Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

  • My Sick Bonnie Girl

    Date: 2017.02.23 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Pets | Response: 8

    My dog , Bonnie, is very sick.
    That’s your trigger warning for this blog post.

    Surrounded by at least two border collies since I arrived in the world over 30 years ago, it’s safe to say that I was born a “dog person.” I’ve always had their cold noses in my face and their warm bodies pressed against me when I needed a good cry. They are an essential part of my life, and a part I was grateful to bring into the lives of my own children.

    We have had Leela for nine years and Bonnie for eight – both longer than our own children have been in our lives. When we adopted one-year-old Bonnie, we had a neurotic, anxious, obsessive mess on our hands who growled at any strange man who came near her, including my poor father-in-law. When she was scared, which was always, she rolled onto her back and peed everywhere. (Her barrel rolling behavior, along with her portly form, earned her the nickname “Bonnie Barrel.”)

    But I was determined to rehabilitate my new dog and we researched the best ways to help her. Eventually after a couple of years, she grew into the much more confident, happy and laid back dog she is today.

    Our kids love Bonnie and she loves them. She patiently and tolerantly lets them hug her and dress her up and rub her big ole belly everyday.

    About a week ago, Mark was putting flea medication on Bonnie and noticed a big bump on her throat. I immediately called the vet and they asked us to bring her in the next morning. The mass was about the size of a baseball. They took a needle biopsy on it and sent it off to pathology. She didn’t seem to be in pain and was still eating and breathing fine, so they sent us home to wait for the results to come back.

    On Tuesday I called and though they had the lab results back, they needed to talk to a specialist vet to interpret them, so again we waited. In the mean time we saw that her mass was noticeably getting larger. Yesterday as I picked up the phone to call our vet,  my phone began to ring and it was my vet calling me. After some discussion, he told me that anything growing that quickly was fluid, not tissue. He didn’t feel comfortable working on her and directed us to another vet in town.

    Although he is normally off on Thursdays, this vet happened to be in this week and they agreed to see us early in the morning.

    When I got home yesterday, I noticed a bloody spot on Bonnie’s neck. I thought she had bumped it, so I laid her up in our room. By 11:00 last night there was a larger nasty spot on the other side. By this morning she had blood and fluid all over her beautiful white fur and could barely walk. I just knew my dog was suffering and dying.

    Mark took her to vet appointment while I got the twins ready and off to school, all the while I was mentally preparing myself to have to say goodbye. The kids all knew something was up. My big girls wanted to love on Bonnie this morning, but Sarah was shaken by all the blood she saw. The twins kept asking about “Bon Bon,” and when I finally told Vera that Bon Bon was sick and at the doctor’s office, my not-even-two-year-old nodded sagely and said, “ok.”

    I’m sure my complete and total distraction this morning led to Vera falling and scrape her knee on the way into school. And as I held my screaming and crying little girl, all I wanted to do was lean into her and sob too.

    I finally made it to the vet and there was another customer at the front desk who was carrying on and on about her dog’s microchip with no sign of slowing down. She then tried to engage me in conversation before I interrupted at her and told her that my dog was very sick and waiting to see me. Fortunately the receptionist jumped on it and found out where she was and took me back, despite this lady STILL trying to have a conversation about the dang microchip while I was visibly crying.

    When I got back to the room they had shaved all the fur off of her neck and she looked absolutely terrible. Her mass had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, but she was still so happy to see me. She ran to me, tail wagging and nuzzled up to me. The vet came in and told me that whatever this thing started as, it was now super infected and needs to be treated with IV antibiotics, along with some kind of laser and hydrotherapy before we could begin to talk about recovery. BUT he said the word I hadn’t expected to hear: “recovery.”

    He was so kind and gracious and showed us the pet ICU where she would be staying overnight, hooked up to fluids and medicine. The staff was so kind and reassuring, and he had a game plan for her.

    “Dogs are the best patients,” he said,  “because they don’t feel sorry for themselves. You’d never know she was feeling bad if you couldn’t see what was going on or take her temperature” (which was 105).

    So we left her there this morning for an overnight stay. They graciously told us to call as much as we liked to check on her and that we could even come visit if we wanted to. The vet explained that this sickness is an avalanche that needs to be stopped before we can begin to go uphill for her recovery. And so now we wait and we hope. I know she is in the very best place she could be right now.

    Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals. If you have a moment, say his prayer for us.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy.

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

  • The First Note Home and the Animal Revolt

    Date: 2016.09.13 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Norah, Pets, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 0

    One of my coworkers recently told me that she looks forward to Mondays just so she can hear what shenanigans Norah has been up to over the weekend. (Insert embarrassed/awkward emoji face here). But it’s true – she is always up to something. This past weekend it was spreading a combination of sunscreen and toothpaste along the hallway and around the bathroom sink – and that’s really pretty mild all things considered.

    But, last week, she did have her first note home from school.

    Now, Sarah is far from perfect and has her own set of issues, but she’s usually a quintessential firstborn rule follower. In the past three years, there has never been a note sent home from school, though her teachers have all filled me in on some of her antics that resulted in pulling a card.

    But, as we all know, Norah loves to buck the system. And when I was loading her into the car last week, one of her teachers could barely contain her laughter as she began explaining to me why Norah’s face was colored purple. In her backpack found a note that read:

    “Norah found a purple crayon at nap time and drew all over her face with it, colored the floor and ate some of it. The crayon was nontoxic. :) ” I do so love our teachers for being concerned about the crayon’s toxicity.

    Of course she got in trouble and had to make a serious apology to them the next day, during which they worked hard to keep from smiling.

    Perhaps I should gift them both with jumbo-sized boxes of Magic Erasers.


    And lest we forget the other three individuals who reside in our house, they have been up to their own set of antics. And no, I’m not talking about my other three children, I’m talking about our two dogs, Leela and Bonnie, and Angie Cat.

    We discovered, after having the twins, that Angie Cat protests by peeing on any and all clothes that happen to be on the ground in our room. And while this did finally force us to keep our closet floor clean, any time a piece of clothes would fall out of the hamper, it was game over. We’ve been very diligent lately about keeping all the clothes off the floor. Angie Cat though, refused to be deterred.

    We discovered her next target when Leela started waking up Norah in the middle of the night by climbing into bed with her. (I find it hilarious that she seeks out Norah’s bed at 2am, because Norah often torments Leela during waking hours).  I couldn’t figure out why in the world the dog would suddenly start sneaking into the girls’ room in the middle of the night until I smelled it. Angie Cat had struck again – this time taking out the dog beds. They were so sabotaged that we just had to chuck them out. We’ve made other attempts at making dog beds with blankets, etc, but without fail, nearly every night I am woken up by Norah whining and yelling, “Get off LEELA! GET OFF!” And then it’s often a good 10-15 minutes before I can convince Norah that it is, in fact, still dark outside and too soon to wake up.

    Thinking to thwart this newest set back, I set a pressure gate up outside the girls’ room to block Leela from going in. (Norah won’t sleep with the bedroom door closed). So, of course, the first time I set the gate up, at 2AM, I heard Sarah crying in the hallway. Half asleep, she was standing there by the gate, shaking, telling me she was freezing and her stomach hurt and she couldn’t get to the bathroom.

    Normally, she’d scamper over the gate, no problem, but this particular night it turns out strep had taken over her body. And because bunk beds don’t lend themselves well to vomiting children, I moved her to the couch in the living room. With no place left to block the dogs out, Leela decided that she was just as content snoozing with a sick Sarah, and Sarah, bless her poor, ill little heart, didn’t mind the company.

    Our new neighbor asked me last weekend why we have pets – “Aren’t they so much work with all your kids?” she asked. And while they can sometimes be just as irritable and messy as our children, they are part of our family. They were here before the children were and, despite the sometimes angry revenge peeing, take the kids all in stride and even deign to snuggle with them – on their own terms of course.

    P.S.: That cat pee smell is the worst and so hard to get out, but since we are cloth diapering now, I discovered a whole bunch of awesome things that get nasty smells and stains out, and this stuff is THE BEST at getting out that ammonia smell. I use it all the time. I am not getting paid to promote this stuff, just wanted to share it with my fellow cat/dog/kid parents as a FYI. Click on it to find it on Amazon.

  • New Lens Means More Fun!

    Date: 2013.10.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Kitties, Norah, Pets, Photography, Sarah | Response: 5

    A real blog post coming soon, but in the mean time, I want to show you what I got for my birthday! A new camera lens – a 40mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens, so called because it packs a lot of punch in a very flat, small package.


    40mm f2.8 Pancake lens

    I love how fun this little lens is.  But it takes some deft work and practice because it focuses on the item that’s closest to it, then blurs out everything around it. Great for food photography, close up portraits and sneaking up on cats.

    I’m having fun!

    It’s all about proximity. I love it.

  • Things That Go Bump in the Night

    Date: 2013.06.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Me, Pets, Pregnancy, Sam Cat, Sarah | Response: 8

    Saturday we decided it was time to take the plunge and move Sarah from a crib to a big girl bed. At the time, I had forgotten that my mom was babysitting that night and would have to be the one to put her down for the first time in that bed. Mom took to it with determination, and surprisingly had no problem at all. Turns out she loves her big girl bed and is pretty thrilled with the star sheets and bedding on it too.

    Sunday went equally well, with her taking a nap (!!) in the bed and then sleeping all through the night as well. When she woke up, I heard her and went in her room to find her rolling around in bed and playing with her feet.

    And then there was last night.

    Around 4:00 a.m., I was awoken from a yet another terrible nightmare where I had forgotten to feed my second child and was struggling with breastfeeding, when I heard the familiar *bump* of Sarah’s door slamming open, and then the frantic scurry of feet down the hallway. My first thought was, “That damn cat.”

    You see, Sam Cat has a nasty habit of opening Sarah’s door to wake her up when he can’t get us out of bed for his own nefarious purposes. He knows that if she wakes up, we get up.

    So I tiptoed over to her door and looked into her bed to make sure she was still sleeping. Then I hear “Mama!” and look over to see her standing at the end of the hall, holding on to her little stuffed animal, shaking and confused.

    I scooped her up and put her back in her bed and told her it was ok, that she needed to go night night again and closed the door.

    Then, while I was relieving my ever full bladder, I hear the bump and scurry again down the hall. I called to her and she came running in the bathroom and promptly sat on her own potty and looked at me.

    Back to bed. This time I laid down with her, which is no small feat. It involved me wedging my increasingly large self between her and the wall, while she laid her head on my face. In the mean time Baby R, who has been suspiciously quiet during the day time hours, decided to throw a dance party in my stomach. After about 15 minutes of this, I got up and told her it was night night time.

    Back to the bathroom. From my perch I spied that evil cat sneak past me and go straight to her room where he opened her door AGAIN. This of course sparked another round of running through the hallway, this time with me muttering curses under my breath at the cat.

    I rounded her up, yet again, and got her in bed. I tucked her in tight and reaffirmed the night night. I’m not sure if she was scared of the growing anger in my voice towards the cat, or if by that time she was just worn out, but she finally laid down and stayed down.

    In the mean time, I chased the cat through the house, finally caught him and then chucked him out the back door. Sam Cat has officially lost inside night privileges.

    I managed to get about an hour of sleep before Sarah was up at 6:30, coming through her bedroom door about 30 minutes before her usual time. Although I had dressed for my walk, I ended up just throwing up my hands, putting Bubble Guppies on for her on the iPad and laid next to her while I dozed for 45 minutes.

    I know consistency is the key with these things and I’m going to stick with putting her back in her bed every time… but next time I’m making my husband do it.

  • The Backyard

    Date: 2013.05.03 | Category: Dogs, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Pets, Sarah | Response: 5

    After moving out of the house when I was 17 into a college dorm room, and then later into Mark’s townhouse, I didn’t think much of not having a yard to speak of. At college, we would all migrate out to the soccer field to lay out a towel and soak up some sun, and at the town house, well, we walked along the path by the nearby river and got our sunshine that way.

    And then we got Leela.

    Having a border collie in a town house was no small feat… especially when you get the dog as a puppy who has to be house broken. And border collies have lots of energy and need to run. Of course Leela went with us by the river, but we also spent some time in the scrap of side yard throwing ball for her. It was not enough. Plus, at the town house we had a psycho neighbor who would very literally scream at us when we went outside, lying in wait to spring on us.

    Needless to say, we looked forward to the day we could move to a place with our very own private space.

    When we began house shopping over three years ago, a fenced in back yard was on our “must” list. And boy did we ever come across the perfect, big backyard.

    Leela thought she was in heaven, and we also took a sigh of relief in knowing we had a private space to hang out in. Bonnie joined our family shortly after, and those two still run all over the yard chasing squirrels.

    Then we had Sarah. Baby Sarah could only be calmed by susurration of the leaves outside, so we spent a good portion of my maternity leave enjoying the back yard sunshine.

    As she began to grow and walk, her sense of curiosity took Sarah all over the backyard. Even now, when she needs to let out some emotion, we go outside and she runs, rakes, plays in the mud, in her swimming pool, her play fort, and now her tire swing. I like nothing better than spreading out my giant towel blanket, taking a seat in the sun and watching her enjoy nature.

    And then when Sarah’s second birthday arrived, I was so happy to have a great big space we could decorate, play and share with our friends and family.

    Never have I been more thankful to have my own backyard.

  • Animals on Parade

    Date: 2013.02.06 | Category: Dogs, Family, Holidays, Kitties, OMG YAY!, Pets, Sarah | Response: 9

    It’s that time of year again where the beads fly, the people scream, the floats roll by and the dogs bark. That’s right the annual Mardi Gras Krewe of Barkus and Meoux parade that walks along the riverfront. This year’s animal participants (and their owners) dressed to the theme “Stars, Guitars and Animals from Mars.” You should probably know already that there is no way I was going to miss out on this, especially with clear, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70’s. So we loaded up, met up with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew and headed out to see the animals.

    One of the best parts of this parade is that everyone brings their animals out to watch with them. As a result, one of the scariest moments happened when someone was walking their ferret by on a leash… in front of a very large brown dog. Mr. Ferret was very nearly a snack, but thanks to the strong owner of the big dog, pup missed out on his treat.

    Look at the glare in that dog’s eyes. Obviously I’m a born photojournalist.

    There was also a squealing baby pig in a tutu, a pony (who was subsequently awarded best dressed for his Elvis costume) and parade royalty with names like King Taco and Lord of Pegasus Rafferty.

    Oh and their was a goat with tin foil on his antlers!

    Needless to say, my tiny accessory queen enjoyed the show.

    I love that this parade is part of our community. It’s so family friendly and animal lovers come out in droves to support the local pet community. There was even a woman who was carrying her CAT in the parade. Sarah walked away with two pairs of beads, and a small stuffed animal that looks like a cross between a snail and a turtle (we’re calling him Snurtle). And, most importantly, we all got to enjoy the beautiful day. I think we’re going to attempt one more regular parade this coming weekend before Fat Tuesday arrives and we embrace the season of Lent.

  • 2012

    Date: 2012.12.31 | Category: Books, Family, Friends, Leela Fish, Life, Mark, Me, Nostalgia, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 9

    2012 has come to an end, and I must say it’s been a fantastic year.

    We had some firsts:
    • Sarah had a first birthday and first birthday party!
    • I photographed my first (and second) destination weddings.
    • I took a baby to the beach.
    • I visited Pittsburgh for the first (and second) times.
    • We flew with a toddler.
    • We got to be the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
    • I ran my first 10k with Becki.
    • I led my first big scale donation collection for a family in need.
    • I became a gym regular.
    • I nearly mowed over an NFL quarterback with a stroller.
    • I took Sarah to the zoo (in Indianapolis).

    We traveled to:
    • Dallas, TX
    • Lafayette, LA
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • Ft. Walton Beach, FL
    • Austin, TX

    I met some of my fellow bloggers for the first time in person including:
    Unapologetically Mundane
    Bluz Dude
    Carpetbagger (and Mrs. Bagger).

    We lost Mark’s grandmother, Sarah’s namesake, and had to battle with that grief.

    But there were babies born to best friends: Susan had Olivia and Tammy had Kiriel.

    We learned what Addison’s Disease is when we nearly lost Leela at the ER Vet clinic.

    I read a lot of books. According to Shelfari, 53 total. (I’m going to do a post on the best and worst soon!) And I gained an awesome reading partner in Noel.

    I redesigned a magazine and won awards for design on The Best of Times.

    2012 did have its share of sorrow, but it was also filled with so much joy and love. Here’s to a happier and beautiful 2013!

  • Helping the Puppies and Kitties

    Date: 2012.12.10 | Category: Dogs, Friends, Holidays, Kitties, Love, Pets | Response: 9

    It’s easy to get down sometimes when life isn’t going the way you planned. I’m struggling through some things in my life right now that I will overcome eventually, but they just make some days seem gray. It also makes my writing a bit lackluster, so I haven’t been blogging as much here or over at Sweet and Saucy.

    But then there are really beautiful moments that shine through the gray.  In particular, my friend Cassie’s daughter Claire (who is 5) came up with the idea (on her own, no less) to make life better for rescue dogs and cats this year for Christmas.

    Claire is a beautiful little spirit. When I was up in Pittsburgh in October, away from my own sweet girl, Claire attached herself to me, and we quickly became fast friends.  Granted a lot of our time was spent teaching her how to play the “Hanging with Friends” app, but more of it was spent in hugs, snuggles, questions and answers. And even though Cass and I aren’t sisters, I feel like Claire is my niece.

    I’ve loved animals ever since I was a kid, and we own two rescue cats, so Claire’s  cause is close to my heart.

    So far, the response to Claire’s request for supplies for the local animal rescue has been amazing.


    Aren’t people wonderful sometimes?

    But if you want to play Santa Paws and help her out in her mission to save the kitties and puppies, check out this Amazon wishlist they have set up. You can pick what you want to send and be confident in knowing all your donations go to Animal Rescue.

    I’ve made Cassie promise to take pictures of the final donations and their delivery, and I’ll share them here when it’s all said and done.

  • Thankfulness

    Date: 2012.11.21 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Friends, Health, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 8

    People have been posting all month about the things they’re thankful for, and all month long I’ve been silently doing the same. Sometimes I find that I get so caught up in my goals and wants that I don’t appreciate the things I have.

    So here are the top 10 things I am abundantly thankful for.

    1. My home. The place that shelters my family keeps us safe and provides all the necessities. I remember reading a book one time about a refugee woman who couldn’t get over the warm, running, clean water we all take for granted in the U.S.

    2. My dogs. Leela has survived a lot this year and I’m so thankful that despite it all, her springy, frisky spirit is still with us. And Bonnie has become the most gentle, loving dog around Sarah, always happily baring her hugs with a smile.

    3. My family’s health. I’ve had years of bad health and hospital stays and seen a number of friends in the hospital with their little ones this year. Sarah had a terrible year of sickness last year. So this year I’m so thankful we’re all ok.

    4. My books. I have a healthy appetite for literature and it helps keep me sane. It is the one thing that I truly do and enjoy for myself without having to consult anyone else. (Though I do solicit opinions on what to read next!)

    5. My job. I love my jobs (day job, freelance and photography). They bring me great joy, push my creative boundaries, and allow me to  meet some amazing and inspiring people. And, with my husband’s work, they provide for my family, allowing us to live comfortably.

    6. My extended family – my sisters, parents, grandparents and in-laws. I’m so thankful to live near most of them and have them part of my life.

    7. My friends, both in real life and online. How have I been so fortunate to know so many wonderful people? People who will have lunch in the park with me, people who will council me through stressful times, people who will share a glass of wine and conversation and people who share my love for a good book.

    8. Mark. As I’ve said before, my husband is my rock. He is an amazing father, a caring husband and a good cook to boot. He listens to my worries and complaints and helps me put things in perspective. Sometimes he’ll even get up with Sarah so I can sleep or let me put my feet in his lap while we hang out on the couch. He is my support and my love and I am so extremely thankful for him.

    9. Sarah. My litte love. Sarah is my sunshine, my light on a dark day and my greatest source of entertainment. She is an independent little thing, but loves a good snuggle every so often. She has her mother’s love for books and her daddy’s interest in how things work. She’s full of smiles, hugs, laughter and joy. I was once told that getting pregnant would be a long and difficult road, and God gave me her anyway and she is one of my greatest sources of thanks.

    10. My faith. Faith is hard. My own has been tested and questioned a lot this year. But I am thankful that I have it in my life every day. It gives me strength when I feel I have none left and continues to help me build myself up and learn.

    I hope all of you have a thankful and beautiful Thanksgiving!

  • Leela’s Great Escape

    Date: 2012.11.03 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Pets, Photography | Response: 8

    Dear Leela,

    I know things have gotten tougher since we had Sarah and that you’re not all that fond of her trying to hug you. I get it. That’s why we let you lay on the furniture (mostly) out of her reach.

    You’re outside more when the weather’s nice (heck, I wanted to be outside with you today. It was 82 and breezy!)

    Yes, things have gotten a little tougher on you, but that doesn’t mean you had to pull a Houdini and disappear out of our backyard. We love you and we want you with us, we even fork over vast sums of money each month to treat your Addisons Disease.

    And even though that nice apartment manager, her husband and children loved you so much that they took you in, bathed you, trimmed up your hair, loved you and strongly considered keeping you before their consciences caved in and they called us, does not mean we love you any less.

    I feel terrible because you look sort of rough. You like to roll in the dirt, you have a big patch of hair shaved off your rear end from a hot spot and you got out without Mark and I even knowing you were gone. We feel like terrible dog parents. And to think those people didn’t even know you have Addisons Disease and you could have been dead in two months without your regular treatment. The thought makes me heart ache.

    So today, Leela, I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful you are a good dog who didn’t wander far. I’m thankful that Mark and I finally bought monogrammed dog collars with our phone numbers on them a few months ago.

    You genius simply amazes me. The back gate is locked and we have a privacy fence, so we didn’t expect you to be able to escape. How you got to the apartments behind that fence was a mystery to all of us, especially since Bonnie didn’t manage to figure out how you did it and stayed put (or maybe Bonnie was happy with where she was).

    And then we saw this:

    A hole you and Bon had chewed out of the fence. But even then, that hole only led to our neighbor’s backyard. That means you found another hole in her back fence to get to the apartments.

    So Leela, we’re glad you’re back and we’re thankful for the joy you bring to our lives. Please don’t take off again. The next people who find your pretty little tail may not be so inclined to call us.

    Welcome home girl, and please, stay home.