging schedule will be next week. But I'd love for you to leave me a comment of encouragement. Your kindness means the world to me.

This is my (wordy) entry into the Sunday Selfies series. Do be sure to check out the other blogs in the hop. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cat stairs: An excellent way to give your indoor cats more room to roam

Popoki the cat in her cat bed

You're looking at the face of one very lucky kitty. This is Popoki, and during the holiday season, she got a present most cats would love to get. The present? A set of cat stairs.

Popoki lives in my writing studio, which is about the size of a large bedroom. She has beds on the floor, beds on top of human furniture and beds in a catio on the outside of the building. So one could say that her space is catified.

But, there is an added bit of her space that hasn't been adjusted to her needs. In fact, it hasn't been used at all.

The studio building has vaulted ceilings, with windows nestled into the upper spaces beneath the eaves. On the side of the building that faces the street, that window sits above a long and somewhat narrow little ledge. Popoki's stairs were designed to help her get from the ground to that ledge.

Popoki the cat on her stairs

There are 6 stairs in the group, and all told, they allow her to climb up about 15 feet. Each step is wide enough for her to sit on, and all of the steps have been bolted to the wall for security. The top of the stairs have grooves, which can help prevent sliding. That's especially important for Popoki, as her first humans declawed her. She can't pop out her claws to keep herself from falling. The grooves help with that.

Even though these stairs are made with cats like Popoki in mind, it took her awhile to get the gist of them. During the first 24 hours or so, she needed treats and toy lures in order to make the climb. And at one point, I had to push her from one step to another.

But once she made it onto the ledge a few times, she was sold on the stair idea.

Popoki the cat on her shelf

That space is very warm, due to heat rising from the ground. And it's bathed in sunlight almost all of the time, so it's great for warm stretches. I also placed two different types of bed on that shelf, along with a scratching post, so she has wonderful places to sleep when she'd like to do so.

In addition, since this window faces the street, Popoki has plenty of people and dogs to watch throughout the day. It's not at all unusual for me to look up at the window as I return from walking the dogs and see this view.

Popoki the cat looking out the window

These stairs came from Contempocat. I paid for these steps myself, without contacting the company first or asking for any kind of blogger compensation. But I will say that I adore these stairs. Popoki can use them and seems to want to use them, and they look really beautiful in my writing studio. I'd recommend them to anyone looking for a way to give a cat more height and space.

This is my entry into Thankful Thursday, as hosted by Brian's Home. It's appropriate, don't you think? A happy cat is something everyone can be thankful for.

Thankful Thursday

Head on over to Brian's Home to find out more about what pet parents are thankful for. But be sure to leave me a note before you go! Love to hear your thoughts.

And thanks to everyone who left me a note about my broken leg. (If you missed it, that blog post is here.) I'll keep you posted on my surgery date. Hoping it's soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dog walking accidents: Are you prepared?

Liam the pug in his bed

Liam the pug and I go on a walk at least once per day. If the weather is good, we take a stroll two times per day. Regular walking times help Liam to feel a little more secure and confident, and walks help him to use his brain. All of that work can help him find his inner bliss when it's time to do things like eat or sleep.

Up until Saturday, I thought there were absolutely no downsides to regular walks. Turns out, I was totally wrong. And, I was totally ill-prepared.

We've been dealing with uncharacteristically cold weather this January, which means all available water has turned to ice. That ice melts a little during the day, and it reforms at night. That means all streets and sidewalks contain little patches of danger. Since I take the same walking routes most days, I thought I could spy all of these spots, especially big spots I had seen on days prior.

So on Saturday morning, even though it was snowing and there was ice on the ground, I thought it was safe to take a little walk with Liam. I was wrong.

A patch of ice I knew about had grown much bigger overnight, and it was covered with snow. That meant the edges of the ice were camouflaged. I had no idea where the thing ended.

I slipped on that ice, and after twisting for several furious moments and trying to catch my footing, I fell. And I heard two very distinct snaps as I went down.

So I'm lying on the ground, doing a little pain howling, and I realize I am totally unprepared for anything like this. I don't have my phone, so I can't call anyone. I don't have my wallet, so I have no identification I can give authorities. And I have a terrified pug on the end of my leash who has no idea what is happening.

Liam the watchful pug

I did what any reasonable person would do, and I started screaming for help at the top of my lungs. A very kind family stopped, and they called 9-1-1 for me. I was so relieved to see them, and those relief signals conflicted with the pain and terror signals. And that sort of wiped out my memory. I couldn't remember my husband's phone number, I couldn't remember my address and I couldn't remember the name of my insurance carrier. All of it was just gone.

And poor Liam kept howling and crying with me, wondering why in the world I was so upset.

When the fire department came, they assessed my situation and whisked me away to the ambulance. When that process started, Liam's cries got so much worse. He couldn't understand where I was going and why he couldn't come. And he kept trying to jump on the stretcher with me.

The fire department was nice enough to take Liam home for me, and they explained what had happened to my terrified husband. (Imagine seeing a fire truck pull up at your house with your dog inside! Horrible!)

As it turns out, I broke both the tibia and fibula in my left leg, and those two bones are in many different pieces. I will have surgery when it heals, but it's too swollen for that now.

Today's blogging work is a bit of a test, as I wanted to see how long I could stay upright and focused. When I can handle those tasks, I can go back to work. But it seems that 45 minutes is my limit. It's back to bed for me.

But before I go, a few lessons. Never take a walk without your cell phone. Even if you don't need it 99 times out of 100, you'll miss it terribly when that last time comes. And next: Make sure all of your identifying information is on your dog's collar, including two phone numbers and an address. That was the only way the EMTs knew who I was. And finally, bring your wallet. People need to know who you are.

It's back to bed for me now. I apologize in advance if I'm not able to visit as many of your blogs as I normally do. The combo of bones and drugs has me exhausted. But I will take your well wishes!

And if you'd like to read more pet blogs (including some that don't talk about falls), head over to the BlogPaws blog hop via the buttons below. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dogs love Englewood Park in Salem

Liam the pug at the park

When I moved Liam the pug from Portland to Salem, I was a little worried about leaving some of our favorite parks behind. He loved to romp and play in Portland's majestic and huge spaces, and I was worried we wouldn't be able to find something similar in our smaller Salem community.

Turns out, I was worrying needlessly. And today, as part of Thankful Thursday, I thought I'd show you the park the menagerie is most thankful for. It's Englewood Park, and it's located about a mile away from my house.

Path through the park with trees

Englewood could be considered a small park, as it covers only 7 acres. Most of the Portland parks I love are three or four times that size. But Englewood is lovingly maintained. The paths that take you through this park are almost always free of debris and garbage, and every year, the paths are smoothed with a new layer of gravel.

Sinead loves paths like this. She's very low to the ground, and she worries about walking behind me when there's a lot of debris on the ground. She's been smacked by sticks and gravel flying off the back of my shoes one too many times, and as a result, she refuses to put her feet on paths full of sticks and detritus. She doesn't have to worry about that here.

Pug and Boston terrier at the park

The park is also home to more than 350 trees, and most of them were planted when the park was founded in the 1920s. That means these trees are wonderfully mature and they stretch miles into the sky. Year round, these trees are home to all sorts of birds and they make quite a racket during a stroll through the space. Those trees are also home to many squirrels, which both Liam and Sinead love to watch.

Trees are also ideal for sniffing, which Liam does with great enthusiasm whenever we come to this park. I don't let him pee on the trees, but many other people seem to let their dogs cut loose. So Liam has a lot of pee-mail to read. He loves it.

Liam the pug in front of a tree at Englewood Park

We hit this park at least once a week as a family. And I take a run through this park every Saturday morning, as part of my workout routine. I'm so thankful to have a resource like this so close to my little home.

What are you thankful for this Thursday? Join the hop as hosted by Brian's Home Blog.

Thankful Thursday blog hop

You'll meet new friends, see new pet blogs and find out a whole lot about what others are thankful for this week. What could be better?

But remember to leave me a comment before you go! I love hearing your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: A trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Blue eel smiling

Typically, when I go to the Oregon Coast, I bring my dogs along. They run along the beach, bark at the birds, beg for food from the humans and have a good time in general. But sometimes, there are things I'd like to do at the coast that just aren't suitable for dog companionship.

Consider the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This is an absolutely fabulous spot in which to spend a few hours, but dogs are strictly forbidden. And the staff frowns upon people who leave their dogs in the car in the parking lot. Families that do so can expect a page from the staff.

So this week, hubby and I left the dogs at home for the day and we trundled over to the aquarium to see the sights. And there was so much to see, including two species of very sassy eel.

Yellow eel looking sassy

These guys are in tanks right by the entrance, and they must be accustomed to frequent gawking and photography. They loved the attention!

The aquarium devotes quite a bit of space to invertebrates, including jelly fish. They are very common in the waters off the Oregon coast, and they are remarkably beautiful as they swim and dip and glide.

Jellyfish in a tank

There are many tanks devoted to sea stars and anemone and other similar creatures which are also common in Oregon. And these are creatures that are also at risk due to pollution and rising water temperatures. I can't help but worry for them when I see them close up. They look so vulnerable.

Sea star in a tank

Fish are also a big draw at the aquarium, and there are tons of interactive exhibits, including this one. I could have stood in front of this tank for hours, watching this school of fish fly by. And I can't help but wonder what Popoki would have made of all of these fish.

In a different tank (don't worry), there were much larger fish, including sharks. The humans can walk within a tunnel and see these big predators flying both above and below. Some tiny children were a little alarmed by all this, as you can imagine. But I found the whole thing just fascinating.

Shark in a tank

Outside, there were tons of exhibits with both birds and sea mammals. Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the seals eat their lunches, and we were amazed at all of the little puffins darting into and out of the water. We also spent long minutes watching these otters crack open shells as they swam around on their backs.

Otter swimming on his back

All told, the aquarium takes about 3 hours to tour, and it can take longer if you choose to watch the movies that are part of some exhibits. Hubby and I both felt like this was a great way to spend an afternoon, although we did miss our dogs quite a bit. If you're in Oregon, you should visit!

This is my entry into the Wordless Wednesday series, as hosted by Blog Paws. You should join in! But before you do, be sure to leave me a comment. Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Shelter cat stories: Ending 2016 with special cat adoptions

Fergus the Siamese kitten

Small and adorable cats like Fergus rarely spend long periods of time in the shelter system. People see these little faces (especially if those faces have traditional Siamese-type shapes or colors), and they rush to take these little ones home. I know they do. I did it myself.

But cats that are either all black or partly black, cats that are older and cats that have special needs can be a lot harder to place. And that means they can spend longer periods of time in the shelter waiting for the right home.

And sometimes, cats come into the shelter with all three strikes against them.

They're old.

They're black.

They have health concerns.

Two cats just like this were in my shelter recently, and both of them appeared on this blog in my Shelter Cat Stories series. Last week, both of these cats got the happy endings they were looking for. I thought I'd share those happy stories today.

First up: Static. I shared his story on the blog in the middle of December. (Miss it? Find it here.)

Static the senior cat

This guy is 18yo, and he was brought to the shelter due to an owner health problem. He was in remarkably good health for an old dude, but he does have FIV. And he needs a special diet due to his age and his kidney health. For some people, this was just too much to consider. So Static waited for his home for a very long time.

His story started to gain traction in my Salem community, and many people started talking about him both online and off. Then, a volunteer in my shelter offered to cover the cost of adoptions for all senior cats, if those adoptions were completed in December. That was enough to boost shopping in the shelter. And someone came in and fell in love.

I've been told Static is going into a home with a teenage girl who has long wanted a cat. This family took his adoption so seriously that they placed him on hold and then went home to talk his adoption through as a family for 24 hours. Only when they were sure they could give him the home he deserved did they come back and seal the deal. It's a wonderful ending to this story.

Next: King Dude. He was featured on the blog near the end of December. (Missed it? Find it here.) This cat got his name from a shelter staffer who is a big fan of a musician named King Dude. That musician found out about this kitty, and that musician shared this guy's story. As of this writing, that post about the kitty King Dude has been read more than 6 thousand times. It's amazing.

King Dude the cat

King Dude's age is unclear, as he was found as a stray. But he's very much in senior territory. That meant he also qualified for free adoption. But even so, it took the King a little longer to find a family. He has a thyroid disorder and needs medications for that. And he has kidney woes, so he needs special food. Some people found that list of concerns too long.

But last week, a couple came looking for the King, and they took him home to live with them. He's settled right down into their home (no hiding!), and he's been spending his free time cuddling and bumping his new people. He seems grateful for the rescue. As am I.

Success stories like this are plentiful, and I'm not always great about sharing them. It's something I'm planning to rectify in 2017!

If you'd like to learn more about the amazing work being done at Willamette Humane Society, I invite you to check out their Week of Wonder story series. There are some great tales to share there.

And I know many of you helped me to share the stories of Static and King, and you should take a bow at the work you've done and the outcomes we're celebrating. Good work!

Be sure to leave me a comment, so I'll know you were here!