Can I help you?

Arthas is a good boy. He may not be consumed by wanting to make us happy, but he doesn’t want us unhappy and he does listen fairly well. He does pretty good on his walks too (which he is starting to ask for) so long as he doesn’t get rushed by another dog. I’ve gotten good at crossing the street and distracting him and he is actually easier to handle at this age than Jessie was when she got riled. Of course she wanted to go say hi and he wants to avoid saying hi, but you get the point.

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So it amused me today when we were out for our morning walk when I saw a dog coming up the sidewalk. We crossed to the median until they could go by since I like to avoid problems if possible. Arthas took a second tug to get him to cross but he did fine (this wasn’t our usual route so he is slow and not as confident as he is on our usual route – you know being mostly blind and all). As the lady with the dog went by she started yelling that I “would never have control” of Arthas with a harness and I should “never use a retractable leash.” I was a little irritated I told Arthas to sit, which he did, and just looked at the lady as she continued to berate me for my choice of dog walking kit. Her dog then started barking at Arthas, who growled in response but didn’t move and then it ran – and almost toppled the lady who continued to tell me that I didn’t have proper control of my dog. I just looked at Arthas, looked at her dog, looked at her and say, “I’ve got this” and went to the other side of the road. I was so proud of how well behaved Arthas was that I may have given him another cookie.

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Seriously, does he look like a problem dog?

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I think we got this.

Leia

Bob and I said goodbye to Miss Leia this morning. She had ten good years, almost eleven, and for a kitten that was given about two years, I’ll count that as a success.

Leia wasn’t a conventionally cute cat, or even a conventional cat. She often acted more like a dog, coming to greet us when we came home and she liked to be in the same room as us. When it was cold, she liked Bob’s lap and she seemed to love people. Her nose was much commented on and she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be funny looking. I always thought she was beautiful and adorable and she will always have the best paws. She was also the sweetest kitten and she loved everyone – even Arthas after a time. Her passing leaves a very large hole.

Leia got sick at that November holiday (that I simply refuse to acknowledge anymore) and she fought to get better, but ultimately she could not hold out any longer. This week we knew it was time and she knew it too. I fell in love with that cat the first time I saw her, as a 6 month old kitten with a sinus infection. I loved her as I held her and pet her as the vet helped her pass and I will continue to love her.

The past twelve months have been rough. Jessie, Gracie and now Leia. The pets that defined my thirties are slowly leaving. The plan to is just enjoy the boys for a while and give Tigger and Arthas some stability. That is the plan, but I’m not ruling out anything.

Pets are great

After a long week, after a hard week where is seems like everything happens at once and there are no breaks, it it nice to come home and just enjoy the furry ones.

They have been very cute and cuddly recently. Leia isn’t feeling so great, but Tigger and Arthas have been good with her. I even saw them laying paw-to-paw the other morning, but they moved before I could get a picture of it.

May is shaping up to be as busy as expected, so expect more wine posts and less food posts. Wine is easy – it requires almost no pre-planning and the posts themselves are fast. I can open a bottle and sip a glass while doing school work, something I can’t do with cooking. I also *may* have a few already written and waiting to go. 

I think I like you

I had very high hopes when I decided to adopt another dog that the new dog would get along with the cats. I wasn’t exactly prepared for the cats to not accept the new dog Gracie was the first to try, but by the time she did, Arthas was wary of the cats. Ms. Leia had attached first a few too many times.

The last few months have been very good. Tigger ignores Arthas, but he isn’t afraid of him. Arthas is curious about Tigger, but prefers to conserve energy rather than chase the cat to figure out exactly what he is. Leia is just plain determined to make the dog love her – or annoy the heck out of him, we aren’t exactly sure which.

The other day, we got contact with no issues. Leia and Arthas were paw to paw for a few minutes and neither made any angry noises. Arthas even sniffed Leia’s face and didn’t get upset when she sniffed his nose back. I’m calling it progress.

 

Cheese Dinner

Bob and I still love getting our monthly boxes from Louise at Artisan Cheese Company. It has been about five years that we have been going there, and the cheese just keeps getting better and better. This month we did our cheese dinner without the typical cheese plate, and it was just about the most interesting cheese plate dinner we have done in the last five years.

IMG_20170416_182524There are no soft cheeses on this plate. No buttery triple creme, or runny brie, just a number of semi-firm and firm, nutty cheeses with a sheep and goat thrown in for good measure. We had two experimental cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia, a blue for Bob and a nutty semi-firm for me. I loved the Yeti (top right in the picture) and thought it had so much character and layers of flavor. Bob described the blue as “stunning” and one of mildest, creamiest blues he ever had. We also had a sheep/cow mixed cheese that was unique and one of the best cheddars I think I’ve ever had – Westcomber from England. I usually go for a Vermont cheddar, but this was perfect. Creamy and nutty with a ton of flavors and layers.

It looks boring, our little plate of cheese, but there really were so many different flavors it is difficult to describe why it was so good. It still amazes me that essentially a few ingredients – milk, salt, enzyme – can produce such a variety of flavors and textures.

In pet news, Arthas had a field day with the pulled kale stalks. He managed to eat an entire stalk before I took it all away from him. He was not amused that I took his snack, but I think he would have eaten all four stalks that were there, and possibly kept going even after they were gone. He looks so cute and innocent; as does Ms. Leia.

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Hi There

I’m not sure when I made a pet post last, so here is a brief update on the furry creatures of the house.

Arthas is two. He had a visit to the vet and he is healthy, he just needs to loose weight. So far all of our efforts have resulted in … him gaining weight. We switched him to weight loss food and cut back on calories again, but I’m not at the point where if he doesn’t loose weight next time he goes in, I’m just leaving it. He’s stocky and would be better at 45 pounds, but I also don’t have the heart to cut back his food intake any more. He is in good shape; he walks, he plays, he interacts with us and he is happy and healthy so that makes me happy.  He is also getting *slightly* better with other animals on our walks. He still growls if anyone moves towards him and gets too close and he gets ugly when another dog barks and moves towards him, but otherwise he is good. We can even walk past (grassy median between) a few neighborhood dogs without any nosies now.

Leia hasn’t been feeling well lately and she is definitely getting older (she turned 10 in August). Unlike the boys, she isn’t eating as much as I would like her to (she is more of a grazer, but you can’t leave wet food out with those two) but she is hanging in there. She needs some extra attention and care these days, but she is still the queen of the house and she really does run the place. We all seem to set our schedules to hers. Arthas tries to be careful around her when he is playing, and they have reached an accord, so that is good.

Tigger is also ten. I can’t believe it some days. I look at him and remember when he was smaller than his head and I could pick up him and Gracie with one hand. Not any more. Tigger is a big cat and I’m betting he is nearing 18 pounds. I know he needs to lose a little weight, and I’ve cut back what I give him a little since he tends to eat whatever Leia doesn’t, but he is just a big boy. He is also my alarm clock, although one that cannot be reset. He has mastered the art of crying for breakfast just out of petting range. He has figured out that if I can pet him, I won’t get out of bed, but if I have to move to reach him, he has a much better chance. He is adorable, and he is still my lap cat and he keeps me company when I’m working on school stuff. He is also in pretty perfect shape so I think we will have him around for a while.

 

Procrastination

I know what I should be doing right now. I should be working on stuff for school – reading my school finance textbooks, writing my mini papers that are due each week. I could also be walking the dog or doing laundry or just playing with the cats and all of that would be productive. Instead, I’m procrastinating.

Tigger understands procrastination. He is a master of it unless it has to do with food – then he is definitely not in favor of procrastination.

I don’t know if Leia believes in procrastinating or not. She tends to find a comfortable spot and claim it. She isn’t fussy and if you think it is your spot and she happens to want that same spot, well, she will probably win because she is just that cute.

Does more need to be said? Arthas has this whole thing figured out. Lay on the couch and chill – it will all work work. … Unless there is food involved, then eat first, procrastinate after eating.

 

Myakka River State Park

After our last visit to the vet, Bob and I have been making a concerted effort to exercise Arthas more. We have also cut back on his food, but we are trying to get him out for a really good, long walk on the weekend to help him burn some extra energy and calories. I’m not certain how much good it is doing him, but we are having a blast.

We love taking him to the rowing park near us, but with summer coming (yes, in Florida, March means summer is coming so you have to start thinking about these things) I wanted an option that might provide a little more shade and just a different experience for the boy. Val has the dog beach, but we aren’t ready for off leash yet, so Myakka it was.

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Myakka has a few hiking and nature trails, and it isn’t far, which is a bonus since Arthas is not crazy about being in the car. We can take him to the park as long as he is on a six foot leash; luckily he doesn’t pull nearly as much as Jessie did so he is pretty easy to walk. Most of the the trip was him sniffing and looking for things on the ground to eat, but it was a pretty walk. (I need to bring the good camera out there and take some pictures next time we go.)

Arthas definitely goes farther when he take him to the rowing park, but this was a nice change of pace. He got sniff a ton and we even encountered a few other dogs and didn’t have any issues. I credit this to watchfulness on our part and his interest in the smells on the ground, but I’ll take it. We are hoping that enough encounters where isn’t attacked might help him be ok with other dogs. (He is doing great with the cat, by the way – but I wouldn’t want to bring another animal into the house and upset the balance.)

Clearly, I didn’t get a lot of great shots of the puppy out and about, but that wasn’t the purpose of bringing him out there. He got a new place to sniff, some experience in the car longer than going to grandma and grandpa’s house (or the vet office) and some exercise. All in all, it was a good day.

 

Food Obsession

We took Arthas to the vet not that long ago. He was a little early for his annual check-up and shots, but we wanted to ask about a few things, mostly related to his food and weight. We have been trying, unsuccessfully, to help Arthas lose weight since we brought him home. He has exercised, had his food portion controlled and eats green beans for treats. Somehow, none of that worked.

We kind of wondered if he was just stocky. He has a deep chest area and he has more energy than he did a few months ago, so maybe the weight wasn’t an issue? No, weight is definitely an issue and the vet was pretty adamant that he needed to lose a few pounds.

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So.  How to do this? Arthas isn’t a dog I can walk for multiple miles every day. He will simply refuse to go for a walk if he doesn’t want to go, so that strategy isn’t going to work. We don’t want to cut back on his food too much because then he just gets into trouble looking for more. But we have to do something.

The plan: transition Arthas to a weight loss food instead of a weight management food. Decrease the wet food he gets and up the green beans if needed. Cut back on treats for anything other than after a walk and don’t let him clean the cat plates unless they are pretty much empty. (This is where I think we will get the biggest calorie discount, personally. Leia has a habit of leaving a lot of food and between Tigger and Arthas, the boys eat a little too well when she is fussy. Both had gained weight and need to lost a few pounds.)

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To help in this endeavor, I switched Arthas to the weight loss food from Bogo Bowl. The shelter told us about this food when we adopted Arthas, and I liked the mission so we decided to try them. He loves the food; of course he loves everything except kale, but that is neither here nor there. Sarah was great when I asked about switching out food, and she specifically asked if we had enough for the transition. A good product will get me to buy from a company, but great customer service will keep me going back.

The food came late last week and I put off the switch while company was in town. (Did I mention that Arthas *loves* his Aunt Val and Uncle Bill?  Loves them.) Tonight, I set about to plot the transition, and portion out the food so there is no more sneaking a bite as I scoop out the breakfast, or overfeeding him because we feel bad for the boy. … I may have gone a little overboard.

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I have twenty-five days of food portioned out, AM and PM, with each day labeled.

This way, there is no guessing about how much of each food to give Arthas, and we won’t have any digestive issues as he moves to the new food. Digestive issues are bad and we want to avoid them at all costs. Each bag is labeled with the day and the time so it is a no thought required endeavor to feed the boy. This does still leave the afternoon snack, but Bob stocked up on canned green beans and we can give him mostly green beans with a little wet food and he seems perfectly happy. I think he really just wants something, and he doesn’t really care what it is.

I am hopeful that we can get his weight down to something the vet and we can both be happy with. We are not going for skinny, and I refuse to starve the boy (he had a rough enough start, he gets to be spoiled now), but I do want him healthy. So we will try to lose a little weight, maybe get him under 50 pounds, and going for longer walks than he does now. If this works, we may have to work on Tigger next.

 

Leia the Victorious

Ok, I’ll try this again. Apparently I did write, save and publish this once, but then it disappeared. Sigh. Technology is wonderful when it works.

So … As some may know, Leia was not enamored with Arthas when we brought him home. My sweet kitty was less than sweet with Arthas. If I’m going to anthropomorphize a bit, I’d say she was still in mourning for Jessie and was not happy about the new addition. Maybe she was worried about her place in the house, but really, I think she was just mad.

That first month was rough. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to keep Arthas and that tore me up because he is such a sweet dog. Well, he is a sweet dog with people. Given his background I get why he doesn’t like other dogs, but cats … my cats … well, he had to learn. Leia didn’t help but once she figured out he wasn’t going anywhere, and she wasn’t going anywhere, she decided he would love her. He would be her friend whether he liked it or not.

It started simply enough. Stalk the dog. Follow him from room to room, keeping a safe distance. Make him aware of you, and make sure he always knows you are there. Slowly, get closer. Just a little closer – enter the danger zone. Make noise every time you go by, but keep going by. Let him know you are there, but be there. Constantly.

Next came the toys. Leia claimed each and every toy Arthas played with as her own. Sleep on them, and play with them and make sure the next time he plays with that toy it smelled like cat.

Leia moved to hanging around the food and water bowls and Arthas started getting closer to her. Surprisingly, there was never a fight about food; they seemed to instinctively know that they would all get fed and it was not worth trying to claim more.

And finally, the other night, Leia won. Arthas does not like animals touching him. He gets a little freaked out by the cats brushing up against him, but he has learned not to respond if they pass by and brush against him. Mostly. We do still occasionally hear a growl, but that’s it. This, however, was different.

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Leia fell asleep on Arthur’s foot. This may seem like no big deal, and indeed Leia has slept on every animal and human in this house at one point or another, but Arthas was different. But he let her sleep there. There was a little growl, but Leia didn’t move and Arthas didn’t move. It was lovely.

Leia was determined that if she could not get rid of Arthas, that he would love her. He would be her best friend. She is still working on it, but I think it is safe to say, she has pretty much won at this point. And that makes me very, very happy.